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The holiday weekend is upon us… kind of, as people slide into the 4th of July Saturday with a variety of vacation plans and work avoidance schemes.
The first Magic Mike opened to $39 million. However disappointing, the Terminator franchise continued to open at over $40 million the last two times in spite of John Connor’s #2 and #3 and I suspect John Conner #4 will do likewise. The question is, how much is enough for this franchise? That involves international box office, where $250 million seems to be the floor. And we still have Jurassic World and Inside Out, which have distinctly wider audience bases, sure to do another $50 million+ combined, even with Saturday fireworks.
The best July 4 weekend based on the Top 12 grossers was 2013’s Despicable Me 2/Lone Ranger-topped holiday (7/5 – 7/7). $112 million from those Top Two films. I don’t think Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL will quite get there, especially with the Wednesday openings and the R- and hard-PG-13 ratings. However, the next two on that 2013 weekend (The Heat/Monsters University) did $45m combined and I think IO/JW will beat that number and but the Top Four for this weekend over the Top Four from that weekend.
After the Top Four, 2013 offered four more films with at least $10 million for the weekend. And that is where this weekend should fall short. Ted 2 is the only film that really has a shot at the 8-figure mark outside of the Top Four this weekend. And it could miss the mark. (Max could be very sticky… but a drop under 25% seems unlikely… especially with a patriotic Saturday holiday.)
The next biggest July 4 weekend was 2011 with about $30 million less than 2013. This weekend has a shot at that record, though, again, the Saturday holiday works against the three-day. Box office analysis of July 4 weekend offers one of the roughest projections, because of the various days of the week the holiday falls on and the variety of national holiday days (or lack thereof). It’s a bit more like late December than most summer analysis, though without as much weekday muscle.
Anyway… enjoy it all. I’m going to try to do so myself, with my family and a lot of pool time.
The reason I don’t feel that a fuller review is needed here is… come on… it’s Magic Mike XXL. Nothing hidden (unlike the first one, which snuck a pretty damned good Steven Soderbergh movie in over the G-string party).
Though I gather that Soderbergh cracked wise on the set from behind the camera (a lot) and he/she cut it, this is director Gregory Jacobs’ and writer Reid Carolin’s movie, combined with indulging the returning cast’s urge for more screen and character time.
The movie is not as serious, but it’s more fun than the original. And the traces of why are all over. Channing Tatum is Channing Tatum… funny, gentle, hunky, and dancing his ass off. But the first revelations of the film are in the supporting cast, where Matt Bomer really has his best big screen role ever and delivers. Joe Manganiello offers his most relaxed, most Joe performance ever, allowing a twinkle in his eye at time when he is not just talking about the size of his manhood. And as they tease Kevin Nash for not being able to dance, they could have teased him for not being able to act… but he threads the needle here, toning it down and bringing a lot more to the film than his comic book physical frame. Nice expansion of Adam Rodriguez’s status and Gabrielle Iglesias gets his laughs.
And then there is… Jada.
McConaughey was irreplaceable. Not only the great performance, but the odd status as Mr. Beautiful and Mr. Serious Actor all blowing up around the same time and McConaughey, who never really burned, but still rising like a phoenix. Everything about this worked for and with him.
But Jada, in a different way, is in a similar place. More famous in recent years as a parent and wife, it wasn’t clear who she was as an actress lately. And this performance answers all those questions. Sexy as hell, mature without apology, smart, sassy, smarter than the boys, managing her character’s emotions in clever ways, she is a show stealer.
The film is a parade of dichotomies. It is sexist in a hundred ways, as will be argued on social media. But it also likes women. The film objectifies men. But the men are high on being objectified. In some ways, some of the stripping stuff is aggressive to the point of assault. But everyone is smiling and happy.
I don’t know how to parse all of this. And as a white male, no one really wants to read me parsing it.
Should having Channing Tatum’s crotch stuck in her face and his head rubbed against her vulva be enough to turn Amber Heard’s frown upside down? I don’t know… but outside of her beauty and Kristen-Stewart-esque ambivalence, we don’t get much more from the character.
Is a penis too large for most women what Andie MacDowell’s character should aspire to in her 50s? You tell me. (I would likely get blasted by feminists for either answer… or trying to answer the question at all.)
Is the subtext of Kelly & Michael that the women who watch really want Strahan to rub them? If not, it may be from now on.
The film is very into racial balance, if not gender balance. Not only a strong black woman with a meaty part as a powerful figure, but a nearly black-only night club, a decent amount of racial balance at The Big Show, and balance of people of color (five of 10 characters, by my count) in the performing crew. Huzzah.
All I really know is that everyone seems to be having a good time on screen and We are having a good time watching them.
And anyone who isn’t having a good time really shouldn’t be in the theater… you knew you weren’t good with it before you got your ticket.
The structure of the film is simple… road trip comedy for two-thirds, giant strip event for one-third. I don’t have a great need to see men strip… but the inventiveness of the distinct sequences—Rob Marshall will be envious—makes it fun. The variety of women pulled into participating is one of those things in this film where you can see a bit of self-awareness. (There is a young lady running around in a bikini and a helmet at one point in the film that should be forever remembered as one of the film’s great non-sequiturs.) But I got over that.
Ultimately Magic Mike XXL is, I think, what a lot of people expected Magic Mike to be when it came out. And I’m pretty sure there’s nothing wrong with that.
Here are all the trailers – some domestic, some international, one just a clip – for films from the broad contenders list published Monday. All after the jump…
(edit, 7/1/15 – Adding Steve Jobs and Creed)
The only movie we’ve seen that has a legitimate shot at a Best Picture nomination is Carol. But it’s a legitimate shot, not a sure bet. Excellent film, but intimate and subtle and could easily end up in the Actress/Supporting Actress/Screenplay group without Director or Picture forthcoming (though a mortal lock – barring some odd disqualification – for the Spirit Awards).
Yes, Inside Out is a possibility… but an extremely remote possibility. The Animation category is a huge hurdle. Screenplay is more possible, if not pretty likely.
Those two titles out of the way, the entire Oscar season is ahead of us. Doc and Foreign and Animation, oh my. A few acting nominees could wander in from pre-July (Mara, Dano, Blanchett being most likely). But the big show is all to come.
As is often the case, the pedigree in guessing at what may be happening starts with film directors. And we have a boatload of films from directors whose films have been nominated and/or won Best Picture. (I am sad to say that Todd Haynes, who directed Carol, has never had a film nominated or been nominated as Best Director. That could change this year… but after being expected to get Best Picture and Directing nods for Far From Heaven, there is a question mark.)
I count 13 films from previous nominees for Director and Picture. More than two-thirds (9) have won both in the same year. Those are:
Spielberg, Scorsese, Zemeckis, Howard, Iñárritu, Stone, Boyle, Hooper, and the Coens for Schindler’s List, The Departed, Forrest Gump, A Beautiful Mind, Birdman, Platoon, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and No Country For Old Men.
These credentials are hard to overlook. Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why these films might not turn out to resonate in the way they are expected.
Three of the films from this group are biopics of relatively familiar figures (Steve Jobs, Philippe Petit, Edward Snowden) who have had other high-profile films about them and are back with some new twist.
The other six films are all distinctly period pieces (WWII spies, missionaries in the 1600s, 1820s whalers, 1820s American pioneers, 1920s gender reassignment, and 1950s Hollywood).
It would be easy to fill a lot of categories from these eight films alone. And indeed, there will be a lot of nominations for these films. But some will clearly drop to the wayside with another 20 or so other titles chasing hard as well. But let’s start with this group…
Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg – released by Disney – Hanks is back. One of the stage’s great stars, Mark Rylance, may be a movie breakout (finally). And award-familiar support from Amy Ryan and Alan Alda . The first U-2 story with Francis Gary Powers. If you don’t know it, you may have needed a better Social Studies teacher in Junior High.
Silence – Martin Scorsese – released by Paramount – Two priests walk into Japan in the 1600s… Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson ensemble. Production wrapped a few weeks ago. Expect a December berth and a November premiere.
The Walk – Robert Zemeckis – released by Tom Rothman’s TriStar (which is where all Sony’s potential awards movies are this year… and probably moving forward) – The story of World Trade Center tightrope walker Philippe Petit … in 3D… played by the very busy Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Opening the NY Film Festival.
In the Heart of the Sea – Ron Howard – released by WB – Independently financed before the WB pick-up, this is the tale of whalers who are said to have inspired the novel “Moby Dick.” Chris Hemsworth’s second lead role for Ron Howard, along with ensemble Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson. Shot by the great Anthony Dod Mantle, who won his Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.
The Revenant – Alejandro G. Iñárritu – released by Fox (produced by the source of the last two Best Picture winners, New Regency) – Four-time acting nominee Leo DiCaprio is back looking for gold with this rough tale of Western revenge. Tom Hardy is out there suffering too. Will this be too tough for Oscar voters? No way to know but to see the film.
Snowden – Oliver Stone – released by Open Road – The second Joseph Gordon-Levitt awards film of the season. Great Supporting Cast (Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant), but the movie is going to have to be super special to overcome WB’s deep pockets and the Oscar already give to last year’s Snowden doc.
Steve Jobs – Danny Boyle – released by Universal – Aaron Sorkin is as important, awards-wise, as Boyle in this case… plus Rudin with the whip in hand. I’m looking for an awards title that Scott Rudin has had at Universal and I am coming up blank. Lots of Sony, Paramount, and Disney (where his then-rare non-U Ron Howard film was released). Will be interesting. Sensational cast. Fassbender, Winslet, Waterston, Rogen, Daniels, Stuhlbarg, Ortiz. But has this legend, dead just three years, already worn out the interest in discussing him?
The Danish Girl – Tom Hooper – release by Focus – Defending Best Actor nominee Eddie Redmayne gets a movie sex change. Super-hot Alicia Vikander in support in a story somewhere close to her native land. Does The Caitlyn Jenner Saga make this a lock or an outside shot (aside from acting nods)?
Hail Caesar! – Coen Bros – distributed by Universal – The Coen Bros have never had a film open in February. When they started out, there were a lot of March openings, Three in a row with Hudsucker, Fargo, and Lebowski. Since then, the only non-fall/holiday opening was The Ladykillers, which was seen as a flop 11 years ago. Six in a row including their Best Picture winner, No Country For Old Men. Will their 1950s Hollywood comedy actually break that streak? Universal has 7 movies scheduled in Oct-Dec right now. December has 2 comedies (one is a Poehler/Fey, the other a horror comedy that is tied to Christmas). Thing is, this feels like it belongs in award season. It seems meant for movie people. So…
That’s just (again) the prior winning directors group. There are also five Oscar regulars who have slightly (some really slightly) different Oscar cred (alphabetically by director):
The Program – Stephen Frears (2-time nominee, 3-time director of BP nominees) – no U.S. distributor yet – This bio-drama based around the Irish journalist who wouldn’t leave the Lance Armstrong doping story alone has been said to have some legal battles going on that are holding up domestic distribution opportunities. The international trailer is up, but no U.S. dates set yet. TIFF could well be the launch. Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong, Chris O’Dowd as the journalist, and Lee Pace as the manager with a small turn by Dustin Hoffman.
Joy – David O. Russell – released by Fox – Jennifer Lawrence gets a true lead in a D.O.R. (aka The Oscar machine) film as the real-life inventor of items like the Miracle Mop who has made a fortune on QVC and HSN. Co-starring Russell regs Cooper & DeNiro. Also of note, the project started with Annie Mumolo, screenplay nominee for Bridesmaids.
The Martian – Ridley Scott – released by Fox – Matt Damon fronts this October opener from the legendary director which seems like a combination of Gravity and Interstellar from a distance. Lots of great talent in support from Jessica Chastain to Chiwetel Ejiofor to Michael Pena to Kristen Wiig (of A Deadly Adoption). The first trailer left some shaking their heads, trying to get a handle on the film. Maybe more commercial… maybe not.
The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino – released by The Weinstein Company – As always a great cast and a controversial screenplay. Betting against QT has become a very dangerous game. There is a large enough younger group in The Academy that reveres the man’s work, no matter how outrageous.
Demolition – Jean-Marc Vallee – released by Fox Searchlight – Since his breakout Québécois film, C.R.A.Z.Y, Vallee has made three U.S. releases, garnering 11 Oscar nominations including 4 wins. But he has only gotten one of those nods… for editing. Is this passion project a breakout for his awards aspirations and those of Jake Gyllenhaal (not to mention co-stars Naomi Watts & Chris Cooper)? The demotion of the title is emotional, so don’t worry about it being an action movie.
So our big list is already at 14. Let’s take it to 25 with titles with serious awards potential from major Oscar-playing distributors (in alphabetical order)…
Carol – Todd Haynes – distributed by The Weinstein Company – A very intimate piece about a closeted woman in the 50s and the younger woman who falls in love with her. Excellent performances that might get nominated. But an uphill fight for Best Picture, even as gay rights in America are having a great national moment.
Everest – Baltasar Kormákur – distributed by Universal – Serious material, though potentially a little action-y. Great cast (Gyllenhaal, Brolin, Clarke, Hawkes, Worthington, Knightley, Wright) with a lot of “due” names. Strong director.
Inside Out – Pete Docter – distributed by Disney – Great movie, but there is a categrory for great animated movies. Could happen. But it’s a long shot.
Black Mass – Scott Cooper – distributed by Warner Bros – Cooper hit the awards season big time with his first film, missed with his second and now has a resurrection-seeking Johnny Depp playing a role already done by Nicholson (not nominated). Bald shave. Heavy accent. Bad, bad man. Public Enemies didn’t happen for Depp, maybe this is the one. Strong/interesting supporting group with Cumberbatch, Edgerton, Sienna Miller and Dakota Johnson.
By The Sea – Angelina Jolie – distributed by Universal – Angie’s back. This time, she has veterans Brad Pitt, Niels Arestrup, and Mélanie Laurent with her. Sounds like it has a lot less action and a lot more acting… which could turn the trick for Ms. Jolie.
Concussion – Peter Landesman – distributed by Columbia – An NFL drama about the title issue with Will Smith as the doctor who made the breakthrough with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Lots of room for weighty drama with actors playing real life football players suffering in their post-football lives and others playing doctors (including Albert Brooks as forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht). Landesman’s films, as a writer and/or director have not broken through in award season yet. But he has a lot of high-profile ammo in this one.
Our Brand Is Crisis – David Gordon Green – distributed by Warner Bros – A comedy (with pathos) about political campaigns, based on the documentary, with Sandra Bullock leading a strong supporting cast. The movie will be ready for the festival circuit, even if they choose to hold it for next year’s very political year.
Suffragette – Sarah Gavron – distributed by Focus Features – What you see in the title is what you get. This is a star vehicle for Carey Mulligan with Meryl Streep in a small supporting role. The director’s first feature, Brick Lane (also written by Abi Morgan), was well liked at festivals, but never got traction for Sony Classics in 2007.
Money Monster – Jodie Foster – distributed by TriStar – George Clooney plays the Jim Cramer of a fictional financial network who is taken hostage on air by Jack O’Connell (plus Julia Roberts and the co-star of Outlander, Caitriona Balfe). Compared to Network and Dog Day Afternoon, it has a lot to match up to… but if it even comes close, serious Oscar contender.
(Editor’s Note: Sony says that this film will definitely be 2016.)
Youth – Paolo Sorrentino – distributed by Fox Searchlight – Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel seem like acting shoo-ins, with great support from Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano. This Cannes premiere is a long-shot for Best Picture, but is about artists getting old, so there may be a window for enough voters to fall in love with its quirky charms.
I Saw The Light – Marc Abraham – distributed by Sony Classics – The Hank Williams story. When producers become directors, it scares me. And I can’t say that I was a fan of Mr. Abrahams’ first film, Flash of Genius. But this is one of those concentrated stories. Hank Williams and his wife were together for a short period (having Hank Williams, Jr.) and he didn’t last much longer after that. Tom Hiddleston is one of those actors capable of amazing when you don’t see it coming and Elizabeth Olsen is one of the next great stars.
Next up, the Indies fighting the uphill battle, with enough elements to end up in the race, but without the big momentum already in place. These will take us to 36 candidates.
A Bigger Splash – Luca Guadagnino – distributed by Fox Searchlight. The return of the director of loved/hated I Am Love. The Tilda returns and this time, she has a bit more familiar muscle around her in Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson (who will end this award season continuing to ascend or reduced to one-trick-pony status). Tilda plays a rocker, Schoenaerts is the boyfriend, and former boyfriend Fiennes and his movie daughter Johnson are the game changers. October release dates are set elsewhere, suggesting that it will find a place on Searchlight’s schedule before year’s end. I am betting that they are waiting on an answer from NYFF before deciding.
Brooklyn – John Crowley – distributed by Fox Searchlight – A homerun title out of Sundance, Saoirse Ronan comes of age as a woman torn between two lovers in two countries. Nick Hornby screenplay. Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters in support.
45 Years – Andrew Haigh – distributed by Sundance Selects – High concept for Haigh, a couple having their 45th wedding anniversary are surprised to hear that the body of his first love has been found. I didn’t see the film at Berlin, but could the first love be a man? Great cast (Rampling & Courtenay), but sounds much more Spirit than Oscar. [edited]
Legend – Brian Helgeland – distributed by Universal – This seems like one that would have been at Focus in the old days. Tom Hardy as both of The Krays. We’ve seen this story before…a few times. But Helgeland is a terrific writer and Tom Hardy should be fun to watch. Still, really will have to pop to get deep into the awards conversation.
Love and Mercy – Bill Pohlad – distributed by Roadside Attractions – A strong movie about Brian Wilson that will have to fight pretty hard not to be left out in the cold. Best chances are Paul Dano in Supporting and Screenplay (Oren Moverman). The film is in release and doing solid indie business… but eight months is a long time to race without very deep pockets.
Mississippi Grind – Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck – distributed by A24 – A gambling road trip movie picked up at Sundance with the great Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds with Sienna Miller and Analeigh Tipton in support. Slotted in September and will have to pop commercially to get a hard awards push.
Sicario – Denis Villeneuve – distributed by Lionsgate/Summit – Villeneuve got a lot of heat out of Prisoners but the award wheel didn’t go his way. This one, which premiered at Cannes, is a compelling Mexican Drug Task Force film with outstanding supporting work by Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin and a lead performance by Emily Blunt that knocked a lot of people out. But again, a very tough movie that may or may not be Academy friendly.
Southpaw – Antoine Fuqua – distributed by The Weinstein Co. – Jake Gyllenhaal transforms himself into raw muscle and grit. Concern has built behind some soft reviews of the film and some tip-toeing around by TWC in terms of showing the film. But maybe.
Spotlight – Thomas McCarthy – distributed by Open Road – The former full-time actor’s fifth feature, he didn’t really have a miss (in terms of quality) until The Cobbler. But word is that he is back in top form here, telling the true tale of church child molestation in New England as exposed by the Boston Globe. The film has an indie superstar cast a dozen deep, led by Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams.
Triple Nine – John Hillcoat – distributed by Open Road – A deep, dark drama about cops and criminals and what both are willing to do in order to get what they want. The cast (including Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck) is remarkable. But it will need to be above and beyond to find a place in the awards season.
Trumbo – Jay Roach – distributed by Bleecker Street – Legendary screenwriter. The Blacklist (the evil one in the 40s). Great material. Brian Cranston in the lead. Strong supporting cast playing known Hollywood people in a movie about Hollywood. One wonders about a first-time feature film from a TV writer, but as so many like to say, TV is as good if not better than movies these days, so…
And finally… Seven extreme longshots, which takes this early candidates list to 43…
Criminal – Ariel Vromen – distributed by Summit-Lionsgate – Sounds like a great thriller… that isn’t awards material. Couldn’t ask for a better cast of guys (Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman).
Everybody Wants Some – Richard Linklater – distributed by Paramount – Old School Linklater of the Dazed & Confused era, starring a lot of unknown young people (just as his D&C cast was unknown back then). Sounds like fun… but not awards.
The Last Face – Sean Penn – no U.S. distributor – great cast (Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Adèle Exarchopoulos) , but given the box office failure of The Gunman and questions about whether Ms. Theron will support the film in the press after a change in relationship status, we may see this one go straight to something other than a theatrical release after it is screened at TIFF (and they will hope, Telluride… and then hope for NYFF).
Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller – distributed by Warner Bros – Certainly the best reviewed action film in years (whatever the RT count… I mean, actual reviews), I think Miller has a legit shot at a Best Director nod. But Best Picture, given the soft box office and the age of The Academy, will require a lot of other films to fall by the wayside… no matter how much this one deserves it.
Midnight Special – Jeff Nichols – distributed by Warner Bros – The movie sounds great. Nichols describes it as “a 1980s John Carpenter film like Starman.” But only Jeff Bridges got a nomination for that one. Mike Shannon in the lead, on the run with his unusually gifted son and Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton… being hunted by Sam Shepard and Adam Driver. I’m in… but it doesn’t sound like an awards film, except perhaps for performances.
Regression – Alejandro Amenábar – distributed by The Weinstein Company – Wonderful director, but sounds like a chilly thriller. Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson assure continued popularity.
Ricki and the Flash – Jonathan Demme – distributed by TriStar – Demme is great and one of the great music-driven directors working, but release date and subject (rock star comes home to unhappy family) suggest a summer pleasure, not an awards play… though never count Meryl out for acting.
And that is the story so far. It’s still amazingly early in the season and there will surely be a couple new faces showing up unexpectedly and a lot of drop outs from the instant of their first press screening. That’s the story of… that’s the glory of… well, you know.
See you again as we head to the fall festival season at the end of August…
The success of Jurassic World stands out from all the other New Billionaire movies on the block. It’s trajectory is much more like that of Marvel’s The Avengers, all the way back in 2012 than this year’s two other billion dollar movies or Frozen. Everyone is looking for an explanation or meaning. But it seems pretty basic… people were ready for another trip to Jurassic Park and when they went, they came out spreading good word of mouth. Whatever the reason “they” didn’t connect in huge numbers to Mad Max: Fury Road or were let down a bit by Avengers: Age of Ultron, they are connecting to J-World in a way that feels more like the blockbusters of old.
The Billion Dollar Blockbuster era really started in 2010, when Disney had two, the first in the studio’s history… for one very good movie (Toy Story 3) and for one not so great movie (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). There had never been a year with two billion dollar grosses, much less two from one studio. Since then, there has been 1 year with 3 billion dollar-plus worldwide grossers, 1 year with 2, 1 year with 1, and now, having already hit that number this year, 2 years with 3.
Of course, a big part of the New Billionaires is investment. Of all 15 in the last 5 years, only Frozen claims a production budget under $200 million. Add in worldwide marketing and the investment starts at $400 million for each of these films. Anyway… more musing on this later…
Inside Out continues to be hot. It will take an estimates 42% hit in this, its second weekend. By the end of its third weekend, it should be at or near dead center of the Total Domestic Gross pack at Pixar with a lot of gas left in the engine. $300 million domestic is the next target. Then Finding Nemo‘s $340 original domestic cume.
Ted 2 is not a thrilling number, but not a disaster either. My argument remains… no solid premise to sell this time left only hard core MacFarlane fans and holdovers from the original. Still, $80m – $95m domestic and some significant number internationally will still make Ted 2 profitable. ha
Max is the pleasant box office surprise of the weekend, though hardly a phenom. He’s a family dog… he’s a Marine… he’s a box office machine. $12.2 million for a movie that the mainstream didn’t see coming is a nice number.
Dope is now the #1 summer indie. It’s #2 if you include the Dependents, behind Focus’s Insidious Chapter 3 and ahead of Searchlight’s Far from the Madding Crowd.
Also having a nice run is Roadside’s release of Love and Mercy. Searchlight still can’t seem to find the handle on Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, though their expansion this weekend was okay.
Outside of the top 3 grossers, for whom screen counts are an iffy proposition, there was only one $10,000+ 3-day this weekend… for the reissue of The Third Man. Next best was Batkid Begins with just $5530 per on 4.
It’s a box office weekend. There is a lot going on, but nothing terribly interesting.
Max may be the best story of the weekend. A niche movie that will open to $11-$15 million. Once again, America’s heartland is showing up “unexpectedly.”
Ted 2 is the other wide opener and it should land in the mid-30s. Friday was 37% off the original opening and if this follows through the weekend, the opening should be around $36 million. The film will be much more than 37% off its domestic total in the end, but profitability is still likely and international could boost it to being significantly profitable.
Inside Out once again commands the top Friday gross, but Jurassic World keeps playing like a family film hit and actually closed the Friday gap, so there is a likelihood that the dinos will once again be the #1 Movie In The World for the third weekend. And once again, don’t cry for Inside Out, which will have one of the best second weekends ever for the hugely successful Pixar brand.
Not much happening at the arthouses, with even the heart-filling Batkid Begins unable to stir much of a crowd.
Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2015 – 03:00
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 322 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2015.
“It’s gratifying to acknowledge the extraordinary range of talent in our industry,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “This year, our branches have recognized a more diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before, and we look forward to adding their creativity, ideas and experience to our organization.”
The 2015 invitees are:
Elizabeth Banks – “Love & Mercy,” “The Hunger Games”
Choi Min-sik– “Lucy,” “Oldboy”
Benedict Cumberbatch – “The Imitation Game,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”
Martin Freeman – “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Hot Fuzz”
Heather Graham – “The Hangover,” “Boogie Nights”
Tom Hardy – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Inception”
Kevin Hart – “The Wedding Ringer,” “Ride Along”
Felicity Jones – “The Theory of Everything,” “Like Crazy”
Stephen Lang – “Avatar,” “The Men Who Stare at Goats”
Jodi Long – “A Picture of You,” “Beginners”
John Carroll Lynch – “Shutter Island,” “Zodiac”
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – “Beyond the Lights,” “Belle”
Denis O’Hare – “Milk,” “Michael Clayton”
Michael O’Neill – “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Transformers”
David Oyelowo – “Selma,” “A Most Violent Year”
Dev Patel – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Slumdog Millionaire”
Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl,” “Pride & Prejudice”
Chris Pine – “Into the Woods,” “Star Trek”
Daniel Radcliffe – “Kill Your Darlings,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything,” “Les Misérables”
Jason Segel – “The Five-Year Engagement,” “The Muppets”
J.K. Simmons – “Whiplash,” “Juno”
Sonny Skyhawk – “Geronimo: An American Legend,” “Young Guns II”
Song Kang-ho – “Snowpiercer,” “The Host”
Emma Stone – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “The Help”
A basic rule about narrative art… the first thing with which an audience connects is the heart of what the material is about.
Casablanca is not just a movie about a guy who loves a woman enough to give her up a second time. But that’s the movie.
Batman movies are not just about a guy who lost his parents to violence but can’t do anything except keep fighting for what he sees as justice, never escaping his ghosts. But that’s what the movies are.
Titanic is certainly about more than a great doomed love that survives death, decades and the sinking of the unsinkable ship. But that’s what that movie is.
Ted was a sensational idea to which people could universally relate. What if the childhood toy you were obsessed with not only came to life, but continued to live past his cuteness, your cuteness, and to the point where he was keeping you from becoming an adult? Second layer… he’s a stoner, drunken horndog, which is against the expectations we all have of teddy bears. That second layer knocked a lot of people off the Ted wagon, but there were still tens of millions who were thrilled to go along for that ride.
So what is Ted 2 about?
Almost nothing. There is the pretense that it is about the civil right of Ted to not be considered property… but not really. Writer/Director/Ted-Voice Seth MacFarlane makes it clear that Ted 2 is mostly going to be a series of gags right up front. There is a non-sequitur, unrealistic gag that might work in the middle of the movie, but is right up there. Then Ted has a giant dance number combining Busby Berkeley-style choreography and the CG bear that expresses nothing but MacFarlane’s musical ambition and a bigger budget.
Meanwhile – not spoilers unless you consider the movie’s set-up to be such – Wahlberg’s John Bennett has split from his wife, the marriage to whom was the entire central story of the first film. Just gone. The weird, gross, funny sexual relationship with the dumb blonde cashier, Tami-Lynn (played by Jessica Barth) goes from being bored with one another to boringly married.
In other words, they got rid of the raunch and the sincerity, leaving nothing but jokes.
A few of the jokes are good. The idea of Tom Brady being treated like a horse gone to stud is funny. There’s a daring gag with Amanda Seyfried. Other laughs.
Bur empty calories. Nothing adds to anything. It is the embodiment, however occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, of bad sequelitis.
It finally struck me what might have actually been better, as recapturing a fresh idea in a sequel is really hard. Instead of making a movie about not having a baby… how about a movie about a character like Ted having a baby. Jerky stunted-adolescent guys have kids too… and in the end, if they have love in their hearts, they have to find a way to give it all to the kid(s). Bear, no bear… that is drama (that can be comedic).
But I don’t want to tell them what they should have done… just that what was done just isn’t about anything… not even the raw raunch of the original.
Not terrible. Not good.
I am going to write this whole thing after the jump, so if you haven’t seen Inside Out you can avoid this conversation completely… and I recommend you do… both… see it and avoid discussing until then…
“True Detective” Season 2 is nothing like “True Detective” Season 1.
Just take a minute and clear your palate.
I’ll ease you in… the song… the theme song… not as good. Not as memorable. Not eerily memorable. Like the next song from what you don’t yet know will turn out to be a one-hit wonder.
Okay… now to the show.
I don’t know whether it will be great or just good.
It is not, as some have written, trying too hard. It’s not showing its ass to draw your attention.
It is just what it is. Not a two-man show with two seeming opposites trying to find a horrifying psychotic who leaves dead bodies artfully splayed and displayed.
“TD2″ is moody. There are fireworks, but they are seductive the way that they were in the first season. Season 2 is about four seriously broken people, three of whom are cops and one of whom is, it seems early on, a bad, bad guy.
Episode One is all set-up. Who are these four? What is their situation at the time this story begins? Most of the answers you will want are not made available to you. None of the three cops are archetypical, though each displays as a cop cliché, we have that idea ripped away along the way.
Episode Two is the meet-not-cute. And this will also be the hardest episode for a lot of people to get past, because the show makes it clear that we are being given all of the symptoms of the disease/crime, but what the trio of cops are actually getting into is being withheld maliciously. In Season One, the writer used time-shifting to keep the audience guessing. This season, it is much more straight forward… three cops hungry to find out the answer while they (and we with them) are being kept from knowing by the powers above them (in our case, Nic Pizzolatto).
The first great event that really pushes the audience to think about what they are getting into – not just the story of the show – is in Episode Two.
Episode Three is when the show, it seems, gets ready to settle in an announce itself. Really, it’s the first chapter. The first two episodes are black + white prologue. Episode 3 is when we find out who we will follow down the yellow brick road. Within that, the main characters start to figure each other out. Is there a Dorothy? Who has a brain, a heart, the nerve? Well.. they all have the nerve. That’s one of the things that makes this series so compelling.
I don’t know what to compare “TD2″ to in order to make it easier for you to have some comfort with what is coming. It’s not Crash, but it is four completely separate characters coming together to make sense of a bigger story. It’s not Lumet. He would have done this in three hours and it would have been fantastic, but it would have been something else altogether. It’s not David Ayer, who would never smear his canvas with so many elements but would have a similar tone focusing with laser sharpness on one or two of these characters. It’s not Mann, whose loners never shut up and are really close to their emotions even if they are tortured in being unable to quite reach them.
And most of all… it’s unknown. Three episodes in, it is completely clear that the surface is just being scratched. Even the main characters are significantly unsettled three hours in.
None of us had really seen anything like “True Detective” when Rust and Marty limped into our lives. This second season is like Nic Pizzolatto pushed himself not to repeat what worked so well and to go much closer to what has been the conventional police drama we all know so well… and then, really fuck with it and us.
It is a harder seduction, make no mistake. The moment in Season One where people almost checked out was around Episode 3 or 4, when they started getting really frustrated by the show not giving them what they wanted for week after week. But they were soon satisfied. Here, it will be most of the first two episodes. Glimpses. Pizzolatto gives you glimpses.
And he doesn’t give you much more, in that regard, in Episode 3. But he does give you the feeling that the characters are ready to put their completely dysfunctional real lives to the side and get focused on the police work in front of them. Obviously, the dysfunction will continue to be a part of the show. But so will more of a procedural… and evolving relationships between the main characters… and more sense of what is really lurking.
I am a fan of all four lead performances. The show seems early on like Colin Farrell’s character will eat the thing. Then not. Rachel McAdams seems a little out of her zone with her character… but then her back story (and ongoing story) develops and it all makes more sense. Taylor Kitsch seems out of place too… and after three episodes, he is still the most mysterious of the trio. And Vince Vaughn is playing a kind of classic Vince Vaughn bad-guy prick… but then his vulnerabilities start to show… at least to the audience… and it gets more and more interesting.
I don’t know what is about to happen to any of these characters at any moment. But after three hours, I am invested in all of them.
Truth is, it could go sideways. It could be a waste when all is said and done. But there is also the very real chance that it could be as profound, if not more profound a journey than Season 1 by the end.
I don’t know what happened at HBO, but one mark of their series as of late has been patience. Amazing patience. Series are taking 4, 5, 6 episodes to find their truest voice. Patience is not always rewarded. But then again, most of you probably watched “The Wire” in reruns or binging on DVD or HBO Go. (Me too… and I LOVED the team behind that show before it even aired. Huge “Homicide” fan.)
If you are scared or the first episode scares you, DVR it. Watch the first three back-to-back-to-back. And then, I think you will be ready for more. I know I am.
As I have been saying for nearly two decades now, there is no standard that we can realistically use to project the way the numbers on uber-blockbusters will go. The numbers are just beyond the statistical models. This was true in the opening of Jurassic World and it remains so on this second weekend. Does it make any sense, in a traditional model, that the Friday drop (excluding Thursday) was 55% and the weekend is 46%… especially with another big movie with a heavy Saturday appeal coming into the market? No. But did it happen? Well… as I also like to note… it hasn’t happened yet. These are estimates of Saturday and a guess at Sunday, which is just starting matinees on the west coast. But it should be pretty close to these guesses.
I don’t hear many people raving about Jurassic World. But I hear a lot of people (civilians) saying they had a good time… that they took young teens… that it was very violent… but that, again, they had a good time. And I am not going to argue with any of them. They had their experience and the sincerity is clear. Clear at the box office too. Personally, I think Jurassic World is as disposable as a used Kleenex, but I do feel that it is the first summer movie since Guardians last year that has a kind of broad pop appeal that defines “a summer movie” for normal human beings. The numbers for Avengers 2 and Fast Fur 7 are extraordinary, but by their second weekends, I was not getting this, “yeah… that’s what we are going to see the next time we go to the movies” vibe. I am getting it on J-World.
And the upcoming movie that I think is in real danger of being plowed under is Terminator: Genisys. Paramount, which has a great marketing department and has had time to work on this push, really has to convince people that they want to go see this reboot and not go see Jurassic World a second time or to just go see a new comedy (Ted 2 or Trainwreck) or Magic Mike XXL. The shadow will to be cast, though thanks to time a bit less, on Ant-Man, which is not getting the hard push yet, but has to convince potential ticket buyers.
J-World has also been good for an estimated $583 million internationally, $162 million of it from asterisked China, but still, pushing it to break a billion by mid-week.
And the 3D business community would like you to know – and you should – that 48% of domestic audiences chose to see Jurassic in 3D on opening weekend and that continues with a 47% rate on weekend two. They want you to know this because this is a very, very strong showing for what has been a slipping 3D marketplace. Internationally, it was 65%. And in China… 95%. Germany digs the format as well, with 89% of tickets sold for the dino-ride last weekend going 3D.
3D is not dead, though it is a high 20s, low 30s thing in the US for most live-action in that format these days. But internationally – where the big money is – it’s key. Movie tickets in China average around $6, but the cost of 3D and IMAX in the big cities can be a multiple of that, inflating the perception about Chinese numbers, as well as the reality.
Meanwhile… Inside Out didn’t win the weekend. But winning the weekend is a bullshit construct created by bored journalists who prefer a horse race to being curious or insightful about box office, so…
It’s hard to get a read on whether Inside Out is a beneficiary of the evolving theatrical box office model or an earlier acceptance of complex Pixar ideas by parents of younger kids or a uniquely interesting premise for adults. I do think it is kind of crappy to read things about this being a comeback for Pixar. The brand and success never went away. Their biggest film was in 2010. They skipped last year. And in between, Monsters University did big business, Cars 2 was solid but boring but will spawn Cars 3 because the companies are choking on the merchandising cash, and Brave, which was within 20% of all the original Pixar films but Up and Finding Nemo. If there is any show of mojo issues at Pixar to fear, it isn’t Brave, but the wave of sequels they are now planning on delivering for the next five years.
$91 million is about what one thinks all Pixar movies should open to each year. But mostly, the company has been opening originals in the 60s and low 70s. Inside Out is a happy opening… but not a fireworks event (although the movie itself is). It feels more like progress than a leap. But Pixar and Disney have everything to celebrate with it.
Minions is the wildcard for Inside Out. Will it do Despicable Me 2 numbers and chew at IO‘s long legs or will it be Penguins of Madagascar and disappear onto streaming before we know it? Or, of course, something in between. Truth is, the story will be told by the kids. Many will have seen both films by July 15 and when they scream to go back to the movies in late July and August, it will be one or the other… or both.
Here’s another interesting angle… the Chinese summer blackout on American movies just started. Is Minions dated in mid-July so that it can stay close to the Chinese door re-opening and avoid piracy issues there? Despicable Me 2 did only $52 million in China back in 2013, but how many times might the Chinese taste for the minions multiply that number? And what role does the impression of worldwide box office play in the legs of an animated film?
The third wide opener this weekend was Sundance hit, Dope, which opened right in line with Rick Famuyiwa’s run of films. Brown Sugar (2002 – $10.7 million), Our Family Wedding (2010 – $7.6 million) and now Dope with $5.8 million. He clearly has commercial appeal… and it seems, a glass ceiling. Searchlight, the primary Famuyiwa supporter, abandoned the black comedy space for the most part, dipping its toe back in with Baggage Claim in 2013. But the DVD market declined faster in “urban” America than overall and then the whole thing slowed to a crawl, really damaging all but a high-profile sliver of this part of the business… leaving Dope to smaller, new-ish, quality-hungry distributor like Open Road. I suspect that the hope of Open Road is that young people will see Dope and good word of mouth will spread, leading to a $20 million-ish gross as opposed to an $13 million-ish gross.
Interestingly, even with all the firepower at the top of the box office chart, the holdovers were pretty good and great in some cases. There is some second-run tiering involved with the May movies.
On the indie side, pretty weak. But Love and Mercy did nicely in another expansion. Roadside Attractions is holding this one’s hand tightly and they have their third straight weekend over $1.5 million while still on a modest number of screens with a modest marketing budget. This movie seems headed confidently to be the #3 grosser for Roadside in their history, with a big hat tip to their partners on this at River Road and Battle Mountain.
Searchlight is out there with its big Sundance buy, Me, Earl, And The Dying Girl, which isn’t dead, but is struggling at 68 screens. They’re really looking to build word-of-mouth with this low screen count… and it’s unclear whether it’s taking. The film hasn’t gotten the support from critics I imagine the distributor was expecting.
Sundance premiere flick #4 this week is The Overnight, which is doing nicely for newcomer distributor The Orchard on only 3 screens.
Sony Classics launched yet another Sundancer (2014 premiere), Infinitely Polar Bear, to good numbers that may well be all Mark Ruffalo fans.
Also launching from the festival circuit are Eden (pretty good #), Manglehorn (okay, but not so much for the great combo of David Gordon Green and Pacino) and The Tribe.
Lots of people out there shrying about mega-movies, but who is writing about the number of top festival films being thrown at the f-ing wall, hoping something will stick in June and August every year? Painful to watch, man. Painful.
Also staying solid are I’ll See You In My Dreams and Testament of Youth. And attention must be paid to the now-$32.5 million run of Woman in Gold, which is the lowest key indie mega-hit I have seen in a long time.
Disney marketing did a nice job lowering resistance to Inside Out going into the opening weekend, pushing the film to the highest opening for an original in the company’s history, perhaps delivering the company’s second opening over $90 million ever. $70 million has been a glass ceiling for Pixar openings – although they tend to be leggier than other summer films – as parents wait for word-of-mouth to develop, but fear and disgust have been pushed aside in the name of finding joy in sadness and laughing at anger. Only two Pixar films have managed $300m domestic and it seems that Inside Out will join the group.
Also in play is the Pixar $750m worldwide club, which currently has only two members. And the Pixar $700 million worldwide club, which has only four.
The drop for Jurassic World is a bit heavier than predicted after a strong weekday-to-weekday showing for the film. But 55% is a pretty happy drop-off number for an opening this large (minus the $18.5m Thursday sneaks). If 55% stays the number, it will be a $86.5 million second weekend gross and a $382.5m domestic cume, easily passing Furious 7‘s current #2-for-2015 domestic total.
J-World continues to outpace the first Avengers and will probably be the fourth $600 million domestic grosser, although Avatar‘s $760 million is way out of range. (Age of Ultron, if you’re still interested, is fighting to hit $450m domestic.)
The only other wide opener is Dope, which is doing okay with a $2.3 million Friday launch. The comps for this number this year are Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Black or White… which when you think about it, could be the mash-up that ends up being Dope. One of those movies went on to do $12m domestic and the other $22 million… and Dope could well end up somewhere in between. This opening is right smack in the middle of the Open Road portfolio of openings.
Not a very exciting weekend for anything else in the marketplace.
A nice opening for The Overnight, the third opening from new distributor The Orchard. $15k – $16k per-screen on three screens isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s a nice indie number these days.
Sony Classics’ Infinitely Polar Bear, starring Mark Ruffalo, will do around $6k per on five. Eden, from newcomer distrib Broad Green Pictures, will do a similar per-screen on 3.
Before I get into an analysis, let me answer the two questions I hear most often.
1. Is it good for young kids? Yes. There is no content that is particularly age-sensitive in the film. There are serious themes, like dealing with sadness. But most of the stuff that might be slightly kid-inappropriate is double entendre and pretty cutesy.
2. Is this the best Pixar movie ever? Not to my personal taste. And to say it’s in the upper part of the Pixar group, quality-wise, would suggest that there is a lower part. For me, Cars & Cars 2 are about it for “the low end.” Again, personal taste. Will there be a movie that strikes me more profoundly than going underwater in Finding Nemo and really feeling like we were in that space for an entire film? No. A rat that cooks… and the movie is almost flawless? Can’t say something was better than that? Wall-E? Has any film been better than the love, life, and death sequence in Up? And who am I to not include the Toy Story movies or Monsters, Inc? Inside Out is another game changer. That is what Pixar does. Go. You will find out where it fits into your sense of the Pixar oeuvre.
Now… the movie…
This is not the first time someone has had this idea or made it into a movie. But the decision to create a five-emotion team for “HEADquarters” was very smart and the central premise of the film—as we mature, emotion becomes more complex—is there from the earliest scenes, even if we have no idea that this is where things are headed.
The external story—the human tale—is of a very happy family (husband, wife, 11-year-old daughter) that has moved to San Francisco from Minnesota. All the stresses of moving—and some problems—are in play, as well as a girl who is about to encounter the joy of being a teen.
This is an interesting point at which to pause. The lead character is a girl and she is about to come of age, but her gender is a non-issue through the film. And my 5-year-old brought something up after seeing the film that I hadn’t even processed after seeing the film twice. The emotions in the heads of both the mother and the father were single gender, male or female. But the gender of the emotions in the girl is three female and twho male. The film doesn’t deal with this at all, but it brings up all kinds of interesting ideas about whether those emotion evolve or will the girl grow up to identify her sexuality in a unique way or is every person’s emotional make-up up for grabs?
Back to the movie…
The internal story—of the emotions—is pretty classic. A mismatched pair have to go on an unexpected journey and through their experiences and challenges, they learn to value one another. But this is animation and an entirely imagined internal universe, so it is not your typical journey. As an audience, we get both the pleasure of familiar ideas (like long-term memories or lost memories) brought to life in wonderfully creative ways and concepts we might never expect (deconstructive thinking).
If anything defines the overall sensibility of Pixar, it is this idea of the very familiar seen in a fresh way. They have recently taken to positioning it as a series of “What If”s, but I think it is more than that. It’ a “what if” combined with a grounded reality that is utterly familiar to the audience. Ratatouille isn’t just “what if a rat could be a great chef,” but what if that rat did it in a kitchen that offered every cliché of restaurants we all know? Wall-E isn’t just “what if a robot was the last being on earth and desperately wanted to find love,” but what would clear the earth of humans that wasn’t the end of humanity and spoke to every fear we have about electronic support making us lazy and disconnected?
Inside Out is about one specific step in growing up. It may be, in some ways, the end of innocence… but it’s hardly the giant leap into the teenage abyss of fear, loathing, and wild insecurity. But it’s glory is in that simplicity. It allows Team Pixar to bring every detail to life in tremendous ways.
Here is the non-spoiler version of a spoiler. Bing Bong. One of the great Pixar or Disney characters of all time. Just deal with it when you see the film. I’m not telling you anything more.
I really, really like this movie… and also think it is a little overrated. I don’t quite get the idea that it leaves critics in a blubbering puddle. Maybe it understands some of their emotions better than they do. I don’t know. It’s a beautiful, emotional, whip-smart movie, but I choked up once or twice. (Bing Bong!) I didn’t have to keep myself from an embarrassment of tears… and I am a soft touch.
See it. Experience it. It will likely be on my Top 10 list at year’s end. It is that good. I just don’t think it’s that good. But I can’t imagine anyone who won’t be able to relate to elements of the film. It’s hard to think of anyone who won’t be happy to have had this movie experience. And this is not a movie looking for the middle of the road, safe thing. So that is an enormous achievement.
P.S. I did cry at the short before Inside Out, called Lava. Like I said… pushover.
As in 2003, there were (for the 2nd year in a row) only 5 newcoming directors whose movies hit the Top 50 at the domestic box office in 2004.
#8 Grosser – The Bourne Supremacy – Paul Greengrass – Experienced director with big indie credibility from Bloody Sunday, teamed with an infrastructure that had made the previous, troubled production, a success.
#19 – Dodgeball: An Underdog’s Story – Rawson Marshall Thurber – Big heat coming off of “Tony Tate: Linebacker” ads had Hollywood scrambling for his first film project. This was it.
#21 – The Grudge – Takashi Shimizu – This enormously experienced Japanese director got to remake his film in English.
#27 – Along Came Polly – John Hamburg – Red-hot comedy screenwriter got his shot to direct. (He had made an indie film and directed TV as well)
#30 – Anchorman – Adam McKay – Will Ferrell’s brain (so to joke) got to direct one of their projects.
Studio experienced directors making films in the Top 50 in 2004 were: Raimi, Gibson, Roach, Cuaron, Emmerich, Turteltaub, Zemeckis, Proyas, Petersen, Soderbergh, Segal, Sommers, Moore, Silberling, Shyamalan, Scorsese, Mann, Eastwood, Marshall, Phillips, Waters, Gosnell, Casavettes, Anderson, Scott, Spielberg, Hewitt, Hackford, Russell, Roth, Payne, Wayans, Johnston, Ruben, Tarantino, Demme, Sullivan, O’Connor, Berg, Del Toro, Oz