Sunday, June 25, 2017

Transformers 5 is #1 at box office


For the weekend of June 23-25, 2017, Transformers: The Last Knight grossed $5 million ($69 million in its first five days), making it $265 million worldwide. The last two Transformers movie grossed over $1 billion each. This one will likely not get there. I don't know if the negative reviews would be much of a factor. These movies have never had a Fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. (In fact, Michael Bay's only managed one fresh rating his entire directing career, with 1996's The Rock.)

It'll be interesting to see where final numbers land for Cars 3 and Wonder Woman. I think WW will have the edge and hold on to #2. In fact, WW is on pace to pass Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to be summer's highest domestic grossing film. The only two upcoming titles that might have a chance to catch them are Despicable Me 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

All Eyez on Me had a colossal 77.9% drop in its second week. Straight Outta Compton, it is not.

The Mummy is tanking in the US, but it's doing well enough overseas to be profitable. Just not by much.

In limited released, Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled and Michael Showalter's The Big Sick did great.


Opens June 30
DESPICABLE ME 3 with the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker.
THE HOUSE with Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Allison Tolman and Jason Mantzoukas.
BABY DRIVER with Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Wonder Woman buries Mummy at box office


For the weekend of June 9-11, 2017, Wonder Woman managed to hold off Tom Cruise and any other challengers to her box office throne. Anything less than a 50% drop in a second week is a great sign for longevity.

The Mummy is off to a rough start for the planned Dark Universe, where Frankenstein, Wolf-Man, Creature of the Black Lagoon, etc., are supposed to be part of this eventual franchise. It's the first big-budget movie Alex Kurtzman has directed. He's known mainly for producing films like Cowboys & Aliens and Star Trek into Darkness. Critics hated it. I expect it to break even thanks to overseas business.

Lower-budget fare like It Comes at Night and Megan Leavey didn't break out either.




Opens June 16
CARS 3 with the voices of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt and Larry the Cable Guy.
ROUGH NIGHT with Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell.
ALL EYEZ ON ME with Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira and Kat Graham.
47 METERS DOWN with Mandy Moore, Claire Holt and Matthew Modine.

Get Me Roger Stone - Netflix Review


Directed by Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro & Morgan Pehme.

★★★

Roger Stone has been a political operative for decades. Most people know him as the Dirty Trickster, that weird, sloping forehead guy who dresses in fancy pinstripe suits and is good friends with Donald Trump. This documentary shows just how long he's been involved, how deeeply he's been involved, and how he helped build a swamp that Trump claims he can drain.

Stone was a young man who first got into politics under Richard Nixon after being inspired by Barry Goldwater. His rapid ascension meant he could get any jobs he wanted, and he worked on the campaigns of Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and now Trump. The doc does a good job of letting Stone be Stone, a charming snake-oil salesman who also has done more to corrupt politics in DC than just about anyone.

The movie does a good job of outlining the trajectory of his career, and also showing that since 1988, he's wanted Donald Trump to run for president.

When I got to the end, I still wasn't sure what Stone really cares about. He's about winning, he's about keeping his name in headlines, he's about ruining other people, crushing his enemies. Is there any soul there? He's the ultimate Machiavellian sociopath. It doesn't matter how low he goes as long as he accomplishes his goals.

He says that he welcomes those who hate him, because if he was unsuccessful, they wouldn't hate him. True. He knows exactly how to exploit people's fears, anxieties and weaknesses.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wonder Woman - Movie Review

Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, Eugene Brave Rock and Lucy Davis.
Written by Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder & Jason Fuchs.
Directed by Patty Jenkins.

★★★½

After she stole the show in Batman v. Superman, I'm not surprised Wonder Woman is still winning in her own movie. The real surprise is that DC has delivered its first really good movie since The Dark Knight.

We met Diana (Gal Gadot) in modern times, but this is her origin story. Diana is being raised to be the next queen of the Amazons, but when WWI pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on to their beach, these women need to confront the outside world they've been able to ignore for millenia.

Patty Jenkins (Monster) does a good job balancing action and humor. Act I has the beach fight; terrific. Act II has No Man's Land; excellent. Act III has the big-explosions showdown with the main villain. Honestly that might be the movie's weak link, in that all of these movies tend to end with big-explosions showdowns.

Gadot captures the combination of fierceness and naivete of Wonder Woman. She has the physiciality down, but she's quite charming in her fish-out-of-water scenes where this Amazon, who's never met a man before, must now fit in 1917 England. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine is solid. Like Christopher Reeve/Margot Kidder solid.

Really enjoyed it. It's in my top five for 2017 so far.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman opens to over $103 million


For the weekend of June 2-4, 2017, Wonder Woman broke some records. Highest opening ever for a female superhero movie. Highest opening ever for a live-action female-directed movie. And while it didn't open as well as previous DCEU movies, it wasn't expected to. In the long run, Warner Bros can see this as their biggest hit for all of the positive word-of-mouth this film will generate.

Wonder Woman is also the third-highest opening of 2017, behind Beauty & the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

The other new wide release was Captain Underpants, based on a kids book series. I saw hardly any publicity for this, and its budget doesn't look like it was too much, so Fox is probably happy with these numbers, particularly when they saw the Wonder Woman wave coming.

Everything else dropped dramatically. Everything Everything was the only movie in the top 12 that didn't drop by more than 50%.

Next week Wonder Woman has a good chance of holding off The Mummy to be #1 for a second week. Pro.BoxOffice currently projects that film to open to $39 million.



Opens June 9
THE MUMMY with Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella and Jake Johnson.
IT COMES AT NIGHT with Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough and Christopher Abbott.
MEGAN LEAVEY with Kate Mara, Tom Felton, Common and Bradley Whitford.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - Movie Review

Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brendon Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Golshifteh Farahani and Orlando Bloom.
Written by Jeff Nathanson & Terry Rossio.
Directed by Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg.

★★½

Johnny Depp's mincing Captain Jack Sparrow is a constant. He never seems to grow or learn, regardless of what's thrown at him. Even death left him unchanged. Maybe that's part of the charm.

This fifth movie has Sparrow facing an old rival, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a Spanish soldier who'd tried to rid the sea of priates, only to be cursed for decades in the Devil's Triangle, tricked into there by a young Jack. When a destitute Jack gives away his magic compass, the spell that kept Salazar trapped is broken, and now he is free to seek revenge.

The first movie is still the best in the series, but it's arguable which one is the best sequel. I think this one ranks ahead of 3 & 4 and is about on par with 2. The knives were out for this one but it's actually enjoyable in many parts.

First, Bardem's Salazar is a great villain. A Javert who's been cursed to be the living dead, trapped in the Devil's Triangle. Second, the chemistry between the young love interests (Brendon Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario) is better than those two from 4, and maybe better than Bloom & Knightley. If anything, what used to be the best part of these movies is now its weakest. There's a lot of humor around Jack Sparrow that falls flat.

Oh, and after the credits, we get a stinger that signifies where Pirates 6 is going.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Pirates 5 is #1, Baywatch #3


For the weekend of May 26-28, 2017, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sailed to first place, showing there's still life in the franchise. Unfortunately its budget was so large, it won't break even until about $700 million worldwide. Should be doable.

The other new release was Baywatch, which critics hated, and that killed it. It was tracking to open in the $30's last week, but too many people caught wind of how bad it was supposed to be.

In holdovers, the big surprise was Alien Covenant dropping 70% in its second week. Die-hard fans saw it in the first week, and it is not expanding its appeal. Its worldwide gross should still help it turning a profit and justifying another sequel, but probably just one more.

So, you ask, why are we getting live-action treatments of The Lion King, Aladdin, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Mulan, and The Little Mermaid, as well as a Cruella movie starring Emma Stone? Beauty & the Beast just $500 million domestic and $1.23 billion worldwide.



Opens June 2
WONDER WOMAN with Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen.
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS with the voices of Ed Helms, Kevin Hart and Jordan Peele.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Movie Review

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn, Ben Browder and Sylvester Stallone.
Written & Directed by James Gunn.

★★★

This movie is faithful to the original formula. It's a fan-pleasing sequel where some of the returning characters get more to do this time around while others don't.

Family is a big theme this time around, to the point that I started to wonder if Vin Diesel was going to pull up in a shiny new car. (Nah, he'll just voice baby Groot.) Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot still fly around the galaxy as paid mercenaries. But Quill runs into who turns out to be his father, a celestial being named Ego (Kurt Russell).

I liked the sisters subplot with Gamora and Nebula, where that relationship/rivalry is fleshed out more. I was amused by the antics of baby Groot. In particular I like how the opening battle was secondary to Groot chasing a space-rat, all to the tune of ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky." I like the addition of Mantis (Pom Klementieff) to the team.

Sylvester Stallone felt like he was wasted, but if what they did with him pays off in a future movie, then it was worth it.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage - DVD Review

Starring Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Toni Collette, Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Kris Wu, Michael Bisping and Samuel L. Jackson.
Written by F. Scott Frazier.
Directed by D.J. Caruso.

★½

I must admit this movie was even cheesier than I thought it would be. When xXx first came out in 2002, it was supposed to be an edgier, hipper US antidote to James Bond, with a focus more on extreme sports and stunts rather than unreal gadgets. Vin Diesel thought he was too big a star to return for the sequel, so a quickly forgotten xXx 2 with Ice Cube looked like the end of a franchise before it could even begin.

Fast-forward a few years, where Vin Diesel movies that aren't part of the Fast & Furious franchise lose money, and it made sense for him to see if he could resurrect this. Domestically no, but overseas it made enough money to justify another movie, if the producers are so inclined.

Cage is a rebel, and when he's recruited to stop a handful of xXx-trained mercenaries who steal a superpowerful device called Pandora's Box (which is very similar to the Eye from F&F), there's always that edge of when he's going to ditch the government agents watching him and go rogue. It's the type of movie where whereever he goes, he's greeted by sexy young women who want to sleep with him. When he meets other people, they are surrounded by scantily-clad young women who serve as eye-candy, security, or whatever else excuse the filmmakers can conjure.

Even the geeky IT girl is played by the gorgeous Nina Dobrev, and she can't wait to tell Cage her safeword. Seriously.

So there are some cool stunts, some bad green-screens, and the whole thing felt so full of cliches that if they'd cast everyone 25 years older, you'd have The Expendables 4.

At least it had Donnie Yen as the antagonist. He was by far the best part of the movie.

Monday, May 22, 2017

'Alien Covenant' Topples 'Guardians 2' at Box Office


For the weekend of May 19-21, 2017, Alien Covenant took the top spot. Not quite as big an opening that Prometheus had, but this one had slightly better reviews and it also benefitted from last week's new releases opening poorly. It also grabbed an additional $81 million overseas, so it looks like it's on its way to profitability, just not by very much.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 got to $300 million domestic, and getting to $400 million is not unrealistic. It's now past $730 million worldwide.

Of the other new releases, Everything Everything did okay, considering its budget. I never saw any marketing for this outside of a poster. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul showed that despite the recasting of all the parts, maybe they should end this franchise.

Further down the chart, Smurfs: The Lost Village is now in the black thanks to its success overseas. Kong: Skull Island is finally in the black for the same reason.

Remember when it was announced they had 6-7 Power Rangers movies planned? Yeah, not happening. It tanked overseas.

And side note: Prayers for Zack Snyder, who dropped out of directing Justice League after his 20-year-old daughter committed suicide. Joss Whedon, who's prepping a Batgirl movie, will finish directing Justice League for Snyder.



Opens May 26
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DMTNT with Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem.
BAYWATCH with Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandria Daddario.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Alien Covenant - Movie Review

Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Egojo, Amy Siemetz, Jussie Smollett and Callie Hernandez.
Written by John Logan & Dante Harper.
Directed by Ridley Scott.

★★★

This is a sequel to Prometheus, while still being a prequel to Alien, and while the familiar xenomorph does show up, along with the face-grabber, this is still more in the vein of Prometheus.

At the end of that movie, the survivors Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Michael Fassbender) set out to find the home planet of the Creators, the large white creatures that apparently designed the aliens. We eventually learn their fate in this movie.

Meanwhile a colonalization crew aboard the Covenant is headed for a new planet to colonize, but they receive what may be a distress signal from a different, habitable planet that they were unaware of. The captain dies in his hibernation pod due to malfunction, and the second-in-command Oram (Billy Crudup) doesn't seem to be up to the job. Daniels (Katherine Waterston) is his backup, and she happens to be the wife of the now-dead captain. This crew of 14 decides to explore the new planet, and if they like it, they may use it to settle as their new home instead.

And on that planet, they meet David.

Now the Prometheus crew has their own synthetic with them named Walter. Fassbender plays both, and he does a great job of making them two complete characters. We can always tell who's who when David cuts his hair to match Walter's. (Which seems a little weird that no one questions it.)

It features some pretty gory deaths once the action kicks in, aliens bursting out of people's chests, backs, and mouths, and then when the main alien grows to its usual height, more people die in body-shredding ways. This movie filled in some holes that Prometheus left, and it's still very open for another film, which director Ridley Scott plans to be the final bridge between these prequels and 1979's Alien.

My biggest problem with this is the giant fluxuations in continuity, as far as how quickly these aliens incubate and grow. Remember when John Hurt had that thing on his face for 24 hours before it let go, and it took a few more hours before something burst out of his chest? This one has a face-grab to chest-burst in about one hour. And I can't say it was that scary. It's monster-movie fun, with a Hammer horror flavor to David, but the first two movies may never be topped.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Guardians 2 still #1, King Arthur flops


For the weekend of May 12-14, 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 continues to roll. It's already in the black, having grossed over $630 million worldwide so far. The first one topped out at $773 million; this one should get to the $1 billion mark fairly easily.

Of the newcomers, King Arthur is a giant bomb. They keep retelling this story every decade or so; if Clive Owen couldn't make a franchise of it in 2004, I don't know why they thought Charlie Hunnam could in 2017. On a related note, we're getting another Robin Hood movie next year.

Snatched did a little better, but considering how successful Trainwreck was, this is a disappointing opening for Amy Schumer, especially when it's Goldie Hawn's first movie in 15 years.

Lowriders did well on limited screens; The Wall was all but forgotten on a few more.



Opens May 19
ALIEN: COVENANT with Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and James Franco.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL with Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott.
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING with Nick Robinson and Taylor Hickson.

Your Name. - Movie Review

Starring the voices of Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi.
Written & directed by Makoto Shinkai.

★★★★

We have an early frontrunner for the Best Animated Film of 2017.

This Japanese entrant takes a cliched plot device (body-switching comedy), but it's so inventive with where it takes it that it makes the concept seem fresh.

It centers on a teenage boy Taki and a teenage girl Mitsuha who don't know each other, but they wake up in each other's bodies. Then the next day they're back in their own, but with most of their memory of it gone. And then back again the next day. And they leave notes for each other to give clues as to what they did, but still, how did this happen, and why them?

The movie adds a twist halfway through that elevates this to a whole other level. The stakes of the mystery rise, as does the emotional weight.

Free Fire - Movie Review

Starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor, Babou Ceesay, Michael Smiley and Patrick Bergin.
Written by Amy Jump & Ben Wheatley.
Directed by Ben Wheatley.

★★½

This is a fun little gangster flick, probably more worthy to be watched on Netflix or Amazon Prime when it shows up in a few months.

The plot is very simple. In the 1970's, some IRA members are meeting some arms dealers in an abandoned warehouse to buy some guns. Room full of antsy people with guns and money? Eventually someone's trigger-happy finger sets things in motion.

Picture the Mexican standoff in Reservoir Dogs. Now picture there's about ten of them, and it's in a much bigger warehouse with more places to hide and take cover. And you have 45 minutes of movie to go. Now this does lead to a lot of scenes of shot people crawling on their elbows to get from this place of cover to that, but the dialogue and exchanges remain funny.

Wheatley said he was aiming to write a standoff movie realistically, and I can see that. In real life, these guys would miss most of their shots, and most of the ones that hit wouldn't be fatal.

Rings - DVD Review

Starring Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D'Onofrio and Aimee Teegarden.
Written by David Loucka, Jacob Estes & Akiva Goldsman.
Directed by F. Javier Guitierrez.



Few things are more frustrating than watching a sequel and knowing - knowing! - that you yourself could have written a better story.

This is basically The Ring 3. Samara is still having her video passed around, but now in a world where people can copy and send MPEGs instead of VHS tapes.

It commits the cardinal sin of horror films. It is never at any point scary. It goes through the motions people jumping when they don't notice someone behind them and whatnot, but it's like no one involved knows why that's scary. It has the feel of watching a live sitcom where the expected laugh-track is broken. This is a horrorcom that pauses for screams that never come. It even has a "twist" that it gives away half an hour before we get to the reveal.

The acting is terrible, the direction is unimaginative, and it's a real shame that they'd take a franchise with potential like this and kill it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is #1


For the weekend of May 5-7, 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the easy, obvious winner. It out-opened the original one by a significant margin, and the MCU just keeps rolling out the hits. We're now 15 movies in, and the only one that wasn't profitable was the Edward Norton-led Incredible Hulk in 2008. GotG2 was the fifth-highest opener for the MCU, behind only Avengers 1 & 2, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: Civil War.

Beauty & the Beast and The Fate of the Furious have both grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide.


Opens May 12
SNATCHED with Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz and Joan Cusack.
KING ARTHUR with Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana and Astrid Berges-Frisbey.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Summer 2017 Box Office Predictions


Another summer of big-budget blockbuster sequels, remakes and spinoffs!  Here's how I see the summer going with domestic grosses.

1. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (7/7) - $470 million - As long as it's good, it'll be huge. It's been only three years since the disappointing Amazing Spider-Man 2, but now with a younger Spidey who's part of the official MCU, complete with Iron Man as his co-star, I see this being the biggest winner, as much as any Avengers movie.

2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 (5/5) - $400 million - Oh look, another huge comic-book movie. Most of the reviews seem to be "as good or almost as good as the first one" which is usually the best a sequel can hope for. (The Dark Knight is a unicorn.) Someday a Disney/Marvel flick will flop. BUT NOT THIS DAY.

3. DESPICABLE ME 3 (6/30) - $355 million - The first two were huge, and Minions spinoff was even bigger. There's always one animated film that rises above the others, and I see this one as the most likely.

4. WONDER WOMAN (6/2) - $225 million - I'm betting on this being the first good DC movie since it became Zack Snyder's universe. And ironically I don't see it making as much as disappointments like Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, but it'll show itself to be a step in the right direction. If this movie sucks, I see some heads rolling.

5. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (6/23) - $210 million - People keep seeing these nmovies, so they keep getting made. Is there something special about this script that tricked Anthony Hopkins into joining the cast?

6. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (5/26) - $184 million - Johnny Depp's star power has taken a hit lately, with big flops (Mortdecai, Alice Through the Looking Glass) and the allegations he abused his ex-wife Amber Heard. I think it helps this movie's chances that Javier Bardem looks like a formidable villain.

7. CARS 3 (6/16) - $178 million - It looks like it's going to take a wildly different direction that the spy caper that was Cars 2. A final trailer for it should drop this week that lays out the story more, but the basics are that Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) gets into an accident and realizes he's having a hard time keeping up with the younger racing cars.

8. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (7/14) - $156 million - I don't see this being quite as big as the first two, but it also feels like the completion of the Caesar trilogy. Once again, none of the humans from the previous film return, but the supporting apes (Cornelia, Rocket, Blue Eyes, etc.) are all still there.

9. THE MUMMY (6/9) - $148 million - Tom Cruise is a good beginning for an anticipated Monster Cinematic Universe. This will tie to Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man (in development), and presumably Dracula and Frankenstein will eventually join them.

10. DUNKIRK (7/21) - $140 million - WWII dramas are generally reliable, but with director Christopher Nolan attached, I expect this to be an event. Nolan faves Tom Hardy (Bane) and Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow) star with Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and Harry Styles. Yes, THAT Harry Styles. This is also the first movie on the list that isn't a sequel/spinoff/remake.

11. THE EMOJI MOVIE (7/28) - $120 million - Hey, if the Angry Birds movie can make over $100 million, why can't this, with slightly more timely characters? It has four weeks of space after Despicable Me 3, and you have to either be really original (Kubo & the Two Strings) or really bad (Ice Age 5) to be an animated movie in summer and not make money.

12. BAYWATCH (5/26) - $118 million - Dwayne Johnson is a hit machine. It continues the trend of taking old TV shows and turning them into raunchy R-rated comedies, and for every 21 Jump Street, we get a CHiPs, but this looks like it'll work. The Rock and Zac Efron look like they have good chemistry.

13. ALIEN: COVENANT (5/19) - $115 million - While Prometheus may have disappointed some people, this looks like it's getting back to its vicious roots. My only fear is it looks a little too much like the original, and one thing that worked about the original is that it was a true ensemble and it wasn't clear that Ripley was the main character until after the captain died. From the trailers I already feel like I know who's left alive at the end of the movie.

14. ROUGH NIGHT (6/16) - $101 million - I see this attempt to find the Bad Moms audience as a successful one. Scarlett Johansson, Kate mcKinnon, Zoe Kravitz and Jillian Bell are a group of friends having a bachelorette party when they accidentally kill their male stripper. Hijinks ensue.

15. THE HOUSE (6/30) - $100 million - Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play a couple with money problems who decide to open an illegal casino in their basement.

16. THE DARK TOWER (8/4) - $95 million - I think there are enough fans of the books that this should do okay, though I'm gathering fans are really divided by the trailer. (Felt a lot more sci-fi than I thought the first movie should.)

17. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (6/2) - $94 million - Haven't seen much advertising for this, but it is the first animated movie of the summer, so it should have a decent opening regardless of quality.

18. ANNABELLE: CREATION (8/11) - $77 million - Hated the first one, but the marketing for this has been smart. I see it being like Ouija 2 where the sequel is a vast improvement over the predecessor.

19. ATOMIC BLONDE (7/28) - $72 million - Charlize Theron kicking butt. That's not a guaranteed hit formula, but it looks like the movie's taking the right approach.

20. SNATCHED (5/12) - $70 million - I used to think this would do better, but there seems to be this backlash against Amy Schumer right now.

Other Notable Releases:

ALL EYEZ ON ME (6/16) - The Tupac Shakur bio.

BABY DRIVER (6/30) - Snazzy preview but looks too niche to do much better than The Nice Guys.

DETROIT (8/4) - Kathryn Bigelow's hotbed drama about the 1967 Detroit Riots could be a surprise hit.

GIRLS TRIP (7/21) - Another entry in the Bad Moms/Rough Night genre, this one starring Regina Hall and Jada Pinkett Smith.

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD (8/18) - Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard of Samuel L. Jackson's hitman. Mother-effin hijinks ensue.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (5/12) - Been hearing this is a mess, so I'm going to guess it doesn't crack the top 20.

VALERIAN & THE CITY OF 1000 PLANETS (7/21) - Looks like a gloriously expensive bomb. But I'm rooting for it.

Horror Flicks:

47 METERS DOWN (6/16) - This year's The Shallows.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (6/30) - It's been in the can for three years, so I don't have much faith in it being good.

IT COMES AT NIGHT (6/9) - Thriller looks like it's about paranoia but there might actually be something out there.

POLAROID (8/25) - Don't know anything about it but it's opening in the Don't Breathe slot.

WISH UPON (7/14) - Joey King (The Conjuring) finds a box that grants wishes but things start to go horribly awry.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Furious still #, Latin Lover #2


For the weekend of April 28-30, 2017, The Fate of the Furious had another big drop, but no new release was going to touch it. It's already passed $1 billion worldwide.

Of the new releases, the biggest hit has to be Baahubali 2, with a per-screen average that tentpole releases would pray for on opening weekend. The first one made $6.7 million in the US in 2015, decent for an India release in the US, but word-of-mouth in the right markets helped propel this to a bonafide hit.

How to Be a Latin Lover succeeded by putting Mexican star Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included) with a name supporting cast (Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe). Niche titles tend to do well in these dead spaces the week before a big title opens.

On paper, any movie that starred Tom Hanks (Sully), Emma Watson (Beauty & the Beast), John Boyega (The Force Awakens), Bill Paxton (in one of his final roles), etc., should be successful, right? Especially with a critically-acclaimed director in James Ponsolt (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour) making his first mainstream movie. But after lukewarm reactions to the trailer, it looks like the studio knew they had a dud on their hands and dumped it here without screening it for critics. (It's currently at 16% on RottenTomatoes).

Beauty & the Beast is now the 13th highest grossing movie of all time. It should pass Captain America: Civil War for 12th place sometime next week.



Opens May 5
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista.

Beauty & the Beast - Movie Review

Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Written by Stephen Chbosky & Evan Spiliotopoulos.
Directed by Bill Condon.

★★★

This movie for the most part balanced that fine line between being faithful to the original but finding parts where it can be its own thing. If anything, it's too faithful to the original, so that variances stuck out more.

Emma Watson is Belle, our French bookworm who longs for adventure. Dan Stevens is the Beast, a spoiled prince living in a cursed castle. One element they added that I appreciated was an explanation on why the townspeople didn't seem to know about this castle or this alleged prince.

The "Be Our Guest" number was a highlight, no small thanks to Ewan McGregor's capable vocals. Luke Evans as Gaston does the best among the human actors.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Fate of the Furious - Movie Review

Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kristofer Hivju, Elsa Pataky, Luke Evans and Helen Mirren.
Written by Chris Morgan.
Directed by F. Gary Gray.

★★

These movies are now so loud, so huge, so spectacular, so stunt-reliant, the plot matters less and less each time. Maybe the plot never mattered. They're dangerously close to venturing into Tranformers territory. Would it surprise anyone if this franchise wound up going to space?

This centers around Dom (Vin Diesel) who's been a criminal since the first movie, but he keeps getting pardoned for weird reasons, or just on the lam with no official desire to bring him in. The latest giant international incident that's worthy of a Mission Impossible movie has the world's most dangerous cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) blackmailing Dom into helping steal the God's Eye device (the high-tech thingy from the last movie that allows the user to see what's going on at any location on Earth), and once she has that, she's going to use to steal nuclear codes.

It's a late reveal what leverage Cipher has on Dom, but you know, not only do people die over the course of events, but he's giving her the power to start World War III. What possible leverage would make Dom do that?

Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) enlists Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Dom's crew to stop Cipher, and he even gets Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the main villain from the last movie, to help them out. Now this franchise likes to say it's about family. Han was part of the family for a few movies, and in Furious 7, Deckard killed Han. Killed him. And no one brings it up. Han's name is never said. By the end of the movie, Deckerd is embraced as a full member of the crew.

He killed Han!

I'll give you Dom not once but twice driving a car that's engulfed in flames and not getting a single burn, or Dom outdriving a heat-seeking missile, but you can't just have everyone forget that Deckard killed one of their members.

I suppose in the next movie, Cipher will return and help the crew fight a different villain. And Han will come back from the dead because *shrug emoji*.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fate of the Furious is #1


For the weekend of April 14-16, 2017, The Fate of the Furious was the easy winner. It was the second best opener for the franchise, although well short of Furious 7's $147 million opener. It's already earned over $530 million worldwide and should get to the $1 billion mark. Fast & Furious 9 & 10 are already scheduled to open in April 2019 and April 2021.

No other wide releases this weekend. Everyone wanted to stay away from the Diesel. Next week will feature a bunch of lower budget fare. In fact, I expect F8 of the Furious to stay #1 until Guardians of the Galaxy 2 opens in May.


Opens April 21
UNFORGETTABLE with Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl and Cheryl Ladd.
FREE FIRE with Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Sharlto Copley.
THE PROMISE with Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte le Bon.
PHOENIX FORGOTTEN with Florence Hartigan and Jeanine Jackson.
BORN IN CHINA directed by Chuan Lu.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ghost in the Shell - Movie Review

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han and Danusia Samal.
Written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler & Ehren Kruger.
Directed by Rupert Sanders.

★★

I remember liking the original, but it's been 20 years, so I didn't have that necessarily bouncing around in my mind the whole time. I couldn't recall much about the story beyond what the trailers already told us.

Scarlett Johansson is Major, a cyborg where her entire body is synthetic except for her brain. (This concept feels more close to being a reality than in it did just a couple decades ago.) Major is now used as a super-soldier to stop criminals and cyber-terrorists. But it winds up turning into a quest for her to discove her real identity.

For those going in fresh, this may bring Blade Runner quickly to mind. Although some of the characters' races have been changed, the setting is still downtown Tokyo. In fact, Takeshi Kitano plays the chief Aramaki, and he says all of his lines in Japanese while everyone else says their lines in English, and everyone acts like they understand each other.

I liked the explanation for Major being a person that looks like ScarJo - her shell may be Caucasian, but her brain is Japanese. My main problem with the movie is how instantly forgettable it is. It's all visuals with no soul.

Boss Baby still #1, Smurfs #3


For the weekend of April 7-9, 2017, The Boss Baby won again. I wonder if its success can be credited to appealing to adults who wouldn't begrudge taking their kids to it (how many kids will get a Glengarry Glen Ross reference?), as opposed to Smurfs: The Lost Village, which looks more like kids-only fare.

It managed to hang on to #1 over Beauty & the Beast thanks to adding a handful of screens while Beauty lost a handful.

Going in Style performed about as expected, just a pleasant cliched movie to appeal to seniors.

The Case for Christ scaled back its screen count, but this allowed its per-screen average to look good. It's also one of the few PureFlix titles to score at least 70% at RottenTomatoes.

Your Name made over $300 million overseas but it's getting its US release now.



Opens April 14
FATE OF THE FURIOUS with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron and Kurt Russell.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Life - Movie Review

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya.
Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa.

★★★

Yes, Life borrows from many movies that have come before. Gravity, Alien, The Thing, and a dozen other titles. But it's good at what it's doing.

Six people aboard the space station have received some samples from Mars, and within them, they find a dormant organism. It is the first proof of life beyond Earth. Nicknamed "Calvin", the organism grows from microscopic to about the size of a flower until it goes dormant. During this time, we get the wonder of discovery and get to know the people on board.

Once Calvin starts killing people, the movie kicks into high gear. Calvin only gets scarier as he gets bigger, and he feels like a very smart animal determined to kill off anything that would threaten him. It. This sinister plantlike octopus spider thing floating in zero G with everyone else.

It's not as majestic as Gravity or as scary as Alien or as thoughtful as Arrival BUT!... for what it is, it delivers on the thrills and the special effects. I wish it had been more successful at the box office. I would have watched a sequel.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Boss Baby Bests Beauty at Box Office


For the weekend of March 31-April 2, 2017, The Boss Baby was the big winner. It had been tracking to be close with Ghost in the Shell two weeks ago, but it overachieved. Big-studio animation continues to be a cash cow.

Ghost in the Shell might have suffered some last-minute backlash due to the "whitewash" controversy. Taking a popular manga and 1995 animated movie and changing the races of some of the characters from Japanese to Caucasian might have turned some people off. On the other hand, I don't think this movie gets greenlit with this budget unless they had a big name to headline it. Catch 22.

The Zookeeper's Wife went with a smaller opening and managed to best Ghost in the Shell in the per-screen average category.

Beauty & the Beast should cross $400 million domestic tomorrow, and I'd say passing the $1 billion mark worldwide is guaranteed.

Power Rangers had the biggest drop in the top ten. Those who wanted to see it, saw it, and it should plummet quickly in weeks 3, 4 and so on.



Opens April 7
SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE with the voices of Mandy Patinkin and Demi Lovato.
GOING IN STYLE with Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Matt Dillon.
THE CASE FOR CHRIST with Mike Vogel, Faye Dunaway and Robert Forster.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Belko Experiment - Movie Review

Starring John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Michael Rooker, Owain Yeoman, Sean Gunn, Brent Sexton and Josh Brener.
Written by James Gunn.
Directed by Greg McLean.

★★½

This lean, mean movie functions as corporate satire while engaging in Hunger Games shenanigans in a high-rise office building. It is kinda like Office Space meets Battle Royale.

Belko is a US corporation based in Colombia. The workers have tracker chips injected in them in case of kidnapping. The building they work in is a fortress. The movie all takes place over one day, where the 80 workers trapped inside are told by an intercom voice that there are three stages to their day. Stage 1: Kill two people in the next half-hour or four people will die. Spoiler: they don't comply and then four random people have their heads explode. Stage 2: Kill 30 people in the next two hours or 60 of them will die.

You have the normal guy Mike (John Gallagher Jr.) who seems to figure out quicker than everyone else what's going on; you have the business-friendly COO (Tony Goldwyn) who turns things into Lord of the Flies faster than what most of his co-workers prefer, while the movie has 80 people, the movie does a good job of making you feel like you can keep track of where most of them are throughout.

My problem is how predictable the final act was. I'm fine with the contrived setup and the journey, but it's too easy to figure out who the final handful of people are going to be.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Beauty & the Beast still #1, Power Rangers #2


For the weekend of March 24-26, 2017, Beauty & the Beast held strong. It's very rare a movie can open that huge and then have less than 50% dropoff in its second week. It looks guaranteed to pass $400 million domestic and getting to $1 billion worldwide is very doable. This movie is about as big as Rogue One. Disney is having an amazing run right now.

Of the new releases, Power Rangers did the best. Strong opening, justifies a sequel.

Life couldn't overcome it looking like an Alien ripoff, despite some star power. It baffles me why the final TV ads for the movie shows one of the movie stars getting killed.

CHiPS bombed. Maybe there's a limit on making R-rated romps out of harmless 1970's TV fare. I don't think we can expect an R-rated Little House on the Prairie anytime soon.



Opens March 31
GHOST IN THE SHELL with Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche and Takeshi Kitano.
THE BOSS BABY with the voices of Alec Baldwin, Lisa Kudrow and Steve Buscemi.
THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE with Jessica Chastain, Daniel Bruhl and Johan Heldenbergh.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore - Netflix Review


Starring Melanie Lynsky, Elijah Wood, Jane Levy, David Yow, Devon Graye, Gary Anthony Williams, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet, Derek Mears, Lee Eddy and Macon Blair.
Written & directed by Macon Blair.

★★★

This Sundance entry went straight to Netflix, but that's not a bad sign. Netflix is a good home for quirky fare that might be hard to market on big screens.

The film centers on Ruth (Melanie Lynsky), a normal woman who's getting just a little bit fed up with how people are jerks. Then when her house is broken into, she decides to take matters into her own hands to solve it. She enlists the help of her quirky neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood), and the two set out to find her stuff.

The movie does a good job of balancing humor with the darker and darker waters in which it treads. Ruth and Tony meet more and more dangerous people the more they look, but it's all handled in a believable way. And it builds to a genuinely tense third act.

Most indies, people don't see them until they get to DVD/Netflix/HBO, etc., so it's nice that Netflix is able to be a player in the market to pick up titles like this. Between this and I Am Not a Serial Killer and Hush, Netflix is showing it can be good for low-budget genre fare.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty & the Beast sets March box-office record


For the weekend of March 17-19, 2017, Beauty & the Beast had the largest March opening of all time and actually the seventh largest opening of any month ever. When final numbers come out it could slip behind the $169.18 million set by the final Harry Potter movies. (Emma Watson can now claim she is in two of the ten highest openers of all time.) It's the highest opening ever for a non-sequel. It's the highest opening ever for a PG movie.

The Belko Experiment was an after-thought on 1341 screens.

Logan and Kong: Skull Island had expected drops, when facing such a juggernaut.

La La Land dropped 70%, finally out of the top ten.



Opens March 24
POWER RANGERS with Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston.
LIFE with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds and Hiroyuki Sanada.
CHIPS with Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Jessica McNamee and Vincent D'Onofrio.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kong: Skull Island - Movie Review

Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Jason Mitchell, Toby Kebbell, Thomas Mann, Shea Whigham, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Jackson, Terry Notary and Richard Jenkins.
Written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein & Derek Connolly.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

★★★

This is like a Jurassic World sequel in a good way. Assemble the crew, get them to the island, and then let the monster-movie hijinks ensue!

It's 1973. Vietnam is winding down. John Goodman gets things rolling as the man who's seen satellite photos of the mysterious Skull Island and wants to lead the expedition. He gets funding from a skeptical senator (Richard Jenkins). He finds some experts and a military escort to go with him. This movie actually borrows a lot from Vietnam movies in their looks, sound, and feel. Particularly Apocalypse Now. They have to helicopter through a severe storm just to get to the island.

They don't know what they'll find, but they're greeted by King Kong. Kong is the star of the show. He knocks their helicopters down and the survivors are forced to scramble and make their way to a rendezvous point on the other side of the island in three days. Along the way they meet a lot of other fantastical creatures. (I'm okay with a giant spider, but why was there only one giant spider?) They also meet a WWII pilot (John C. Reilly) who's been stranded there for 27 years.

Oscar-winner Brie Larson plays a photojournalist, Tom Hiddleston is top-billed as a survivalist/tracker, Samuel L. Jackson is the colonel who turns into Ahab after Kong kills so many of his men. It's a true ensemble effort. Straight Outta Compton's Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are here, as two very different characters.

Bring on Kong v. Godzilla!

Kong: Skull Island gets $61 million


For the weekend of March 10-12, 2017, Kong: Skull Island exceeded expectations. Final numbers have it over $61 million domestic.

Many of the holdovers did positive business. Logan's drop of 56.9% is pretty good for a movie that opened that high. Get Out only went down 26.5% in its third week and has now outperformed Fifty Shades Darker domestically.



Opens March 17
BEAUTY & THE BEAST with Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans and Josh Gad.
THE BELKO EXPERIMENT with John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn and John C. McGinley.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Logan gets $88 million


For the weekend of March 3-5, 2017, Logan opened huge. Deadpool and Logan have shown you can still have a blockbuster superhero movie if you're rated R. (If your production budget is half of what you'd spend on Spider-Man).

Also newsworthy is how Get Out only slid -15% in its second week. To have any movie do that in March is almost unheard of.

The Shack has to be happy, demonstrating modest Christian-themed movies can still find audiences. Before I Fall never really found its marketing hook.

Table 19 is another example of how Anna Kendrick isn't really much of a draw outside of Pitch Perfect movies.



Opens March 10
KONG: SKULL ISLAND with Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson.