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The Easiest Job in Hollywood
by Spotlight Mike

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War of the Worlds - STARRING Gene Barry

War of the Worlds - STARRING Gene Barry

If I had my choice of jobs in Hollywood, the one that would require the least amount of effort with the most money would be a Professional Futurist.

A Professional Futurist's job is to speculate the "look" for a movie's universe, from the language to the surroundings to the equipment and weapons a movie would conceivably have in a future time. He or she would need to predict what the universe would be like a year from now, a century, a millennium, whatever. I've seen this credit in a few movies, and remember about how incredibly inaccurate each movie has been when predicting the future. Keep in mind that these examples cite the year the movies' action takes place, not the release date of the actual movie itself:

1938 - Earth is invaded by Martians (WAR OF THE WORLDS - original radio broadcast on Halloween, 1938, later made into a movie in 1953 by George Pal, then in 2005 by both Steven Spielberg and David Michael Latt.

1964 - The first astronauts on the moon are shocked to find a Union flag there and a note, claiming the moon for England and Queen Victoria, dated 1899 (FIRST MEN IN THE MOON).

1982 -
Pre-Cursor to Apollo 11

Pre-Cursor to Apollo 11
A massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed "The Prawns," appears over Johannesburg, South Africa (DISTRICT 9).

1984 - Winston Smith begins keeping a diary, charting his rebellion against Big Brother (1984).

1990 - First landing of humans on the moon - again (FORBIDDEN PLANET)

1991 - The United States of America has become an oppressive and fascist culture of uniformed classes and castes, based upon ape slave labor (CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES).
Also, The US government release the Newcomers from quarantine, and the aliens begin living among the Human population (ALIEN NATION).

1994 - Time Enforcement Commission formed to regulate time-travel (TIMECOP).

1996 - The Eugenics War nearly destroy the world. Earth banished the leaders of the revolt on a deep space vessel that was found in the 23rd Century by the crew of the Enterprise (STAR TREK (TOS); SPACE SEED).

Also, the Earth's surface was contaminated by a
No Greater a Hallmark moment then a boy and his Terminator

No Greater a Hallmark moment then a boy and his Terminator
virus so deadly that it forced the surviving population to live underground (12 MONKEYS)

1997 - Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is told that Judgment Day, when the machines take over the world occurs on August 29, 1997. It was later updated to July 24, 2004 (TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY and TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES).

2001 - Commercial space travel was commonplace, and there were colonies on the moon (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY).

2003 - Animal-rights activists unleash monkeys infected with the Rage Virus; infection spreads to humans, becoming an epidemic as London is evacuated (28 DAYS LATER).

I'm sure there are other examples, but I dismissed most of those because either reality was reset, or the action takes place in a localized area with the rest of the world unaware of the events. There are also some other oversights I wasn't aware of at the time of this writing.

Screenwriters routinely make huge guesses when speculating on future events. Even specialists and scientific consultants who are paid obscene amounts of money to make movies more accurate in the forecasts of the future
More far-fetched than Mission Accomplished

More far-fetched than Mission Accomplished
are never cited for glaring oopsies when the time of the movie comes and goes without their predictions coming true.

According to popular statistics, weather forecasts are only accurate a maximum of 48 hours out. The rest of the forecast, despite their sophisticated equipment, their meteorological degrees and their Doppler Radar supercomputers, are still guessing on their 5-day forecasts. If the most advanced equipment available cannot foresee events 2 days away, it's arrogant to think that someone can forecast events two, thirty or fifty years out. That's one reason most futuristic sci-fi movies are set hundreds, even thousands of years in the future. Other writers avoid the timeline analogies completely by letting their stories take place in an ambiguous time period (A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...). That way they don't have to deal with when real time catches up their futuristic forecasts, so they don't have to explain why there are no flying cars, meals in pill form, and commercial long distance calls on a Bell Telephone video terminal from an orbiting space station costing $1.70.

The Professional Futurist has to be the easiest job in Hollywood, if not America. If you can guess convincingly, then it's money in the bank.

The only job easier is Vice President of the United States.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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Apr 21, 2010 8:33 PM
[X] delete
I love Timecop...wish they would have made a decent trilogy out of that film.
Mike Thomas
Apr 21, 2010 8:45 PM
[X] delete
You know it a series in 1997. It ran for 9 whole episodes. That one was set in the year 2007.

How'd THAT work out for them?
Apr 22, 2010 1:10 AM
[X] delete
I was actually talking to a co worker today about back to the future part 2....the future part was set in 2015 which of course is only 5 years away from now....we dont have any of the cool sh*t that they said we would...the self lacing nikes, the hovering cars or the self drying jackets...
Mike Thomas
Apr 22, 2010 2:41 AM
[X] delete
Oh, I don't know, my friend. The iPhone didn't come out until 2007 - less than three years ago.

And if we can put 100,000 crappy APPs in a glorified PDA, maybe we CAN have scheduled weather and 16 TV channels playing picture-in-a-picture--in-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-picture-i n-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-pictur e-in-a-picture-in-a-picture-in-a-picture!

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I Could Be Wrong
Every other Wednesday

Until I find my footing, I'd like to vent on the state of today's movies. I will occasionally praise a movie that piques my fancy. But it's a whole lot more fun railing against a person's work who makes more money on a single project than I would make if I lived 500 years. Oh, I will usually make observations on movies rather than films. The difference? Films are critically acclaimed, while movies are just darned good fun.

Other Columns
Other columns by Spotlight Mike:

Adventures in WonderCon

In Praise of the Movie Producer

The Life of a Film Reviewer



All Columns

Spotlight Mike
Born in the Fifties with an extreme phobia for movies in general, I became obsessed with movies when I broke that phobia with the first movie I actually enjoyed, “The Ten Commandments.” I particularly like the kind of movie where you can put your brain on hold. I get enough reality and drama in my everyday life; I refuse to pay someone to subject me to the same.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Spotlight Mike by clicking here.

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