MCN Originals Archive for July, 2015

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 »

Adjusted World-Wide Grosses Based On Estimated China Rental

In the last 2 years – so far… more to come – there are seven films that have grossed $100m or more of their worldwide total in China. Prior to 2014, it happened 3 times.

Here is a very rough estimation based on the Chinese gross returning 45% (or less) of what theatrical runs in other countries would return to distributors.

Read the full article » 5 Comments »

26 Weeks To Oscar: Resetting The Field For The Very First Time

It’s early in the awards season… movies come and go. Where do things lay for the Best Picture competitors after Toronto announced its line-up this week?

Read the full article » 3 Comments »

The Weekend Report

The battle of the tiny bots wound up with Ant-Man ahead of the incoming Pixels with respective box offices of $24.7 million and $23.9 million. The session saw two other national debuts with limited punch. Rocky Southpaw slotted in fifth with $16 million and young adult adaptation Paper Towns was right behind at $12.4 million. In limited wide release, The Vatican Tapes exorcised $809,000. In the niches, the record-setting streak of Baahubali continued, adding 50 dubbed Hindi prints and a weekend tally of $670,000 that pushed its cume to $8.3 million. Current Chinese chart-topper Pancake Man had a potent debut of $267,000 from 13 creperies.

Read the full article »

Friday Box Office Estimates

An underwhelming launch for Pixels is still enough to put it out front on Friday, though there is still an outside chance that Pixels or Ant-Man could pass it by the end of the weekend. It’s not a Blended or That’s My Boy box-office car wreck, but it’s not as strong an opening as Jack & Jill. Also opening are Paper Towns and Southpaw (currently in that order), with both films servicing specific niches and not, apparently, reaching far beyond. Towns has a legit shot at still being nicely profitable if it gets past $40 million, as this opening suggests. Southpaw has a bigger budget and will need help internationally, though Wanda’s funding may lead to Wanda’s influence at the Chinese box office, where it could make it all back.

Read the full article »

Review-ish: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (spoiler-free)

Christopher McQuarrie wins the “Best Written MIssion: Impossible Movie” title. The story is clear. The characters are appropriately hyper-real, but grounded and their behavior follows logically. There are mysteries that keep unraveling. And it doesn’t choke you with details that can’t be deciphered without 27 watchings.

Cruise is good. Pegg is great. Newcomer Rebecca Ferguson has a very real chance at being a part of our cinematic conversation for decades to come. Sean Harris is just right and just weird enough. Really excellent casting all around.

So what is keeping this film from greatness?

Read the full article » 41 Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: What We Do In Shadows, Resnaisx2, Marfa Girl, and more

One needn’t have been a zealous fan of “Flight of the Conchords” and Eagle vs Shark, or even a vampire completist, to be drawn to What We Do in the Shadows. Those who are, however, probably will get a real kick out of this razor-sharp genre parody from New Zealand. The largely improvised mockumentary defies the odds by doing an end-run around the Scary Movie and Scream franchises and adding a supernatural spin to such bros-will-be-bros pictures as Swingers and Saturday Night Fever.

Read the full article »

Leonard Klady on Claude Sautet

Although he would occasionally return to the thriller format, it’s the sagas of the bourgeoisie that Sautet is most identified with and provides his legacy.

Read the full article »

The Weekend Report

Ant-Man swarmed to the top of session moviegoing with an estimated $57.8 million. And there was a better than anticipated bow for Trainwreck of $30.2 million that landed the comedy third on the chart. And in limited wide release the latest spin on the redoubtable Sherlock, Mr. Holmes, was off to a better-than-elementary start of $2.4 million.

Read the full article »

Friday Box Office Estimates

Ant-Man rises, a little behind where the first Captain America and Thor films started on opening day. Both ended up around $175m domestic and over $350 million worldwide. This launch is significant for Marvel’s ongoing Avengers-lite films, though the real story will be whether Ant-Man II can grow like Cap & Thor did. Trainwreck is right about where Spy opened. Both films have female leads and Apatow connections. Spy is past $100 million domestic and matching that would be huge for first-time movie star Amy Schumer. Strong limited indie launches for Woody Allen’s Irrational Man (est $25k per) and Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s The Stanford Prison Experiment (est $12k per) and a nice start for Mr. Holmes on 363 screens (est $5k per).

Read the full article »

The DVD Wrapup: Salt of the Earth, Ex Machina, It Follows, Goodbye to All That, Black Stallion and more

Alex Garland’s highly ambitious digital wet dream Ex Machina advances the sub-genre by setting it in an idyllic retreat, owned by a reclusive cyber-billionaire, and infusing his megalomaniacal vision with ideas inspired by Greek and Roman tragedies and mythology, the Old Testament, the Bhagavad Gita, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Titian, Mary Shelly, crappy 1970s disco and Depeche Mode. Ex Machina is the kind of super-smart movie that should carry footnotes at the bottom of the screen.

Read the full article »

The Weekend Report

They may be pint-sized in every other aspect but Minions are box office gold with a domestic debut estimated at $115.1 million. That left poor seconds for two other national newcomers. The horror entry The Gallows was left hanging with a $9.8 million bow and the sci-fi drama Self/Less had to cope with the latter at $5.4 million.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Friday Box Office Estimates

Minions had (by estimate) the 23rd biggest opening day ever, which is also the fourth best opening day of 2015. It is, however, the best opening day by an animated film in history, passing up Toy Story 3‘s $41.1 million launch day of 2010, which led to a $110m 3-day. Will it become Universal’s third $120m+ opening of the summer? This is also the fourth $100m opening of the year, tying the record, and it is the fourth of this summer, doubling the previous record of two. With the final Hunger Games coming in November and the possibility of Star Wars becoming the first December $100m opening, box office records continue to be shattered.

Read the full article »

The DVD Wrapup: Woman in Gold, Clouds of Sils Maria, Human Capital, House of Cards and more

I wonder if Meryl Streep gets depressed when she isn’t nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress. Maybe she feels relieved, knowing that she can avoid the annual crush of parties, press conferences and all of the ass kissing that comes with each and every nomination. Maybe, someday, Streep will be allowed the privilege of being chosen alongside one or both of her acting daughters, Grace and Mamie Gummer, or simply cheer them on from the sidelines. Streep doesn’t appear in Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas’ brilliant drama about actors and acting. If any actress deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Streep, it’s Juliet Binoche, who not only stars in Clouds of Sils Maria, but also delivers one of the great performances of her career.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

How New Directors End Up In The Studio System

The idea is to answer the often posed question about why so many more men are directing studio movies than women. Answers to the question, mine included, tend to be a bit off the cuff. And I would prefer to have some facts going into any serious conversation.

Read the full article » 8 Comments »

Paramount & The Stupidity of the Short Distance Runner (Pt 1 of 3 – Getting Here)

The revenue model for movies has changed. Repeatedly.

Never as dramatically as in the last 50 years, the second half of the history of the theatrical motion picture.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Wilmington on Movies: The Third Man

There’s nothing wrong with The Third Man even if the world it describes is wrong to the core and bad to the bone.

Read the full article »

The Weekend Report

Despite new franchise entries, once again Jurassic World and Inside Out led the frame with respective weekend estimates of $30.9 million and $30.2 million. The Independence holiday freshmen followed with Terminator Genisys grossing $28.2 million and Magic Make XXL stripping off $11.8 million. Exclusive newcomers were dominated by the launch of Amy, the controversial documentary on singer Winehouse. It bowed to a potent $241,000 at six sites. There were also OK results for UK import Jimmy’s Hall and the non-fiction Cartel Land.

Read the full article »

Friday Box Office Estimates

After all the absurd jockeying for position, it doesn’t look like the two popular newcomers have any chance to beat the two holdovers over the 5-day or the 3-day numbers, with Magic Mike XXL looking like the most front-loaded and thonged of the foursome. The only question for Inside Out, which currently looks like the weekend’s easy winner is whether the holiday Saturday will slow it down with family attendance compared to the more adult films. In the indies, Amy is the clear heroine, showing the public’s continuing interest in experiencing music docs in theaters, with a $60k per-screen for three days on five.

Read the full article »

The DVD Wrapup: Danny Collins, Get Hard, Decline of Western Civilization, Downtown 81 and more

There are moments in Dan Fogelman’s wildly uneven rock-‘n’-roll fantasy, Danny Collins, that suggest the writer-director was raised on classic-rock radio and his titular protagonist (Al Pacino) was modeled less after Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger or Rod Steward, than Neil Diamond, Billy Joel or a post-Wings Paul McCartney. That much is clear when Collins arrives on stage for the first time, looking as if he might rip into “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Katmandu” or “Maggie May,” but, instead, delivers what amounts to Diamond’s between-innings anthem, “Sweet Caroline.” It sounds out of place when sung by a wrung-out, blurry-eyed geezer, whose “Elvis scarves” are older than everyone in his band. Collins has been so strung out for so long that he hasn’t written a new song in 30 years and can’t readily recall the details of two of his marriages.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

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