Monday, September 29, 2014

'Inherent Vice' trailer finally debuts and it looks spectacular

Out of all the remaining fall films, the one that had continued to elude cinephiles everywhere was Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice. The noir comedy, which stars Joaquin Phoneix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph, Eric Roberts, Martin Short and Michael K. Williams, has been repeatedly teased over the last few months, but no trailer was ever released. However, buzz continued to build thanks to Anderson's comments about the chaotic elements of the film and how he would compare the film to Zucker bros. productions like Top Secret! and Police Squad! Today, we finally received a trailer for the film and it looks like it could be one of the best movies of the year. Check it out below:

I'm pretty sure my brain just exploded after watching that trailer. WOW. That's all I can really say. This movie looks absolutely perfect. I've attempted at reading the book before, but it's just too chaotic at times. However, it looks like PTA has translated the material from page to screen perfectly and I bet that this movie will work on every level. The chaos that didn't work for me in the book looks to fit the tone of the film adaptation much better. My anticipation could not be higher for this one. While it may not be the biggest Oscar contender, this could still be a classic for years to come. Inherent Vice hits theaters on December 12, 2014 in limited release and will go wide on January 9, 2015.

'The Drop' review

I will never turn down a good crime drama and that's one of the reasons that I was so excited for The Drop. But unfortunately, I came away disappointed. The Drop is a film that dabbles with greatness, but just never manages to pull everything together. Tom Hardy gives an electrifying, brilliant performance as Bob Saginowski and the movie has a strong sense of mood and tone, but the terrific parts never come together in the way that they should. The more tangled the film's web of twists and turns becomes, the less interesting the film is. All of this amounts to a missed opportunity for a true crime classic. Screenwriter Dennis Lehane is one of the greatest crime novelists ever, but he tries to fit way too much into the film's compact 107 minute runtime. With a stronger focus on character and a tighter plot, this would be a much better movie. Instead, we're stuck with a decent crime thriller that ends up being a mixed bag.

Bob Saginowski is a bartender in Brooklyn who seems like a pretty harmless guy. He tends the bar, is friendly to the patrons and keeps everything pretty quiet. However, the bar has dark secrets of its own. The truth is that the bar operates as a "drop" bar- a place for criminals to take their dirty money. Bob and his Cousin Marv (the late James Gandolfini) used to truly own the neighborhood, but now Cousin Marv's (the name of the bar) is owned by a Chechen gang. So when the place is robbed, bad things start to happen. The gang wants their money and will do anything to find it. Meanwhile, Bob is also trying to rescue a small pitbull puppy and court Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who has a dark past of her own. Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaearts) also comes into the picture as the main antagonist and a frightening figure in the lives of everyone involved. This tangled web of crime eventually erupts in an insane third act filled with shockingly tragic violence and brilliant surprises.

The Drop gets off to a terrific start and the promising first act hints at what could have been a brilliant, Scorsese-esque character study. Bob Saginowski is an infinitely interesting character and Tom Hardy manages to make him sympathetic and tragic. Bob deals with guilt and is haunted by his past, but is a sweet guy at heart. He always seems to want to do what is right, and when he adopts the pitbull puppy, Hardy manages to connect the audience to the character even more. But beneath all of the calmness, there's a deep sense of rage within Bob. Hardy is perfect in the role because he keeps that rage so deep under wraps. Just like Bob tries to do.

The rest of the cast is strong as well, although all of them are overshadowed by Hardy's dazzling performance. James Gandolfini is good in his final film role and has a well-written part to work with. Cousin Marv is a guy who's dealing with an immense sense of loss and he feels like his life has fallen apart. Although Lehane tangles the character through too many threads, he writes Cousin Marv to perfection. The supporting cast is highlighted by Noomi Rapace, who is given some good material to work with as Nadia. She has a meaty role and does a pretty solid job. Matthias Schoenaearts is less impressive as the sadistic Eric Deeds and John Ortiz's detective should have been cut from the film completely. He just adds another unnecessary layer to the plot.

The Drop is also a technically amazing film, filled with dark cinematography and a good sense of mood and tone. Nicolas Karakatsanis' cinematography gives the film its sinister mood and portrays its Brooklyn setting vividly. The gloomy snow and the hard bars of Brooklyn are awesomely portrayed and I really loved the way that director Michael R. Roskam shot the film. It's stunning to look at and I wish more films looked like this.

Dennis Lehane is The Drop's best and worst weapon. Lehane is a tremendous writer. I tore through his novel Live by Night in no time (I can't wait for Ben Affleck's film adaptation) and several of his other books I hope to read in the future. But he just can't quite make this film completely work. He brings in several interesting themes and the characters are well-written, yet there are simply way too many subplots. As the film went on, I became less and less interested in what was going on. Lehane keeps introducing new characters and new subplots as the film progresses and it just doesn't come together.

One of the film's biggest weaknesses is the character of Eric Deeds, played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Deeds is a psychopathic criminal, who essentially follows around Bob and Nadia. He has a connection to Cousin Marv, the pitbull puppy and he was Nadia's boyfriend. Yet he's just not all that interesting. Deeds connects the crime aspects of the story with the softer character parts and I feel like that was unnecessary. I can't really say why Lehane felt the need to add a conventional antagonist to a character-focused crime drama. Deeds is the glue of the story, but he just is terribly bland and uninteresting.

The ending of this film redeems some of the movie's previous mistakes. All of the crime threads end with appropriately gruesome violence, but there's an immense sadness to it. The characters are so well-written that you feel a true sense of remorse for them as the bodies start to pile up. But truly, this is a great ending in an otherwise decent film.

The Drop is a film that could have been something great, but some missteps in the script prevent it from being a masterpiece of the genre. Tom Hardy gives one of the year's best performances and Dennis Lehane definitely has a future with screenwriting, but you absolutely can tell that this was his debut. He tries to fit a lot of material into a 107 minute film and he really needed to cut some subplots (the film feels overlong as it is). Although this is a decent movie, I couldn't help but walk away from The Drop disappointed. There are lots of great aspects, but the whole film just doesn't work smoothly.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B-                                             (6.8/10)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

'The Equalizer' opens big with $35 million, 'The Boxtrolls' starts strong at weekend box office

After an impressive showing by Fox's The Maze Runner last weekend, the Denzel Washington-starred action flick The Equalizer became the second surprise hit of the fall with a strong $35 million opening. The hard-R film had seen a pretty solid marketing push over the last few weeks and audiences responded well. The film also received an "A-" Cinemascore, which indicates that fans were very pleased with what they saw. All in all, this is the fourth highest September opening of all time and the third highest opening of Denzel Washington's career. Not bad considering the film cost a mere $55 million. Sony did a great job with this film and a sequel is undoubtedly in the pipeline.

The Maze Runner held on to second place and grossed $17.5 million. That's only a 46% drop from last weekend, which is very good considering that films like these are typically very front-loaded. Somehow, The Maze Runner has managed to keep it going and it has now taken in $58 million. This film might push its way to $100 million, but it will be close. Still a very good showing for Fox and a new franchise will definitely pop up because of this film.

Focus Features' new animated film The Boxtrolls finished in third place with $17.2 million. The film from stop-motion animation studio Laika opened higher than the studio's previous two films (ParaNorman and Coraline) and received a "B+" Cinemascore. Pretty solid debut, and with little to no competition for the next few weeks, The Boxtrolls will probably finish with $50-$60 million.

Warner Bros.' This is Where I Leave You held pretty well this weekend and ended up in fourth place with $7 million. The family comedy has now grossed $22.5 million, which isn't bad considering it cost only $19.8 million. Probably not the big hit that Warner expected, but that's okay. Right behind it in fifth place was Dolphin Tale 2, which took in $4.8 million to raise its total to $33.6 million. Dolphin Tale 2 ended up becoming somewhat of a flop, which is somewhat surprising. Warner Bros. might actually end up losing money on this one considering it cost $36 million.

No Good Deed finished in sixth place with $4.6 million, a solid total for the small crime thriller. No Good Deed has now grossed $46.6 million, which is very impressive considering the fact that the film only cost $13.2 million. In the end, this is a massive success for Sony and Screen Gems. Universal definitely hasn't had the same success with A Walk Among the Tombstones. The dark crime thriller fell nearly 67% this weekend and grossed a paltry $4.2 million. The grisly drama has now made $20.8 million and will likely lose money in the end. A big disappointment for Liam Neeson.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy ended up in eighth place and grabbed another $3.7 million. The #1 movie of 2014 has now made $319.1 million and passed the original Iron Man at the domestic box office. Quite amazing. Let's Be Cops held onto ninth place and snagged $1.5 million this weekend. The R-rated comedy has now grossed $79.6 million on a $17 million budget. And finally, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rounded out the top ten with $1.4 million. The action blockbuster has now made $187.1 million.

In the limited release world, Roadside Attractions' The Skeleton Twins grossed $1.2 million in just 385 theaters. The critically acclaimed comedy has now taken in $2.3 million and will likely expand in the near future. The Drop also took in $1 million this weekend, which was enough to raise its total to $9.6 million. It's a solid little film, but nothing special. Review coming soon for that one.

Next weekend sees the release of two major Fall blockbusters: Gone Girl and Annabelle. Left Behind is also debuting next weekend. Here are my predictions:

1. Annabelle- $37 million
2. Gone Girl- $33 million
3. The Equalizer- $17.6 million
4. The Maze Runner- $9.2 million
5. The Boxtrolls- $8.7 million
6. This is Where I Leave You- $4.5 million
7. Left Behind- $4 million
8. Dolphin Tale 2- $2.5 million
9. No Good Deed- $2.4 million
10. Guardians of the Galaxy- $2.3 million

Friday, September 26, 2014

Liam Neeson joins Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted 2'

Seth MacFarlane's Ted 2 has assembled quite the cast so far and one of the biggest additions was made during this exceptionally slow movie news week. After adding Amanda Seyfried, Dennis Haysbert and Morgan Freeman over the last few weeks, Seth MacFarlane announced that Taken star Liam Neeson will be joining the cast of the highly anticipated comedy sequel. Nobody really knows who Neeson is playing, but I'm sure that the character will have a somewhat significant role in the plot. In the meantime, Neeson can be seen in A Walk Among the Tombstones right now and he will also star in the thrillers Tak3n (out on January 9, 2015) and Run all Night (out April 17, 2015) before Ted 2 hits theaters.

Even though he essentially plays the same character over and over, I still enjoy most of Liam Neeson's films. Non-Stop was a fun ride and I liked him in the underrated A Million Ways to Die in the West. However, my anticipation for this film is becoming more and more muted to say the least. All of these big actors in this film just seems like a bad idea. I don't know. My opinion has changed over the last few weeks. Nevertheless, I'm sure that Neeson will be great in this movie. He's always good and I hope that MacFarlane gives him a good part to work with. Ted 2 stars Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Patrick Warburton, Amanda Seyfried, Dennis Haysbert, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson and will hit theaters on June 26, 2015. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

'The Maze Runner' review

Over the last few years, Hollywood has managed to find both creative and financial success with several young adult adaptations. The Harry Potter and Hunger Games franchises have produced many highly enjoyable mega-hits and The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent were solid in their own right. Going into The Maze Runner, I already knew it was going to be a hit. The books were successful and the buzz was definitely there. But I was weary of the movie. I very much enjoyed the novels, but the trailers were pretty terrible and I just couldn't get excited for this one. Surprisingly, The Maze Runner is actually a solid sci-fi flick with moments of greatness. It's a good franchise starter that sets up two very interesting sequels.

Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up in a steel box as he moves up an elevator. He has no memory and is flying at full speed. When the box opens, Thomas finds several other teenagers. The leader of the group, Alby (Aml Ameen), gives Thomas a tour of their living space (known as the Glade) and tells him about what lies beyond the Glade: the Maze. Thomas is instructed by Alby to never enter the Maze if he wants to stay alive. However, several interesting things begin to occur after Thomas' arrival. First, one of the group's runners (people who search the maze for a way out) is killed in broad daylight. After that, Thomas ends up surviving a night in the maze with Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and they kill a Griever (evil creature that kills the teens) as well. Nobody has done either of those things before. Finally, a girl (Kaya Scodelario) shows up. 

Eventually, Thomas begins a movement in the Glade and the teens start thinking that a way out is possible. Thomas, Minho and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) band up with the other Gladers to find an escape from their prison. However, they'll face fierce opposition from Gally (Will Poulter), a Glader who thrives on order. Chaos and big-budget action ensues.

If you didn't read the book, you'll probably find that synopsis to be incredibly confusing. There is a lot of exposition in this film. Director Wes Ball has to set up the complex universe in which these characters live, but he does it pretty seamlessly. The teens have their own slang language, and although it isn't used as pervasively as it is in the novel, it still is present. However, Ball doesn't give us a whole lesson in Glade language. He just immerses us in it and it works very well. But throughout this whole movie, I couldn't help but think that it was just setting up a much more interesting sequel. Although The Maze Runner is good in its own right, it's basically setting the table for two action-packed sci-fi sequels that will deliver the goods. The Maze Runner isn't a perfect movie, but it's good enough and it puts this franchise firmly on the map.

The characters truly carry this movie and most of the actors do a fabulous job with their portrayals. Teen girl heartthrob Dylan O'Brien is surprisingly solid as Thomas. O'Brien has to carry most of the film and does a good job. His character isn't perfect, but he's good. Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ki Hong Lee are also incredibly likable as Newt and Minho, respectively. These are important characters for a good part of the franchise, so I'm glad that the producers picked good actors. Will Poulter manages to stand out as Gally, the closest thing there is to an antagonist in this film. He brings an anger and ferocity, but you manage to understand his character. It's a well-written part and Poulter does an excellent job. Aml Ameen also does a fine job as Alby, the group's leader and Kaya Scodelario tries her best with an underwritten part. All in all, the likable cast is one of the main reason's that this movie shines.

One of the things that I truly appreciated about The Maze Runner was the sci-fi aspect. Although many will inevitably compare this film to The Hunger Games, this is a more high-concept sci-fi disaster yarn than a story about a dystopian society. The freaky robot creatures and the technology make the film stand uniquely on its own and added to the intrigue of the film for me. I also enjoyed the score by John Paesano. It's big and overdramatic and a lot of fun.

Director Wes Ball and the three credited screenwriters do a pretty solid job of setting up this universe while preventing this film from moving at a glacial pace. Most of the characters are well-developed and while the plot is flimsy, it's serviceable for this film.

The worst thing I can say about this movie is that it is slow and not much actually happens. Most of these problems come from James Dashner's novel, but I still wish that Ball and the screenwriters could have tightened them up. Not much truly happens in The Maze Runner, but I feel like Ball could have made some of the events feel more significant. It just feels like stuff happening for most of the runtime. I can barely put it into words. The whole movie just felt oddly insignificant and anti-climatic.

In the end, The Maze Runner is a decent, enjoyable film that sets up two sequels that will likely be much more exciting and undoubtedly more emotionally involving. Wes Ball does a solid job of setting up all the characters and making you care about a few of them. They're oddly well-developed for a young adult film and that surprised me a lot. Despite its flaws, in many ways this is necessary viewing if you intend on seeing the sequels that will surely be much more polished.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                                 (7/10)

'The Maze Runner' impresses in first with $32.5 million, 'A Walk Among The Tombstones' disappoints in second at weekend box office

After several quiet weekends at the box office, Hollywood debuted four new films this weekend. The big new release was Fox's YA adaptation The Maze Runner, which performed very well with $32.5 million. That number was strong enough for Fox to immediately approve a sequel, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, which will hit theaters on September 18, 2015. The film received an "A-" Cinemascore from audiences, meaning that word of mouth will keep the film going for the next few weeks. The Maze Runner has also already pulled in $49 million overseas for a worldwide total of $81.5 million. Not bad for a film that only cost $34 million. All in all, this is a great success story for Fox and continues their box office hot streak.

The Liam Neeson thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones finished in second place with $13.1 million. The dark detective picture fell short of modest expectations, which pegged the film for a debut in the high teens. Some have suggested that the film's disappointment came from just too much Liam Neeson. I blame it on the bleak, disturbing content and the R rating. The film looked good, but reviews pegged it as a downbeat pic. The "B-" Cinemascore also indicates that audiences weren't all that enamored with the film. But in all honesty, this film will end up doing just fine. It cost only $28 million and Neeson already has a certified box office hit coming in the form of Taken 3 in January. There won't be a franchise of Matt Scudder detective adaptations, but everything will be fine for all parties involved.

This is Where I Leave You, the light family dramedy with a spectacular ensemble cast, finished in third place this weekend with $11.8 million. The film was tracking poorly from the start and pretty much debuted in line with expectations. Although the film cost only $19.8 million, this is a bit of a letdown. The film has a spectacular cast including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver and Rose Byrne, but simply could not translate that to box office success. Audiences enjoyed it ("B+" Cinemascore), but the film's tepid Rotten Tomatoes score (43%) didn't help matters at all. However, with the film's relatively low budget, Warner Bros. can pretty much just leave this one behind them.

No Good Deed plummeted 58% to fourth place this weekend and snagged $10.2 million. The surprise low-budget hit has now grossed $40.1 million, which is impressive considering its $13.2 million budget. The film will probably go on to make $55 million. Warner Bros.' Dolphin Tale 2 was close behind in fifth place with $9 million. The family drama has now pulled in $27 million and will struggle to make a profit considering its surprisingly high $36 million budget with additional marketing costs thrown in as well. Write this one off as a sequel that nobody truly wanted.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy stayed strong in sixth place, grossing $5.1 million. The highest grossing film of the year has now made $313.6 million and will likely close with $325 million. Guardians' worldwide total now stands at $632.2 million, which is higher than both the original Iron Man and Iron Man 2. It might even pass Man of Steel by the end of its worldwide run. Very impressive.

In seventh place was Fox's Let's Be Cops, which took in $2.6 million. The comedy surprise hit has now made $77.1 million and will probably tap out with $80 million in the bank. Very good considering the film cost a mere $17 million. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was close behind with $2.6 million in eighth place. The big-budget action flick's total now stands at $185 million.

Despite adding 383 theaters, The Drop plummeted 50% this weekend and took in only $2 million. The crime drama has now made $7.6 million. And finally, If I Stay rounded out the top ten with $1.8 million. The tear-jerker has now grossed $47.6 million.

In the limited release world, Tusk disappointed with $886,000 in over 600 theaters. That adds up to a weak per-theater average of $1,472. It's safe to say that this one will fade rather quickly. With poor reviews and a disturbing plot, odds are that Tusk will be out of theaters in a few weeks.

Next weekend will see the release of The Equalizer and The Boxtrolls. Here are my early predictions:

1. The Equalizer- $43.5 million
2. The Boxtrolls- $16 million
3. The Maze Runner- $15.8 million
4. A Walk Among The Tombstones- $6.5 million
5. This is Where I Leave You- $5.9 million
6. No Good Deed- $5 million
7. Dolphin Tale 2- $4.9 million
8. Guardians of the Galaxy- $3.8 million
9. Let's Be Cops- $1.4 million
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- $1.3 million

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fall Box Office Predictions- Part 1

I know this post is coming very, very late, but there honestly wasn't much to predict for the last few weeks and I've been very busy. But it's never too late to predict the box office for some of the biggest films of the fall. So- let's jump right in.

THE MAZE RUNNER- September 19

Opening Weekend Prediction- $35 million
Total Gross Prediction- $90 million

The Maze Runner is a great book and there is definitely a lot of interest in a movie adaptation. This won't be nearly as successful as The Hunger Games, Twilight or Divergent, but it will bring in the teen crowds (especially boys) who haven't had a big blockbuster to see since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or even Guardians of the Galaxy). The cast is also pretty solid and early tracking is good, so expect this to be a hit.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $18.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $52 million

A Walk Among The Tombstones is not going to be a four-quadrant hit like Non-Stop or Taken. It's a dark, brooding detective thriller with gruesome violence and a serious plot. However, Liam Neeson is still one of the world's biggest superstars and he can carry a movie whether it's a goofy action flick or a serious drama. This one has had the benefit of solid reviews (65% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a good marketing effort, which should lead to at least $50 million at the box office.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $14 million
Total Gross Prediction- $39 million

This light family drama has a great cast led by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Rose Bryne and Corey Stoll, but will likely not do great at the box office. Early buzz from critics has lambasted the film for being too generic, and even though it's sitting at a comfortable 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, odds are that the adult audiences will wait for a bigger Oscar contender to come along.

TUSK- September 19

Opening Weekend Prediction- $2.2 million
Total Gross Prediction- $10 million

Tusk is going to open small, but will likely keep going like a freight train. Kevin Smith's horror comedy has received mixed early reviews, but the story about a man being turned into a walrus just sounds so irresistible. Plus, Smith has a strong and loyal fanbase who will show up for anything that he does, so I'm betting that they make this one a hit.

THE EQUALIZER- September 26

Opening Weekend Prediction- $45 million
Total Gross Prediction- $138 million

R-rated action films typically struggle at the box office, but not when they look as awesome as The Equalizer. The Denzel Washington-starred flick has had a great marketing campaign so far and all of the early reviews, positive and negative, called it at least a great time at the movies. And according to Sony, this film received the highest test scores of any R-rated flick in studio history. Obviously, everybody is expecting a hit.

THE BOXTROLLS- September 26

Opening Weekend Prediction- $16.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $60 million

Laika has had moderate box office success in the past and their latest film will benefit from a shocking lack of competition. The Boxtrolls is the only children's film of the month and will completely dominate the multiplexes until Book of Life shows up. However, the film has received mixed early buzz and the trailers have made the film look pretty unappealing. We'll see how this one turns out. It will be quite interesting.

GONE GIRL- October 3

Opening Weekend Prediction- $34 million
Total Gross Prediction- $150 million

David Fincher consistently churns out commercially and critically successful films and Gone Girl will undoubtedly be his biggest hit yet. The book was a massive success and with strong early Oscar buzz and a terrific cast led by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, this should be a massive, four-quadrant hit that will succeed with critics and audiences.

ANNABELLE- October 3

Opening Weekend Prediction- $35 million
Total Gross Prediction- $75 million

The Conjuring is the single best horror movie of the last few years and Annabelle has the potential to be a great spin-off. Granted, James Wan isn't directing and the cast isn't quite so strong, but the trailers have been terrific thus far. The doll is very creepy and I can't wait to see what Annabelle has in store for us.

THE GUEST- September 17 (limited), October 3 (wide)

Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $1.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $6 million

The Guest is a film that has kind of come out of nowhere and it has the potential to be a big indie hit. Dan Stevens stars as a mysterious house-guest and the reviews have been amazing. Many critics have praised this film for its homage to 1980's action flicks and how well it channels John Carpenter. Sounds like one to definitely check out.

LEFT BEHIND- October 3

Opening Weekend Prediction- $5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $17 million

From what I understand, this is a Nicholas Cage vehicle about the rapture based off a series of best-selling Christian novels. Doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for success, but this seems to be a popular brand with the faith-based audiences and Left Behind should be able to pull in some disaster movie fans as well. In the end, it should be a solid hit.

THE GOOD LIE- October 3 (limited)

Opening Weekend Prediction- $5.3 million
Total Gross Prediction- $27.5 million

Reese Witherspoon is going to be nominated for an Oscar this year, but it won't be for this movie. This film about Sudanese refugees living with an American woman has received lukewarm reviews so far and it likely won't receive the marketing push it needs to break out. That being said, it's very much in the vein of The Blind Side and that will certainly attract audiences to this film.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $16 million
Total Gross Prediction- $45 million

This movie has a very funny trailer and will almost certainly get a strong marketing showcase from Disney. So with that being said, I think that it will be a solid hit. However, there are a lot of things going against this movie. For one, the title is way too long. It could cause box office problems when your title is ten words long. This movie also looks a little generic. But if the laughs come into play, everything will likely be good for this film at the box office.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $25 million
Total Gross Prediction- $66 million

Dracula Untold is kicking off the "Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe" and will hopefully get this new franchise off on the right foot. I actually love the idea of doing a cinematic universe with the famous movie monsters and I hope that Dracula Untold does well. The first trailer was very good and Universal chose a good weekend for the film to open. There isn't much straight action fare in October, so this should be a solid hit.

THE JUDGE- October 10

Opening Weekend Prediction- $22 million
Total Gross Prediction- $78 million

People like Robert Downey Jr. People like legal movies. People like feel-good stories. People will pay money to go see The Judge. Even though its 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes is very lackluster, this is still a movie that people will go see. It definitely will not be an Oscar contender, but the feel-good nature of the story and the family drama will drive audiences into theaters.

KILL THE MESSENGER- October 10 (limited)

Opening Weekend Prediction- $900K
Total Gross Prediction- $2.5 million

What happened to this movie? A few months ago this was one of my most anticipated films of the fall and now, it has fallen completely off the map. The cast is led by Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Andy Garcia and Michael Sheen and the story about drug smuggling and a journalist seeking the truth is irresistible. However, not a peep has been heard out of this movie since the first trailer debuted. That is a very bad sign.

WHIPLASH- October 10 (limited)

Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $2.6 million
Total Gross Prediction- $32 million

Whiplash has steadily become one of my most anticipated movies of the fall and with good reason. The reviews have been nothing short of stellar and the trailer was brilliant. I can't wait to see Miles Teller and JK Simmons face off on screen and I believe that word of mouth will spread like wildfire for this one. I'm betting on Whiplash becoming one of the surprise hits of the fall.

THE BEST OF ME- October 17

Opening Weekend Prediction- $6 million
Total Gross Prediction- $14 million

The Best of Me looks really bland. I have no idea what it's about, but I decided to talk about it because it stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan and actually is a wide release in October. Unless the romance crowd feels under-served by all the Oscar fare, I doubt this will be a huge success.

BOOK OF LIFE- October 17

Opening Weekend Prediction- $30 million
Total Gross Prediction- $94 million

There isn't much in terms of family fare in October and Book of Life will definitely fill that void. It looks fun and appealing and families will seek this out. In addition to that, Book of Life features a large Mexican stylistic influence which will definitely strike a chord with the very important Hispanic audiences. All in all, this should be a huge hit.

FURY- October 17

Opening Weekend Prediction- $40 million
Total Gross Prediction- $150 million

Fury could be an Oscar contender, but even more importantly, it's a film that will make a lot of money. Early buzz is strong and Brad Pitt is one of the few great movie stars left in Hollywood. Director David Ayer also gained a lot of fans with End of Watch and they will surely find a lot of appeal in this film. Look for this to be one of the bigger hits of the fall.

MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN- October 1 (limited), October 10 (expansion), October 17 (wide)

Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $7.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $21 million

If Men, Women and Children had received better reviews at Tiff, I might be higher on this film. However, the film is sitting at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes and the hate has been rather strong thus far from many critics. Plus, Jason Reitman's track record at the box office for non-Oscar nominated films is spotty to say the least. Despite the massive cast that includes Ansel Elgort and Adam Sandler, I just don't see this breaking out.

BIRDMAN- October 17 (limited)

Opening Weekend Prediction (limited)- $500K
Total Gross Prediction- $110 million

At this point, Birdman is one of the front-runners for Best Picture at the Oscars and I have a feeling that this movie will be a monumental box office success as well. The trailers have succeeded in making the film feel fresh and daring and the cast (which includes Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone and Edward Norton) is fantastic. Expect this to be one of the highest grossing Oscar nominees of the year.

LAGGIES- October 24

Opening Weekend Prediction- $4.3 million
Total Gross Prediction- $12.1 million

This Sundance pick-up from A24 stars Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz, but will likely disappear amid the other Oscar contenders and big blockbusters. The film is going wide in its first weekend which is quite interesting. All in all, I'm not all that interested in this movie and I'm truly not expecting anything out of it.

OUIJA- October 24

Opening Weekend Prediction- $29 million
Total Gross Prediction- $55 million

Ouija is the big Halloween horror release this year, and most importantly- it's PG-13. Teens will flock to this one in droves and that will drive business for most of the week. The only horror film set to hit theaters before Ouija is Annabelle and there's definitely enough room for two horror films in the marketplace. This will definitely be a strong late October hit.

JOHN WICK- October 24

Opening Weekend Prediction- $7 million
Total Gross Prediction- $35 million

As I write this, the reviews for John Wick are pouring in from Fantastic Fest, and they've been universally positive so far. People are happy to see Keanu Reeves back in a great action film and critics have been impressed. Critical success isn't always the key to box office dominance, but in this case, I believe that the reviews will help John Wick become a moderate box office hit.

ST. VINCENT- October 10 (limited), October 17 (expansion), October 24 (wide)

Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $11 million
Total Gross Prediction- $40 million

People love Bill Murray and St. Vincent appears to be another great role for him. While the film itself is currently sitting at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, almost every review I've read praises his performance and he is right in the thick of the Oscar race. But mainly, St. Vincent will be a hit because it looks like a good film. The trailer was fun and heartfelt and I have a feeling that Murray fans and movie fans in general will turn out for it in droves.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $6.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $15 million

This thriller has three big name stars in Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth, but it just looks so generic. The lukewarm reviews won't help either and the fact that it's going up against the critical darling Nightcrawler is probably not a good thing. Some people will turn out for this one, but I bet it's another film that disappears under the weight of all the other Oscar films.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $10 million
Total Gross Prediction- $50 million

Nightcrawler was THE event movie at Toronto and if it manages to connect with audiences, it will kill at the box office. Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors of his generation, yet has not solidified his box office presence whatsoever. He can do that with this film. Critics have called his character memorable and monumental and this honestly sounds like a movie for the ages. I simply can't wait and I know that the word of mouth will carry it to box office success.

ROSEWATER- November 7 (limited)

Opening Weekend Prediction (limited)- $100K
Total Gross Prediction- $8.2 million

Jon Stewart's directorial debut has received positive notices thus far, but will that be enough to get people into theaters? Rosewater tells the story of a journalist who is tortured after being suspected as an American spy by Iranian officials. Not exactly what Stewart is best known for. The only way this movie breaks out is if it receives a lot of Oscar buzz, which hasn't happened so far. Should make some money, but not all that much.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING- November 7 (limited)

Opening Weekend Prediction (limited)- $400K
Total Gross Prediction- $75 million

The Theory of Everything was one of the big success stories out of the Toronto International Film Festival and will undoubtedly be a major awards player. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones' performances have been praised so far and it looks to be directly in the Academy's wheelhouse. Also, it's a Stephen Hawking biopic so it should connect with audiences as well. Definitely going to make a lot of money.

BIG HERO 6- November 7

Opening Weekend Prediction- $63 million
Total Gross Prediction- $290 million

This is the big animated movie of the fall and Disney is on a hot streak right now. After Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, there's no reason to believe that this won't be a hit. The trailers have been infinitely appealing and audiences will flock to this like crazy. I can't wait to see this film and it will likely be one of the biggest hits of the season.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $78 million
Total Gross Prediction- $340 million

Christopher Nolan is one of the few filmmakers who can make a movie a hit based off of his name alone and Interstellar will undoubtedly be a hit. He's assembled a fantastic cast that includes mega-stars like Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine and the trailer is fantastic. This is also the front-runner for Best Picture at this point and early word is that it's a masterpiece. Interstellar will rake in the cash at the box office.

That's it for part 1. Come back in early October for the rest of my predictions!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fox sets 'Deadpool' for February 2016, 'Fantastic Four' pushed back, 'Assassin's Creed' delayed indefinitely

Comic book fans have been begging for this movie for years, and on February 12, 2016, they'll finally get what they've been asking for. Fox announced today that Deadpool will be hitting theaters in a little over a year. According to Collider, the adaptation of the beloved comic will be directed by Tim Miller and the script will be penned by Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, who are best known for writing Zombieland. Although it is not yet confirmed, Ryan Reynolds is expected to star in the film. I'm betting that the strong reaction to the brilliant test footage was what got this movie the green light. Fans have been begging Fox for a proper Deadpool film ever since X-Men: Origins- Wolverine completely butchered the character and the test footage showed just how awesome this movie could be. Expect this to be a hard R film and a new experiment in the superhero movie world. If you haven't seen it, check out the test footage below.

Fox also moved several other films on their upcoming release calender, including the much-anticipated reboot of Fantastic Four. The Josh Trank-directed pic was originally set for release on June 19, 2015, but will now debut on August 7, 2015. Considering the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy in August, I have to say that this is a great idea. The film stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell and is definitely one to look forward to.

