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”.