MCN Originals Archive for August, 2013

Friday Box Office Estimates

Morgan Spurlock tops the box office charts with his insightful documentary about a little-known musical group called One Direction. But the real surprise of the weekend is Lionsgate’s Spanish-language, 347-screen opening for Instructions Not Included doing $1.9 million on Friday, well ahead of The Getaway and more than doubling the mainstream release Closed Circuit.

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The DVD Wrapup

The Great Gatsby, Pain & Gain, Shadow Dancer, Painting, Reluctant Fundamentalist, Smiley’s People, Me & My Gal and more.

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The Weekend Report

Lee Daniels’ The Butler continued to serve it up and take top spot among weekend moviegoers with an estimated $16.9 million. A sure sign of summer’s end is the lack of new product to buttress the declining days until the Labor Day holiday. Three new national releases failed to ignite much fire with the best of the batch being third-ranked The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, a teen lit fave that fell short of Twilight potential with an opening weekend launch of $9.4 million. On its tail was apocalyptic comedy The World’s End at $9 million and the horror entry You’re Next with $7.1 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Three new wide releases in the marketplace, but all three are niche players, so the top of the chart looks very familiar. Blue Jasmine expands its way back into the Top Ten. And a quartet of disappointing August releases fills out the Top Ten from Planes‘ inability to truly lift off, to a massive 78% Friday-to-Friday drop for Kick-Ass 2.

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MCN Gurus o’ Gold: Pre-Fall-Fest Edition

The Gurus are putting their turbans back before the festival madness from Venice to Telluride to Toronto (and eventually, New York) begins, offering their top 15 picks with no order at this time. It’s a bit early to be making placements with so many of the films unseen.

पार्टी शुरू करते हैं

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The DVD Wrapup

Amour, Floating City, Martin Bonner, Don’t Stop Believin’, Wither, Tortoise in Love, Q, Life of Muhammad… and more.

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Interview: A Few Choice Details From Lee Daniels on THE BUTLER

“What are they doing to me? Y’know, the last thing I want to see is ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler.’ Y’know, what are you doing to me? You’re drawing attention to, you’re trying to, you’re like… The MPAA, what are you doing? I don’t know, I have to look at it as a gift from the universe, I gotta not look at the negative. I tend to look at the negative, so I have to look at it as a gift from the universe. And just say, okay, let me go for this. Let me just go with this and let it just wash over me.”

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The Weekend Report

Weekend box office went topsy-turvy as The Butler served up the top dish with an estimated $25.1 million opening. Three other films debuted nationally, including Kick-Ass 2 that was expected to rank first but had to settle for position three with $13.5 million. Also new were the biopic Jobs with $6.8 million and the thriller Paranoia down the list with $3.5 million. Exclusive debuts were largely blah with better results for French import You Will Be My Son of $13,200 at a solo engagement and Sundance-prized Ain’t Them Bodies Saints grossing $25,700 from three initial playdates.

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Wilmington on Movies: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

The Butler is a stretch, and a sentimental exaggeration of course.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Premature speculation about the debut numbers for The Butler have turned a strong performance into a minor disappointment at the hands of a media that has taken to using shoddy box office analysis as The New Normal. Opening weekend will still be over $20m, but will likely be at least 25% off original media spin. Kick-Ass 2 will take a step backwards from the original’s opening and a partof that fall has to be attributed to Jim Carrey, who is one of the great actor/promoters ever. The whirlwind of activity that Carrey can produce in the media was missing… and certainly cost the films many millions in publicity opportunities. Jobs just didn’t happen. The film ate all the mockery about Kutcher and got none of the “but surprisingly, it’s quite good” love.

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Wilmington on Movies: Kick-Ass 2; Kick-Ass (DVD)

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The DVD Wrapup

Adele Blanc-Sec, Reality, Errors of Human Body, Odd Angry Shot, Guillotines, Seconds, Damned, Shane, Community and more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: To the Wonder

To the Wonder is one of those pictures that either knocks you out or irritates you—or maybe does a little of both.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ran; Kagemusha

Akira Kurosawa’s lavish and violent epic Ran, inspired by “King Lear,” is one of the most famous and admired of all Shakespearean films. Most aficionados rank it at or near the top of the Bard’s film canon, even though Ran dispenses with the main element that makes Shakespeare so great and imperishable, jettisoning all of the bard’s British poetry (substituting a spare Japanese translation), along with a good deal of the play’s brilliant plot and unforgettable characters.

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Wilmington on Movies: Elysium

We are shown a future world where things have gone to hell and are about to get worse (maybe), due to the devastating consequences of greed, violence, brutality, authoritarian government, social and racial prejudice, and the insane selfishness of that era‘s one-percenters. It’s our world, of course, taken to extremes, Philip K. Dick or Robert Heinlein style.

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The Weekend Report

It was a crowded house at the multiplex with four new releases taking the top spots in the marketplace. The sci-fi allegory Elysium topped the charts with an estimated $30.3 million with the antic comedy We’re the Millers not far behind with $26.4 million. Family films trailed as the animated Planes prop-elled to $22.2 million and the flagging franchise Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters at the tail-end at $14.5 million. The limited launch of Lovelace failed to penetrate with a $183,000 tally from 111 exposures.

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Friday Estimates

Four new films on top of the chart, three of which started pretty well. Elysium won’t open to District 9 numbers, but still a decent start. We’re The Millers opened a little stronger than 40-Year Old Virgin… but that hit was all about legs. The number on Planes may seem a little soft, but as August goes, it may turn out to be Disney’s biggest opening in this month ever… or number 2 or 3. And Percy Jackson becomes the latest wannabe franchise to open well off of the original, though international is where the money for the first film was, so only time will tell on the overall success or failure of this sequel.

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Wilmington on Movies: We’re the Millers

The disrobing of the legendary Rachel isn’t the epic sex fantasy scene one might imagine, but just another misjudged scene in a somewhat daring but basically lousy movie comedy—a forced, crude, often senseless show about a group of misfits or outsiders (played by Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter), pretending to be a typical American suburban bourgeois family (called the Millers), while smuggling dope across the border from Mexico,

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MCN Originals

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin