Category Archives: Movies

Update on available time for project building

I have just finished work on our custom pinball machine “America’s Most Haunted” which has entered production and started shipping. You can read more about it here. I’ll also make a large, in-depth article about it on this site once I get a chance.

I’ve been working non-stop on this game, The Ben Heck Show, and other commissioned work since mid 2012. It’s time for a break.

I’m going to be limiting my non-show commission work to 8 billable hours per week for the foreseeable future. This includes single-handed controllers, prototype work for companies and individuals, basically anything outside of our show. If you’d like to contact me about a project you may do so at benjamin.heckendorn@gmail.com. Keep in mind that this time allotment will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The automatic Paypal links for the single handed controllers will be coming down during this time as well. If you’re still in need of a controller, please contact me via email. I will probably spin the production of those back up in time for the holidays. I know there’s a great need for them, but there is also a great need, personally, for my sanity.

Other news:

  • I had the wrong file linked to Episode 80 of the podcast – sorry about that! You can find the corrected version here.
  • We are still doing our best to release a podcast once a month, time permitting.
  • You can of course keep really up to date with what we’re up to on The Ben Heck Show, follow me on Twitter, or visit my YouTube channel using the links on the right side of this page.
  • We’ll be at Maker Faire San Mateo next weekend filming an episode of our show – stop and say hi and we might give you a t-shirt!
  • I will be attending the Northwest Pinball Show in Tacoma this June. Ask me anything you’d like about our new pinball machine!
  • Good chance I’ll also attend California Extreme and there might be an America’s Most Haunted machine there as well. More info as it becomes available.

 

After half a decade, a new site layout!

After 5 years of having the same theme, I’ve finally updated my site. I’m still putting in functionality, but here are some key new features:

  • Services section. The end goal is to have CNC and laser work be available to clients over the internet. So if you’ve got a project idea, we can help! I’m working on a very detailed tutorial to help you make the best files possible.
  • Store. Common items such as Controller Monitors and accessibility mods can be found here. Also possibly kits in the future.
  • Very comprehensive “Downloads” section. Free access to almost all of my classic designs and projects, right up to things as recent as “Lost” pinball.
  • Live Shop Cam via Ustream. If we’re broadcasting, you’ll see it on the homepage.

And as usual, the forums are available as well. Have fun and I hope to add even more features soon!

 

Enjoy a Movie Night with Benheck.com!

You will be unprepared.

Watch “Possumus Man” sort of instantly from your browser or mobile device. Or your PS3, I don’t care.

Yes, by popular request I have uploaded all of my movies to the new server. You can check them out and download by visiting the Movies page.

Watch a movie I made at the age of 19 (and re-edited at 31) with Possumus Man! Shortly after, we made a feature-length adventure movies called – get this – Adventure!

A few years later we popped out a sequel – The Adventurous! In 2000, around the time I made my first portable, I did a 1950’s style movie called Lizard of Death! This is probably still my personal favorite.

Then I spent much of the 00’s making a romantic comedy Port Washington! That movie took such a chunk out of my soul I haven’t watched it since.

Finally, you can see our more recent movies (and the only one in HD and 5.1 surround) Possumus Woman – the sequel nobody asked for but we made anyway.

Pop some popcorn, turn down the lights and enjoy!

Movie Prediction Madness: July 16-18th

I’m back after missing a week! (sorry, been busy with a new project)

Opening this weekend:

Inception: The big geek movie of the summer! I sure know I want to see it. This will translate well to box office dollars, I’m just not sure how well. It’s like guessing how much over $100 million a “Twilight” movie will open at.

I’ll do some math then. Geek cred ($35m) + Leonardo DiCaprio ($30m)  +  interesting ad campaign and premise ($30m)  + “From the Director of the Dark Knight” ($50m) MINUS nobody died during production ala Heath Ledger (-$50m) equals $95 million opening weekend. Possibly edging past $100m.

I think the death of Heath Ledger is a sorely unappreciated part of “The Dark Knight”‘s gross, easily accounting for $100-$150 million of it final tally.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Think we’re looking at another Bruckheimer bomb here, a high-concept movie with a concept that’s hard to sell. Plus it’s probably crap. I, like most people, enjoy the “National Treasure” films but as is being proved again and again, it’s the brand, not the actor/director people care about. Still, I could see it doing $30-$35 million for the weekend.Which is being generous.

There was an article recently called  “Whatever happened to the Box Office Bomb?”. It lamented the fact we never get an “Ishtar”, “Last Action Hero” or “Cutthroat Island” anymore. Instead we get “under-performers” that eventually squeak out a profit on DVD.

Let’s examine that with “Prince of Persia”. Worldwide gross $323 million. Cost: $200 million. Sounds good right? Not really. Studios only get back 50%-70% of a movie’s box office gross, the remainder goes to theaters. The percentage changes each week, the longer a movie is out. Opening weekend it might be Studio 80 / theater 20, next week is 70 / 30, and so forth.

This is why movies open huge, fizzle quick and are gone in a month. It is not in the studios interest for them to linger. Back in the 80’s, a movie could often be in theaters for an entire year (ET, Back to the Future, Star Wars). Now that would never happen.

Back to Prince of Persia. It opened weakly but held in OK, so its split is probably closer to 50/50 than 70/30. Let’s be generous and say Disney got 60%.  That puts it at $193 million, which might just barely cover its cost. But then there’s marketing. A typical big film will often spend an amount near or even equal to its budget on advertising. “Prince” had a ton of advertising so let’s say $100 million.

So that’s roughly $100 million it’s still in the hole. The film’s remaining source of income is DVD sales, which in this weak environment it will likely never recover. So the movie lost money.

Is it a true bomb? No, that would be Jonah Hex. But the sad fact is most movies don’t even begin to show a profit until DVD, which is why studios are going nuts over declining DVD sales and piracy.

Closing note: Most of history’s famous bomb movies aren’t really the biggest bombs. Stuff like “Pluto Nash”, “Cutthroat Island”, “Town & Country” did far, far worse than “Ishtar”, “Last Action Hero” or “Waterworld”.

Movie Prediction Madness: June 30th-July 4th

I’m writing this one a bit early since the latest crappy Twilight movie comes out on a Wednesday.

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who loves those films, or go 10 minutes without getting into a conversation about it, so I’m going to go ahead and predict a 5-day (Wednesday-Sunday) haul of $175 million for “Twilight: Eclipse”. Last fall the first crappy sequel stunned the world by making nearly $150 in a single weekend, and this one’s actually supposed to be “decent” so who knows? Hell, it could push $200 million for the 5 day period – expect records to be broken.

Speaking of broken, let’s move onto M. Night Shyamalan’s career. Here’s a guy who made 3 good movies in 3 years, then drank too much of his own Kool-Aid and starting churning out the turds such as the “The Village” – a film where I was actually upset that I’d watched it and wanted 2 hours of my life back. (Similar to seeing a sneak preview of this year’s boring “Robin Hood”, then realizing I’d missed “Lost”) Even in fail-up Hollywood you only get a certain number of strikes before you’re out (just ask Renny Harlin) so Shyamalan went with a cash-in “sure bet” – “Avatar: The Last Airbender”.

The only hope for this movie is counter-programming: Mom takes daughter to “Twilight”, son goes to see “Airbender”. In that best-case (but unlikely) scenario it could scare up $35-$40 million. Unlikely though – if you see a mom out doing something with a kid it’s always the daughter and a boy wouldn’t be caught dead near a “Twilight”-infused multiplex. So more likely it bombs and barely scraps past $20 million. But Shyamalan’s got his next movie lined up so his career will limp on. Sigh.

Toy Story 3 will continue to do well, say $30-$35 million for 2nd place. It will almost certainly become Pixar’s biggest hit ever, but probably won’t beat “Shrek 2″.

Rounding out the rest will be Adam Sandler’s latest “boy-man” comedy and “The Karate Kid”.

The big geek movie “Inception” is coming soon. No way in hell it does “Batman” numbers but it is the only remaining film of the summer I have any interest in.

Movie Prediction Madness: June 25th-27th

We’re back again with more Movie Prediction Madness!

For this coming weekend, expect the good-but-overrated “Toy Story 3″ to have another #1 weekend, probably well north of $50 million. Why these movies continue to get higher Tomatometers than much better films like “Wall-E” or “Up” is beyond me. Probably because they’re not risky like the ones I just mentioned.

The other 2 openers are a bit of a wild card. Firstly, I think “Knight and Day” will open well, despite the media’s strange, continued desire to convince us Tom Cruise is no longer a movie star. Guess what – he is, and more so than media darlings Brad Pitt or George Clooney will ever be. I’d be more worried about Cameron Diaz who, for whatever reason, is one of the highest paid actresses out there. She’s had more turds than Cruise ever will.

So say $40-$50 million on that one, and could have decent legs. Even the negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes give it a lot of compliments.

Then there’s “Grown Ups”, which I assume will be an entire movie about 45 year olds acting like children. While I’m sure this movie will be god-awful, it does have a “Couple Retreat” vibe going for it plus a bunch of washed up stars and the Mall Cop guy. So people will show up. Expect a bunch of nonsense, then a touchy feely ending where they confess to their wives / kids that they’re the greatest treasure of all or some BS like that.

$35-$45 million, possibly a close race with Tom Cruise for 2nd.

Tune in next week as I try and predict exactly how much more than $100 million Twilight will open at! Also, Last Airbender is going to bomb – big time.

Movie Prediction Madness: June 11th-13th

It’s time once again for Movie Prediction Madness! Well I was wrong last week about Marmaduke, but that’s OK because if me being wrong means one less terrible movie is successful, so be it! Let’s move onto this week, shall we?

#1 The A-Team

The first of this weekend’s 1980’s retreads is “The A-Team”, a movie based on a show I watched religiously as a child yet hardly remember (see also: “Dukes of Hazard”)

I am basing this #1 prediction off seeing the trailer during a packed showing of “Iron Man 2: The Suit Would Never Fit In That Briefcase And Even If It Did You Wouldn’t Be Able to Lift It”. Despite the “A-Team” trailer not being very funny (or having any welding scenes) people reacted to it very strongly. The trailer for “Prince of Persia” got crickets, and it still made $32 million opening. “A-Team” should be able to do at least as well.

This has been a very weak summer thus far, so something’s gotta open decent eventually. I mean, besides “Toy Story 3″ and “Twilight”.

#2 The Karate Kid

…a movie about Kung-Fu, not karate. Maybe it doesn’t matter, “Mummy 3″ contained NO mummies whatsoever (or Rachel Weisz) and it still made a decent chunk o’ change.

Wil Smith’s kid stars along with Jackie Chan. I have recently determined the reasoning for a lot of these remakes. People my age who grew up with movies like “Karate Kid” now have kids of their own. Apparently we see ads for this new one and think “Oh, I remember that movie as formulatic, safe fun. I’ll take my kids to something live-action for a change.”

This may not open as high as “A-Team” but it could hang in there as a sleeper hit, like “The Blind Side” or “insert-generic-but-crowd-pleasing-sports-movie-here”.

Old Releases

Shrek 4 will still hang in there, of course, since it has “Shrek” in the title. Probably as #3, or maybe just above “Kung Fu Kid”. All other releases will continue their rapid declines, yet Hollywood will continue to make video game adaptations despite the fact “Persia” blew it, even with its massive production / advertising budget.

The tepid box office summer will finally heat up later in June with “Toy Story 3″ and “Twilight: More Suckage” which will both open north of $100 million.

Movie Prediction Madness – June 4th-6th 2010

It’s time for Movie Prediction Madness, a new column in which I fill up my under-utilized blog with predictions on the coming weekend’s top new movies! Let’s go!

#1 Maraduke

Who cares if they reviews say this is going to be crap on a stick? People love dogs, and people love Owen Wilson when associated with dogs (“Marley & Me”) plus moviegoers don’t read reviews anyway (sorry reviewers but it’s the only way to explain Transformer 2’s $400 mil haul). “Maraduke” also has the “mental real estate” of being an unfunny comic (yes I know that’s redundant) in every Sunday paper since the Nixon administration, so people know of it.

Thus “Maraduke” will win the weekend, barely beating out “Shrek 4: DVD Babysitter” for the top spot. Normally I wouldn’t expect a movie like this to make money, but those damn “Chipmunks” movies have been raking in the bucks so why not?

#2 Killers

Keep in mind, #2 of the new releases. “Killers” won’t top “Shrek” for the weekend but will probably squeeze out $20 million or so before limping off to Red Box oblivion. While the premise of “girl meets guy meets guns” won’t work here, I could see Tom Cruise pulling it off later this month with “Knight and Day” because – say what you will about him – he picks good scripts and will give it the right amount of crazy (versus Ashton Kutcher smug) to make it work.

#3 Splice

This movie actually looks kind of interesting but since it’s not a “reboot” of a tired old franchise might only make $15-$20 mil despite the heavy advertising. If it actually connects with audiences I could see it picking up a little steam and sticking around, “Date Night” style (the movie that just won’t die!)

Old Releases

“Iron Man 2: The Actionless Sequel” will continue its trajectory to make less than the original, which is appropriate since it’s less good. “Shoe Shopping Adventure 2″ will continue its slide into underperformace, but probably still eek out “Prince of Persia’s” second weekend since I highly doubt undersexed 40-somethings will have any interest in Killers.