Monthly Archives: January 2010
Mel Gibson returns to the silver screen this weekend, and Kristen Bell will find out if she has what it takes to be a leading lady at the box office. Unfortunately for both of them, neither actor’s film will topple Avatar at the box office. Here’s how I think the weekend will unfold.
Mel Gibson returns to the silver screen for his first leading role since 2002’s Signs with Edge of Darkness. The film is about a father who is seeking out the truth about why his daughter was gunned down on his front porch. The film is based on a BBC mini-series that was directed by Martin Campbell. Martin also directed this version, which is interesting for any cinephile to see how the same director’s vision can change between the two formats. An absence of 8 years between starring in a major film is a big gap, and I would say most people would not care about Mel returning to the cinemas. Having said that, Mel was not completely away from Hollywood as he directed a couple of films (The Passion of the Christ and Apocolypto), and made the tabloids a few times, so his name would appear from time to time. The film does not have much in the way of supporting characters (Ray Winstone and Danny Huston appear from time to time, but not too often), so this film is absolutely focused on Gibson, which might be why he chose this vehicle as his comeback film. Critics have been lukewarm on the film with Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a 55% positive rating as of this writing. Love him or hate him, I think Mel can still open a film, even if it won’t be as high as he might be used too. Opening in 3,066 theatres, I’m predicting Edge of Darkness will open at number two with a gross of $22 million.
The other new release is the romantic comedy When In Rome starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. The film is about a girl who makes a wish when she is in Rome, and her wish begins to come true, but not in the way she imagined it would. The stars are not A List actors by any stretch, but are both up and comers who are trying to become actors who can headline films. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was the right vehicle for either of them. First off, I openly question why Disney did not try to release this picture on Feb. 12/10, as that is Valentine’s Day weekend. It just makes sense for a romantic comedy to come out closer to Valentine’s Day, as it might get some unintentional business (i.e. – people who don’t normally see romantic films in theatres, but make an exception for Valentine’s Day). The second reason why I think this film is a poor choice is based on the reviews. As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes lists the film at 20% positive. Reviews have been said that the jokes in the film are not that funny. Both actors have talent, and I’m sure will do better on other films, but this is just not the film that will take their careers to the next level. Opening in 2,456 theatres (which shows me that the studio does not have a ton of faith in the film, because if it did, the number of theatres the film would open in would be over 2,750), I’m predicting the film will gross $12 million and finish in 3rd place.
I’m predicting both new releases to stay in the top five, so that means two films from last weekend will drop out. The two films to say good-bye from the elite five will be The Lovely Bones and The Tooth Fairy. The fact that both these films are already out of the top five should be a disappointment to everyone involved. Here’s how I think the remaining films will do:
Avatar will hold continue to hold strong, dipping only 20% for a gross of $27.92 million to stay in the #1 spot.
The Book of Eli will drop 55% for a gross of $7 million, and will finish in 4th place.
Legion will drop 61% for a gross of $6.825 million, and finish in 5th place.
In limited release, we have Saint John of Vegas starring Steve Buscemi as a recovering compulsive gambler opening in two theatres. It has a 7% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
So to recap, here are my predictions:
- Avatar – $27.92 million
- Edge of Darkness – $22 million
- When In Rome – $12 million
- The Book of Eli – $7 million
- Legion – $6.825 million
Check back on Sunday to see how I did!
I’ve been having a bit of bad luck when revisiting some of my favourite series from the 80’s as of late. Back in the summer I picked up the uber-large hardcover Inferno collection, featuring the X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor, and the X-Terminators. While I had all of the issues save the later in single magazine format, I was quite psyched to have the entire storyline of Manhattan going to hell in one nicely put together package. The only problem was, that upon rereading Inferno, it wasn’t quite as cool as I remembered it. Sure, the X-Men stuff still worked for me, but the other mutant stories – they just didn’t hold up. It was a pretty disappointing revelation. Gone was a beloved childhood memory, and I didn’t even have George Lucas to blame.
With that in mind, one of my new year’s resolutions was to no longer purchase hardcover compilations of comic material that I already own. Seems reasonable, right? Well that resolution lasted all of one trip to Amazon.ca, when I saw that the X-Men Asgardian Wars was being collected into a brand new hardcover. Ah, The Asgardian Wars. One of my favourite storylines, consisting of the X-Men/Alpha Fight miniseries, the first New Mutants Special, and X-Men Annual 9. In the former, trickster god Loki pledges to bring peace to Earth by bestowing the gift of super powers on mortals. It doesn’t go as planned and the following issues deal with his vengeance on our favourite mutants. I read and reread those comics to death 25 years ago. And to have them on nice, glossy paper? How could I resist?
I will admit to some fear when the book arrived in the mail. Would it be another Inferno? Or even worse, would it be another Secret Wars II collection (yes, I agree, I should have seen that one coming). Thankfully, the answer is a resounding no.
The Asgardian Wars has held up amazingly well all these years after it was first published. I think the main credit has got to go to Chris Claremont, the X-Men architect who handled all the scripting for The Asgardian Wars (unlike Inferno, where there were other writers in the mix). At the time (and possibly even today), there was nobody who knew Marvel’s mutants better than Claremont, and his writing style perfectly suits the epic storyline. And it’s no exaggeration to say epic – we’re talking Gods and mortals and warriors death and deep philosophical debates about power. And there’s also Snow Giants.
And that’s just in the X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries, which features more than it’s fair usage of the word “eh”. And while Claremont’s voice stays strong into the New Mutants Special and X-Men Annual 9, it’s matched by the amazing artwork of Art Adams (credited as Arthur but I grew up thinking of him as Art), whose distinct style seems tailor-made for the mythological setting of Asgard.
It took me about two hours or so to reread The Asgardian Wars and I must admit, I breathed a sigh of relief when I was finished. The story was every bit as good as I remember it. And as cheesy as it may sound, it was quite possibly even better. The stuff I loved about the X-Men (the conflict Cyclops had wanting to be part of the team while still being devoted to his wife, the chemistry between Wolverine and Kitty Pryde) still shined brightly throughout the pages. Pages that I’m sure I’ll be returning to again and again.
So much for new year’s resolutions. Whatever. It was worth the trip to Asgard.
Michael Jackson’s This Is It – This is about the making of what would have been Michael Jackson’s final tour, and it incorporates a lot of behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage of Michael and his crew preparing dance routines, and working on different arrangements of songs. The theatrical release was very successful as This Is It is the most successful concert film of all-time, and Michael Jackson fans will definitely want to add this to their collection.
Whip It – This film stars Ellen Page and is directed by Drew Barrymore (her feature film directorial debut). It is about an outcast who finds her true calling in the sport of roller derby. The cast is pretty decent, as Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Jimmy Fallon, Juliette Lewis, Eve, and Zoe Bell. This film never took off in theatres, but I think it will find a life on DVD.
Surrogates – This is a science-fiction film starring Bruce Willis. The basic premise is that humans live at home and have robotic surrogates live their lives. This idyllic world is shattered when some surrogates and their human hosts die. Willis’s character is forced to leave home for the first time in years, and do some detective work. He ends up uncovering a conspiracy about the whole surrogate life. This film did not seem to get noticed when it was in theatres, so we’ll see how well it does on DVD.
Saw VI – The makers of the franchise were extremely disappointed with how the latest installment did at the box office (it got beaten badly by Paranormal Activity this past Halloween). I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, as a character becomes the unchallenged leader in continuing Jigsaw’s legacy. The new leader finds that the FBI are closing in on him, and a new series of traps are set in motion.
Little Ashes – This is the story of Salvador Dali, Federico Garcia Lorca and Luis Bunel and how they met in Madrid in 1922. This film went virtually unnoticed in theatres, which is surprising only because of the fact that Robert Pattinson was the lead, and his rabid Twilight fan base ignored him. Maybe they only like him in the Twilight franchise. Critics say you should pass on this film, as it tries to hard to be taken seriously, which leads it to being an unintentionally funny film.
Bright Star – This film received glowing reviews when it was released, but never really found an audience. The film is about the relationship between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. It is a classic story of two opposites who do not get along at first, and eventually grow closer together. Their three year romance is the driving force of the film, which ended with Keats death at an early age.
The Boys Are Back – Another film that is based on a true story. This film stars Clive Owen and is directed by Scott Hicks (Shine), and is about a sports journalist who has to cope with being a single parent after his wife’s sudden death. The transition at home is not an easy one, but after a rough start, the family finds their own way of functioning, when Owen’s character comes up a philosophy for the family to live by. This film has a Made-For-TV feel to me (that was my impression after I saw the trailer), but Clive Owen picks strong material, and critics gave solid reviews to the film. This might be one of those hidden gems that you can impress your friends with by saying you saw it first, and passing it along to them.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell – This film is basically a bad version of The Hangover. Not in the sense of getting drunk and not forgetting what happened the next morning, but the premise of doing something crazy for a bachelor party. The film centres on some friends who decide to take their best friend, who is about to get married, to a famous strip club three and a half hours away from where they live. Then Murphy’s Law sets in, and they try to get things sorted out. Critics and audiences ignored this movie on its release, and they saw that this should apply for the DVD release as well.
Alone In The Dark II – I don’t know much about this Direct-To-DVD offering, but I can tell you this: None of the original cast are in the sequel, and it is not directed by Uwe Boll. I don’t know if this means it will be better or worse than Boll’s original, but for the brave ones who find out, please let Biff Bam Pop know.
TV on DVD
Southland: The Complete First Season – This is a TV show about the lives of LAPD officers. This first season is only seven episodes long, but the behind-the-scenes story of this TV show could make for its own TV show. Southland had good, but not great ratings, in its first season. NBC said it that it had been picked up for a second season. A few months later, it got bumped to a later start date as NBC wanted to promote it more, and then out of nowhere NBC cancelled the show. TNT bought the series, and it is airing season one, plus the six completed episodes of season two. Whether or not it continues after that is based on how TNT thinks the thirteen episodes do in the ratings.
Until Next Tuesday!
What happens when a megalomaniac becomes ruler of the free world? If it’s our world he scores two terms (rimshot!), but in the Marvel Universe he puts on a suit of armour, calls himself Iron Patriot, and attempts to dismantle some of our favourite heroes.
Welcome to the dark reign of Norman Osborn.
Though best known to comic and movie fans as the nefarious Green Goblin, Norman Osborn has been at the forefront of the Marvel U for the last few years as a supposed good guy, the leader of the government sponsored H.A.M.M.E.R. organization and the figurehead of his own group of Avengers, with one big difference. This one consisting of some fairly bad villains (including psychopathic hitman Bullseye and cannibalistic symbiote Venom) masquerading as their good guy counterparts. It’s been an intriguing concept and has helped give Marvel their own version Lex Luthor, an all powerful yet entirely human villain. It’s something I never thought I was missing as a fan until I finally got it.
I especially enjoyed watching Osborn attempt to settle some scores with The List, an 8 issue mini-series recently compiled into a hard cover collection. Each story is written and illustrated by a different creative team. While the usual script suspects (Bendis, Slott, Pak) all deliver their stories with the strengths they’re best known for, there is some stunning art in this series by creators I hadn’t yet seen and whose work really stood out. I’m specifically referring to artist Ben Oliver and colourist Veronica Gandini, who handle the Hulk issue of The List.Wow, their work is absolutely gorgeous. Perhaps it’s the minimal use of backgrounds that make the characters pop; I don’t know, I’m no art critic. All I know is that I was blown away looking at their work, and this comes from someone who hasn’t been reading Hulk for a while and who hasn’t bought into the whole Green Goliath has a kid thing.
Apart from the work of Oliver and Gandini, the most interesting thing about The List for me is that I found it, in certain ways, to be unpredictable, even when the outcome is definitely clear.
For instance, the first issue of The List finds Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye/Ronin) declaring “ I am going to kill Norman Osborn”. Now, I’ve been around these parts awhile. I’ve read a few comic books in my day. And here’s the thing – when a character says early on that he’s going to kill the big bad, it just isn’t going to happen. But of course, the hero is inevitably going to try, which is perhaps what the story is actually more about (along with a few pages of discussion between Barton and his New Avengers teammates about the moral choice of even attempting to murder someone in the first place). What then becomes interesting is watching how our hero gloriously fails at his attempts. Check one off of Norman Osborne’s list.In fact, the fact that Osborne actually manages to achieve a few of the things on his list (kill this person, neutralize that person) is what ultimately makes The List somewhat unpredictable and worth reading. We’re watching characters that we’re familiar with fail or make choices that may go against their instincts because of one man’s power.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Avatar fought off archangels and tooth fairies to remain in the #1 spot for the sixth straight weekend. I was again surprised at how one of the new releases did, but was off in my predictions on the other new releases. I predicted four of the five films in the top five, and got three in their correct position. Here’s my wrap-up report.
