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.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Logan - Movie Review

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal and Elizabeth Rodriguez.
Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green.
Directed by James Mangold.


This is Hugh Jackman's seventh and final time to play Logan, the Wolverine, (nine if you count his uncredited cameos) and I don't think the actor could have asked for a better swan song for the character that made him famous.

It's 2029. Almost all of the mutants are dead. Logan is working under his alias James Howlett as a limo driver, scrimping and saving for a boat that he and the 90-year-old Professor X (Patrick Stewart) can buy. It's rated R so these X-Men have fouler mouths than we've heard, and we see Wolvy's claws kill quite a few people.

It turns out there's a little girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) who has similar abilities to Logan, and mean men with guns want to find her. Logan would love nothing more than to send her away, but Professor X urges him to help her. They're just south of the border from El Paso but they need to get her to a safe haven in North Dakota.

The main hunter of Laura is named Pierce, played with evil drawling glee by Narcos's Boyd Holbrook. He has an army of Reavers to help him catch Laura, but after Laura or Logan killed the twentieth guy, I can't help but think if any of the Reavers questioned if they're in the right line of work.

There's a gritty sadness to this film. Logan's a tragic character. His quick healing and slow aging means he has outlived all of his friends. I honestly would support acting nominations for Jackman and Stewart for their work here. The script gives them a lot to tap into.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Cure for Wellness - Movie Review

Starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Harry Groener, Ivo Nandi and Celia Imrie.
Written by Justin Haythe.
Directed by Gore Verbinski.


This isn't a smooth journey. It's a meandering journey with peaks and valleys, with some elements that work better than others. Nevertheless I was along for the gothic ride.

(Stefon voice): "This movie has everything! Corridors, swimming eels, catacombs lit by hundreds of candles!..."

It starts with Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), an actor who usually resembles a younger, skinnier meth-addicted Leonardo DiCaprio. He's an ambitious executive at a large soulless Wall Street firm. He is tasked with going to Switzerland and finding their CEO, who disappeared there three weeks ago to a spa retreat. He gets into an accident after arriving, thus making him a patient in need of recovery. Jason Isaacs play the suspicious doctor who runs the facility.

Parts of the movie reminded me of Shutter Island, with a central character whose grip on reality becomes questionable the longer he's at this remote location.

I was entertained throughout, even though I knew I was watching an imperfect vehicle for Gore Verbinski's gonzo imagination. Have I put enough caveats around this? I liked it, though I'm cautious about recommending it to too many other people.