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Entries in box office (226)

Sunday
Nov242013

Katniss Sets Box Office Ablaze

Amir here with the weekend's box office report. To the surprise of no one, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out on top, edging out not just this week's meagre competition, but also the original Hunger Games. Back then, it was surprising that the YA adaptation could open to more than $150m, but with the book series now even more universally recognized and a leading lady who is threatening to become Hollywood's biggest star, these numbers aren't shocking. Still, to put things in perspective, Catching Fire now has one of the top five best opening weekends of all time, neck and neck with The Dark Knight Rises for the best 2D-only opening.

Batman franchise level openings for Hunger Games

Staggering numbers. The question at this point is whether the film has enough fuel in its tank to beat Iron Man 3 to the year's top spot.

BOX OFFICE
01 THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE $161.1 *new* 
02 THOR: THE DARK WORLD $14.1 (cum. $167.8) Review  
03 THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY  $12.5 (cum. $50.3) Discussion 
04 DELIVERY MAN $8.2 *new* 
05 FREE BIRDS $5.3 (cum. $48.5)
06 LAST VEGAS $4.4  (cum. $53.9)
07 JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA $3.4 (cum. $95.4)
08 GRAVITY $3.3 (cum. $245.5) Many Previous Posts 
09 12 YEARS A SLAVE $2.8 (cum. $29.3) Slavery in Cinema & Previous Discussions
10 DALLAS BUYERS CLUB $2.7 (cum. $6.4) Podcast & Review

The weekend's other debut is the critically dismissed Vince Vaughn joint, Delivery Man, about a man whose countless sperm donations in youth have led to countless children. I haven't seen it but I found Starbuck, the original Quebecois film this is based on, genuinely funny and engaging a couple of years ago at TIFF, where it was the runner up for the People's Choice Award. 

Beyond that, the main talking points are the buzzy Oscar contenders, all present in the top twenty at this point, unless you count Philomena a top contender. Dallas Buyers Club entered the top ten, 12 Years a Slave continues to hold well - am I the only one surprised by this film's success? Nebraska is also doing well (though Alexander Payne's approval ratings with critics continues to baffle me). But I think the real story is that All Is Lost has now reached almost $5 million,  pleasantly strong for a film with virtually no marketing hooks. I wasn't a big fan of the film, but I can't begrudge J.C. Chandor his success. He's an exciting talent.

Aside from Nebraska, I caught up with Terms and Conditions May Apply, which is on Oscar's documentary longlist and is actually really captivating, rewatched the superb Brazilian Oscar submission Neighboring Sounds, and caught up with an Iranian film called When Everybody Was Asleep, which is quite possibly the message-iest of all message-y movies. What did you all see?

Wednesday
Nov202013

'The Best Man Holiday' a Fascinating Portrait in Black Cinema

Glenn here. I get the sense that I am not meant to have much of an opinion on The Best Man Holiday. I suspect that even to the filmmakers it was meant to do little more than make audiences feel good (as well as a little sad – oh gawd, the tears!!) and make money while not rocking the boat. And yet I come to this 14-years-later sequel to Malcolm D. Lee’s original The Best Man (1999) and find it one of the year’s most fascinating films in terms of the evolution of black cinema and filmmaking in general.

 

Oh sure, it’s a perfectly adequate movie. It’s certainly never truly great. There’s quite a bit of stuff here that makes no sense (two deus ex machinas in the span of ten minutes is a bit much), and I’m dubious about some of its politics in regards to female sexuality. It’s also too long. On that same day I had watched What’s Love Got To Do With It? for the next Team Experience poll and that one, a biopic about the life of Tina freakin’ Turner, was shorter than The Best Man Holiday! Nevertheless, by the end credits I had laughed, I had cried, and I felt like I’d revisited old friends that left me with a smile on my face. Even if as a gay, white, Australian, Hollywood probably doesn't think I should have any interest in it. [more]

