By: Logan Pierce, Editor-in-Chief
For film fans, monotonous movies can make the experience feel as stale as theater floor popcorn. RiffTrax, an online entertainment company, aims to add a new layer of entertainment to movies.
In these volatile economic times, film companies are hesitant to approve original movie concepts. The preferred route is to make films based on nostalgic TV shows or popular book series, which tend to come equipped with a built-in fan base. Another recent trend has been to remake movies, or in some cases, re-release the original films to theaters.
Box office: the next generation
This year alone, there are several major films being re-released. Feb. 10 marked Star Wars’ return to theaters, with “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”
On March 21, for one day only, “Casablanca” will be shown in select movie theaters nationwide, in commemoration of its 70th anniversary.
James Cameron’s “Titanic” will set sail April 6, four days before the 100th anniversary of the real ship’s departure on April 10, 1912.
Following on the heels of the successful re-releases of “The Lion King 3D” and “Beauty and the Beast 3D,”Disney has three additional films slated for re-release, “Finding Nemo 3D” opens Sept. 14, 2012, “Monsters Inc. 3D” opens Jan. 18, 2013 and “The Little Mermaid 3D” opens Sept. 13, 2013.
After 70 years, “Casablanca” being re-released makes sense as a way to connect with a new generation of moviegoers. The motives behind the re-release of “Finding Nemo” tend to be a bit muddier, considering that the film’s initial release was less than a decade ago. That’s a fast turnaround.
Movie theaters were the last bastion of new entertainment. Consumers used to have an assurance of no reruns, but not anymore. The times, they are a changing, and RiffTrax is changing to meet them.
Riff-lecting on past movies
Founded in 2006, RiffTrax.com is the brainchild of Michael J. Nelson, head writer and on-screen talent of the hit TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), which ran for 10 years on Comedy Central and the SyFy Channel.
The Emmy-nominated and Peabody award-winning show featured animated characters making fun of or “riffing” low-budget science fiction and action films and was voted one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Television shows of all time.
Nelson and his fellow Riffers, former MST3K members Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, have brought their unique brand of humor to big budget, modern movies.
The secret of Perfect Synch technology
RiffTrax are MP3 commentary files, which are played simultaneously with a specified movie. To help ensure a seamless experience, RiffTrax provides audio cues through DisembAudio, a character who periodically speaks words of dialogue from the film at the exact same moment that a character says it, to ensure the MP3 commentary track and the movie are in synch.
In the past, fans of RiffTrax commentaries were consigned to enjoy them on the small screen. Now, as old films are re-released in theaters, there’s a whole new way to experience this unique movie experience.