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what did you see this weekend?

"Well, I saw MOMMY on Saturday, and it kind of spoiled my Sunday movie-going, it was so good. " - Bill

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Entries in box office (176)

Wednesday
May072014

Superlink

Rambling Film, riffing on our "best movie titles" post, does an alphabet of great movie titles
Inside Movies omg The Lovely Laura Linney is finally returning to screens in a promising vehicle. She's joining Bill Condon's upcoming Sherlock Holmes movie A Slight Trick of the Mind starring Sir Ian McKellen 
i09 Jaws with Godzilla trailer's audio. It's a pretty impressive mashup
Film Stage Adèle Exarchopoulus next film Insecure gets a poster 

Defamer in the race to make the movies more like tv series with big budgets (sie) Disney/Marvel is surely leading. In addition to dozens of new Marvel movies, they are planning multiple new Star Wars universe episodes - not just three.
Towleroad Andrew Garfield in drag. Stay tuned for a music video 
THR the Interstellar teaser poster debuted but honestly it's so boring I don't want to waste valuable visual space on the blog sharing it

Thinking About Bankability
Awards Daily thinks Maleficent will test Angelina Jolie's box office pull. Sasha's right in that people will perceive that it's to Angelina's credit if it's a smash but I think that's silly. As with most would be blockbusters I think people are overestimating the importance of the headliner. Everyone knows "Maleficent". You could put an unknown in it, save lots of money on production costs, and still have a box office winner. Maybe not as big (and certainly with less pre-release hype) but still... The only franchise that seems to believe you don't need a star is the Superman franchise (People don't really even like Superman Returns or Man of Steel but, fact, they both opened huge). Batman is a franchise that regularly uses stars. It's always wasting its money because Batman is huge no matter who is under the mask. For me the only test of box office clout is when the actor is selling something people are only seeing because it's them. So successes like Angelina's Salt or virtually every Leonardo DiCaprio film, or American Hustle last year are directly attributable to the actors in them. But most of these big budget big awareness movies? I don't think it's the case and I wonder sometimes why Hollywood does. 

Subtracting some zeroes now...

Movie City News David Poland weighs in on the frustrating argument over the dwindling returns for subtitled movies in the US marketplace. Glad he addressed that because I hated the IndieWire piece. 

Today's Must Read
Matt Zoller Seitz is always a great read but this week he says what I'm sure so many of us are feeling about the superhero movie genre in this beautifully titled piece "Things Crashing Into Other Things: Or, My Superhero Movie Problem"

Sunday
May042014

The Amazing Samey-Man, A Redundant Box Office Chart

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. For the past ten days, I have been drowning in a stack of Hot Docs screeners, missed deadlines and research for [shameless self-promotion!] the next episode of my podcast. As I recover from all of that, it is reassuring, in a perverse way, to look at the box office top ten and realize that all is the same in the world. Order is restored. The audiences are happy. A fucking superhero film has won the day.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out on top with a figure that is being labelled “disappointing” around the web despite being higher than the GDP of nine small countries combined. Sure, that number is lower than the earnings of previous Spidey outings, but none of the preceding films suffered from an Electro that looks like an early draft version of a bad 80s sci-fi villain, or a Harry Osborn that looks like an early draft version of a bad 90s Leo DiCaprio. All this despite tens of millions of dollars spent on the CGI budget...

LOLZ

THE TOP TEN
01 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 $92 *NEW* 
02 THE OTHER WOMAN  $14.2 (cum. $47.3)
03 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $8.7 (cum. $65.6) 
04 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $7.7 (cum. $237.1) Review
05 RIO 2 $7.6 (cum. $106.4) 
06 BRICK MANSIONS $3.5 (cum. $15.4)
07 DIVERGENT $2.1 (cum. $142.6)  Review
08 THE QUIET ONES $2 (cum. $6.7)
09 GOD'S NOT DEAD $1.7 (cum. $55.5)
10 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL $1.7 (cum. $51.5)

The rest of the top ten looks mostly similar to previous weeks. The Other Woman, a film led by three women that miraculously manages to fail the Bechdel test, is in second place, while Heaven Is For Real and God’s Not Dead continue to surpass all expectations as they hold on to the third and ninth positions, respectively.

On the limited end of things, Walk of Shame proved to be an aptly portentous title for the film's red carpet premiere, as it limped to a $745 per screen average on its opening weekend, but two smaller films did solid business. Belle, a historical drama about the true story of an illegitimate mixed-race child to a navy admiral received respectable reviews, while the Polish film Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski’s black and white, WWII drama has become one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. I saw this one at TIFF last year, and its meticulous, chilly design gained my admiration more than love, but I’d happily give it another shot.

What have you watched this weekend?

Sunday
Apr272014

Box Office: Cameron Diaz Still Sells Tickets

Hey kids, it's Nathaniel. Amir is busy Hot Doc'ing it up in Toronto (yet another springtime festival!) so I'm here to quickly recite the box office chart. The producers of the Christmas release Annie (previously discussed) must have breathed a huge sigh of relief at the box office receipts for The Other Woman in which Diaz and her two new frenemies (Leslie Mann & Kate Upton) plot to destroy Jaime Lannister who is sleeping with all of them on the down low. Yep, people will stay come out in droves for Cameron Diaz in comic mode. Annie will open big... it's got several marketing hooks even before you get to audience love for funny Cam. 

I haven't yet seen The Other Woman yet but I hear it's quite regressive. Consider this scathing provocatively titled review at The Stranger...

The point of this movie is not sisterhood, but making sure women band together in the name of heterosexual competition. Cameron Diaz is too sexy, Leslie Mann is too frumpy, and Kate Upton is boobs, but boobs that are not good enough to keep a man goddammit. Nicki Minaj joins this horror show as the Sassy Black Secretary™ (it’s 2014, right?)...

THE TOP TEN
01 THE OTHER WOMAN $24.7 *NEW* 
02 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $16 (cum. $224.8) Review
03 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $13.8 (cum. $51.9) 
04 RIO 2 $13.6 (cum. $96.1) 
05 BRICK MANSIONS $9.6 *NEW* 
06 TRANSCENDENCE $4.1 (cum. $18.4)  
07 THE QUIET ONES $4 *NEW* 
08 BEARS $3.6 (cum. $11.1)
09 DIVERGENT $3.6 (cum. $139.4) Review
10 A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 $3.2 (cum. $14.2)

In addition to Tribeca Film Festing, I went to Estelle Parson's new play The Velocity of Autumn in the hopes of catching at least one potential Tony Best Actress nominee before the announcement. But get this: Estelle called out sick so I was stuck with an understudy! The understudy wasn't bad and I liked the play about a very old very cantankerous lady armed with molotov cocktails in her Park Slope brownstone because her children want to put her in a nursing home. And yet it's so obviously a star vehicle (there are only two characters, Tony winner Stephen Spinella plays her son) that I was missing the expert comic timing of the Oscar-winning Parsons throughout. She would have maximized the punchlines and elevated it. The understudy switcheroo hasn't happened to me in a long time though so I made my peace with the theater gods quickly 'bout it. They've been good to me for the past several years and we've all called out sick from work in our lifetimes.

But I still fear the Tony nominations on Tuesday because I've seen like nothing that will be nominated this year. I was concentrating on Off Broadway too much I guess.

WHAT DID YOU SEE THIS WEEKEND? 

Sunday
Apr202014

Box Office: Christians Are For Real!

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. It’s Easter weekend and we have proof of it in the box office top ten. When was the last time three films with such strong religious overtones as Noah, God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is for Real were simultaneously in the top ten best selling pile?  The latter film was the new entry this weekend and shockingly grossed more than $20m, helping itself to the third spot behind holdovers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Rio 2. Can you think of any film with a more unappealingly on the nose title? The 3-minute trailer is an excruciating exercise in patience in its own right but I understand I’m not the target audience. I’m sure the people who saw it in droves enjoyed it. Right? Maybe. Possibly. Fuck, seriously? Is this film for real?

Yes, Greg Kinnear. Your son sees dead people (in the afterlife)

01 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $26.6 (cum. $201.5) Review
02 RIO 2 $22.5 (cum. $75.3) 
03 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $21.5 (cum. $28.5) 
04 TRANSCENDENCE $11.1 *new* 
05 A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 $9.1 *new*  
06 DRAFT DAY $5.9 (cum. $19.5)  
07 DIVERGENT $5.7 (cum. $133.9) Review
08 OCULUS $5.2 (cum. $21.1)
09 NOAH $5 (cum. $93.2) Podcast &  Jon Stewart on Noah - a must-see icymi
10 GOD’S NOT DEAD $4.8 (cum. $48.3) 

Transcendence was a failure of epic proportions and managed a 10% return on investment, which is disastrous in any industry. This is either due to the fact that the film’s title is only subtly religious or because Johnny Depp is no longer a draw. The latter is most likely the case and I can’t help but indulge in a bit of schadenfreude. In the 11 years that have passed since Depp delivered something resembling a performance, he’s made billions of dollars and the box office returns of Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger weren’t nearly dire enough to be considered punishment.

At the arthouse Under the Skin edged past the million dollar mark and The Grand Budapest Hotel is now a single day away from beating Moonrise Kingdom as the top grossing Wes Anderson. Only Lovers Left Alive, however, has failed to draw in audiences, though its screen average is the third best behind Heaven Is... and John Turturro’s weird, Woody Allen-starring passion project, Fading Gigolo.

I spent my weekend cozying up to some Cannes classics, but I will be out soon to catch Disneynature’s Bears, because those things look cute as buttons. What have you watched this weekend?

Sunday
Apr132014

Box Office: Under the Skin & What We Watched

Nathaniel stepping in for Amir this week to look at What People Are Seeing. If you've already seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and you should) there wasn't much to get excited about at the mainstream box office this weekend with films like Oculus, Rio 2, and Draft Day not looking much like inspiring new entries in their shopworn genres. So let's shift our focus to the platform films out there. Frankly, I consider it a huge failing of the planet in general that an art film about Scarlett Johansson as an alien trolling for manflesh in Scotland isn't opening wide and selling out at 3,000+ theaters. Where are the world's movie consumption priorities? You disappoint me, Earthlings. 

Scarlett Johansson tops both the mainstream box office and the platform box office

PLATFORM BOX OFFICE
01 (54 theaters) UNDER THE SKIN $.3 (cum. $.5)  Posters
02 (37 theaters) ISLAND OF LEMURS $.1 (cum. $.4) 
03 (20 theaters) FINDING VIVIAN MAIER $.1 (cum. $.3) Amir liked it
04 (48 theaters) JOE $.1 *new* 
05 (04 theaters) ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE $.09 *new*  Michael's Review
06 (42 theaters) DOM HEMINGWAY $.07 (cum. $.1)  Jude's New Face 
07 (80 theaters) THE UNKNOWN KNOWN $.06 (cum. $.1) Glenn's Review
08 (04 theaters) THE RAILWAY MAN $.06 *new* Brief Thoughts
09 (79 theaters) CUBAN FURY $.05 *new*
10 (23 theaters) PARTICLE FEVER $.04 (cum. $.6) 

Of the newbies only Only Lovers Left Alive and The Railway Man had strong per screen averages (which is usually what you need to expand). I loved Under the Skin but am still collecting my thoughts about it so I'm not ready to write about it yet. I urge you to see it quickly since it benefits from your own interpretation and it's difficult to write about without spoilers. We'll discuss it on next Sunday's podcast.

Otherwise this weekend I goofed off in that I watched things I had no intention of writing about which is, for me, like playing hookie or calling out sick. I mainlined more Archer (which I basically worship) and watched four episodes of "The Fosters". Regarding the latter: I blame Emily Nussbaum's influence over The Boyfriend. He will watch anything she recommends . I  also goofed off by watching Lilies of the Field (1963) when I was supposed to be watching a Bette Davis double feature for articles that are due here in a hot minute.  I was all caught up in that 1963 flashback so I was helpless before it "♪ AaaAaaAaaymen. AaAYaymen. Aaamen. Aaamen Amen ♫." I actually think it's underrated today because it's so square but it "plays" as they say.

What did you watch this weekend? And was it out of obligation, habit, or pleasure?

Wednesday
Apr092014

A Year With Kate: Holiday (1938)

Episode 15 of 52 as Anne Marie screens all of Katharine Hepburn's films in chronological order.

In which Katharine Hepburn is named Box Office Poison, which might be the best thing that could have happened to her.


WAKE UP! HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS

Practically all of the major studios are burdened with stars--whose public appeal is negligible--receiving tremendous salaries necessitated by contractual obligations...

Among these players, whose dramatic ability is unquestioned but whose box office draw is nil, can be numbered Mae West, Edward Arnold, Garbo, Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, and many, many others... Hepburn turned in excellent performances in 'Stage Door' and 'Bringing Up Baby' but both pictures died."

Reading that “wake up call” on the morning of May 3rd, 1938 had to sting. The Manhattan Independent Theatre Owners Association bought a full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter and the Independent Film Journal to air its grievances, and the effects for Kate were immediate. Here’s how quickly the dominoes fell... 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr062014

Box Office: Marvel Strikes Again

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report.
Captain America defeated Noah to the top spot. There has to be a joke in there about America and freedom and jingoism and religion but I haven’t seen the former film yet, so I’ll hold my tongue. Captain America’s opening doesn’t meet the high bar set by any of the Iron Man films or The Avengers but it set a new record for Apil releases and the reviews are arguably the best ever for the Marvel franchise. With the recent announcement that this multiple phase, universe recreation charade is going to drag all the way until 2028 – by which time this youthful, cynical, belligerent writer will only be a cynical, belligerent writer – Marvel is going to need the good reviews to avoid fatigue. Or at least pretend like it’s avoiding fatigue, depending on whom you ask. Arguably, the bigger story of the weekend is the continued success of God's Not Dead. The film now has $32m in the bank and I have yet to come across a single person who's actually seen it. There's God's miracle right there.

Captain America and Black Widow, pondering the box office numbers

BOX OFFICE
01 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $96.2 *new* Review / Marvel Posterized
02 NOAH $17 (cum. $72.3)
03 DIVERGENT $13 (cum. $114) Review / Jai Courtney
04 GOD'S NOT DEAD $7.7 (cum. $32.5)
05 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL $6.3 (cum. $33.3)

The only other wide-ish release of the weekend was Frankie & Alice, the Halle Berry go-go dancing vehicle that finally came off the studio shelves after a four-year delay. Remember when some of us predicted Berry’s second nomination for this one? LOLZ. On the limited side of things, the biggest story was obviously Under the Skin, Jonatha Glazer’s long-delayed follow-up to Birth. Considering the festival hype and the irritatingly, reductively prominent coverage of Scarlett Johansson’s alien sexiness, the film didn’t do that well per screen average. It’d be interesting to see how the studio decides to expand the film. Unbelievably, up here in The Great White North, Skin doesn’t even have a distributor yet. I was lucky enough to watch it at TIFF though and I’d be happily lured back into darkness by Scarlett Johansson no matter the grotesque consequences.

The other releases this weekend didn’t really get audiences (or critics) all hot and bothered but by way of completism, we’ll list their names: The Unknown Known (Errol Morris working in a similar vein to Fog of War), Dom Hemingway (Jude Law with a few extra pounds and a dash of violence), Afflicted (for horror fans, of which I’m not one) and Watermark (an environmentalist documentary which I’ve actually seen; I wasn’t a big fan overall but it’s message is admirable and well-argued and the cinematography is GorgeouS with a capital G and also a capital S for emphasis.)

What have you watched this weekend?

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