I like John Campea. I really do, even though I firmly agree / disagree with him roughly about the same percentage of the time. He has the ability to make me laugh, quite often in fact, while at other times I think he is downright crazy for some of his thoughts and viewpoints. “Isn’t that one of the best parts of being a film fan?” John often rhetorically asks his audience. “There’s no fun if we always see eye to eye.”
Now, I’m sure some of you are asking, “Who the heck is John Campea?” Well, to give you the short version, he is a former theology scholar and law student who quit his day job in the early 2000s to create “The Movie Blog”, one of the first websites to chronicle the daily ins and outs of mainstream Hollywood filmmaking. In 2007, he wrote, produced and directed a biblical documentary called, “Prince of Peace: God of War”, followed by the romantic comedy, “The Anniversary” in 2009.
John also started video podcasting with some friends for a series on Youtube called, “For Your Consideration”. (One can find most of the episodes still on the site.) All of this led to him becoming the current editor-in-chief of AMC Theatres, reporting and commenting on future movies being made, as well as current ones playing for the second largest theater chain in North America.
John then talked AMC Theatres into letting him try his “For Your Consideration” video podcasts as a way of reaching out to theater fans, or regular filmgoers, who don’t necessarily have time to read every internet rumor or news story. These videos started out on Youtube under the “FYC” heading, but then transitioned into the more marketable “AMC Movie Talk”. Sometimes they were performed live on U Stream, with viewers allowed to ask questions in real time, but often times they would just be posted on Youtube under the AMC Theatres channel.
In less than a year, the channel has grown over 100,000 people strong. The reasons for this are incredibly simple. Most podcasts about movies, video or otherwise, are not a daily thing. John and his team now post videos, between 20-50 minutes long, seven days a week. On top of that, the whole show is then broken into separate news story links for easy sharing so if someone doesn’t want to watch (or post) the entire show, they don’t have to.
Next is the (current) assembled on camera talent.
First, there’s Amirose Eisenbach, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and former IGN contributor who likes to talk about how “inspiring” movies are and how “badass” everything is while constantly wiggling in her chair. And due to the fact that she loves all types of music, video games and horror movies, she comes across as the great “stoner” girlfriend every geek wishes he dated in high school / college.
Critics of her often state that she is too flirtatious with her interviewees and that her movie knowledge before 1990 is hilariously lacking.
Erin Darling, also a co-host over at Clevver Movies, has learned very well how to smile and speak on camera, but unfortunately comes across to many as hollow with a fake personality. Critics also unfavorably cite her looks as being the primary reason she is on the show. Also, the cross promotion with Clevver Movies helps as well.
Dennis Tzeng, creator of Thinkhero.com, has been doing video podcasts solo and with John since the early “For Your Consideration” days. Even though his opinion rarely differs from John, some critics believe his greatest crime is coming across a little bland. No matter. His regular guy approach seems to appeal to many of the film geeks watching.
Krisily Kennedy, yes 2003 Miss Rhode Island herself, sits at her computer and introduces the news stories for the other co-hosts to comment on, usually adding her own two cents in as well. To many, it is welcome simply because they love to gaze upon her. To others, her comments are just that–comments. Critics don’t seem to think they add anything to the conversation, except to say, “Yeah! I just can’t wait for this new movie to come to the theaters!”
However, her new blog titled “The Movie Chick” has revealed her to be someone with definite thoughts about the film industry and that has been quite wonderful to see.
(On a side note, a few weeks ago, John inadvertently broke many of his male viewer’s hearts by publicly outing Krisily as a lesbian on air. The comments section that day was a solemn affair, to say the least.)
In the past year, there has been some unfortunate controversy regarding the co-hosts. Most notably, Clarke Wolfe who was fired from AMC Movie Talk shortly after she gave “Man of Steel”, John’s favorite movie of the year (so far), a horrible review. She had already been hated upon by a number of viewers for her opinions, but once she spoke ill of Zach Snyder’s soon-to-be blockbuster, any good will towards her was completely thrown out the window. She was let go of her co-hosting duties shortly thereafter. No comment was ever given by John Campea or AMC for the actual reason of her firing.
However, some surmise that she was ultimately let go to make way for Erin Darling.
Other co-hosts have come and gone too. Grae Drake (of Rotten Tomatoes) and Roth Cornet (of IGN) both moved on to their other jobs full time, while Ashley Mova, who was once fired by John (presumably because she mispronounced Amirose’s last name on an episode) returned several months later when Krisily needed some time off to visit family.
It’s too bad Grae or Roth don’t have more time in their schedules to be on the show because they were some of the only hosts who ever stood up to John if he ever crossed a line when discussing a topic.
Newer co-hosts have ranged from the guys at Schmoes Knows (who killed it on two of the episodes) to Jimmy O from Joblo.com, but their appearances have been too rare and far between to make any real impact on the show’s viewing numbers.
(In a recent daring move though, John Campea, broke California gender laws while hiring for his AMC Movie Talk show. Clearly, he wants to be surrounded by beautiful women because, apart from his opinions, they help usher in his audience. But I’m frankly surprised a former law student would jeopardize his theater chain’s integrity, as well as being massively fined, for unlawful hiring practices.)
However, the breakout co-host over the last year (perhaps of the entire history of this video podcast series) is none other than Jon Schnepp, writer and director of Metalocalypse and the upcoming documentary, “The Death of Superman Lives – What Happened?” Until recently, he wasn’t even hired by AMC Theatres to be on the show, but did it as a way to talk movies, as well as gaining exposure for the multitude of projects he’s currently working on. This “I don’t really care” attitude allowed the show to develop a much needed sense of humor about itself and can often times bring the discussions back down to a relative amount of sanity.
(Full disclosure: I have interviewed Jon Schnepp on two occasions and he is truly one of the good guys in Hollywood. However, if I felt deep in my soul that he was nothing more than a raging asshole, I would have no problem telling you that.)
The topics discussed on air are a reason for the show’s success too. Very rarely are independent films covered, or discussed at any length. You see, most of the movie going public under thirty doesn’t care about those. Foreign films are typically out, as well. What one typically gets is exhuberient discussions about every sequel, remake, reboot, reimagining, comic book movie coming down the pike for the next five years and how it’s a blessing for the film industry as a whole. I haven’t counted, but I’m pretty sure that in any given episode, the word “franchise” is said about 20 times.
(I sometimes wonder what will happen to this show once the “comic book movie” all but disappears from the Hollywood landscape. After all, it’s only a matter of time.)
The show’s main writer is John Campea himself and since he is also the featured host, the topics are only what he feels like talking about. Ultimately this impregnates the show with a slightly biased feel. However, he apparently knows something about what his target audience of 17-35 year old males want because they are eating this show up like it was pudding.
That being said, it would be interesting to see what this show would be like if John was only the master of ceremonies and did not know the topics beforehand.
However, now that the channel has an audience of over 100,000 subscribers, it would be nice if John Campea chose to focus AMC Movie Talk on other types of films besides massive tent pole releases, or even commenting on questionable theater policies like AMC’s recent one to allow cell phone access to those who sit in the back rows.
And now that AMC Theatres has started to invest in the program financially, the show appears to be more concerned with being a commercial hyping machine for big films, soon to be playing at AMC Theatres, than a legitimate daily movie news show.
At least when John said something strangely positive about a “terrible” film on “For Your Consideration” it was easier to swallow because there was never an invested interest on his part whether a film did well or not. Now, when he praises a movie currently playing at the local AMC theatre chain, it comes across like a used car salesman hocking a lemon.
After all, the crew will now not record a video review for any movie unless it’s a positive one. It’s not like AMC Theatres wants the Youtube show (that they now pay money for) to tell people to stay away from their screens for that upcoming weekend.
(Funny how Ebert and Roeper were able to review and dislike Disney movies when their parent company was owned by Disney though.)
Now that the show is becoming quite popular, one of the things John Campea often claims is, “If AMC ever asked me to say anything about a film, or support a film I don’t believe in, I would quit.” Perhaps at one time this would be true, but no longer.
He now has an loyal audience of 100,000 watchers, more than 10,000 fans on Twitter and gets to hang out with celebrities on a fairly regular basis. Now why would a man who quit his day job to become a movie blogger give up all that? He wouldn’t, but it is hilarious to hear him talking about the moral high ground when AMC Theatres wouldn’t allow him the chance to do so if it really came down to them or him.
The real reason for the show’s rapid success though is it’s on every day, seven days a week. John isn’t any longer just reporting movie news and discussing it with his co-hosts. He’s literally preaching to us, his flock. Listen to the way he speaks to his viewers. He has a way of talking that is forceful and direct, and since he studied theology for years (and made a documentary about it), John certainly knows how to manipulate people into thinking he should be followed. (And I say this as a fan.)
And yet, while there are many who support him as being an extremely strong minded and opinionated voice in the media blogosphere today, there are others who will contend that he is vaporously shallow and has a way of forcing his opinions onto others by berating his viewership.
That being said, John Campea has been slowly and steadily building an army of film fans who don’t give a crap about movies made before 1990. A large mass of people who only care about the comic book movies, remakes, reboots, sequels of today playing at their local mall theater. It sounds ridiculous but these numbers are only steadfastly growing and AMC Theatres has everything to gain by it.
However, repercussions may be coming soon…
Let’s move back in time about a month ago, shall we… November 1, 2013.
John Campea and the AMC Movie Talk crew orchestrated themselves to have a live panel at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo (a smaller version of Comic Con) in Los Angeles, California. Moderating the discussion was going to be Lady Sif herself from Thor, Jaimie Alexander.
While on stage, Jaimie unexpectedly announced that she was in the midst of having conversations with Warners and DC and knew a thing or two about the upcoming “Batman vs. Superman” film.
It certainly was quite a tease. One that made many film blogs and entertainment websites jump up and take notice. It was the kind of thing an actress says if she wants her name to start trending on Twitter and have photographers aching to get red carpet pictures of her in weirdly stunning dresses, when they couldn’t have cared less a week before.
Obviously the world was now taking notice of an upcoming movie star and perhaps the next Wonder Woman.
However, just two days later, on November 3, 2013, John Campea may have begun the smothering of that dream by gleefully stating to his viewers on AMC Movie Talk, “If you guys think what she said on stage was pretty cool… it ain’t nothin’ to what she told me offstage.”
Please watch 1:45-2:44 of the following video:
So this means one of two things. Either Jaimie Alexander trusted John Campea, an entertainment host / blogger, with some confidential knowledge, and expected him to act like a professional and not hint that he knows details about her possible casting, plot details, etc. Or she wanted him to share this “tidbit” to his viewers and hope that a ground swelling of fan support would cause Warner Bros. to cast her.
Over the next few weeks John and his AMC Movie Talk co-hosts began to talk up Jaimie Alexander as the next big thing, always hinting they knew more about “Batman vs. Superman” than they could let on about, anxiously awaiting for the big news to drop of her being cast as Wonder Woman so they could say to everyone, “We knew it all along.”
Well, Hollywood has a way of operating under its own set of rules.
Even if Jaimie Alexander was simply auditioning for the “Man of Steel” sequel, she would have had to sign a N.D.A. (Non Disclosure Agreement), stating by law that she would not reveal anything about the upcoming movie or her possible role. Well, by John coming out and joyfully bragging to everyone publicly about what she may have told him, it more than likely cost her the job.
Hollywood does not dick around.
Forget about whether Marvel Studios would release her to DC to be Wonder Woman simultaneously as Lady Sif.
