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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Two Years War

     2015 is two years away, but Hollywood is filling up the schedule. Right now that schedule is absolutely ridiculous. 2015 is shaping up to be the highest grossing year ever and could maybe bring back attendance.
     Star Wars 7, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, The Avengers 2, Justice League, Ant-Man, Penguins of Madagascar, Hunger Games- Mockingjay Part 2, an untitled Pixar film, Peanuts (Charlie Brown), The Smurfs 3, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Inside Out (Pixar), and Fantastic Four are some titles announced so far. Sequels to 2013's biggest hits may eye a 2015 spot as well. Some titles may be delayed, but as of now they all stand.
     Star Wars, Avengers 2, Justice League. How are all these movies going to fit? Is Ant-Man going to become the next Iron Man? Will Hunger Games be tired and worn out by 2015 or will Mockingjay 2 be so big that Suzanne Collins will write another book just to keep it going? We will find out in two years.
     My biggest question mark is Pirates 5. Curse of the Black Pearl was a surprise hit in 2003 and went on to become #3 for the year. Dead Man's Chest broke the then opening weekend record in 2006. At World's End broke the Memorial Weekend record- which it still holds. At World's End saw a drop off from Dead Man's Chest and was the lowest attended and grossing of the three. On Stranger Tides came out in 2011 without most of the cast from the first three and Gore Verbinksi- the director. The critical ratings also dropped with each movie. On Stranger Tides wasn't the huge success the original three we're domestically, but overseas- Tides rolled! (no Alabama pun intended). Without the international audience, Pirates 5 wouldn't be in pre-production. The international audience should show up, but will America and Canada rush on opening weekend to see Captain Jack for a fifth time for most likely over 2 and 1/2 hours or are they just ready for something else?
     Another interesting aspect of 2015 will be the Justice League vs Avengers 2- if JL stays in that year. WB had a chance to put JL in the spotlight first back in the 2000's, but they let it go and Avengers rolled in, becoming the #3 movie all time. Now, of course, WB want's JL back on the priority list. Avengers 2 is already being seen as the front runner, but will people still give it a chance or will it just be called an "Avenger's knockoff"?
     Animation should also be stellar in 2015. Charlie Brown is finally coming to the screen, The Smurfs will enjoy their third outing painting theaters blue, two Pixar films are scheduled, and the Penguins are getting their own spinoff. Who will claim #1 in the hearts of children and animation enthusiasts?
     It's not 2015 should be big, it's 2015 WILL be big. Just 24 more months. We can do it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

'R' In It's Entirety

     The R rating. It's a powerful rating. The rating can really alter a film. If Spider Man was rated R and Spider Man 2 was rated PG they would look like two completely different films even with the same actors, director, and crew. The R rating has drawn a lot of controversy since it's conception. The R rating is meant to keep children and teens from viewing inappropriate films, but does it really make sense?
     A film can get slapped with R pretty easily. In almost all cases, if a film uses the F-word more than 3 times, its given an R, if used in sexual context once, it is R, pervasive profanity also gets hit with an R. Heavy drug use and references, graphic and gory violence and torture, and graphic sex and even non graphic and sexual references can warrant R. There has been a few instances where PG-13 was granted instead; Titanic for one. Many adult themes can warrant R, but those above are the most common.
     Now what's the problem with that? Kids don't need to hear the F-word 80 times or see bodies being mutilated, right? Well, right. But the problem with R is that it is too broad and too restrictive. The definition of the R rating is "no one under 17 admitted without parent or legal guardian." So, technically a 16 year old can't see Ted by himself even though the movie would appeal to him. Many theaters - like the one in my hometown, are cracking down hard. Parent's can't buy R rated tickets and give them to their kids the parent has to see the movie with them. Why? Is the parent going to shield their eyes and cover their ears? Why take them to the movie in the first place? You also can't buy more than one R rated ticket until you're 21. Really?
     Most kid's and teens now a days play M rated video games, which is equal to R. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, etc. 14, 13, and even 12 year old's play these games on a regular basis. If the games were made into movies, some, such as Call of Duty, may be produced to be rated PG-13 so the 12 and 13 year old's could see it, but R-rated content is still in the games. My generation is a lot different than my parents. Spend a day at a typical high and even middle school and you will be surprised at how many F and S-words, sexual jokes, and drug talk you would hear. Some teens can't see these movies, but yet they talk like that themselves. Why restrict them if they already hear it at school and play it on TV?
     Various alternatives for the R rating is splitting it in two. R and Hard R - which has been proposed. R is too broad; Paranormal Activity 2 could be a PG-13, but the F-word was used around 9 times. 15 and 16 year old's would appeal to PA, but they can't see it. The King's Speech had PG level themes, but the F-word was used 12 times. It was argued that it was used as a form of dramatic expression and not as an expletive, but KS still was branded with an R (and later re-released as PG-13). Then you have movies like Texas Chainsaw, Saw, Superbad, Hangover, and American Pie. They are on the other end of the spectrum and deserve to be R. So how can Paranormal Activity 2 and Saw receive the same rating?
     I think a rating such as 'SC-15' should be created. Movies like Paranormal Activity and lighter R-rated movies such Argo would benefit. PG-13 can also be too broad. Some PG-13 movies such as The Dark Knight or The Hunger Games really are too intense for PG-13, but would be backlashed for R. The Dark Knight would be perfect for SC-15. As long as you're over 15, you can go by yourself. Then the R rating can really make use of "no one under 17 admitted without a parent." SC-15, PG-15, NU-15, whatever, as long as the 15 is there.
     Ratings really are optional. Spider Man didn't have to be rated, the MPAA is not a law, but Sony Pictures wouldn't release it that way. All mainstream movies will receive a rating because it is standard and helps identify the audience. 16 year old's may not be able to see Ted in theaters, but their parents will still buy it at Christmas for them, the same way they'll buy Call of Duty. I'm not saying get rid of the R rating, it really needs to be here, even bringing back a modified X rating is an option. I'm 19 so I don't really care what rating the movie is, but I believe that some rating between PG-13 and R should be implemented or the R rating should be split to separate the Paranormal Activity's from the Hangover's. Will this problem get fixed? We may some day see.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Farewell 2012

     2012 was a banner year at the box office. 2012 set an all time record, grossing $10.83 billion and selling an estimated 1.364 billion tickets, which is the most since 2009 and a 6.4% increase over 2011, which showcased the lowest sales since 1995. 655 movies were released, which is the most ever by 22.
     The #1 movie was Marvel's The Avengers which grossed $623 million, #3 all time unadjusted. The Avengers took everyone by surprise, being the first movie to make $200 million in one weekend and $100 million in its second weekend. Another reason Avengers was such a surprise is because the biggest movie in that franchise was Iron Man with $318 million. $400 million was the prediction of most, but Avengers blew that to Asgard .
     The movie that was forecast to sweep the year was The Dark Knight Rises, which capped at $448 million. For some this may seem like a disappointment, but its still #7 all time. All time. Even Bill Gates wouldn't be dissapointed with a $448 million return.
     The shocker of the year was The Hunger Games. Predictions went from $80 million to $200 million. You could probably count on one hand the number of people who predicted a $408 million finish, which is the most for an original movie since 2009. It is also Lionsgate's biggest movie by $289 million and their biggest since 2004. No wonder Mockingjay will be split in two. Catching Fire, the sequel, is being released in November and is a serious contender for #1 of 2013. Will it happen? We'll know in a year.
     Possibly the second biggest shocker is #4 Skyfall, which so far has amassed $293 million. If Skyfall keeps it's legs and finishes above $300 million, it'll be the only 2012 movie to finish in that range. Probably the biggest accomplishment of Skyfall is that it is the most attended Bond movie since 1964 and 3rd Bond all time domestic- selling in the range of 37 million tickets. Skyfall is a $125 million improvement over Quantam of Solace, the previous unadjusted #1 Bond film. Bond has also scored $1 billion worldwide. See Hollywood, you don't really need 3D do you?
     Currently Breaking Dawn Part 2 rounds out the top 5 with $287 million so far, but The Hobbit may eclipse that soon- right now lying at #7.
     The Amazing Spider Man, the reboot from Sony, grossed $262 million, which is steep drop off from the Raimi Spider Man movies. That's how reboots work, but Amazing 2, coming out in May 2014 may bring Spider Man back to prominence.
     Brave is #8 with $237 million, the highest animated gross of the year. Ted is #9 with $218, the highest for a 2012 comedy. Predictions for Ted went from $70 million to over $100 million. Ted now ranks #7 for R-rated movies, #3 for a movie with a CGI star, and #1 for movies set in Boston. Madagascar 3 holds #10 with $216 million and the Spring surprise The Lorax finish #11 with $214 million. Men In Black 3, Wreck It Ralph, Ice Age 4, and Snow White round it out. Lincoln currently stands #19 with $137 million, but awards could push that way higher.
     26 movies had crossed the coveted $100 million mark, but 4 more movies could possibly finish above it, which would equal 2011.
     The dud of the year was John Carter. The $200 million Disney "epic" epically grossed $73 million, which robbed Disney of millions in losses. Luckily, Disney is a billion dollar empire, so one John Carter isn't really causing executives to go homeless. Dark Shadows, Battleship, Wrath of the Titans, Rock of Ages, That's My Boy, The Watch, Ghost Rider 2, and Paranormal Activity 4 can also be considered 2012 disappointments. All, except maybe Ghost Rider, had potential to crack $100 million, but all fell short for various reasons.
     2012 was a great year at the box office, especially the first half. 3 movies over $400 million, 3- possibly 4 movies over $1 billion worldwide, and 3 months set gross records. Hail to the mighty 2012.
     For a list of 2012 grosses, refer to Box Office Mojo 2012.