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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Oo Oo GO Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-07-12 at 11.57.33 AM

So… Dawny Apes is not (box-office-wise) the The Dark Knight to Ape Rise’s Batman Begins. Incremental growth, but not explosive growth.

So let’s say that this Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ends up grossing between $170m and $220m domestically. Okay. The story is still, sorry to say, international. The first film in this rebooted franchise (Rise) did about 63.3% of its theatrical business internationally, $305 million to its domestic gross of $176m. So while the domestic improvement is meh, the international could blow this up to the next level. But no one knows until we know. And the World Cup will keep the answer at bay for a while longer.

In second place (eyeroll), Transformers 4 will pass $200 million today, passed Maleficent worldwide yesterday, and should be in the $700m club on or before next Friday. But like Apes, it too feels a bit underwhelming in the financials. It is still on track to become the worldwide #1 for 2014 (at least until InterNolan, Hungry Mockingjay, and Hobbit 3).

The question of this summer’s numbers is intriguing. We have six $200 million domestic grossers so far (inc Transformers), 1 shy of the record 7 last summer and summer 2012, with Apes, Guardians, and Turtles the most likely #7s (or #8) in play. Nothing unhealthy there.

What is missing are the domestic mega-grosses. We’ve gotten used to them since 2007 (the summer of the three-quel), when we had 4 summer movies over $300m domestic. That record has never been broken or matched. 3 in 2008, 2 in 2009, 3 in 2010, 2 each in 2011 and 2012 and 2013.

But here’s the other thing… the same phenomenon is happening in international this summer. This summer has as many $400m international movies as ever… and that seems like a reasonable standard for a worldwide box office hit, no? $200m domestic and $400m international. But while we have the same number – and potentially a record-breaking number – of films over that threshold, we are missing the big numbers. Top international grosser right now is Amazing Spidey 2 with $504m. We’ve had three summer films do better than that in each of the last three summers. There is a good chance that Tr4 will take the lead in international soon… but even then, we’ve had at least two summer films do over $600m internationally in each of the last three years. That isn’t coming close to happening this summer.

And keep in mind that the Chinese box office, which puffs up the international numbers on a bunch of these films, is returning less than half of what normally comes back to distributors from the rest of international. (There is probably an interesting story to be written about who, exactly, is making theatrical distribution deals with China and if US distributors are doing more direct deals than they do in some other major foreign territories and if there are any other fingers in that pie… but I’m not the one to write it.)

So what is happening?

I don’t think one summer defines anything in the film industry. As Sharon Waxman and the New York Times showed in 2005, you can bend yourself into pretzels trying to spin a story that you have decided is The Truth and simply be wrong… over and over and over again. The vestiges of that horrible, ignorant “reporting” in 2005 are still felt as the Times continues to insist it was right when it was clearly wrong. (And Sharon continues the Reporting Of Premature Ejaculation in The Wrap… with Brent Lang now bringing it to Variety, which seems to love it.)

(Note: I transposed the names of Lucas Shaw and Brent Lang in an earlier draft of this entry. My apologies to both.)

But the irrational exuberance of the industry about animation and 3D and comic book movies, in turn, is already showing quiet signs of retreat. There was talk of 3 a year from DreamWorks animation… back to 2. Same with Marvel. Same with 3D becoming the standard for all films. Film critics can tell you how many of the 3D movies are now being screened for press in 2D. There are only 2 traditional studio animation films this summer after 5 last summer. Even if Pixar had taken a summer slot, it would only have been 4. Only 4 are scheduled for next summer. And 4 for Summer 2016 (3 of which are sequels). Has the lesson been learned?

Disney has 6 huge movies coming in 8 months next year, 3 of them in one 7 week stretch. This is when their model starts to really be tested. Maybe it will be fine. In the end, audiences want what they want and circumstances be damned. Avengers and Star Wars in one year with a new Pixar and a new Brad Bird and the other two movies can just not be disasters and it’s probably a strong year.

Boyhood‘s doing gangbusters on 5 screens, looking at between $50k and $70k by the end of the weekend. Second best only to Grand Budapest in limiteds this year. About 40% better than Before Midnight last summer. What it means in terms of the ultimate box office for the film is unknown. Could be a $7m movie… could be a $15m movie. Pretty rangey. That big question (here we go again) is whether there is an international audience for this singular event that will blow up Linklater’s previously soft numbers for his non-studio films. Before Sunset did just over $10m overseas. The hope is that Boyhood can match and surpass.

