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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Weekend Box Office Analysis

memday3Len Klady seems to be on an unexpected hiatus… but now that I am back in the U.S., I thought I would take a quick look at the numbers, as I am reading them on Box Office Mojo.

X:Men: Days Of Future Past is the 4th $90m-plus opening of the last 7 weekends. This is a significant event. The record for the most $90m-plus openings in an entire year is 4, so this matches that record, with at least 1 more such event likely this summer and as many as 3.

This is already record-breaking in that in the 4 previous occurrences of 4 in a year (the last 4 years), at least one of the openings took place in November. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 guarantees that the November trend will continue, though perhaps Interstellar can make it 2 occurrences of a $90m+ opening in November for the first time in history.

Now… that said… X-Men ain’t what Fox was hoping for. It is right in line with X2 and the first Wolverine film, not the opening that X-Men 3 had, and not the over-the-top opening that they were chasing when they decided to make a movie with what seems to be the biggest cash investment in Fox history. (On Avatar – as with Titanic – they sold off a big chunk of, protecting/limiting their investment. How much of this film is being paid for by Dune is unclear… but my understanding is that Fox’s bite is bigger than the ultimate on Avatar.) (P.S. If you feel compelled to now tell me what is the media take on the budget of this film, don’t embarrass yourself or those claiming that the budget on this film was $200m. I’m not even repeating the high figures I have heard bounced around, which are truly outrageous… even more so if they are true.)

This is exactly the kind of movie that Tom Rothman avoided making forever… the mega-expenditure chasing the mega-gross. One of the notable things about X-Men has been that the budgets have been relatively low, making them profitable in spite of what has seemed to be a glass ceiling for this franchise. X3 got a bit out of control because of changes to the team late in the game and the urge to pump up the CG on a very short schedule. But this one intended to be massive from the start… an answer to Avengers. But unlike the Marvel-made behemoth, this one is as strong as Wolverine, not Robert Downey as Iron Man combined with the ideal Hulk (after 2 attempts that didn’t take).

It’s the weakest opening of the four $90m+ openings, though the hope is that it will be #1 in the group over 4 days, given the holiday. Still… it won’t be much more over 4 and it will still be well behind the $123m domestic for X3, which also opened over Memorial Day Weekend.

On the other hand… not a complete disaster. And this is now how box office reporting goes in the summer. The same was true last summer. The domestic media plays this silly game with the studios of setting, lowering, whining about, attacking expectations on domestic, not quite willing to report publicly that domestic box office, while important, is not the primary piece of the puzzle. Then we play the “real budget” game, which is actually defensible by studios, as the hideously simple-minded reporting on box office by most outlets makes it all a big game that can’t be dealt with honestly by studios – not that they have ever liked talking about real budget numbers – because they would get crucified by some series of idiots who are always angling for the negative story.

The advertorialization of movie coverage – not just box office – is a loss on both sides of the media/industry relationship. Truth is a major causality.

Anyway…

The four $90 million-plus openers will all pass $400 million worldwide. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has already passed $700 million. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is at $674 million worldwide, is sure to pass $700 million, and has a legitimate shot at passing Cap 2 worldwide before all is said and done. Godzilla is over $300 million worldwide and should get to $500 million without too much sweat, thanks to Japan and China. And now X-Men: Everyone? $262 million and counting. $500 million is their realistic minimum (counting all ancillaries) for breakeven. It will get there. Will it get to $600 million or $700 million? The history of this franchise says, “no.”

This is the irony of bringing back Bryan Singer to make this film. His films are slower and more serious than most other comic book films. He is not a master action guy… never has been… not once. He was great for X-Men and Fox. He, I believe, created the opportunity that Christopher Nolan took and made one of the early billion-dollar franchises from. But to make an Avengers-level box office machine here, Fox needed a director who makes those kinds of movies. Don’t worry about reviews… this was about money… and Bryan Singer, who has shown real gifts as a filmmaker, is not a cha-ching guy.

It feels weird to suggest that Fox dump the director from the next franchise film after he made a movie that will likely gross somewhere around $550 million. Singer’s never passed $410m worldwide before. But they need a Joss Whedon. And truth be told, the quality of the film may be lessened… but Whedon has a great ear for pop. And pop is money.

The news is much worse for Adam Sandler, who, even with former good-fortune co-star Drew Barrymore, bottomed out big time with Blended this weekend. Leadership at Sony must be giggling to themselves – those who are left since the That’s My Boy car wreck – happy not be taking the heat this time around.

The “Sandler is over” meme will be starting again. And it will try to explain away the Grown Ups 2 number ($247m worldwide) from last summer. But the answer seems to be that THIS version of Adam Sandler is done. Fart jokes and shit jokes and 47-year-old men just don’t go together for most people. And lovable as Drew Barrymore is, it’s been a full decade since she has led a movie to a better opening than this… for her, this is a really good number. In fact this is her #5 all-time opening as a non-animated lead and 2 of the other 4 were with Sandler. So… sad.

