MCN Originals Archive for August, 2017

The DVD Wrapup: Ronin, Wedding Banquet, The Stranger, Baywatch, Bring It On, Dean, Born in China and more

On a rain-swept night in Paris, an international crack team of professional thieves, weapons buffs and a computer geek assembles in an old-fashioned neighborhood bistro, summoned by a shady crime syndicate fronted by the enigmatic Deirdre. None of the crooks appear to know each other or the special skills they’re bringing to the table. They will be handsomely paid to steal an aluminum briefcase, handcuffed to the arm of their mark, who’s guarded by several armed men – presumably, ronin, themselves, — and safely make the transfer to Deirdre’s employers. It serves as Ronin’s McGuffin. No matter what the briefcase contains, its theft will inspire two unquestionably great car chases, one through the narrow streets of Nice, the other in Paris; a shootout in and around the centuries-old Arles Amphitheatre and Café Van Gogh; and a sniper attack inside a Paris skating rink. If it sounds confusing, it’s only because viewers aren’t supposed to be able to separate the white hats from the black hats until the final reel.

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Premiere: “Raising Bertie” On POV

One of my favorite docs of the year, Margaret Byrne’s long-in-the-works Raising Bertie, is a behaviorally rich and visually ravishing six-year immersion into the largely African-American North Carolina farming community of Bertie County.

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The Weekend Report

The second weekend of The Hitman’s Bodyguard led  with an estimated $9.9 million as summer ticket sales plunged to their lowest level in a decade. Among new releases, animated Leap! ranked third in the lineup with a $4.8 million debut and Bruce Lee biopic Birth of the Dragon struggled to $2.5 million. In medium-wide release, a crisis of faith and viewers for All Saints gave a $1.6 million kneel. The revival of Terminator 2 also failed to melt with a $572,000 tally from 386 stereoscopic engagements. There was a significant expansion for Wind River that held up comparatively well.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Feels just like the last week in August. But it’s even uglier than usual, as only three previously-opened August releases are still in the Top 10, and the highest-grossing won’t crack $10 million. No Suicide Squad or Straight Outta Compton playing strong through the month. Both newcomers feel like late August dumps. (Remember when Weinstein opened up late August with Inglourious Basterds?) Wind River continues a nice expansion. And Beach Rats finds a good-sized audience on three.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Dawn Of A New Award Season

Venice starts in five days. Telluride in six. And The Gurus are here to let you know that the only films that are considered sure bets are Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s still-editing Pentagon Papers movie. Also accruing over 80 points are Get Out, The Shape of Water, Downsizing and the Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson. So what does this mean? Expect big surprises over the next couple weeks as fortunes rise and fall.

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The DVD Wrapup: Guardians II, Never Let Go, La Poison, Love of a Woman, Kiki, Whale Rider and more

For diehard fans of superhero movies, the spectacular visual presentation might even trigger the same psychedelic revelations as those experienced by their parents and grandparents during the “Star Child” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even the opening credits featuring Baby Groot are worth the price of a rental.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of the larkish The Hitman’s Bodyguard led the weekend with an estimated $21.7 million during an overall summer slump. The session’s other national release, Logan Lucky – Steven Soderbergh’s latest heist caper – charted third with $8 million.

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Jerry Lewis: The Day the Clown Disappeared

I had multiple discussions with Lewis. The first couldn’t have been funnier or more fruitful. Emboldened by the initial discussion, I suggested including footage from “The Day the Clown Cried,” as Orson Welles had his unfinished “The Other Side of the Wind “when he was honored by the American Film Institute. I waded in as delicately as possible, knowing his sensitivity to the issue, as well as the fact he controlled the material. There probably was no diplomatic way of suggesting it.

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Irene Cho: A Force of Nature

Irene Cho, founder and producer of Daily Buzz, passed away on Thursday, August 17 after suffering a stroke. Her sister, Sunny, says that Irene had returned from South Korea the previous week and was about to embark on a three-week journey to Burma. She was 46.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Jackson! Reynolds! Decent number! The Hitman’s Bodyguard hits a number that can’t be called a disappointment (given the date), but yet hardly expresses box office dynamite. Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky is likewise a mixed blessing. The film should do more than double the best Bleecker Street opening ever… but will still be under $8 million on 3,031 screens. And Patti Cake$, an audience-friendly, female-led Searchlight Sundance pick-up, starts softly on 14 screens, hoping to gather steam on word-of-mouth.

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The DVD Wrapup: Latin Lover, After the Storm, Bluebeard, Meantime, Hickok and more

With dialogue in Spanish and English, How to Be a Latin Lover recovered a respectable $32.1 million at the domestic box and another $30 million overseas. It would be nice to think that those numbers mark a trend and exhibitors are paying attention to Spanish-speaking audiences. Lionsgate has testied the DVD waters with such titles as Everybody Loves Somebody, Un Padre No Tan Padre, 600 Miles, The Legend of Chupacabras and Sundown. It’s doing so in a “synergistic partnership” with Hollywood-based Pantelion Films and Mexican conglomerate, Grupo Televisa.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of Annabelle: Creation scared up an estimated $35.1 million to claim the box office crown in an otherwise largely downbeat session. Another recycle The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature saw its $8.7 million debut plunge more than 50% from the prior 2014 animated foray and the adaptation of the confessional bestseller The Glass Castle bowed to a tepid $4.8 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Annabelle 2/”Conjuring 4″ is right where it was expected to land, maybe slightly behind. But a happy day for creepy little-girls-in-peril films. Dunkirk keeps holding strong, slightly ahead of Interstellar, but without the generous Christmas holiday that Interstellar had ahead. (Expect them to be very close in the end.) The Nut Job 2 is about 40% off of the surprise hit of the original. Spidey hits $300m domestic. Detroit drops out of the Top 10 in its second weekend. And in exclusive runs, Good Time and Ingrid Goes West score.

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Tipping Point: The Streaming Wars Are About To Start (in 2020)

The pieces are coming together.

Disney is the first to announce that it will launch a proper studio streaming-app business in 2019.

The non-renewal of the deal with Netflix will “open up” $450 million or so for the streamer… but the number is irrelevant to both Netflix and Disney, although all the headlines seem to find this the most important angle.

Netflix can do a deal with another studio, though the price will be higher.

But Disney is going after the future. Completely guessing at a number here, but… $8 a month… 10 million subs in the first year… almost a billion in gross revenue.

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The DVD Wrapup: Kung Fu Yoga, Breaking Point, Wolves, In Shadow of Women, Stand, Taisho Trilogy, Re-Animator and more

At a time when saber-rattlers in China and India have begun squabbling over a road along their shared border, it’s easy to forgive this Sino-Indian co-production for underachieving as the action-adventure it might have been, if only box-office returns weren’t an object (which they always are). Make movies, not war.

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The Weekend Report

The Dark Tower edged ahead to take the crown with an estimated $19.4 million. The session also saw two new companies debut their initial national releases. Aviron launched distaff actioner Kidnap to a decent box office of $10 million, slotting fifth. Annapurna’s critically acclaimed Detroit bowed way below expectations with $7.2 million following last weekend’s successful exclusive run on 20.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Dark Weekend.

Question 1. Why did Tom Rothman do The Dark Tower cheaply? Because it can do $50m domestic and $100m international and not hurt Sony.

Question 2. Why did Kidnap get a theatrical? Because it can do $25 million in theaters and make itself more valuable in post-theatrical and in international theatrical.

Question 3. What happened to Detroit? Publicized tracking numbers set the bar too high and the film didn’t have a long enough runway to overcome the bombs that were thrown that, with a little more time, might have been defused.

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Review-ish: The Dark Tower (spoiler-free)

It’s not as bad as people made it out to be.

You’re going to read that a lot.

And it’s not. But it is bad. And I am not going to do the normal work of reviewing to explain why. It’s the choices made before they rolled a frame of film that killed this thing, not the choices of the film itself.

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The DVD Wrapup: Circle, Amnesia, Lovers, I Am the Blues, Wakefield, Opening Night, 1944, Slither and more

Far-fetched? Not since Julian Assange and Edward Snowden became household names and Russian hackers interfered with U.S. and French elections. If anything, the sting of Ponsoldt’s cautionary tale was blunted by these revelations. Mae’s enthusiasm for the concept completely evaporated when Bailey’s team overplayed its hand by demonstrating to employees how any criminal – or average citizen, like her friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane) – could be tracked down, anywhere in the world, and arrested or harassed. Not nice. Any character played by Tom Hanks is going to be a pretty tough nut to crack, however, it will take all the magic left in the former Hermione Granger to save us from corporate tyranny. Again, a bit too obvious.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The sad and painful truth is that pretty much everyone in this town knew who Harvey was. I have had long talks with my most liberal friends. Did we know he was a rapist? We didn’t. But did we know that for decades he has been offering actresses big careers in exchange for sexual favors? Yes, we did — and make no mistake, that is its own kind of rape. And did we all — or did any of us — refuse to do business with him on moral grounds? No. We ALL STAYED IN BUSINESS WITH HIM. I have never done business with Harvey but I can tell you with certainty that I would have — because I was recently approached by a film festival he sponsors. They asked me to submit my short film for their consideration and I did it without thinking twice. I am a dyed-in-the-wool feminist and a vocal one at that. So why didn’t I think twice? Because this entire town is built on the ugly principals that Harvey takes to an horrific extreme. If I didn’t work with people whose behavior I find reprehensible, I wouldn’t have a career.”
~ Showrunner Krista Vernoff

From AMPAS president John Bailey:

Dear Fellow Academy Members,

Danish director Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is not only one of the visual landmarks of the silent era, but is a deeply disturbing portrait of a young woman’s persecution in the face of the male judges and priests of the ruling order. The actress Maria Falconetti gave one of the most profoundly affecting performances in the history of cinema as the Maid of Orleans.

Since the decision of the Academy’s Board of Governors on Saturday October 14 to expel producer Harvey Weinstein from its membership, I have been haunted not only by the recurring image of Falconetti and the sad arc of her career (dying in Argentina in 1946, reputedly from a crash diet) but of Joan’s refusal to submit to an auto de fe recantation of her beliefs.

Recent public testimonies by some of filmdom’s most recognized women regarding sexual intimidation, predation, and physical force is, clearly, a turning point in the film industry—and hopefully in our country, where what happens in the world of movies becomes a marker of societal Zeitgeist. Their decision to stand up against a powerful, abusive male not only parallels the cinema courage of Falconetti’s Joan but gives all women courage to speak up.

After Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Academy issued a passionately worded statement, expressing not only our concern about harassment in the film industry, but our intention to be a strong voice in changing the culture of sexual exploitation in the movie business, already common well before the founding of the Academy 90 years ago. It is up to all of us Academy members to more clearly define for ourselves the parameters of proper conduct, of sexual equality, and respect for our fellow artists throughout our industry. The Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court, but we can be part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers.