Daily Archives: May 2, 2011
Irredeemable is Irresistible: Andy Burns Absorbs The First 24 Issues Of Mark Waid’s Brilliant Superhero Story
Imagine if Superman went absolutely mental, turned his back on the world and decided to use his powers for absolute evil. What chance would we stand? Think about it for a second; the epitome of heroism and valor, truth, justice and the American way (regardless of what he may have said recently in one of his stories) suddenly cracks under the pressure of having to be the world’s guardian and decides to go rogue. In the world of super hero comics, I think that’s about as scary a concept as you can work with. Which is exactly what the heralded scribe Mark Waid came up with in 2009 with BOOM Studios’ brilliant Irredeemable.
If you’re a comic book fan, you’re likely familiar with Waid’s pedigree, but for the uninitiated a brief recap – Mark Waid has worked for both DC and Marvel on both the editorial and writing end of things, including stints crafting stories for the Justice League, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and so many others. However, he’s likely best known for his collaboration with artist Alex Ross on Kingdom Come, the DC Elseworld story about a retired Superman and an apocalyptic battle for the ages. It’s one of the stories, along with The Dark Phoenix Saga, Watchmen and The Dark Night Returns that has already stood the test of time. While Ross’ artwork is most cited when people talk about Kingdom Come, Waid’s writing is definitely equal to the task. His knack for detailing conflicted super heroes shines throughout that series, but in my opinion is even stronger with Irredeemable and it’s flawed protagonist, the Superman stand-in called The Plutonian.
In a world much like our own, but that doesn’t belong to either the DC or Marvel Universes, The Plutonian is the heralded hero, beloved by all…until one day he seemingly just cracks, killing millions in his adopted home of Sky City and around the world. He then systematically begins eliminating his teammates on the superhero team, The Paradigm. The series (25 issues so far) unravels the story behind what made The Plutonian go evil and how his colleagues try to take him down without unravelling whatever good there is left in their own ranks.
Being able to work in his own universe serves Waid well. He’s telling a story that simply couldn’t realistically unfold in any of the mainstream comic books worlds. The violence throughout Irredeemable is intense and brutal (within the first few pages The Plutonian uses his heatvision to kill a teammates entire family – nasty); meanwhile, the motivations for many of the characters in the story are definitely adult. There are more than a few love triangles throughout the series, but they never veer into campiness, which is another credit to the strong writing. All of this is conveyed by the solid art of Peter Krause who, along with occasional assistance from Diego Barretto, has handled the majority of work in the series.
I picked up the first 24 issues of Irredeemable a few weeks ago (another digital comic purchase courtesy of Comixology and BOOM Studios) and quickly made my way through the series – it’s a serious page turner. Not only did I want to find out more about The Plutonian, his history and why he turned his back on the world, but I was also interested in the entire supporting cast of characters Waid has created for the series, truly the mark of a great storyteller. A super hero story that isn’t afraid to cut loose and delve deep into the concepts of good and evil, Irredeemable is, suffice to say, one of the best series I’ve read in a very long time and well worth your time.
Fast Five was the #1 film at the box office this weekend as it completely annihilated the competition setting a new record for an opening weekend in April in the process. In fact, Fast Five out grossed the number two through ten films combined. The weekend’s other two new releases: Prom and Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil were dead on arrival and had absolutely terrible opening weekend. My predictions were pretty good as I correctly predicted four of the five films in the top five and placed all four films that I did pick in the correct finish. Here’s how the weekend broke down:
Debuting in 1st place is the action film Fast Five with a whopping gross of $83.6 million (I predicted a 1st place finish and a gross of $77 million). Fast Five had a per theatre average of $22,950, which was by far and away the best per theatre average of any film in the top ten and the second best per theatre average of any film in release. The decision to have each film of the franchise represented with actors from each of those films and the addition of Dwayne Johnson appealed to audiences and led to a tremendous opening weekend. In fact, the opening weekend set two records: 1) The best opening weekend in franchise history and 2) The best opening weekend in the month of April beating the previous record which was set by Fast and Furious. Here’s a list of how the franchise has done on its opening weekends:
2001 – The Fast and the Furious – $40 million opening weekend
2003 – 2 Fast 2 Furious – $50.4 million opening weekend
2006 – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – $23.9 million opening weekend
2009 – Fast and Furious – $70.9 million opening weekend
2011 – Fast Five – $83.6 million opening weekend
The negative of the franchise is that it does suffer large second weekend declines, and with the official start of the summer movie season beginning this Friday, I would expect a big drop from Fast Five next weekend. Still, this is the biggest opening weekend of 2011 and Universal is absolutely ecstatic on how Fast Five performed. It will definitely make back its budget, which is rumoured to be $125 million.
Dropping from 1st place to 2nd place is the animated adventure Rio with a gross of $14.4 million (I predicted a 2nd place finish and a gross of $15.5 million). Rio had a per theatre average of $3,883 and was down 45.3% from last weekend’s gross. There will be a common theme with this weekend’s report and that is audiences will want to see the new releases more than films that have been out for more than a week. The percentage drops in this weekend’s top ten are very high, with the lowest drop belonging to Soul Surfer with 39.3% (Soul Surfer finished in 7th place with a gross of $3.3 million). So for Rio to have a drop that is close to the lowest drop in the top ten, shows that it did have a good hold this weekend, but that its run at the box office will soon be over. After three weeks, Rio has grossed $103.6 million from a budget of $90 million.
Dropping from 2nd place to 3rd place is Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family with a gross of $10.1 million (I predicted a 3rd place finish and a gross of $10.25 million). Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family had a per theatre average of $4,392 and was down 59.9% from last weekend. The high percentage drop is in line with Tyler Perry films, so I would say that the film performed as expected. The budget for the film has still not been released yet, but I think it’s safe to say that it is another profitable film for Tyler Perry as after ten days of release, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family has grossed $41.1 million.
Dropping from 3rd place to 4th place is the Reese Witherspoon // Robert Pattinson romance Water for Elephants with a gross of $9.1 million (I predicted a 4th place finish and a gross of $9.2 million). Water for Elephants had a per theatre average of $3,236 and was down 45.8% from last weekend. Like I said with Rio, the fact that the percentage drop was close to the 39.9 percentage drop of Soul Surfer is a good sign for the film, but I did think that the adult drama might have played a little better (that’s my heart talking and not my head, as my head was very close to how the film actually performed this weekend). Once the summer movie season starts next weekend, this romantic drama will definitely shed theatres and be on DVD shelves soon. After ten days of release, Water for Elephants has grossed $32.2 million and is close to making back its budget of $38 million for 20th Century Fox.
Prom debuted in 5th place with a gross of $5 million (I predicted a 6th place finish and a gross of $7 million). Prom had a per theatre average of $1,832, which is atrocious considering that it had a theatre count of 2,730 and had the Disney marketing power behind it. My rule of thumb is that any major new release should be able to have a per theatre average of at least $5,000. That doesn’t mean that the film will be a hit or a flop, but it’s an average starting point. Disney tried to release a film that capitalized on prom season, but with no major stars or recognizable names in the film, it was dead on arrival. The budget for the film is $8 million, so this is not going to be a hugely profitable film for Disney when all is said and done, as it should barely make back its money.
Speaking of terrible opening weekends, Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil debuted in 6th place with a gross of $4.1 million (I predicted a 5th place finish and a gross of $9 million). The 3-D animated adventure had an absolutely atrocious per theatre average of $1,653 and it also hit a dubious mark of distinction. It had the 10th worst opening weekend (from films released from 1982 to present day) for a film that was released in more than 2,500 theatres on its opening weekend. The sequel came nowhere close to the originals $12.4 million opening weekend back in 2005, even though the sequel was being shown in 3-D. It’s a terrible opening weekend and there is no way this film makes back its budget of $30 million for The Weinstein Company.
In limited release:
Cave of Forgotten Dreams was the big winner of the films in limited release. The film grossed $127,000 from five theatres, giving it a per theatre average of $25,400, which also gave it the best per theatre average of any film in release.
So to recap, here were my predictions:
Fast Five – $77 million
Rio – $15.5 million
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – $10.25 million
Water for Elephants – $9.24 million
Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil – $9 million
And here are the actual numbers:
Fast Five – $83.6 million
Rio – $14.4 million
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family – $10.1 million
Water for Elephants – $9.1 million
Prom – $5 million
Next weekend, Fast Five looks to be the #1 film for a second weekend in a row against three major new films: the comedy Jumping the Broom, the romantic comedy Something Borrowed and the film that officially starts the summer movie season, the action-adventure Thor. Check out Biff Bam Pop next Friday to read my predictions!