Sleeper Movies

The definition of a sleeper hit is generally any type of media (song, TV show or film) is marketed as under the radar and has the quality of being able to be promoted with top tier marketing tool. Sleeper movie hits seemingly come out of nowhere, attracting excited film audiences that spread the movie’s success through word of mouth.

These movies are often produced well of the radar. In the end, sleeper movie hits succeeded by turning the movie business upside down by gaining a number one spot at the box office. Also, the profits of a sleeper hit at the box office usually end up being more than their budget.

Sleeper hits have a trend of tearing up and exposing the limitations of Hollywood’s predictable thinking about what makes a hit. For the audience, it wakes up to the potential of their expectations and be widely successfully in terms of good reviews.

These are just some examples of sleeper hits that I’ve seen:

Budget: $17 million
Domestic gross: $128 million

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was indeed a hidden gem from the mainstream that remained off the radar during its production. Most Westerners were not familiar with famous Hong Kong action stars Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. Although the movie was first released in December 2000 in the US, it had a worldwide release on January 12, 2001. The subtitled movie became a hit with a domestic box office of $128 million. The movie had many achievements bestowed upon it such as the highest-grossing foreign-language film in U.S. history, earned the Oscar for best foreign-language film and led in an Asian movie revival in the West.

Budget: $1.2 million
Domestic gross: $55.2 million

The film “Saw” succeeded with an complex, moralistic plot achieved with precision and no small amount of blood. Being a low-budget horror film, the movie was co-written by director James Wan and actor Leigh Whannell and was screened in a midnight slot at Sundance. The movie gradually gained $20 million during the weekend of Halloween. Therefore, a new horror franchise was established that has earned more than $650 million worldwide with yearly sequels. Also, it made Jigsaw a first new top-ranking horror villain in more than a decade.

Budget: $15,000
Domestic gross: $107.6 million

First-time director Oren Pali’s homemade ghost story was filmed for only $15,000 on a camcorder over the course of seven days. The movie was unable find any potential buyers after appearing at Screamfest in 2007 and then Slamdance in 2008. Finally, Paramount released it at midnight screenings in only 12 theatres, using by a stealth marketing campaign that convinced fans they were discovering the movie for themselves. The cheap movie became an instant mega-hit ghost blockbuster.

(Source: Reuters )


Week 7 Reading – Chris Anderson “The Long Tail”

The writer starts off by providing an example of an autobiographical book called “Touching the Void” written by British mountain climber Joe Simpson that became popular a decade later. I found the example interesting in the sense that somehow the success of the book was delayed and became a sleeper hit after people stumbled upon it while looking through their Amazon recommendations.

The power of unlimited selection is revealing what the consumer wants. By giving the people the power to search and browse through collection stores such as iTunes, Netflix and Barnes & Noble, customers usually end up discovering their taste that is hidden from the mainstream.

The disadvantage I took notice of was the physics of the physical world. Everything has a limit to what can be broadcasted for consumers – radio spectrum can carry only a limited amount of stations and a TV channel can only air 24 hours per day of programming.

The old world of “scarcity” had limitations on economics in terms of not having enough room “to carry everything for everybody.” There were no space for books, movies and TV programs to exist in their own medium, it was simply too abundant. Thanks to the introduction of online distribution and retail, consumers are entering a world of “abundance.”

The 80-20 rule is a guideline to determine the amount of “hits” a certain object to become successful in its own field. Only 20% of Hollywood studio films will be hits. Same goes for TV shows, games and mass-market books, only 20% will become popular as a “hit”.

The Long Tail, from what I could get from the reading, is finding the stuff that is the “true taste” of consumers that is hidden from the mainstream world of music, TV and film. Anderson states that the abundance of the Long Tail is vast, most of which could be mostly made of “crap”. The writer explains that by looking at the Long Tail from a bigger picture and combining the non-hits of the Long Tail, the market is actually bigger than the hits and has more potential.

Anderson ends with the idea of the Long Tail business treats consumers as individuals by offering customization as a different service to the mass-market business model.

Unlecture Week 6

This week’s unlecture had a different feeling to it. Was it because I sat a bit closer to the speakers in the theatre room? Or was it because I understood a bit more about hypertext when I left the room. I liked the point of hypertext being the archaeology to information, that a small part of text can have connections with other pieces of text and be joined together to become something more cohesive and coherent. To apply hypertext to a film concept, I thought that was different and I certainly out of the (networked media) box thinking. If we treat text as film segments, it could be edited and arranged in multiple ways to form end product movies. It’s not about navigating the technique of arrange the film pieces together but instead reading between the lines and seeing the formal relations about the text being built.

There was an argument that I agreed with it, was that second year students had to read the previous texts in the first year. Instead of expecting a detailed and clever answer I was ready to write down, one of the speakers just answered the question like a sniper taking a single shot against his target. In this case, the target was us, the confused and frustrated students waiting to hear the answer. The speaker explained that we will revisit these past literacy readings in the future and that the 1st experience of reading with be significantly different from the 2nd time. Following on, the quote of the week (from the unlecture), “Context is fundamental to meaning.” Yeah, I can relate to that, if I watched a TV show without the proper viewing order, I miss out on relevant plot information and inadvertently expose myself to spoilers. I hate spoilers. The products of this quote are mockery and irony. When we read, there is a gap of meaning. This gap appears in different outlets – a small gap in pop culture and a large gap in literacy culture.

Hypertext is an unorganized, overflowing bowl of soup… that willingly embraces the “the mess” of miscommunication. Relating to hypertext, we can’t guarantee on the accurate delivery of a message. In order to make this message clearer and easier to understand, one must write to an audience no matter how real or imaginary they are. Another point that was made was that a blog post doesn’t exist until someone (a reader) views it. A blog post is just hiding within a database with a specific code, waiting for a reader to access it. The “audience of zero” concept was really thought-provoking, it meant that even if you don’t have a readership, it doesn’t give an individual an reason that they should not start a task like for example, writing a blog post.

Overall, I thought this week’s unlecture was more organized and flowed more consistently. Keep up the good work, Networked Media.

How Fast is the NBN?

I recently stumbled onto this site How Fast is the NBN? which compares the broadband speed of Labor Party NBN with the Coalition NBN. In the distant future, The National Broadband Network (NBN) is expanding across Australia and will soon be inside your homes.


What is the National Broadband Network? Well, it is the next-generation broadband network designed for Australia’s future internet needs. Apparently, it will provide faster, more reliable broadband access to all Australian households and businesses using a combination of three technologies of optic fibres, fixed wireless and next-generation satellites. The NBN is described to be the biggest telecommunications reform in Australia’s history.


In “How Fast is the NBN?” website, it provides an interactive website that allows people to visual compare the broadband speeds of various internet tasks between the proposed two political parties’ NBN policies. Labor’s NBN is proposing a broadband speed of 1000/400 Mbps by installing optic fibres to every household. On the other hand, Coalition’s NBN is proposing a broadband speed of 25/5 Mbps using copper wires connected to a telephone NBN node. Firstly, it compares the upload speed of sending wedding photos to Facebook. Within the simulated Facebook upload, Labor’s NBN managed to upload 1 GB in 20 seconds whereas the Coalition’s NBN is still taking its time uploading and would require 26 minutes to finish.


Secondly, it compares the download speed of a HD TV episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” from iTunes. To test this comparison, the site creates a scenario where an individual wants to complete downloading the episode within 5 minutes before his bus to work leaves. The simulated download reveals that the Labor’s NBN managed to download 2 GB of data within 16 seconds whereas the Coalition’s NBN shows the download taking about 10 minutes to finish. Lastly, the site shows simulations of the uploading speed of YouTube video and syncing documents online on a school server.


In every simulation, it shows the Labor’s NBN being the clear winner against the Coalition’s NBN. However, supporters of the Coalition NBN plan have claimed that the website is misleading because it compares the “maximum” Labor NBN speed with the “minimum” Coalition NBN speed.


Right or wrong, “How Fast in the NBN?” is a great method of showing the difference in broadband speeds in a tangible way.


Week 5 Reading – J. Yellowlees Douglas

This is a summary of the points I felt were important in J. Yellowlees Douglas’ The End of Books — Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives.

Douglas introduces the extract with example of  CD-ROM interactive audio version of Terry Jones Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic. Readers entered the narrative via a flashback in the audio book. Combined with the physical Titanic museum exhibitions, readers were able immerse themselves into the act of “reading” the narrative. The audio book is interactive in the sense that the reader is able to make decisions throughout the story and pick their own conclusion to finish the narrative. A major advantage of audio books is that an average book converted into audio can be finished in a matter of hours.

Douglas makes a observation that I totally agreed with. Every time you read the same book, the reading experience changes every time.  The experience of reading the same book at childhood, at adulthood and at old age is immensely different from each other. It means that even though the actual text has not changed, your reading experience has over the years.

Douglas writes, “If the book is a highly refined example of a primitive technology, hypertext is a primitive example of a highly refined technology” (15). The writer implies that hypertext is still at its early stages of becoming an advanced piece of technology. Following on, the author describes hypertext is a tool that lets use the printed word as the basis for a technology that extend the boundaries of writing.


Unlecture Week 4

Okay this is a recap of my thoughts and notes of this week’s lecture. I like the specific point of having multiple modes to communicate with different audiences. I realize that not everyone communicates in the same way and providing possibilities within our modern communication world is a good thing, as least that what I think. “Future-oriented practice”, those words resonated within my mind throughout the lecture. Using design fiction as a means of helping one’s future seem a resourceful way for me to deeply reflect on my past learning and fuzzy future. I hope to gain a sense of achievement and satisfaction described in the lecture after finishing this subject and possibly this course. I believe that using design fiction as one of my ways of thinking would become an important tool to help my future.

My ears really tuned into the example of Google and their informal design thinking and that it has really made the company such a success over their competitors. Google employees use their company’s philosophy and are given the opportunity to creatively “play” with other employees on speculative projects. For Google, it’s a win-win situation where any useful project that employees come up with in their “play-time” would be well received if it improves the company. Another point that was brought up was the question, “How far do we speculate the future?”. Due our our modern society advancing faster than in the Dark Ages, can a person be able to “forecast” the future correctly and possibly become rich in the process? Well due the unpredictability of what can become popular or viral, it is impossible and difficult to predict the future.

To conclude, the Networked Media’s mission statement was to learn about thinking and not about learning how to make (useless) stuff. I’ll try to do that, sir!

Week 4 Reading – George Landow

Okay, this is my summary of points I felt that were important in George Landow’s “Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization.”

The second kind of hypertext prose that Landow explained is created by the author. The writer creates a document with links to other documents on other websites. Landow urges that potential web writers must write with an awareness of writing in the presence of other people or texts.

The invention of the weblog or blog is a new kind of “discursive prose” in digital form that originate from the previous of writing that took the form of “physical marks on physical surfaces” (78). The main reason blogging is so important for us is that anyone interested in hypertext have the first widely available means on the Internet of allowing an active reader-author connection. Blogs can employ two different forms of hypertextuality that their paper predecessors could not do. All bloggers can link chronologically distant individual posts to each other, which means that it allows readers to place “events in context and get the whole story without the diarist having to explain again” (78).

Landow argues that hypertext linking of web texts could have the ability to embody a person actually experiencing text through the act of reading. The writer continues on to suggest that if the act of reading has a close connection with the electronic embodiment of text, therefore this process has begun to change its nature. I agreed that the act of reading itself has lean towards being more of a digitized form and progressed in a different direction than of the users of paper reading.

Will Sasso Vine Popularity

Will Sasso is a Canadian comedian known for his five-season appearance as a cast member on “MADtv,” but recently Sasso has gain popularity through social media outlet Vine.

The Machine from Person of Interest

The Machine is a computer surveillance system appears in a television show called Person of Interest. It is an American television crime drama broadcasted on CBS and developed by Jonathan Nolan. The plot follows former CIA agent John Reese (Jim Caviezel), who is presumed dead and teams up with reclusive billionaire Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) to prevent violent crimes in New York City by using the Machine.

After 9/11, The Machine was created to analyse security feeds from domestic organizations and foreign entities in order to predict terrorist attacks and create intelligence reports that allow the US government to prevent terrorist activity. The Machine uses data combined from other sources such as video footage, phone calls (landline, VOIP, mobile), GPS, electronic transactions, e-mails and social media.

Recently, Nolan admitted he was gloating a little with the news about PRISM and the NSA whistleblower Snowden. The function of PRISM acts in the same way The Machine was designed, it monitors everyone and determines whether any criminal activities are happening. Nolan described that in the television show, the Machine actually works whereas in our reality PRISM wouldn’t functional yet. Nolan hopes that the NSA “has turned on a spigot so big that it couldn’t possibly retrieve anything useful out of the data.”

This is a prime example of design fiction, the idea of a massive computer surveillance system is realistically possible to the level of our technology. Surveillance and spy technology have improved drastically in the 21st century and that the logical next step would be to create an efficient, automatous surveillance system. Ironically, the idea of the television show came become the actual news of PRISM and whistleblower Snowden. It is tangible proof that design fiction works and predicts accurately on potential inventions.

Unlecture Week 3

Well, three weeks in, and the new-and-improved (un)lecture symphonism is either taking a toll on the maladjusted students or it’s slowly warming up to them. Either way, this forum lecture is having an effect on me, I’m approaching it cautiously, absorbing the information into my brain and listening in to the discussions.

In the lab classes and outside of the theatre room when the lecture ends, I have been hearing complaints about the subject and that the info presented in the lectures were useless. Apparently, the majority of this unlecture was booked in by Adrian addressing the mysterious “statement question” in the lecture slide. I gotta admit it was up on the projector for a while.

Due to subject being recently updated, it has a flexible or nonexistent structure. I can understand how students could be frustrated and confused at the way this experimental lecture structure is being handled. The main reason to have this structure in the first place was to unpack the readings together with the lecturers and the students being in one space.

I do admit that Elliot’s and Jasmine’s observations were pushed back to the last 10 minutes of the unlecture. I did managed to wrap my head around their ideas about the readings but I felt that their explanations were a bit rushed and short.

In conclusion, this week’s unlecture took a small step back from last week’s unlecture. Since the unlectures are still in its early phase, I’m willing to stick around and see where it goes.


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