MCN Originals Archive for October, 2016

Wilmington On Movies: Inferno, The Girl On The Train

Inferno, the third in Ron Howard and Tom Hanks’ series of Dan Brown-derived high-end action movies, aspires to classy trash. At least it tries — mashing references to the works of the great classical Italian poet Dante Alighieri (“The Divine Comedy”) with the not-so-great works of the financially astute airport bestsellermeister Brown (The Da Vinci Code), amid imagery that suggests a nightmare attraction on the National Geographic Channel.

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The Weekend Report

Never underestimate a woman scorned. Boo! A Madea Halloween maintained the top spot in the marketplace for a second weekend with an estimated $16.8 million. It scared the sole weekend national newcomer (and once-presumed champ) Inferno that settled for poor seconds of $14.9 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

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The DVD Wrapup: Hunt for Wilderpeople, Skiptrace, Nerve, Vampire Ecstasy, Gored, Dark Water, The Id, Norman Lear and more

I’ve complained before about the lack of attention given to uniquely entertaining indie movies by distributors, even after being greeted with near-unanimous approval by audiences and critics at festivals. Indulge me while I endorse another film that has broad audience appeal but could easily get lost in the VOD-DVD shuffle. Set in a supremely scenic corner of Peter Jackson’s backyard (a.k.a., New Zealand), Taika Waititi’s coming-of-age Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows a state-raised Maori boy who’s nearly run out of options when it comes to being taken in by foster families and non-penal shelters for abandoned kids. Rotund, lazy and belligerent, Ricky (Julian Dennison) is handed over to a middle-age couple living on the edge of the “bush” – a term not at all representative of the environmentally diverse Tongariro National Park – at the center of the country’s North Island. If Waititi’s name sounds familiar, it’s for his peculiarly Kiwi entertainments as Eagle vs. Shark, “Flight of the Conchords” and What We Do in the Shadows. He’ll get his shot in the Major Leagues with – surprise! – the next chapter in the comic-book epic, “Thor: Ragnarok.” Let’s hope he doesn’t lose sight of the little picture.

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The Weekend Report

It was scary stuff as Boo! A Medea Halloween had an edge over Jack Reacher: Never Go Back with the debuting films opening to respective estimates of $27.6 million and $23 million. The other two national openers included a chilling $14 million for Ouija: Origin of Evil and an even more chilly $5.5 million for the spy spoof Keeping Up with the Joneses.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Tyler Perry puts on the Madea face again, this time with numbers slightly behind the last two big hits but well above the most recent Madea, which was Santa soft. Look for a weekend number in the low 20s. The return of Jack Reacher was met by action yawns, though it was a 74% better start than the first in the series, which makes its profits internationally. Did we need a second Ouija? Apparently not. But it will still make money. And Keeping Up With The Joneses tanked. Not a great movie, but much better than that. Four terrific performers who can’t open a movie.

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The DVD Wrapup: Through the Looking Glass, Café Society, Our Kind of Terror, Buying Democracy and more

If, as was the case in the 1970-80s, such writers and directors as Paul Mazursky, Michael Ritchie, Neil Simon, Herbert Ross, Elaine May, Nora Ephron, Mike Nichols, Francis Veber, and Larry Gelbart were still competing for the same adult audiences, Woody Allen wouldn’t stand so alone in the American filmmaking firmament. Neither would his detractors feel as if they have to make excuses for buying tickets to see his annual film.

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The Gronvall Report: Author Deborah E. Lipstadt On DENIAL, David Hare And Rachel Weisz

“If the filmmakers had to choose what material to fit into an hour and fifty minutes, I think they did it very, very well. The things that impressed me so much, as the person to whom it happened, and as an historian, was their emphasis on truth, on getting it right.”

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Pride, Unprejudiced: Hooligan Sparrow, Café Society

The shards of surveillance of secret police, of intimidation by plainclothes operatives and the sheer oppressive weight meant to crush resistance are equally horrifying, and captured with kaleidoscopic perseverance.

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DVD Geek: Medium Cool

In 1968, it was clear that something would happen on the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention. With Medium Cool, Haskell Wexler and his collaborators assembled a viable romantic story, a Cinderella Liberty tale where a news cameraman (Robert Forster), chases after a kid who steals his bag then winds up falling for the kid’s hardworking but struggling mother (Verna Bloom). But, along with sending his character to pre-Convention events, Wexler also got Forster press credentials and into Chicago’s International Amphitheatre as rules votes and other events were unfolding at the Convention. Although it makes me wince, Wexler also put Bloom onto the streets as cops were attacking protesters.

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The Weekend Report

There’s no Accountant for taste as the Ben Affleck thriller topped weekend viewing with a debut estimated at $24.5 million. The Kevin Hart concert film What Now? appeared to have a razor-thin lead to take second spot ahead of The Girl on the Train with a $12 million tally. And gamer adaptation Max Steel was lost in the ether with a dismal $2.1 million launch.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Accounting for taste, Ben Affleck’s latest (and unlikely to be last) super-genius fantasy, The Accountant tallies $9 million. Kevin Hart shouts his way to $4.7 million with What Now, while Girl on the Train tracks to a 58% dropoff, for $3.9 million and a $38.5 million cume.

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First Blush Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (spoiler-free)

Essentially, Ang Lee made the absolute cutting edge version of a “Playhouse 90″ episode with some extra bells and whistles, and color.

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The DVD Wrapup: Infiltrator, Blood Father, Violent Cop, Sherpa, Les Cowboys, Hills Have Eyes and more

If it weren’t for the likelihood that American audiences already know as much about Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel as they’ll ever care to learn, Brad Furman’s compelling drug-war drama, The Infiltrator, might have managed to break even at the box office. Instead, fine performances by Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) and Diane Kruger (“The Bridge”), as undercover U.S. Customs agents Robert Mazur and Kathy Ertz, will pretty much go for naught.

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DVD Geek: Walking Dead Season Six

“The Walking Dead” zombies probably should be identified as “classic Romero zombies.” The drama is compelling because it uses a fantasy horror premise to magnify human conflicts and emotions that otherwise could not be so readily highlighted. And to this invigorating drama, there is the constant suspense of a zombie attack. You never know where or when it is going to happen

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Settling Into The Starting Gates

By this time next week, the only unseen contenders in the race will be Allied, Collateral Beauty, Hidden Figures, Fences, Passengers, and Silence. And I expect, sight unseen, three of those six titles to be nominated for Best Picture. This is not an insignificant group.

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The Weekend Report

The Girl on the Train was first to arrive at the station with an estimated $24.6 million fare. The session featured two other national newcomers. The controversial historical drama The Birth of a Nation opened in sixth with $7 million. Teen comedy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life was a jot behind at $6.8 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The train! The train!

Solid opening, but not overwhelming. About 30% off of Gone Girl… which still (projected out) makes GOTT a $100m domestic grosser. Birth of a Nation opens to a tepid number. Could get to a domestic gross total that matches the Sundance purchase price, which could cover marketing. Slightly better opening than Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, the worst performing wide opening of the week.

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The DVD Wrapup: Innocents, Swiss Army Man, Purge: Election Year, Diary of a Chambermaid, The Wailing, Homestretch and more

The silence and shame that accompanies the infant’s birth would suggest that the nun had been impregnated by the devil – or, perhaps, the Holy Ghost — and no word of it should leave the convent’s walls.

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DVD Geek: Johnny Guitar

Dispensing with archetypes that populated so many westerns, Nicholas Ray’s memorable 1954 Republic Pictures production, Johnny Guitar, released as an impressive Olive Signature Blu-ray is filled with vivid, unpredictable characters.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas