Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Delivering the 4th largest Memorial Day weekend opening of all time (without accounting for inflation), "The Hangover Part II" eclipsed $100 million in its 4-day weekend and has already moved well past $130 million in 5 short days. The film delivered the second largest 5-day count for an R-rated film, trailing just 2003's "The Matrix: Reloaded" ($139.4 million in 5 days) and sliding in just ahead of "The Passion of the Christ" ($125.5 million in 5 days).
Bulletproof to poor reviews, the Wolfpack drew a huge number, far exceeding optimistic expectations within the industry. With an estimated $59 million in foreign box office counts, "The Hangover Part II" has nearly grossed $200 million worldwide in approximately 120 hours! This is an extraordinary haul for the most eagerly anticipated film of the first half of 2011. The only remaining question comes with the second weekend, as the film will be seriously challenged by "X-Men: First Class" (June 3) and "Super 8" (June 10). The same audience will be tapped into for those films and we will see if this "Hangover" lasts a lot longer than one weekend.
Oh by the way...another sequel landed at the box office Memorial Day weekend and while these particular numbers would look good for many other films, Paramount and DreamWorks are reportedly disappointed in the $67 million domestic take for "Kung Fu Panda 2"'s first 5 days. Well received by critics and CinemaScore polling, "KFP2" performed well internationally, almost matching "The Hangover Part II"'s take and earning $124 million worldwide. Budgeted at $150 million, profit will not be an issue ultimately, but the all-important domestic figures hinge on a strong second weekend, which could happen depending on the demos who turn out for "X-Men", the only major opening next weekend. All of this taken into account however does not spell well for this "Panda" scoring the same $215 domestic/$631 worldwide bank of its predecessor.
Other notables, including a glorious "Midnight" and a sprouting "Tree", along with the Top 40 for the Memorial Day Weekend after the cut!
Tarantino fans are hungry for any information regarding his next film, Django Unchained. However, while deals are still being done, we’re all left to wonder how the film will be cast. We already know that Christoph Waltz will play a bounty hunter who mentors an escaped slave named Django and then teams up with him to free Django’s wife from an evil plantation owner. Rumors are now springing forth from the Twitter about casting for Django and the plantation owner, Calvin Candie. Yesterday, tweets from Idris Elba hinted (in the vaguest of terms) that he might be playing Django even though Will Smith was tipped as Tarantino’s top choice for the role. Today, Creative Screenwriting magazine Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith tweeted
“Casting Rumor: Leonardo DiCaprio WILL play villian [sic] Calvin Candie in [Quentin] Tarantino‘s “Django Unchained”! QT wanted him for [Inglourious Basterds] & now has him!”
Hit the jump for more on these rumors.
A Grindhouse type B movie gleefully embracing the silly side of 3D, this feature from the team that brought you the surprisingly good My Bloody Valentine 3D isn't quite on that level, but it still is a good time. It's ridiculous and never quite finds the right balance to make it completely successful, but it does more things right than it does wrong. In a better week it wouldn't be the top choice, but during this week, it's a solid enough selection. If you like a bit of wacky fun with your action, you can do a lot worse than this movie.
-Also out this week that I've seen is the latest film by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Oscar nominated drama Biutiful. I've never really been sold by an Inarritu film, and this is no exception. He's not a particularly strong screenwriter, and while he continues to get excellent performances from his actors, he can't tie it together effectively. It's worth checking out to see Javier Bardem's lead performance, but that's really it in my opinion.
-The other two films out this week I haven't seen but am very curious about. There's the latest film by Gregg Araki, the sexual suspense/comedy Kaboom, which received mixed reviews, and the drama Passion Play, which received awful reviews ever since its festival premiere last year. I'm interested in seeing both, and will be definitely chiming in with a review of the latter in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout for that. If you're a brave soul, check one or both of them out and report back with what you thought!
The first of the Peter Jackson-directed installments will be called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Warners will release the film December 14, 2012. The second installment, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, will be released a year later, on December 13, 2013. The films revolve around the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), and his efforts to thwart the fearsome dragon Smaug. I'd heard way back when that Jackson was eyeing Bill Nighy to provide the voice of the dragon, but Jackson hasn't yet announced who he got and I'm told the whole thing is being kept under lock down. Jackson has brought back from The Lord of the Rings such cast members as Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving.
Did winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival do the trick for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life?
Over the weekend, the Brad Pitt-Sean Penn starrer debuted in the U.S. to a per screen average of $93,320—a record for a Fox Searchlight title. Searchlight’s previous best was $80,000 for Black Swan.
Opening Friday in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, Tree of Life grossed an estimated $372,920 through Sunday. Including Monday--the Memorial Day holiday--the moody drama grossed an estimated $488,920 for a per screen average of $122,230.
Searchlight senior vice president for distribution Sheila DeLocahe said the film’s performance was all the more impressive considering its running time is two hours and eighteen minutes. And Searchlight relied almost entirely on publicity to generate interest in the drama, versus an expensive media campaign.
“Winning the Palme d’Or really pushed it forward,” said DeLoache, adding that Tree of Life has become a must-see event title.
The last American film to walk away with the top honor was Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 seven years ago.
Tree of Life isn’t the only film feeling the Cannes glow. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the festival’s opening night film, continued to do strong business in its second weekend at the domestic box office.
Monday, May 30, 2011
* Good morning, readers. As a reminder of last week’s events, I give my thoughts on the Oscar potential of the major Cannes Film Festival award winners.
* Joey Magidson chooses the lesser of two evils (actually more like mediocrities) for his DVD Picks of the Week.
* Anna Belickis was nonplussed by both Jumping the Broom and Madea’s Big Happy Family, Mike Ward confirmed our suspicions about Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Joey recommended Daydream Nation and raved about Midnight in Paris.
* Speaking of which, I commemorate the release of Woody Allen’s latest film with a Historical Circuit retrospective on one of my favorite works from him.
* Anna also recaps the penultimate episode of “Dancing with the Stars.” Stay tuned for her thoughts on the finale.
* Oscar Tracker gets launched, with The Tree of Life and We Need to Talk About Kevin being the major additions.
* Remember also that today is Memorial Day. The Awards Circuit extends our gratitude to the brave members of America's armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
The supposed box office slump plaguing Hollywood has vanished as this past weekend may ultimately become the biggest Memorial Day weekend of all time, paced by the 1-2 punch of "The Hangover Part II" and "Kung Fu Panda 2".
THE HANGOVER PART II
First and foremost, the conversation starts with "The Hangover Part II" which delivered the third largest Thursday opening of all time ($31.6 million) and followed it up with the largest R-rated live action comedy opening ever. With a staggering 4-day take of $118.1 million, the film crushed the first film's 4-day start of $52.6 million. Now granted, things are much different this time around as the first film finished up with $467 million worldwide and one of the most popular comedies of the last several years. Additionally, "The Hangover Part II" was arguably the most anticipated mainstream release of the first half of 2011.
Surviving a tepid critical response, "The Hangover Part II" seemed made of teflon and reviews of a positive or negative vibe would not and did not matter at all. With "Part II" not as fresh or as original as "Part One" and largely a retread of the story and plot from the first film, industry analysts were wondering if word-of-mouth would lead to audiences diminishing as the weekend went on. Clearly, that was and is not the case and this "Hangover" is a certifiable smash.
KUNG FU PANDA 2
Receiving smaller than expected numbers, "Kung Fu Panda 2" nonetheless brought in an estimated $53.8 million in its opening four days. This effort at counterprogramming was expected to match or exceed the opening weekend of 2008's "Kung Fu Panda", as that film began with $60.2 million in 3 days domestically, before earning a massive $631.7 million worldwide haul.
Interestingly, audiences overseas bested the North American box office totals, as "Panda 2" earned $57 million across the water. The reaction internally is apparently mixed with some analysts saying that when the 5-day count concludes, the film will be precisely where they expected (approximately $65 stateside), while others reportedly felt the film would finish with a bigger figure. Budgeted at $150 million, the film will be profitable worldwide by next weekend, but may struggle to match the domestic take of the first film's $215 million.
More updates to come through the rest of the Memorial Day weekend, but two films, released on a much smaller scale, turned heads in a big way after the cut!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Terrence Malick left a lot of “The Tree of Life” footage on the cutting room floor. But the writer-director’s elaborate visual presentation of the birth of the universe and the origin of life may have a second life in an Imax documentary.
The publicity-phobic maker of “The New World” and “The Thin Red Line” has been developing a documentary called “Voyage of Time.” It was originally designed as a companion piece to “Tree of Life,” which opens in Los Angeles and New York on Friday. But the producers of “Tree of Life” were concerned that two films—one fiction, one not—covering similar ground might confuse audiences, and decided to push back “Voyage of Time” to an unspecified future date.
On Thursday, The Hangover Part II blasted off with an estimated $31.66 million at 3,615 locations, marking the highest-grossing opening day ever for a live-action comedy. That also nearly doubled the $16.7-million Friday start of the first Hangover.
Among all Thursday grosses, The Hangover Part II ranked third behind Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith ($50 million) and The Matrix Reloaded ($37.5 million), although it would slot fourth adjusted for ticket-price inflation, behind Attack of the Clones. The last three pre-Memorial Day weekend Thursday debuts are Sex And The City 2 ($14.2 million), Terminator Salvation ($13.4 million) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($25.0 million).
Among all 2011 opening days so far, The Hangover Part II ranked third, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($34.9 million) and Fast Five ($34.4 million), but those were Friday debuts. Included in The Hangover Part II's opening day was its $10.4 million midnight launch at 2,600 locations, which was the biggest of of the year and more than doubled Pirates' $4.7 million.
Kung Fu Panda 2 was overshadowed by the Wolf Pack, grossing an estimated $5.8 million at 3,925 locations. The disparity between the two movies will shrink over the weekend as only ten percent of K-12 schools were out on Thursday. The animated comedy is the first major family movie to debut on a Thursday outside of the holiday season, so there is no apples-to-apples comparison to gauge its performance, although Shrek 2 grabbed $9.2 million in its first Thursday while Shrek The Third bagged $5.9 million. The first Kung Fu Panda opened on a Friday and made $20.3 million.
After a year of secrecy, J.J. Abrams’ nostalgia-fuelled monster movie “Super 8” is finally done—the film is locked, it has screened for critics (a Playlister has seen it, although we can’t yet tell you what we thought) and it hits theaters in a couple of weeks. While most of the details are still under wraps, Abrams, and producer Steven Spielberg, have started doing the PR rounds ahead of the film’s release two weeks from now.
Empire have some pretty ace access with the film: not only does their latest issue, which hit newsstands yesterday, has an extensive feature on the film, but they also talked to Abrams and Spielberg for a lengthy video interview on their site. While they kept characteristically tight-lipped about the film, there’s a few interesting tidbits that are worth checking out. Below, the ten most interesting pieces of info. For more, check out the video on Empire’s site, or get the July 2011 issue of the magazine.
The juicy bits are after the jump...
Michael Mann is close to a deal to helm 20th Century Fox’s Go Like Hell. The film is based on the book by A.J. Baime, which focuses on the 1966 battle between Ford and Ferrari when an American car won the Le Mans race for the first time in history. Baime’s story focuses on Henry Ford II, young visionary Lee Iacocca, and former racing champion turned engineer Carroll Shelby. The three worked together to reinvent the Ford company and eventually became the first Americans to win the 24-Hours of Le Mans race in France.Showblitz reports that while no casting has begun, Brad Pitt has been considered as the lead. Mann has a number of projects that he’s considering as his next directing vehicle, including an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt, a novel centered around the 15th century Battle of Agincourt. He’s also circling the adventure film Gold, produced by Paul Haggis.
-Joey's Two Cents: It seems like something with potential, so I'll be keeping an eye on it...thoughts?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
This year, movies like Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Hoodwinked 2 (did anyone even see the first one?), another Tyler Perry movie, Red Riding Hood, and the Justin Bieber documentary all easily made their way into theaters. Know what hasn’t come out this year (or the past couple) while films like Something Borrowed get their big studio pushes?
Kenneth Lonergan‘s follow-up to his brilliant debut, You Can Count on Me, has had a notoriously rough time making it to theaters, both due to legal issues and a dispute over final cut.
The film was shot almost six years ago. The editing process has been called a nightmare. Lonergan has a three-hour cut that Fox Searchlight isn’t too keen on releasing. Why? Because they won’t release a version over two hours long. Lonergan has final cut, which hasn’t made the situation any easier. Great talents such as Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Scott Rudin, and Sydney Pollack did passes on the film to get it down to a shorter length.
And right now, Scorsese is doing another edit of the film with Lonergan.
2011 is a good time to be a Terrence Malick fan. The notoriously reclusive director doesn’t talk to press so for the most part, before this year, getting any info on “The Tree Of Life” or anything else he was working on required patience, digging and a bit of teeth pulling. But with the “The Tree Of Life” beginning its rollout this weekend, the producers of the film are talking to press on his behalf and in addition to chatting about the film are also offering up morsels on some other projects Malick is currently cooking up. As you already know, last year he shot a new untitled film—referred to as “The Burial” in some cirlces—starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper and Jessica Chastain. Details have been scarce, and while some bits and pieces leaked last fall, as we guessed, it’ll probably be nothing like whatever those scrapings of info suggested.
24 Frames reports that Malick recently wrapped reshoots and finished photography on the film and that according to their source it is “even more experimental than ‘Tree of Life.’” Of course, that’s fairly vague and could mean anything, but given that Malick has taken fusing drama with much larger spiritual and existential questions in “The Tree Of Life,” we’re not surprised that his next effort may be even more boldly freeform in its approach. But “experimental” means many things to many people so don’t cling to that descriptor too hard.
More than two months after Darren Aronofsky dropped out of directing "The Wolverine," 20th Century Fox is considering eight candidates, a diverse group that includes helmers both with indie pedigree and tentpole experience.
Studio is considering Jose Padilha, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Justin Lin, Gavin O'Connor, James Mangold and Gary Shore (largely a commercials director) to helm the Hugh Jackman-toplined actioner, multiple sources tell Variety.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
-Joey's Two Cents: I like the look of this a lot more than I was expecting to. It could very well with the Academy, but we shall see...thoughts?
It’s been five years since 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine” and while directing duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have had several projects in development, earlier this year it was finally revealed the duo we pushing forward with “He Loves Me.” Written by actress Zoe Kazan who will co-star in the picture with her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano, the project is a meta-strange sounding road-trip film that centers on a young novelist who achieves success early in his career but begins to face struggles. It has been described as a blend of “Adaptation” and “Weird Science,” as the young protagonist follows the advice of writing the woman he thinks will love him in a bid to overcome his writer’s block. Here’s the strange part, through this odd exercise he ends up willing her into existence.
The highly anticipated adaptation of Max Brooks' World War Z, directed by Marc Forster
According to ScreenDaily, shooting will begin in Malta. Production will then relocate to the UK and, later, Hungary. Principal photography will last well into the fall.
J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan penned the script. -Joey's Two Cents: I loved the book and can't wait for this flick...thoughts?
Columbia Pictures has picked up the U.S. distribution rights to Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s project regarding Navy Seal Team 6 and its hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
The duo behind the Oscar-winning thriller The Hurt Locker have been working on the project for some time and were eyeing a summer start when real life events -- Bin Laden’s killing by the black ops team -- overtook the
project. Boal is incorporating the latest developments into the script.
Boal and Bigelow will produce the project, along with Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures, which is financing. Greg Shapiro, who worked on Hurt Locker, is exec producing.
Production is slated to begin in the late summer. The film will be released in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the studio.
The pickup marks another timely and elevated project for Amy Pascal and Columbia's slate. After the success of The Social Network, they have proven themselves unafraid to try on dramas if the right creative people are involved.
Annapurna, meanwhile, has also been ratcheting up its slate, which has become more and more high-profile in recent months.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The first public screening of JJ Abrams‘ Super 8 took place this Saturday in Hollywood. A few movie journalists were in attendance, and today Paramount Pictures gave word that we were allowed to “tweet about your thoughts on the film” before the review embargo breaks on June 1st. I’m sure more than a few of you already follow me on Twitter and already heard what I thought (if you don’t, you can find my tweets on @slashfilm). I’ve decided to do a round up of all the early tweet reactions to the film. Hit the jump to find out what people thought of Super 8.
Slashfilm: Loved it, they don’t make these types of movies anymore. The best thing I can say about the film is that I loved the characters/setting/tone so much that I probably would have enjoyed it just as much as a Stand By Me-like coming of age drama without the sci-fi/train crash/action. Its one of those films that feels like it was made just for me. (someone asked if its more E.T. or Cloverfield, I responded: It’s Cloverfield with the characters and setting of E.T.)
FirstShowing: absolutely loved it, lived up to my high expectations. Felt like watching an Amblin classic. Of course, it’s expected I’d love it, considering how excited I was for it, but yes, it’s that good. Really need to see it again!
Collider: It’s great. Made me feel like a kid again
Jen Yamato: I enjoyed Super 8′s Goonies vibe; the kids are great. Has its problems, but none are deal breakers for me…though they will be for others.
LA Times Hero Complex: Remember how the academy expanded the best picture race to include crowdpleasers and sublime spectacle films? Meet “Super 8″…
More after the jump...
Gnomeo and Juliet
I got a few giggles out of this animated flick, and that was its saving grace. It was sporadically clever, but it just tried too hard to be "hip". It's definitely not an awful movie or anything, but I've never had to sink this low to make a top pick. If you've got young kids or have a thing for kids flicks, then you might find this to be fun enough. For most others though, it's barely acceptable as disposable entertainment. Again, I normally wouldn't be citing something like this in a slot like this, but it is what it is. Sigh...
-The only other release this week is the incredibly mediocre sci-fi film I Am Number Four. Derivative, boring, and shamelessly trying to be a franchise, there's not much to like with this flick. It plays almost like a 'Twilight' type movie with no vampires, and aliens instead. Unless you loved the film in theaters, I don't see any reason to bother with it. That being said, if you're desperate for something new to watch, there's not much else to choose from at the moment...
-My Vintage pick this week, in honor of the release of The Tree of Life, is Terrence Malick's best film in my opinion. It's Badlands, and it's a stark and incredibly compelling portrait of the Charles Starkweather killings. I'm not a big Malick fan, but I really like this movie. If you never saw it, do yourself a favor and check it out.
-What will you be watching on DVD this week?
U.S. distribs sprang into action during Cannes, snapping up both festival specialty pics and pre-sales on big-budget commercial titles. The Weinstein Co. and Sundance Selects were the busiest buyers, while new players FilmDistrict and Open Road are starting to flex their pickup muscles.
Cannes festival films-
"The Conquest" - Music Box
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" -- Oscilloscope
"House of Tolerance" - Sundance Selects
"Kid with a Bike" - Sundance Selects
"Poliss" - Sundance Selects
"Sleeping Beauty" - Sundance Selects
"Footnote" - Sony Classics
"Dragon" - TWC
"The Artists" - TWC
"Great Hope Springs" - Sony
"Snitch" - Summit
"Iron Lady" - TWC
"The Wettest County" - TWC
"Looper" - FilmDistrict
"Arabian Nights" - FilmDistrict
"Playing the Field" - FilmDistrict
Monday, May 23, 2011
Estimates were spot on with the fourth entry in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series as "...On Stranger Tides" kickstarted its run with $90.1 million, helped with also having the widest opening of 2011 at 4,155 locations. Aided by higher 3-D prices, a little more investigation learns why this biggest opening of 2011 was viewed as "soft" and a "disappointment" in North America.
When calculating numbers, Box Office Mojo reports that this "Pirates" suffered the lightest attended opening since the first film launched in 2003. That first offering drew repeat business again and again and grossed $305.4 million domestically and $654 million worldwide. As reported here yesterday, the "Pirates" films have generated ticket sales of more than $2.2 billion thus far and if excitement was muted in North America, Disney and Buena Vista were downright giddy with the worldwide reception of "...On Stranger Tides".
Audiences were galvanized by the return of Captain Jack Sparrow to the tune of more than $256 million in foreign receipts counted. Already, "POTC:OST" has grossed $346 million worldwide. In looking at the 50 biggest grossing films of all time worldwide, the three previous "Pirates" films all rank on the list. Moral of the story? Stay skeptical if you hear that "Pirates" is a disappointment.
The Top 40 Films of the Weekend and a luminous "Midnight" after the cut!
Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired North American distribution rights to We Need to Talk about Kevin, the Lynne Ramsay-directed pic that was a competition film at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Oscilloscope will release the film in the winter, with an awards campaign.
-Joey's Two Cents: This seems like the right combination of film and studio, but that's just me. Thoughts?
With the not even remotely suggestive title of The Nymphomaniac, it’s described as being “a film about a woman’s erotic birth, a woman who discovers her eroticism.” Von Trier loves putting his female characters in (to put it lightly) unfortunate predicaments, and one could reasonably be led to believe that the same would happen here. The title came down to either the current choice or Dirt in Bedsores, which I get a chuckle from, knowing that there was a debate between the two.
Very little details have been revealed at this point, so I’ll just say that I look forward to seeing what he has planned this time around. While I’m not the biggest fan of his directorial output, I have a curiosity to see what he manages next. Whether this comes from an appreciation of his filmmaking or a morbid sense of curiosity isn’t something I’ve yet figured out. Regardless, this could really end up being something special…or disturbing to an incredible degree. Or both.
We reported back in March that he planned to make The Nymphomaniac his next film, which he himself said is “a film about a woman’s erotic birth, a woman who discovers her eroticism.” Naturally, the title and that description should immediately lead you to the conclusion that things might get a little graphic. Today, he let it be known that it may be even more explicit than we previously imagined.
At the press conference, he said that his next film – as Kirsten Dunst demanded – will be porn. He was quoted as saying “That’s how women are. Really hard core. That’s what I’m writing now.” ThePlaylist reports that actor Stellan Skarsgard seemed to confirm his comments, as he said that von Trier was being sincere. People who have seen Antichrist know that he isn’t scared of showing actual penetration onscreen, but just as that movie used doubles for its infamous shot, I wouldn’t expect any stars to have sex onscreen for his next film.-Joey's Two Cents: I'm sure he'll still find the money for the film, it just might be harder now...thoughts?
This was a year of some strangeness in Cannes, of one major auteur being kicked out of town, another proving invisible and yet another -- one not allowed to work or travel from his native country -- sneaking his illicit new creation into France hidden in a loaf of bread.
Even if there were a number of very fine films, the 2011 festival arguably did not yield any absolute knockouts. The more elaborate works from the heavyweights in the competition -- Terrence Malick, Lars von Trier, Pedro Almodovar, Paolo Sorrentino, Nuri Bilge Ceylan -- were among the more contentiously debated, provoking reactions across the full spectrum of critical opinion.
By contrast, it was often the simpler, more modestly scaled films, the films that did not insist at the outset upon their importance or greatness -- Michel Hazanavicius’s silent black-and-white comic melodrama The Artist, Nicolas Winding Refn’s stripped-down auto actioner Drive, the Dardenne brothers’ small, redemptive drama The Kid With a Bike, Aki Kaurismaki’s seriocomic thriller Le Havre -- that went over best; clear thinking and an assurance of how to place an economical style at the service of substance were most often what carried the day.
It seemed to vaguely disappoint his most ardent longtime admirers and is far from perfect, but Malick’s The Tree of Life remained the film that made the strongest impression on me throughout this 64th Cannes. Artistically risky and aesthetically beautiful, it made its points impressionistically through hundreds of visual and aural pin-pricks, and I’m quite keen to see it again. Brad Pitt is terrific in it, but it’s the framing material, with Sean Penn playing Pitt’s grown son who doesn’t get to say or think a thing, that doesn’t cut it. I’m willing to bet that, had a nonstar played the son, Malick -- who cut Adrian Brody out of The Thin Red Line -- might have eventually decided to eliminate this material entirely but could not without causing a contractual mess and ruining a relationship.
The high-art contingent seemed highest on Turkish virtuoso Ceylan’s metaphysical thriller Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which I had to miss but many compared to a more abstracted Zodiac, while we all grooved on the prolific Danish genre enthusiast Refn’s Drive, a sort of thinking fan’s alternative to Fast Five. I learned here from Refn’s father, who is von Trier’s longtime editor and sometime assistant director, that his son spent a good part of his teenage years frequently the now-extinct grindhouses on 42nd Street in New York City, which explains a few things and makes him something of a spiritual brother to Quentin Tarantino.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Delivering the biggest opening weekend of 2011, "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opened to an estimated $90.1 million in total receipts, easily winning the box office weekend. While $90.1 million is never a number to discount or place in ill regard, reports declared this opening as "soft" or "underwhelming". Comparatively speaking with the previous "Pirates" films, this was the lowest grossing and lowest attended opening weekend for the film franchise, at least in North America.
Overseas counts told a much different story as "Pirates" amassed a staggering $256.3 million, rolling its worldwide cumulative total to $346.4 million. Deadline reports that with the production and marketing budgets added together, this film cost $420 million to bring to the screen, a figure which is already within sight after just 5 days of being on screen.
Delving further into the "soft" opening for a moment, 2003's "Pirates...The Curse Of The Black Pearl" started at $46.6 million in July 2003 but earned more than $300 million domestically. The film also earned Johnny Depp his first Oscar nomination and springboarded the sequel, 2006's "...Dead Man's Chest" to $423.3 million and a ranking as the 8th biggest grossing film of all time in North America. The third entry, 2007's "...At World's End" returned closer to the numbers earned by the first film in the series, but still cleared $309.4 million. Worldwide the films have grossed more than $2 billion dollars, not counting the sums calculated for "...On Stranger Tides".
All of that to say, this may be the first film in history to earn $90.1 million stateside and $256.3 million overseas and be viewed as a disappointment.
"Pirates..." opened unchallenged as Mel Gibson's "The Beaver" saw its wide expansion muted to just 168 locations, a gain of 105 new sites. However, one new film delivered a stunning opening with 6 locations hosting it.
"Midnight In Paris", directed and written by Woody Allen, reversed Allen's recent troubles in delivering a worthwhile opening. Allen consistently generates a film a year and his films often are given small platform releases. His last sizeable opening, 2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", a film which earned Penelope Cruz a Supporting Actress Oscar, started at $3.8 million at nearly 700 screens, but for a platform opening, you have to go all the way back 2005's "Melinda and Melinda" which started at $74k on 1 screen to find anything comparable to this start. The film also earned Allen his best reviews in years and Oscar talk has started to float around the film's screenplay. This is Allen's third straight film to be released by Sony Pictures Classics and has already banked $5.9 million overseas.
Some lovely "Bridesmaids" keep people's attention after the cut...
Palme d'Or: The Artist (Alternate: Drive)
Grand Prix: We Need to Talk About Kevin (Alternate: The Tree of Life)
Jury Prize: This Must Be The Place (Alternate: Sleeping Beauty)
Best Director: Lynne Ramsey for We Need to Talk About Kevin (Alternate: Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive)
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin for The Artist (Alternate: Ryan Gosling for Drive)
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia (Alternate: Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Best Screenplay: The Artist (Alternate: The Tree of Life)
Aki Kaurismaki's ''Le Havre,'' Pierre Schoeller's ''The Minister'' and Jeff Nichols' ''Take Shelter'' shared awards Saturday at Cannes from the Fipresci Intl. Federation of Film Critics.
Also announced Saturday, Cannes' Ecumenical Jury awarded its main Prix to Italian Paolo Sorrentino's Sean Penn starrer ''This Must Be the Place.''
Fipresci plaudits go to one outstanding film in Cannes Competition and Un Certain Regard and a third in either Directors' Fortnight or Critics' Week.
* Last week, Joey reviewed Everything Must Go, The People vs. George Lucas, and *sigh*…A Serbian Film. Michael Ward gave big thumbs up to Bridesmaids, and I was slightly disappointed in Werner Herzog’s newest documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
* Joey’s DVD Picks of the Week was an eclectic mix of interesting new releases.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Since dropping out of Fox’s The Wolverine, director Darren Aronofsky has been linked to a number of projects. Everyone wants to know what he’ll choose as his follow up to the smashing success that wasBlack Swan. Earlier this month, it was reported that he was eyeing the sci-fi flick Human Nature with George Clooney attached to star. Now, Badass Digest reports that the director is being courted for two other high-profile projects: Disney wants him to helm Maleficent and Warner Bros. is courting the director for Moses.
Maleficent just recently lost its director, as Tim Burton bowed out a few days ago, but David Yates has been mentioned as a possible replacement. The film is set to start Angelina Jolie as the notorious Sleeping Beauty villain. Moses is one of two dueling projects centered on the biblical figure. Warner Bros’ version focuses on the Exodus, while the Fox version is said to be more in the vein of 300(because violence and sex is exactly what the Old Testament is lacking). While neither of these sounds particularly up Aronofsky’s alley, neither did a sequel to Wolverine. Personally, I’d much rather see him take on that other biblical project: his long-talked-about Noah.
-Joey's Two Cents: Neither of these projects do much for me, but I really just want to see a new Aronofsky film...thoughts?
Friday, May 20, 2011
The Tree of Life
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Le Gamin Au Velo
The Skin I Live In
This Must Be The Place
Fox may have found the director to tame “The Wolverine.”
Duncan Jones, who directed this year’s “Source Code” -- and is David Bowie’s son -- is looking at the job.
It’s all very early, but the “Moon” director’s name has been popping up as a potential “Wolverine” director quite a bit lately. And he told IGN that he might do it.
“Who knows what’ll be coming up next,” he said. “I have a lot of meetings and catching-up to do when I get back to L.A.”
He confirmed that one of those meetings is with Fox, where he’ll talk about “The Wolverine.”
Darren Aronofsky was originally attached to direct, but he pulled out in March because of scheduling issues.Then, the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, where the movie was set to shoot, and the film was put on hold.
In Christopher McQuarrie's screenplay, Wolverine goes to Japan to learn from a Samurai master.