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TIFF 2017: Dragonfly Eyes

Dragonfly Eyes, Chinese artist Xu Bing’s first foray into feature-length filmmaking, is a direct glimpse into what the future of cinema might be.

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TIFF 2015 Marks Festival’s 40th Anniversary

First Festival of Festivals poster held by director Rosee Lacreta, 1976

It ain’t a mid-life crisis, that’s for sure. September’s just around the corner, and Torontonians know that means it’s time for another Toronto International Film Festival. This incarnation’s one of those zero-numbers people get so excited about, and at forty, TIFF’s getting downright venerable. What started out in 1975 as The Festival of Festivals (Toronto had big eyes back then, and not a whole lot else), has grown from a scrappy little fest in a half-dozen theatres around town to a massive media machine, with over 350 films appearing in its ten-day run. Start up the projector, let’s take a peak at a few treats that lie just ahead.

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Dracula Takes A Bite Out Of The Judge – Biff Bam Pop’s Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up Report

It was an interesting weekend at the box office, as there wound up being a few surprises with new releases. Here’s what went down.

Dracula_Untold_2Dracula Untold managed to surprise some pundits with its debut, coming in second with $23 million. While not the huge hit that Annabelle was last weekend, it’s still a solid showing for a film that’s definitely different from other current horror franchises. While it still has a ways to go before Dracula Untold makes back its $70 million, I’m guessing with the worldwide totals, it’s now actually doable.

Debuting in third place was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with $19 million. With little family fair out there at the moment, this one wound the ideal choice. Once can’t rule out the star power of Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner, either.

Finally, debuting in a distant fifth place is The Judge, Robert Downey Jr’s latest, with an underwhelming $13.3 million. It’s definitely not the sort of number the biggest actor in the world wants to see, but this is also an adult drama that may play a good long game. We’ll see if the film continues a slow burn over the next few weekends.

As for the rest of the top five, Gone Girl was on top for the second weekend in a row, grossing $26.8 million, down less than 30% from it’s opening weekend. Annabelle fell to fourth place with $16 million.

So, to recap, here were our predictions:

1) Gone Girl – $25 million
2) Annabelle – $22 million
3) Dracula Untold – $20 million
4) The Judge – $15 million
5) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – $13 million

And here’s how the weekend turned out:

1) Gone Girl – $26.8 million
2) Dracula Untold – $23 million
3) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – $19 million
4) Annabelle – $16 million
5) The Judge– $13.3 million

Next week sees The Book Of Life and Fury. Be sure to check back on Friday to see our predictions!

The Judge vs Dracula Untold – Biff Bam Pop’s Box Office Predictions

This weekend sees the release of at least two movies hoping to grab your box office dollars. Will any of them deliver? Here’s our predictions:

The_Judge_2014_film_posterThe Judge is the latest from Robert Downey Jr., the highest-paid actor in the world. There’s been lots of solid acclaim for the film, which debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, with talk of costar Robert Duvall possibly scoring an Oscar nomination for his role. While it may not be Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes, audiences are currently in love with Robert Downey Jr. and it should show this weekend with The Judge opening with a decent amount for a dramatic film. Look for a fourth place showing with $15 million.

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Who Will Top A Slow Weekend? Biff Bam Pop’s Box Office Predictions

While the eyes of the film world are on Toronto with the Toronto International Film Festival, the regular box office is going to be extremely quiet, with no big new releases hitting theaters.

gotgWhat that means is that Guardians of the Galaxy is going to have any easy time holding on to the top spot at the box office this weekend. Look for a first place showing with $12 million, as the film inches closer and closer to breaking the $300 million mark. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be in second place with $9 million, followed in third by If I Stay with $6 million. Let’s Be Cop will be in fourth place with $5 million, while The November Man should close things out in fifth with $4.5 million.

So, to recap, here are our predictions:

1) Guardians of the Galaxy – $12 million
2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $9 million
3) If I Stay – $6 million
4) Let’s Be Cops – $5 million
5) The November Man – $4.5 million

Check back on Sunday to see how the weekend turns out. In the meantime, I’ll be hitting some TIFF films this weekend, including the premieres of Roger Waters’ The Wall and Love and Mercy, the bio-film about Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson. Look for those on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

The Batch is Back!! (and 369 other reasons to hit this year’s TIFF)

It’s amazing to think how it’s grown. The first Toronto International Film Festival, or, as it was known back then in 1976, The Festival of Festivals, played to 35,000 people, showing 127 films. A pretty respectable inaugural run. Last year, TIFF showed 372 films from 72 different countries, playing to over 400,000 people. Somewhere along the way, Toronto’s quirky gathering for aficionados morphed into one of the 400-pound gorillas on the international festival circuit. Yesterday, TIFF unveiled an exciting chunk of their line-up for their 38th outing, and an abiding love for a certain well-known Sherlock/Trek personality. So if you’re eager to start planning your sleep-starved September, you can get a taste after the jump!
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Exclusive Interview: Andy Burns Talks To Director/Author John Landis

John_landisWhen you talk about legendary directors, it’s no stretch to put John Landis in that category. Let me just run down a few of the classic films he’s given us – National Lampoon’s Animal House. The Blue Brothers. An American Werewolf In London. Trading Places. Spies Like Us. Three Amigos. Coming To America. It’s a pretty amazing cv, isn’t it? This is the man who directed Thriller, the greatest music video of all time. Hell, he even co-wrote Clue, which is one of the most beloved films of the 80s.

A few years ago, John Landis added author to his list of credits with Monsters In The Movies, a gorgeous DK coffee table book that delivers what’s on the cover. I’d been hoping to talk to him about the book, his movies and the horror genre, and I’m happy to say, the interview finally came to pass, thanks to the folks at DK and the Toronto International Film Festival, who are putting on Toga! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a monthlong film fest which includes among its featured directors, John Landis. It’s all worked out so nicely. Let me preface our chat by saying that, of all the interviews I’ve done on our site, this was the most freewheeling, and in many ways, the most fun.

So, without further adieu, check out our interview with the one and only John Landis.

Monsters in the moviesAndy Burns: I’ve been waiting to talk you about Monsters In The Movies for a few years now, since DK sent it to me, so thank you for taking the time. First of all, how did you wind up writing the book. It’s a gorgeous book.

John Landis: I was in London making a movie, and in the U.K., An American Werewolf In London is a big movie. It’s like being in Chicago with The Blue Brothers. When you’ve made a lot of movies, certain movies have more resonance in certain countries. I was approached by four different publishers asking me to write a book about horror films. And I thought, “gee, I don’t want to”(laughs). But they were offering me money. Then, totally coincidentally, I met a woman named Loretta Dives who runs with her husband The Kobal Collection, which is the largest collection of motion picture photography in the world, and she asked me if I wanted to do a picture book. And I didn’t want to write a book about horror films, but the monsters themselves are so interesting visually that I thought that would make a fun book. She said, “Great, let’s do that”, and she went to several publishers, and we chose DK mainly because of the quality of their books.

It took about three months. I was doing other things too, but the writing of it went rather smoothly. I mean, it’s written in a conversational tone. I wrote the chapters, and then I thought that I wanted to hear from important and influential people in the monster world. So the ones who were in the book – Rick Baker, Ray Harryhausen, who sadly just passed, Christopher Lee, Sam Raimi, Guillermo Del Toro, Joe Dante, John Carpneter – they’re all friends of mine. I’ve known all those guys for 35, 40 years, so I did these conversations where I sat with them and recorded it. I enjoyed those, but unfortunately because of the limitations of the book ,I had to heavily edit them, because they were quite lengthy. The two most interesting things about them were that, they’re old friends, so they can’t bullshit me. I can challenge them. And two – I think they all had really interesting and insightful things to say.

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Taken 2 Takes Down Argo and Sinister – Biff Bam Pop Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up Report

Well, we were definitely off with our prediction of the power of horror at the box office this weekend. Instead, Liam Neeson managed to hold onto the top spot while the spooky Sinister had to settle for third. Here’s what went down:

Liam Neeson’s Taken 2 claimed bragging rights at the box office for the second weekend in a row, bringing in $22 million to lift the film’s take to a solid $86 million in two weeks. Taken 2 will have no trouble making it to $100 million in the next few days, and may just match the original’s $145 million North American take when it’s all said and done.

Find out what filled out the rest of the top five after the jump!
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Argo vs Sinister vs Here Comes The Boom – Biff Bam Pop’s Weekend Box Office Predictions

Lots of new releases hitting theatres this weekend, but how many of them will be able to make it into top five? Here’s our predictions and picks for the ones that are going to resonate with audiences.

The latest film from director Ben Affleck, Argo is the allegedly true story of the 1979 rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film has generated big time Oscar buzz and was well received during the Toronto International Film Festival last month (you can read our review here). Will the buzz mean big box office bucks? Not necessarily, though Argo will likely have strong word of mouth that could keep it strong and make it a slow burn film. Look for a fourth place debut with $15 million.

So will any new release claim the top spot? Find out after the jump!

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TIFF 2012 – Rob Zombie Unleashes The Lords of Salem

Is there a better director working in the “horror” genre than Rob Zombie?

After watching his fifth film, The Lords of Salem, the answer is without question, no.

In this story of returning witches looking to gain revenge on the citizens of Salem, Mass, Zombie creates a visceral, horrific, stomach churning and thoughtful piece of genre moviemaking that not only builds on the promise of his earlier films, but exceeds any and all expectations I had.

Find out why after the jump!

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