Godzilla‘s drop is not shocking.

I would have expected Neighbors to hold a bit better, given the lack of comedies in the marketplace, but it is already Nick Stoller’s biggest film by a mile and it is in range to become Seth Rogen’s biggest non-animated worldwide grosser ($37m away).

I already got in ASM2… won’t catch up with Cap2 domestically, but may well become #1 worldwide until Transformers passes it.

Chef had a nice expansion for Open Road.

And Heaven is For Real continues to chug along…. over $85.8m domestic now. Amazing.

73 Responses to “Weekend Box Office Analysis”

  1. amblinman says:

    David’s on the money in regards to Singer. He’s an odd director. He seems to “get’ big money moments. The Quicksilver set piece might be the most exciting, and fun sequence we’ve gotten from any of these movies (yet). And then that’s it. No big finish, no big hero moments to send the crowd home happy. Wolverine has exactly one cool Wolverine moment in the entire film. It’s a good movie, but kind of odd at the same time. I get that Lawrence is a big star now but in the X-Men universe, both film and comic books, does anyone really want Mystique to be the center of the action?

  2. Bulldog68 says:

    Can’t help but notice your more positive spin on ASM2 with an identical opening just four weeks ago, and with a much worse downward trajectory.

    You will always no more of the inside stuff but this sentence, “But this one intended to be massive from the start… an answer to Avengers. ” well if that’s true, then they are truly stupid, and if it’s just your assumption, then you are projecting your biases I think.

    Avengers held the promise of many different heroes coming together from different worlds. X-Men DOFP was still the sole X-Men universe only.

    Also, the Spidey series has scaled the top of the box office ladder and was once the most feared summer movies to open against. Spidey 1 was the first movie in history to open north of $100m. Spidey 3 was the first movie in history to open north of $150m. The first X-Men opened to $54m.

    So while I agree that this is no barn burner, though it’s really something that we are calling a $90m opener a “no barn burner”, your negative spin on this does not jibe with your soft positive spin of the ASM2 opening.

    Your take on ASM2, “Personally, not a thrilling opening. Not a black spot either.”

    Your take on X-Men, “On the other hand… not a complete disaster.”

  3. Geoff says:

    Dave, I agree with some of your analysis and no doubt, Fox probably spent way too much on this X Men, but…..when Joss Whedon considered a prime example of “pop” entertainment? Pretty much every other film he has done outside of The Avengers (Much Ado, Serenity) is the DEFINITION of a niche project…and the same pretty much goes for every TV show he’s been behind, even Agents of Shield cannot be considered a mainstream success. And sure you had more money shots in The Avengers, but you wanna watch that and X Men: Days of Future Past and tell me that the former is more cinematic??

    What happened with Whedon and Avengers was truly lightning in a bottle and as much about timing as anything.

    And how could it possibly top out at $550 million worldwide when it’s already halfway there after most of one weekend with a couple of countries remaining….and virtually no new big time action competition for about a month until Transformers? Something you forgot to mention that the international grosses for X Men movies have actually been climbing in recent years even as there appears to be a definitive ceiling on the domestic gross. When you think about it, this is RIGHT in Fox’ wheelhouse of success the past several years….you see with the Ice Age movies, the Dreamworks animation films, Die Hard, Life of Pi, etc…..they see domestic grosses as their loss leader and it’s ALL about international. Come on you think it’s an accident that pretty much the entire future section of the movie with the contemporary cast takes place in China of all places??

    My guess is that they were maybe comfortable spending $250 million plus on a movie because they saw it doubling that amount just overseas….and I think they’ll get there too. Jeez Captain America 2 is going to end up with over $450 million overseas….this will easily top it.

  4. BoulderKid says:

    I think DP is off on his X analysis. I agree with the idea that these X-films have a ceiling domestically as second tier blockbusters in the 200-250m range, and that DOFP is not Fox’s answer to Avengers. However, I think the international game has changed so much since X3 that DOFP could easily do 400-500m internationally and bring the series in to a new stratosphere that will make another mega budget sequel a sound business move.

    X3 did 224m overseas and 235m domestically for a total of 459m globablly. “The Wolverine” last year did $282m overseas and 132m domestically for a total of 414m. Similarly “X-Men: First Class” did significantly more overseas than it did in the U.S.

    DOFP has already banked 171m overseas in just four days, and was released in many key regions as recently as Saturday, 5/23. Given that reviews and WOM are significantly better for DOFP I would say that the slightly stronger opening for X3 will leave the two films at roughly the same place domestically once DOFP closes out its run stateside. So with 230-240m in the bank domestically DOFP would need 350-450m overseas to do 600 to 700m worldwide. Doing 2.5x its two to four day (depending on territory) gross in a limited number of territories overseas seems attainable.

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    What a goofy analysis. As said above, the XMEN opening is comparable to ASM2, and slightly ahead worldwide. And this movie will clearly have good word of mouth, unlike the Spidey counterpart.

  6. holy shit says:

    Poland said TASM2 was going to be #1 three weekends in a row. He’s not exactly an expert.

  7. spacesheik says:

    ‘Avengers’ is not a perfect film, but its a hell of a popcorn ride.

    People seem to forget 2/3 of the ‘Avengers’ was set in a flying S.H.I.E.L.D. ship but when the last third HIT, it delivered the goods: wall to wall action, spectacular destruction of a city with each and every Avenger getting two or more action beats. It was great.

    Problem with Bryan Singer, hes more interested in persecution complex figures and social alienation. He’s not an action director – Superman Returns, X-Men, etc – he can barely deliver a 45 second action beat and then cut to talky exposition – his flicks are not crowdpleasers, they’re almost all anticlimactic anyway.

  8. Amblinman says:

    I cannot wait for approximately ten or so years from now when people look back on The Avengers and see that last sequence for what it was: crap. There is exactly one great beat in it, Hulk beating the shit out of Loki. The rest? Black Widow holding off alien hordes with handguns? An idiot with trick arrows? Even the alien invasion is dopey as shit. Why the fuck are they taking hostages in..what was that, a library? What the fuck (the Captain America bomb sequence). It’s the Hulk stuff people like in that last 20 minutes. Every other character looks like a retard.

  9. Hcat says:

    Thinking back to the airplane crash in superman and the attack on the president, siege of the school, arrest at icemans house, busting into the dam of x2, I can’t help but wonder what people think a good action set piece is? I found all of those superior to anything in the avengers or frankly anything in the mcu as a whole which has never been able to create any bit of tension or suspense in their narratives.

  10. EtGuild2 says:

    The “tracking shot” in the final sequence of AVENGERS is spectacular, Iron Man seizing the nuke is interesting, and the Hulk smash is fun. That’s about it.

  11. Amblinman says:

    HCat, good call. X2 is actually chock full of great action moments, it just lacks a big climax. Singer can absolutely direct action, and his stuff is actually exciting. I forgot about the attack by Nightcrawler on the president, that was phenomenal. The final fight between Wolverine and Asian Ninja Claw Woman (absolutely her name in the script) was great.

  12. Bulldog68 says:

    Boggles the mind how you can watch X-Men and X2 and come to the conclusion that Bryan Singer can’t direct action.

  13. RogTy says:

    “Top 10 Signs The Summer Movie Season Is Upon Us”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ihYOdTcnQ

    Hint: Oscar is on vacation…

  14. Eric says:

    X2 remains one of the three best superhero movies ever made. Its action was memorable, coherent, and not just bolted onto an unrelated plot. Singer can be dull in other movies but he absolutely hit it out of the park with X2.

    Avengers had its moments. The cast remains the best part of the Marvel universe, and Whedon can write snappy one-liners. But the just-okay action direction and especially the inane plot just kills it. Loki’s plan is to… take over the world? And he’s going to do it with his magic stick? What is he, six years old?

  15. King David III says:

    You mean an actual weekend in which Len Klady doesn’t repurpose Rentrack figures for a paycheck and Po-Land doesn’t come up with some non-clever Hot Blog Headline for the chart? Hosanna on highest.

    Meanwhile, his analysis about Singer’s movie, while flawed as usual, excludes Po-land’s resentment of all successful people in the industry that he was too chickenshit to succeed in. Notice his hints about rumored budgets. Fact is as usual the guy doesn’t know shit from shinola.

  16. David Poland says:

    Oh Don… still all bark and no bite. I know that actually making a claim as to what I am so wrong about is too challenging for you.

    I know that your alleged standards only apply to people who dislike… nothing to do with facts or reality or anything but your so fragile ego. You’d be perfectly happy to have everyone just go by the script the studios write.

    I’d say, “put up or shut up,” but that would just be mean of me, given your condition.

  17. David Poland says:

    When did I say that, holy shit? Pretty sure there was at least 1 qualifier in any such suggestion.

  18. David Poland says:

    He’s okay, Bulldog… but I can’t recall a single memorable or surprising piece of action from either of those films. Some really good character stuff though.

  19. Tuck Pendelton says:

    Greatest action sequence in the last ten years: Brolin running away from the Mexican Gang on foot in NCFOM, and Brolin and Bardem’s shoot out scene in NCFOM. Cutting, pacing, suspense and NO MUSIC. Flawless.

    Compare that to these films is apples and oranges, granted. But I enjoy the more grounded stuff.

    I found Viggo’s quote on Peter Jackson from earlier this week so SPOT ON. Couldn’t have said that better.

  20. joshua says:

    was this written by Sorkin? i have such a headache now

  21. joshua says:

    the Geoff guy seems to make the most sense to me.

  22. Triple Option says:

    I generally hate it when ads hype stars in a film but then when you go see the movie they’re only in the film for like a couple of scenes. That said, would it ruin X-Men’s street cred if Fox had marketed the film featuring 3 Academy Award winning actresses? I’m not a tween aged girl so maybe they’re hearing about it from different sources but it didn’t seem like word was out that Jennifer Lawrence is in this. She’s got to be the biggest female star going today, no? While I’m glad they didn’t concoct some lame reason to have them together ala Pacino & DeNiro stopping off for spot of coffee and exclaim, I’m a mouse and you’re a cat, in Heat, it would have been cool to see her and Halle or her and Anna Pac. Yes, I know I’m watching a big budget, sci fi actioner, but the emotion behind each of the characters is so real, why not show it between the women?

    The Superman movie Singer directed was just dull but I’d echo the sentiments upthread about the opening of X2 being just about as intense a scene as you’ll find out there. I thought the opening of Days was pretty remarkable as well. Very fluid, I had no idea what was coming next, overwhelming villains, cleaver moves, I enjoyed it as well as the rest of the film. I actually enjoyed JLaw in First Class better. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and I realize this would be difficult to convey in blue paint, but I don’t know if I buy her as one holding on to a lot of anger. What she knows and when plotwise may be relevant, I just don’t know if I’d ever associate her as one best suited for the role.

    I’d imagine word of mouth to be pretty strong for this one. Even though X-Men hasn’t had some of the behemoth b.o. numbers, I wonder what would’ve happened if Fox had pushed XMen 3 a year and produced a better movie? You’ve got that dud followed by that first Wolverine movie that was rather generic, by the time X-Men First Class rolls around, it’s no longer an event film people have to go see, but just another summer tent movie.

  23. EtGuild2 says:

    David has been 100 million+ low on worldwide gross for every recent Marvel movie that isn’t Spider-Man. Remember, THOR 2 was going to have trouble getting to $500 million.

  24. LYT says:

    My theory with Jack the Giant Slayer at the time was that it was Singer practicing for DOFP by working with CG giants and trying to do more action. It certainly wasn’t a good movie – Singer’s worst by far – so I wonder even more now if that was the case. The opening action sequence in DOFP with all the portal-jumping easily tops the similar sequence in Thor 2 for me.

  25. David Poland says:

    Yeah, ET… it was obvious to everyone that Thor 2 would improve its international by 68%. How could anyone imagine otherwise?

  26. Bulldog68 says:

    Everyone is always a wise ass with the benefit of hindsight, but when Iron Man 3 more than doubled Iron Man 2′s international gross, that should’ve been a clue.

    And now as it stands with three movies post Avengers, Thor has actually received the smallest bump internationally. Cpt America has now more than doubled it’s predecessors international gross as well.

  27. Gus says:

    I love the BO analysis on this blog, but at times it seems the only thing stranger than the predictions are the projections… You said Inception wouldn’t crack $440M WW when it was already at $320M WW (and rising.) Now you’re saying X-Men is unlikely to crack $500M worldwide when it’s already past $300M after four days. These claims seem odd.

    And yes, the Thor thing was odd, but whaddyagonnado.

    I’ve asked it before, but I still can’t decide on an answer: what’s stranger – the fact that Iron Man 3 did nearly 100% more box office than Iron Man 2 or that it did 20% less than The Avengers?

  28. jesse says:

    I’ll also stick up for Singer as a director. He’s not as flashy or visually exciting as Nolan or Raimi, but he and Vaughn both brought a lot more to the X-franchise than a lot of the Marvel Studios for-hire guys (and I say that as someone who has liked most of those movies). The Nightcrawler scene in X2, the Wolverine/Lady Deathstrike AND assault on the X-Mansion in the same movie, the opening action sequence of DOFP, and the Quicksilver scene from the same are all up there as far as memorable comic book movie action sequences go. DP can claim that none of these are memorable or surprising, but I dunno, they only seem unsurprising to me if you know the comics really well and are familiar with the mutant powers in place. Otherwise, you’ve got inventive uses of teleportation, superspeed, and portals. He’s not a total action director, but would you say of the Captain America 2 guys, wow, they are MAJOR action directors? There are certainly a lot of cleanly shot and exciting sequences in Cap 2, but nothing extraordinary. And the Iron Man movies are generally even less notable, action-wise. A lot of those Marvel Studios movies work more because of the actors and humor than full-on action. The Avengers has a couple of really strong sustained set pieces, and that was in their all-out swing-for-fences mega-production. So I find it weird that Singer, of all people, gets dinged for being more interested in the drama and metaphorical stuff than the “fun” stuff.

    I wrote a big thing about this if anyone’s interested:

    http://www.sportsalcohol.com/x-men-movies-better-marvel-cinematic-universe/

    Also: Valkyrie isn’t an action movie but does have a lot of sustained suspense. A minor movie, but very genre-y. I just think Singer is better at finding the fun moments in a serious story than going full-on jaunty. While I enjoyed Jack the Giant Killer more than a lot of people did, it was bizarre seeing something try to approximate a snappy comic fantasy-adventure while somehow not managing to get across any decent gags or funny lines.

  29. holy shit says:

    It’s just weird how the only movie you’ve been slightly optimistic about was TASM2 which is one of the worst superhero movies of the modern era. You’re indifference to the genre leads you to lowball assumptions.

  30. jesse says:

    Also: given that we’ve had three $90 million openings in four weekends, and a surprisingly big $50 million opening for the “off” weekend, all for movies that aren’t going to post astonishing domestic grosses (ASM: 205; Neighbors: 150; Godzilla: 220; X-Men: 240? Something like that?), it seems like we’re in for a weird summer in terms of finding a big breakout hit. Going in, it seemed like Dragon 2 and Trans4mers were top box office contenders almost by default. Now that most of the May movies have gotten through decently (sorry Sandler! Though I’m sure his career death will be greatly exaggerated) but not amazingly, the question lingers: Does Dragons 2 do the expected jump from the original and get to around 300? And Trans4mers do the series average and get 350? And then… that’s it? I mean, even an Apes movie that bumps big off the first one isn’t doing more than 250 (and even that seems high to me, and I’m a big fan of the first one). June and July seem more notable for the questions of what’s going to underperform (Edge of Tomorrow? Jupiter Ascending?) than what could realistically break out.

    I guess it’s on Guardians of the Galaxy for the possible late-summer surprise, and the fact that Lucy moved from the post-Guardians weekend to the pre-Guardians weekend (which is way more crowded) makes me wonder if Universal has heard something we haven’t about Guardians maybe being a big deal. But even then: if it exceeds the norm for a non-Iron Man “part one,” it does 200. If it exceeds the norm for a non-Iron Man “part two,” it does 250+. The latter seems unlikely.

    Maybe Fault in Our Stars winds up doing 200 or something? Otherwise it feels like the summer is due for this past May writ large: solid numbers, nothing truly eye-opening.

  31. Hcat says:

    Fault in our stars will likely surprise, a hundred million seems assured, and th news that Lucy is moving up seems to me that universal saw the final cut and is bullish about it.

    As for X vs Avengers, the avengers are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the underlying drama. You can raise the stakes to the fate of the universe but the character arcs are basically waiting for the lead to buckle down and become a hero which is much less dynamic than having heros fight to save people who would just as soon put them in chains. Defending a hostile populace has been used well in batman and spidey also, and these character beats inform the action and raise the emotional stakes no matter the size of the adversary or the number of zip codes being threatened with liquidation.

    So maybe what I’m saying is that it’s not so easy to seperate the character work and action shots since when I don’t give a damn about the hero I’m not really impressed by how many backflips they do before knocking the detonator from the bad guys grip.

  32. spacesheik says:

    I do remember the White House take-down sequence from X2 and that was nifty, but honestly when Zod and co. stormed the White House in ‘Superman 2′ decades earlier in a much more action-packed manner (taking out secret service agents etc) why should my generation be impressed by Singer’s setpiece?

    Can anyone remember the rest of X2? I remember a large lake with a jet and Brian Cox tied to an iron bar in an underground bunker for pete’s sakes.

  33. EtGuild2 says:

    “Yeah, ET… it was obvious to everyone that Thor 2 would improve its international by 68%. How could anyone imagine otherwise?”

    How could anyone imagine there would be little or no bump from AVENGERS based on the IM3 grosses and tracking?

    jesse, always enjoy reading your thoughts.

  34. leahnz says:

    the current superhero action sequences do little for me, i find some of them perfectly enjoyable but i can’t think of any that just blow my mind and give me the heart-thumps and adrenaline surges like the action flicks of the days of yore (say roughly pre-2000 or so), when that delicious feeling of actual physical peril still knocked me on my ass from time to time — i’m trying to think of the last time i felt that intense sensation and ‘fucking hell!’ pumpiness after an action set piece…maybe the badass high-up high-velocity free-running chase sequence at the beginning of ‘casino royale’? that’s pretty bitchin (i know not strictly a ‘superhero’ movie but kind of in the neighbourhood anyway). i can’t think of one since that’s given me that special feeling but maybe i’m forgetting something awesomely intense

  35. christian says:

    The more things change….eh guv?

    “Netflix Will Keep Losing Subscribers In The US”

    - David Poland, 2012

  36. chris says:

    “The Fault in Our Stars” is going to be one of the box office surprises of the summer. Not only is it good but it’s a groups-of-teenage-girls-go-three-times movie.

  37. Bulldog68 says:

    The thing about the Avengers are that battles are won basically on who is stronger and can take the best punch. I like that the fact that in X-Men there are so many different mutant powers that it’s actually more challenging to mount an effective battle. Singer has more than risen to the challenge.

  38. Dr Wally Rises says:

    LYT, your theory about Singer using Jack the Giant Slayer as a beta test for DOFP is off the mark. If I recall correctly, it was only when it became apparent that that movie was in big trouble that Singer assumed the reigns of DOFP. Matthew Vaughn was once again thrown to the wolves. If that’s not what happened then fair enough, but that’s what I heard.

  39. LexG says:

    “Teenage girls: a mass market waiting to be served.”

    I’d like to serve some teenage girls.

  40. hcat says:

    I completely agree with Leah above that even though comic films have overtaken the action genre, none have been as satisfying as the Craig Bonds or the first two Bournes.

    Hell I would probably be more enthusiastic about the prospect of rewatching Salt than any of the Iron Mans.

  41. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m with Leah. Man of Steel, The Avengers, etc. did nothing for me. They’re a total blur of mass destruction and explosions. I could barely stay awake during The Avengers and MOS. They are oppressive and repetitive and pretty damn stupid really. And the action in something like No Country For Old Men or the first two Bournes is vastly superior. Inventive, suspenseful, and bracing in ways that the action in MOS and The Avengers is not.

  42. LexG says:

    David used to say he never censored anyone unless it was really over the line…

    …now he (aka Ray Pride, who actually runs this blog now, not Poland) censors LITERALLY EVERYTHING I say.

  43. Gus says:

    I can still see your posts, Lex, for what it’s worth. Unless there were more than two page-long missives regarding feet, that is.

  44. christian says:

    “He was always posting about teenage girls…we never saw this coming…”

  45. Hallick says:

    “…now he (aka Ray Pride, who actually runs this blog now, not Poland) censors LITERALLY EVERYTHING I say.”

    If you’ve never said the words BELLA THORNE FEET, then I’ll have to take your word for it.

    By the way, why did your Twitter page disappear?

  46. Hallick says:

    “I’d like to serve some teenage girls.”

    Paging Nick Bollettieri…

  47. movieman says:

    You know how when a stand-up comic bombs they say they “died”?
    In “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” Seth MacFarlane dies a million ways in a western.
    Almost nothing works here.
    MacFarlane’s “acting style” is best described as the type of emcee-thesping Bob Hope used to do.
    Except MacFarlane replaces Hope’s charm and likability with his patented smug unctuousness.
    The fact that he’s surrounded by real actors–except maybe Sarah Silverman, although she at least tries–doing their damnedest to inhabit their 19th century characters only makes him look worse.
    And having him and Theron play their roles like 21st century hipster types whose only “soul connection” is a fondness for mocking everyone else makes them neither appealing or remotely sympathetic. (Somebody online wondered if MacFarlane’s seeming contemporaneity in the trailer was a clue that his character was supposed to be a time traveler. He’s not. That at least would have made a smidgeon of sense.)
    The “Back to the Future 3″ homage got big laughs at my promo (I was surprised anyone but me even remembered it), but I thought the “Terror of Tiny Town” wink was a tad more clever if just because it was more…unexpected.
    This is pretty much a fiasco no matter how you cut it.
    And the labored 116-minute run time does nobody (least of all the audience) any favors.

  48. LexG says:

    How’s Seyfried look?

  49. jesse says:

    Movieman, I have to say, I didn’t care much for the movie, but my promo audience seemed to find a lot of it pretty funny (and even I laughed at several of the jokes). Isn’t bombing when nobody laughs, not when you don’t find something funny? I’m surprised that TED got decent-ish reviews while this one seems like it’s going to bomb out with critics. If anything, I slightly preferred this to the teddy bear movie although neither of them really land for me.

  50. MarkVH says:

    Key takeaway from almost every negative review of AMWTDITW = “It’s not funny.”

    Key takeaway from almost every positive review: “It’s funny.”

    And they say criticism is dead.

  51. Krillian says:

    Not near as many problems with the 1998 Godzilla movie, but…..

    1. Why does the secret base have a 2-way mirror in their broom closet?
    2. Why do the police take Brody & son to the secret base when last time he trespassed, they threw him in ordinary jail?
    3. Aerial-wise, how are they keeping that secret base secret?
    4. Why doesn’t Elle leave the city immediately rather than waiting for her husband to show up?
    5. How does the military keep losing sight of creatures that are 500 feet tall?
    6. Why is the military surprised that monsters attracted to nukes find their nukes on a train?
    7. Why didn’t the military send several nukes via several different methods of transportation?
    8. Why does this military have no Plan B for any situation? (We are so screwed if Russia & China team up and invade…)
    9. How do they know Dr. Sherizawa is an expert when all he does is gape?
    10. Why didn’t Godzilla spit blue fire onto the MUTO as his opening move?
    11. How do so many vehicles recover so quickly from EMP blasts?
    12. Can you really outrun radiation?
    13. Why must the lead be another boring Generic Young Guy, and was Taylor Kitsch busy?
    14. What’s Godzilla’s motivation again? Just to kill the MUTOs? Why?

    I’m still glad I saw it in theaters though. The visuals were great.

  52. movieman says:

    Jesse- Not a MacFarlane fan, although I’ll cop to having enjoyed “Family Guy” (and even “American Dad”) once upon a time.
    Until I didn’t.
    Thought “Ted” was mildly amusing for maybe 30-40 minutes, at which point I realized MacFarlane only had one joke in his arsenal (i.e., a grown man’s potty-mouthed, terminally horny teddy bear). Not even Mila Kunis’ remarkably dignified
    perf in an utterly thankless role could salvage it for me.
    P.S.= Seyfried looks fine in “West,” Lex. And her role is considerably larger than I’d been led to believe. (Neeson has little more than a glorified cameo, though.)

  53. movieman says:

    I will say that “West” is as much of a product of its time as “Blazing Saddles.”

    The key differences are that Brooks was working in the post-”Sock-it-to-Me”/”Laugh-In” era (versus MacFarlane’s post-ironic era), had palpable affection for the western genre (which MacFarlane clearly doesn’t) and made a sincere attempt to deal w/ the ever-sticky subject of race in America (as opposed to MacFarlane being flamboyantly, belligerently non-p.c. just to see what he can get away with).

  54. leahnz says:

    also, brooks is a subversive comic genius with genuine flair both in his writing/directing and whacky, self-deprecating supporting role perfs, while macfarlane is a charisma-less black hole man-boy who fancies himself worthy of the lion’s share of screen time, not to mention a bit of a smug little prick in both his writing and delusions of afore mentioned grandeur haha (BIG fan… not. i don’t know why i agreed to see this, i must have been drunk, but i really felt for charlize, who killed it in ‘young adult’ and now has endure this idiocy, ouchie for charli)

  55. EtGuild2 says:

    “Maleficent” is a squandered opportunity. The movie SEEMS to be flirting with the idea that the world isn’t black and white, and those who are good don’t always find a happy ending…but because it’s Disney, it can’t quite go there, because ambiguity is the sworn enemy of the Mouse House.

    Also: this movie is rumored to have a $180m budget and is tracking around a $55m opening. If XMEN “isn’t a complete disaster,” I suppose “Maleficent” is a cataclysm of global proportions.

  56. movieman says:

    Except for a few minor quibbles, I rather loved “Maleficent,” Et.
    The mise-en-scene is pure “storybook,” but the best special effect is Jolie who’s pretty damn great. It’s the role she was born to play.
    Quibbles? Some of the “creatures” looked a little too much like products of the Jim Henson Factory (“Fraggle Rock” and “The Dark Crystal” especially) which they probably were. Also, casting Copley as the King pretty much tips you off that he’s an irredeemable rotter.
    Yeah, it’s a post-”Wicked” (i.e., p.c.-revisionist) take on “Sleeping Beauty”– (Maleficent isn’t really evil; she’s just misunderstood) and there’s a conspicuous absence of humor.
    I missed the wit of “Mirror, Mirror” and Chris Hemsworth’s hunkiness from “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
    But otherwise it’s in the same rarefied (for me anyway) class of 21st century fairy tale reimaginings.
    I appreciated the fact that the Prince who’s Aurora’s “true love” is played by an actor who doesn’t look 20 years older than her (the usual “perv factor” was missing, thank heavens).
    Elle Fanning is adorable; Juno Temple, Leslie Mann and Imelda Staunton are wonderful as the principal fairies; and Sam Riley (“Control,” “On the Road”) is aces as Maleficent’s winged assistant.
    The fact that the whole thing runs under 90 minutes (not including end credits) is another big plus.
    And the fact that it’s that rare 3-D movie worth the upcharge in ticket price because the filmmakers actually bothered to do something inventive w/ the technology.is icing on the (fairly yummy) cake.

  57. movieman says:

    P.S.= Thought it best to leave discussion of the nuances of “True Love” (re: the Prince character) for another time lest I be accused of spoiling the film’s most significant example of revisionism.

  58. Smith says:

    Genuinely surprised at some of the negative reviews for Maleficient now – I thought it was pretty great, too. Definitely things to quibble with, but it’s a cut above in terms of composition, visual effects and world building (it actually looked like a physical place that exists, rather than a CGI nightmare, a la Alice in Wonderland and Oz), Jolie is terrific (so is the rest of the cast), and the film’s central metaphor – which is very, very strong and very, very dark for a movie made for a general family audience on this scale – is surprisingly well handled. Not bad for what, on paper, looked like just another corporate branding cash-in.

  59. King David III says:

    The king asks for proof and does so by ignoring the very fact placed in front of him for the original posting.

    You don’t KNOW the budget of any film ever David. You don’t. Because you are a sad Verbal Kint of a man and have never seen a budget of a film. Yet you report them as gospel when someone in upper levels whispers to you. Then you claim to be a journalist.

    I just put up. Now you can reply “I have TOO seen budgets, such as….” or you can shut up. Or sidestep the issue again you gargantuan tool.

  60. SamLowry says:

    Wasn’t the COMING TO AMERICA case supposed to fix that problem, at the very least to keep studios from using opaque budgets to hide their routine expenditures for hookers and blow?

    R.I.P. Don Simpson: a real producer, a real man.

    (I kid; after all, only an a-hole would say “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. Our obligation is to make money.”)

  61. David Poland says:

    Don – That’s nothing but you doing exactly what you claim I am doing… claiming to know something you do not.

    This all goes back go Transformers 1, when I had 3 people in different roles on the film telling me one thing and you telling me another. But you were insistent and I agreed, out of respect to you, to stop printing the number I had been told. You didn’t know my sourcing then and you don’t know my sourcing now. But that’s my bad, I guess. I respected your claim, when you had a vested interest.

    Your fantasy life about me is rich, Don. Boring, but rich.

  62. King David III says:

    David

    I am asking one thing. I don’t care about your sources or besties or anything.

    How many actual studio budgets have you SEEN?

    ANswer or stfu.

  63. David Poland says:

    A few dozen, Don. None from any movies you produced.

  64. David Poland says:

    By the way, Don, aside from you being a logically inconsistent braying jackass and all… I pretty much got out of the budget thing a few years ago. There are 1 or 2 interesting cases a year. But mostly, it doesn’t matter as much as it did. Movie budgets are bigger, international grosses are bigger, and the whole game is shaped quite differently.

    The only time I am remotely interested in the “real” budget these days is when the spin machine is working overtime.

    As you know, 90%+ of reporting on tracking comes from people who neither see tracking nor know how to read it. And contemporaneous budgets are rarely seen by anyone reporting on them as factual.

    When you and I argued over a $20m/10% variation on the Transformers budget, that amount meant something… at least to you. These days, those kinds of variations are parsed into meaninglessness. Marginal movies are being sequeled, etc.

    Your express disgust with me, I feel for much of the coverage. But many of those writers are your friends, it seems. So they are okay and I am an ass to you based on an ancient minor disagreement.

    So be it. You clearly have too much time and anger on your hands.

  65. King David III says:

    You have never seen ANY budgets, any actual budgets. You may have been fed numbers but you have never seen any. I know it and you know it.

  66. David Poland says:

    Yes, Don. You know everything. You ask a question, you don’t like the truth, you make your own up…. because you, for whom truth is endlessly fluid, prefer to live in your delusion.

    Seek help.

  67. King David III says:

    “here, we would like you to see this private internal document that we don’t share with even some executives but we will let you see it since you are so amazing Dr. Poland” said no studio ever.

  68. David Poland says:

    Again… putting words in my mouth.

    Keep revvin’ those engines, Don.

  69. King David III says:

    You suffer from a reading disorder of some sort.

    I asked you one question. How many budgets have you seen. You answered dozens.

    Budgets are kept top secret. There’s one film I worked on where I never saw the final budget. The idea that you saw any budgets is laughable.

    The words I put in a fictional studio executives mouth, not your halitosis hole, and then I dismissed them.

    But you have never seen an actual budget to any movie you have reported on. We both know this to be true. This doesn’t make you any less of a person- you do that all on your own.

  70. David Poland says:

    The only thing in this conversation we both know is that you want to tell me what I know.

    You are incorrect in your presumptions… except that I did not ever see the studio budget on Transformers nor on some other movies about whose budgets I have written about it in the past. Except, Don, I never said that I had.

  71. King David III says:

    They are not presumptions (that isn’t even the right word). You have never seen ANY budgets. You said above that you have seen dozens. Zero is not dozens.

  72. David Poland says:

    You are incorrect, Don.

  73. Big G says:

    Good grief, two weeks and still going. I like a pissing match as much as the next person, but …

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