Stop Fact-checking The Movies

Dean Obeidallah

The first is the current box office champion, “Gravity,” with the other being “The Butler.” “Gravity,” which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, follows a space mission that goes terribly awry. Despite its box office success, a chorus of critics have attacked numerous scientific flaws in the film — such as pointing out the allegedly inaccurate way Bullock’s hair floated in zero gravity . But that’s nothing compared to the recent barrage of Twitter attacks launched at the film by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. His tweets ranged from criticizing the direction space debris was depicted as travelling to more nuanced issues such as faulting filmmakers for showing that the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station and a Chinese space station were, “all in sight lines of one another.” This is not the guy you want to sit next to in a movie theater during “Star Wars.” How realistic is ‘Gravity’? I can just hear him whispering things such as: “The Death Star is too big to fly at that rate of speed,” or “Yoda could never survive in that atmosphere.” Look, “Gravity” doesn’t even pretend to be based on anything more than the screenwriter’s imagination. And here’s the biggest thing for people like deGrasse Tyson to keep in mind: it’s science fiction, for God’s sake! You would think the “fiction” part of “science fiction” is something that an astrophysicist could comprehend. And then there’s “The Butler,” the Lee Daniels film about a man who served for decades as a butler for various presidents at the White house. This film was attacked by the left and the right for being historically inaccurate. Some have cited errors with the film’s account of specific instances of the civil rights movement while others expressed outrage over the way President Ronald Reagan was depicted — apparently some view Reagan as a deity. Here’s a spoiler alert (and by “spoiler alert,” I mean a spoiler to people who have never googled or read anything about the film): It was fiction — that means it was made up. There was no “Cecil Gaines,” the butler character played by Forest Whitaker in the film. The film does not even purport to be a bio pic. Sure, it was loosely inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, a man who served as a butler in the White House for 34 years for eight presidents, but the film was a fictionalized account .

The most pirated movies are the hardest to buy online

As PiracyData’s chart below shows, four out of the 10 most pirated movies cannot be purchased legally online. Out of the remaining six movies, three are available for full-priced purchase, but not for rent. None of the top 10 movies can be watched through subscription streaming services such as Netflix. On its face, it looks like a missed opportunity for the movie industry. Viewers may feel pushed toward piracy when they can’t purchase or at least rent the movies they want to watch. But it’s also worth noting the release timing of these movies. Every single movie on the list came out this year, but is no longer showing in major theaters. With the exception of three films, most of these movies are now in an awkward stage where you can buy them on DVD, but cannot rent them online. DVD sales are plummeting . People are growing accustomed to pressing a button and streaming a movie instantly. The idea of withholding new movies from digital rental just to juice DVD sales looks increasingly antiquated as people move beyond the optical disc. For disposable films that people only want to watch once, a mandatory $15 or $20 purchase is undesirable as well. Of course, there are exceptions.