Daily Archives: December 14, 2009
While the day job has kept me busy compiling the greatest albums of the decade, I thought it would be worthwhile to start looking back at which albums rocked my world in 2009. I doubt there will be too many surprises on the list, if one is aware of my listening habits. I debated about including a particular archival release, but since it’s material that hasn’t been previously released I think including it on the list is allowed. If any of these releases have anything in common, it’s a celebration of excess (in the past way possible). And so here it is – Andy Burns’ 5 Favourite Albums of 2009 (in no particular order):
One of the things I love most about a new U2 album is that I always seem to think that it’s my favourite record by them. It happened with 1997’s Pop, which maintained a stranglehold on that standing until 2004’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. No Line On The Horizon has taken that place, thanks to the band’s ambition to create an album in an era where the album’s importance is almost non-existent. NLOTH is hands down U2’s most experimental and artistic endeavour in almost 20 years, full of songs that sound tailor made for a stadium without pandering to fans just hoping for the band to continue sounding the same as they ever did.
The Flaming Lips, Embryonic
For a band that I’ve never quite gotten a handle on, I immediately loved Embryonic, a 2 cd 80 minute excursion into experimentation. There’s less of Wayne Coyne’s vocals on this album, which has always been a stumbling block for me, and less straightforward songs. Embryonic feels like The Flaming Lips interpreting Pink Floyd circa A Saucerful Of Secrets, which could explain why the band will be covering The Dark Side Of The Moon on New Years Eve. A perfect night time album to these ears.
Dream Theater, Black Clouds and Silver Linings
If you’re into the whole progressive metal scene (and really, who isn’t?) you’d be hard pressed to find a band who has grown more over the past decade than Dream Theater. Since signing with Roadrunner Records in 2007 the band have been left to their own devices to create whatever they want. Black Clouds and Silver Linings finds Dream Theater pushing their limits again, with the majority of the albums six songs running over 10 minutes in length. Not for everybody’s ears, but if you’re interested and open to the sound and style, there’s much to enjoy (and the 3 cd version is even better, especially the disc of covers – DT doing King Crimson’s “Red” is worth price of admission alone).
Transatlantic, The Whirlwind
Compiling this list, I suppose it’s clear that for me it was a banner year for progressive rock. After nearly a decade hiatus. the prog rock supergroup Transatlantic reunited to record the epic album The Whirlwind, essentially one 72-minute song divided into sections. Yes, once again, if the prog isn’t your thing you might be left cold, but for fans of long songs and ambitious yet accessible undertakings, Transatlantic’s third album is an amazing experience. A welcome return.
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, The Live Anthology
There is musical excess and then then there is packaging excess. Tom Petty’s The Live Anthology manages to combine them both into a release that is an essential purchase for anyone who has ever had an interest in the band. While the 4 disc version packs a whallop all on it’s own, featuring stellar covers and the best of Petty throughout 30+ years of live gigging, the mammoth box set is awe-inspiring on its own. 5 cds, 2 DVDs, a Blu-Ray disc, a vinyl bootleg, posters, backstage passes, and more – The Live Anthology is a reminder of why people used to shop at record stores in the first place.
A decent weekend of predictions (I picked the correct five films, but had the #2 and #3 spots in reverse), but the box office was a little soft for the new releases, even though older releases held up well. Here’s how it went:
The Princess and The Frog debuted at #1 with a gross of $25 million (I predicted that it would be the #1 film and that it would gross $35 million). The film had glowing reviews, but the opening was a bit soft for a Disney animated feature. The per theatre average was $7,280 which is not great for a #1 film. The great thing that The Princess and The Frog has going for it is the fact that it is a family film and families tend to see movies more often during the holidays when everyone is not in school or on vacation. Not a great opening weekend gross, but I expect it to do well over the long term.
In 2nd place, in somewhat of a surprise to myself, is The Blind Side with $15.6 million (I predicted that it would be the #3 film with a gross of $12.4 million). Dropping a miniscule 22.9%, I have to again stress that I think The Blind Side is the surprise hit of the fall. Did anyone think that this film would do as well as it is doing? I did not read anything about this film as one to look out for in the fall. Word of mouth has been outstanding, and it will continue to drive the film over the Christmas season. Its per theatre average is $4,560, which is excellent for a film in its fourth week of release. The total gross for the film stands at $150.2 million, and it will soon be the highest grossing film of Sandra Bullock’s career, beating The Proposal’s $163.9 million.
In 3rd place, opening to somewhat disappointing results, is Invictus with $9 million (I predicted that it would open in 2nd place with $18 million). I was speaking to a colleague of mine, and we agreed that the film might suffer from what we call “The Shawshank Redemption Syndrome”. Basically a film that is horribly named has this “syndrome”, and Invictus does not seem to be marketing friendly. Having said that, this was an adult drama, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Matt Damon who appeals to adults, and had solid reviews, so a good opening weekend was expected. Unfortunately the public had different ideas, and did not want to see a film about a South African rugby team and Nelson Mandela. I will say that I had higher expectations for the film, but it played like some of the previous films that Clint Eastwood has directed, but not starred in, so I should not be all that surprised (see Friday’s predictions for the numbers of those films). Its per theatre average is $4,275, which is disappointing for an opening weekend. I don’t think the film is going to survive in theatres for very long with all the other options coming out over the coming weeks. Definitely a disappointment for all involved.
In 4th place with $8 million is The Twilight Saga: New Moon (I predicted a fourth place finish and a gross of $5.8 million). The film dropped 48.1%, which was the highest percentage drop of any film in the top ten, and had a per theatre average of $2,201. The per theatre average was $3,635 and the film has grossed $267.3 million over four weeks. Of note, I said to a friend of mine that the two Twilight films will perform the same: They’ll both have very strong opening weekends and fade fast (which has been true). I also said that The Twilight Saga: New Moon will never come close to having a final gross that rivals anything in the Harry Potter series. The Twilight Saga: New Moon has now grossed more that Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets ($261.9 million) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ($249.5 million). The next highest grossing Harry Potter film is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with $290 million (coincidentally – that is the Harry Potter film that has Robert Pattinson in it), so we’ll see if The Twilight Saga: New Moon can overtake that film.
Rounding out the top five is Disney’s A Christmas Carol with $6.8 million (I predicted a 5th place finish and a gross of $5.7 million). The film had the lowest percentage drop in the top ten with 11.5%, which is amazing for a film that is still in the top five after six weeks. Its per theatre average is $2,861, and it should continue to play well up until Christmas Day, after that it will fade away quickly. The total gross for Disney’s A Christmas Carol now stands at $124.4 million.
Here’s how the films in limited release did:
A Single Man starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore grossed $216,000 from 9 theatres for a per theatre average of $24,000.
The Lovely Bones starring Mark Wahlberg, directed by Peter Jackson, and based on the novel by Alice Sebold grossed $116,000 from 3 theatres for a per theatre average of $38.667.
The other films mentioned on Friday have not released their numbers as of this writing.
The only other story to talk about from this weekend’s box office is that Up In The Air expanded slightly to 72 theatres and grossed $2.4 million, which is up 107.4% from last weekend, and it had a per theatre average of $34,028, so watch out for this film in the coming weeks to be in the top five at the box office.
So to recap, here were my predictions:
1) The Princess and The Frog – $35 million
2) Invictus – $18 million
3) The Blind Side – $12.4 million
4) The Twilight Saga: New Moon – $5.8 million
5) Disney’s A Christmas Carol – $5.7 million
And here are the final numbers:
1) The Princess and The Frog – $25 million
2) The Blind Side – $15.6 million
3) Invictus – $9 million
4) The Twilight Saga: New Moon – $8 million
5) Disney’s A Christmas Carol – $6.8 million
My box office predictions were off by $24.5 million.
Opening this coming weekend are Crazy Heart (limited release), The Young Victoria (limited release), Nine (limited release), Did You Hear About The Morgan’s?, and the big film of the winter Avatar. Check back on Friday to read my predictions.
Until next week!