MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Klady – 3/29

friest0329.jpg
So 21 will open over 21… which is good, because once people see this terrible waste of a great story on screen, they will not be doubling down. This is one of those movies that is so Hollywood by-the-book… so poorly constructed in its storytelling… so missing the boat in terms of the real drama of the story as evidenced by the book that the masterful, relentless sales job by Sony truly makes a Shinola opening out of, well… you get the idea.
On the other hand, The Weinsteins can’t even open crap parody movies anymore… unless you want to argue that $11 million is good for Superhero Movie, an unneeded farce.
Stop-Loss was never going to open for one clear reason… Paramount didn’t give a shit. Like Zodiac, the studio gave up on the film and a filmmaker they find “difficult” long ago and this still birth is the inevitable answer. Unlike Zodiac, Kimberly Pierce has no built-in rabid following, having squandered the momentum of Boys Don’t Cry five years ago already.
And for all the “people don’t want to see an Iraq” movie hum… bullshit. They will see the movie when The Movie arrives. In the meanwhile, the obnoxious choice of giving a movie a title that less than 10% of the world understands without an explanation with no stars who open and no clarity about what the film is about… an impossible sell. Sorry. Iraq was the least of their problems. And that is no judgment of the film… which I was not invited to see as far as I know. (It’s possible that an all-media invite escaped my attention.) The film could be genius… but it means nothing at the box office if no one is inspired to go.

38 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Klady – 3/29”

  1. martin says:

    Should have left the balls in your last sentence: “The film could be genius… but it means nothing if no one is inspired to go.”

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Who are the dummies who decided to release Priceless and Flawless at the same time, to maximize audience confusion?

  3. JBM... says:

    Dead-on about 21. Wasted opportunities ahoy, though not a totally useless film, and the audience I was with gobbled it down. The smears from some Genesis cam shots were distracting. They should’ve shot the Vegas portion on that and the rest on film. Most electronic-themed soundtrack I’ve heard in a Hollywood film in a while. Or maybe I don’t get out much.

  4. OddDuck says:

    Does everyone agree that there was no promotion for Stop Loss? I ask because I’ve seen what seems like an awful lot of commercials for it over the past month, and have seen it noted in at least a couple pre release news articles that the studio was giving it a genuine push. I don’t remember seeing a single commercial for Zodiac, just a big billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel in NY.

  5. Blackcloud says:

    I saw numerous commercials for Stop Loss. I saw plenty of commercials for Zodiac, too.

  6. OddDuck says:

    A.O. Scott’s review convinced me to see it – I haven’t yet, but will this week. And with the commercials, there were so many two weeks ago that for a couple days I thought it was premiering on the 21st instead of the 28th.
    Too bad about it’s opening weekend death. I hope the director doesn’t take another decade for her next one…

  7. movieman says:

    MTV did a helluva job selling the sexy young “Stop-Loss” cast; perhaps at the expense of the movie itself which seemed to be lost amidst all those glamour shots of rippling, tattooed biceps.
    I originally thought this could be the film that finally broke the Iraq Jinx. But after finally seeing it at an all-media promotional Tuesday nite, I began to seriously doubt whether ANY Iraq movie could break through with multiplexers while the war is still raging on. Certainly the general public’s apathy towards Iraq is reflected in all of the CNN polls tabulating 2008 voter concerns.
    And the youth market MTV was courting surely has no interest whatsoever in paying $11 to see a movie that might make them feel uncomfortable, guilty, pissed-off, whatever on Saturday nite. I’m also guessing that the subject matter probably hits too close to home for a good chunk of that potential MTV audience.
    No wonder the wish-fulfillment escapist/fantasy of “21” proved such a draw with that demo.
    The first 45 minutes of “Stop-Loss” are terrific, but it began falling apart for me when Ryan Phillippe (very good, if a tad long-in-the-tooth to be playing a childhood buddy of Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Abby Cormish (merely okay in the type of role an “Urban Cowboy”/”Officer + a Gentleman”-era Debra Winger would have owned) begin their road trip to D.C.
    There are a lot of potentially fascinating characters and plotlines here (maybe too many), and a wealth of first-rate acting talent (including Gordon-Levitt and the great Ciaran Hinds), but maybe the whole thing would’ve worked better as an HBO series instead of a feature film.
    Also, did anyone else notice how strikingly similar the print ad is to the one for Par/MTV’s 1999 high school football sleeper “Varsity Blues”?
    The only thing that made me doubt Paramount’s interest in really selling this thing was their conservative opening weekend screen count–which, of course, turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  8. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, Kimberly Peirce has been touring all over the country for Stop-Loss screenings during the past month or so. So maybe Paramount was trying a grassroots campaign?

  9. Well, I don’t know about any of you, but I just can’t take Ciaran Hinds seriously with an American accent and a “Vietnam Veteran” t-shirt. Timothy Olyphant could have used more screen time, though.

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, I didn’t think Hinds had enough screen time to make any impact one way or the other. Really, a waste of a talented actor.

  11. To be fair towards Superhero Movie (lord knows I shouldn’t bother), but wasn’t Meet the Spartans out just a couple of months ago?

  12. movieman says:

    I agree with Joe. There’s an embarrassment of talented actors (Tim Olyphant included) in “Stop-Loss,” but virtually none of them are given enough screen time to actually build a character. And the psychology of most–hell, all-of the soldiers seem lifted from a PSTD casebook. That’s why I said I thought it would make a better HBO series than a 2-hour film: there’d be more time to develop the characterizations, build the various story arcs and give a terrific cast the chance to really build their performances. Still, there’s some remarkable filmmaking here–mostly in the first act and the final 10 minutes–for anyone willing to give it a chance.
    That tepid opening for “Superhero” is a bit of a surprise considering how (exceptionally) well most of these parody flicks (excepting “The Comebacks”) have opened.
    And weirdly enough, I actually found it to be less onerous than most of them (particularly the rancid “Date Movie”): I think I laughed once and smiled maybe a half-dozen times.
    Could the genre’s (predominantly) pre-pubescent male audience have finally gotten their fill of this dingbat schtick? Or did the makers of “Superhero” simply err on the side of…tastefulness?
    It might actually seem a tad mild to fans of the most recent gross-for-grossness-sake spoof flicks.

  13. movieman says:

    I agree with Joe. There’s an embarrassment of talented actors (Tim Olyphant included) in “Stop-Loss,” but virtually none of them are given enough screen time to actually build a character. And the psychology of most–hell, all-of the soldiers seem lifted from a PSTD casebook. That’s why I said I thought it would make a better HBO series than a 2-hour film: there’d be more time to develop the characterizations, build the various story arcs and give a terrific cast the chance to really build their performances. Still, there’s some remarkable filmmaking here–mostly in the first act and the final 10 minutes–for anyone willing to give it a chance.
    That tepid opening for “Superhero” is a bit of a surprise considering how (exceptionally) well most of these parody flicks (excepting “The Comebacks”) have opened.
    And weirdly enough, I actually found it to be less onerous than most of them (particularly the rancid “Date Movie”): I think I laughed once and smiled maybe a half-dozen times.
    Could the genre’s (predominantly) pre-pubescent male audience have finally gotten their fill of this dingbat schtick? Or did the makers of “Superhero” simply err on the side of…tastefulness?
    It might actually seem a tad mild to fans of the most recent gross-for-grossness-sake spoof flicks.

  14. movieman says:

    That’s weird.
    I pressed “post,” and two copies of my uh, post showed up.
    Sorry for the duplicate, gang; it was completely unintentional.

  15. Geoff says:

    I saw 21, last night, and the opening night crowd certainly ate it up – they also went crazy for the trailers for Iron Man, Wall-E, and Get Smart. This really looks like a fun summer – I know the year-to-year comparisons are going to be brutal, but something tells me that with more comedies and original product, the grosses could be pretty good.
    As for the movie, pretty harmless fun, but man, considering the subject matter, this could have been an amazing film with a real cast, lowered volume, less obvious script, an R RATING (jeez, there were scenes begging for F-words and it just felt awkward), and a true A-list director. Really, in the right hands, this film could have soared.
    As it was, I enjoyed it and just recently been in Vegas, I found it humorous that most of the casino scenes were filmed at Planet Hollywood (where no one goes) and Red Rocks, which is a lovely casino, but one off the strip in the nearby suburbs where the local residents like to go to get away from the tourist riff-raff.
    Enjoyed it for what it was, but the film could have been so much more. Obvious blaring techno music, the Tobey Maguire-wannabe lead and Kate Bosworth – haven’t we had enough of her? I guess you really can go back to playing a college student after playing Lois Lane?
    Spacey and Fishburn were fine enough, but both just seemed too restrained from using more profanity. This is really a pretty adult story that was really morphed into a teen up-with-people story.

