Newsbites: Terminator! Bones! Dude! Ebert! Viral!

Here are a few new tidbits to start the week.

1. Variety reports that Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins — which starts shooting today — is going to be rated PG-13. The previous three films in the Terminator franchise were all rated R. One of the producers says the more family-friendly — and merchandising-friendly — rating won’t compromise the grittiness of the franchise because “the ratings have changed . . . The PG-13 has increased in intensity.” Well, maybe. But the track record of franchises that went from R to PG or PG-13 is not a very promising one.

2. reports that production on Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones was shut down for a while because Jackson and his art director couldn’t agree on what Heaven — a key location in the film — should look like. Meanwhile, The Bad & Ugly claims that the film’s release date has been pushed from March 2009 to sometime in the Fall — which isn’t necessarily a sign of trouble with the production, since that’s when a lot of movies begin their Oscar campaigns.

3. Jeffrey Wells passes on the news that Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani is writing a book called The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, which will be published by Zondervan sometime next year. The Coen brothers, of course, recently won multiple Oscars for their adaptation of No Country for Old Men.

4. Roger Ebert has a fun post at his blog — yeah, he’s got one too — about the relationship between blogs and fanzines, and the possibility that he was an “eyewitness to one of the formative moments in the connection between computers and science fiction” nearly half a century ago, when he attended a lecture by Arthur C. Clarke at Urbana, i.e. the very place where HAL would claim to have been created in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

5. Andrew Wallenstein, a writer for the Hollywood Reporter, looks at the ad campaign for The Dark Knight and a few other films — but especially The Dark Knight — and concludes: “Viral marketing has gone positively bubonic. While this unconventional approach to building buzz online is nothing new, it has achieved full-blown plague status in the walk-up to the summer movie season.” Scott Van Doviak says Wallenstein is just being “cranky”, and he notes that elaborate viral campaigns have been around at least since before the release of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001); he also expresses skepticism that such campaigns “work”: “They seem to appeal only to the hardcore faithful who will be shelling out to see the product multiple times anyway.”

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