55 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Oo Oo GO Klady”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    22 JUMP STREET is having a helluva run, and hasn’t really gotten its due. It’s about to pass BRIDESMAIDS. $180 million is incredible for an R-rated comedy, but because it isn’t TED or HANGOVER 1-2, it doesn’t come across as a big deal I guess.

  2. jesse says:

    Kinda looks like Tammy’s gonna leg out to $75 million or so, doesn’t it?

  3. LexG says:

    RAGE has been on VOD for like 3 months and is on DVD in a few weeks. I can’t imagine feeling like more of a chump than rolling in and seeing it for 12 bucks plus Popcorn and Coke…but then again that would make it the first Nicolas Cage movie since Zandalee/Deadfall that I wouldn’t see in an actual movie theater. Some stellar numbers there, though.

  4. EtGuild2 says:

    You saw “Seeking Justice” and “The Frozen Ground” in theatres Lex? You’re hardcore.

  5. jesse says:

    I’m pretty sure RAGE is one of the rare movies to receive a theatrical release entirely outside of New York. If it’s playing anywhere in the city, I haven’t been able to find it (though it’s probably just as well, given that the last Cage movie to bypass NYC was the mildly enjoyable but mostly terrible STOLEN).

  6. LexG says:

    I did indeed see Frozen Ground AND Seeking Vengeance at a local theater… though Jesse reminds me, I did not see STOLEN, which never played in L.A.

    Plenty of movies seem to skip L.A. for some reason — currently, that Bob Goldthwait found-footage movie never opened here, and AFFLUENZA, my must-see of the week — PELTZ POWER — seems to be NYC only.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    Why do you hate America so much, David? Where are the numbers for Dinesh D’Souza’s movie?

  8. jesse says:

    Also, a Batman Begins–>Dark Knight jump would’ve meant about a 160% improvement this time around, or $440 million for Dawn. That was never going to happen.

    Probably a better model would be, weirdly, those early-aughts sequels released around the time of the Burton apes, where they would bump up by 30 or 40%. That seems doable here; I’d be surprised if Dawn comes in under $200 million, given the relatively low competition for weekends two and three. It could well make it to $230 million or so.

    So what are the summer rankings going to look like minus Guardians?

    1. Trans4mers: $260 million
    2. Maleficent: $245 million
    3. X-Men: DOFP: $240 million
    4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: $235 million
    5. Amazing Spider-Man 2: $205 million
    6. Godzilla: $200 million
    7. 22 Jump Street: $180 million
    8. How to Train Your Dragon 2: $170 million
    9. Neighbors: $150 million
    10. The Fault in Our Stars: $125 million

    So yeah, weird summer. Basically the last remaining question (apart from whether Hercules and Lucy do surprisingly well or just kinda eh) is if Guardians does the Marvel #1 number of $180 million or so, or benefits from the lack of a massive movie and somehow defaults its way into $250 million-plus.
    3. R

  9. movieman says:

    Considering the media ink already expended on it, you’d think IFC would seriously consider taking “Boyhood” (a lot?) wider than their typical release

    On a mini-vacation, so I missed the only pre-release Cleveland screening yesterday.
    It opens there–on one screen–August 1st.

  10. Nick says:

    nobody made a fourth TF movie to only make $260 million domestic. they have to be pissed, and, quite frankly, sort of worried about the next one, if only from a theatrical standpoint. People are tired of the same old, same old. Give people something they’ve never seen before, and, typically, they’ll come out in droves. But by the fourth go-round on something like TF where it’s simply “what’s the coolest thing I can do with CGI” I have a feeling most people, even the hardest-core fans, have gotta be experiencing some fatigue.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    Disney really must be scratching its head regarding what to do about OZ, MALEFICENT and ALICE. OZ, the movie that was the most setup for a sequel, wasn’t really that profitable…MALEFICENT is going to finish on par with it domestically, but far far above it internationally, and it was cheaper.

    ALICE is still in pre-production, eyeing a release 6 years after the first movie, the success of which, to me, owed more to the AVATAR effect than anything. People were expecting ALICE (and CLASH OF THE TITANS to a lesser extent) to continue this “great leap forward” in cinema. ALICE is not well loved, and cost more than MALEFICENT. I can’t understand why MALEFICENT has been so well received, honestly, but you have to think that’s the one, of the three fantasy re-boots, that deserves a sequel from a financial standpoint. Given the legginess of the Japanese market, and its affinity for fantasy movies with a strong female lead, $750 million is entirely reasonable.

  12. jesse says:

    I do think people (internet people, movie geek people, dude people) overestimate how “not well-loved” ALICE is. A lot of film geeks hate that movie. But I don’t think widely disliked movies get to a billion dollars worldwide.

    I’m sure there’s a bit of Avatar effect that Avatar itself has, where maybe love for it doesn’t match up to the massive amount of money it made. But to me, Maleficent is a great indicator that maybe critical shrugging and (largely male) movie-geek disdain doesn’t reflect what audiences — especially family audiences — think. Both Maleficent and Alice probably played a lot more like de facto animated movies (which they basically were) than anyone seems to assume. Obviously it’s hard to say for sure, but that’s my guess.

    That doesn’t mean a sequel to any of these big Disney fantasy movies is great idea, but I don’t think it’s because even a majority of the billion dollars’ worth of people who saw ALICE loathe it as much as random internet commenters who take it as some kind of weird affront (I like the movie and while I certainly understanding not caring for it, considering it anything more insidious than a somewhat uninspired retread seems like crazy talk to me).

  13. EtGuild2 says:

    I’d be hard-pressed to come up with evidence that PIRATES 4 and PHANTOM MENACE aren’t generally disliked films. PIRATES 2 and TRANNIES 3 are borderline. Sometimes, I think the desire to like a film overcomes the toxic word of mouth associated with it, especially if it’s accompanied by a kickin’ trailer.

    Regarding MALEFICENT…there’s quite a lot of film geeks who I respect who liked the movie, and while I usually abhor the citation of IMDB ratings and am aware it isn’t the general population, it’s a full point above OZ and ALICE. On Metacritic, MALEFICENT has an alarmingly high 7.2 user score compared to a 6.1 for OZ and an abysmal 5.6 for ALICE. Rotten Tomatoes shows a similar margin. Again, unscientific/niche responses (most people assume casual movie goers are barely above neanderthals), but that’s quite a margin.

  14. brack says:

    $260m for Transformers 4 seems a bit optimistic considering how quickly it’s fading, but I guess it’s possible.

  15. brack says:

    The $300 million club of summer since 2007 are Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Shrek 3, Transformers, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Indy 4, Transformers 2, Harry Potter 6 (barely), Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, Twilight 3 (barely), Harry Potter 7 Part 2, Transformers 3, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3, and Despicable Me 2. Only three of those movies were surprises for hitting $300m, most notably Iron Man, Transformers and Despicable Me 2 (There was so much hype and anticipation for The Dark Knight that $300m seemed like a given to me). The rest were proven franchises, and/or had nostalgia working for them (Indy 4 and Toy Story 3).

    Now look at the top movies this summer. X-Men: Days of Future Past was highly unlikely to hit $300m due to the series having a glass ceiling all of these years. Maleficent didn’t seem likely to hit $300m either (at least during the summer season). A $300m Godzilla movie? No way. The Amazing Spider-Man failed to gross $300m, so why would anyone expect the sequel to gross that much? The Raimi Spider-Man movies grossed less and less domestically with each entry. How To Train Your Dragon 2 seemed unlikely as well (was there really a big demand for sequel?).

    The only summer release that had any real chance of hitting $300m was Transformers 4, but Transformers 3 took a hit probably because many were disappointed with the second movie, and it would have been the first time in history that a fourth film in a franchise hit $300 outside of Indy 4 and The Phantom Menace (if those really count, since they had nostalgia working for them). Harry Potter got there eventually, but they’re not really sequels per se.

  16. Yancy says:

    Phantom Menace is certainly well-liked outside of the angry 40ish nerd contingent. The audience it was meant for – kids- are still eating it up. Not sure why any other cross-section of viewers particularly matters. A film cannot get to those numbers without a genuine embrace from some part of the populace.

    Now Pirates 4, nobody liked.

  17. Yancy says:

    Sometimes, the desire to force everyone to agree that a film is universally disliked – to make it a “fact” – simply because the outspoken male internet drones don’t like it is what is truly toxic. The appeal of the lockstep to these dudes is beyond me. The hatred of those prequel movies by angry internet males is downright pathological. There’s a book in there somewhere. I’d argue that there’s nothing this summer or last that was made with the care and invention of any of the SW prequels – accepting that they weren’t made to pander to overgrown adolescents but to, you know, actual adolescents. While a passable movie like DAWN OF APES gets embraced because it has the post DARK KNIGHT self-seriousness, only the negative aspects of the prequels are ever disussed. Those Hayden Christensen dolls still sell.

  18. EtGuild2 says:

    I was in middle school when TPM came out, and perhaps my school was an outlier…but PHANTON MENACE wasn’t well liked. At all. Everyone made fun of Jar Jar Binks, and knew it wasn’t good. At the same time, ” Pod Racer” was an awesome game everyone played, everyone loved the original films, the big duel between Qui-Gon and Darth Maul is rad, and it was just…cool…to be into “Star Wars” at the time. You had to see it, to experience the zeitgeist. It was like pogs…no one liked pogs, but everyond had them. You had to watch “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” “Survivor” and “American Idol” if you wanted to be included.

    Did anyone pop in “Star Wars” at sleepovers or parties, or quote it? Hell no. It was “Austin Powers,” “Lord Of the Rings,” “The Matrix,” “Scary Movie,” “Sixth Sense,” or “Blair Witch.”

    Perhaps I went to an elitist public middle school, though.

  19. Hallick says:

    “Sometimes, the desire to force everyone to agree that a film is universally disliked – to make it a “fact” – simply because the outspoken male internet drones don’t like it is what is truly toxic.”

    It’s even more bizarre when they hate something so much (the Spider-Man reboot) that their fury tears a hole in the time/space continuum and they start scorning something they actually loved at the time (Spider-Man 2).

  20. Hallick says:

    If the Star Wars prequels are in some way on par for the current generation to what the orginal trilogy was for the older generation, then I defy someone to cite anything iconic from them that carries on to this day.

  21. PcChongor says:

    ^
    The same exact bullshit that carries on from the originals (lightsabers, Jedis, Yoda, the Force, etc.), except with the main point of reference being the prequel films and the subsequent “Clone Wars” animated series.

    Hopefully all of the unintelligible prequel hate will finally simmer down once diabetes and heart disease really starts thinning out the older generation of geeks.

  22. JS Partisan says:

    It’s just one of those low key Summers. Seriously, didn’t this happen with 2011 before 2012? The same with 2007 before? These things happen, because next Summer is going to be crazy. Next Summer could be the Summer of Summers, and this one will just be the year before where nothing made as much. It’s the entire cyclical nature of this shit, but this can really help Guardians.

    Outside of that, no one hates anything as much as you, me, and everyone we know thinks they do. I fucking loathe Avatar – the Pandora movie, but it’s ridiculous to deny people didn’t buy into it. Sure. People’s minds can change, but they saw that movie in droves. I’m still not into cat people from space, but that’s the point really. It not being my bag. Doesn’t change the fact, that it could be yours.

    Oh yeah. Fuck IFC. Seriously. Boyhood could break out huge. What do they do? The same broken ass strategy, that hamstrung Before Midnight last year. Why anyone still believes this shit works in the 21st century, is beyond fucking me.

  23. movieman says:

    Perhaps I went to an elitist public middle school, though.
    Lol.

    When I was a freshman in (Catholic, eek!) high school, “The” movie that everyone saw and loved was “The Poseidon Adventure.” (Maybe they liked Gene Hackman’s “cool” priest character; who knows?)
    I remember feeling like a freak for thinking “PA” was pure camp, and wondering why the man who directed “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (which I’d adored 3 years earlier) had made such a blatant crap fest of a movie.

  24. christian says:

    “The Raimi Spider-Man movies grossed less and less domestically with each entry.”

    Revisionist history:

    Spider-Man 2 enjoyed a record-breaking US opening this week – its box office tally of $40.5m (£22.3m) making it the biggest Wednesday opening of all time.

    The previous holder of that record, last year’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, made $34.5m (£19m) on its first day of release.

    The sequel also beat the first day take of the previous Spider-Man back in 2002 – it made $39.4m (£26.8m at the 2002 exchange rate), albeit on the more conventional opening day of Friday. The film’s producers are now forecasting that it can make over $170m in its first week – a week including the traditionally box-office friendly July 4.

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2004/jul/02/news

  25. cadavra says:

    Lex: It costs a small fortune, marketing-wise, to open a film in NY and LA. If you know you’re going to get clobbered by the critics–assuming they even review it in the first place–why spend so much money just to get your ass handed to you at the box office?

  26. SamLowry says:

    PcChongor, you missed Hallick’s point entirely: he said the prequels contain no iconic moments, nothing at all like Luke finding out who his daddy is, Han being frozen in carbonite, Leia in the slave outfit, etc.

    The prequels, in other words, gave us nothing but racism and lousy acting and bad dialogue and boredom.

    EDIT: Okay, I guess that speech where Anakin compared love to sand was iconic…although in a bad way. And Darth Maul was pretty darn cool, until he was killed far too soon in the storyline to become iconic, and even then he may not have actually died since he’s tottering around with metal hips and legs in some of those kiddie animated shows; so…way to screw it all up, Lucas.

  27. PcChongor says:

    ^
    Again, the iconic moments for “us” are along the lines of pod racing, bad ass Yoda lightsaber fights, the entire Clone War setting (which has already been used in about a dozen Star Wars video games over the past decade), Mace Windu biting it, and Anakin finally getting burnt to a crisp.

    Original trilogy fetishizing and irrational prequel hate aside, I think you’ll find that most younger Star Wars geeks actually prefer the “Knights of the Old Republic” era the most. A lot of us REALLY wish that Disney would have dipped into this timeline instead of gleefully smashing through almost four decades of pretty fun Extended Universe novels and games.

  28. SamLowry says:

    You say bad ass, I say ridiculous; Yoda bouncing around like a flea inspired more snickers than gasps of astonishment.

    As for the EU, a stake should’ve been hammered into that beast long, long ago. Fanfic between hardcovers is what that was.

  29. PcChongor says:

    Well, being twelve instead of thirty-something during the time of its initial release certainly helped give that Yoda fight its badass sheen. Iconic(ness?) really just comes down to the age you were when you first watched them, and for anyone under the age of about 25, the prequels and “KOTOR” are where the vast majority of Star Wars knowledge is gonna come from.

    And as for fanfic, I can’t really call any non-Lucas involved Star Wars film anything but that. JJ is the ultimate studio-friendly fanboy, and I’m afraid this is the era that’ll definitively shift the focus of Star Wars filmmaking from building expansive narrative mythologies, to generating easily replicable commodities.

  30. Hallick says:

    To be fair to the second trilogy, it was absolutely impossible to impact popular culture the same way the first trilogy did in its time. But even giving it that handicap, the little impact it did have was negative, and the one iconic thing it appears to have given the world is “George Lucas raped my childhood”.

    And for anybody who thinks there’s a haters generation gap between the two groups of films, don’t forget that Return of the Jedi was riddled with derisive scorn (ewoks) long before The Phantom Menace was even a glimmer in Lucas’ eye.

  31. Etguild2 says:

    Re: the EU from a 20 something perspective. Again, I never had anyone try to convince me to read Clone Wars crap. It was either New Jedi Order, Legacy comics, or the Old Republic stuff you mentioned. Maybe Yancy was right: they were strictly 12 and under.

  32. Chucky says:

    Written by David: “What is missing are the domestic mega-grosses.”

    There are 2 good reasons for this:

    (1) An endless stream of rip-offs, remakes and money grabs, not to mention the non-stop hard sell. Comic book and “franchise” movies are designed only to take people’s money.

    (2) The World Cup. Anyone who says it doesn’t have an effect on US moviegoing doesn’t understand how American society has changed.

  33. jesse says:

    Hallick, I think that’s a great point but it may not be the point you want to make: there’s a certain angry-nerd contingent of Star Wars “fans” who really only love New Hope and Empire.

    I’m not saying to be a “true fan” you have to like everything about all six Star Wars movies, but I do think that if you’re heaping derision upon four out of six of ’em, maybe you should rethink how much you actually like the series and reconfigure your expectations.

    The bits in BOYHOOD where the kid is super into Star Wars rang very true to me — one of my cousins is a little younger than that kid and definitely grew up on the prequels, loves ’em, even felt suspicious about the sale to Disney, he told me, because it wouldn’t be Lucas working on them directly.

    Trying to work out what “everyone” thinks of a movie is often a fool’s game. But given how many movies this year have opened in the $90-100 million and then have failed or will fail to hit $250 million, and given how often word of mouth is cited (often incorrectly, I’d guess) in those failures, it’s absolutely absurd to me that people claim that Alice opening in a similar range (a little higher but not in a totally different league) and then actually making it to around $340 million was just a momentary fluke before “everyone” realized how terrible it was. If you want to go by pure staying power, more people liked Alice than the (male-geek-beloved) X-Men: DOFTP. I don’t think that’s airtight logic; some of this is just increased frontloading, sure. But it’s not like there wasn’t frontloading in 2010.

    Same deal, frankly, for those Star Wars prequels. Things were less frontloaded in 99/02/05, sure, but it’s not as if every movie that opened in the $65-110 million range that those movies hit made it to the $300-400 million mark. In fact, there were dozens of movies that opened in that range during that time period, and relatively few of them held on so well. The simple explanation is that some part of the audience really liked them. But the internet, as much as it provides a forum for interesting discussions, also gives voice to an unending cycle of roiling backlash. So a movie a fair number of people liked (and of course some people disliked, because what movie is universally beloved?) becomes what EVERYONE hated.

    I wrote a bit about this last year:
    http://www.avclub.com/article/is-the-search-for-word-of-mouth-consensus-ruining–104702

  34. jesse says:

    Oh, and regarding the more minor point of Transformers 4 hitting $260 million: weekday grosses help a lot in the summer. The movie is at about $210 million after this $16 million+ weekend. Even if it drops 50% every subsequent weekend (not especially likely), it’ll hit $245 million or so with weekdays added in. So I think finishing up around 260 seems entirely within reach.

    After the first few weekends, DOFP looked like it would finish just over $200 million. Now it’s probably going to pass The Last Stand to become the highest grossing of the series — albeit not by much at all. But it and Maleficent are both hitting higher numbers than they originally seemed likely to hit not just because of strong holds in later weekends, but those weekday numbers.

  35. PcChongor says:

    I’d still even argue that no Star Wars film has had more generational impact for younger fans than video games like “KOTOR,” “Battlefront,” and “The Force Unleashed” have, and if you gave them a choice between seeing “Star Wars VII” or getting to play “Battlefront 3,” I’m pretty sure that most would choose the latter.

  36. Amblinman says:

    “Hopefully all of the unintelligible prequel hate will finally simmer down once diabetes and heart disease really starts thinning out the older generation of geeks.”

    This is funny and spot on except for one thing: all the Star Wars movies with the exception of Empire, are crap. As someone from the original trilogy generation I’m tired of the fevered obsession. The prequels exposed Lucas for what he really was, a hacky filmmaker with a few cool images and ideas up his sleeve. Now we get to look forward to Han Solo with a broken hip hobbling around in 2014 because guys my age (40) and a little older refuse to move in to anything else in their summer movie fantasy life.

  37. jesse says:

    Amblinman, I’m sorta with you in terms of finding more commonalities between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy than a lot of older geeks will admit, and I’ve never considered Lucas particularly on the level of Spielberg or Scorsese or even, as I’ve gotten older, De Palma, among the seventies film brats. But that’s part of why I find Star Wars so much fun: there’s a cheerful hokiness to all of the movies (even Empire!) that I find really endearing.

    Admittedly, it loses some of that if you make it your whole life. But even if Star Wars was the best movie ever made, it wouldn’t be healthy to make it your whole diet.

  38. Amblinman says:

    Jessie,

    Yes to all of that except for the “cheerful hokeyness”. That’s just good old fashioned crappy filmmaking. As a kid I loved every minute of those films, and like so many guys it’s connected to going to the movies with my father, which takes on an even bigger glow as a result. But I’m so fatigued by these Originals vs Prequels arguments. They both sucked.

    Your movie heroes are dead. Find new ones.

  39. PcChongor says:

    And even though I’m a huge Lucas apologist, he’s had an absurdly Benjamin Button-esque career that somehow began with the dystopic masterpiece that is “THX-1138,” and ended with the hokey RKO childhood fantasy “Red Tails.”

    My last hope in that jiggly-necked bitch is that he finally makes good on his decades-long threat to spend the rest of his career “making experimental films in my garage,” but once again he seems to be devoting all his time to Star Wars; this time in the guise of a “narrative” museum in Chicago.

  40. brack says:

    I don’t buy the World Cup having a significant effect on domestic box office. Just four years ago, we had The Karate Kid, Toy Story 3, Grown Ups, Twilight Saga: Eclispe, The Last Airbender, and Despicable Me all becoming moderately to severely popular during the 2010 World Cup both domestically and internationally.

    Jesse – you are probably right about the daily grosses helping Transformers 4 to $260m. I guess I was thinking those weekday grosses would drop off quickly too, but with no real competition outside of Apes, it will probably get to that number.

  41. jesse says:

    And brack, I don’t usually root against pretty much anything at the box office, just as I don’t particularly root for a movie I’m about to watch to be bad… but I would kind of like it if Trans4mers collapsed harder than expected and wound up well below best-of-even-a-weak-summer levels. I feel like that could only do good things for filmmaking, really. I didn’t care much for Maleficent but I’d be kind of psyched if it beat out Transformers.

  42. JS Partisan says:

    Thanks Jesse, but Hallick and Sam are still full of shit. Seriously. It’s astounding to me, that an a good portion of white geek males, seemingly think they are the only ones who have an opinion on the sequels, and it’s only their opinions that matter on the prequels. It’s so the male gaze, that they even made a rape joke about their childhood, because that’s really appropriate, but that’s the male gaze for you.

    Outside of the weird male gaze, my fave part about all f this, is that it’s been 15 years! 15 years, and they are still fucking pissed off about fucking Jar Jar Binks. I sat through Avatar for three fucking hours, had a fucking headache from watching it for another six, and I can safely say that rage faded. The same goes for a bunch of other crap movies that I have seen over the past 15 years like anything JJ Abrams related, but it fades. You can’t be mad forever, but these men and their very manly way about doing things, are still pissed off, and act like it makes sense to act this way 15 years later.

    Ahsoka Tano is an important Star Wars character. Who’s existence alone, makes putting up with male gaze nonsense for 15 years.

  43. christian says:

    “Comic book and “franchise” movies are designed only to take people’s money.”

    While Chucky pimps the altruism of global commercial sports franchising.

  44. Bulldog68 says:

    I don’t root for movies to fail either, even ones that I don’t particularly like, but I’d be kinda stoked if T4 gets beat by The Lego Movie. Just the idea that the cartoon childish transformers beats Bays noisy over the top clunkfest would bring a smile to face.

    That being said, he’s still smiling all the way to the bank. $1B worldwide ain’t nothing to feel sorry about, even if a smaller percentage of that reaches back to US shores. I’d take a small percentage of $1B any day.

  45. SamLowry says:

    Time to admit that the real genius behind Star Wars was Gary Kurtz. He was there with Lucas from the beginning, but left when it became clear that Lucas was going off the rails; it was the decision to cover familiar ground with a second Death Star that finally made him quit.

    (And yes, they were making it up as they went along, which explains why Leia suddenly became Luke’s sister after two movies as his love interest.)

    Other issues:

    “The first film and ‘Empire’ were about story and character, but I could see that George’s priorities were changing. […] The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.”

    And didn’t Lucas ignore Harrison Ford’s desire to kill off Solo in JEDI because it would hurt sales of Solo toys, err, “action figures”?

  46. Hallick says:

    “Thanks Jesse, but Hallick and Sam are still full of shit.”

    Still full of shit and still waiting for an example.

    “Seriously. It’s astounding to me, that an a good portion of white geek males, seemingly think they are the only ones who have an opinion on the sequels, and it’s only their opinions that matter on the prequels. It’s so the male gaze, that they even made a rape joke about their childhood, because that’s really appropriate, but that’s the male gaze for you.”

    Jokes are pretty much never “appropriate”. That’s why they’re jokes.

    I don’t even think that often about the prequels nowadays, so don’t lump me in with the pitchfork and torches and “raped my childhood” crowd. I’m just asking for an example of something from the prequels that’s iconic and has lasted this short course of time. Please. Darth Vader bellowing “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” can be replaced in my memory anytime.

  47. Hcat says:

    The prequels were entirely unneccasary because however goo he could have made them they would never be as fluid as the six lines or so of dialogue spoken by Alec Guinness summing up the backstory.

  48. Etguild2 says:

    I used “phantom menace” as a throwaway to describe how a billion dollar grosser doesn’t need to be well loved. That it inspired this kind of discussion shows how neither side has let go. It’s a mediocre, forgettable film for chrissakes.

    Btw going back to the original discussion…Trannies 4 seems billion likely Jesse….

  49. SamLowry says:

    “I used “phantom menace” as a throwaway to describe how a billion dollar grosser doesn’t need to be well loved…Btw…Trannies 4 seems billion likely”

    I see what you did there.

    Going back to the Star Wars discussion, when I read that Jake Lloyd had been so traumatized by criticism of his performance that he quit acting (maybe David or Joe can comment on the ethics of critics writing poison pen letters to child actors), I asked a few simple questions: Who hired Lloyd? Who told him what to do in front of the camera? Who printed his performance in the final cut?

    Since Lucas acted as a one-man-band on the Prequels, the answers are obvious.

    Lucas has such a tin ear for dialogue and such a lousy sense of whether a performance is any good that he behaves like one of the patients in “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”. I wouldn’t even describe Lucas as a high-functioning autistic; he was so dismissive of grown-ups (Too many yes-men at Lucasfilm? Nooo!) that he asked his adolescent children to make key decisions about the Prequels.

    I have no faith in Abrams, either (he has a tin ear for storytelling), but maybe this time around folks who were too awestruck by God Emperor Lucas will cast blame where it truly belongs.

  50. SamLowry says:

    I should’ve added that Lucas has a tin ear for titles; it wasn’t hard to find this clip of Ewan McGregor, the star of the Prequels, laughing when told what Lucas decided to call the second installment.

    And who can forget the flap over “REVENGE” OF THE JEDI, since even the youngest fanboi retorted that Jedi don’t seek revenge.

  51. Joe Straatmann says:

    Well, for iconic scenes, the three-sided lightsaber fight in Phantom Menace seems to still stick in people’s minds. I can’t say they’re iconic, but there were a lot of things in Revenge of the Sith I quite liked. One thing I thought was absolutely fantastic that people forget about is the opening sequence in Sith. It was the incredible space opera action with the huge scope allowed by modern technology that people had wanted and only got glimpses of in the first two episodes. The opera scene, as much as it’s easy to make fun of, was fairly effective in showing other dimensions of the Dark Side and even has some nice ambiguity in the writing. It’s an isolated scene while the rest of Palpatine’s stuff is more on the, “NO NO NO YOU WILL DIE!!!!” side, but I liked it just the same. The finale up until the botched Darth Vader reveal was quite entertaining. I think the only one I openly disliked was Episode II. It was a lot of boring stacked on boring.

    But I’m weird and would probably be put in front of a ton of nerd firing squads. Even though Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is by far the worst Indiana Jones movie, I think it’s more interesting and entertaining than most things that try to pass as action adventures. The second Lara Croft movie doesn’t open Pandora’s Box. The third Mummy movie hangs out at the cave NEXT to Shangri-La and never bothers to go in, because why the hell would you want to actually VISIT a mythical land in an ADVENTURE?! It’s a damned mess and makes a lot of missteps, but at least at least Crystal Skull’s not gutless.

  52. leahnz says:

    in my mind i kind of separate ‘ROTS’ from the fist two prequels, which were just a fuckarow of boring politics and minutiae, and meaningless action because i didn’t give a shit about any of the characters, just ‘off’ — that’s probably the most crucial thing, all of that tedious, boringly-potted and annoying stuff might have been easier to tolerate if only they could’ve somehow captured lightning in bottle twice with the cast of the prequels.

    but at the end of the day that was the thing about the originals, the chemistry and synergy of hamill, fisher and ford (plus guinness and all the supporting cast really, who also have that serendipity) ultimately makes it work. they kind of lucked out pulling off the dorky smart-assery and earnest derring-do with charm because of their natural rapport and fit, which also naturally evolved, that chemistry you can hope to find but can’t buy or force with a stick (plus the for-the-time dynamic production design and effects of the originals of course; that’s the other big problem that i thought was kind of what Hallick was getting at, there’s nothing unique and special, memorable or game-changing about the prequels and their design, pretty pedestrian – and inexplicably incongruous from the originals to boot – whereas the first trilogy was a game-changer for cinema of the era in a few respects. well the first two anyway, the slow cousin that is ‘Return of the Jedi’ tagged along). still i’d think Lucas and his cabal of lucasites would’ve, you know, noticed ‘the flatness’ when casting the prequels, they have all the zing and interpersonal combustion of a wood stamp. surely they must have seen the signs. having said that, like i mentioned above i separate out ‘revenge of the sith’ from the insipid first two, i like it more even though it’s still cringey in parts – a bit cleaner, more momentum, probably just by virtue of the ultimate requisite tie-in with the original ‘star wars’ timeline. they should’ve just done that story, that of third prequel ROTS and nixed the first two useless ones, just a bunch of nothing, silliness. (maybe by the time of ROTS the cast had been stuck together long enough to have a bit more chemistry by default; still middling though and it’s not even really their fault, just the combination of them that lacks spark)

    from the prequels i’d say perhaps the slightly ‘iconic’ bit pop-culture-wise would be the pod race, there’s arcade games of it and shit (and jar jar binks, for all the wroooong reasons, but hey maybe better to suck and be remembered for being annoying than not to be remembered for anything at all)

  53. Eric says:

    There are a lot of problems with the prequels on a conceptual level, but here’s the one that always bugged me the most. The Empire was apparently an empire for only like twenty years. That’s barely a blip! To hear Alec Guinness describe it in the original movie, it should have been a thousand years of oppression.

    The prequels made the Star Wars universe seem so small.

  54. SamLowry says:

    After only 3 years of Republican control of the legislative and executive branches here in Michigan, I can assure you that twenty years of this would feel like an eternity. (And no, throwing the Governor down a shaft won’t make all our problems magically disappear nor inspire a teddy-bear luau.)

    I once heard that the opening of a Cracker Barrel in the area meant that we’d finally slipped below the Mason-Dixon line, but the passage of Right-to-Work literally in the middle of the night showed that the Sith, I mean Southerners, intend to lose all those “worst in the nation” awards by dumping them on our doorstep.

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1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
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