Daily Archives: September 13, 2010
Since I was about 18 or 19 years old I’ve been able list off pretty quickly what my favorite books are. There’s three of them, the ones that I often refer to as “the old stand-bye’s”. They are, in no particular order Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King’s The Stand and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of them, I’ve read the Ellis probably five or six times, Gatsby roughly three times, while I only ever scaled The Stand once, when I was thirteen years old. It’s stuck with me for 20 years though, much as all my favourites have. However, earlier this year, while commuting on subway and bus to my then day job, I read a series that threw my entire reading world out of whack, simply by how deeply I became engrossed in it. I’m referring to yet another Stephen King opus.
That would be the opening sentence to The Dark Tower. Seven often brilliant books that tell that tale of Roland Deschain, last in the line of Eld, a noble gunslinger in a world that has “moved on”. His remaining quest – to discover the tower that stands at the middle of everything. Along the way he gathers fellow travelers (a fellowship, if you prefer) who assist him on his journey. Some of them are fictional characters, some more than that; and if you’re one of the many who become so immersed in Roland’s world, you become just as much a member of The Gunslinger’s ka-tet. The series is King’s magnum opus, lasting several thousand pages, worlds and times while crossing over into many of his other literary works. In a career of so many high points, The Dark Tower nearly trumps everything, based solely on the authors ambition. Is it King’s best work? Not entirely – I believe that accolade still rests with the expanded edition of The Stand. But I do believe that The Dark Tower is his most heartfelt, his most resonate. I’m not a Lord Of The Rings geek, I’ve never read any of the books, but I imagine fans devotion to that particular series is what I feel when I think about The Dark Tower and how profoundly moving I found it. It’s no exaggeration to say it was one of the greatest reading experiences of my life.
Which is why the thought that Akiva Goldsman and Ron Howard are the Hollywood heavyweights who have received the rights to adapt the series fills me with disbelief and disappointment. Along with NBC/Universal, producer Brian Grazer and with Stephen King’s sign-off and likely participation, Goldsman and Howard will bring The Dark Tower to life via three feature films and a television series that will run in-between those releases. In some ways, that’s a brilliant idea. It allows for this scope of the story to be respected and reflected, which is all any of us who love the series could hope for. But it’s the question of whether these creators really have the vision, patience or ability to bring this world to the various screens that gives me serious pause.
You see, while both Goldsman and Howard may have Oscars for their celebrated film A Beautiful Mind, they’ve also been responsible for the lackluster Dan Brown films The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, neither of which gathered much critical acclaim (and in the laters case, disappointing box office returns). Furthermore, Goldsman is the man who wrote the absolutely horrible 1997 film Batman and Robin. You know, the one with Arnold Schwarzenneger as Mr. Freeze and the nipples. One of the worst films of all time and one that killed the Batman franchise for nearly a decade.
You can see why I’d be a little worried.
A lot has been made about the ambitious scope that NBC/Universal and Howard/Goldsman/Grazer are aiming for The Dark Tower, with lots of comparisons to how Peter Jackson approached shooting The Lord Of The Rings. But let’s be frank – regardless of how technically capable he may be, Ron Howard is no Peter Jackson. Not to mention the fact that while popular, King’s series is less than thirty years old and never crossed over to the masses the way that LOTR or even the Harry Potter series had. The commercial success of a Dark Tower film franchise is far from guaranteed. As for a television series that links the three films, while I love the idea, if the show is running on NBC and doesn’t deliver the expected ratings, I can’t see the network being particularly patient before pulling the plug. Just ask Conan.
I hope I’m wrong about all of this. I hope my little worries and fears are all for naught. The fact that Stephen King signed off on this does give me some relief, since he’s been fiercely of the rights to the property. I hope Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman knock The Dark Tower out of the park and introduce Roland, Jake, Susannah, Eddie and Oy to a whole new audience who will love them as much as I do. I hope that they find the perfect actor to play The Gunslinger (Thomas Jane, anyone) and that he completes the journey placed in front of him. Because I love this series something fierce and all I want is for it to succeed.
If ka wills it, so it will be.
As expected, Resident Evil: Afterlife dominated the box office, leading a very lackluster weekend. No film wand close and theatres definitely need to be rejuvenated with new films in the very near future to help bring the box office off of life support. My predictions were very good this weekend. I predicted 4 of the 5 films in the top five with two in order and I was less than $4 million off in my predictions. Here’s how the weekend broke down:
Resident Evil: Afterlife debuted in 1st place with a gross of $27.7 million (I predicted a 1st place finish and a gross of $29 million). Resident Evil: Afterlife had a per theatre average of $8,646, which was by far the highest per theatre average in the top ten. The opening weekend was the best ever for the franchise as evidenced below:
2002 – Resident Evil – $17.7 million opening weekend
2004 – Resident Evil: Apocalypse – $23 million opening weekend
2007 – Resident Evil: Extinction – $23.6 million opening weekend
2010 – Resident Evil: Afterlife – $27.7 million opening weekend
The 3-D aspect of the film definitely helped Resident Evil: Afterlife as there has not been a 3-D film worth seeing in quite awhile. Now that reviews for the film have come out, you can understand why Screen Gems declined to show the film for critics, as the film is currently listed at 14% at Rotten Tomatoes. Still, a good start for the film, but we’ll see if it can hold up next weekend and it still has a ways to go to make back its reported budget of $60 million.
The rest of the box office was anemic to say the least as no film grossed more than $6.1 million from 2nd place down. Here’s how the rest of the pack did:
Staying in 2nd place for a second weekend in a row is the heist film Takers with a gross of $6.1 million (I predicted a 2nd place finish and a gross of $6.5 million). The per theatre average for Takers was $2,784 and down 43.9% from last weekend. After three weeks of release, Takers has taken in $48.1 million and the budget for the film is $32 million, so it’s a profitable movie.
Dropping from 1st place to 3rd place is the George Clooney thriller The American with a gross of $5.8 million (I predicted a 4th place finish and a gross of $4.77 million). The American had a per theatre average of $2,081, and was down 55.3% from last weekend. The drop was a little smaller than I expected considering all the negative reaction the film has generated from audiences. After two weekends, The American has grossed $26.7 million, so it has become a profitable film as the budget is around $20 million.
Dropping from 2nd place to 4th place is the action film Machete with a gross of $4.2 million (I predicted a 5th place finish and a gross of $4.4 million). Machete had a per theatre average of $1,568 and was down 63.2% in its second weekend. The percentage drop was the highest of any film in the top ten this weekend. The percentage drop is also on par with Grindhouse’s drop back in 2007 as that film dropped 62.6% in its second weekend. After two weekends, Machete has grossed $20.8 million, so it has become a profitable film as the budget is $20 million.
Staying in 5th place for the second weekend in a row is the Drew Barrymore//Justin Long romantic comedy Going the Distance with a gross of $3.8 million (I predicted a 7th place finish and a gross of $4.21 million). Going the Distance had a per theatre average of $1,266 and was down 44.3% from its first weekend. After two weekends, Going the Distance has grossed $14 million, so it still has some work to do to make back its budget of $32 million.
Rising from 7th place to 6th place is the action-comedy The Other Guys with a gross of $3.6 million (I predicted an 8th place finish and a gross of $3.6 million). The Other Guys had a per theatre average of $1,603 and dropped 31.9% from last weekend, which is the lowest percentage drop in the top ten. The budget for The Other Guys is around $100 million and after six weeks of release it has taken in $112.6 million.
Dropping from 4th place to 7th place is the horror film The Last Exorcism with a gross of $3.4 million (I predicted a 10th place finish and a gross of $2.9 million). The Last Exorcism had a per theatre average of $1,263 and was down 53% from last weekend. After three weekends, The Last Exorcism has grossed $38.1 million and is a very profitable film for Lionsgate as the budget for the film is only $1.8 million.
Dropping from 6th place to 8th place is The Expendables with a gross of $3.2 million (I predicted a 6th place finish and a gross of $5.89 million). The Expendables had a per theatre average of $1,063 and suffered a drop of 50.9% from last weekend. After five weekends, The Expendables has grossed $98.4 million, and with a budget rumoured to be around $80 million, it’s starting to make money for Lionsgate. It will also become only the second film in the history of Lionsgate Films to gross over $100 million at some point this week.
Staying in 9th place for a second weekend in a row is Inception with a gross of $3 million (I predicted a 6th place finish and a gross of $4.2 million). The per theatre average for Inception was $1,905, and the film was down 34.1% from last weekend which continues the trend of Inception having its percentage drops being below 40% each weekend of its release, which is a really incredible accomplishment. Here’s the breakdown to prove my point:
Inception’s Weekend Drops
2nd weekend – 32% drop
3rd weekend – 35.7% drop
4th weekend – 32.7% drop
5th weekend – 39% drop
6th weekend – 30.5% drop
7th weekend – 37.8% drop
8th weekend – 6.2% drop
9th weekend – 34.1% drop
After nine weekends, Inception has grossed $282.4 million and has made quite a lot of money for Warner Bros. as the budget for the film is $160 million.
Rounding out the top ten is Eat Pray Love which drops from 8th place to 10th place with a gross of $2.9 million (I predicted a 9th place finish and a gross of $3.2 million). Eat Pray Love had a per theatre average of $1,240 and was down 39.6% from last weekend. After five weekends, Eat Pray Love has grossed $74.5 million, and with a reported budget of $60 million, it is making money for Sony.
In limited release:
The Romantics – This film stars Katie Holmes and Josh Duhamel and follows a group of friends who get together again for a wedding and deal with their past relationships with each other. This film grossed $44,400 from 2 theatres, giving it a scorching per theatre average of $22,200 which was the highest of any film in release.
Ahead of Time – This is a documentary about the amazing life of Ruth Gerber. Google her, and it will put your life to shame. This film grossed $11,700 from 1 theatre.
De Mai Tinh (Fool for Love) – This film grossed $52,800 from 8 theatres, giving it a per theatre average of $6,600.
Bran Nue Dae – This is an Australian musical comedy about a native couple falling in love. This film grossed $26,900 from 16 theatres, giving it a per theatre average of $1,681.
Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), Lovely, Still, Hideaway, Heartbreaker, I’m Still Here and Legendary have not reported their opening weekend grosses as of this writing.
So to recap, here were my predictions:
Resident Evil: Afterlife – $29 million
Takers – $6.5 million
The Expendables – $4.9 million
The American – $4.7 million
Machete – $4.4 million
And here are the actual numbers:
Resident Evil: Afterlife – $27.7 million
Takers – $6.1 million
The American – $5.8 million
Machete – $4.2 million
Going the Distance – $3.8 million
My predictions were off by $3.8 million.
Next weekend, Resident Evil: Afterlife looks to be the #1 film for the second weekend in a row against the animated feature Alpha and Omega, the M. Night Shyamalan produced Devil, the teenage comedy Easy A and the Ben Affleck crime-thriller The Town. Check out Biff Bam Pop next Friday to read my predictions!