MCN Originals Archive for December, 2017

The Weekend Report

The final weekend of 2017 was a horse race between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with the former grossing an estimated $52.7 million and the latter close behind with $50.9 million. There were no new national releases but All the Money in the World and Molly’s Game had their first full weekends, with the poker opus surprisingly strong in its limited wide exposure.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Star Wars: The Last Jedi becomes the second fastest release to pass $500 million domestic today, ahead of Jurassic World and showing no signs of negative drag, aside from not matching the phenomenal opening of The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars movie in a decade. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is living up to box office expectations, heading to over $175 million domestic through the holiday, making it the biggest non-F&F Dwayne Johnson movie ever. Things are less happy after these two, with Pitch Perfect 3, The Greatest Showman, Ferdinand, All The Money In The World, Darkest Hour, and Downsizing are all underperforming even modest hopes.

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The DVD Wrapup: The Year’s Top Titles, plus True Love Ways, Killing Gunther, Rock Docs, Unabomber and More

Titles that received a limited release in theaters or none at all make up my year-end list of DVDs and Blu-rays. Some are restored classics, while others are genre specimens that got lost in the crowd.

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The Weekend Report

Star Wars: The Last Jedi dominated with an estimated $68.8 million box office for the three-day portion of the weekend (all figures reflect three-day grosses). Five new movies leapt into the holiday melee to mixed results.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The arrival of five, count ’em, five wide releases looking to take advantage of the Christmas window with one more landing on Christmas Day means… well… there are two more wide releases than last year in this window, and in limited releases meant to go wide, one fewer than last year’s five. So as the marketplace shows that people are willing to go see movies they are interested in on virtually any date, the industry keeps packing them into the traditional windows. Theatrical isn’t in trouble… but myopia causes problems, even on the holiday weekend. It’s not that the market can’t expand to allow for multiple big hits. It’s that the messaging is getting so thin with so many titles in play at one time, it can’t get an attentive foothold to propel bigger numbers.

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Gurus o’ Gold: And The Horses Are In The Gate (And Going On Vacation)…

As Oscar voters head to the beach or the snow or lands of eternal beauty and dysentery, The Gurus take one more look at Best Picture, the Acting races, Director and Screenplay, Also, some suggestions about which DVDs should make the journey with you and fill your happy holiday nights. Even better, find a movie theater with these films and buy a ticket. You can afford it… you just got a big tax break! Happy, happy holidays from the Gurus o’ Gold.

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The DVD Gift Guide 3: 100 Years Olympics Films, One Day at a Time, Monterey Pop, 4K UHD/HDR Action Editions, Coens, Nutcracker, Stronger, mother!, Leatherface… and more

If the Olympics could bounce back from two world wars, there’s no reason to think peace isn’t be possible in our time. “100 Years of Olympic Films” spans 41 editions of the Olympic Games, from 1912-2012, in 53 surprisingly comprehensive and impeccably restored movies.

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The Weekend Report

Four decades have not tarnished the Star Wars universe as The Last Jedi debuts domestically with an estimated $219.6 million. More than three of every four tickets sold this past weekend were spent on the eighth installment of the series. Efforts to counterprogram put Ferdinand, the animated bull, in the ring, where he landed a distant second with $13.3 million.

There were no significant exclusive debuts but previously limited titles had significant expansions. Wonder Wheel added 489 playdates and fizzled with a $460,000 box office. Slow rollouts of awards contenders The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour and Call Me by Your Name maintained strong five-figure averages.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

In what should not be a shocker, Star Wars: Episode 8 The Next Of Many did not have the explosive launch that Star Wars: Episode Seven – The First In a Decade. Still, the best December opening ever – aside from the aforementioned last Star Wars Mainframe – and a 30%+ bump from Rogue One, aka, the first offshoot episode. We know that Empire did a third less than Star Wars, right? Let’s not be surprised and horrified if The Last Jedi grosses only $600 million domestic, making it the sixth biggest domestic grosser of all-time. Attempting to counterprogram, Fox released a Blue Sky animated movie that will skew young, Ferdinand, to a brutal level of disinterest. The irony of the two openers this weekend is, also, brutal.

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The DVD Wrapup: Trip to Spain, Lucky Goat, Viceroy House, Victoria & Abdul, Manolo and more

I wonder how much, if at all, estimable Brit director Michael Winterbottom was influenced by Louis Malle’s indie sensation My Dinner With Andre – or, for that matter, Andy Kaufman in My Breakfast with Blassie – before embarking on the first BBC mini-series, The Trip. In Malle’s film, quintessential New York City raconteurs Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory meet for dinner at a fancy restaurant to reconnect after one of them disappeared for a few years. The don’t particularly like each other, but they manage to share two hours in each other’s company, engaged in the lively art of conversation. Dinner was so convincing that many, many viewers assumed that their conversation played out in real time and was wholly improvised. In fact, it was scripted, rehearsed and shot in a chilly Virginia restaurant that was closed for the winter. It still holds up. In The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are asked by the Observer to tour the finest restaurants in the Lake District and document the experience. Their goofy exchanges, impersonations and kvetching only occasionally detract from the magnificent scenery.

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Disney + Fox: Bigger Than The Media Is Suggesting

Streaming is not a business. It is a delivery system. It is a delivery system that allows a new paradigm. All hail Netflix, the first to go there seriously.

But what Disney needs to make this merger a success is to get you and me and at least 75 million domestic households to sign up for three or four “Netflixes” under their massive umbrella of content. $30 to $40 a month.

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Review-ish: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Spoiler-Free)

Have we ever had a relaunch followed immediately by a reboot?

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not, as many hoped, a “middle” Star Wars movie, with the emotional impact of The Empire Strikes Back. And that is why many reviews will come off as disappointed. But they are dead wrong.

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The Weekend Report

It was a Coco three-peat as the animation led weekend biz with an estimated $18.5 million in a not-terribly festive frame. In one of the lowest-attended weekends of 2017, the sole new national opener was Just Getting Started, at tenth with $3.2 million.

The national expansion of The Disaster Artist laughed up $6.4 million. Also continuing slow roll-outs were Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  Among exclusives, I, Tonya pulled off the box office equivalent of a triple axel with a $248,000 debut from four rinks.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

A second consecutive abandoned weekend by the majors. Broad Green tries to take advantage of the hole by quietly rolling out Just Getting Started as the only wide release, but can’t come close to numbers that majors saw as failing when they opened this date in years past (including last year’s Office Christmas Party, which opened to $16.9m). As a result, soft drops across the board for holdovers and room for expanding awards hopefuls. The big winner is The Disaster Artist, which had a strong launch last weekend on 19 screens and expanded to 840 this weekend with a $6 million-plus weekend coming. Lady Bird passes $20 million today. And I, Tonya launches with a likely $70k-ish per-screen on four.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Precursors Narrow The Field

The Gurus lay out Picture, Acting, Directing and Screenwriting in the hours before Golden Globes nominations. The groups of potential nominees get smaller as the year gets shorter.

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The DVD Wrapup: Letter From An Unknown Woman, Despicable Me 3, Crucifixion, Maurizio Cattelan, A New Leaf, Silent Night and more

Letter From an Unknown Woman is an old-fashioned Hollywood melodrama I might have watched for a few minutes on television long ago and abandoned in favor of a baseball game. Black-and-white films, no matter how opulent or romantic, never looked the way they were supposed to on television. Even when Laserdiscs and TCM came, analog sets couldn’t do justice to the director and cinematographer’s shared vision. Scratches were left in disrepair, just as fuzz and other artifacts clung to prints as if intended. The digital revolution made restoration miracles possible, transforming tired old movies into the classics they actually are. High-resolution screens made everything even better. Even so, I might not have accepted the challenge of watching Letter From an Unknown Woman – its title is as inviting as a warm beer or cold cup of coffee – if I hadn’t already seen the Criterion Collection editions of Max Ophüls’ La ronde, Le Plaisir, The Earrings of Madame de … and Lola Montès, all of which were made after he returned to Europe after World War II. After absorbing the lessons dispensed in the bonus features, it was easy to appreciate this widely admired film from his surprisingly unproductive Hollywood sojourn. Now, at least, I knew what to look for in the upgraded Olive Signature release.

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The Weekend Report

Coco led the session with an estimated $26.2 million. The first weekend of December has traditionally been one of the lowest grossing of the calendar, so a lack of new national releases wasn’t unexpected.

Exclusive newcomers were ablaze, with Wonder Wheel, the latest from Woody Allen, circling $142,000 from five locales. The Disaster Artist laughed out a $1.2 million box office from 19 rooms. And Venice best-picture winner The Shape of Water flowed to $163,000 from just two movie palaces. Significant expansions of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird bolstered award campaigns for both.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

On one of the weeks that’s a Hollywood dead zone, no new wide releases. The story, aside from the ongoing deterioration of Justice League, is the small pictures, most of which have awards ambitions. A24’s The Disaster Artist leads the pack with $26,000 per screen on 19 in its debut. That’s about what Lady Bird started with, but on 19 screens instead of four. Impressive, though on a quicker burn. Searchlight’s The Shape of Water also debuts at roughly the same per-screen, but on two. Wonder Wheel is looking at a per-screen in the 20s in a five-screen debut. Three Billboards more than doubles its screen count, leaping to 1,430 screens, while Lady Bird expands to 1,194, with the films neck-and-neck for the weekend.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Now We’ve Seen It All

The Gurus recovered from Thanksgiving and have seen the final two expected Oscar contenders, Steven Spielberg’s The Post and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread. Looking only at Best Picture, Directing, Acting and Screenwriting, The Gurus consider in which categories these two newcomers might strike gold or not. And as always, the full Best Picture field, with some big movers and a debut.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho