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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Mighty '13

    Updated 1/4/14. 2013 has came to close and what a year it was. What looked to be a disaster of a year back in March, with a strong second half it was poised to become the highest grossing ever. We all know the hits and flops of the year - Iron Man 3, Catching Fire, After Earf, Despicable Me 2, Lone Ranger, etc, etc, but do you know the surprises? Plenty of movies this year pulled a 180 on us and did the complete opposite of what they were expected and only a few saw coming.
     By the far biggest surprise of the winter season and possibly the year is Disney's Frozen. Frozen initially looked like a rehash of Tangled with snow, but after 6 weeks of release, it's proven to be much more. Most saw Frozen doing no more than $200 million, around the same range as Tangled - Frozen's total as of now? $289 million, and counting - even after 7 weeks it'll be #1 this weekend, meaning its going to be out welllllll into 2014. Audiences have fallen for Frozen. The Disney princess musical has been attracting grown men just as much as young girls. The soundtrack is also #1 on Itunes. Just to give you an idea of how big Frozen is, it's going to end up the highest grossing original animated move ever and the biggest Disney animation of all time, topping The Lion King (counting out the re-release), which is ironic since TV ads were calling it the best Disney animation since then. Even Despicable Me 2's $367 million haul could be in danger, which is just flat out remarkable for a movie most analysts and movie buffs saw doing $200 million or less, and just remarkable period.
     Gravity defied box office astronomy and has brought us a movie going experience that we really have never experienced. When Gravity finally crashes down, it'll be the highest grossing October movie ever - by over $100 million. Gravity's simple concept wasn't guaranteed to be a success, with most predicting an opening of $30 million or lower. $40 million was considered ballsy. Well, yeah Gravity ended up pulling a jaw-dropping $55 million in it's opening and thanks to its universal reviews and rollercoaster IMAX-esque experience, it held well in the weeks since and is now at $255 million where it has seemed to stall, but with guaranteed awards noms coming up, Gravity still has a few more millions to rake in well into the new year. I knew Gravity would be good, but that good? The last 10 minutes were the most emotionally invested/edge of my seat I've ever been in the theater. Truly life-changing. And with that said, after this I'm going to submit my application to NASA.
     Also a contender for surprise of the year is World War Z. The June Brad Pitt led thriller shut up naysayers fast. Projected to open with $45 million or less by most, Z added to a record breaking June with a $66 million opening, #2 at the time for a movie that didn't open #1 (Frozen now has that #2). Z has finally died off with $202 million and with $540 million worldwide, Z showed that just because you have production problems doesn't mean your movie is destined to be a turd.
     Comedy We're the Miller's was the biggest movie of August and the 2nd biggest comedy of the year, just $9 million shy of The Heat, and with an opening of only $26 million. Millers, the story of a fake family hired to smuggle drugs across the border, looked like a modest hit, but it proved to be more than modest as it had one of the best legs of any of the movies this summer. Most didn't even know Miller's was a thing until the first trailer, so a great run indeed.
     Add The Conjuring to the list, which had phenomenal legs for a horror. Conjuring bucked the trend for horror movies and had steady 40% drops every weekend instead of the usual 60% or bigger. With a worldwide total of $316 million and only a $20 million budget, don't be surprised to get the hell scared out you, literally, again with a sequel.
     A few other better-than-expected surprises were Bad Grandpa (that 2nd weekend drop!), Warm Bodies, Now You See Me, Identity Theft, Great Gatsby, 42, Captain Phillips, and Planes.
     Surprises can go both ways. With its share of "wow that made so much more than I expected!", theres a crop of "wow that sucked, it didn't even make half of what I thought". White House Down is possibly the biggest offender of the year. It had everything going for it - Channing Tatum fresh off a stellar 2012, Jamie Foxx who was hot off Django, a late June release, Roland Emmerich, an appealing concept, a democrat President, a flashy budget, and a cool title. What more did Sony need? Well, Sony definitely didn't need Olympus Has Fallen. Olympus was a cheaper version of Down with cheaper effects, a cheaper star, coming from a cheap B-list studio, yet Olympus went on to pull near $100 million, which makes it a 2013 surprise as well. I'm telling you the trailers looked straight-to-Netflix quality, but the movie was actually badass. Unfortunately, not too many people wanted to see basically the same movie just 3 months later. Down opened to an appalling $24 million, $15 million lower than The Heat which it was projected to beat, and has finished with a weak $73 million. I call that weak considering a total of $150 million or higher was most everyone's expectations. Maybe we'll get a Mount Rushmore Down or Fort Knox Down or Golden Gate Bridge Down, and White House will be redeemed. Can't wait for the Waffle House Down parody. It's coming. I feel it.
     Most expected After Earff, The Lone Ranger, Turbo, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hangover 3, Gangster Squad, RIPD, Scary Movie 5, and Believe to dissapoint, so not really a surprise there.
     Beautiful Creatures, The Host, and City of Bones weren't expected to be the next Hunger Games and Twilight, but they should've at least been able to become the new something. None did well enough to justify a franchise and with Twilight finished and minus Hunger Games, it makes you wonder if the young adult genre has lost it. At least they still have Barnes N Noble. With Maze Runner, Vampire Academy, Divergent, and The Giver, 2014 has a lot to prove or Hollywood will be leaving young adults adaption-less soon after.
     Can we nominate a month? Yes. And I nominate February. February 2013 was dreadful. The worst grossing and attended in over 10 plus years. This is even more disappointing considering February 2012 set a gross record and was the 4th best attended ever. January wasn't special either and if it wasn't for a strong 2012 Christmas slate, it would've been equally ugly. At least we had June.
     Another disappointing fact is that Thor: The Dark World and Star Trek Into Darkness won't be occupying the domestic top 10. Both looked to dominate based on the success of their predecessors, but it wasn't enough after all. Trek was stuck between Iron Man 3 and Furious 6, couldn't break out of its niche audience, and Paramount didn't do a good job showing audiences who saw Star Trek in 2009 why they should come back after a 4 year wait and secret villain. Into Darkness' gross of $228 million domestic and $467 worldwide is pretty dang good, but everyone seemed to be expecting a little more. Ehh, actually a lot more...Thor 2 started off well thanks to the Marvel brand, but couldn't hang on due to competition and lukewarm reception. Good thing overseas loves Marvel as Thor has picked up $627 million worldwide.
     2013 like every year had its hits and misses, but eye-openers is one 2013 had plenty of. From Gravity shattering Fall records to Hangover 3 completely dropping the ball to Frozen seeming to please pretty much everyone, 2013 was a year for the calendar. Since 2014 seems to have a line up full of "eh's", there's a chance those "eh's" will surprise and put 2014 on the map, but for now 2013 is truly the year no one saw coming.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Like Fire and Ice

      Thanksgiving weekend was a big one for females, and not because of TJ Maxx, Macy's, Khol's, and DSW Black Friday deals. Frozen and Catching Fire, both with female leads, amassed over $200 million by themselves over the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend. It has been a common myth in Hollywood that females can't carry a big movie by themselves, but that myth has been busted (pun intended). Frozen is Disney's adaption of the "Snow Queen" and has surpassed all expectations. Over the 5-day weekend, Frozen earned a staggering $93 million, which ranks 1st all time for Thanksgiving, and for the the 3-day it raked in $67.3 million which is 2nd all time - behind Catching Fire. Frozen also ranks 2nd all time for a movie that did not open at #1. Tangled, Frozen's counterpart, only raked in $68.7 million over the 5-day back in 2010. 
     Both of Frozen's main characters are female - Anna and Elsa. Having two females in a lead role is uncommon; even Tangled only had one. With highly positive reviews and little competition over the holiday season, Frozen can give Pixar's Monsters University a run for its money for 2nd biggest animated film of the year and top 10 all time. Frozen's polled audience was only 57 percent female, as opposed to 70-80 percent for Twilight. This shows that even with multiple female leads, men will still show up.
     If you don't know who Katniss is by now, then add that to your list of 99 problems. Catching Fire is doing what Harry Potter did last decade. Catching Fire ignited $74.1 million over the 3-day weekend and $110 million over the 5-day, both which rank 1st all time. Catching Fire's second weekend is also 4th all time. You could argue many people buy tickets for Hunger Games to see the arena battle scenes, but that's not the the main focus. Katniss Everdeen is "Hunger Games" and if more people are showing up for her than for the boy wizard Harry, then how can you say a female cant lead? Sure you have her love triangle co-stars, but it's Katniss' story, and she's the badass. Peeta and Gale do what she tells them to do.
     Wonder Woman is the most popular female superhero and one of the most popular in general, but Warner Brothers still hasn't given her the greenlight. Why? You could say they can't find a star or director, which is false. You could say the source material is too tricky and complex, which is false. You could say because Warner is afraid, which is true. Here we are about to get a 4th version of Batman, 3rd version of Superman, 2nd version of Spiderman, and more Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor sequels to come, but Diana has yet to see the green screen. Marvel has said they're looking into a female-led movie, but that none is in their current plans. There are plenty of self-righteous and sexist people in the world; it's a naive thought that the average male would refuse to see a Wonder Woman movie because she's not a man. Wouldn't men rather see a woman in a tight-fitting costume than a man anyway? Yes. Catwoman and Elektra did not fail because of their female stars, but because they were truly awful movies - with 9 and 10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes respectively, compared to the big names which land on average in the 70's and 80's. Anyone who studies movies could tell you that.
     We have plenty of movies where females co-lead with a man; when will we just let them do their own thing instead? Frozen and Catching Fire weren't affected. And you can look at past movies; Angelina Jolie's Salt was more successful than Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher, Sandra Bullock carried most of Gravity on her own, Bridesmaids and The Heat which had all female leads out-grossed recent comedies from Adam Sandler, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Zach Galafinakis, and Sacha Baron Cohen - male Hollywood comedy heavyweights. Brave, Zero Dark Thirty, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Help, Bad Teacher, Black Swan, and Princess and the Frog are all recent action, comedy, and drama movies with female leads that audiences, both male and female, showed up for. Romantic comedies and dramas star women because they are made for women, but its time let women entertain us men too. 
     Hollywood is taking small steps forward. Melissa McCarthy has an endless number of comedies coming up, an all female Expendable's spin-off is in the works, and more females such as Kathryn Bigelow, Angelina Jolie, and Melissa McCarthy are directing bigger name movies, but until we can at least get a Wonder Woman solo movie with the same budget and focus as the big boys, not much has changed. With Catching Fire and Frozen paving the way, hopefully Hollywood will start getting the memo. Just remember, even Shaquille O'Neal has gotten to play a superhero...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

