MCN Originals Archive for September, 2014

The Weekend Report

The Equalizer vanquished the opposition with an opening tally estimated at $35.2 million. The session’s other national deb, Laika’s stop-motion animation The Boxtrolls, bowed to $17.3 million, ranking third overall.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Equalizer opened right in the middle between Denzel Washington’s two biggest solo-star openers, The Book of Eli and Safe House, suggesting that this could be his third $100 million movie… and if not, just short of it. Also opening, The Boxtrolls, edgy stop-motion from Laika, featuring an amazing vocal performance by Sir Ben Kingsley. The opening day is slightly better than the last Laika, Paranorman, which suggests that the trick to pushing these films over $100m domestic still has not been solved.

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The DVD Wrapup: Godzilla, Girl in Yellow Boots, Last Passenger, My Name Is A, Calling, Come Morning, Reign, Hillbilly Butcher … More

To paraphrase a much tortured aphorism from the Savoyard intellectual Joseph de Maistre, “Every generation has the Godzilla it deserves.” In fact, every new generation since 1954 has gotten several new fire-breathing lizards, however, whether we deserved one or not. First introduced in post-WWII Japan as the King of the Monsters, the daikaiju and other giant monsters were Japan’s metaphorical response to America’s war-ending bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even then, the gargantuan creature looked as if it had escaped from a toy factory. And, yet, Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and other irradiated critters captured the fancy of movie audiences around the world.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Post-Venice/Telluride/Toronto Best Picture Field

Do the fall festivals matter? The Gurus chime in with their look at the Best Picture race, which has changed, particularly with the rise of 2 titles, but still finds the pre-fest Top 7 all residing int he Top 9 of this new chart.

Also, the actors and actresses who got the biggest festival bumps.

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20 Weeks of Summer: Was The Summer DISASTER Actually A Win? (Part 2: Sony/Universal/WB)

Three of the six majors were UP for the summer in gross worldwide revenues. Fox was up by $920 million, Paramount was up by $626 million, and Sony was up by $28 million. Of the other three, Disney was down by $869 million, Universal was down by $1.26 billion, and WB was down by $991 million. But with all that “down,” only one movie at these three studios was a significant loser financially.

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20 Weeks of Summer: Was The Summer DISASTER Actually A Win? (Part 1: Disney/Fox/Paramount)

Twenty-four movies. That is the direct output of the wide-release movies from the six major distributors this last summer. Do you want to think about this summer based on numbers or do you want to get all emotional about it? Because if you think facts matter, start with the fact that there were 33 wide-release movies from the 6 major distributors last summer (2013). If all you are basing your reports of a summer disaster on is one specific, not very rich stat, you probably don’t care.

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The Weekend Report

It was a week of sweeping out the old and welcoming the new, starting with a trio of new national releases. Young adult adventure The Maze Runner topped the frame with an estimated $32.3 million while the competition played below expectations. Downbeat thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones bowed with $13.1 million while Shawn Levy’s R-rated dramedy of a grieving family, This is Where I Leave You, bantered to $11.7 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Fox is back for another dip in the YA pond with The Maze Runner and the results are a touch better than the first Percy Jackson entry. Liam Neeson is five years into his role as the man from whom people should not be taken… and this looks to be his weakest wide opening (with one 2010 exception) since then. And ensemble comedy This Is Where I Leave You(formerly “The J Word”) is another soft opening in a year of soft openings for WB, their weakest since Transcendence. Yellow Day and Hector & The Search For Happiness will have the best per-screen among runs under 130 screens.

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The DVD Wrapup: Think Like a Man Too, Richard Lewis, Battery, Eraserhead, Chain Saw, Spartacus, Roosevelts, POWs … More

Watching comedian Richard Lewis in Bundle of Nerves, I naturally flashed back to a night, more than 25 years ago, when I first saw him perform live. It was in an intimate room in a Chicago hotel famous for the many legendary comics and musicians who had previously stayed there and whose ghosts may still be haunting the stage and lobby. What I remember most was laughing non-stop throughout the show and, at one point, almost falling on the floor. I’d seen Lewis on the late-night talk shows and he was even funnier in person.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Skeleton Twins

Many American plays and movies about families are horror stories of a sort. That’s true of some of the masters of the form, like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill—and it also goes somewhat for Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins, in which Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, two brilliant comic actors taking a whirl at drama, play a pair of New York-born suburban twins, Milo and Maggie, who’ve been alienated for a decade (since their mid-‘20s) and are now drawn together by what was very nearly a double tragedy: near-simultaneous near-suicides of both because of unhappy love lives.

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The Torontonian reviews This Is Where I Leave You

Like a middling episode of House-“Arrested Development,” Shawn Levy’s This Is Where I Leave You—adapted from the Jonathan Tropper novel of the same name—is a dysfunctional family dramedy lacking in laughs and an emotional punch to really bring it home. The film gets by on its likable cast, but the fact that this film merely passes despite such a talented crop of comedic talent should speak to a general failure, or at least a sense of disappointment.

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Wilmington on Movies: Honeymoon

Suppose you drove off for a romantic rendezvous in your parent’s isolated cabin in the woods, and the honeymoon quickly degenerated from an idyll into something…else. Suppose you went off together to be alone and wild and erotically indulgent and your lover began behaving like someone or something….else.

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Wrapping TIFF 2014

It was a really good TIFF. Solid.

What was missing, really, were the home run hitting feature films. (Great docs… but we expect that.)

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: It’s a Wrap

Officially there were 366 features shown at the just completed edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. I saw about 30. So it should come as no surprise that few of this year’s public and jury prize winners managed to elude my grasp.

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The Weekend Report

It was anticipated as a close race between debuting movies No Good Deed and Dolphin Tale 2 with the former given the edge. In the end Deed exceeded expectations with an estimated debut of $24.4 million and the sea tail opening to $16.6 million in what’s being viewed as a depressed market in need of a pick me up. The crime meller The Drop opened to fair results of $4.4 million that ranked fifth overall.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

When Sony made the decision not to screen No Good Deed for critics, it pissed off critics and didn’t bother ticket buyers one little bit. Idris Elba, staked by Thor, PacRim, and a series of Screen Gems doozies that have opened well, gets out of the box strong (like it or not). Meanwhile, Dolphin Tale 2, which is a WB output deal movie, opens about 18% behind the original, which projects to a $15.5m weekend. Meanwhile, The Guardians have hit $300 million domestic (#1 US) and is closing in on $600m worldwide (#8).

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The Torontonian reviews It Follows

One of the most enjoyable aspects of David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows—alongside its brilliant cinematography and chilling scares—is the inventive premise, which is as much to fun to describe as it is to watch (tell your friends about the “sexually-transmitted ghost” movie and watch their faces turn from disgusted to wildly amused).

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Wilmington on Movies — Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

The first movie was better. Or it played better. Based on Miller’s “Sin City” graphic novels–which took the tricks and tropes of film noir (both the literary and cinematic varieties) to a point of stylistic near-meltdown—the movie was a shadowy, violent, blisteringly cynical comic book rock ‘n roll parody-melodrama hoot: an orgy of movie lust and celluloid violence and pulpy eloquence that was all about the crooks, thugs, lonely men, strippers, whores, men with guns or hotly-pursued dames and femme fatales who hung out at Miller’s evil Neverland.

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The Daily Buzz Podcast @TIFF 2014: The Yes Men

Fans of comic documentaries can rejoice. If you’ve never heard of the Yes Men, you’re in for a treat; if you’ve followed their antics in earlier films, you’ll delight in a new barrage. Either way, you’ll find in this film a fresh reflection on the question: How does one sustain a life of activism?

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The DVD Wrapup: God’s Pocket, Captain America, For No Good Reason, Pumpkinhead, Fed Up, Midnight Special, Goldbergs, New Who … More

Anyone who may have wondered what was lost with the untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman–last February, at 46, to a drug overdose–shouldn’t have to look very far to study his impressive body of work. Once a prince of the indie realm, Hoffman more recently balanced his schedule with key supporting roles in such studio blockbusters as Mission: Impossible III and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as well as dramatic turns on Broadway. Never someone who could be mistaken for a classic Hollywood leading man, Hoffman’s presence was felt in every scene in which he appeared.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott