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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

And so…. Summer Begins

Are you in a rush to see xXx: State of the Nation or The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy?

29 Responses to “And so…. Summer Begins”

  1. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    it hurts to see how much they missed the marketing boat with HGTG – the tv spots are bloody dreadful. Remember when you first read the story or saw the TV show or heard the radio play as a kiddie and you instantly thought about how you’d feel being whisked away on the ultimate intergalactic adventure. These TV spots don’t even attempt to get this universal appeal across to the key demographic.. its all empty whizz bang booms.. that can’t compare to SITH.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    As far as I’m concerned, this is still Spring…neither of these movies are going to make the breakthrough money that we have come to associate with the first week of Summer, a la Van Helsing/X2/Spider-Man etc. This year summer begins with Episode III…which is as it should be. I foresee no movie opening to more than 35 million until then.

  3. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    Well it’s opening nearly 3 mths earlier but I also don’t think a early 30s weekend is out of the question since the first did 44m. Don’t underestimate the Cube and the monster ancillary aud of the first pic.

  4. Brett B says:

    All I know is that I’ll be seeing H2G2 tonight and I don’t plan on ever seeing XXX2. And to agree with the doctor from above, it is nearly painful to see the ads for this film on tv. I love the books so much, and I think the film would have potentially much greater success if they had ads that reflected the kind of humor that makes the guide so appealing. Instead it just looks like a lame PG-rated sci-fi adventure story.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    XXX is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and XXX2 looks even worse. I’ll never see it. And HGTG just doesn’t interest me. The reviews I’ve read don’t convince me that I’ll miss much if I don’t see it. Boring weekend. Kingdom of Heaven could open to more than $35 million.

  6. Dave says:

    I’m not particularly excited about either movie. I think Hitchhiker missed a real oppurtunity to open big. In the few clips I have seen with the Robot voiced by Alan Rickman, it was hilarious. Why was it not played up more? I will probably see both movies eventually, but I am more interested in seeing the Enron movie tonight when it opens here in Toronto.

  7. bicycle bob says:

    lets just say. no.

  8. jesse says:

    Hitchhiker’s! I think the opening-day audience for it will be sizable– c’mon, what nerds and/or sci-fi fans aren’t going to go?
    I admit I’m curious about XXX2, though I hated the first one. It looks sillier but a lot less toolish (no Vin Diesel yelling “start thinkin’ Playstation!” in the middle of a shoot-out). But I already have tickets to Hitchhiker’s, and will see XXX2 on Saturday if I’m bored. The latter really seems like more of a drive-in movie (there are still a ton of drive-ins in my native upstate NY, but, of course, not so much in NYC, where I liev now, or even Westchester County!).
    I don’t see Kingdom of Heaven doing over 40. Maybe 30something. Then again, I think all of the pre-Star Wars May movies have a shot at doing decent, if unspectacular business. Kingdom of Heaven, House of Wax, Kicking and Screaming, Unleashed, and Monster-in-Law… that’s a decent amount of product/audience diversity, even if I’m only excited for Unleashed.

  9. Joe Straat says:

    My housemates will probably get me to go to Hitchhikers since they’re huge fans and I hardly see movies in theaters any more, since they get cold feet on everything I want to see. Guess I’m going rogue for Kingdom of Heaven….

  10. Matt P. says:

    I saw a sneak of Hitchhiker’s the other day and I came away even more perplexed. Is it a good movie? Yeah, pretty good. Nothing revolutionary, but funny.
    Never read the book, but based on the early previews I thought it looked like a Galaxy Quest-MIB type movie.
    Coming out of it, it has more the tones of MIB, but feels very 1980s. The villians in the flick are done by the Henson Compant, which was a welcome surprise, and done well. The problem is, they feel like something Henson did for the Dark Crystal, Witches or Labrynth. It’s like the something from a bygone era.
    I think they go for the Rickman comedic beats one too many times. Once was very funny, twice was funny, 10 times was just wearing out its welcome.
    There are other concerns I have about it’s connection to audiences. It’s rated PG but never feels like a “kids movie” at all. The humor is adult and so are the characters. There’s no cursing or violence per se, it just would all go over a normal kids head. It’s too “British witty” for them and probably middle America. A small handful of people were walking out of the screening with about 40 minutes to go.
    Many times, you could hear the forced guffaw of a from the audience of someone who sounded like he read the punchline before. The hardcores will go. I’m not sure who else will.
    I know I sound picky here but I want to say overall I liked it. I just didn’t love it.

  11. hatchling says:

    Count me out. I have no idea what Hitchhiker is about, as I guess I’m not the targeted insider audience. I saw a preview and am just as perplexed as before. As for xXx…are you kidding? I’d drink liquid Draino first.
    I’m waiting for Kingdom to open next week. In the meantime, I’ll go see one of the indies that have opened in my area. Walk on Water looks interesting.

  12. L&DB says:

    As the only person here to admit that Xzibit being
    in XXX2, is enough to get me to see the flick (Pimp
    My Ride rules). I have to side with what Poland
    said in yesterdays Hot Button. It’s a big stupid
    action flick. Time to have fun watching Scott
    Speedman act along side Sam Jackson. HOOAH!
    The problems with the Hitchhiker’s ad campaign absolutely
    baffles me. I have no idea how people could want
    more from those ads. They sell it as a big space
    sage through the viewpoint of a totally normal guy.
    There you go. And I have never read the books,
    heard the radio serial, TV show, nor have I played
    the video game. Which surprising featured a rather
    difficult puzzle. Go figure.
    I would conjecture; if you go see all this other shit
    but not the HHGTTG. You just do not have any sense
    of adventure. Again, that is just my conjecture
    on my part.

  13. teambanzai says:

    I’m going to see hitchikers tonight, XXX can bite me, is there anything in this film that isn’t CGI and Sam Jackson is a great actor but how can he criticize rappers for muttering the craft of acting when he does crap like this?

  14. Dan R% says:

    HGTG or XXX2 or nice day outside?
    Ah, what am I thinking? Yeah, HGTG for sure!

  15. L&DB says:

    Team, Sam L just lives by the Ben Affleck rule of
    acting: “First you make the money picture. Then you
    make the small picture.” You see. It all evens
    out.

  16. Dark says:

    If you check moviefone … HHGTG ranks first (for a mere THREE weeks or so). Runners up are Monster in Law (*cough*), Interpreter, XXX2 and SW3. XXX2 will TANK (15m) and HHGTG is goin for a 27m opening. But what do I know, not coming from the US of A?

  17. Chester says:

    Cough all you want at “Monster in Law,” but early reports say it is tracking through the roof. Preview audiences have said it is MUCH better than it looks and that Jane Fonda’s performance is an unexpectedly real hoot. The only question left is whether the movie can approach “Meet the Fockers” numbers. (I doubt it.)

  18. bicycle bob says:

    tracking thru the roof? this is a j lo movie. they don’t track thru anything

  19. Mark says:

    I’m interested in Hitchhiker. I think this one is going to surprise people.

  20. Stella's Boy says:

    bi-bob, Monster-In-Law (which looks awful IMO) is tracking through the roof. People who’ve seen it say Fonda is hilarious and that the movie delivers. Not enough to get me to see it, but don’t be surprised if it’s a pretty big hit. Does Samuel L. Jackson really do one for them and then one for himself? Seems like it’s more like 10 for them, then one for me. What small movies has he done lately other than the terrible In My Country?

  21. Stella's Boy says:

    By the way, anyone read Kevin Thomas’s review of XXX2? Is he on crack?

  22. Joe Straat says:

    Is Kevin Thomas ever NOT on crack?

  23. NonStarter says:

    Jeffery Boam’s Doctor.
    Few things–
    1. You’re one of the few people to have watched the show or read the book in America. There’s 18 of them, all white guys over the age of 30 who have a hard time getting off the couch. And as you can tell from the above comments, it didn’t matter what was in those ads–if they consider themselves “fans” they are going to go.
    2. Weird British humor does not play to mass American audiences.
    3. There’s only been one sci-fi comedy that has opened and that was powered by Will Smith. Are you daft enough to think that Sam Rockwell is Will Smith? Or that a childish looking Robot compares?
    I think Hitchhikers is going to open just fine. Not huge, but enough to be #1. I don’t know for sure why the TV spots looked like that, but frankly, I don’t know what they would have done.
    Should they have sold it like Galaxy Quest and have opened to $10 million dollars?

  24. KamikazeCamel says:

    “tracking thru the roof? this is a j lo movie. they don’t track thru anything”
    Biased much? Sure, J.Lo is annoying lately, but when she gets the right material she can actually be good (see, Selena and The Cell as prime examples) and Monster-in-Law actually looks kinda fun. I know I wanna see Jane Fonda ruin Jennifer Lopez’s life. And Jane Fonda is sitting pretty for a Globe Musical/Comedy nomination. I know it’s early, but these populist movies always sneak in a nod or two.
    I saw Hitchhiker’s last night and, well, it’s kinda shithouse. The sets and special effects are good and there’s some good acting going on (specially Sam Rockwell and Alan Rickman’s voice) but it seriously wears out it’s welcome. It perfectly bizarre for a while and then it’s just like “…so… what now?” It’s too long (for someone who hasn’t read the book), dull, unfunny (there’s some great lines and the scenes of the book are great, but overall… it was too dry) and just plain old boring.
    I’d much rather watch the original Star Wars again, which I really dislike doing yet have done way too many times for my liking.
    Never-the-less, I loved the feel of the movie. Like, the retro feel with the puppets and sets and such. But, yeah, whoa – boring.
    I don’t see many people who haven’t read the book liking this, to be honest.
    And xXx2 looks god-awful. Is this eligable for Best Animated Feature at next year’s Oscars?

  25. KamikazeCamel says:

    I’ve also noticed that you have called it “xXx: State of the Nation”
    …in Australia at least, they’re calling it “xXx 2: The Next Level”
    …?!!!

  26. Stella's Boy says:

    Out of Sight is J Lo’s best performance.

  27. Stella's Boy says:

    Friday estimates from showbizdata:
    HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY – $8.1 million
    XXX: STATE OF THE UNION – $4.4 million
    INTERPRETER – $4.2 million
    AMITYVILLE HORROR – $2.6 million
    A LOT LIKE LOVE – $1.7 million
    SAHARA – $1.6 million
    FEVER PITCH – $1.1 million
    KUNG FU HUSTLE – $1 million
    GUESS WHO – $700,000
    SIN CITY – $600,000

  28. KamikazeCamel says:

    I knew I was forgetting a movie of her’s! Out of Sight was great.

  29. TheBrotherhoodOfTheLostSkeletonOfCadavra says:

    The reason for the “State of the Union” subtitle is that the film’s climax takes place while the President is giving that particular speech. Since that term has no meaning outside the U.S., they went with “The Next Level” elsewhere.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin