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Weekend Estimates by Alien Trouble Klady

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

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This is a terrible result for Alien: Covenant. I thought they had found a strong, clear voice for the marketing about a month ago. Problem is… the movie didn’t open while the voice was strong. It opened an entire month later. In today’s movie marketing universe, timing is more important than ever. And when your campaign is “Run. Hide. Pray.,” sitting around waiting for the movie to open in a month and change later is clearly problematic.

I wasn’t sitting in meetings. I’m no expert on the A:C campaign. But you can see this all around.  a few studios now go for a very short marketing window compared to a decade ago, as little as a few weeks. And others, like Sony’s current Emojis campaign, push awareness as much as two months out.

Every time I see a Netflix ad for a show that isn’t on yet, I think of what a waste it is because a service that is based on instant call-to-action is not making its product available when it is calling me to action. There is so much content, the idea of anticipating all but a few shows/movies for more than a month is impossible. I would have watched the Brad Pitt/David Michôd war movie three times by now if it were already on Netflix. But I don’t even notice the ad (or remember the release date) after looking at billboards for a month.

I don’t think there is an easy answer. Star Wars and top-shelf Marvel is about the only stuff that could clearly open with virtually no marketing window. Someone needs to take that risk and do a 10-day campaign for a movie that can actually open. The imagination only lasts that long. It could work. But the irony is that a shorter marketing window might not lower costs, as the audience is so widely dispersed. You can find sports-loving men or pre-teen girls in specific spaces, but for a three- or fourquadrant movie, trying to push awareness and want-to-see in 10 days is an intimidating prospect. I get that.

And the question of whether Alien: Covenant got what it deserved goes back to the wrong-headed idea that opening weekend is about the film itself. It never is. Very, very rarely you can see a Sunday effect… almost never. The sales job for that opening weekend is done by Thursday night (earlier, really) and what is going to happen then is going to happen. (Tracking is wrong often because it is an imperfect art… again, not unlike trying to find every viewer in a short marketing window. Tracking is great for awareness, not so great for likely ticket sales.)

I think that Fox can be comforted by the idea that they did everything they could do to open A:C. The question is, for me at least, whether doing everything is still the most effective way to sell some movies, especially IP-driven films where awareness is not the big problem.

Friday Estimates by Alien: Klady

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

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Alien: Covenant takes a hit from Prometheus, as audiences aren’t quite ready to jump back into the water, even though Fox has pushed the action agenda more aggressively this time out. With Pirates a week away, the question of whether the same will happen there is legit.

Prometheus did $276m overseas. Will Alien: Covenant top that or not? And will A:C improve, as it should, on Prometheus‘ 2,5x opening domestic number? These questions will determine the future of this prequel franchise.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 is building distance from the original as it goes. At the end of the first weekend, it was $52m ahead. Second weekend, $69m. After Friday, $71m. By the end of the weekend, we’ll see. And of course, international is enormous, passing $400 million this weekend.

Everything, Everything is a positive for ailing WB. It’s not a huge number, but it will lead to profit if the reported $10m price tag on the film is remotely true. The studio has clearly not spent a fortune marketing the movie.

Fox’s third release in the last nine days, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, is eating it. Maybe cramming for three tests would be the metaphor. None of the three  openings went well, Snatched doing best (in perspective) of the three. Here, you had an openly acknowledged cast change and what seemed to be the hope that the old audience (now too old) would just show up. Captain Underpants seems to be what Wimpy was a few years ago (at least at my kid’s elementary school), so we shall see in couple weeks.

Two strong arthouse entries, Abacus and Wakefield, are in line to do $10k per in exclusive release this weekend.

Trailers du Jour: Fox Apes Fight Humans & Feminism

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

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Weekend Estimates by Magic Snatched Klady

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

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This Mother’s Day weekend may (or may not) reflect the least accurate projections of Sunday numbers in memory. Both Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Snatched are projecting Sunday as significantly bigger than their Friday gross, which would be unusual. Expect the 1-2-3 order to stay in line tomorrow, but with different grosses.

I almost did a spit take when I saw today’s weekend projections. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 made a giant leap on Saturday and a big projection for Sunday, but it is within reason, given Marvel’s history. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword took its sad $5m start and projected a sad, but unsurprising $14.8m weekend. And Snatched leapt from a $5m Friday to a $17.4m weekend. Huh?

Last Mother’s Day, in the only such example in the last five years of Mother’s Days, the 2 top movies (Captain America: Civil War and The Jungle Book) had exceptional Saturdays and Sundays. But the newcomer in the #3 slot, Money Monster… the only non-mega-movie? Just under 3x Friday. The movie Mother’s Day? Normal weekend trend line, Sunday less than Friday. So why is Snatched projecting 3.5x Friday? Likely to assure that it will be the #2 film and the #1 new film (and #1 comedy… ha ha ha) over the very close Friday competition of Krap Arthur.

Thing is, the Guy Ritchie bloodbath is laying down to die, so Snatched will be #2 even if the real number is $16m or under. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Guardians number drops a million or two when “actuals” land tomorrow (not that a million or two means anything in that film’s box office history).

Only three films managed $10k per-screen this weekend (and mind you, that is only 1100 or so ticket buyers – at most – per screen over a three-day weekend): Guardians, the four-screen premiere of Paris Can Wait and the exclusive of  Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe.

Also of note, there are three $1m-plus non-English market films on the charts this weekend: How To Be A Latin Lover, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, and Bon Cop Bad Cop 2.

Friday Estimates by He Better Hope There Isn’t A Recording Of the Box Office Before He Estimates Klady

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

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Oh Guardians, my Guardians…

The second volume isn’t maintaining the “50% improved over the original” pace of the opening, but it is still well ahead of the first and internationally, it has already three-quarters of the way to the entire international gross for the first film ($326m going into this weekend vs 440m for the full run of the original). Given that, it is likely that V2 will come close to the total gross of V1 by the end of this worldwide weekend and it will pass it by next weekend (unless it somehow manages that feat by this Sunday).

Meanwhile, two new films arrived, neither encumbered in any way by Guardians’ haul this weekend… and both are as soft as a penis Amy Schumer would make into a gag about her not being attractive enough. (She is plenty attractive, but careeer-wise, should probably stop jumping between denying it and overstating it.) Ironically, the entire idea of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is that it is rock hard. (I know… pushing the metaphor too hard… damn, did it again by mistake!) The male gaze upon the male is the least of KA’s problems.

There is a legit difference between these films. King Arthur will, unless saved by international, lose a bunch of money. Snatched, which I assume stayed under $50 million, will be breakeven or lose just a little. So a tale of two grosses that don’t lead to the same sadness.

Meanwhile, the #4 and #5 in the box office are both billion-dollar worldwide movies.

Not an interesting weekend. Paris Can Wait will be the exclusive-release representative in the $10k per screen club. Have a lovely Saturday. Enjoy streaming something!

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Saturday, May 13th, 2017

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The Myth of Movie Industry Myths: Exporting Films Of Color

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

There are things that are true and there are things that we want to believe.

The media loves to accuse Hollywood of all manner of malfeasance. (This piece claims to correct a myth and this piece claims that Hollywood is so invested in keeping women and people of color down that it is lying to itself.)

But often, the attacks are inaccurate, and even insulting, as well as ignorant of how Hollywood works, who is making choices and what the real intentions are.

There are plenty of ways to manipulate the system from the outside (that’s us, media). Shame works… to some degree. Studio execs take action to avoid public embarrassment. But in my decades of experience watching this industry, that will be only a temporary adjustment.

Things move slowly. Change happens. If you look at the face (and faces) of movies today, there is a marked difference from 20 years ago. There are still a lot of white male faces. A majority. Too many. Yes. But still, there is change. There is change in the content. The things characters say and do. And even much greater openness to color-blind and gender-blind and orientation-blind casting. Not enough. No.

But today, I want to get away from feelings and opinions about how movies starring or depicting people of color work outside of the U.S. and just look at numbers.

Every year, there are between 130 and 160 wide releases (over 1,000 screens at some point in the run) in the domestic market. Statistically, about 20 of those should be “of color” to match American society.

Here is the count from the last 5 years (2012 – 2016)
2016 – 21
2015 – 10
2014 – 12
2013 – 20
2012 – 12

The thing that jumps out immediately is that the fewest films “of color” released in any of these years was in 2015, which not coincidentally became the “Oscar So White” year.

Conversely, 2016, which saw a big bump in nominations for people of color was also, not coincidentally, the biggest year for wide releases of films “of color” in this survey.

We have had 46 wide releases in the U.S. so far in 2017, about a third of the films that will roll out. There have been seven movies led by people of color.  So that seems like a pretty good year coming. But I only see seven or so similar movies on the schedule. Ideally, that number will evolve upward, including wider expansion than currently planned for smaller titles.

Domestic grossers over $100 million will leads of color:

2016 – 5
2015 – 4
2014 – 1
2013 – 2
2012 – 5

But to the question, what about international?

In recent years, the standard for international is that most (about two-thirds of) American-made wide release films generate more than 50% of their overall box office from international markets.

How many films led by people of color are generating 50% or better overseas?

2016 – 6 of 21
2015 – 2 of 10
2014 – 3 of 12
2013 – 7 of 20
2012 – 4 of 12

That’s 22 of 75, or 29%… or less than half the rate that is the norm in the industry for films that have been released widely in North America.

But it’s worse than that, because the other alleged myth is the perception that a select group of movie stars of color are the “only ones” who do well overseas. But of those 22 films that did 50%+ overseas, 10 starred with Will Smith, Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel. (I’m not counting Moana for The Rock.)

Denzel Washington didn’t have a movie in the past five years that made over half its grosses overseas. In a remarkable career in which he has been a consistent box office draw in America for over 20 years, he has had only six movies in which more than half the box office came from international. And only one, Deja Vu, crossed that 50% mark without a white co-star who was a solid international box office draw. But the truth is, when Denzel started doing around 40% overseas consistently (on top of his expected domestic $70m & up), he was marked as a worldwide draw.

Of the other 11 films of color that grossed over 50% internationally, two were Best Picture winners (12 Years A Slave and Moonlight), three more were Best Picture nominees (Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lion). Two were animated (Moana and The Book of Life), two specifically targeted Spanish-speaking audiences (Instructions Not Included and The 33), there was a biopic about an international figure (Mandela), a comedy (Scary Movie 5) and one tentpole that was dominated by white stars (Independence Day: Resurgence).

Maybe you don’t like these statistics.

Creed only grossed 37% of its gross internationally. But that 37% was $64 million. Seriously impressive. The Butler did $60 million, though that was only 34%. It would be wrong for anyone to say that there are no success stories.

A dozen films with black leads did over $100 million internationally in the last five years. But again, aside from the Big 3 and animation, there was only ID4:2 and that didn’t lean too hard on Jessie T. Usher or make him a movie star.

Here’s another stat…in the past five Oscar seasons, three Best Picture winners did over 50% of their box office overseas and two did not. The two that didn’t were Spotlight and Argo.

There are very real arguments that can be made about why films of color do not play as well overseas as other films. Does the system downgrade these films, signalling audiences in other countries to pay less attention? Is there significantly less being spent on marketing, given the history? Has the bias been so institutionalized that there are a hundred small things holding these films back in other countries?

Still, it would be dishonest not to question openly whether other countries are, in their moviegoing mainstreams, less racially tolerant than the U.S.

I don’t have an answer. The Intouchables, with a black man and a white man as co-leads, did record-breaking business in most countries of the world other than the U.S., racking up over $400 million. Omar Sy is an international star now. And the failure of the film in the U.S. points much more at Weinstein focusing on remake rights than the film itself.

Explain to me why Queen of Katwe performed better in the U.S. than A United Kingdom, but not as well internationally. I don’t know. (I could come up with a theory, but that’s not the point.) The two films are different, but both are fight-your-way-to-a-feel-good with roots on the African continent with the same lead actor. Theories aside, is there an answer to this question?

With due respect, when you are arguing that Straight Outta Compton is a shining example of international success, you are starting with an illusion. Did Universal expect it to play overseas? No. Is $40 million pretty strong for the film internationally? Yes. Would Universal or any other studio budget based on expecting $40 million or more international on their next black-historical-musical-character film? No, of course not. Not any more than they would budget a film like Get Out anticipating a $100m domestic gross… even months after it actually happened for Get Out. It has nothing to do with color. (Jason Blum is still very white.)

12 Years a Slave did $6.6 million in Italy while Creed did $650k, Selma did $1.8 million, and Collateral Beauty did $10 million. How do you sort out those numbers and come up with an argument about how films with people of color play in Italy? There are theories, but they all seem nebulous when you look closer at slices of history.

All that said… if you want to suggest  that there is a positive trend line – and I think there is – and that opportunity is limited by false claims that success in this direction is only an anomaly, you cannot make the argument by arguing only the anomalies. Regardless of what Twitter might have to say, the people who control the pursestrings – even the “good” ones – are smarter than that. They understand risk. And they understand that there are difficulties to be taken into account. Of course, the same is true of every movie that is made.

Trends in the movie business are not created by exceptions, but by repeatable rules. Those rules can and often do change, but more slowly than many of us would like.

Review: King Arthur: The Lege…

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

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I won’t bury the lede. This movie SUCKS. King Awful!

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is the kind of movie that’s so bad that you wonder who greenlit the film at Warner and whether they have already been fired. (Answer: Greg Silverman… yes, he’s been gone for six months.)

There is only one reason why you would ever consider giving Guy Ritchie $100 million (which ballooned up to over $200 million) to make a King Arthur movie. “Sherlock Holmes 3,” which is still not a sure bet to happen.

What makes the greenlight on Arthur even more shocking is The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which the studio had to have seen before Arthur started shooting, a terrible, terrible movie that lost money after a $110m worldwide gross.

Incomprehensible loyalty to bad directors with giant egos had a big footpront at Warner Bros. Robinov was the walking definition of Old Boys Club. And the studio’s inability to get over the hump on DC has one giant thumbprint on it… Zack Snyder. After the surprise, massive, stunt-y hit that was 300, Snyder had three straight WB movies that lost large amounts of money. While that usually marks the end of a career, much less a relationship with a single studio, Snyder was handed the crown jewels. And yes, the numbers are up… incrementally, But even with Batman and Superman combined, Snyder could only earn the #7 slot in last year’s worldwide box office chart… not a disaster, but not what they needed.

Another problem is that WB has allowed these guys to cast really good-looking guys who don’t have the Movie Star muscle and never will. I have nothing against Henry Cavill or Charlie Hunnam. But neither of these very good looking, very earnest actors has that gear that takes our experience of staring at their faces, 30 feet high, to the level of magic. You are either born with that or you are not. They are not. The power of every close-up of Jude Law in this film, most of which are meaningless, shows how he has that magic (however mismanaged in past years). Even Eric Bana, who was born to be a character actor—and while good-looking, is not a natural lead—brings more weight than Hunnam does here. Just the way it is.

I have some more bad news… pretty sure that, as beautiful as she is, Gal Gadot doesn’t have that magic thing either. Affleck has it more than other Justice Leaguers. Ezra Miller has it… but does Snyder know how to exploit it? And Jason Momoa? Who the hell knows? So far, he is a grunter, showing none of the extra charm of a Dwayne Johnson… but who knows? Zach Snyder’s taste in casting was once exceptional. Dawn of the Dead was overloaded with interesting, clever choices. And Watchman was damn well cast, with a couple small exceptions. But it’s been downhill since 300, once production became more important than the acting.

But back to the hyperactive turd that is King Arthur

I don’t want to just list everything that is wrong with this movie, because neither you nor I have that kind of time. Let’s just look at one simple head-scratcher… Giant evil elephants.

“What could be wrong with giant evil elephants,” you ask? “It’s sword-and-sorcery. Stop being such a buzzkill! ”

Well… I was okay with the giant (like 50 feet tall) evil elephants, at first. They were, after all, only evil because they were being made so by a bad wizard of some kind in some way (unclear, but I would make room for that lack of clarity as well).

BUT… the elephants were not made giant by magic in this film. When the evil light goes out of their eyes, they are still giant, just not evil (even kind of good… kinda).

So in this movie, they live in a world with GIANT ELEPHANTS.

But wait… they don’t. Never see another giant anything. (Some big snakes… but perhaps hallucinations.)

Picking the world in which your story takes places and remaining reasonably consistent is so basic. Otherwise, you are making YouTube videos writ large.

Ritchie’s twist on King Arthur isn’t complex. Take the original and add The Lion King. Add some Harry Potter effects (not as well done). Add quick editing that makes parts of this film dangerous for ticket buyers with epilepsy. And voila! You’ve got a crap movie.

It’s not all hideous crap. There are a few moments, here and there. But almost everything is ham-fisted. There are some likable actors (including Hunnam). There are some fun moments. But tell the damned story!

I would have been thrilled to have a sequence as exciting as Conan’s fight between Conan and the cheesy giant snake… because it was about Conan, not his magic, light-saber sword. They film pretends that the Jude Law character has an arc… but it turns out to be a lie… and even that is just something you figure out, not storytelling.

Maybe the best chance for something interesting here is Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as the Merlin of the story… even though Merlin is mentioned and somehow not around. But it’s a dead end. Turns out that she is Beastmaster with an eye condition. But who is she?!?! What motivates her? What challenges her? What does she want (aside from the good guy beating the bad guy)?

And don’t even get me started on the Guy Ritchie cameo(s), with a LOT of dialogue.

Not bad enough to be fun. You may catch a scene on TV that makes you turn your head for a minute or two. Fair enough. But as Peggy Lee sang, is that all there is?

Review: Snatched (minimal spoilers)

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

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Snatched is the movie that people feared Trainwreck might be. In Amy Schumer’s first feature, we were fortunate to get a coherent, quirky narrative with charming sidebars. Not so lucky here.

The premise is not unfamiliar. It’s a fish-out-of-water wacky international romp with the added twist of it being daughter/mother instead of a mismatched romance.

Colin Higgins was the master of this form, and sure enough, he and this style of filmmaking were a big part of Goldie Hawn’s ascension to movie star with Foul Play in 1978. Michael Ritchie was another often-great director who worked this wire, as he did with Ms. Hawn in Wildcats. And perhaps another inspiration here was Hawn’s turn in Private Benjamin, directed by Howard Zieff.

But Snatched isn’t a straight play on the form. It has the good, and the bad, of Amy Schumer’s comic ideas and ambitions. I have no idea whether Katie Dippold was driving this screenplay, although she was on set through most of the production. One gets the feeling, watching this, that the script was followed and then they did a few for Amy, trying to find the topper that wasn’t on the page.

The first disastrous choice on this was hiring Goldie Hawn to play the straight man to Schumer’s comic character. It’s not what she does. She can play comedy or drama. She can even play “The Girl” when she likes. Watching Hawn play the stick in the mud while Schumer mugs for the camera is frustrating. But in this broad, active comedy, the Goldie Hawn we know and love shows up for a brief moment in the third act. Too little, too late.

A similar, though smaller mistake, is made by the utter waste of one of the great comic actresses of her generation, Joan Cusack. I guess the idea of her playing a woman who can’t speak because she cut out her tongue is, uh, amusing. And some of the best laughs in the film are from her character (stunt doubled) doing unexpected physical things. But she – and her partner character, Wanda Sykes – are never allowed the space to make the mark that they are more than capable of making. They aren’t allowed to be Stan & Ollie, because while Cusack is silently in the background, Sykes is talking, and she is very funny. But it never works as a duo act inside the body of this other film. (And of course, we all know that they biggest laugh from the silent character comes when they finally speak… which can’t happen after a throwaway joke about cutting out her own tongue.)

But the biggest problem is that Schumer is playing dumb… perhaps stupid. And she takes it to a level that doesn’t serve her well. It’s kind of like, “If you loved Amy in Trainwreck as a smart but insecure late-20s/early 30s woman with a fear of commitment who finally gets it together, you’ll REALLY LOVE Amy as a self-indulgent woman/child with a clinging, enabling mother who really learns nothing through the course of the movie and keeps us from seeing her mother fully blossom because she is taking up all the screen time.”

I had a hard time recovering from the “your boob is out” joke that happens around the end of the first act, but not just because it wasn’t very funny. And not because Ms. Shumer’s breast is anything less than lovely. But because it reeked of desperation in a way that make me cringe. I am not a fan of the few instances of male comics whipping out their penises either. However, when Jason Segel rolls it out, it isn’t just a sight gag, even though it always starts as a shock gag. There is a storytelling value to the choice (for better or worse). And in a movie like There’s Something About Mary, the show of scrotum is part of an entire gag. And the shock comedy boobs in that movie are Madga’s, whose breasts are hanging below her waist. That is a broad joke. Not, “Hey I showed my boob.” Even if the gag here was that they were dancing and the camera pulled back and she had one boob out, it would feel like a part of the storytelling, not a spit take.

So much of the movie feels like it is working a clear, fairly familiar idea, only to be sidetracked by someone trying really hard to be funny instead of trusting the storytelling. The side characters, including Cusack & Sykes, Chris Meloni, Ike Barinholtz and Bashir Salahuddin all deliver, but are not given enough room to be as memorable as they should be. Only Randall Park, at the top of the film, gets to complete his mission.

I am willing to take broad leaps with a film, particularly with a comedy, when it comes to structure and narrative flow. I am certainly willing to suspend disbelief. But I need a little flow. I want something more than a series of gags – even if some make me laugh – unless you are doing something drop-dead funny (see: Borat).

Pretty much every big laugh in this film, except for the opening, is one-off.

I am a fan of Jonathan Levine, going back to All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, which I saw in Toronto and thought was funny back then. He works hard to make the movie look good and to keep it flowing.

We never knowsthe power structure on a film unless we were there. So I don’t know who to blame. I just know that it was not good. And that is a shame, given the talent involved.

I probably should have known from the title… because I am pretty sure it is meant to be hysterically raunchy. I’m sure there is some context in which I would find that funny. But not this one.

Weekend Estimates by I Am Klady, Vol 2

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

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Analysis to come… around 11a pdt

Review-ish: Alien Covenant (spoiler-free)

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

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The third act of a movie is a magical thing. A story can drag through two acts, but if that third act really pops and the audience leaves the theater excited, the not-so-exciting journey to get to the end is forgotten and the buzz remains. But the reverse is also true. This phenomenon is as true for most film critics as it is for “the great unwashed.”

And that is the great challenge for Alien Covenant. If Alien was a haunted house movie and Aliens was a war movie, Covenant is the franchise’s take on “Heart of Darkness.” For 2 acts or so, it cooks. For a well-worn franchise, Ridley Scott comes up with all kinds of new stuff. It’s familiar, but he finds original ideas and images that feel organic.

No doubt, Scott responds to some of the critical complaints about Prometheus, however indirectly. People who HATED the map guys getting lost and characters making dumb choices around the eggs… your anger has been addressed and the answers work well.

Fassbender does nothing to disprove that he is one of our greatest actors. Simply explaining what kind of work he does here is a spoiler, so I won’t. But let’s say that he and Scott found an opportunity for him to top the tremendous work he did on Prometheus.

The rest of the cast harkens back to the original Alien. The actors are familiar, but not movie stars. The audience legitimately can believe, from the start to near the end, that virtually anything could happen to any one of the characters. I was rooting for one more massive twist, but… no. Still, every one of these actors delivers something different.

The leads are uniformly good. But beyond that, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo, Callie Hernandez and Amy Seimetz all overdelivered my expectations in this context. There is one “unexpected” performance that I assume was meant to be clever… but it plays flat and I wish wasn’t there. But you will have to pick that out for yourself.

There are even unexpected moments that are utterly genre gratuitous… but I loved that. Sex, Hysteria, Boobs, Cowardice, Bad Hair. I was excited by the surprises inside the surprises.

And this is what makes the final 20 minutes or so of the movie so very frustrating. It just isn’t the same movie as what came before. It’s beautifully executed and well acted and all. But it stops being its own thing and become part of a franchise in a variety of ways, all of which cooled my blood considerably.

As we left the theater, a journalist friend pointed out this film’s place on the franchise timeline… and yeah, it made complete sense.

It’s not just that, to be honest. The disconnect starts with a “what happened off camera” theatrical device that just never works. It could have. It doesn’t. But it is so obvious that you spend time wondering when the twist is coming and what it means if there isn’t a twist, distracting you from just being in the still very busy action movie.

I don’t know if there more scenes were shot. I don’t know if there were 30 passes at the editing of those last 20 minutes, trying to get it just right. I don’t know if Mr. Scott, who is one of our very best audience-thrilling filmmakers, thinks it works as it is.

There is so much right about Alien Covenant that what is wrong at the end is an incredible frustration. There are so few movies that do what the film does well. And I want to be all about the parts I truly enjoyed. But when it comes at the end of the movie, it’s the October 28 James Comey letter… even when it gets corrected, it’s too late to get the bad taste out of your mouth.

I will see Alien Covenant again… because of all the good, all the joyous horror thriller fun. And I will look forward to the next film(s) in the franchise, though it clearly evolves here from the original, unique franchise idea of changing up the genre each time out to doing variations on the same idea, movie after movie. Run. Scream. Rinse. Repeat.

The Lovers, Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Azazel Jacobs

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Friday Estimates by Klady Raccoon

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

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My instinct on movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 is to shut down the overanalysis. It is so easy, covering box office, to get stuck in the weeds.

It will be the 44th $100 million opening of all-time. There were EIGHT last year.

It will be the second $100 million opening of this year. There were three before the summer last year.

It will be the fifth biggest summer opener for the Marvel-Made MCU in the last 6 years. (The non-MCU opener was Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, which launched to “only” $91 million in 2014.)

Gv2 cost about $50 million (25%) more than the first of the series (Disney copping to $30m), but will open to about 50% more domestically.

Guardians is very successful, but internationally, the first film was at the bottom of the list (next to Thor 2) of the post-Avengers MCU. Disney will be looking to smash the bar of 60% of total gross coming from international.

Kurt Russell is a great choice for his role in Gv2 for so many Disney-esque reasons, but Disney folks will be wondering if they should have spent the extra dollars on Kevin Costner about now.

Anyone who whines about a $140-$155m opening is a bit of an idiot. But is the measuring stick reality or the MCU? Marvel is launching into its most risky run of new characters (the re-tooled Thor franchise with Thor: Ragnarok followed by Black Panther) and starting next year, three movies a year – spring, summer, holiday – presumably for the rest of our natural lives.

That means a billion-dollar (plus) spend every year chasing theatrical of $2.5 billion and up for Marvel alone. Every studio would take that bet right now. But understand, the spend on just those three movies a year is about the same (a little more/a little less) than the other studios are risking on their entire 12+ slate of films.

But if the 2018 gross is more like $2 billion, fewer studios would line up for that honor, And if the trio grosses $1.8 billion, studios would remain interested, but look for partners to take on some of the risk. The fear would be that if the trio of films grossed $1.2 billion at some point, the slate would lose money, hard as that is to imagine.

Personally, I am excited for Marvel, more so than ever before. They are not standing pat. They are making bold creative choices on film after film (then getting a bit conservative about the Avengers machine). More and more I see them as a true indie studio that just happens to work with very expensive materials. With due respect to their directors, Marvel is unlikely to unleash the next Spielberg or Lucas or Fincher or even Brad Bird from that stable. That is not to say that the group of directors they have brought in – especially these days – won’t represent an important class of commercial filmmakers in Hollywood for decades to come. But the renegades in the group are made stronger by the boundaries and the conventional filmmakers in the group are made stronger by the expansive vision. Making all of this work is no small success.

As for the rest of the weekend, counterprogramming (which is really, in this case, just being in the path of the hurricane with product that works for younger kids and women) is showing solid holds. The only $10k release in limited/exclusive looks like The Lovers, which should play well into the summer if handled carefully as it becomes a big hit with the over-50 set.

Me, Ranking The Marvel Movies

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Here’s an exercise I never felt any urge to do before…

We are only 13 movies into the history of Marvel-produced Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. But here we are… and since I really liked some of the recent films, I got curious about how I would rank them.

I would probably put today’s Guardians 2 release right between the 2nd & 3rd Cap. It’s my second favorite true sequel, but it is so overloaded with ideas and so anxious to get the same laughs it got the first time, but 4x this time out, it stuck me as overload. And one of the big ideas just doesn’t work. They tried hard, but couldn’t make it work the right way.

Doctor Strange – The most spun spin-off of the M-pMCU. It’s derivative of Nolan in ways, but has the most effective use of CG —aside from the bending buildings— in the entire MCU, including non-Marvel-produced films. The effects felt naturalistic, or at least as naturalistic as effects can feel. It rarely felt like an effect wasn’t fully attached to an idea. Nor did it feel (a little in the third act) like someone told Scott Derrickson that he needed something more showy. This is a kinky, wild movie and that made it feel great.

Ant-Man – Also off-brand in most ways. It felt like what it really was by the time they made it, a character comedy that happened to have effects. I still have no idea why Edgar Wright left (jumped or pushed) because the film does have some of his comic energy. But it is also clearly Peyton Reed’s movie. The effects here are often brilliant, but taken as a whole, there is a real 1980’s pre-CG effects feel to a lot of it, which I loved and which I assume was intentional. Not as kinky as Dr. Strange, but a strong #2 for me.

Iron Man 3 – Until the cop-out ending, I enjoyed this very Shane Black piece. It felt like the effects and all were already worked out and that was someone else’s job and all Black had to do was to focus on telling his variation on the Iron Man story. Less encumbered with the weight of all things Marvel or fanboy obsessions, it was just a good story, well told… until that ending… oy.

Guardians of the Galaxy – I think it’s overrated, but there is no denying the joy of James Gunn doing his own thing on the first of the M-pMCU’s spin-off movies. I can pick this thing apart from today to next Thursday – the sequel is much better technically and as filmmaking, but has story problem, way too complicated for its own good – but there is pleasure in Groot and Rocket and Drax and Gamorah and Star Lord. And equally as much is the array of side characters, villainous and kind, who are along for the ride. For me, it’s a turn-off-your-brain pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

Captain America: The First Avenger – In some way, this Joe Johnston set-up film for The Avengers is as much spin-off as part of the central Avengers story. I like the WWII element. The villainy was not as powerful as I’d like. Red Skull is pretty much impossible to bring to life without making him either a joke or a bore. Somehow a kid’s imagination reading a comic makes him much more powerful. Same problem with Dr. Doom so far, by the way. As with Iron Man III, the ending was screwed up to get to the next movie. But I enjoyed the rest, so I forgive it (and always mention it).

Marvel’s The Avengers – Overrated for me… but still, enjoyable. It was a fresh take on the material. Delivered the best Hulk stuff ever. Nimble. Funny. It would have been much better for me had the ending delivered something other than target practice. The stakes just seemed minor… another movie with the world coming to an end. But enjoyable, charming and better not to think about it too much.

Iron Man – The movie that defined the MCU culture under Feige. I personally hated that a guy who kills Arabs as a business, then kills Arabs to save himself, and then goes back to kill Arabs for our amusement. I wanted an emotional arc. I get the idea of him as a selfish prick. Downey is a blast. But for me, he doesn’t become a man in this film. I know that it led to him and Captain America dancing… but it could have worked and been a better piece of writing.

Captain America: Civil War – Perhaps the most mature (perhaps overripe) Marvel movie. No one dies in this Civil War. The positions of the two sides aren’t intensely political. Got to roll out new characters or test out the solo viability of others. The whole thing felt like a holding pattern. The tarmac fight may be the best single action sequence in the entire 13 films. But… not enough for me to really like the film.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The most highly respected MCU film that I simply don’t connect with in the way that others do. It felt cheap (thought it wasn’t) with more car chases and bullets flying than any of the other films. It felt wildly melodramatic. And I have zero interest in Cap’s relationship with Bucky. I am over that. I was over that the minute it started. Leaves me 100% cold.

Thor – The pleasures of Asgard aside… this was a couple good jokes repeated 4 times each. Didn’t buy the relationship. Didn’t care for the monsters. Not enough use of the side characters. Waste of Natalie Portman. The fully thing is, I really like Chris Hemsworth as an actor. But as Thor… a bore. They should have stayed in Asgard. And I look forward to the upcoming Thor, which looks like an acid trip of a good time.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Just a terrible sequel, aside from the addition of Paul Bettany as The Vision. Ultron had his moments, though it got schticky too often. Love both Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as actors – seriously a fan of the work of both and the human beings in real life – but both are disappointments in this film… just minor as could be. And what was so great about the Hulk in the first A movie was less so here. Cap and Iron Man as bickering parents bored me. Jeremy Renner is great, but he is not a super, and it felt like a retirement party for his character (which they didn’t have the guts to finalize). I mean, there is a lot of entertainment value that cannot be avoided in any movie this big… but if it never existed, no great loss for me.

The Incredible Hulk – This feels like a part of the past, though it is on the Marvel books. I like the Ang Lee Hulk more than most do. I thought this one just felt like a B-movie with some big effects. Cast is all good, but they can’t be bigger than the screenplay. Felt like there were some big ideas there that just never got room to take off.

Thor: The Dark World – This one just lost me in pretty much every way possible. The stakes in the relationship didn’t feel real. The stakes for Asgard didn’t feel real. It really felt like a sequel with nothing much to say on its own.

Iron Man 2 – The worst MCU film. Every mistake a sequel can make, starting with being even more arrogant than the arrogant lead character. They even wasted Mickey Rourke. I will avoid watching this any time it comes across my screens.

Weekend Estim…zzzzzzzzz

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Weekend Esti 651w2017-04-30 at 9.20.50 AM copy

With the wide release of a Latino-targeted comedy, a 434-screen roadshow-priced Hindi sequel, and a Tom Hanks/Emma Watson thriller that couldn’t find a way to inspire audiences, The Fate of The Furious held the top spot, even as it struggles to keep the domestic grosses in line with international, which has it over the $1 billion mark worldwide. And the new Jason Blum releasing company ironically could not beat Weekend 10 of the Jason Blum production, Get Out. The only films with per-screens over $10k this weekend were in languages other than English.

This weekend’s box office is interesting on the foreign language front… and boring as hell otherwise.

The #2/#3 punch of How To Be A Latin Lover and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion seems like history being made. I don’t have the energy to spend a day going through every weekend over the last few decades to be sure, but I don’t recall a weekend on which two of the three top grossers on a weekend were foreign language.

It occurs to me that all of those news segment shout-outs to the Top 3 at the weekend box office will sound as they never have before and that I hope there is as much hype for these two films as there would be if The Circle and Boss Baby were #2 and #3.

There are, of course, odd angles to the 2/3 finish. Very weak release weekend. Only one strong holdover film. This is the only weekend of the year to date in which $11.8m would equate as a #2 finish. (Note: I hate the horse race absurdity so much… but it is how the numbers are promoted and perceived and I acknowledge it.) Also, in the case of B2, there are ticket prices for this new-era roadshow, which includes a lot of IMAX screens, up and over the $20 threshold. A film grossing $10 million on opening weekend would usually signal about a million tickets sold. But with these extreme ticket prices, it is possible that the actual audience for B2 was between 250,000-300,000 this weekend. Still impressive for a Hindi sequel, but a variation. (The same could be said, btw, about the first release of Gone With The Wind, which launched with a hugely-expensive-for-the-period roadshow.)

Lionsgate has been in the Eugenio Derbez business since 2011’s No Eres Tu, Soy Yo (It’s Not You, It’s Me) and it continues to grow the already well-established Mexican star. This is his fourth US release as star and it is the widest and highest-grossing opening. The Spanish-language market in the US has been wildly under-serviced (more so than any other minority group, given its outsized ticket buying) and Lionsgate, Fox, and others have been trying to find a way to mainstream it. If How To Be A Latin Lover outdoes Instructions Not Included by grossing, say, $60 million US, it will turn a lot more heads.

Now… on to the boredom. There isn’t a lot more to say about The Furious, their fate, or how fast they gross.

In said boredom, I looked at the influence of Chinese box office on the very biggest films of the last 2 years, 4 months.

There have been 11 billion-dollar grossers in this period. Only two would not be counted as billion-dollar earners if you discounted the Chinese box office to be consistent with returns everywhere else in the world. Last year’s Zootopia, which did $235 million in China, would now be a $906m grosser. And The Fate of the Furious, which would still be at $901 million worldwide, bringing in $319 million so far in China.

Overall, there would be only minor movement in the overall rankings for these mega-hits if we asterisked China. The F&F movies are, by far, the biggest Chinese grossers in these last 3 calendar years. But a new Transformers is coming, so that could be a new record coming as well. The last Transformers movie is another case of a billion-dollar grosser being brought under the billion mark by The Chinese Asterisk. $320m gross, worth roughly half of the half international usually returns… so instead of $1.1 billion worldwide, it would be $945 million. Nothing to sneeze at, but while we are comparing pixie-dust dream numbers, relevant.

Meanwhile, Finding Dory and Rogue One, which each cracked a billion, but not $1.1 billion, would not be dragged under a billion because they performed weakly in China, losing only $19m and $35m respectively to The Chinese Asterisk. Similarly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the third $2b movie ever, would still be a $2 billion even with a $62 million Chinese Asterisk haircut.

Perhaps most importantly to Hollywood… every single film that grossed $800 million or more worldwide has gotten a Chinese release. So whatever cherry-picking is still going on by Chinese authorities, they are letting the popular stuff through into their still-evolving, but undeniably massive market.

Friday Estimates by Are We There Yet? Klady

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Friday Estimates 651w 2017-04-29 at 8.43.32 AM copy

This weekend’s dismal box office is a result of majors clearing out two weeks of space after The Fate of the Furious combined with a couple of weak WB releases just before Fate that will each be under $3m this weekend.

Even had Fate performed as expected/feared domestically, there would still be plenty of room for other films in the weeks before and after. The exhibition business is structured for it. Would it have made sense for a movie like King Arthur to try to take advantage of the space between Fate and Guardians instead of hammocking between Guardians and Alien: Covenant? I think so. Would Amityville: The Awakening been better served in this slot than the intensely crowded July 4 pre-week? You betcha.

Ironic that the Wall Street Journal just did a piece about how wide open distribution has become in the non-Summer window while we were in a month with only one serious major studio release.

Last year, the widest and highest-grossing opening for a non-English market domestic release was No Manches Frida with $3.7 million on 362 screens. The biggest Indian film was a $3.2m launch on 331 screens for Dangal. There is solid business in these markets, playing to diverse audiences in North America in limited release. Dangal was not only the high mark for these films with $12.4 million, never going wider than 338 screens, but the high grosser for all films that never went wider than 500.

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is not only about to blow away the opening record for these films with its 434-screen opening, but will likely outgross Dangal‘s US run in one weekend.

Right after that is Lionsgate’s latest experiment in the Spanish-speaking market, How To Be A Latin Lover, starring Mexican star Eugenio Derbez, doubling the opening day of their last effort with Derbez, Instructions Not Included. That film played strong for a month. Will this fast opening make for a shorter run?

This makes it all the more painful for STX, unable to open The Circle, starring the lead of a billion-dollar grosser this year and Tom Hanks, to as much as $10 million.

Summer 2017: Here We Go (Wide)!

Friday, April 28th, 2017

summer movie screen

The summer movie season will be 35 movies deep (first weekend of May through the 2nd weekend of August). It’s not out of the norm, although last summer saw an unusually dense August (which went three weekends deep with studio activity).

9 Wide releases in May
13 Wide Releases in June
9 Wide Releases in July
4 Wide Releases in the 1st 2 weekends of August.

Of summer 2017 films, twenty-four come from The Majors. The other 11 wide openings offer the launch of Annapurna as self-distributor; the first film to be released by Europa via STX; the rare equivalent of a retro Paramount Vantage release; another that seems to represent the idea of “The New” Focus Features; the second release from a new self-distribution by a hugely successful producer (Blumhouse Tilt, first release today), a new indie distributor (Entertainment Studio), three horror films from established indies (A24, TWC, Broad Green), and one each from Lionsgate and Open Road.

What does history tell us about what is coming?

Disney has has two of the Top 3 domestic grossers in each of the last three summers. In some ways, Summer 2017 is Peak Disney (at least for now). No messing around trying to release anything other than blockbuster sequels. Guardians, Pirates, Cars. Done.

The two times in the past four summers in which the “opening day” film wasn’t in the domestic top 3 were Marvel characters – Thor and Spider-Man. But in the summer when Amazing Spider-Man 2 was soft, Marvel’s August release, Guardians of the Galaxy, “won” the summer. So it’s probably a good bet that Guardians 2 will be on top or at least Top 3 this summer, domestically. But there is also a good chance that Pirates 5 and Cars 3, which both dropped significantly domestically last time around, will not make the Top 3 of the summer. (Cars, as Disney likes to point out, sells a massive amount of licensed product.)

That summer of Guardians, three years ago, is significant to this summer because not only is Spidey also coming back, but so is Transformers (that summer’s #2), and Apes (that summer’s #5). That’s 4 of Summer 2014’s Top 6 domestic grossers cycling through with sequels in the same summer. Left out are the Disney live action reboot of an animated film (Maleficent back then) and an X-Men movie… both of which were already released (Beauty & The Beast and Logan). Godzilla was #7 that summer… and we have already had Legendary’s big animal movie for this year, Kong: Skull Island.

So when someone tells you that Hollywood is obsessed with repeating itself… you have a good argument. Next summer also looks like a 3-year reunion… sequels from summer 2015’s #1 Jurassic World 2, #2 Avengers 3, #5 Mission: Impossible 6, and #7 Ant Man 2. Pixar doesn’t have a sequel to Inside Out (#3), but it does have The Incredibles 2. Minions (#4) has the next in its family this summer, Despicable Me 3. And #6 from Summer 2015, Pitch Perfect has its second sequel coming early… this Christmas.

But wait! Next summer is even more steeped in self-reflection. Star Wars joins the summer with Lord & Miller’s Han Solo prequel. Deadpool 2. Ocean’s 8 (couldn’t find 11 women in Hollywood… ha ha). Another Purge. Another Hotel Transylvania. A reboot of Predator. A reboot of Scarface. And I am suspecting we will be spared Barbie: The Motion Picture and another “Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy-Tale”… neither of which may not be ready to shoot soon enough to make it?

But let’s look at this summer. If I was forced, with a gun to my head, to predict how this summer will work out domestically, I’d say (in order of guessed domestic gross):

OVER $300m
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Transformers: The Last Knight

OVER $200m
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Despicable Me 3
War for the Planet of the Apes

OVER $150m
Cars 3
Dunkirk
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The Mummy
Wonder Woman
Alien: Covenant

OVER $100m
Annabelle: Creation

$50m – $100m
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Captain Underpants
Detroit
The Dark Tower
The House
Baywatch
The Emoji Movie
Rough Night
Girls Trip
Snatched

UP TO $50m
Atomic Blonde
Midnight Sun
Baby Driver
Amityville: The Awakening
All Eyez on Me
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
It Comes At Night
Wish Upon
47 Meters Down
An Inconvenient Sequel
Everything, Everything
Lowriders

Of course, the BIG question is worldwide box office, not just domestic. Again, the gun pressed against my temple, the worldwide grosses over $400m:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – $1.25 billion
Transformers: The Last Knight – $1.1 billion
Despicable Me 3 – $1 billion
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – $975 million
Spider-Man: Homecoming – $850 million
War for the Planet of the Apes – $750 million
The Mummy – $725 million
Alien: Covenant – $650 million
Wonder Woman – $580 million
Cars 3 – $525 million
Dunkirk – $500 million
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – $475 million

It’s worth noting that the only two films in this group of 12 (and the domestic top 17) are, in any real way, “movie star-driven,” and they are Pirates of the Caribbean and The Mummy, so an iffy proposition. Does Depp make Pirates or did Pirates make Depp? How much of the Mummy gross will be Cruise and how much will be the familiar concept?

As for esthetics, we don’t know… yet.

What I do know is that there are at least 14 movies that I am really, really looking forward to seeing. If most of those are worth the time, it’s a pretty great summer.

Obviously, Detroit and Dunkirk are the wide-release adults in the room. Two great filmmakers. And I am thrilled by Nolan doing a project about real life. To see his brain work within those boundaries could lead to the best work of his career.

Ridley Scott is still a master… seeming to get closer to the original Alien. Win.

I love Luc Besson. I don’t know if people will buy Valerian, but sign me up twice. So much so that I bought a subscription to a pay-streaming service to watch some of the old French cartoons.

I don’t hear great things about Pirates, but it was made by indie artists, so I’m very curious.

The Apes films are underrated, even as well-reviewed hits.

I hope Rough Night kills. Baywatch looks gloriously stupid. And Edgar Wright is always a happy screening to add to the calendar.

So I am looking forward to these months… which hasn’t been true for me for a few years.

RIP Jonathan Demme

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

demme

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (spoiler-free)

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Guardians 1 2Guardians 2 is the epitome of a sequel to an unexpected smash hit.

James Gunn brought an esthetic to the first film that is widely accepted as key to the film’s success. He even shared credit for the screenplay (with Nicole Perlman).

And so, with the sequel, Gunn gets the room to run. An extra million here or there? Great. An even more complicated storyline than the original? Hell, audiences loved that convoluted ride… not going to argue much. Etcetera. Elements that audiences loved in the original? Pile ’em on!

Of course, any sequel (particularly those not planned as sequels before the original was produced) suffers from familiarity. The excitement of the new, especially unexpected the good kind of new, is a huge benefit that few sequels can find. The Alien movies were unique, for instance, as Aliens had a wildly different tone and style than the original. Likewise, Cameron benefited from major technological advances and a budget many times the size of the original in going from The Terminator to T2: Judgment Day.

In the case of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, there is all the stuff you loved the last time… times five. Baby Groot is relentlessly cute and Grooty. Rocket has a bigger role here and seems to have been improved technically. (Nothing wrong with Rocket the last time, but the CG work seems able to relax and make him feel even more just another character.) Remember how funny it was when Drax laughed hard at something in the last time? His sense of humor has developed so that we get a big barrel-chested laugh every 15 minutes or so.

Gamora has lost some of her edge, as she has become more of a reflection in Quill’s eyes than a fully formed character. And Quill is… pretty much the same, though they have upped the ante on his tools a bit… or at least it felt that way.

Holding over from the first film in more significant roles are Yondu and Nebula.

And then they added three more major characters: Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Kurt Russell as Ego, and Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha. If you are like me, you might think that Ayesha is being played by Masters’ wife from “Masters of Sex,” but I was wrong.

guaridan masters

Also… Stallone in about three minutes of screentime (leading to Guardians 3). Fun to see him. Not doing much here.

Avoiding spoilers, the reason why most of these non-Guardian characters are in the film is the same… to continue the theme of family. More family. And of course, as the major sub-theme of the original was Star Lord’s mommy, in this film, the major sub-theme is…

Mostly, it is still fun and the excesses are pretty harmless. I LOVE Mantis as a character and wish she had more active screen time and dialogue. Full-on Groot should be back for the next movie. I am always happy to spend movie time with Michael Rooker.

The significant problem is, surprise, another kind of overreach. You see, there are things that play really well in comic books that are almost impossible to pull off in a live-action feature film. And Mr. Gunn proves that here. It’s not that it’s HORRIBLE. It’s not. Not even terrible. But one of the big ideas in this film just doesn’t work. It never becomes clear and clean enough to work.

You’ll know when it happens.

This idea is really, really cool – triply if you are stoned – but whatever takes something from a cool thing that you imagine in your head when you read (or look at comic) just doesn’t come together.

Aside from that, the action gets muddled, though there are a couple of exceptionally good action gags. But weirdly, there are also a few that seem clear and obvious but get muddled up.

There are cases where I prefer the second, more indulgent movie. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom comes to mind. Mad Max. Magnum Force. T2. Empire. Wolverine. (Godfather II is not on the table.)

But Guardians V2 isn’t Bad Boys 2 or Ghostbusters 2, either. It’s more in line with Beverly Hills Cop II or Die Hard II. Familiar… some good new (bigger) jokes… but just not fun the way the originals were.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 isn’t a clunker. That would be way too harsh. When this review tomatoes, it should be Fresh… because there isn’t a rating for “still looks good, but is a bit softer than you like your tomatoes so maybe you’ll just mix it in a salad or make a sauce of it.”

Weekend Estimates by Waiting For Guardians Klady

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Weekend Estimstes 2017-04-23 at 9.11.27 AM

The Fate of the Furious holds onto the top spot with no competition of significance arriving. DisneyNature’s Born in China plays like a family film and is the top newcomer with a projected $5 million. Warner Bros.’ Going in Style is holding better than expected while Unforgettable escapes and the studio waits for Wonder Woman. What are the odds that a second movie with “Forgot” in the title would open on a single weekend? Not good. Like Phoenix Forgotten‘s box office draw. The Promise opens to $4.1 million, which is actually above extremely low expectations. A24 tries out the 1,000-screen opening turf and finds it unfriendly as Free Fire can’t crack $1,000 per-screen.