Avatar led the way once again in its sixth weekend at the box office with a gross of $36 million (I predicted a gross of $33.7 million, and for it to be the #1 film). The James Cameron blockbuster had a per theatre average of $11,461, which was once again the highest per theatre average in the top ten. Avatar was down only 15.9% from last weekend, and set a record for the highest sixth weekend gross of all-time. With this weekend’s gross, Avatar is the #2 film all-time in domestic gross and worldwide gross. It is already the #1 international film of all-time. Here are the numbers:
1) Titanic - $600.7 million
2) Avatar – $552.7 million
1) Avatar - $1.283 billion
2) Titanic – $1.242 billion
1) Titanic - $1.842 billion
2) Avatar – $1.836 billion
It’s an incredible achievement for James Cameron to have the two highest grossing films of all time worldwide. There was a recent article that I read saying that Avatar has not sold as many tickets as blockbusters from the past, and that the 3-D showings are helping its gross because of the higher cost. Say what you want, we haven’t seen a phenomenon like Avatar since Titanic. Not even The Dark Knight was #1 for six straight weekends.
In a surprise to me, 2nd place belonged to Legion with a gross of $18.2 million (I predicted a 7th place opening with a gross of $6 million). The film overcame awful reviews to become a minor hit at the box office this weekend. It had a per theatre average of $7,351, which is pretty decent. I don’t see this film having a long future, as I just get the feeling that the core audience turned out this weekend, and that word-of-mouth will not carry the film.
Dropping one spot from last weekend to third place is The Book of Eli with a gross of $17 million (I predicted a 3rd place finish and a gross of $13.7 million). Down 48.2%, the film held up better than I had predicted, as The Book of Eli had a per theatre average of $5,464 in its second weekend. In two weeks, the Denzel Washington apocalypse tale has taken in $62 million.
Debuting in a disappointing 4th place is The Tooth Fairy with $14.5 million (I predicted a 2nd place finish and a gross of $17 million). The Dwayne Johnson comedy also had problems with negative reviews and ended up with a per theatre average of $4,336. Anytime a new film that is in wide release, has a per theatre average that is less than $5,000, long term prospects are dim. This is definitely a disappointing first week for The Tooth Fairy.
Rounding out the top five is The Lovely Bones with a gross of $8.8 million (I was bang on with my prediction of it being in 5th place and grossing $8.8 million). The film was down 48.3% from last weekend, and had a per theatre average of $3,423. The film had a great pedigree going into awards season with Peter Jackson directing a very well received book. Besides Jackson being an Oscar winner, the film also stars Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon, who had won Oscar’s previously. Then when the film was put into limited released, reviews were average at best, and the hopes for this to be a contender in awards season faded away. Expect this film to be on DVD soon. In its seven week run (five in limited, 2 in wide), The Lovely Bones has grossed $31.6 million.
The other major new release that debuted this weekend was Extraordinary Measures, and it had a very weak debut of $7 million to give it a 7th place finish (I predicted a 4th place finish and a gross of $12 million). Yet another new release that had to overcome terrible reviews, and audiences seemed to listen to the critics in this case. The film had a per theatre average of $2,746, which assures us all that the film will be on DVD in the very near future. The trailers did have a feel of a Made-for-TV movie, and I think the only reason it was in theatres was because of the cast involved. The producer’s could have saved some money hiring lesser known talent, and not put it into theatres, especially since the studio was CBS films. CBS should have just aired it on TV.
In limited release, To Save A Life grossed $1.5 million from 441 theatres for a per theatre average of $3,401, Creation grossed $52,000 from 7 theatres for a per theatre average of $7,429 and The Girl On The Train grossed $20,000 from two theatres for a per theatre average of $10,000.
Once again, here were my predictions:
1) Avatar – $33.7 million
2) The Tooth Fairy – $17 million
3) The Book of Eli – $13.7 million
4) Extraordinary Measures – $12 million
5) The Lovely Bones – $8.8 million
And here are the actual numbers:
1) Avatar – $36 million
2) Legion – $18.2 million
3) The Book of Eli – $17 million
4) The Tooth Fairy – $14.5 million
5) The Lovely Bones – $8.8 million
My predictions of what ended up being the top five films were off by $20.3 million.
Next weekend Avatar will continue to look to be the #1 film against Mel Gibson as a dad seeking vengeance in Edge of Darkness, and Kristen Bell looking for love in the romantic comedy When In Rome. Opening in limited release are North Face and Saint John of Las Vegas.
Check back next week for my predictions!