  16. JBM... says:

    Superhero Movie was written and directed by Craig Mazin, someone who has a brain in their head and should probably move out of spoof territory. (Unlike retards Friedberg & Seltzer, who should move to the next world. Painfully.)

  17. brack says:

    Blaring techno music? I’m so there.

  18. IOIOIOI says:

    21 always came across to me as being a lame attempt at making a rather good History channel special interesting. While Stop-Loss always came across as the VARSITY BLUES of IRAQ MOVIES. It is rather frustrating to live in a country where people have apathy to a senseless war. Apparently all the people need to be entertained with is fluff. If you give them enough whorish female stars to occupy their minds. They ignore countless people dying abroad and the people and policies who sent them there.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    IO: Sorry, but “whorish” is way out of line. How would you feel if someone described an African-American actor – even Anthony Anderson in Kangaroo Jack — as N-bomb-ish?

  20. IOIOIOI says:

    Joe… what in the name of AWESOME KONG are you going on about?

  21. Wait, IO is complaining about audiences perpetuance towards young female actors? Or am I getting him confused with LexG?
    “Red Rocks, which is a lovely casino, but one off the strip in the nearby suburbs where the local residents like to go to get away from the tourist riff-raff.”
    I haven’t seen the movie, nor do I intend to, and I’m sure you would have noticed if they mentioned it in the movie, but wouldn’t it be easier to con that sort of casino than a popular one on the strip?

  22. Dr Wally says:

    Off topic, i just watched Remember the Titans again yesterday, a movie which seems to have become for the noughties what Dazed and Confused and School Ties were in the nineties – the launching pad of a whole generation of future stars (look for Kate Bosworth, Ryan Gosling, and Hayden Panettiere). And yet you see the movie in isolation and it’s Ryan Hurst that stands out as one to watch in the future. Same if you watch Boyz N The Hood agains now, it seems strange that Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding went on to be stars, and yet Morris Chestnut didn’t, or at least hasn’t yet. Weird. Anyone else think of other movies in the recent past where the wrong actor went on to be the biggest success?

  23. Joe Straat says:

    I once had a professor recollect to me about what he thought when he first saw “A River Runs Through It:” “Man, that Brad Pitt is terrible, but this Craig Sheffer guy is going to be going places!”

  24. movieman says:

    Well I wouldn’t say that any of the “wrong” actors from the ensemble cast of “The Last Picture Show” became stars, it still blows my mind that Randy Quaid became a bigger name–and certainly a more frequently employed actor–than the film’s ostensible lead, Tim Bottoms.

  25. Geoff says:

    Kamikaza, you mad a valid point about the Red Rocks and I actually did think of that. But watching the movie, you get the sense that this group was roving the strip to bounce around different casino’s, going where the tables got hot. They stayed on the strip, so that would have made the most sense.
    The pure logistics of driving 10 miles outside the strip to Red Rocks just would not have worked. It could have been used as a plot point, but wasn’t – I guess the filmmakers could not afford to lock down the Bellagio, Venetian, Caesar’s, etc. Small quibble, though.

  26. eoguy says:

    Having just seen Stop-Loss, and enduring 21 on Friday, I wish the box-office had gone the other way. But given the ratings for both films and their subject matter, it was a given.
    21 was a pile of PG-13 dreck. This movie was such a by-the-numbers teen drama and it was an embarassment to everybody involved. I hate how low Kevin Spacey has stooped in recent years. He’s now calling in his performances, and that’s exactly what he does in this role. What happened to Bosworth? Remember when she was the next big thing? I suppose her lack of range and her looks have delegated her to the “girlfriend” role forever, but certainly she could’ve done better than this. I didn’t even realize she was in the movie until I sat down in the theatre — and I’d seen the trailers. Maybe her presence just wasn’t great enough to leave an impression in the ad campaign.
    Stop-Loss, while flawed, is definitely worth the price of admission. While I’m no Ryan Phillipe fan, he has certainly won me over some with his role in Breach last year and again with this one. Hopefully he can slowly move away from the teen movies that defined him and eventually come out with something great. Overall, Stop-Loss didn’t feel like an MTV film, aside from its slick casting. The only reason I saw it was because of Gordon-Levitt (who is one of his generation’s finest indie actors) — he will sell me on any movie, including Killshot in May. My biggest problem with Stop-Loss was the ending…which throws the viewer for a loop. Other than that, the film was solid overall, it a little too dramatic in the character department. I think it ranks with the better of the Iraq films, with Elah coming out on top, though I can’t blame Americans for not wanting to pay to see a war-in-progress unfolding in their local cinema.

  27. Maybe the reason Timothy Bottoms and Morris Chestnut never seemed to become big stars was because their names are Timothy Bottoms and Morris Chestnut.
    Although Bottoms’ work in That’s My Bush! was hysterical. I wish that show lasted longer than it did.

  28. pchu says:

    I like Stop-Loss as well. It’s flawed but certainly watchable. While it’s nowhere as good as Boys Don’t Cry, Pierce shows she knows how to direct (especially the first 30 minutes) and get good performances from the leads. I didn’t see this as an Anti-War film, but more of a soldier’s story
    I think it’s time for people to stop referring Ryan Philippe as an actor in teen movies. His last 3 films: Breach, Flag of Our Fathers, Crash.
    You might not like the films, but there is nothing ‘teenage’ about them.

  29. Rob says:

    Timothy Bottoms will go down in history as the best answer when playing the game, “Name a celebrity whose name also works as a noun-verb phrase.”

  30. LexG says:

    Stop-Loss was very good, but I wanted even more METAL. At least Drowning Pool’s BODIES *WAS* in the movie! I get so PUMPED UP when I hear that.
    RRRRRRRRRRRRRRAWR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think Peirce (whose last-name spelling is ANNOYING) is two-for-two. I see the VARSITY BLUES connection, but I think a more apt one would be FNL. Great sense of Texas and rural atmosphere, good production design, score.
    Channing Tatum was quite effective; I’ve thought of him as kind of B-movieish up till now, but after this I see how he ended up in the next Michael Mann flick.
    ABBIE CORNISH OWNS YOU. BOW before her.
    Phillippe is AWESOME. WAY OF THE GUN 4 LIFE.
    21 was pretty entertaining. Come ON, how can you guys truly dislike a movie where Spacey shows up in that RIDICULOUS-ASS DISGUISE for the finale? I wouldn’t argue it was particularly “good,” but it was flashy and fun, full of attractive people being great at things, which is what it’s all about.

  31. Chucky in Jersey says:

    You do not draw people to a movie by name-checking a P.O.S. that took 25 weeks to reach the US top 20.

  32. LexG says:

    Anyone want to take a stab at what Chucky is referring to here?

  33. Cadavra says:

    Thsnks for the spoiler, LexG. Now it’s YOUR ass that’s gonna be owned by all of us who haven’t seen 21 yet, you jerk.

  34. jeffmcm says:

    Is Chucky referring to Boys Don’t Cry? I had some problems with it, but it was one of the most highly-acclaimed movies of 1999, (86 on Metacritic) so I’m curious as to why he’s calling it a ‘piece of shit’.
    Also, isn’t any movie that name-checks any other movie by definition a crapfest, Chucky? And if I’m exagerrating your position, I’m really curious for you to elucidate your worldview for us.

  35. LexG says:

    Cadavra, have no fear, I didn’t spoil shit. Spacey and co. wear disguises throughout the film. There’s no “surprise” in the fact that he’s wearing one at the end. It’s not like I’m giving away a COLOR OF NIGHT kind of disguise twist. In the finale, as in many scenes, the “gang” wear disguises. It’s just the awesomeness of the one Spacey brings for the finale that’s a special kind of fun.

  36. Cadavra says:

    Okay, then. But I’m still owning your ass on general principles.

  37. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Jeffmcm wins the prize. “Boys Don’t Cry” WAS a P.O.S. with an obvious P.O.V. Play a Cripple, Win an Oscar.
    Yes, it did take 25 weeks to reach the national top 20. In fact the UA (now Regal) Union Square opened the movie that fall only to drop it at Xmas for “Titus”.
    As for the dubious record? It was eclipsed by a more spooky movie called “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”

  38. jeffmcm says:

    Good to have you on record for your position ‘transsexual = cripple’. Did you even see the movie? Can I get you to confirm that you think that every movie that has ever won, been nominated for, or sought a nomination for an Oscar is a piece of garbage?
    Seriously, where do all these commandments of marketing and movie quality come from? They sound like the overapplication of lessons learned from some industry mentor in a bad program.

Box Office

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima