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London 2012: Updates and Predictions for the Opening Ceremonies

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18:  An Olympic 'torch bearer' holds a London 2012 Olympic torch in Kew Gardens on April 18, 2012 in London, England. Kew Gardens unveiled today a Giant Olympic rings installation made up of at least 20,000 plants and flowers to celebrate one hundred days till the opening ceremony of The London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27 and to announce the official motto as 'Inspire a generation.' (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Blake DorfmanFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2012

As far as grandeur and extravagance goes, the 2008 Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony cannot be topped. 

That doesn't mean that London's upcoming show— for better or worse—is okay to miss.

Headed up by brilliant movie director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Trainspotting), the London show will cost approximately $130 million—less than half of Beijing's estimated $300 million budget.

The "Isles of Wonder" production will transform the stadium into a representation of the United Kingdom as a whole, incorporating scenes of idyllic pastures, the influence of Shakespeare and even British humor.

The Queen will make an appearance as she is received by IOC President Jacques Rogge. There will be thousands of performers, including live sheep, chickens and cows.

Okay, let's just stop right there. Danny Boyle's body of work in the film industry makes it hard to doubt his potential for greatness in the role of artistic director. However, this is a show that will be seen by people in every country on the planet (except for maybe North Korea), and it needs to translate to a broad audience.

British humor and live farm animals? Really?

Personally, I loved Monty Python and Mr. Bean. I have no problem with farm animals either, but that doesn't mean I'm excited to see them in the Olympics. I sat right down front in the Bird's Nest in Beijing, and I can tell you that the sheer scope of that production is the thing that made it most successful. The elaborate costumes, the acrobatics and the jaw-dropping amount of fireworks made some of the Chinese journalists in attendance cry tears of pride in the press box.

It may be unfair to compare the two, but I'm predicting an underwhelming show in London. Best of luck, Danny, but this could end up a flop.

Another interesting sub-story about the ceremony is the fact that the IOC declined a request by Israel (supported by other nations) to have a minute-long moment of silence to honor the massacred athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Games.

The IOC said that the 40th anniversary of the tragedy will be recognized at another time during the Games so as to not over-politicize things. It's a safe move, although that separate ceremony had better get plenty of press coverage or the IOC will be under a lot of scrutiny.

Tune in to the show on NBC, on the night of July 27th. It could be great, but it might be a big-time flop. Either way, it's always fun to watch athletes enter the stadium and see the torch lit. Don't miss it.

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