'Catching Fire' Is Ready To Roast Cinemas

    One of the biggest surprises of 2012 was the success of The Hunger Games. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Hunger Games broke all kinds of records - from biggest Spring opening to fourth biggest Saturday to sixth biggest opening of all time (3rd at the time of release). When it was all said and done, Hunger Games ended with a $408 million total - and $691 million worldwide, which ranks 14th all time domestic and #1 for a movie from an independent studio - and that is without 3D. By the end of 2012, Hunger Games shocked the world and had out-grossed known popular franchises James Bond, Spider Man, Twilight, Pixar, and Lord of the Rings. Back in 2011 if you called this then you deserve a million dollars, a supermodel girlfriend/boyfriend, a black Ferrari, and your own private island, because you were as bold as Bear Grylls and didn't collapse under pressure from being called an idiot (or worse) and accusations of knowing nothing about box office, and maybe even life. Go, you. One special thing Games had was great legs - no I'm not talking about Lawrence's, but the fact that the movie was able to stick around for so long. Young adult novel movies such as Twilight and Harry Potter, usually open hefty, then fall heftier the next weekend. Hunger Games had a huge curiosity factor which led to the masses coming weekend after weekend and Games being #1 in America for 4 weeks, the first time that has happened since January 2010.
     Now 20 months later, Catching Fire, is set to light Regal's and AMC's everywhere on fire. Catching Fire will be no surprise as everyone and their mother knows it's going to be a monster. Now the debate has gone from "will Hunger Games be a success?" to "how much freaking money will Catching Fire bring in this weekend!?" The answer is "a lot." Emphasis on a lot. Box office analysts and anyone who has a poster of JLaw and/or the Mockingjay on their walls is predicting $160-$180 million for the weekend, with predictions as high as $200 million. Yes, that's a 2. Catching Fire only needs $174.2 million to claim the second biggest opening of all time, and that looks very feasible. Even if it opens to the low end of many projections that's still the 4th or 5th biggest opening of all time. Again, without 3D.
     The big argument now is will Catching Fire be able to stay at the box office party for long? Or will it have too many drinks on opening weekend and stumble the rest of the way? Judging by the fact that Catching Fire is a sequel and is a based off a YA adaption, opening weekend will be so big it'll have its own gravitational pull, but the next weekend will suffer a steep drop, and the week after, and the week after...or will it? If you haven't seen the reviews for Catching Fire yet, they're pretty positive, with many of them raves. The movie currently holds a 93% on RT, which is rare for a blockbuster. That number can go down by Friday, but don't expect it to be by much. With reviews this good, this may incline some people that CF is worth seeing, even if they don't know what the heck it's about. Good reviews don't guarantee butts in the seats and don't guarantee small drops in the subsequent weeks, but they sure don't hurt the movie.
     Another complaint (even by me at one point) has been that CF looks like a carbon-copy of the Hunger Games and doesn't have the curiosity factor luxury of the first. While CF still doesn't have the same curiosity, I've realized the carbon-copy argument has little weight. CF is holding its own with its refreshing visuals, bigger scale, and new characters - though Lionsgate could have marketed them better. And guess what else? No-more-shakey-cam! Go ahead and go wild like I know you already are. The performances in the movie also seem to be getting a lot of praise.
     Also, even though CF will behave like a sequel, it will have Thanksgiving break and even Christmas break to provide some cushion. The biggest challenge for CF is to get back its non-fan audience. Many people saw Hunger Games because it was new and fresh and the buzz came out of the blue. "It was cool seeing Katniss on the screen last year, but why do I need to shell out $11 to see her again?" Though a growing fan base will help offset this a little, in order for CF to get back over $400 million, the curiosity needs to come back. Let's hope Lionsgate's marketing team got the memo.
     I won't know for myself until I see it, but apparently Catching Fire is the event of the year (as with Iron Man 3) and looks to possibly be the biggest movie from now until May 2015. It's still up in the air whether Catching Fire can defy box office logic and make it past $400 million, which would make it only the third franchise (Star Wars and Batman) to have more than one movie above the mark. I personally believe CF will miss $400 million, but not by much. It doesn't matter whether or not Catching Fire reaches that milestone - it's already a success for Lionsgate, Lawrence, and the fans who just want a good adaption, and is poised to end at least #2 for 2013 when it's said and done; it will challenge Iron Man 3 for #1. Expect a nice increase for a top five finish worldwide. It's possible CF could fall below Despicable Me 2, but that's almost as likely as Katniss deciding not to do the games instead because shes scared. We'll see in a few days how big and how masterful Catching Fire really is, but expect for your local theater to be a lot busier than your local Walmart or interstate highway at 5 o'clock this weekend. CF is now committing arson in Brazil and looks to start Wednesday and Friday worldwide, in glorious, but non-surcharging 2D. Rated PG-13 and 146 minutes (yes, that's over 2 1/2 hours).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

'Gravity' Still Won't Let Go

     Do you know what it feels like to float in space? With no sound, no air, no protection from uv rays, space junk, and no gravity? Do you know what it's like to sit and watch the Earth rotate and orbit while seemingly floating in the empty black void known as the universe while millions of little white dots stand stationary in the background? Of course you dont...like you've been in space before, pshht sit down. Well thank Warner Brothers and physics for Gravity because even though it isn't the real thing, it's darn close.
     Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, which stars the talented Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is not a movie, it's an experience. Yes you've probably heard that 20 times and it's likely been trademarked by now, but I don't care. It's true. Gravity in IMAX and 3D took the movie to a whole new level and has made Gravity a must see in theaters. Sure the movie will still be amazing on Redbox, Netflix, HBO, and cable with commercials included, but seeing Gravity on the silver screen is like no other.
     Gravity is about astronauts Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matthew Kowalski (Clooney) who are doing work on the Hubble Telescope when a destroyed satellite and all its 20,000+ mph debris glory ends up heading their way. Before they can make it back to the shuttle, they are caught in the crossfire. The collision ends up leaving Stone and Kowalski drifting into dark space, and without any communication from NASA they must figure out how to now survive in airless, soundless, space.
     You could say mother Earth should be nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and it's true. The special effects in Gravity are some of the most realistic and accurate I've ever seen. Earth looked so realistic it was scary. The space suits, the shuttle, the debris, the Sun, the Moon, everything. It's so immersive that you feel like you are the one drifting thousands of kilometers above Earth. You see the Aurora's, lights from metropolitan areas, land masses, oceans, the sunrise over the rim of the Earth, I even spotted a hurricane; it's unreal. The sound is also top notch. If you haven't taken 7th grade science than you may not be aware that there is no sound in space. So how do you hear the explosions you ask? Well, you don't. Well, it's kinda-sort of. Cuaron, wanting to keep the movie realistic, has came up with an innovative way for us to hear the sounds - keeping the movie suspenseful and frighting. The soundtrack also gives us a break from the loud foghorns and drums that come included free in every summer blockbuster and instead gives us more angelic yet frightening tunes that match the scenes more perfectly than a sorority girl with Lilly Pulitzer.
    With no surprise, I give Gravity an A+, 5/5, 100, 4 stars, 2 thumbs, and 10 toes. (Don't roll you eyes and be like "oh please". Unlike you, I'm not impossible to please). Back when everyone was laughing at the Gravity trailer when Man Of Steel was released, I was intrigued. Getting lost in space? Well how could they make a movie out of that? I now know how and it was flawless. Gravity took five years to make, but it was a five years far from wasted. Alfonso Cuaron put his passion into the movie and from the detail of the Earth to the cockpits, it was well done.
     Sandra Bullock was outstanding. She gave off an array of emotions, and even without the IMAX or 3D, you feel every one. The last 10 minutes of Gravity (no not the credits) were the most nerve racking, intense, thrilling, and emotionally draining 10 minutes I have ever seen. Gravity may not be a masterpiece, but we rarely get them anymore, at least in my opinion. Winning "Best Picture" doesn't make you a masterpiece; heck, I liked Argo less the second time. Gravity doesn't have to be one though. It's easily one of the best, visually stunning, and most entertaining movies I have ever witnessed. Gravity achieved what very few movies have - made me feel like it was more than a movie. With Gravity, I never once thought to myself "this is just a movie" because I was so immersed. I felt the rollercoaster ride that Sandra was experiencing.
     Yeah, whatever, I know it sounds weird, but watch this movie in 3D on the biggest screen possible and you'll be doing this too. I've only seen three 3D movies and I loathe the gimmick, but it was no gimmick with Gravity. Whether you do IMAX or not, this movie needs to be in your plans. Alfonso, Sandra, George, Warner, and the hundreds of people who spent their precious time on this movie deserve a quick clap; they put together something special, not just an easy money maker. Gravity has now broken the October opening record and with the universal reviews and amazing audience reception, Gravity is prepped to have a longggg life in theaters well into 2014. And it is well deserved. To me, it's possibly the best I've seen on screen, to some it's one of the best, to some it's just great popcorn fun, and to some it sucked, but either way this is a rare movie that blends summer blockbuster action with fall awards story perfectly. With a dash of 3D, it is not a movie, it is an amazing, technical, thrilling, emotional, and immersive experience. You won't want to let go.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

October's Very Own


     October is a great month hands down. It's my birthday, football is in full force, the weather is perfect (at least where I am), Halloween (or Halloweek if you're in college), basketball begins, it's National Pizza Month, it's my birthday, and many other reasons. October isn't one of the stronger movie months, usually finishing in the bottom 3rd, but that doesn't mean October can't deliver. This year, October does look like it will deliver. And no I'm not saying that because it's National Pizza Month.
     Gravity, Runner Runner, Carrie, Captain Phillips, Machete Kills, 12 Years A Slave, The Fifth Estate, The Counselor, Escape Plan, Jackass: Bad Grandpa, and Romeo and Juliet are the wide releases, and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 will be in its second week. On paper, it looks like the only thing these movies have going for them is their cool names, but this year is a special bunch.
     For the first time in a long time, Carrie (10/18) is the only major horror of the month, which is very odd for October. We should be on Saw 10 by now. It's also the first time in what feels like forever that a Paranormal Activity movie isn't opening, though don't worry, we'll get two PA's next year. Yay. With Carrie the only option to scare the masses, the masses should show up. Usually remakes like this don't blow the box office away, but Carrie should benefit of being the lone scarer of the fall and do at least above average. Also benefiting from the absence of its genre is Cloudy 2 (9/27). Though technically a September movie, it will play like an October one. Though this is nothing new for the month of October, Cloudy 2 will be the only family friendly affair, so it should have an easy time sticking around for a while.
     This October is also looking insanely strong to make some noise in awards season. The only major awards contender last year was Argo, but this year Gravity, 12 Years, Counselor, and Captain Phillips are looking like major candidates. Gravity (10/4) is being called by some critics "the best movie of the decade". That's not too farfetched considering it's only been this decade for 3 years, and again it's critics saying this, not Warner Bros' marketing team. Gravity undoubtedly will earn a Best Effects nom, and Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, and Actor/Actress are still possible. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are the only two actors in the entire movie so all eyes will be on their performances. Just watch the trailer and you'll see why this should end up an awards juggernaut. The movie is also being called a "thrill ride" and hey audiences love rides, right? This has a strong chance of becoming October's #1 movie, especially if awards season is good to it.
     The concept of Captain Phillips (10/11) is a little more relatable, but that won't matter when it comes to awards; good thing Captain Phillips is already getting raves as well. The general consensus so far is "Tom Hanks is back and it's a thrill ride." The noms that Phillips could receive other than Best Director and maybe Cinematography aren't clear, but it's still looking to be a strong general contender and perfect fall thrill for audiences. These types of roles and voicing toys is what Hanks was born for, so if a Best Actor nom slips his way, you better cheer him on. I personally don't believe awards winners can be called so far in advance, but apparently 12 Years A Slave (10/18) is already the frontrunner to win Best Picture. 12 Years has been screened at film festivals and it's apparently left people in awe. "Strong", "brutal", "eye opening", "intense", and "almost too much to sit through" are words describing it. 12 Years doesn't have the more mainstream elements that Django did so how audiences handle it is yet to be seen, because apparently it's raw, but again this won't matter with awards. Whether 12 Years makes $100 million or $10 million, it's looking to create major noise this year. We'll have to wait until March to see if it really does win, but judging by reactions so far, don't be too surprised if it does.
     Counselor (10/25) is an awards dark horse. Coming from famed director Ridley Scott, Counselor contains an all star cast, though that also doesn't matter with awards. Based on the subject matter, it'll take a little push to get general audiences on board, but this gritty, rough, stylish action and acting is what awards voters love. This is likely to win Best Makeup more than anything else, but hey a win is a win. We'll see in a month though what that RT score is looking like. Machete Kills (10/11), Escape Plan (10/18), and Bad Grandpa (10/25) won't be around for long, but they should provide the nonsense B-movie fun that we all know and love. They will pretty much be must sees once they appear in your Netflix queue. Runner Runner (10/4), though starring the talented Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, may be a Redbox must see, but maybe it's just me. Audiences will either love it or hate it, but hopefully it will provide some respectable grosses to the October total. Fifth Estate (10/18) early on looked to be an awards contender, but after the TIFF, that's pretty much a deep sleep dream. Considering the subject matter, this may also be a toughie to get general audiences on board. If you've wanted to see Benedict Cumberbatch with blonde hair though, this is the movie of the fall for you. Not much can be said about Romeo and Juliet (10/11). If you miss it though, don't worry, it should make its cable debut on the CW in two years.
     People usually sleep through October to get ready for the winter season, but this October is one to actually stay awake for. With a respectable slate of movies and my birthday (the 5th), keep every Friday (and the first Saturday) in October circled on your calendars.
    

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Day Of The SiFi is Over?

    From the countless classics of E.T to Star Wars to Avatar to Lawnmower Man - Hollywood has delivered with Sci-Fi. It's such a successful genre across the board because of its storytelling, break from reality, and immersive effects. Is Star Wars realistic? No. Is Avatar? Not in this century. What about Lawnmower Man? Well if you own a lawnmower then kind of. That doesn't matter though. Even the superhero genre that has been getting all of Hollywood's attention since 2002 relies on sci fi. So why are people panicking? Because of the recent box office. Well this year's BO has been smelling quite fine with record breaking numbers...except in the sci-fi department.
      Oblivion, After Earth, Star Trek Into Darkness (to a lesser extent), Pacific Rim, and The Host are all sci-fi that have put up disappointing grosses this year. Are Elysium, Gravity, Thor 2, and Ender's Game next? What about Divergent, The Maze Runner, Robocop, Transcendence, Jupiter Ascending, and Intersteller for next year? John Carter, Battleship, Total Recall, The Watch, Cloud Atlas, Dredd, Prometheus, Cowboys and Aliens, Surrogates, The Thing, Mars Needs Mom, Repo Men, and Skyline are all some recent sci-fi flops/fails/bombs/disappointments. Now to be clear, the genre has still had success lately, but the flops outnumber the successes. Also it seems sci-fi, especially original, has dissapointed more lately than any other genre.
     Hollywood has made it clear that it likes to spend on success, but lately sci-fi hasn't been that. Are studios going to start red-lighting original and remakable sci-fi projects unless they're 100% proven to succeed? Elysium has a lot going for it. Matt Damon, compelling concept, stellar effects, Matt Damon, lethargic competition, good reviews, and Matt Damon. So whats the problem? Well it seems those things alone can't sell movies anymore for some reason. After Earf (thats how I say it) had Will Smith, probably the #1 star on the planet, and his offspring, but it stumbled right out of the gate. Oblivion had Tom Cruise, probably #2, and that started off nicely, but couldn't hold on. Remember also the misfires from last year, all with big name stars...except for Carter of course. Okay, stop laughing at Kitsch, he's suffered enough.
     Right now the studios are making bank with cheap R-rated comedies, superhero movies that sell toys, animated franchises that also sell toys, and dirt cheap horrors. Sci-fi's haven't been as kind and don't sell as many toys. (Don't bring up Star Wars 7, you still got 2 years for that). "Cheap" for a sci-fi isn't cheap either. If you make a summer sci-fi blockbuster for $20 million, the same price as The Conjuring, it's going to look more butt-ugly than the Butt Ugly Martians cartoon from Nickelodeon. Once it's all said and done, today's sci-fi can cost almost $200 million or more once production and marketing are both factored in. Oblivion's reported $120 million budget is cheap for sci-fi, but still expensive by today's standards.
     So what do we do? I don't want these movies to fail. Thousands of people put hard work into these movies, especially the effects team. Do you know how difficult it is to animate Optimus Prime? Why people haven't been flocking to these movies like they used to is a hard guess. Some of these movies have been garbage, but some like Oblivion, Trek, and Pac Rim were met with good reviews. Even if Elysium, Gravity, and Ender's Game fail, I don't think studio's will pull the plug on original sci-fi, but you can bet they'll retool it. We likely won't see any $200 million+ or even $150 million original concepts anytime soon, but they won't completely fade away. Sci-fi is still a beautiful genre and a year full of superhero and R-rated comedies would create too much imbalance. The concepts are there; the best thing to do at this point is to just make them cheaper and more niche-less. One problem with Pacific Rim and possibly Elsyium is that they just don't appeal to the general crowd. The marketing teams have to find a way to fix this, and fast. Elysium opens Friday, EG, and Gravity open in the Fall. Will they buck the trend? We'll see and we hope so. No one wants a Marvel movie every month.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer's Too Hot


     2013 was a dull, dull, dull...dull, dull, dull...dull, wait for it...dull year at the beginning. Attendance was down, records weren't being broken, everything was rated R, true panic mode. Fast forward to July 14 and the year has transformed from dull to "ouch I burnt my hand!". May and June both set gross records, by wide margins, and July should be decent.
     June was hot. Out of the oven hot. Out of the volcano hot. Out of the Sun hot. The previous June record was set June 2009 (Hangover, Transformers 2, Proposal) with $1.08 billion. This June? $1.24 billion! That's third in attendance, after 2002 and 2004. June also ranks as the 5th biggest month of all time! We knew June would be big, but not this big, as practically every movie broke out. Strong holdovers from May also offered their services. 2013 is now less than 1% behind 2012.
     Man of Steel led the fray with $248 million in June and $281 million so far. Man of Steel's opening was ranging from $80 million to insane. Ultimately it landed at $116 million (minus Wally World) which is excellent. That was enough for a total over $300 million, but Supes faced tough competition and may fall justttt short. Still, a sequel is guaranteed and the DCU has been born, and with over $600 million and counting worldwide, it's a success. The Purge was also a big surprise. Predicted to open in the teens, but thanks to strong social media buzz, it landed at $34 million. I predicted $33 million. As expected, The Purge's strong run in theaters lasted as long as the real purge - it dropped off the Earth and now rests at $63 million. Still, the movie only cost $3 million, so it was already profitable from day 1.
     Monsters University opened to a surprising $82 million, after predicted to land in the high 60's to mid 70's. The Pixar smash earned $170 million in June and $237 million so far and will land in Pixar's top 5. Female-driven The Heat opened to a strong $39 million and will end up being the highest grossing comedy of the summer with $112 million in the bank so far with bullets still left in the AK.
     The biggest surprise of June and arguably the summer is World War Z. Most had WWZ opening no more than $45 million...and then it goes and does $66 million, even with MU and MOS as competition. There are plenty of reasons why people online were writing off WWZ, but in the end, the zombies, Brad Pitt, Paramount, and the letter "Z" proved everyone, including me, wrong. WWZ made $123 million in its 2 weeks in June and $177 million so far, and can end up over or very close to $200 million when the zombies all die out in the theater.
     This is the End and Now You See Me, two smaller, lower budget hits, still knocked it out the park. Now You See Me currently sits at $113 million, which is where very, very few predicted it would end up. TITE also sits at $91 million. $100 million may be out of reach, but its still a huge success nonetheless, especially with the competition it faced.
     May holdovers Fast 6, Star Trek, Hangover 3, and Iron Man 3 did their parts. Technically NYSM and After Earff...okay After Earth came out May 31st, but since that's only one day of business, I considered it June. Shout out to Iron Man 3 for also becoming the 17th movie to pass $400 million. At this point, it looks like Tony Stark will stay lounging at #1 for the year, but like Kevin Garnett says, "anything is possibleeee". Speaking of After Earff (that's what I call it), the grassy green field of June of course had its share of turds.
     AE was supposed to be Shamayamama's return to prominence, but once that 11% RT score came in...anyway, the movie tanked with only $59 million in receipts, even with star Will Smith. The Internship lost its job with only $43 million, which is degrading for a comedy with this star power. White House Down, though many have seemed to enjoy it, still couldn't bring in the masses or the liberals, jk. Debuting at #4, it has amassed $62 million and won't beat Olympus Has Fallen, which was made for $70 million less.
     June was great. I loved it. I want an encore. The first two weeks of July has also been scorching hot, but things may soon cool off. I'll dive into that pool when we get there, but for now I'm fine swimming in this.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Bee-Do Bee-Do Big Can 'Despicable Me' Be?

    
     Bee-do, bee-do, bee-do, attention all, its about that time! Despicable Me 2, the new animated sequel from Universal and Illumination, is just days from release. If you haven't seen Despicable Me, you live under a rock - unless you're Patrick Star. He's seen it. If you haven't heard of the Minions, you don't live on Earth. The Minions could be called the "new Spongebob". They're yellow, they have big eyes, they're popular and they're on half of the products in Walmart. So is Despicable Me 2 the second coming of animated movies?
     Despicable Me was the sleeper hit of 2010; the Minions, Gru, and Agnes soon became worldwide phenomenons. Universal realizes the appeal and potential of the Minions so they've set a 2014 release date for their spin-off movie, and they've marketed the heck out of Despicable Me 2. It has scored over $254 million in marketing tie-ins, one of the biggest of all time. So is the awareness there? Oh yes. The thing about the Minions is they're so easy. They're simple happy go lucky "beans" with big eyes which makes them easy to slap on bags, boxes, and containers. There's even a "Despica-blimp" flying around America - the first time a studio has used an airship to advertise.
       Animated movies are tricky. They're stereotyped as "only for kids", just like cartoons. Animated movies usually do big at the BO, but when you think about it, half of its money is coming from parents who had to bring their kids, which gives animated movies a leg up over say PG-13, since most teenagers are too hip to be seen at the cineplex with mom and dad. Possibly the biggest advantage DM2 has is its adult appeal. Not just kids, but teens and adults also love the Minions (I know 40 year olds excited for this, yall). Go ahead and call them annoying, you're a minority. Like I said, "new Spongebob". People call Mr. Squarepants annoying, but does that stop him from being the #1 cartoon character of the 21st century? Nope. And can he be #1 if he's only adored by kids? Not even. The Minions have had commercials during high-rated sports programs, they have a Progressive commercial, which for those of you that don't know, Progressive is car insurance, and considering kids can't drive, it's meant to appeal to adults, and they already have their own ride at Universal Studios Orlando. What great and smart product placement.
     Why was Shrek 2 the biggest animated movie of all time? And still is. After 9 years. And why was Shrek big enough to start it all? A big reason is likely that CG animation was still in its infancy and not saturated back in '01 and '04, but another big player was the adult appeal. Shrek and Shrek 2 had many jokes for kids, like fart jokes, but also many jokes for adults that flew right over kids' heads, like celebrity references. Shrek's heavy reliance on pop culture and adult humor brought adults in in droves and Despicable Me utilized the same style, hence a reason why many people are calling it the the next Shrek.
     I believe that Despicable Me 2 will be the biggest animated movie between Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory (I think FD will be the movie to dethrone Shrek 2). Universal's A+ marketing, the universal appeal of the Minions and Gru (see what I did there?), adult appeal, perfect release date, 3D, and a lackluster looking July could drive Despicable Me 2 to at least $350 million and huge numbers overseas. But can it hit $400 million? It's hard to call, and pretty tough, but again considering that all ages admitted are excited for this and and the positive responses for Despicable Me, even on home video, it could. I'm going to stick with $350 million to play it safe, but if the Minions cruise past that, its gravy to me. The movie is already trampling records in the UK and other countries and if they are any indication, Despicable Me 2 is in for a wild lofty run. And I leave you with this.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How High Will Superman Soar?

   2006. 2006 was the last time Superman has appeared on the silver screen. 2006 is also possibly the last time you fell asleep during a superhero movie. Okay, maybe Iron Man 2. You're living under two rocks if you don't already know, but a new Superman movie is coming out - next week, and it looks gorgeous, and most importantly, not boring.
     Superman Returns grossed $200M in the US and $391M worldwide. Now, that's pretty bad, but in 2006 it was exceptional, but still a disappointment.Warner yet again had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to do it right. After the colorful failure of Green Lantern (see what I did?), the soon ending of Nolan's Batman, and the success of Marvel, Warner was in desperate need to get a DC hero back in the cineplex. Superman was the easiest bet and Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, and Zack Snyder were eventually landed as producer, writer, and director respectively. British actor Henry Cavill landed the part of Clark Kent/Supes and filming began in 2011. Though everyone on the internet basically wants to have Nolan's babies, Zack Snyder doesn't have the best track record among the web crowd, so initial reactions weren't all that stellar and most had Man of Steel barely making above Superman Snores -- I meant Returns. Now, this movie has pulled a 216. Yep, 180 just isn't enough.
     Man of Steel looks beautiful. Snyder's movies may not have the best stories, but the visuals always make your eyes want to give you a hug. Now predictions for MoS are even as high as $400M, double what some were predicting just 2 years ago. Though predictions in the $300 mills is more realistic, it's still stellar and breaks the laws of reboots. The "S" doesn't stand for Superman (yeah, I couldn't believe it either when I learned it...a few months ago), it stands for "hope". Responsibility, hope, power, fitting in, self discovery, acceptance, limits, and family are all themes of the movie and should win over critics and parents with rebellious middle schoolers. The bar for action has been raised and Snyder's impressive style and fast approach is sure to wow audiences. I mean wowwww.
     Early reactions for MoS so far has been mostly stellar and early buzz is through the roof, with MoS already selling tickets like Bojangles biscuits at 8 am. Thought to be impossible a few months ago, MoS has a legit shot at a $100M opening, and the June weekend record. I have MoS at a $111M opening and $310-$340M finish, though it's not impossible for this to go higher. Superman has never looked better on the screen, and he finally knows how to wear underwear properly. The Superman "S" is the 2nd most recognized symbol in the world after the cross and he is still arguably the most known superhero. That doesn't mean people are just going to show up, the movie still has to appeal, and so far it seems to be going beyond that. Marketing has also gone the whole 10 yards and MoS has racked up $160M in promotional tie-ins. If you go to Walmart, you won't leave without seeing at least 40 items with MoS on it. Speaking of Walmart, they're even selling advanced tickets, the first time a major retailer has done this.
     Everyone. That's who this movie appeals to. You don't have to follow Superman to understand this movie. I do all my learning through Wikipedia. By early reactions and trailers, it seems Man of Steel won't disappoint. Though it won't reach Iron Man 3 and Dark Knight Rises opening levels, it's still poised to pull in a big league opening next week.
     Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Lawrence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni (the SVU theme just played in your head, didn't it?), Antje Traue, Michael Keaton, and Russell Crowe (no, he doesn't sing). Directed by Zack Snyder, catch Man of Steel June 14 and worldwide starting June 13.
     Watch the mouth watering MoS Nokia trailer, trailer 4, and trailer 3 here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Madness

    Memorial weekend is always lucrative at the box office, but this weekend, May 24-27, brought in the money and people in droves. This weekend is the highest grossing and most attended Memorial weekend of all time with $310 million in business. Though only the 6th highest grossing 3-day weekend ever, its the most attended and highest grossing 4-day. Another amazing feat is that Furious 6, the #1 movie, only accounted for 39% of the total. In most weekends this big, the #1 usually takes in 60-80% of the business.
     Furious 6 came in at #1 with $120m, Hangover 3 at #2 with $51.2m, Star Trek at #3 with $47m, Epic at #4 with 42.6m, Iron Man 3 at #5 with $24.3m, and Gatsby at #6 with $17m. The next closest movie was Mud with
only $2.4m. These numbers all look good together, but there were some successes, along with some stinkers. And I mean clogged port-a-potty type of stinker.
     Furious 6 defied expectations and gravity. Its 3-day opening increased over Fast 5 and it is also Universal's highest opening ever. 3 of the top 4 Universal openings are from the Fast and Furious series. It is by far their biggest franchise. Universal has been trying to expand F&F's audience, and they succeeded, bringing in 46% females and 43% under the age of 25. Another interesting fact is the opening was 32% Hispanic. Furious 6 will now coast past Fast 5's total with ease.
     Hangover 3's weekend may look big, but "fail" is the only word to describe it. Hangover 3's five day total is $63m, but Hangover 2 opened to $135m on the same weekend two years ago. Given that movies drop big the next weekend and Hangover 3's total is so far off from 2, Hangover 3 will certainly finish below Furious 6's 4-day total. That's one Hangover that WB might not want to wake up from. The movie has also been ravaged by critics, 21% and 4/10 on RT, mocked by audiences, and likely will be neglected in the coming weeks - at least until it hits Redbox. Many factors could contribute to Hangover 3's collapse - more of the same, lukewarm reception of Part 2, the change on emphasis from comedy to action, poor reviews, competition (doesn't help that F6 got 72% on RT and an A from audiences), fatigue, and the blatant killing of animals. PETA will be on WB's ass soon enough.
     Epic, being the first kids movie since March, scored well and should play well with families with no major competition for 4 weeks when Monsters University opens and with kids now getting out of school.
     After a "disappointing" opening last week, Star Trek Into Darkness rebounded this weekend, even with the stiff competition. Darkness is now back on track for an over $200m finish and Paramount's losses should be softened. Though, they'll still have losses.
     Iron Man 3 is still going strong after 4 weeks and its total now stands at $372m. IM3 will soon finish over $400m and it could be the only 2013 film to do so, though Catching Fire still has a shot, but regardless, Iron Man 3 will likely stay the highest grossing movie of the year and the highest grossing movie until Avengers 2 in 2015, but with box office, anything can happen. Gatsby sits at $117m and its run is still doing better than what most expected.
     May 2013 has already set a record for highest grossing May of all time and the rest of the summer looks huge as a whole. Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2, Monsters U, World War Z, White House Down, Elysium, Pacific Rim, Lone Ranger, The Purge, The Heat, Grown Ups 2, 2 Guns, Smurfs 2, After Earth, This Is The End, Wolverine, yeah the list just keeps going. 2013 is closing the gap with 2012 and this Summer likely will land as the top grossing and one of the most attended of all time. No need to do drugs because these movies will provide one of the best highs you'll experience. Get to your theater and prepare to melt in your seat!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

'Furious 6' Shifts Into High Gear

     Warning. Fast and Furious 6 is so mind-blowing, you need 8 brains to process it. You won't be able to concentrate after and you'll try to comprehend what you just saw, but your mind will be so scrambled, that will be impossible for a few hours. Fast and Furious 6, or Furious 6 as it is in the movie, defies logic, defies gravity, defies all scientific and road laws, but who cares? Its Fast and Furious, and that's what they do best, and they sure did it well. From the first scene, Furious 6 kicks it into high gear, and they don't let up.
     Furious 6 follows the gang as they're living their laid back lives across the world. Hobbs aka "Samoan Thor"(Dwayne Johnson) is chasing a racing crew lead by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) through Europe who hijacks military equipment to build a tech bomb to sell to billionaires. Once Hobbs finds out the second-in-command is Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), who is Dom Torretto's (Vin Diesel) supposedly dead girlfriend, he goes looking for Dom. Hobbs finds Dom and tells him that he needs Dom and his team to help him and the DSS find the crew and bring them down, before they cause global disaster. In return, they will get closer to Letty, and receive pardons, though they practically care more about the former.
     The rest of the movie is Dom's team, including Brian (Paul Walker), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), Giselle (Gal Gadot), and Han (Sung Kang) chasing Shaw's team through Europe before they take off with a computer chip to complete their bomb to sell. Mia (Jordana Brewster) is still in the mix, but she plays a different role since her and Brian now have a kid.
     What are sequels supposed to do? Bring something new, but keep familiar with the old, without bringing more of the same. Furious 6 achieves that. After Fast Five, it was wondered how Furious 6 could ever top it. Now, after seeing Furious 6, I have no idea how Fast 7 will top that. No idea. Furious 6 felt like an obvious sequel to Fast Five, but with stakes, action, urgency, and relationships all raised. A good thing about Furious 6 is even if you haven't seen Fast 1-5, you don't have a tough time understanding the characters, though watching at least Fast Five is good idea.
     When it comes to action movies, I like crystal clear action, no shaky cam, and great pacing. Justin Lin, the director, did an excellent job setting up the action scenes and switching between characters. With so many characters, its easy to get lost and easily forget what they're all supposed to be doing, but with the smooth transitions and clear path, Furious 6 succeeds. The biggest theme in Furious 6 is "family". Dom's team is one big extended family and you see that. The chemistry between the characters was just as good as Avengers from last year. Dom and Brian, Roman and Tej, Roman and everyone, Dom and Shaw, Letty and Riley (Gina Carano), Letty and Dom, Owen and Letty, Dom and Hobbs, the chemistry is amazing. Having a movie with a million characters can easily bring it down, but Furious 6 did a great job at keeping it integral.
     Like every movie, they are a couple problems. The biggest one is that Letty's plot is very predictable. Shaw's team was also underdeveloped and not given much freedom to do things outside of Shaw's orders of drive and shoot. There was little improvising between them, unlike Dom's team. The plot in whole wasn't predictable, but individual scenes were. Hobbs also delivered some cheesy lines that were more miss than hit. Shaw, though he was a villain, felt just like another player on his team. Other than him being the leader, there wasn't much separating him from his teammates and he lacked menace and instead does most of his dirty work through a cell phone. Though to be fair, that is a big problem with most villains outside of superhero movies, and even they have issues.
     My theater went wild during Furious 6 and it was a great experience. This is a movie you just have to see with a huge crowd to get full benefit. Believe it or not, at my showing their was 4 year olds in front of me, 7 year olds behind, all major races (no pun intended), teenagers, senior citizens - my theater room was one big multi-cultural melting pot. I extremely recommend Furious 6. It is a movie where you have to suspend belief, but hey you had to do that with Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and Skyfall too. Solid A and automatically one of my favorites ever, and my favorite in the Fast series. I knew I would enjoy Furious 6, but I wasn't expecting as much intense action, witty banter, and strong central characters as their was. Catch Furious 6 in theaters NOW or miss out!
    

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

'Iron Man 3' Lifts To The 2nd Biggest Opening Ever

     Iron Man 3, starring Robert Downey Jr, flew into North American theaters last weekend, ranking #2 all time, behind another Iron Man vehicle - Avengers. It is a given now that Iron Man 3 will pass $1 billion dollars worldwide given its $680 million total in one week. IM3 is also set for over $400M domestic and as I predict a decrease for the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, Iron Man 3 is set for #1 of 2013, the fourth #1 for a Marvel character in 11 years.
     $174.1 million. That's a lot of millions, right? Right, and that's how many millions Iron Man 3 pulled in last weekend. Thanks to RDJ, the Disney/Marvel production and marketing machine, and well received previous installments, Iron Man is a certified A-list hero, arguably the #2 most popular around the world right now after Batman.
     Iron Man 3 was a massive upgrade from the lazy Iron Man 2 that featured less action that a shopping trip to Marshall's. Shane Black, a known action director, helmed Iron Man 3 and he surely left his mark. Iron Man 3 had its tense and dark moments, but at times it borderlines as a comedy. Robert Downey Jr's quick whit rubbed off on everyone around him. Maya who the scientist in the opening scene, Happy Hogan who Tony's bodyguard, Harley who is a kid from Tennessee, and even the henchmen. When the action is not happening in act two, it's basically a boxing match between Tony and Harley on who has the best witty banter. A key thing about Iron Man 3 is all the characters play significant roles. Many blockbusters fail at utilizing all the characters given, but every character is integral to Tony's story and journey and the chemistry is clear. Tony and Pepper are more emotionally connected than ever and they share one of the strongest relationships on screen in a while.
     There wasn't much I found necessarily wrong with Iron Man 3, but I wasn't blown away. There were some plot elements in the movie that were left unexplained, but they're not big enough where they take away from the movie. I'm not a whiner about plot holes anyway. The climax, though it was huge, also had a few small issues. The major twist didn't bother me since I don't read comics, but I can completely understand why die hard fanboys would be upset. They were so upset that "Iron Man 3 sucks" was trending on Twitter by Friday morning, but that all changed once Friday night came around and "awesome" was most popular adjective used to describe the movie.
     My favorite thing about Iron Man 3 was the Mark 42 armor. That armor provided great quick action and even comedy. From the underwater scene to the Air Force One rescue (which in my opinion is the best action sequence in the movie) to the "journey across America", the armor was like none we've seen in the previous Iron Man movies. Kudos for the originality on that. Most of the action sequences were also clean and swift. I'm not a fan of shaky cam, quick ADHD cuts, and overzealous in and out zooms. Having Tony out of the suit and showing his strengths and weaknesses without it was also a plus. When you go to a superhero movie, you want to see the hero with his cape for as much of the movie as possible, but Tony out of it lead for great development. Dark Knight Rises and Spider Man 2 did the same to progress their characters.
     Overall I give Iron Man 3 a 4 out 5. You may have seen the story before, but it provides the type of summer movie fun that you crave, while still keeping strong characters, great acting, and clear action. Setting records in most of the countries it was released in, Iron Man 3 is a true worldwide phenomenon. RDJ's Marvel contract has expired, but its strongly expected that he'll return for Avengers 2 as Iron Man is Marvel's mascot and one of the main reason for the success of Avengers. Iron Man 3 doesn't rise to the bar that was set by its first movie in 2008, and its a little clunky and questioned at times, but still well directed, acted, and dialogue written, Iron Man 3 proves you can have a "Hulk Smash" at the BO, without the Hulk.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How Much Money Can 'Iron Man' Lift?

     Iron Man 3, the new movie from...does this really need an introduction? Okay, I'll give it one. Starring the Robert Downey Jr, Gweneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pierce, Rebecca Hall, and John Favreau, it is the latest installment in the Iron Man franchise, this time directed by action director Shane Black, produced by Marvel, and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Iron Man 3 takes places after The Avengers and it's the first film in Marvel's 'Phase 2'.
     America will finally get the film in 7 days, May 3rd, but most other countries already have their hands - or eyes - on it. Iron Man 3 opened April 24, 25, and today the 26th in most countries, including big boy territories - the UK, Australia, France, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines. China, Hollywood's new favorite vacation spot, gets the movie May 3rd. It's hard to believe, but America gets the movie 2nd to last - May 3rd. China's ahead in time zones, they beat us.
     So whats the big deal? "Yay, Iron Man is out in places I'll never go. Why are you telling me?" I'm telling you because Iron Man 3 is doing something big and somewhat unexpected. Iron Man 3 in many countries has opened bigger than the big Avengers in its first few days. Do you remember how massive Avengers was? So massive, it would put a dent in Mount Everest if you sat Avengers on top of it. So massive, NASA gives it a planetary certification. It was that massive - the biggest movie since '09. Yeah, only three years, but that was the biggest movie since '97, so its a big deal. Wow, I've said "big" a lot.
     Does this mean Iron Man 3 will outgross Avengers' $1.5 billion worldwide? #3 all time? Likely not, but it does mean Iron Man is about to light up the box office. Front yard Christmas lights style.
     In the Philippines and Taiwan, Iron Man 3 scored the biggest opening day of all time - picture that in a Kayne West VMA voice - "okay other blockbusters, I'ma let y'all finish, but Iron Man 3 had the biggest opening of all time...all time" *drops mic and walks away*. It's total already stands at $36.5 million - in 2 days. In the UK, it opened behind Avengers, but ahead in Hong Kong and Indonesia. It opened 3rd all time in South Korea and 2nd all time in Argentina.
     Iron Man 3's impressive WW debut bodes well for America. IM3 has little chance of outdoing Avengers record $207M, but a debut between $150-$180M looks in store, which could place it even 2nd all time if it makes over $169.2M. The marketing for IM3 has been stellar and RDJ made a world tour, promoting the movie around the world. There was worry that now that Iron Man is flying solo (pun not intended), that some people would lose interest (spoiler alert - no Hulk smash in Iron Man 3). There was also worry that the lazy movie that talked us to death, aka Iron Man 2, would impact this one, as not-as-well received sequels tend to do to their threequels, but it looks like Iron Man 3 is having no problem.
     Thanks the the marketing, stellar reviews -  92% on RT as of this post, the "Avengers effect", the star power of RDJ, heavy action, great performances (Ben Kinglesy Oscar 2014? Hmm...), and Iron Man being catapulted to at least the worlds 2nd favorite hero (behind Batman), if not the first, Iron Man 3 is poised to smash the BO. Hulk smash. Minus the Hulk. In America, Catching Fire will give it a run for its money, but IM3 is still my favorite to win the year. Come back next week when I reveal just how big IM3 did do and give a spoiler free review. Catch Iron Man and his 30-something suits now or next week, depending on your locale!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chugging Along, Fast As We Can


2013 got off to a slow start. January was a dud, February was horrendous, but March picked up slack, but it wasn't good enough. March was the 3rd highest grossing and 8-10th highest attended March ever; so somewhat a plus. February doesn't crack the top 10 adjusted though. Things do look promising in the coming months.
     So "why" you ask? Why the slow start? 2012, especially the first three months, set the BO on fire and 2012 broke oh so many records; so why does replacing the "2" with a "3" drag everything back down? Well there were a couple factors. Lack of family affair, violence, and poor reviews.
     Violence. Violence, violence, violence. There was so much violence. After the extremely tragic events at Newtown in December, America was tired of seeing it; I know I was. 10 movies were released wide in January and of those 10, 9, yes 9 were rated R. Then there was a PG-13 horror tossed in there (which was the highest grossing of the month by far). Of those 8 R rated movies, 5 would qualify for "shoot-em-up, blow-em-up, chop-em-up" style. TV is also rattled with violence now and Americans were likely asking themselves "why go pay $10 at the theater to watch more violence?" It wasn't only the violence though; only 2 movies (one technically coming out in 2012) were given "fresh" reviews; Mama and Zero Dark Thirty.
     February was even worse. Way worse. 11 movies (5 rated R, 0 G) were released wide in February and the biggest by far and currently #2 for the year was Identity Theft. Starring the red hot comics Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, IT was the first true comedy of the year, and the R rating didn't stop it. In wake of all the violence, all we needed was a little comedy. Though IT received poor reviews, audiences didn't care. The simple premise and comedic draws were enough to drive the crowds. Nick Sparks' PG-13 Safe Haven was second with $70M. Even though Die Hard 5 was #3 for February, it shouldn't have been. Die Hard 5 was the frontrunner to win the month and it crashed and burned (like many things in the movie). Negative reviews were probably the biggest killer for this as it opened somewhat solid over Valentines Weekend. Warm Bodies was the biggest surprise of the month, ranking #3 for zombie movies. Bullet to the Head (yes, that's the title), was the latest of R-rated shoot-em-up fare to fall victim to 2013 audiences not having it and it became a bomb for WB. Funny thing is they took out "killer" in the bomb Jack the Giant Slayer to make it more friendly. Maybe "Blow to the Head" or "Kiss to the Cheek" would have been better? Beautiful Creatures also had an ugly gross.
     March was the best of the bunch, but it wasn't "march madness" from last year. Jack the Giant Slayer bombed hard and will lose WB over $150M. The college crowd wasn't ready to be 21 and Over as that made half of Project X's gross. There was Last Exorcism 2 that got zero demons out of anybody. Phantom bombed. Dead Man Down (another violent R) was DOA. Spring Breakers was solid and made back its budget, but the party was short. Burt Wonderstone was the latest tragedy for WB and is one of Carrel's and Carey's lowest grossers ever. And I hope no one was a host for the party for The Host, because no one came. WAIT! March did have a bright side. Olympus Has Fallen broke the streak of violent R failing and earned over $30M on OW. It is poised to finish between $80-$100M and is Film District's biggest hit yet. The Croods luckily was no Guardians. Croods, the first big animated family movie of the year, has been doing very well and should finish between $170M-$200M. Speaking of $200M, Oz was the biggest movie of the month and year so far, grossing $212M and $454M worldwide. That's a hefty number, but Oz likely won't break the black in theaters due to the insane budget and marketing costs. Good thing the 99 cent "Oz Temple Run" is lighting up the App Store. GI Joe 2 is also a solid hit and gave March a boost and Temptation and The Call had a strong openings. 15 movies went wide in March.
     April doesn't look electrifying (does it ever?), but it won't be another "February". Summer 2013 though, looks gigantic and looks to be one of the biggest summer's ever. 2013 with the slow start could still pick up slack and get back on 2012 levels, but Summer will need to be a beast and the Holidays will need to live up to the hype. April could also provide some help to, which it's doing this weekend, with Evil Dead at #1, was bigger than the same weekend last year. There you go! We're getting somewhere.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back 2 Work - 'Despicable Me 2'

     After three years of anticipation, the minions are finally back as the new trailer for Despicable Me 2 is now out. The new trailer has been released today and should play in front of The Croods on Friday. All of your favorites from Despicable Me are back; Gru, the MINIONS, Agnes, Edith, Margo, and Dr. Nefario (though he's not seen in the the trailer).
     The trailer starts with Gru giving the girls a kiss goodnight and a funny rant from the cute Agnes. Gru then runs into Agent Lucy Wild of the "Anti Villain League"; she abducts Gru and two minions, comically, and takes them to an underground CIA/MI6'esque facility where Silas Ramsbottom (who will be the butt of jokes by them minions, and pun intended) tells him a new villainous threat has surfaced and since he "knows how a villain thinks", that is why they brought him to the facility. The trailer ends with the Gru showcasing how he's going to save the world again and more minion mischief. The new trailer is on here on Youtube.
     Despicable Me was a surprise hit in 2010, blowing away predications and expectations of everyone, including Universal and Illumination. Despicable Me finished #7 for the year and #2 for animation after Toy Story 3. Despicable Me's $251 domestic gross was still huge for computer animation today and it ranks #9 all time in CG animation and #1 for a CG movie not made by Pixar or DreamWorks.
     Despicable Me 2 will battle with Monsters University for #1 animation of the year, though I'm in favor of Despicable Me 2. The minions were and still are hilarious and they are the perfect marketing tool, positive reception from the first movie, a new storyline, 3D, sequel status, and great marketing should position this as one of the top for the year, and some are considering this a dark horse to win the year over Iron Man 3 and Catching Fire. Can it pull a Shrek 2 or will it pull a Kung Fu Panda 2 or somewhere in-between? We'll know come this time next year. Despicable Me 2 opens July 3, 2013 in America and June through October worldwide.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jack The Giant Failure

     Odds are you haven't seen Jack The Giant Slayer. Odds are you won't anytime soon. Only around 5 million people domestically have since its opening on March 1st. Oz captured at least 8 million people in its first 5 days alone. Jack is not what Warner Bros wanted or needed it to be. After the failures of Gangster Squad, Beautiful Creatures, Burt Wonderstone, Cloud Atlas, and Bullet to the Head, and the Justice League turmoil, Jack has just added to the dry spell in Warner checkbooks. On a plus side, WB had a very solid 2012 (minus Atlas) and Hobbit became the latest movie to cross $1 billion worldwide.
     Jack the Giant Slayer, directed by Bryan Singer and starring Nicholas Hoult, is no doubt this years John Carter. John Carter is even tracking ahead of Jack. So far, Jack has grossed $45.8 million domestic and $68.1 million worldwide and with a 68.3% drop in it's second weekend, Jack won't be at the box office party for long; his curfew is kicking in. John Carter has made $10 million more through the same point.
     Jack is obviously going to be a massive loss for Warner Bros, but Jack has been doomed for a long time. Originally set to come out in June 2012, Warner pushed Jack back to March 2013 for various reasons, one to make the movie "more kid-friendly". March has become a lucrative months for studios and is arguably the most sought after month outside of the summer and holiday months. The overall goal of the movie just never fell in play.
     Jack's delays have raised the budget, but there's really no reason for it to cost as much as it did. The same can be said for Oz, Battleship, really anything with a budget over $200 million. Oz debuted to $79.1 million last weekend and should be a decent hit for Disney, but "decent" is not what they wanted; but you have to ask yourself, did they really need to give Oz a $200 million budget and $100 million in marketing? Did Oz need the dazzling effects, A-list stars, flying baboons, and all the advertising? Would an $80 million Oz have done or been just as good? Those are very opinionated questions; many people still go to movies for stories over effects, which is a complaint from many critics about Oz, but in the end, the studio makes the call; its there money.
     Jack will be a shot in the feet (not foot) for WB, but their summer schedule shows promise. 2013 has been lethargic as a whole (see my earlier post) for various reasons, but it probably won't be completely understood why Jack failed. Jack may end with no more than $60 million domestic and worldwide isn't promising, but at least that's one more unneeded sequel that won't be released in 2014-2015.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Heavy Metal; 'Iron Man 3' Trailer Released

     The new trailer for Iron Man 3 has hit the web today and it's two and half minutes of Marvel goodness. Iron Man 3, this time directed by Shane Black, tells the tale of Tony Stark aka Iron Man who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after the events of The Avengers. Ever since, all he spends his time doing is building new armors. When the Mandarin, the villainous leader of the terrorist group "the Ten Rings" surfaces and strips Tony of everything he knows and loves (his Malibu mansion gets blown into the ocean), Tony must now use his scraps to rebuild his life and find this terrorist, who uses actual ten rings for mythical and physical power, and take him down.
     Also thrown in, a "virus" called Extremis, which can turn an ordinary pizza guy, into a superhuman soldier. Note, no pizza guys actually make an appearance, that I'm aware of, just an example. Aldrich Killian, a scientist who develops Extremis turns rogue, partnering with Mandarin and takes the virus himself.
     Tony's beautiful house is in the bottom of the sea, Pepper's been kidnapped, Tony's armor's have been blown to scrap, and he can't contact his Avengers pals; he's alone. After taking a brisk walk through the snow, thinking about life, Tony realizes he has to use his most powerful weapon, his brain, to save the world and the lives of the people he loves.
     The trailer is beautiful. Tony Stark is known for his wit, sarcasm, and nonchalant lifestyle, but this trailer is a great display of the character's emotional depth, as wit and sarcasm alone won't save him. War Machine is also seen with a redesigned Iron Patriot look and more time is spent with this trailer showcasing the Mandarin and Killian. This trailer is easily one of Marvel's most serious, but don't worry, Iron Man 3 reportedly still features some comedy. RDJ is starring in this, there has to be comedy. The last Iron Man 3 trailer has already amassed 50 million views on YouTube, one of the best ever for a movie trailer. This one, one of the most top notch trailers I've seen in a while, should come close. I still have Iron Man 3 pegged as the #1 movie of the year. It'll be in competition with Catching Fire, but I don't think Katniss' bows can match Stark's arsenal.
     Watch the new action packed Iron Man 3 trailer here. Also catch the older, but still awesome Iron Man 3 trailer here.
     Iron Man 3 stars Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Guy Pierce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall,  and Jon Favreau. Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, though Paramount's logo will show because of a deal between Disney/Paramount, Iron Man 3 flies into theaters April international and May 3rd worldwide.
     You're up, Man of Steel and Amazing Spider Man 2.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

2013 To The Emergency Room

     One word to describe the 2013 box office so far - anemic. 2013 is off to a terrible start and things aren't looking too much better before the summer. So far, 2013 has brought in $1.473 billion domestically. A billion dollars is a lot of dollars, but when it comes to the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry, this is chump change. January was poor and February was the lowest grossing since 2002; 11 years ago. The low gross also means that January and February were even lower in attendance. Frost is forming on theater seats.
     Only 1 movie from January and February, Identity Theft, has and will cross $100 million. Last year we had 3. Silver Linings Playbook, Django, Les Miz, and Life of Pi have crossed $100 million this year, but they are 2012 movies, so they don't count.
     2012 started off on a shockingly great pace. February and March set gross records and if it wasn't for 2009's Avatar, 2010's January record could have been broken too. February 2012 ranked 4th in all time attendance and March ranked 2nd. The "people don't go to the movies anymore" argument still isn't valid, at least it wasn't last year. So why? Why in just one year has the market shifted back to the doldrums? Not only did 2012 start on a strong note, but it ended on one as 2012 set a new November record.
     To start, Hollywood has been churning out crappy movies. And crappy is saying it lightly; I can't say the real definition here. (children readers). This isn't my opinion; this is fact. Of 24 wide releases so far, 21 have been rated rotten and only THREE movies have been rated fresh. In order for a movie to be rated fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, 60% or more of the critics that reviewed the movie have to give it a positive review. Ticket prices are ever increasing and people are more cautious of what movies they spend money on. Some horrible movies do succeed, but if its horrible movie after horrible movie every weekend, it gets tired. Critic reviews are opinionated and not everyone thinks the movies are bad; Identity Theft only has 24% on RT, but its 2013's highest grosser by far, but in general, the movies are dissatisfying. A Good Day to Die Hard is a big example.
     Movies are a family affair. The studios aren't getting the hint. There has only been one nationwide family release this year; Escape to Planet Earth. Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful is being released next week and should tap into the family market, but it is still not enough. There have been zero G rated movies and one PG rated movie so far this year. There has been at least one R rated release every week this year, and some weekends this year all releases were rated R. Hollywood needs to change this fast. Many Americans don't want to keep seeing so much violence, especially after all the real life violence that has been going on lately. TV is also violent so why go to theater to watch more violence? Basically, stop with a shoot-em-up, blow-em-up, chop-em-up movie every Friday; mix the market up to appeal to everyone.
     The economy, winter weather, higher prices, low quality movies, too many R rated movies, not enough family movies, piracy, Redbox and Netflix are all contributing to the lower grosses in some way. Some people are now opting to wait 5 months on a movie so they can pay $1 to rent or watch it streaming at home. Who's paying $10 for Broken City when reviews say its just like every other movie of its genre? Is Bullet to the Head really an appropriate and appealing title? This is the from the same studio that took "killer" out of Jack the Giant Killer and replaced it with "slayer." Do people want to see Texas Chainsaw 14 that's no different from Texas Chainsaw 1-13? The answer right now is a majority "no." Just look at the grosses. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Statham, Hollywood's "action captain's", fell flat.
     2012 was the same way with an R rated movie coming out every weekend, but the market was more diverse; especially the February 10th weekend. March will be the on the stronger side, but it's not too promising. Oz has an epic scope, but that doesn't guarantee epic grosses. GI Joe: Retaliation looks leagues above Rise of Cobra, but if it does break out, it will help April more than March. The Host could be the new Twilight, but it could also be Beautiful Creatures. After the disappointing run of Rise of the Guardians, The Croods is under pressure. Every other March release looks average and the March 1st-3rd weekend will be a disappointment based on Friday estimates.
     2013 is not doomed. 2012 started off elite, but then went back to decade low weekends, then rebounded in November. 2013's summer looks stronger than 2012's, but if March and April don't shape up, 2013 won't come close to a record. Take a look at the 2013 summer schedule; it will be extremely interesting.
     It's still early and 2013 has a long way to go, so we'll see what happens. I did an article in August 2012 when that year was going on it's landslide, so hopefully 2013 will strive for an uphill climb. Hollywood has the power, they have to make it happen. 2013, I believe in you.
    
    

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thank The Academy For The 85th Annual Oscar's

     The 85th annual Academy Awards are over and they were nothing short of spectacular. Hosted by Seth MacFarlane at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood; it was a good night for the Academy; not so good for the people who can't sit in a chair for over 3 hours straight, aka anyone with a butt. The ceremony scored 40 million viewers.
     There were 24 awards given out. From Best Picture to Best Makeup to Best Seth's Personal Insult (not really). Lincoln was nominated for 12 awards, Life of Pi was second with 11, Les Mis and Silver Linings Playbook had 8, and Argo was next with 7. Life of Pi won the most awards with 4.
     Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for his work in Django Unchained and Anne Hathaway won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Les Miserables. See, you don't have to be front and center to steal the show. Anne hands down stole the show, and the show stole her hair. Waltz was the comic relief for Django. He would deliver regular sentences, but he delivered with perfect wit and sarcasm.
     Life of Pi, Lincoln, Anna Karenina, Argo, and Les Miserables took home the eye candy awards. Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography went to Life of Pi. Les Mis took home the award for Best Makeup, Anna Kareninia took home Best Costume Design, Argo won the award for Best Editing, and Lincoln took home Best Art Direction.
     The ear candy awards went to Les Miserables, Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty (in a tie, what??), and Life of Pi. Best Original Song went to Adele for "Skyfall", Best Original Score went to Life of Pi, the tie was for Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound went to Les Miserables. When you make a theater full of people cry just by singing, then you need to win Best Sound. The last tie was in 1968.
     My favorite categories, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay went to Quentin Tarantino and Chris Terrio, respectively. Tarantino won for Django Unchained and Terrio won for Argo. That's a great accomplishment for Argo, since part of the movie was inspired from a magazine article. Good job fleshing that out, Terrio.
     Size doesn't matter at the Oscars. The smaller films couldn't be overlooked; the documentaries and shorts. Searching for the Sugarman took home the award for Best Documentary, Curfew took home Best Live Action Short, and Paperman from Disney took home Best Animated Short. English isn't the language of love, Austrian is; Amour won the award for Best Foreign Language Film.
     Pixar yet again took home Best Animated Picture with Brave. Personally, I was pulling for Wreck-It Ralph, which is better according to me, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, IMDB, and various other previous awards shows, but either way, the Mouse House won.
     The most prestigious awards of the night, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Film were well deserved. The Best Director award went to Ang Lee for Life of Pi. I personally didn't see that coming, nor did I see Life of Pi, but Ang Lee is a great director and Life of Pi is a great movie. You don't have to see it to know it's great. Ang also gets bonus points for the cool name.
      Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his work as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln. Day-Lewis has now won 3 Oscar's as a leading actor, a record.
     Jennifer Lawrence surprised when she beat out 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis (try saying that fast 5 times, or saying it at all), 85 year old Emmanuelle Riva, and reported frontrunner Jessica Chastain for Best Actress for her work in Silver Lining's Playbook.
     Argo was the real deal as it beat out all of the movies I've already mentioned 20 times to win Best Picture. Directed by Ben Affleck, Argo is the highest critically rated mainstream movie of the year. Argo was released on October 12th (a week after my birthday; sorry had to say it) and it is still going strong in theaters. Despite being released on home video last week, Argo dropped only 16%. It has amassed $130 million domestic and $207 million worldwide on a $45 million budget and after winning BP, its life in theaters should be prolonged, again. A well deserved win for Affleck and Co.
      17 of my 23 predictions were right. Jennifer Lawrence surprised by winning Best Actress and I was wrong on Best Editing, Cinematography, and Art Direction, which I saw going to Zero Dark Thirty (though I just put something down there), Skyfall, and Life of Pi, respectively. I also had Steven Spielberg for Best Director.
      Superlative awards are as followed; Best Personality went to Kristen Stewart. No, wrong, I meant Jennifer Lawrence and Quvenzhane Wallis; gotta love them. Best Inspirational Speech went to Ben Affleck; gotta love him. Longest Speech went to Bill Westenhofer, who was cut off by the Jaws theme and ABC. Some think the chime is rude, but they have to air those commercials they were paid for. Most Offensive Joke, the Lincoln joke. 150+ years and it's just still too soon.
      So which one of these actors, actresses, directors, movies, writers, etc. will win at the 2013 Kid's Choice Awards in March? Will Argo win Best Picture? What about Django? Or does Zero Dark Thirty appeal best to kids? Tune into the Kids Choice Awards on Nickelodeon next month to find out.