In addition to that, the studio also shifted the release of their new John Green adaptation Paper Towns. The book adaptation from the author of The Fault in Our Stars was originally set to debut in late July, but will now hit theaters on June 19, 2015, taking the spot of Fantastic Four. The film stars Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne and is directed by Jake Schreier. And finally, Fox has indefinitely delayed their Michael Fassbender-starred adaptation of Assassin's Creed. No word on what's going on with that film at this time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jack Huston in talks to star in MGM's remake of 'Ben-Hur'

In many ways, it seems like we're heading back to the grand old days of Biblical epics with films like Noah, Son of God and Exodus: Gods and Kings all hitting theaters over the span of this year. At the beginning of 2016, MGM will be throwing another film in the mix as well and that would be their remake of the beloved classic, Ben-Hur. The original Ben-Hur starred Charlton Heston and Jack Hawkins and was directed by William Wyler, who was nominated for twelve Oscars over the course of his storied career. Ben-Hur went on to win eleven Oscars including Best Picture, and when adjusted for inflation, it's the 13th highest grossing film of all time. This remake has a lot to live up to.

Timur Bekmambetov, who is best known for directing Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, will be in the director's chair for this remake and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the film has found its star as well. THR is reporting that Jack Huston (American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire) will be starring in the film as Ben-Hur. The deal isn't finalized yet, but Huston's reps are in very serious talks with Paramount and MGM. Morgan Freeman is already set to star in the film as Ildarin. Expect official confirmation on the Huston deal sometime in the near future. I like the talent involved so far, but I'm not overly confident in this film. However, it's one to keep an eye on for sure. Ben-Hur will hit theaters on February 26, 2016.

Tom Hiddleston set to star in Legendary's 'Skull Island', Jordan Vogt-Roberts to direct

One of the more interesting mega-blockbusters that will be hitting theaters soon is Legendary Pictures' Skull Island, which is set on the mysterious island that is home to King Kong and many other magnificent creatures. The film made a surprise appearance at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, but little was announced at the time. Fans only got a brief teaser showing a screaming King Kong and the official release date. However, we learned quite a bit more information yesterday when The Wrap announced both the director of the film and the movie's star.

According to Hollywood insider site The Wrap, Universal and Legendary's Skull Island will star Tom Hiddleston, who is best known for portraying Loki in some of the biggest Marvel blockbusters of all time. No word on the character that Hiddleston is portraying, but he is certainly the lead of the film. The news also broke yesterday that Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) will be directing the film. Earlier rumors had suggested that Attack the Block director Joe Cornish would helm the film, but that has obviously been proven untrue. Legendary confirmed the report on their Twitter page. 

I'm very excited for Skull Island and I believe that it has the potential to be an excellent film. Tom Hiddleston is a strong actor and I'm happy to see him in the lead role. And while I'm not overly familiar with Vogt-Roberts' work, he definitely seems like a solid choice. All in all, this is definitely a film I'm looking forward to. Skull Island will hit theaters on November 4, 2016. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'No Good Deed' leads with $24.2 million, 'Dolphin Tale 2' solid in second, 'The Drop' surprises at weekend box office

The fall box office is finally kicking off after a two week lag where Guardians of the Galaxy led, but it still was a pretty tepid weekend. No Good Deed led the box office with $24.2 million, which is pretty solid for the film that only cost $13.2 million. The Idris Elba-starred thriller received a "B+" Cinemascore. Not bad considering the film was lambasted by critics across the board. The thriller will probably end up having decent legs, but there is a ton of competition this weekend.

Dolphin Tale 2 took second place this weekend and opened with $15.8 million. The $36 million family drama finished with less than its predecessor this weekend, but still had a solid result in its own right. The film received an "A" Cinemascore, and with next to competition for the rest of the month, Dolphin Tale 2 should probably finish with around $50 million. I have no interest in the movie whatsoever, but there's an audience for it somewhere.

Guardians of the Galaxy finished in third place with $8.1 million. The massive Marvel mega-hit has now grossed $305.9 million, which is absolutely stunning. Marvel truly hit it out of the park. I know I've said it before, but I will keep on saying it. The film has also grossed $612 million worldwide. All in all, this is a tremendous success for the studio. In fourth place was Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which took in $4.8 million. The surprise hit has now made $181 million.

The sleeper hit comedy Let's Be Cops ended up in fifth place this weekend with $4.3 million. The film has now grossed $73 million. One of the big success stories of the weekend was Fox Searchlight's The Drop, which grossed $4.1 million in sixth place. The dark crime drama opened in only 809 theaters, but still managed to have a strong opening thanks to the star power of Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini. I'm hoping to see this one soon so look for a review in the near future.

Seventh place belonged to If I Stay, which managed to pull in another $3.9 million. The film has now grossed $44.8 million on an $11 million budget. Not too shabby. The November Man took eighth place this weekend and added $2.8 million to its total. The spy thriller has now made $22.5 million.

In ninth place, The Giver added $2.5 million. The YA adaptation has now taken in $41.2 million on a $25 million budget which is pretty impressive. And finally, The Hundred-foot Journey rounded out the top ten and took in $2.4 million this weekend. The light drama has now made an impressive $49.3 million.

Next weekend sees the release of The Maze Runner, A Walk Among the Tombstones, This is Where I Leave You and Kevin Smith's Tusk. Here are my predictions:

1. The Maze Runner- $35 million
2. A Walk Among The Tombstones- $18.5 million
3. This is Where I Leave You- $14 million
4. No Good Deed- $10.1 million
5. Dolphin Tale 2- $8.7 million
6. Guardians of the Galaxy- $5.3 million
7. The Drop- $5 million
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- $4.2 million
9. Tusk- $2.2 million
10. Let's Be Cops- $2 million

Friday, September 12, 2014

Best and Worst of Summer 2014

The Summer of 2014 has come and gone and it was quite spectacular. We saw a ton of great movies and some that will be classics for a long time (Edge of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer, Neighbors, Boyhood). There were some clunkers (Maleficent, TMNT), but for the most part, this was a summer to remember. Let's take a look back at a great summer filled with extraordinary films.


It's too bad that nobody saw Edge of Tomorrow because it was truly a great film. Filled with great performances, absolutely beautiful cinematography and stunning action, Edge of Tomorrow was simply fantastic and it's a film worth watching again and again. Tom Cruise breaks his recent slump and delivers a great performance while Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson are all brilliant in their supporting roles. This was one of the most innovative and terrific sci-fi films of the last few years and without a doubt, one of summer's best.


This movie was atrocious. Disney hasn't made a good big-budget flick since the second Pirates flick, but Maleficent was especially bad. Angelina Jolie is incredibly over-the-top and the supporting cast is terrible as well. The voiceover is grating, the story is uninteresting and the visuals are not very polished. Simply put, this is a bland, idiotic movie and one of summer's biggest disappointments (although I can't ever say that I was looking forward to it).


Boyhood was one of the most amazing cinematic experiences I've ever had. Seeing both the character of Mason and actor Ellar Coltrane grow up over twelve years was simply astounding. It's a true character arc and it's incredible to watch. However, Boyhood is not just an amazing experience. It's also a well scripted, well directed film with great performances from its entire cast. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are great and Ellar Coltrane anchors the film. Individual scenes pop with gravitas and power and it's just an amazing film. Boyhood will be remembered for a very, very long time.


I'm a fan of Michael Bay's work, so I actually didn't expect to hate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which he produced). But boy, it was awful. I can deal with cheesy humor and a terrible script. I'm even okay with an awful performance from the lead actress. But I'm not okay with a poorly filmed movie that it exceedingly bland and completely uninteresting. TMNT does almost nothing in its 100 minute run time and the action scenes are more disorienting than they are entertaining. It's just a bad movie from start to finish and one that I wish I could forget entirely.


Snowpiercer was a movie that surprised me in a very good way. This bold, provocative and well-acted sci-fi flick does all the right things and features a surprisingly brilliant performance from Chris Evans. The film is visually stunning and terrific in its pacing, with some of the greatest action scenes of the year. In addition to that, this film contains one of the most stunning monologues that I've ever seen. It's absolutely incredible. Snowpiercer is an almost perfect film and a movie that I will watch over and over when I finally get it on Blu-Ray.


The Purge: Anarchy is both an exceedingly stupid and terrible film and a morally questionable one. It glorifies the bloodsport of a night where all crime is legal, but it also wants to condemn the violence. The filmmakers don't realize that they can't have it both ways. Anarchy would certainly be better if it actually took one side, but let's not forget that it's also an exceptionally bad movie. All of the characters are idiots and the plot is non-existent. It was just a terrible film and one that I never want to see again.


In a summer full of delightfully raucous R-rated comedies, Neighbors stood out from the pack by being gleefully unhinged and packed with non-stop jokes. Seth Rogen is quite good as suburban dad Mac Radner, but the supporting cast, led by Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and Dave Franco, steals the show. All three give star-making performances and give the whole movie their all. In addition to that, the film's screenplay is great and the film succeeds at being both clever and dirty. This is simply one of the best frat comedies ever and a pure treat to watch.


Get On Up was probably the biggest disappointment of the summer for me, simply because it had so much going for it. It's the story of James Brown with a great young actor in the lead role and a terrific soundtrack in the background. What could go wrong? The answer is a lot. Chadwick Boseman is perfect, but the rest of the film is a jumbled mess of a movie. Scenes feel out of place and characters pop up at random times. Some people loved this style, but I despised it and that's why I thought Get On Up was one of the summer's worst.


The X-Men franchise is incredibly inconsistent, but Bryan Singer undoubtedly delivered with the superb X-Men: Days of Future Past. This emotional, action-packed roller-coaster was one of the high points of the summer for me and James McAvoy gave one of the summer's best performances. The scenes with Quicksilver were brilliant, the future was appropriately bleak and the character work was exceptional. Without a doubt in my mind, this was one of the best superhero movies of all time.


When the Game Stands Tall is a perfect example of how to not make a sports movie. This dull and cliched drama runs through the motions and does nothing new or unique. The dialogue is pathetically bad and the characters are unlikable and uninteresting. Besides a few good moments, this is one huge misfire.


Calvary brought a bright light into the doldrums of summer with it's bleak, depressing look at the human condition. Brendan Gleeson anchors this beautifully shot character study and gives a monumental performance. The supporting cast is excellent as well and the script is brilliant. The opening scene is startling and the tragic ending is incredibly shocking. John Michael McDonagh did an absolutely fantastic with this film and it was one of the highlights of my cinematic summer.


An incredible documentary that examines the life of the world's greatest film critic, Life Itself is a painstaking, moving piece of cinema about the late Roger Ebert. Both entertaining and heartbreaking, Life Itself manages to create a simply terrific atmosphere of both admiration and sadness. It's a brilliant achievement by director Steve James and one that will not be forgotten anytime soon. A beautiful movie.


This summer had some great comedies. Let's Be Cops was not one of them. Although Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson have good chemistry, this film is overlong and incredibly light on the belly laughs that 22 Jump Street and Neighbors provided. The film is only 104 minutes, but it feels like 150 minutes, which is definitely not a good thing. Let's Be Cops is not aggressively bad, but it is incredibly forgettable.


21 Jump Street is a funny movie, but 22 Jump Street is a HYSTERICAL movie. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum take it to another level with this raucous, insane comedy that fires on all cylinders. This film has a great soundtrack, brilliant acting and some really terrific action scenes as well. All in all, this is a dynamite film that is an instant classic in the R-rated comedy genre.


What could have ended up being a forgettable teen tear-jerker eventually became one of the summer's best films. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort give breakout performances in this stunningly touching film that does everything write. The film is directed so well by Josh Boone and the supporting performances from Nat Wolff and Laura Dern are splendid as well. This sad, beautiful film does precisely everything that a romantic film should.


How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a perfect example of how to screw up your sequel. Make it super dark and depressing, barely further the story and take nearly a half hour to actually get going. Yeah, way to go Dreamworks. I know a lot of people were sad to see this movie disappoint at the box office, but I was in no way surprised. This bleak and inconsequential kids flick is rather dull and a complete misfire. Hopefully the filmmakers can recapture the charm of the first film next time.


Guardians of the Galaxy had the potential to be Marvel's first misfire, but it ended up being one of their highest grossing films yet. And it's a ton of fun. The characters are great, the action is awesome and the soundtrack is still on repeat on my iPhone. Chris Pratt is going to be one of the world's biggest stars and Dave Bautista could end up being a huge success as well. Hopefully this film will encourage Marvel to create more odd, outside the box ideas.


Chef was one of the biggest independent films of the summer and it many ways it is the perfect summer movie. With a great soundtrack, a fun plot and terrific performances across the board, Chef is just a pure joy to watch. It's not a perfect movie, but it's so much fun and so enjoyable that you simply do not care.

That's it for my summer wrap-up. Hopefully we'll get to see even more great films in the fall.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Morgan Freeman set to join Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted 2'

Although Seth MacFarlane ran into a brick wall with the massive box office disappointment of A Million Ways to Die in the West (I still thought it was pretty funny), he's undoubtedly one of the most bankable comedic names in Hollywood. Ted was one of the highest grossing R-rated comedies ever back in 2012 and the sequel, Ted 2, should be a huge hit as well. MacFarlane will step back into the director's chair once again and Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Jessica Barth and Patrick Warburton will all reprise their roles. Before today, the biggest new addition to the cast was Amanda Seyfried, who also appeared in A Million Ways to Die in the West. However, a new report indicates that a much more famous supporting actor will be joining the cast.

Variety is reporting that Morgan Freeman will be joining the cast of Ted 2 and will play an integral role in the plot of the film. According to Variety's sources, Freeman will be playing a famed civil rights lawyer who comes into play when Ted runs into some legal issues. Sounds like a very funny role. Freeman has the ability to elevate every single movie that he's in and I have a feeling that he'll do a great job in Ted 2. I never saw the original Ted, but I'm just going to assume that I would enjoy it. I'm excited for the sequel and more of MacFarlane's raunchy humor on the big screen. Ted 2 will be hitting theaters on June 26, 2015.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dwayne Johnson cast as Black Adam in 'Shazam'

Marvel has pretty much taken over the cinematic world at this point. The Avengers and Iron Man 3 both grossed over a billion dollars, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier improved on their predecessors and Guardians of the Galaxy is now the highest grossing movie of the year. Marvel rules the world. Warner Bros.' DC entertainment division has been left in the dust. Man of Steel was a moderate success last summer, but even that film paled in comparison to some of Marvel's recent efforts. Think about that for a second. A film about Superman, the world's most recognizable superhero, will likely be beat out by Guardians of the Galaxy, which is probably one of the more obscure Marvel titles to be adapted for the big screen. That's simply incredible and shows just how strong of a hold Marvel has on the comic book film world. However, DC is definitely giving it their best shot. They announced nine new titles last month and will likely have a Justice League movie in theaters before 2018.

One of the more interesting titles that DC has teased is Shazam, which is not necessarily a well-known entity. From what I know, it's about a boy who says the word "Shazam" and then turns into a giant superhero. Cool concept and Dwayne Johnson has been involved for a long time. Until recently, the only thing we knew was that Johnson would either be playing Shazam himself or Black Adam, the nemesis of Shazam. Now we know for sure. Dwayne Johnson will be playing Black Adam in the upcoming Shazam film, per his Twitter. On the social media site, Johnson said:

"Kneel at his feet or get crushed by his boot." My honor to become...#Black Adam #TheAntiHero #DC Comics

There aren't many specifics known about the film besides this latest bit of casting news, but I would count on this being one of the first DC films released. The film is being distributed by New Line Cinema and according to Variety, veteran writer Darren Lemke (Turbo, Jack the Giant Slayer) is penning the script. I'm expecting a late 2016 or early 2017 release for this one and I'm sure we'll hear more about it soon. 

Richard Attenborough dies at age 90

This is coming a little late considering that beloved actor/director Richard Attenborough died almost two weeks ago, but I've been very busy and I still very much feel the need to write something about him. Attenborough was a prolific actor and director, appearing in films such as Elizabeth, Doctor Doolittle, Hamlet, and most famously, Jurassic Park. He also directed many classic films like Chaplin, A Chorus Line and the Oscar-winning drama Gandhi. On August 24th, he died at the age of 90. No cause of death was officially announced, but I believe it's safe to presume that Attenborough died of natural causes. He will surely be missed.

I knew Attenborough best from Jurassic Park. His performance in that film is iconic and he perfectly captures the character. " Jurassic Park!" is such an awesome and brilliant line and it makes for a mesmerizing, memorable moment. While Attenborough was most certainly a terrific actor, some of his more distinguished achievements were in the field of directing. Gandhi won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. While I've never completed the film in its entirety, what I've seen from it is quite brilliant. All in all, Attenborough was a monumental talent and the world of cinema will definitely mourn his passing. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' leads weak Labor Day over newcomers 'As Above, So Below' and 'The November Man' at weekend box office

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy led the box office again on one of the worst weekends of the year. The superhero smash, which is now the highest grossing movie of the year, dropped only 5.2% and took in $16.3 million. The film's total now stands at $274.6 million. Quite extraordinary. Guardians of the Galaxy will also likely top next weekend as well and according to Box Office Mojo, will go on to gross at least $305 million. Marvel really did something special with this one and they're going to be celebrating for a long time. The film has also taken in $273.1 million overseas, which adds up to a worldwide total of $547.7 million. Pretty impressive. 

Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finished in second place with $11.7 million. That's a 30% drop from last weekend, which isn't terrible, but pales in comparison to Guardians. The kiddie action megahit has now grossed $162.4 million. Very good for a film that only cost $125 million. Ninja Turtles has also made $112.1 million overseas. That's not too shabby. Warner Bros.' If I Stay took third place and made another $9.2 million. The 41% drop the film took is pretty steep, but the film has still made an impressive $29.8 million on an $11 million budget. 

Universal's found footage horror flick As Above, So Below took in a disappointing $8.3 million. Not bad for a film that probably cost nothing, but compared to a lot of other similar flicks, it's a disappointment. The poorly reviewed movie (33% on Rotten Tomatoes) also received a "C-" Cinemascore, which means that it is going to crash and burn fast. I'm not very surprised that this film flopped, but it did look like it had some potential. 

Let's Be Cops took fifth place this weekend and grabbed $8.2 million. The low budget comedy hit has now grossed $57.3 million, which is very impressive considering the film's $17 million budget. Let's Be Cops will likely finish with $70 million. The weekend's other new release, The November Man, finished in sixth place with $7.6 million. The retro action flick opened on Wednesday and took in $9.3 million total over the five-day weekend. The November Man also received a "B+" Cinemascore, which is pretty solid. I would expect the film to have a solid hold next weekend. 

Sony's When the Game Stands Tall ended up in seventh place this weekend and made $5.6 million. The low budget football drama has now grossed $16.3 million. The Giver took a light 18% drop and landed in eighth place this weekend with $5.2 million. The drama has now made $31.5 million on a $25 million budget. Not great, but terrible either. Disney's The Hundred-foot Journey finished in ninth place this weekend and made $4.6 million. The breakout hit has now banked $39.3 million. And finally, The Expendables 3 rounded out the top ten with $3.5 million. The action flop has now made $33.1 million.

In the limited release world, Lionsgate's Catinflas grossed $2.6 million, which is pretty solid. Sony's rerelease of Ghostbusters also made $1.6 million in a few hundred theaters, which isn't bad. Open Road's Chef also crossed the $30 million mark this weekend and has now made $30.2 million. All in all, it was a pretty uninteresting weekend. 

Next weekend sees the release of The Identical. And that's it. Here are my predictions:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy- $12.1 million
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- $6.7 million
3. If I Stay- $5.8 million
4. The Identical- $5 million
5. Let's Be Cops- $4.9 million
6. The November Man- $4 million
7. As Above, So Below- $3.8 million
8. When the Game Stands Tall- $3.7 million
9. The Giver- $3.6 million
10. The Hundred-foot Journey- $3.3 million