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Entries in box office (177)

Sunday
Sep282014

Denzel Still Rules The (Box Office) World. But Why No Artistic Risks?

Is there any movie star more consistent than Denzel? Pro: No matter what he makes, it opens big. Con: Maybe that's because he's just not a risk taker. He may be our least adventurous megastar.

TOP O' THE BOX OFFICE
1 EQUALIZER $35 million NEW
2 MAZE RUNNER $17.5 (cum. $58) Review
3 BOXTROLLS $17.2 million NEW best animation studio right now

On the stage he only appears in time-tested prestige pieces (Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson or Shakespeare plays). Onscreen he only makes two kinds of movies: disposable action thriller flicks & would-be prestige dramas. The Equalizer, adapted from a television series, is obviously one of the former. People won't remember he made it in a couple of years as a newer model surfaces to replace it. 

Washington hasn't altered this pattern in twenty years -- take a look for yourself if you don't believe me -- unless you count his curiousity about directing (both of his efforts were pitched towards awards gold but neither The Great Debaters nor Antwone Fisher won Oscar nominations). In the first decade or so of his stardom things were a teensy-bit rangier since the prestige pieces were sometimes full-fledged costume dramas (he doesn't do those anymore really) and the mainstream flicks were sometimes romantic (nix on that, too, nowadays). There were even one or two comedies (gasp)!

It'd be nice if he got the balance better. Many major stars try the '1 for them, 1 for me' approach to maintain both audience favor and critical ardor. But it's easy intead to imagine that Denzel Washington's preferred pattern of '5 for them, 1 for Oscar' might actually be a result of 'all for me'; maybe he just has extremely limited taste in movies? It wouldn't be the first time a bonafide superstar had no interest in cinema as art

Viola and Denzel in their 2010 Tony winning roles. The following year Viola won box office gold with The Help. But still no film version of FENCES.

Still as he tops the charts yet again with another violent man-fantasy, one wishes he would use his clout for good. Why isn't he using that financial and creative muscle to push important work to the screen? Couldn't he at least do the right thing in a completely self-serving way? Why not try for a third Oscar for Fences? Supposedly he's going to direct and star in it but things never seem to get moving towards actual filming and there've been rumors that he's doing it for roughly, oh, ever. Denzel and Viola Davis, his original co-star, who has more than earned another big screen big opportunity lead role after the box office / awards success of The Help, both won Tonys on stage. What's more it's positively insane that nobody ever adapts August Wilson's plays for the big screen. Viola has starred in three of them on Broadway, winning two Tonys in the process. Why isn't this a primary mission for the actor to get at least a few of them on the big screen - preferrably with Viola starring - since he has more money than God, they're important works in African American history, and he also produces now?! 

Denzel could get Fences done quickly if that's what he really cared about getting done. There is no way that the money wouldn't be there immediately if he said "sure I'll do that action movie. But Fences is what I'm doing next. And until I do it no more waving guns around for you!" There is nobody who isn't an idiot in Hollywood who would say no to helping him get it done with gazillions for more gunplay on the line the following fiscal year.

But back to the now ~ What did you see this weekend?

Monday
Sep222014

Box Office: The Lost Cause of September

Amir here, back to weekly box office reporting duty. Coming back from TIFF, I tried to catch up a bit today with all the sales numbers I’d missed since August. It turns out the biggest bit of news was... the release of Forrest Gump IMAX??? Really, September? Is that the best you can do? Turgid stuff.

On the bright side, with awards season now slowly getting into full gear, we can look forward to the highbrow films the studios have been withholding from all us all year, starting with this weekend’s... The Maze Runner and This Is Where I Leave You? Damn it September; get your act together!

big name casts don't always make big time movies

WIDE RELEASE BOX OFFICE
01 THE MAZE RUNNER $32.5 NEW Review
02 A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES $13.1 NEW 
03 THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU $11.8 NEW
04 NO GOOD DEED $10.2 (cum. $40.1)
05 DOLPHIN TALE 2 $9 (cum. $27)

Maze Runner easily topped the weekend’s box office. Our very own Nathaniel didn’t think much of the film and he seems to be with the majority. This is Where I Leave You? premiered at TIFF and was met with something resembling vitriol. Post-festival reactions from the mainstream press are only slightly better. The ensemble comedy starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Adam Driver performed below expectations, as did the film that actually surpassed it to second place, A Walk among the Tombstones. The new entry in the “Liam Neeson as the Saviour in an Action Film” series failed most likely because its only hook was Liam Neeson as the Saviour in an Action Film, with no aid from planes or wolves.

Limited releases were more exciting.

have you seen Love is Strange yet?TOP TEN LIMITED (EXCLUDING WIDE RELEASES LOSING THEATERS)
01 TUSK $.8 NEW 
02 MY OLD LADY $.4 (cum. $.6)
03 THE SKELETON TWINS $.4 (cum. $.9)
04 THE TRIP TO ITALY $.3 (cum. $2.1)
05 CANTINFLAS $.2 (cum. $6)
06 LOVE IS STRANGE $.2 (cum. $1.5) Review
07 THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: THEM $.1 (cum. $.2) right way to watch? / review of him/her
08 THE GUEST $.08 (cum. $.1) Review
09 ZERO THEOREM $.08 NEW Review
10 CALVARY $.05 (cum. $3.4)  

At least three films worthy of your time opened this weekend. Michael liked Tracks for the most part. I’ve been falling more and more in love with Stop the Pounding Heart, a modest, evocative film that blends fiction and documentary to study a religious community in Texas. It’s almost ethereal in its beauty and very challenging in its subtlety and frankness. There was also 20,000 Days on Earth (review forthcoming) which is a fictionalized documentary about the creation of Nick Cave’s latest album. It’s a very interesting film about the creative process and one that really delves into the psyche of the man at its centre to contextualize his work. None of these films passed the $100k mark and neither did Simon Pegg’s Hector and the Search for Happiness or Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem (reviewed), but here’s hoping they get a fair shake soon.

What have you watched this week?

Monday
Sep152014

Box Office Report - No Good Dolphin Tale

Margaret here, back to report on another quiet weekend at the box office. Powered by the considerable force of charisma that Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson supply, home-invasion thriller No Good Deed topped the box office with close to 25 million. In second place is the family film Dolphin Tale 2, which took in decent dollars despite an aggressively bland marketing campaign and the fact that the first one was barely a hit. Guardians of the Galaxy dropped only 22% to third place, and is now the first movie since Frozen to pass $300 million domestically. The Year of Chris Pratt continues.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

01 NO GOOD DEED $24.5 *new*
02 DOLPHIN TALE 2 $16.6 *new*
03 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY $8.0 (cum. $305.9)  Review
04 ...NINJA TURTLES $4.8 (cum. $181.0) remember the animated one?
05 LET'S BE COPS $4.3 (cum. $72.9)
06 THE DROP $4.2 *new*

The stealth success story here is Let's Be Cops, which, despite abysmal reviews and release in one of the worst cultural climates for an irresponsible-cop-comedy, is limping towards $75 million and a significant profit margin thanks to weak competition and a shoestring budget.

On the limited side, Dennis Lehane-penned crime drama The Drop outstripped its projected haul with $4.2 million from less than 1,000 screens. Such is the magnetic pull of a scruffy Tom Hardy snuggling a pit bull puppy, to say nothing of the chance to see James Gandolfini's final performance. 

Other notable limited releases include the Bill Hader/Kristen Wiig tragicomedy The Skeleton Twins, which brought in an impressive per-screen average and is well on its way to crossing the important indie-film benchmark of $1 million, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, which is getting an unenthusiastic critical response and middling ticket sales. Perhaps audiences are holding out for the Him and Her twofer instead.

Now that we've hit mid-September there are finally some festival hits and critical darlings trickling out into theaters (which admittedly mostly serves those of us in the country's three or four largest cities). I saw The Drop, in which Tom Hardy was absolutely wonderful and Dennis Lehane was entirely Dennis Lehane. What did you see in theaters this weekend?  Are any of you at festivals getting sneak peeks at TFE's most anticipated? Who wants to talk about Tom Hardy's mesmerizing Brooklyn accent or that baby pit bull?

Sunday
Sep072014

The Identical Guardians of the Top Box Office Spot

Margaret here with the weekend’s box office report-- which, if you squint, could easily be mistaken for last weekend's box office report.


It was a rough couple days for moviegoers and moviemakers alike. The weekend after Labor Day is famously among the slowest year so all major studios steered clear. Guardians of the Galaxy handily took its fourth #1 and the rest of the top fifteen looks very familiar.

The only new nationwide release was The Identical, an faith-based indie movie that is currently sitting pretty with a RottenTomatoes score of 4%. Even without any competition from other new films it couldn't crack the top ten. New in limited release, Stuart Murdoch's quirkfest musical God Help the Girl did respectable business on two screens but came in around #45.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

01 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY $10.2 (cum. $294.6)  Review
02 ...NINJA TURTLES $6.5 (cum. $174.6) remember the animated one?
03 IF I STAY $5.8 (cum. $39.7)
04 LET'S BE COPS $5.4 (cum. $66.6)
05 THE NOVEMBER MAN $4.2 (cum. $17.9)
06 AS ABOVE / SO BELOW $3.7 (cum. $15.6)
07 WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL $3.7 (cum. $23.5) 
08 THE GIVER $3.6 (cum. $37.8) Review
09 THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY $3.2 (cum. $45.7) 
10 LUCY $1.9 (cum. $121.2) Podcast
11 THE IDENTICAL $1.9 *new*
12 THE EXPENDABLES 3 $1.8 (cum. $36.7)  recommended read
13 INTO THE STORM $1.5 (cum. $44.6)    
14 BOYHOOD  $1.4 (cum. $20.7)  Review & Podcast
15 CANTINFLAS  $1 (cum. $4.8)

Take out Guardians of the Galaxy and Boyhood, and the average RottenTomatoes score is 31%. Oof.

I was looking forward to seeing a movie this weekend since it is torturously hot in Los Angeles, but my local listings looked like a cruel joke and I couldn't make myself go. What about you? Who managed to find something worth seeing?

Monday
Aug252014

Box Office: An Expensive Lesson in Sequel Production

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. Much like last week, the biggest story at the multiplex is the massive failure of a has-been brand. Then, it was the shrinking shoulders of 80s action heroes that could not bear the weight of a changing, modern world. Now, it is Frank Miller’s overly familiar aesthetic and the fading stars of Jessica Alba and crew. This catastrophe is of epic proportions. Budgeted around $70m, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For failed to make even 1/10th of its production costs back and fell behind the aforementioned Expendables 3. Reviews haven’t been kind and any affection for the original film has vanished in the intervening decade. You either have to suffocate the audiences with non-stop sequels and reboots before they know who’s hitting them, or they’ll forget you. That’s the lesson for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller and one they have had to pay at least $50m dollars to learn.

The best selling wide release was also the weekend’s Film Amir Is Too Old To Watch, a romance starring Chloe Grace Moretz called If I Stay that didn’t have the muscle to take the throne from Guardians or Turtles, making this one of the year’s quieter weekends. 

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE
01 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY $17.6 (cum. $251.8)  Review
02 ...NINJA TURTLES $16.8 (cum. $145.6) remember the animated one?
03 IF I STAY $16.2 *new*
04 LET'S BE COPS $11 (cum. $45.2)
05 WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL $9 *new*
06 THE GIVER $6.7 (cum. $24.1) Review
07 THE EXPENDABLES 3 $6.6 (cum. $27.5)  recommended read
08 SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR $6.4 *new*
09 THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY $5.5 (cum. $32.7) 
10 INTO THE STORM $3.8 (cum. $38.3)  
11 LUCY $3.5 (cum. $113.7) Podcast
12 BOYHOOD  $1.8 (cum. $16.5)  Review & Podcast
13 MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT $1.3 (cum. $6.8)  
14 DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES $1.1 (cum. $203.9) Podcast & Reviewish
15 GET ON UP  $.9 (cum. $28.7) Review & Viola Davis

On the limited side, brighter news: Ira Sach's Love Is Strange a film The Film Experience adores, did strong business on only 5 screens. Here’s hoping it expands across North America as quickly as possible. The only new release I watched in the past couple of days is Ari Folman’s The Congress, which isn’t actually out until next weekend. Stay tuned for my review! What have you watched this weekend?

Sunday
Aug172014

"Let's Be Expendable," said the Box Office

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. The hearts of the old heroes shattered, their muscles shriveled, their skin drooped and the Botox melted. Who would have thought one day the toughest, meanest men in Hollywood would fall to four teenagers; and not just any old group of teenagers, but teenagers from a very slow species. TMNT held on to the top spot as The Expendables 3 opened at fourth place. Equally damning for the action crew is that they fell behind Let’s Be Cops, a remarkably unfortunate title at a time when no one in America wants anything to do with cops.

Damon Wayans Jr and Jake Johnson demonstrating what moviegoers thought of the weekend's new offerings

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE
01 NINJA TURTLES $28.4 (cum. $117.6) Remember the animated feature version?
02 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY $24.7 (cum. $222.2)  Review
03 LET'S BE COPS $17.7 (cum. $26.1) *new*
04 THE EXPENDABLES 3 $16.2 *new* recommended read
05 THE GIVER $12.7 *new* Review
06 INTO THE STORM $7.7 (cum. $31.3)
07 THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY $7.1 (cum. $23.6)
08 LUCY $5.3 (cum. $107.5) Podcast
09 STEP UP ALL IN $2.7 (cum. $11.8)
10 BOYHOOD  $2.1 (cum. $13.8)  Review & Podcast
11 HERCULES $2 (cum. $68.1) 
12 GET ON UP $1.9 (cum. $27)  Review

Rounding the weekend’s dull wide releases is The Giver, a film with little to admire but its “cheeseball sincerity.” The Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep’s vehicle came in at fifth, and completes what is to my memory one of the worst reviewed weekends in recent times. The Rotten Tomatoes average of the three new films stands at a paltry 25 percent and none of these films have generated any enthusiasm from the audiences.

The limited side was similarly dull with Coogan and Brydon’s follow-up to the hilarious The Trip, titled The Trip to Italy (reviewed), falling short of the standard set by its predecessor, Life after Beth continuing the series of films in which Aubrey Plaza’s comic talent goes to waste, and La Jalousie, this week’s only foreign arthouse offering, receiving lukewarm reaction almost a whole year after its Venice debut.

Have you seen any of these films? Any older films you got passionate about watching instead this weekend? Let us know in the comments what you're excited about.