MCN Originals Archive for November, 2015

The Weekend Report

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 took a 50% hit but still survived Thanksgiving contenders with an estimated $51.3 million weekend. (Figures reflect a three-day period.) The incoming crowd was right behind with Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur grossing $39 million and Creed, a Rocky continuation, clobbering $29.3 million. A third national release, Victor Frankenstein, fizzled with a $2.3 million tally.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Hungry Finale is holding well going into its second 3-day weekend. The Good Dinosaur is running ahead of The Peanuts Movie, but behind the last Disney movie to open wide on Thanksgiving weekend, Tangled. And Creed is solid, not sensational, as it builds word of mouth that will probably make it the leggiest of the November movies. The Danish Girl arrives with over $50k per screen for 3 days on four.

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The DVD Wrapup, Gift Guide II: Great American Dream Machine, McHale’s Navy, Brothers Quay, Shaun the Sheep, No Escape and more

At a time when public-broadcast stations were commonly referred to as “educational TV,” a show likened to an “intellectual ‘Laugh-In’” began production on New York City’s non-commercial WNET. “The Great American Dream Machine” was a weekly satirical variety television series. Its audience may have been miniscule compared to “Laugh-In,” but it was composed of hard-core liberals, media mavens and the next generation of opinion-makers. It didn’t take long for the show to bear fruit in the form of “The Groove Tube,” “Saturday Night Life,” “SCTV” and Kentucky Fried Movie. Watch the show today on DVD and you’ll recognize the forebears of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Trevor Noah and John Oliver.

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20W2O: 14 Weeks to Oscar

No matter how many times we go around this track, it gets weird at some point. It’s not like there is a bag of tricks and all you need to do for your film to get where you want is to repeat the same tricks… which is not to say that the same tricks don’t get endlessly repeated. But the subtle difference between a strategic choice that works and one that doesn’t is almost agonizing.

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Gurus o’ Gold: The Picture, The Men & The Turkey Day Recommendation

The Gurus get in their last licks before the holiday, recommending what you should make sure to see (in theaters or screeners) this week. Top three are Carol, Creed, and Brooklyn. Also, a look at the two male acting categories and, as always, Best Picture, which is surprisingly stable.

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The Weekend Report

There you have it… the poor Hunger Games finale only opened to $101 million. Shocking. (Not really. Very profitable. Likely to top $700m worldwide.) Another “underachiever,” Spectre, will become the #2 all-time James Bond movie, domestically and worldwide by this time next weekend. Not a high opening for The Night Before. Julia Roberts doesn’t draw in The Secret in Their Eyes English-language remake. Good expansions for Spotlight and Brooklyn and a very strong four-screen launch for Carol.

Klady analysis to come…

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The best reviewed Hunger Games entry also is now the smallest opener of the four movies. Lionsgate is spinning the story towards international, but there is no need for excuses. There’s still a lot of money to be made here. But it seems that the series shed lookie-loos after the second episode and is now all about the hardcore fans. Still, the movie is still looking at near $300 million domestic and over $700m worldwide.

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15 Weeks To Oscar: The Tightest, Most Open Acting Races Ever?

This season, i have tried to stay out of the predicting circus tent as much as possible. Individual situations are individual stories. Gurus o’ Gold is Gurus o’ Gold. But with The Revenant debuting widely on Monday, The H8ful Eight rolling out already, and Joy to land sometimes after Thanksgiving, we’re almost there. And I guess it’s time for me to jump in with both feet.

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The DVD Wrapup: Crumbs, Meru, Tenderness of Wolves, Living in Oblivion and more

As tiresome as most movies about our shared dystopian future have become, longtime fans of the increasingly predictable sub-genre shouldn’t give hope of finding something new and different until they’ve seen Crumbs, an instant classic from a place that looks as if it had already experienced the apocalypse and was left standing.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Actresses Rule

This week, The Gurus look at the two Actress races, both of which seem pretty well locked-in for the top 4 slots, but pretty wide open for the 5 spot. Also, as always, the latest Best Picture chart, which remains stubbornly consistent, although soft after the seventh slot.

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The Gronvall Report: Jay Roach On TRUMBO

Smoking hot following his Tony Award for “All the Way” and his multiple Emmy-winning run on “Breaking Bad,” Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, the phenomenally prolific author, raconteur and bon vivant who in his postwar heyday was one of the highest paid screenwriters in the nation. As comfortably as he lived, though, he firmly believed that less fortunate working stiffs were entitled to just wages and other protections that labor unions provide, and he was active in leftist politics.

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The Weekend Report

Shaken by half, it was nonetheless Spectre that stirred the top spot in weekend moviegoing with an estimated $35.2 million. Three wide releases offered scant challenge to the veteran operative. Seasonal comedy Love the Coopers slotted third with an OK $8.3 million while the Chilean mine disaster saga The 33 grossed $5.7 million. The gridiron glory of My All American faded fast at $1.4 million. A handful of films expanded, the most effective results for prior freshman class Spotlight, Brooklyn and Trumbo.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Another ugly weekend for new films as Hollywood revs up for award season. Love The Coopers is headed to a total domestic gross under $20 million. The 33—about the trapped Chilean miners, if you hadn’t heard—was barely marketed by Warner Bros, which is having a very uncharacteristic year, also seeing Our Brand Is Crisis drop from 2200 to 500 screens in Weekend 3. And Universal’s 10-screen release of Jolie-Pitt’s By The Sea is headed to a meager $10k per screen for the weekend. Katniss comes to the box office rescue next weekend… for the last time. But don’t sweat the trend pieces this week… it’s the movies and the (limited) marketing, simple as can be.

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The DVD Wrapup: Stations of the Cross, Code Unknown, Julien Duvivier, Eric Rohmer and more

Ida revealed truths about the deeply engrained anti-Semitism of many of the faithful. Stations of the Cross is Dietrich Brüggemann’s tragic depiction of religious fundamentalism at its most destructive and, as such, can be construed as serving as an indictment of one particularly conservative Catholic order. This one is based in southern Germany, an area not immune to fanaticism.

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Gurus o Gold: Who Could Get In With A Bit More Support?

The Gurus do their weekly Best Picture chart, then answer the question in each of the Top Six categories of what films or performances could get nominated if only they got a bit more of a push. That means different things to different Gurus, but feel the zen and you will know…

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16 Weeks To Oscar: What Works

Three potential field-changers – The Revenant, Joy, and The H8ful Eight – loom out there, largely unseen. But even their stories are already written in many ways, waiting for rewrites as exposure to the light changes things to whatever degree it does.

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The Weekend Report

There was never any doubt that the redoubtable 007 would lead the fall charge … just how much SPECTRE would exact. Sunday estimates pegged it at $72.4 million. Nonetheless there was sufficient room in the marketplace for a counter-programmer and The Peanuts Movie proved apt with a buoyant $44.5 million debut. The big match up was three exclusives, each opening on five screens. Spotlight focused on a Boston Globe investigation into clerical pedophilia; Brooklyn chronicled a young Irish woman’s immigration tale in 1960s America; and Trumbo detailed Hollywood’s 1950s dark blacklist era. Respectively they grossed $297,000, $179,000 and $76,800. The results ranged from great to respectable with each getting the sort of Friday to Saturday bumps that suggest strong positive word of mouth.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Spectre ghosts $27.4 million, with Daniel Craig more than doubling Snoopy’s mere $12 million with The Peanuts Movie.

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The DVD Wrapup: Jurassic World, Back to Future, Inside Out, Toy Story, Benoit Jacquot and more

To paraphrase the Budweiser advertising jingle, “When you’ve collected $1.58 billion at the worldwide box office, you’ve said it all.”

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Gurus o’ Gold: In The Starting Gate

The Gurus are back to let you know what is what as of this minute. This is the first weekly chart of the season, covering the “Top 6″ categories, Picture, Director, and the four Acting categories. Even this early in the season, things are tight enough that we have two ties.

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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