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Sunday
Nov172013

Box Office, Best Men, and Bootlegs

Between "Frozen" and "The Best Man Holiday" it's going to be a good year at the Diggs/Menzel householdI live in Harlem where bootleg copies of Tyler Perry movies are priced $2 higher than all other bootlegs. I only tell you this because I was hoping to have some choice 'overheard' tidbit about The Best Man Holiday to share with you, picked up on my street or elevator or some such since I knew it would open big. You can sometimes somehow hear future box office receipts, in the stale air of movie theaters when certain trailers play. But the only movie conversations I've heard on my street lately were about superhero movies (pick a movie, any movie) and, in my lobby, 12 Years a Slave... where three elderly women were complaining about how expensive the tickets were. "When did they raise the price?" I'd say those ladies don't get out to movies much but then I myself am often surprised at the ticket counter. I'm not sure what the algorithym is or the triggers to raise them but it's been happening so often lately I'm beginning to think the trigger is each new Matthew McConaughey movie. He's in another one? alright alright Raise it again, people!


BOX OFFICE BAKER'S DOZEN
01 THOR: THE DARK WORLD $38.4 (cum. $146.9) Review
02 THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY $30.5 *new* 
03 LAST VEGAS $8.8  (cum. $46.9)
04 FREE BIRDS $8.3 (cum. $42.2)
05 JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA $7.6 (cum. $90.2)
06 GRAVITY $6.2 (cum. $240.5) All Posts 
07 ENDER'S GAME $6.2 (cum. $53.7) Posts
08 12 YEARS A SLAVE $4.7 (cum. $24.9) Discussions
09 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $4.5 (cum. $97.6) Podcast
10 ABOUT TIME $3.4 (cum. $11.5) Review
11 CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE... 2 $1.9 (cum. $113)
12 DALLAS BUYERS CLUB $1.7 (cum. $3.0) Posts
13 ALL IS LOST $0.9 (cum. $4.2) Review & Podcast

The Best Man Holiday came a lot closer to shearing Thor than I expect most expected. And with a budget exactly 10% of Thor's ($17 million vs. $170 million) it's got to be feeling pretty great about itself right now. In limited release, Nebraska opened at 4 theaters on the coasts. The Oscar-baiter won the highest per screen average (for context a better original per screen average than All is Lost or Dallas Buyers Club in their tiny opening weekends but not as good as 12 Years a Slave) but we'll know more about its box office prospects in the next couple of weekends. The last three Alexander Payne movies, buoyed by the chattering Oscar classes, have averaged $72 million in theaters. But can a black and white movie without a Jack Nicholson or a George Clooney at the helm do that well? Time will tell. 

What did you see this weekend? 

Sunday
Nov102013

Box Office: Thor Hammers Non-Existent Competition

Amir here, bringing you the weekend’s box office report with the world’s easiest, least funny pun in the title.

Looking at this week’s numbers, virtually everything screams unremarkable. The mega-blockbuster that tops the list, Thor 2: Marvel blah blah, raked in a solid $86m, but hasn’t really excited anyone. Is this possibly because critical and audience reaction had already been heard when the film opened around the world last week? No. It’s more likely because it has only been 6 months and 5 days since the last Marvel film assaulted multiplexes and it will only be another 4 months and 26 days before another one does the same, and almost all of the studio's outings fall within a very narrow range between B- and B, qualitatively.

BOX OFFICE
01 THOR: THE DARK WORLD $86.1 *new* Review
02 JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA $11.3 (cum. $78.7)
03 FREE BIRDS $11.2 (cum. $30)
04 LAST VEGAS $11.1  (cum. $33.5)
05 ENDER'S GAME $10.25 (cum. $44) Previous Discussions
06 GRAVITY $8.4 (cum. $231.1) Many Previous Posts 
07 12 YEARS A SLAVE $6.6 (cum. $17.3) Slavery in Cinema & Previous Discussions
08 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $5.8 (cum. $90.9) Podcast & Hanks For All Ages
09 ABOUT TIME $5.1 (cum. $6.7)
10 CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 $2.8 (cum. $109.9)

Following Thor in the second, third and fourth spots are Bad Grandpa, Last Vegas and Free Birds, the three films that occupied the same three spots last week. Free Birds maintained a better hold that I predicted seven days ago, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, always. That means last week’s chart topper, Ender’s Game, nosedived all the way down to fifth. Given the film’s weak business overseas, it’ll be a miracle if it can turn any profit. Talk of a potential sequel is also already turning mute. The three surefire Oscar nominees are still present in the top ten, with 12 Years a Slave doing great business now that it is playing on more than a 1000 screens.

In limited release, The Book Thief opened on four screens with respectable returns. This has been touted as a potential Oscar nominee in some categories by certain pundits, but I just don’t see it happening unless there is… no, it’s not going to happen. Furthermore, At Berkeley, a 4-hour documentary literally about being at Berkeley has opened on two screens for a very lucky few. I don’t know if this one will ever expand, but I regret missing it at TIFF. I’m hearing it’s one of the best films of the year.

Anyway, my weekend consisted of Dallas Buyers Club (B-), Michael Mann’s Heat (A+), Blackfish (B-) and Museum Hours, which I watched for a second time and it is still my favorite film of the year. What did you watch?

Sunday
Nov032013

Box Office: Underwhelming New Releases Run the Show

It's Amir with the weekend's box office report.

Although we've entered awards season, theaters were dominated by new releases that haven't got a prayer in the world to make a dent on any Oscar race. (This might sound unusual for a November weekend, but history tells us it really isn't. Two years ago, this very weekend brought us such unforgettable gems as Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.) It was also the first weekend since early August where three different films were released on more than 3000 screens. This can usually be taken as a sign that studios don't believe there's much overlap between the target audiences of those films, and who can blame them. I imagine few people were in a quandary about which of Free Birds, Last Vegas and Ender's Game to watch -- excluding those who were in their 40s when they read Ender's Game, have waited 28 years for an adaptation but now find themselves more attuned to the beat of Last Vegas, but I digress.

BOX OFFICE
01 ENDER'S GAME $28 *new* Previous Discussions
02 JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA $20.5 (cum. $62)
03 LAST VEGAS $16.5 *new* 
04 FREE BIRDS $16.2 *new* 
05 GRAVITY $13.1 (cum. $219.1) Many Previous Posts 
06 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $8.5 (cum. $82.5) Podcast & Hanks For All Ages
07 12 YEARS A SLAVE $4.6 (cum. $8.7) Slavery in Cinema & Previous Discussions
08 CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 $4.2 (cum. $106.1)
09 CARRIE $3.4 (cum. $31.9) Previous Discussions
10 THE COUNSELOR $3.2 (cum. $13.3) Previous Discussions
11 ESCAPE PLAN $2.2 (cum. $21.6)
12 ABOUT TIME $1.5 *new* Review

Ender's Game won the weekend with a mild 28 million. This one never looked likely to be a sensation, which is strange given the decades long wait for its arrival. Is the marketing to blame, or are YA fans too young to remember/connect to the source material? Worse yet, things are only going south when Thor drops from Asgard next week. Bad Grandpa beat competition from the new old men on the block and clinched second, one place above Last Vegas. The near universally panned Free Birds (which was originally called Turkeys -- too easy) had a disastrous opening and will be very lucky if it can recoup its 55 million dollar budget. The usual suspects occupied the rest of the top ten, with 12 Years a Slave expanding particularly well. Next weekend sees the film take on more than 1000 screens. Any question regarding the box office potential of McQueen's grueling, but brilliant, film can definitively be answered then.

Meanwhile, in limited release, Dallas Buyers Club opened to a strong reception on only 9 screens. Is the Oscar potential of this film dependent on its box office performance? Two acting nominations appear almost certain at this point, but if the public responds well, can we expect more? That's a question that certainly doesn't apply to Oliver Hirschbiegel's Diana. (Remember when we thought Naomi Watts might be a best actress contender? lulz!) Handicapped by aggressively negative critical response and advance word of mouth from overseas audiences, Diana barely exceeded 1k per screen and will surely fizzle away before long. And while we're on the subject of awards players in limited release, Belgium's foreign film contender, Broken Circle Breakdown, also opened this week. I fall in the range between a thumb up and a shrug, but it's charming.

Anyway, I haven't yet seen any of these new releases. Instead, I made a trip to TIFF Bell Lightbox, where a major exhibition on David Cronenberg's work is taking place and watched Naked Lunch and The Fly, and listened to David Cronenberg, Jeremy Thomas and Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Stephan Dupuis discuss their work. I also caught up with Hong Sang Soo's Nobody Daughter Haewon and rewatched Iran's non-submission to the Oscars, A Cube of Sugar. A good weekend, I'd say. What did you watch?

Sunday
Oct272013

Box Office: The Right Country For Old Men

It's Amir here, bringing you the latest box office report. Here's a pop quiz for you dear readers: when was the last time that the top film in both wide and limited releases revolved around an old man on a journey to overcome ridiculously difficult obstacles? By my estimation, it was never. On the face of it, saving one's life from the clutches of the sea and saving one's testicles from a vending machine may seem entirely different but both struggles appealed to their audience this weekend nonetheless. Bad Grandpa coasted on the Jackass brand to dethrone Gravity from the top spot, though if we were thinking Alfonso Cuaron's film is going away, we were proven wrong emphatically.

BOX OFFICE
01 BAD GRANDPA $32 *new* 
02 GRAVITY $20.3 (cum. $199.8) Sandy B & Review
03 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $11.8 (cum. $70) Podcast & Hanks For All Ages
04 THE COUNSELOR $8 *new*  Podcast 
05 CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 $6.1 (cum. $100.6)
06 CARRIE $5.9  (cum. $26)
07 ESCAPE PLAN $4.3 (cum. $17.4)
08 12 YEARS A SLAVE $2.1 (cum. $3.4) Slavery in Cinema & Podcast
09 ENOUGH SAID $1.5 (cum. $13) Podcast
10 PRISONERS $1 (cum. $59.1) Podcast & Review

Gravity has now earned twice its production budget, is in the top ten grossers of the year, and with $250m well within reach, should remain there when all is said and done. Fellow Oscar hopeful Captain Phillips is also enjoying high times as it keeps trailing Gravity. The Tom Hanks vehicle is following the footsteps of similar prestige October releases that were gunning for the awards season in previous years - the likes of Argo, Ides of March and to a lesser extent The Social Network - and is doing better than all of them at this point in their runs. That's gotta count for something with the voters. And while we're on the topic of awards, let's have a round of applause for 12 Years a Slave. Steve McQueen's film entered the top ten and also had the highest per screen average of any film this weekend, with the exception of one French lesbian epic.

The elephant in the room, and the most interesting question of the weekend, is The Counselor. For several reasons - "stars" that aren't really stars in box office terms, a weak marketing campaign, terrible reviews, etc. - expectations were low for this crime thriller. Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, the numbers did not exceed those projections, which brings up the question: has Ridley Scott finally lost his mojo completely? Depending on how you define critical and box office success, it can be argued that only two of his films have managed to perform well in both regards this side of the century: Gladiator and American Gangster. In incredibly simplified terms, let's assume that a director's box office cache can be gauged by how excited his name can get the public at large. Does anyone really get excited for another Scott film anymore? I certainly hope there's another Alien in him, but the signs are becoming fewer with each film.

UNDER 100 SCREENS
01 ALL IS LOST $.5 *new* (cum. $.6) Podcast & Review
02 WADJDA $.1 (cum. $.9) Foreign Film Oscar Predictions
03 BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR $.1 *new* controversies
04 INEQUALITY FOR ALL $.08 (cum. $.9)
05 METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER $.05 (cum. $3.4)

Finally, at the specialty box office, Blue Is the Warmest Color managed a respectable $100k on only four screens. With all the controversies surrounding the film's production and given the fact that those four screens are located in cities where audiences care about such things as Palme d'Ors, I have to say I was expecting better, but it was always going to be an uphill climb. My beloved Wadjda - it's one of the best films of the year; go see it! - is slowly reaching the million dollar threshold. Meanwhile, Metallica Through the Never, a film that a grand total of three people have ever talked about has inexplicably grossed more than $3.4m. Metallica are still a thing apparently. Good for them! Rock on! Have you seen their film? What did you see this weekend?

Sunday
Oct202013

Box Office: Gravity Keeps Hold of Top Spot

It's Amir here, bringing you the weekend's box office report. The Film Experience is taking the revolutionary step of publishing box office headlines that feature no pun this week because Michael C. asked me to. It's a welcome move after last week's cheap shot but hey, we'll be back to normal business next time. Let's look at what the cinema gods have granted us this weekend.

It's October and you guessed it, there's a mediocre remake of a horror classic playing at a theatre near you. Having not seen Carrie, I technically have no right to judgement in public, but sometimes you just have to let your trusted critics speak for you and this film follows in the footsteps of many a mediocre horror remake. The third place debut - though at a not entirely awful $17m - means most of you haven't seen it either, but if it is better than reviews and numbers suggest, let me know in the comments and I'll make the trip.

BOX OFFICE
01 GRAVITY $31 (cum. $170.5) Cinematography Oscar & Sandy B??? & Review
02 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $17.3 (cum. $53.3) Podcast & Tom Hanks For All Ages
03 CARRIE $17 *new* 
04 CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF MEATBALLS $10.1 (cum. $93.1)
05 ESCAPE PLAN $9.8 *new*
06 PRISONERS $2 (cum. $57.2) Podcast & Review
07 ENOUGH SAID $1.8 (cum. $10.7) Podcast
08 THE FIFTH ESTATE $1.7 *new*
09 RUNNER RUNNER $1.6 (cum. $17.5)
10 INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 $1.5 (cum. $80.9)

Gravity is now the 10th biggest grosser of 2013

The real story here is that Gravity and Captain Phillips held on to the top two spots with very respectable small drops. Word of mouth is strong for both films so they will remain hovering around the top again next week. The real questions at this point are whether it is entirely impossible for Gravity to beat competition from The Counselor and Bad Grandpa to stay at number one, and whether Captain Phillips can cruise to above $100m - I'm sorry; just couldn't help it.

The weekend had two other wide releases: Escape Plan, which banked on aged muscle men with immense amounts of plastic surgery to appeal to younger men and understandably failed; and The Fifth Estate, which banked on the public's interest in a topic that remains too fresh and too painful to be dramatized, no matter how uncanny the resemblance of its star to the whistle blower in question; this one had an even rougher ride.

Those of you lucky enough to live near one of the 19 theaters playing the film had the chance to see Steve McQueen's superb new film, 12 Years a Slave, and judging by the per screen average ($50.5k), quite a lot of people took advantage of that opportunity before the film goes wide next week. In even more limited release, Robert Redford's All Is Lost and Daniel Radcliffe's Kill Your Darlings both opened to satisfactory per screen averages, though neither managed to sneak into the top twenty.

Anyway, enough about America now, and a bit about me. I caught up with the environment-themed documentary Watermark (GORGEOUS, well-intentioned and a bit dull), Iranian classic Kandahar (schematic, well-intentioned and a bit dull) and Captain Phillips (intense, Hanks on fire). Now enough about me and a bit about you: what did you watch this weekend?