122 votes
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What is it called when a movie breaks the illusion of fantasy?

It's widely known as Breaking the Fourth Wall. Breaking the fourth wall is when a character acknowledges their fictionality, by either indirectly or directly addressing the audience. Alternatively, ...
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  • 98.9k
73 votes
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Are there any rules around when something can be described as "based on a true story"?

There are no rules as to when or how the term "Based on a true story/real events" can be used. Sometimes it is a legit claim, but sometimes it is a pure marketing decision to fool the audience. ...
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  • 1,891
72 votes
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Why are "blockbusters" called blockbusters?

Originally the word was used to describe large bombs dropped during World War II that could quite literally destroy an entire city block, or a "blockbuster bomb". The origins of the term when it ...
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  • 19.5k
62 votes

What is it called when a movie breaks the illusion of fantasy?

In addition to Walt's great answer, I'd like to add... Losing the "suspension of disbelief" When something happens that "breaks the illusion of fantasy" for the audience, you could ...
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  • 1,195
61 votes
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What is a "soap"?

TLDR: A "Soap" is a serialized show that's about ordinary people having interpersonal drama. There's not a high concept, story arc, external villains, or greater purpose. Don't confuse &...
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46 votes
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Shots where the characters are small in relation to a still background: do these have a name?

It's an example of 'negative space'. Mr Robot plays with this a lot, very effectively. It also uses a lot of lower quadrant framing & even adds to the negative space by removing the leading room ...
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  • 44.4k
44 votes
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Why are trailers called "trailers"?

As it happens, Priceonomics has already investigated this: Built in the early 1900s, the United States’ first permanent movie theaters featured only one screen. Things worked a bit differently back ...
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  • 44.8k
42 votes
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Why is the first episode of a TV show called 'Pilot'?

According to Etymology Online, the term pilot has been used since the 1920s to mean "serving as a prototype". It is this sense that you get terms like pilot episode for a TV Show, or pilot program for ...
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  • 35.1k
40 votes
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How did the word "Bollywood" originate?

Bollywood is a portmanteau (a blend of linguistic words), which is derived from Bombay (currently known as Mumbai) and Hollywood, California. The name "Bollywood" is a portmanteau derived ...
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  • 56.9k
40 votes

What do abbreviations in movie scripts stand for?

These abbreviations represent the type of scene and the area where it's being filmed. From this glossary and this page from abbreviations used in movie scripts, EXT. => Exterior INT. => ...
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  • 56.9k
39 votes

Why are "blockbusters" called blockbusters?

TLDR: The word is from a World War II bomb, and its usage in media dates back to the first war films and the media which made word plays out of this fact to describe the films as "block busters". ...
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38 votes
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Why do so many cinema industries have "wood" in their name?

1) Hollywood: 1, 2 The name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley, the “Father of Hollywood.” Whitely bought 500 acres from E. C. Hurd; Hurd’s wife’s friend (stay with me here), Daeida Wilcox, ...
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36 votes

Is there a word or phrase for when the movie tricks you for a moment like this?

Not sure if there is a term of art in Cinematography to refer to the suspense aspect, but the editing technique is a film transition called an L-Cut. An L Cut is an editing technique that results in ...
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36 votes

Is there a term referring to the transgression that often begins a horror film?

It's not specific to horror movies, but the event or action that kicks off the plot of a movie is typically called it's inciting incident. This is a literary term that applies to almost anything with ...
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34 votes
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Is "Runner" A Movie Industry Term?

Is this movie industry jargon? Yes, it is. A "Runner" is an industry term for a low level staff member..a so-called (in US parlance) "gopher" because they "go for things"...
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  • 128k
33 votes
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Is there a given name for "fake documentaries" posing as educational programming?

2 different terms cover it. Docufiction: is the cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction, this term often meaning narrative film. It is a film genre which attempts to capture reality ...
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  • 67k
30 votes

Is there a word or phrase for when the movie tricks you for a moment like this?

The screenwriting term for what you describe is a "prelap". Prelap — Wikipedia Prelap is a screenwriting term that means the dialogue from the next scene precedes the cut, and the beginning ...
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27 votes
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Is there a name for a trope where protagonist's family members are kidnapped in the climax of the movie?

There are multiple tropes for it: TV Tropes has a index for such tropes : I Have Your Index: It may shock you to know that I Have Your Index. How I came to obtain it is not important at this ...
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  • 115k
26 votes
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What makes an actor an A-lister

TL;DR "A-list" actors are exceptionally successful, their notoriety extends beyond the silver screen, and their name guarantees a box office hit. Long Explanation: As per Oxford Definition: ...
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  • 56.9k
23 votes
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Why are porn films called blue films?

It's unknown: Why off-color movies were called “blue” remains a matter of conjecture. Although one definition of “blue” has been “lewd” since the 19th century, its application to movies might ...
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  • 44.8k
23 votes
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What's the meaning of abbreviations in credits? (ASC, PGA, ...)

Generally, these abbreviations you see indicate a society or union that person is a member of. Since such societies are very distinctive and respected ones, people add it to their names in credits. ...
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  • 56.9k
23 votes

How do you refer to key objects like the Death Star from Star Wars?

Late edit The OP's clarification means this takes an entirely different turn. The answer below is what the movie makers call these. A seller of 'imitation' objects would have to call them replicas, ...
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  • 44.4k
21 votes
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Is there any term for this when a movie doesn't end as its plot suggests?

Specifically, it's a sub trope of Plot Twists called a "Twist Ending". A plot twist can happen at any time in the film. When it happens near the end to change the meaning of the entire film, it is a ...
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  • 67k
20 votes
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What is the difference between a movie's soundtrack, and its score?

A soundtrack can often include complementary popular music and may not be original to the movie. Soundtracks can also offer a complete experience when played separately from the film and some songs ...
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  • 316
19 votes

How do you refer to key objects like the Death Star from Star Wars?

I would tend to think that something as iconic as the Death Star or the Millenium Falcon would deserve a better name If you're looking for a name for something that's iconic, it's (unsurprisingly) an ...
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  • 25.3k
17 votes

What do we call a person who designs the architecture or armors of a medieval fantasy film?

The hierarchy of production design, below the actual Director, of course, radiates outwards and downwards like a family tree with more branches and people the lower you go. At the top is the ...
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  • 44.4k
15 votes
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What is the second part of a movie title called?

According to both Wikipedia and Websters, "subtitle" is used for both the phrase after the colon, and the text which appears at the bottom of a movie that is in a foreign language. So, your ...
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  • 57.1k
15 votes

Is Justice League 2021 a cut or a remake?

It is a cut with a newly shot Epilogue section I do not believe you could use the term 'remake', which implies an entirely (or almost entirely) re-shot movie. A remake can have different director, ...
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  • 49.2k
13 votes

What makes an actor an A-lister

The terms "A-list" and "Bankable star" are intricately related, and basically revolve around how much profit an actor's role in a movie can bring in for a studio. The term "A-list" has become an ...
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