This comes down to Alexander either not adhering to the NDA she signed, or Campea trying to look more important by stating that she told him confidential aspects of the production, thereby creating buzz for his show.
This wouldn’t be the first time either that John felt compelled to share privileged knowledge with his followers.
Whichever way you look at it, him opening his mouth did not help her chances any, regardless if she actually told him something important or not. So if you are one of the many who wished that Jaimie Alexander had been cast as Wonder Woman, there are really only two people to blame here.
AMC Movie Talk may only have a little more than 100,000 subscribers but word travels fast across the nerd blogosphere. And if John Campea, the face and voice of AMC Theatres, declares he knows intimate details of Warner Bros. new franchise, believe me, the studio brass heard about it. And obviously they weren’t happy.
Wait a minute… John Campea is the face and voice of the entire AMC Theatre chain? As a matter of fact, he currently is.
You know when you see a TV program that states that the thoughts and views on the show are only representative of the people saying them, and not the company as a whole? Well, at the moment, there is no disclaimer at the start of AMC Movie Talk. That means every time John Campea or one of his co-hosts opens their mouth on that show, they are representing the theater chain’s thoughts and beliefs 100%.
That’s quite a bold move for the second largest theater chain in North America, especially in recent weeks.
On November 9, 2013, when rumors were swirling that the character of Nightwing was going to be added to the “Batman vs. Superman” project, John Campea threw up his hands on the show and declared that the film was now dead to him. Never mind the fact it was only a rumor. He publicly stated that the film was no longer on his radar and went on and on about how Warner Bros. was now giving their franchise a death sentence.
Thousands of fans spoke out telling him to calm down, that it was only rumors at this stage, that John had told all of them to give Ben Affleck a chance, so why not this? It didn’t matter what the audience said, John Campea had made up his mind. This film was now dead to him. Therefore, if the Nightwing rumors are to be proven true, “Man of Steel 2” is dead to AMC Theatres as well.
Warner Bros. and DC, please remember this when you’re talking with AMC Theatres about scheduling interviews, press screenings, world premieres, etc. You’re dead to them, as well as to their editor-in-chief.
However, I would like to think that AMC Theatres is not really prepared to take such a stance on a film that could potentially bring them in A LOT of money, but without that disclaimer, they just did.
Until yesterday though, John, at least, had this Jaimie Alexander card in his pocket. At least he could retain the bragging rights about being in the loop for her casting as Wonder Woman and holding onto possible plot details.
Warner Bros. squashed that dream like a bug as well.
On December 5, 2013, Gal Godot (from “The Fast and the Furious” franchise) was cast as the Superhero Wonder Woman and one could hear a pin drop in the movie geek community.
A friend of mine and this site, Patrick Bromley (of F This Movie!) wrote an amazing article about the asinine fan reactions to this:
Funny enough, this was the social media reaction of film / media pundit, John Campea, aka the face, voice and representative of AMC Theatres:
Having opinions like these are fine when you are running a little video podcast on Youtube, but once you cross over 100,000 subscribers as the public persona of a major company, you have to censor yourself publicly. It’s just the reality of the world and AMC Theatres might have to learn their lesson the hard way if they continuously allow themselves to endorse this type of behavior.
It’s time for this program to stop feeling like a movie show by way of ESPN. Movies are not sports. It’s time to stop treating films like they’re gold because they made millions of dollars on their opening weekend.
Often times, a great film is rarely seen by people and bad ones are typically seen by everyone.
Please, AMC Theatres, use your show for the power of good. Talking about endless remakes, reboots, sequels, comic book movies gets tiring after a while, but I guess that’s your bread and butter, so that’s all that really matters.
Yet why do I still continue to like John Campea? You got me, but one thing is for certain, I’m always curious to know what he may say next.
AMC Theatres, Warner Bros. and Jaimie Alexander might feel otherwise though.
“Bring on the filthy.” – John Campea