Z

MCN Originals

The Weekend Report

Straight Outta Compton continued to diss the competition as it stayed atop session box office with an estimated $13.2 million. Of a trio of newcomers, only faith-targeted War Room generated strong response with a $10.8 million debut at 1135 spare rooms. The other new releases got creamed with the political thriller No Escape grossing $8.2 million and EDM drama We Are Your Friends gaining no beats at $1.7 million.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

War Room, a faith film getting a Tri-Star release via a Sony Home Entertainment deal, had the best Friday opening of the year in the category. It’s not close to the massive openings last year of Son of God and God’s Not Dead, but it was enough to win the day on Friday with just 1,135 screens on a weekend that will pretty surely be the weakest of 2015. Also opening wide is TWC’s No Escape, a generic title and a marketing campaign that was more escape than release. But the most impressive number of the weekend is WB’s summer closer, We Are Your Friends, which will struggle to get to $1000 per screen on 2,333. Stunning.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Gurus o’ Gold: Pre-Festival Projections

The Gurus are back… for the pre-season. They split the contenders into three categories; films already seen, films coming at the festivals, and films due for release after the festivals.

Read the full article » No Comments »

THE GRONVALL REPORT: Aviva Kempner Talks ROSENWALD

Before screening Rosenwald, the new documentary by Aviva Kempner, I had never heard of Julius Rosenwald. Sure, I was familiar with the retail giant he helped build—Chicago-based Sears, Roebuck & Company—mostly because it offered household appliances and auto tires at the best price, in the days before big-box discounters. But as for the front-office titan who died in 1932, how many today know that he was equally (if not more) important as an early trailblazer in the American civil rights movement? More folks below the Mason-Dixon line than above, I’m guessing.

Read the full article » 2 Comments »

Wilmington on Movies: Forbidden Games

Forbidden Gamesis one of the great black-and-white French films of the post-war, pre-New Wave cinema era. But it‘s also one of a group of initially admired French post-war films that were later radically underrated by the New Wave critic-directors, including Truffaut and Godard.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: Welcome to NYC, Falling Star, Elena, Riot Club, Runner, Citizenfour, Clive Barker, Walking Dead, Gene Autry … More

One thing DSK almost certainly won’t be able to live down is the damning portrayal of his behavior in Abel Ferrara’s caustic Welcome to New York. Although the character’s name has been changed simply to Devereaux, there’s no mistaking who Gérard Depardieu is channeling. The great French actor and onetime Oscar nominee has come under heavy criticism of late for renouncing his citizenship and cozying up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Still, there’s no denying the sheer audacity of his performance here. DSK may never be mistaken for Arnold Schwarzenegger, another politician who couldn’t control his impulses, but even he must have been embarrassed by the sight of an actor who looks as if he’d been mainlining foie gras and guzzling Big Gulps to bring up his weight.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Weekend Report

Straight Outta Compton readily retained bragging rights atop the weekend chart with an estimated $26.7 million. That tally helped push Universal to a 2015 gross of more than $2.1 billion, smashing the benchmark set in 2009 by Warner… and that still leaves four months and seven releases to come for the distrib. The flipside is that we have entered the period where distribs release “disappointments” to quietly play out the season. Three new films ho-hummed into the fray. Leading the pack in third position was Sinister 2 with $10.6 million followed by Hitman: Agent 47 knocking off $8.1 million and American Ultra blowing smoke at $5.5 million.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

Straight Outta Compton had a reasonable opening-Friday-to-Friday drop, neither particularly strong nor weak. The rest of the weekend will show how strong the film’s legs will be. Regardless, SOC will crack $100 million today. There are three wide openings this week. Sinister 2 opened 38% off the original’s Friday, suggesting $11.2m for the weekend. Hitman: Agent 47, which opened 42% off its opening Friday (which was its third day of release), suggesting a $7.7m total, at best, for this weekend. And American Ultra… an original… opened to almost the exact same number as Adventureland, which was on almost 1,000 fewer screens in April 2009, right on the heels of Twilight.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Wilmington on Movies: Sinister 2; Sinister

Sinister 2, one of the creepier horror movies I’ve seen recently, is an attempt to make an even more sinister sequel to the 2012 horror-sleeper. That earlier Sinister was a found-footage horror show that scared some audiences and grossed some dough back in 2012, and also inspired a lukewarm, semi-horrified response from, as Orson Welles was wont to say, your obedient servant. But this new Sinister is, like many mediocre and derivative gorefests so unengagingly gory and so unentertainingly sicko that it seems extremely unlikely that we’ll ever see a “Sinister 3.” For which we should all be grateful.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: 100-Year-Old Man, Strangerland, La Grande Bouffe, Troma’s War, Hackers, The Rebel, 17 and more

If Forrest Gump had an uncle living in Sweden, he might have provided the inspiration for novelist Jonas Jonasson and filmmaker Felix Herngren’s hilarious geezer comedy, The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. The similarities between the film’s protagonist, a half-wit pyromaniac named Allan and Tom Hanks’ most beloved character can hardly be disputed. That he also bears certain cursory resemblances to Leonard Zelig only adds to the fun.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

The Weekend Report

It was Straight Outta Compton and right to the top of weekend viewing with a potent estimated $56 million debut. The transition of The Man from U.N.C.L.E to the big screen disappointed with a $13.5 million start. Exclusive newcomers were chockablock with encouraging prospects, including nonfiction Himalayan conquest Meru posting $91,400 from seven screens and Amerindie Mistress America waving the flag with $93,600 from four engagements.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

As we reach the end of the summer season, one last hit in Straight Outta Compton, a success that has white box-office analysts sounding a bit too surprised. The question is, how will the film hold over the weekend? There are various models, but no one will know until tonight’s box office. But retro giveth and retro taketh away, as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which was a bad idea from start to one-sheet, won’t see the right side of $15 million. WB will hope for some international love, but the only thing close to a box office draw is Guy Ritchie, who has not shown he can draw a crowd on his name alone. Mistress America opens strong on four with $7600 per screen.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: Chris Farley, Match, Treatment, Blues Cruise, Reminiscence, Soaked in Bleach, Police Story 6, Fury, Israeli Passion … More  

A more appropriate title for the sadly nostalgic bio-doc, I Am Chris Farley, might have been, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Goofball,” as it precisely describes the rise and fall of an attention-starved child of the American Midwest. The Madison, Wisconsin, native somehow knew from an early age that being fat, reckless and funny opened doors closed to kids who merely were overweight and willing to make themselves the butt of other people’s jokes.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Weekend Report

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation remained at the top of weekend moviegoing with an estimated $29.4 million much to the surprise of tracking that favored the incoming Fantastic Four. But the reboot of the Marvel franchise sputtered in second spot with $26.2 million. Other wide releases included the spooky The Gift, the maiden release of distrib STX, in third position with $12.2 million and a disappointing start for discordant drama Ricki and the Flash of $6.7 million. Also underperforming was highly-praised animated Shaun the Sheep with $4 million while the Japanese anime Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F conducted an effective stealth release that netted $2.1 million.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

Do critics have an effect on box office? A long-argued question, but MCN has long believed that only a near-unanimous dislike of a movie can actually move the needle. And Fantastic Four has been panned almost universally. But that doesn’t mean that more traditional box-office disablers, like marketing, concept, and genre fatigue, are not also in play. Whatever the cause, Fantastic Four will be the worst Marvel-branded opening since 2012’s Ghost Rider 2 and should open to around half the opening gross of any Marvel-controlled production. Nothing so great about openings for The Gift, Ricki & The Flash or Shaun The Sheep either. Nor do holdovers show any added strength against a weak line-up of newcomers this weekend. Indies are led by $10k+ per screen showings by The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: Madame Bovary, Adult Beginners, Descendants, Salvation, Wyrmwood, Seashore, Snow Girl, Flamenco, Bilko … More

In Sophie Barthes’ lushly mounted Madame Bovary, 25-year-old Aussie Mia Wasikowska convincingly plays the disillusioned wife of a country doctor whose unmet expectations and boredom are sated by material pleasures they can’t afford. If there isn’t anything wrong with the approach taken by Barthes, its bourgeois trappings and rural splendor are all too familiar in a marketplace filled with period adaptations of classic novels, however tragic or sexy.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Gronvall Report: Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville on BEST OF ENEMIES

“It’s not a coincidence that their blowup in the studio came the night of the events in Grant Park. They had witnessed the violence, watched the news tapes. They were the patrician white stand-ins for the two sides warring in Grant Park. And I honestly think that some of their new ideas were actually the old ideas, and the thing that really interested them is history. They were both students of American history, and what they saw happening in our country they viewed as an assault on the republic. They were also both well versed in ancient Roman and Greek history. I think that Buckley was bowing to the god of Rome, and Vidal was bowing to the god of Greece.”

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Weekend Report

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation handily vanquished the opposition with an estimated opening salvo of $55.6 million. Vacation , the session’s other wide release, trailed in second place with $14.7 million. Exclusive newcomers included two docs that drew well. The Buckley-Vidal match up Best of Enemies grossed $60,500 at five theaters while solo rumination Listen to Me Marlon (Brando) netted $27,000 from two playdates. The biggest noise was the true life flashback The End of the Tour with $122,000 from four screens.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opened to really good reviews and pretty much the same ol’ M:I box office. The biggest of the M:I movies, Ghost Protocol, opened in December, making opening comparisons untenable. The domestic box office total could be anywhere from $175-$250m. Meanwhile, the film is all about international, where it seeks to crack the $500 million mark for the first time, particularly in China, which could add another $150 million or more. Vacation didn’t find enough nostalgia or kids looking for edgy humor to do too much more than Hot Pursuit. And the $30m+ budget is looking fat, not lean, at this point. The hard summer for comedy – and for Warner Bros – continues. And a good weekend for the indies, with The End of The Tour, The Best of Enemies, and Listen To Me Marlon all delivering strong numbers in limited runs.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: Unfriended, Water Diviner, Reckless, Life on the Reef, Lost Soul and more

Unfriended isn’t for the casual users of the Internet. The multi-image presentation, which is extremely sophisticated, requires far more work on the part of the viewer than the typical narrative feature. The more experience one has in the world of cyber-communication, the scarier Unfriended will be.

Read the full article » No Comments »

MCN Originals

Z

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

Z Z