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Monday, July 30, 2012

So Many Superheroes

     There are many genres of movies; action, comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, and recently it seems like superhero should be added. Superhero movies have been dominating the box office the past decade particularly and they don't seem to be letting up. Even non comic book movies like Chronicle and Hancock have done well.
     Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soilder, Thor: The Dark World, The Amazing SpiderMan 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Kick-Ass 2, and X Men: First Class 2 are all in planning, pre production, or production stages. An Ant-Man, Justice League, and Flash movie, and Fantastic Four and Batman reboots are all being rumored.
     Superhero movies have always been around, but 2002's Spider Man seems to be the movie that kicked off superhero movies into blockbuster status. That movie became the first to gross $100 million in one weekend and held the opening record for 4 years. Since then, the opening weekend record has been broken 5 times; 3 times by superhero movies. In the top 15 openings; 6 are superhero movies. Batman has also broken the opening record 4 times and Spider Man has done it twice. The Avengers is sitting at #3 highest grossing movie of all time, and The Dark Knight is reclining at #4. The Dark Knight Rises is currently #1 around the world and will finish in the domestic top 10. Superhero movies have also became increasingly popular overseas in the last few years. Throw in 3D, which is a lot more popular overseas, and it's a two and a half hour thrill ride.
     Superhero movies have been successes lately, but why? Well since superheroes aren't real, the movie cant be practical, and since the majority of superheroes come from comic books, the films are more elaborate. Elaborate equals more special effects, bigger action scenes, better storylines (most of the time), more characters, heighten fantasy elements, are more epic scale set pieces and scope. A movie about people falling in love is practical because that happens to everyone, but a movie about alien humanoids with gravity shifting capabilities coming to destroy New York and only being able to be stopped by a flying man with magnetic powers is something no one will ever see in real life, so seeing it on the big screen is a novelty. Superhero movies also tell broader stories and have been marketed more fiercely in the recent years.
     Superhero movies can be serious, like The Dark Knight or comical, like Hancock, or even both, such as The Avengers. Hollywood has noticed that audiences are taking a liking for them so the studios are supplying these movies with bigger budgets. The average cost for a superhero movie is now spilling into over $200 million, not including marketing costs. If you ever see a road trip comedy or period drama cost that much, then well, the studio is just waving a big "SOL" sign over there heads. In order for these movies to be elaborate and have the special effects and epic scope that they have, they have to have a bigger budget. This $200 million usually covers the special effects- which seems to be the most expensive aspect, salaries, regular production costs, filming costs, and 3D and IMAX costs. Marketing usually isn't covered, but a way studios help alleviate marketing costs is through product tie-ins, tv rights, and merchandise. Studios have a lot of faith in superhero and comic book movies because they sell toys, games, clothing, books, supplies, collection items, posters, food, cartoon series', etc., something a regular movie cant do as well. These guaranteed sales that go beyond just ticket receipts are why studios beef these movies up.
     Even though Hollywood has done some really stupid things the past years, one thing they usually don't do is let the quality of these movies slip up. The last three Batman movies have all scored over 85% on RT, the two Iron Man's have scored 94% and 74% respectively, Spider Man 1 hit 89%, while Spidey 2 hit 93% and the other two have stayed fresh, Thor scored 77% and Cap Am scored 79%, The Avengers rolled in with 93% approval percentage, and The Incredibles landed on 97% in '04, X-Men has also done consistently well. There are some stinkers, such as the Ghost Rider movies, Batman and Robin, Superman 4, and Elektra. The pressure is always on for these movies to be great; since the bar seems to be raised after every release. Thor and Captain America weren't guaranteed to be successes, but Marvel made sure those movies were done right, and they did pretty well as an end result. If a superhero movie is bad, it may still open big, but it'll most likely drop off the earth, such as Origins Wolverine, which is the highest opening movie not to make $200 million, or Hulk from 2003.
     The demand for superhero and comic book movies is only getting bigger. You can almost expect one every first weekend of May, Memorial weekend, Independence weekend, mid-June, mid-July, or holiday season. If your favorite character doesn't have a movie in production yet, you don't have to write Paramount or Warner Bros. an angry letter, you'll see them on the screen in no time. Marvel and DC Comics are becoming the play-makers in Hollywood.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Re-Finding Nemo?

     It was announced yesterday by Andrew Stanton, the man behind John Farter, whoops I meant John Carter, is bringing Finding Nemo 2 to life. Yes, I said Finding Nemo 2. As you read this you are either jumping for joy and tweeting about it, or you are cussing out Pixar and Disney.
     Why would one cuss out Pixar and Disney? Well why does a Finding Nemo 2 need to exist? Are they really going to lose him again? My guess is no; since fish don't live as much as humans and since the original movie is 9 years old, and will be 13 in four years, Pixar can maybe go the Toy Story 3 route and have Nemo grow up, or a "Finding Dory" concept would be pretty cool, and Ellen DeGeneres would be more welcomed back than Billy Crystal as Mike in the upcoming Monsters University (even though Crystal will likely bring down the house with that character). In the end, Finding Nemo 2 probably won't be the title. I hope.
     The earliest we would see Finding Nemo 2 at this point is 2015 or 2016, most likely the latter, so why release it 13 years after the original? Maybe for money? Finding Nemo is still a popular movie and character and one of the most beloved Pixar titles, and Pixar's most attended movie ever, and still makes millions a year for Disney through merchandise and TV rights. Or maybe Stanton and Co. have really came up with an intriguing concept for Nemo 2, but they're just keeping it under wraps?
     Pixar, like Adam Sandler, used to be against sequels, but lately they have churned out Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 and Monsters University is set for next year. There have also been Incredibles 2 rumors for years. Toy Story 3 scored a 99% on RT and became Pixar's highest grossing movie, but Cars 2 was not well liked, dropped significantly from its predecessor, and was the lowest grossing Pixar movie since 1998. Cars 2 was an obvious cash grab for Disney, being made simply because the Cars brand is the most profitable for Disney. I'm hoping that this is not the reason Nemo 2 is being considered; I hope its because they've came up with a stellar idea and theres real passion for the project. Finding Nemo became and still is one of my all time favorites; I saw it at 9 years old, even my bathroom was decked out with Nemo stuff; I hope Disney will really deliver with this project and not disappoint, since this sequel is honestly unnecessary.
    Nemo 2 will most definately be a smash with audiences, as Pixar will probably be more careful with this movie than they were for Cars 2. With inflation, Nemo 2 may be able to overcome its predecessors $340 million total, possibly by a strong margin, but attendance will be extremely hard to be matched. You can also count on Nemo 2 being in 3D. Andrew Stanton is the only person officially signed on; everyone who voiced characters for 2003's Nemo have not, but can you really imagine this project without Ellen Degeneres? No.

The 3D re-release of Finding Nemo also treads into theaters in the fall.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

'The Amazing Spider Man' Review

  The Amazing Spider Man is the new release from Columbia Pictures and Marvel, which brings Spider Man back to the big screen after a 5 year hiatus. No, this is not Spider Man 4, but it is no Spider Man 1.2, as some people are portraying it as.
      The Amazing Spider Man features Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, and Sally Field. It is a reboot for the Spider Man franchise and features the origin story being retold. This is however, still a completely different movie than 2002's Spider Man.
     Amazing Spider Man begins with Peter Parker as a young kid; his parents have to leave him, for a reason we're not presented, and after they leave, it switches to Peter as he is now. Peter is going through high school, living with his aunt and uncle, and crushing on Gwen Stacy. He stumbles upon an old briefcase that belonged to his father. Its like "Scooby Doo" to him; he finds so many new clues that leads him to Oscorp. He investigates and soon encounters Dr. Connors and also gets in closer with Gwen. Obviously, he is bitten by a spider and soon after develops his "spider sense". True to the comics, his web does not shoot out of his arms. As he explores this new found power, he neglects various tasks that he was supposed to do; he also gets into an incident at school which starts to strain his relationship with Uncle Ben. I don't want to go much deeper from here because I don't want to spoil, but in the meantime; Gwen invites him over for dinner, he develops his suit and web shooters, and Dr. Connors regeneration program is shut down, leaving him to try the experiment on himself, which in turn turns him into the Lizard on and off. Peter, knowing that Connors is the Lizard, must now find a way to stop him from terrorizing New York, show the police that Spider Man is not a reckless vigilante with a hidden agenda, and he also throws Gwen into the mix.
     The acting was stellar from the cast. All the main actors brought their A-game. Garfield plays a more "true" Peter Parker and the chemistry between him and Emma Stone is very believable and realistic. The action was also a step above. Spider Man and the Lizard had great chemistry fighting and the scenes were well choreographed. Ranging from the sewers to a high school to the top of Oscorp; the fights provide great action that crowds now a days want to see. You also get scenes with Spider Man trying to evade the NYPD, which makes things interesting.
     Even though an overall a good movie, one of the main faults of Amazing Spider Man was the story. The plot did jump around at times. Dr. Connors went from trying to regenerate his arm to transform New York seemingly fast with little transition. There were also a few plot holes that may make you say, "I knew that was gonna happen" or "I knew it was gonna be that guy." And even though the die hard Spider Man fans who have been waiting for the webslingers return will not be dissapointed in the movie; the average movie goer who doesn't care, they just want to go see something, will probably brush this off as "been there, done that", even though this movie does a well enough job at supplying itself with a new identity. The laws of box office will prevent this movie from reaching the levels domestically or attendance wise of the original, but Amazing Spider Man should do big business with worldwide numbers, thanks to overseas 3D fad, the popularity of the character, and inflation. The movie has obtained an "A-" cinemascore and 74% on RT, so word of mouth should carry this on for a few weeks, but Spider Man may get tangled in his webs when Dark Knight Rises hits on the 20th. Either way, Amazing will finish with amazing numbers and should be able to secure the #3 spot for summer releases.
     The only other release coming out now until Rises is Ice Age 4, which is already out in most other countries, so to all the Americans, you still have plenty of time, check out The Amazing Spider Man, its an overall great movie, and a great way to beat some of the record heat this summer.