Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Grinch Is The Nadir Of Christmas Movies

To watch the 2000 Grinch movie is to state into the yuletide covered abyss long enough for it to stare back at you. It is, without a doubt, one of the worst Christmas movies ever made, down there with Deck The Halls and Fred Claus as some truly terrible awful holiday-themed motion pictures.Truth be told, it strikes me as (more than anything) the Batman v. Superman of Christmas movies; a torturously overlong film that's both a total desecration of its source material and an outright disaster even when disassociated with said source material. If it weren't for Inferno, this would easily be the worst movie Ron Howard has directed in the 21st century.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Scrooged Gives Charles Dickens A Bill Murray Twist

Why do storytellers love A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens so much to the point that it's appeared in countless pieces of media for over a century now? Well, it being in the public domain certainly doesn't hurt, but the narrative allows one to easily plug in characters into the well-known roles of the multiple ghosts, Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, etc. Plus, the lead character, Ebenezer Scrooge, stands out amongst other Christmas tales in that he's crotchety and cruel, though his unique (among Christmas-related tales) personality does get resolved just in time for an emotionally fulfilling climax. It's basically a "have your cake and eat it too" scenario with Scrooge on a thematic level.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Moana Sea's Second Weekend Victory At The Box Office In Post-Thanksgiving Weekend

Moana managed to win the box office again this weekend, scoring a $28.3 million second weekend, a 50% decline from last weekend. Compared to past second weekend dips for animated family films that opened over Thanksgiving, Moana actually had a much smaller second-weekend decline than Tangled (56%), Frozen (53%) and Toy Story 2 (52%). Moana has now taken in $119.8 million in 12 days of domestic release, putting it about 11% behind the box office cume of Frozen's first 10 days in wide release. Also worth mentioning is that it brought up Disney's total 2016 domestic gross to $2.491 billion, the biggest yearly domestic sum for any studio in history. And they still have several weeks of Moana box office, not to mention a little movie called Rogue One, to go!

Rules Don't Apply Is A Tepid Look Into The Late Years Of The Life Of Howard Hughes

Hiatuses are tricky things in art. Lord knows time away from any activity can sometimes result in you coming back as a more mature experienced person, but other times, well, the old adage rings true: you can't go home again. Just look at how extended breaks didn't help the return of the Anchorman and Arrested Development crew in their underwhelming 2013 reunion endeavors. For Warren Beatty, it's been 15 years since he was in front of the camera and nearly two whole decades since he last directed a motion picture. The wait for his newest movie, Rules Don't Apply, was, unfortunately, not worth all that waiting around.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Holiday 2016 Box Office Predictions (PART TWO)

This past Tuesday, I did the  first part in my two-part column wherein I predict just how much money various movies being released over the extended holiday break 2016 would make. Today is the second part of that series! One quick thing before we go forward; all but one of the movies discussed below are not opening on a Friday. I am predicting solely the opening 3-day weekend for the first three titles, and for Fences, I am predicting its single opening day gross as its opening weekend since it's opening on Sunday December 25. Sound good? OK, let's get down to business!!

December 21-25 Sing
Maybe my boldest box office prediction in this two-part column is that I'm not forecasting Sing to be another massive smash hit for Illumination Entertainment on par with their past movies like The Secret Life Of Pets and Despicable Me. Now, will it make money? Oh yeah, especially since the movie only costs $75 million, there's no way they're not doing at least five times their budget on this one. But the marketing for Sing has been a bit more lackluster compared to pass Illumination features. Oh it's been as omnipresent as ever, but compared to the "This is what your pets do when they're not looking!" angle of the ads for The Secret Life Of Pets and the "What if a supervillain did normal Dad things?" for the ads of Despicable Me that managed to incorporate relatable aspects of potential viewers lives into their marketing, there's been a more scattered approach for the Sing trailers and ads, likely as a way to showcase all of the members of its ensemble cast.

A less concentrated marketing scheme aside, Sing still has a long Christmas holiday at its disposal at the box office, so it should still make some coin, even if its box office total is more on the order of Hotel Transylvania 2 (which hails from Sony Pictures Animation) rather than The Secret Life Of Pets. While its opening weekend will be muted by Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, Sing should still make a decent sum in its debut and stick around as a prime family moviegoing choice for the rest of the holidays.

Opening Weekend: $28 million
Total Gross: $165 million

A movie starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence should be a guaranteed box office slam-dunk, but three weeks out from its release, Passengers seems to be having some trouble in its marketing campaign that could keep it from really clicking. Sony's recent trouble with marketing large-scale blockbusters seems to have seeped over into Passengers with a marketing campaign that got a late start (just three months prior to its release), one of the blandest posters of the year that doesn't even indicate what genre the movie its promoting takes place in and further promotional materials that were tonally erratic at best.

The good news for Passengers is that it's main plot-related hook (two people wake up on a space station years before they're supposed to) is still coming through the ads and the promise of seeing two beloved actors in a science-fiction setting should still be appealing enough to the masses to keep this one above water. Plus, science-fiction dramas like Gravity, Interstellar and this past months Arrival have been making some serious coin, so don't be surprised if Passengers follows suit.

Opening Weekend: $24 million
Total Gross: $120 million

Assassin's Creed
If the past two movies I've discussed in the second part of this column have had to face some marketing-related hurdles, the Assassin's Creed marketing campaign has been (let's not mince words here) an outright disaster. Both of the trailers for the movie overwhelm audiences unfamiliar with the games with exposition, Michael Fassbender's lead character is given no personality to speak of in the ads that viewers can latch onto and its visual familiarity to video game movie flops like Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time is probably not the kind of film 20th Century Fox wanted their major Christmastime blockbuster to emulate.

Facing that dreadful marketing campaign, as well as some serious competition from the likes of Rogue One and Passengers on its opening weekend, it's pretty unlikely that Assassin's Creed grosses more than $15 million in its opening weekend. This is likely gonna be the most high-profile box office miss of the yuletide season.

Opening Weekend: $11 million
Total Gross: $55 million
Why Him?
It's pretty apparent that the marketing for Why Him? is patterning itself after last year's Christmas comedy smash hit Daddy's Home, but there's two big factors that are gonna prevent Why Him? from coming anywhere close to Daddy's Home's box office. First off, Daddy's Home reunited Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg from the beloved 2010 The Other Guys, whereas Why Him?'s two leading men (James Franco and Bryan Cranston) have no previous beloved movies to draw audience goodwill from. Also, Daddy's Home was PG-13 and had its trailer play on numerous family films, meaning it could work as more of a family-skewed comedy playing during a time of the year where families are together. Daddy;s Home being R-rated means it won't be able to tap into that lucrative family market.

That being said, the lack of big comedies in the marketplace (Office Christmas Party probably won't be big enough to hinder Why Him?) will probably lead to this comedy to at least outgrossing 20th Century Fox's other Christmastime release, the far more expensive Assassin's Creed. Otherwise, this one will probably come and go in a flash at the box office.

Opening Weekend: $11 million
Total Gross: $60 million

Fences appears to be one of the safer box office bets in recent memory. Denzel Washington is one of the more consistently successful actors working today (all but one of his films since January 2010 have exceeded $80 million at the box office) and pairing him up with a well-known actor like Viola Davis should only increase the chances of this one finding success. Four years ago, Denzel Washington starred in the adult drama Flight, which grossed $93.7 million domestically. Being paired up with Violas Davis plus opening over the Christmas holiday and some major Oscar buzz should get it slightly above that movie domestically, especially if it manages to snag some high-profile Oscar nominations that could keep it in theaters well into February.

Opening Weekend: $8 million
Total Gross: $105 million

Thursday, December 1, 2016

God Help Us All, My Prediction Came True; Someone Just Made A Mash-Up Of All-Star And Bee Movie.

"I Am Become Death, Destroyer Of Worlds." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

Back on Tuesday, I wrote up on a version of All-Star someone on YouTube had made where ever word was now SOME-BODY. It was both beautiful and terrifying. The internet was now toying with the power of Smash Mouth, its obsession with the band being the sort of fixation that can only end in disaster. Ditto for the internet's obsession with Bee Movie, a 2007 DreamWorks Animation film that wasn't very successful at the box office and more noteworthy for proving a one-joke premise and an omnipresent marketing cannot compensate for a lackluster script.

Now, the same YouTube personality behind the version of All-Star with only the words Somebody sung in it has decided to play in God's domain and just merge the two of internet's obsession with a horrifying minute-long gaze into the abyss. Looking over this guys YouTube videos, his obsession with All-Star is staggering. It's as if the internets ongoing Smash Mouth mania is just the various planets spinning around the sun that is this guys various All-Star-centric videos. How he can top himself after his most recent creation, I don't know, but I'm truly scared to find out.
All-Star is utterly unrecognizable in the form it's presented in here. What has become of you All-Star? Have you succumbed to the memes you thought you could control? Have you become the very incoherent meme you were at first trying to ironically parody? Contemplating this matter further, if All-Star cannot endure in this world untainted, what hope is there for the rest of us? I hope the human being behind this entity is proud of himself. He has proven that there is only despair in this world. All that is waiting for us all in this torturous existence is misery and ironic Bee Movie memes. There is nothing else. At once, we are all Barry B. Benson and yet none of us truly are Barry B. Benson.

The horrors of 2016 will never cease.

Frosty's Winter Wonderland Is The Oddball Sequel To Frosty The Snowman That Nobody Asked For

There are a select few of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials that get trotted out every Christmas on CBS, ABC and Freeform to typical ratings success. Y'know, your Rudolph's, your Santa Claus Is Coming To Town's, all that good stuff. And then there's the majority of the duo's catalogue that attempted to cash in on the success of those big holiday-themed special titans and just never went anywhere. Nestor The Long-Eared Donkey is one, Pinocchio another and then there's this sequel to one of the biggest holiday specials of all-time, Frosty's Winter Wonderland. As Andy Griffith (who narrates this special) notes at the beginning of this special, you may know the tale of Frosty The Snowman, "...but do you know of [when] Frosty...took a wife??"

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday 2016 Box Office Predictions (PART ONE)

Oh my God, it's actually the holiday season, huh? That means it's time for my third annual Holiday Box Office Predictions, where I attempt to guess just what movies are gonna be biggest during the lucrative holiday period this year. Sure, we all know Rogue One is gonna be making big bucks, but what about the other movies opening up in this time period? This is the column where I examine such a query over two parts. Now, just as a heads up, from December 9th to December 25th, there eight motion pictures debuting in wide release and at least three more (Nocturnal Animals, Miss Sloane and La La Land) that are limited releases that are definitely expanding into wide release over the Christmas holiday. There are other limited release movies like Jackie, Lion and Manchester By The Sea going into wide release in December, but since I don't have exact dates for their expansions I will not be predicting their exact box office totals.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Newest Atrocity Created By White People In 2016 Is This Version Of All-Star Where Every Word Is Somebody

If I've learned anything in 2016, it's that us white people can do anything, and I mean that sentiment in the worst way possible. We can overtake wildlife refugees and suffer no consequences! Hell, a white dolt can brag about grabbing women by the genitals and can elected president! It's like we're living an Alt-Rights wet dream. And now the newest atrocity committed by white people is the newest evolution of the internet's ongoing obsession with Smash Mouth's late 1990's song All-Star. This newest piece of evolution entails replacing every word in the song with the very first word uttered in the song: SOMEBODY.

Check it out below.

I am beyond words.

What I hate about this thing most of all is how damn catchy it is. Goddamnit, why does this song work so well for whatever machinations the evil geniuses on the internet with too much time on their hands come up with??

We all know it's only a matter of time before someone decides to merge the internet's two current favorite obsessions right? Like, some kind of Bee Movie/All-Star hybrid is waiting in the wings. Perhaps our salvation from Trump's America will come in the form of this horrific Bee Movie/All-Star hybrid, a creation whose beauty unites the world over, ceases all wars and eliminates world hunger in the blink of an eye.

It is coming people. Just you wait....

A Seafaring Quest For Identity Drives The Thoughtful And Fun Moana

Looks like Walt Disney Animation Studios recent hot streak continues unabated with their newest motion picture, Moana, which also manages to be the movie that brings back Disney Animation legends Ron Clements and John Musker to the directors chair for the first time since the 2009 feature The Princess And The Frog. This duo's been responsible for a couple of movies you may have heard of like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin and now, with Moana, they've probably made their best movie yet, mainly because its plot is better structured than the likes of The Little Mermaid and its also got a lead character who's actually as interesting as the sidekicks and world they inhabit unlike their 1997 effort Hercules.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Sense Of Authenticity Courses Through The Veins Of The Edge Of Seventeen

When Hailee Steinfeld came onto the scene in December 2010 with a fantastic leading (not supporting as the Academy Awards erroneously thought) performance in True Grit, you'd think such a turn would have made her a major commodity in the world of American cinema. Alas, any woman in Hollywood is going to find challenges in advancing their career and for Steinfeld she was boxed into co-starring as generic daughter roles to leading male characters in the likes of 3 Days To Kill and Begin Again. Granted, she was in Pitch Perfect 2 (a film I freely admit to not yet seeing) last year, but that's been the only major role of note Steinfeld seems to have garnered in the past six years.

Moana Swims To Box Office Victory, Fantastic Beasts Holds Quite Well, Allied Is A World War II Dud And Bad Santa 2 Has Bad Weekend

Well now, if this wasn't a hustling and bustling Thanksgiving weekend at the box office. In fact, this was the fourth biggest Thanksgiving weekend of all-time, with one massively successful new release and some strong holdovers paired up with three wide release newcomers that failed to gain traction in the slightest.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nocturnal Animals Is A Dive Into The Unusual And The Well-Made

Have you ever heard of Paciugo? It's a gelato place that allows you to have multiple flavors of ice cream in one bowl! There's a couple of Paciugo's near where I live (one of them is even inside the movie theater I see most of my movies in!) and the narrative structure of Nocturnal Animals reminds me of one of the confections you could get at Paciugo, in that multiple different storytelling flavors are incorporated into one bowl/movie. You've got a Southern revenge thriller, a high-society slow-burn thriller filled with regret and a romantic drama that dovetails into tragedy.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Brief Thanksgiving Box Office Update: Moana Drowning Newcomers While Fantastic Beasts Is Showing Strong Stamina

I'm still recuperating from all the food I ate yesterday, not to mention trying to study for a major Math exam on Monday, but what the hey, how about a real brief look at what's been going on at the box office these past two days which have delivered four new wide releases that are all doing varying degrees of box office. I'll just be talking about those four new wide releases and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them in this super brief (by my standards!) box office column!

For Moana, it's been smooth sailing at the box office after debuting to $15.7 million on Wednesday, a bigger opening day figure than Frozen, and then grabbing another $9.9 million yesterday. With $25.6 million rounded up in just two days, it's looking at an opening weekend in the low-60 millions and an opening five-day gross in the high-80 million range. These numbers are quite similar, albeit slightly smaller, than the ones posted by Frozen over the Thanksgiving holiday frame.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them has actually been holding quite well over the week, grossing $11.1 million on Wednesday and decreasing just 12% on Thursday to gross another $9.6 million, a smaller Wednesday-to-Thursday decrease than the one that the final Hunger Games movie had during this exact same holiday frame last year. Newt Scamander should have a second weekend in the mid-40 million range, taking him well past $150 million in just 10 days.

It looks like Allied is struggling more than most Brad Pitt films, with the World War II drama grossing only $2.7 million on its opening day and then going down 14% on Thursday to add $2.3 million to its domestic cume. It looks like the feature will barely crack $10 million over its opening weekend, an insanely poor bow for an $85 million budgeted drama/thriller. We'll see if this one can rebound in the days ahead, but it doesn't look so good right now.

If small-scale movie studio was looking for Bad Santa 2 to reverse their cold streak at the box office, well, they're getting coal in their stocking I'm afraid, as Bad Santa 2 is looking to become the newest 2016 sequel to bomb badly. Bad Santa grossed only $1.58 million on its opening day and then went down 16% yesterday to gross another $1.3 million. This one's not even going to gross over $10 million over the five-day holiday frame, a disastrous result.

Speaking of disasters, Rules Don't Apply, the newest Warren Beatty directorial effort, became one of the year's biggest wide release duds, grossing only $308,000 on opening day and going down 9% on Thanksgiving Day to add $279,000 to its gross. Despite playing in over 2,300 theaters and having some relatively big names in its cast (like, y'know, Warren Beatty), this movies not gonna gross over $1.5 million over its three-day opening weekend. Yikes.

I'll be back Sunday to discuss in greater detail the opening weekend sums of these movies, as well as analyze why they soared or failed at the box office, as well as look at the box office grosses of holdovers like Doctor Strange, Trolls and Arrival and arthouse fare like Nocturnal Animals, Loving and Lion.