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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.