Saturday, December 31, 2016

Well, Add Assassin's Creed To The Ever Increasing Pile Of Underwhelming Video Game Movies

2016 was actually a pretty strong year for cinema as a whole, but good Lord, it was an outright disaster when it came to video game movies, a subgenre that just can't catch a break. The Angry Birds Movie may have made coin at the box office (a rare occurrence for a video game movie) but it was absolute garbage while Warcraft was a shockingly low-quality and borderline incoherent effort from a director as good as Duncan Jones. I didn't even see that Ratchet & Clank movie that came and went in a flash in April 2016, but word-of-mouth on it was dismal and I've encountered people who actually saw it who scarcely can believe it actually came out as recently as just this past Spring.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The 10 Worst Movies Of 2016

Per annual tradition at this point, my Best Movies Of 2016 list won't be up until late January because I live out in the no-man's-land of Texas where it takes an eternity for numerous limited release movies released in the last few weeks of 2016 to come to a theater near me. As compensation for that list taking a month later to be released than every other critic on the planet however, I am also giving you my 10 Worst Movies Of 2016 list right on time before the New Year's Eve ball drops!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sing Needs A Tune-Up

The highest piece of praise I can offer Sing is that it's the best motion picture created by Illumination Entertainment since the very first Despicable Me movie back in 2010. But considering that in the six year span since the first Despicable Me they've only made the likes of Hop, that forgettable Lorax movie, two middling Despicable Me follow-ups and this summer's blah The Secret Life Of Pets, that's not a high bar to clear. Even worse, taken on its own merits, Sing is just an average, inoffensive but extremely unmemorable kind of movie, one without much of anything in the way of a distinctive identity to lodge it into ones mind once the credits begin to roll.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Manchester By The Sea Explores How Human Beings Can Go On Carrying Immense Sorrow

To carry pain in one's heart is to be human. Our own experiences in life begin and end with regret, no matter how fruitful or unsuccessful our lives turn out to be. It's always the unsatisfactory moments in our own lives that preoccupy our minds. One's sleeping patterns can easily be disrupted by contemplating the simple ways a person could have substantially improved their own life. We've all got our own emotional baggage stemming from the past to work out, and so, Manchester By The Sea, feels very much an emotionally universal project, one that is fully pivoted upon this thematically rich concept. What follows is quite excellent in the way it deftly handles some tricky subject matter without coming across as exploitative or manipulative. It honestly, above all else, feels true.

Rogue One And Sing Rule Over Holiday Weekend As Passengers And Assassin's Creed Collapse

A large number of movies found coal in their stockings this weekend as a number of major new releases had underwhelming debuts that even the legs that usually come from the holiday break won't be able to rectify. For the top two movies at the box office, things were slightly better. Rogue One was tops at the box office again with $63.9 million, a 59% decline from last weekend. That's a bigger second-weekend drop than The Force Awakens last year, but that one didn't have Christmas Eve impacting its second-weekend grosses, though Disney would certainly have wanted a better second-weekend dip for the project. There is still (a new) hope for the project in the form of it likely holding up better next weekend when it'll get a boost from both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day moviegoing to compensate for this plummet. So far, Rogue One has grossed a solid $285.9 million domestically.

In second place was the only newcomer to really leave a mark, Sing. Grossing $36.2 million in its first 3-day weekend, which is the lowest-grossing opening weekend ever for an Illumination Entertainment title. That would normally be a catastrophic debut except Sing, unlike past Illumination titles, opened on a Wednesday and had Christmas Eve diluting its Saturday grosses. Plus, movies in December typically have smaller bows and then stick around for ages due to the holiday break. It's worth mentioning that Sing dethrones the $24.2 million bow of The Princess And The Frog for highest-grossing opening weekend for a fully animated movie in December, outpacin that 2009 Disney film by a whopping 50%.

Sing has now grossed $56.8 million in five days and if it follows the box office trajectory of The Adventures Of Tintin (the last animated movie to open over a December 23-25 weekend), it would end up with a domestic total of $255 million. That would be a solid sum for the motion picture that may be below the likes of Illumination Entertainment titans like the Despicable Me sequels or The Secret Life Of Pets, but would be right on par with the original Despicable Me and a fantastic cume for an original animated movie, especially one that cost only $75 million.

And now for some poorer news, because, woo boy, did some movies just not match expectations this weekend. Passengers, for one, only grossed $14.5 million this weekend. Its five-day cume now stands at $21.8 million. Interestingly, this one looks like it's playing similalry to Sony's 2011 title The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which opened over this exact same weekend five years ago. That David Fincher movie made about 13% less in its opening 3-day weekend and about 4% less in its first five days of release. That film managed to narrowly cross $100 million domestically and that's not out of the question actually for Passengers if it can hold reasonably well over the next two weeks of holiday breaks. But why didn't a Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt sci-fi romantic drama burst out of the gate with more speed? Well, maybe Sony's marketing could do better next time than the dreadful trailers and especially posters they put out for this title?

Next up was Why Him? which grossed $11 million. That's a decent start for the $36 million-budgeted comedy that lacked the family appeal and built-in audience loyalty between its two leads that Daddy's Home (the movie Why Him? was clearly angling to be) had last Christmas and thus it didn't get to the massive grosses that Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg effort had. But this is still a solid result in its own right that could earn a little over $70 million when all is said and done.

Rounding out the five was Assassin's Creed, which became the newest video game movie to falter at the domestic box office, grossing only $10.2 million over the 3-day weekend. In 5 days, the film has only grossed $17.7 million, a very poor showing for the $125 million film. Whoever it was at 20th Century Fox that thought it was a good idea to just launch a fanboy-geared titles like Assassin's Creed just five days into the run of a Star Wars movie should be fired post-haste, ditto for the people behind the marketing that overloaded the trailers with mythology and lore without explaining why anyone should care about the characters. You've got to get the non-geeks to care about these nerdy properties for them to succeed, that's how Marvel, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings and Star Trek have endured over the years. Assassin's Creed, by contrast, just seemed to be gunning for a small group of gaming geeks and even they didn't show up in droves over the holiday frame.

Fences bowed this weekend, and while it only got a single day (Christmas Day on Sunday) to perform, it turned in solid results, grossing $6.6 million. Not too much to say about this one only because we have only a single day of box office to go on, but that's a great start and it'll be interesting to see how it performs over the week and into New Year's weekend. For what it's worth, it's about 12% below the opening day of War Horse, the last major drama to open on Sunday Christmas Day.

Also expanding on Christmas Day was La La Land, which came in at eighth place and grossed $5.7 million this weekend putting, $3.9 million of which came from yesterday when it expanded into wide release in 734 theaters. La La Land has now grossed $13.6 million domestically and looks to have plenty of cash to still generate in the weeks to come.

And then there were the holdovers, which mostly dipped over 40% this frame thanks to Christmas eve diluting Saturday grosses. Moana in seventh place (just one space above La La Land) dropped 42% to add $7.3 million to its domestic gross that now stands at $180.3 million. Office Christmas Party went down 40% to gross another $5 million, bringing its domestic gross to $42 million. Roudning out the top ten was Collateral Beauty, which grossed $4.2 million this weekend, a 40% drop from last weekend. So far, Will Smith's latest motion picture has grossed a disastrous $15.2 million in ten days. Next up was Manchester By The Sea, which had the smallest dip in the top twelve by far, going down only 28% to gross another $3 million, bringing its domestic cume to an outstanding $19.7 million.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, went down 42% to add $2.9 million to its domestic cume that now stands at $214.2 million. Jackie expanded into 348 locations and did decent business, grossing $1.23 million for a per-theater average of $3,549. Arrival lost the majority of its theaters this weekend, which resulted in by far its largest weekend-to-weekend dip, plummeting 64% this weekend to gross $1.08 million;. Interestingly, it's per-theater average of $2,368 was better than the per-theater average posed by fellow Paramount Pictures release Office Christmas Party this weekend. Lion expanded its presence into exactly 500 theaters yesterday, resulting in a weekend gross of $897,000, $722,000 of which came from just yesterday. It has now grossed $1.7 million domestically.
Doctor Strange, like Arrival, lost the majority of its theaters this weekend, resulting in a massive 71% plummet that gave it another $634,000 to bring its domestic cume to $228.2 million.

Well, a gaggle of movies debuted in limited release this weekend, which meant a whopping three movies this weekend managed to have $20,000+ per-theater averages, a notable feat! Highest among these newbie arthouse films was Hidden Figures, which only had got to play for one day (yesterday on Christmas Day) this weekend but managed to top all other limited release titles by grossing $515,499 at 25 locations for a per-theater average of $20,620. That's an outstanding debut, especially given that it's playing in about 20 more theaters than usual limited release debuts and the fact that it only had one day to play this weekend. This could bode well for the title when it goes into wide release on January 6th.

Patriot's Day similarly had a strong showing in limited release, bringing in $161,306 in 7 theaters for a per-theater average of $23,044. Displaying lower overall grosses but better stamina in terms of per-theater average performance was Silence, which grossed $131,000 at 4 locations for a per-theater average of $32,750. Julieta bowed with $91,906 in 6 theaters for a per-theater average of $15,318. Displaying more mixed results was Live By Night, which premiered yesterday to the tune of $33,000
in 4 locations for a per-theater average of $8,250. Finally, A Monster Calls outright bombed in limited release, grossing only $30,910 over the entire weekend (it debuted on Friday) at 4 locations for a per-theater average of only $7,728.

The Top 12 movie this weekend grossed $171 million, a 39% decrease from this same weekend last year when Star Wars: The Force Awakens kept on dominating the box office. It was also down from the same weekend in 2014 and 2013, though improved on the same weekends from 2012 and especially 2011. It's worth noting that, as of yesterday, 2016 had grossed $10.751 billion and it's still up in the air whether or not we'll be able to beat 2015's $11.128 billion cume. These next few days will make all the difference on that front.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Office Christmas Party Is A Big Waste In Every Respect

Simply by the virtue of having so many strong comedic actors in one place at one time, you'd think Office Christmas Party would have to at least be mildly amusing right? You've got some strong Saturday Night Live cast members (Kate McKinnon and the underrated Vanessa Bayer), up-and-coming actors (Jamie Chung, Sam Richardson and Karan Soni) and some established veterans of the comedy world (Jason Bateman and T.J. Miller) all trying to pull off a raunchy Yuletide-themed party. Shouldn't that be enough to generate an at least agreeable comedy?

In The Middle Of History Being Made, There Is A Human Being Like Jackie At The Center Of It

It's important to keep in mind that, during any major historical event, the people involved in any given monumental world-changing situation are human beings, just like you and me. It's easy to forget that, but pieces of pop culture like Hamilton are excellent reminders that individuals that have obtained mythic status in our history textbooks were just as human and vulnerable as you or me. Jackie is a movie that very much keeps this in mind as it explores the psyche of one of the most famous First Ladies ever to grace the White House; Jackie Kennedy. A woman plagued by tragedy throughout so much of her life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A More Polished Look Can't Compensate For The Forest's Massive Lack Of Scares

While The Devil Inside was far from the first horror movie to debut in January or even on the first weekend of that month, its massive $33.7 million opening meant the first weekend of January was now a hot spot for subsequent horror movies like Texas Chainsaw 3D, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death to make their debuts in this specific timeframe in hopes of replicating that 2012 horror films box office success.  Debuting on January 8th this year (technically the second weekend of January but still very much an early January release), The Forest was 2016's entry in this new phenomenon as well as the very first wide release of the entire year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

La La Land Explores The Costs Of Reality By Way Of Stylized Musical Numbers

In our dreams, anything is possible. You can go anywhere, you can be with anyone, you can do anything. In its own way, musicals are akin to dreams in that the stylized nature of these productions allows for an "anything goes" approach for storytelling to make the frequent action of bursting into song feel acceptable. Events like The Paris Uprising Of 1832, the psyche of felines or even the life of Alexander Hamilton can all become easy fodder for musical theater, all told with a heightened guise that allows the musical aspect of these productions to truly flourish. After all, just because you're telling a somber tale doesn't mean you can't use a musical number to express a characters emotions (just look at how enduring opera has been through the centuries).

The Hollars Is An Excruciatingly Bad Parody Of Conventional American Indie Movies That...Wait, This Isn't A Parody???

When something tries to be personal in a very un-personal (for lack of a better word) way, the resulting experience is the very definition of "awkward". Trying to watch a person or a story or even just some manufactured item try to be something it's very plainly not is extremely uncomfortable to witness. That emotion basically sums up watching The Hollars, a movie that tries to tell a small-scale story of a dysfunctional family coming back together during a time of crisis very much wants to pluck at your heartstrings and make you laugh with the various quirks of the numerous family members, but it's trying to tell this potentially personal story in the most bland and generic way. None of it has any depth or real insight to it, it very much is the awkward experience of watching a movie try to be something it's not.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Rogue One Blasts Off With Massive Debut While Collateral Beauty Crashes And La La Land Sings And Dances In More Theaters

The Force was still strong with the Star Wars franchise as it leaped beyond traditional Saga movies (i.e. Episodes I, II, III, etc.) for the first time with Rogue One, which grossed a massive $155 million, the second biggest December opening weekend of all-time and the third biggest opening weekend of 2016 (only behind the bows of two superhero movies, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Captain America: Civil War). While down about 37% from the opening weekend of The Force Awakens last year, this debut is 7% ahead of the adjusted for inflation opening weekend ($145.6 million) of Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge Of The Sith from 11 years ago.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Collateral Beauty Aims To Be Uplifting And Ends Up Being Only Extremely Disturbing


I have no idea what was running through the minds behind the people in charge of the screenplay and initial concept for Collateral Beauty, but good Lord, but I can only assume they had some disturbing thoughts rattling around in their cranium that could only be worked out by way of writing up a script that dressed up its creepy and disturbing plot in the guise of an inspirational feel-good weepy drama. That's the only reasonable explanation I can concoct for what Collateral Beauty even exists, because if human beings actually thought this was gonna work as a straightforward inspirational drama, well, they're very optimistic, I'll give them that.

Dear God, What Hath The Ice Age Series Become With Its Newest Movie, Collision Course?

We've all changed since 2002 in profound ways. For instance, back in 2002, I was a kindergartner obsessed with superheroes and animated Disney movies....and now I'm a 20 year old obsessed with superheroes and animated Disney movies. And back in 2002, Ice Age was actually a really movie, one that I revisited earlier this year and was surprised to find held up exceedingly well. It's got a darker edge and a more emotional center to it that the numerous sequels seriously lack in. It's a pity that, over a period of 14 years, we've gone from that strong 2002 animated feature to....whatever the hell you wanna call its newest sequel, Ice Age: Collision Course.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One May Carry A Darker Tone Than Past Star Wars Movies But It's Got The Same Rousing Spirit As The Best Of Its Predeccesors

With The Force Awakens reigniting the Star Wars saga last year, now comes time for the next stage of Disney's massive plans for the Star Wars franchise; seeing if they can do stand-alone spin-off movies without either confusing audiences or burning them off of Star Wars by way of subpar quality. The first of these spin-off films is Gareth Edwards Rogue One, a motion picture designed to answer the question that a handful of super hardcore Star Wars geeks may have briefly pondered once or twice over the years before moving on: "Who exactly got those Death Star plans to Leia?" The answer lies within the running time of Rogue One, wherein we get to see the folks behind the intrepid mission to retrieve the Death Star plans as well as plenty of exploration as to what the galaxy was like before Luke Skywalker's adventure in the original Star Wars movie began.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Grappling With A Fatally Sick Family Member Isn't Just Something That Happens To Other People

While the concept of coping with grief or the deathly sickness of a loved one is a fairly universal concept, we all process this experience differently by way of our own individual personalities, outlook and the kind of relationship we had with the person who is departing us now similarly plays a notable role in the way we cope with our grief.  For David Mulcahey (Jesse Plemons), the lead character of Other People, life wasn't going too smoothly even before he had to come to take care of his mother, Joanne (Molly Shannon), whose cancer is giving her mere months to live.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sing Street Is A Euphoric Ode To The Power Of Music

It's been a pretty rough year for sure, no denying that. Like, I've had enough personal problems this year to fill up a whole silo, adding in all the real life tragedies and political turmoil happening in our country and it's easy to see why this year has been such a chaotic spiral of despair. So if you're looking for something peppy, something with a kind spirit or something just to make you feel good, allow me to introduce you to John Carney's Sing Street, one of the unsung (see what I did there??) gems of 2016 that's all but certain to put a spring in anyone's step and not just because of the awesome soundtrack!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Jeff Nichols Small-Scale Sensibility Works Like A Charm For Loving

Loving is a departure from some of director Jeff Nichols past few movies in quite a few ways, most notably in that this one takes more cues from his 2013 film Mud rather than his other 2016 film, the incredibly underrated Midnight Special, in terms of its story scope being very much grounded in reality. That more down-to-Earth approach ties into another crucial element that differentiates Loving from past Nichols movies, this one's actually based on a true story. The tale of Richard Perry Loving (here played by Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Jeter Loving (Ruth Negga) attempting to live a life together as a couple amidst prejudice against interracial real life is an event that really transpired, which offers new storytelling challenges that Nichols handles with the level of craft we've all come to expect from him.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Miss Sloane Is All About Immoral Means For Moral Ends

The world of politics is a slimy place, as this most recent presidential election has most certainly shown. It's a realm that earns scorn and disgust from many and it's a place where Miss Sloane decides to tell its story to quite entertaining results. This John Madden film does not sugar-coat ts depiction of the turncoat nature of this aspect of American society, instead plopping viewers right into the middle of morally dubious politicians and even have our protagonist be a human being whose got no qualms with doing things that redefine unethical in order to score another victory. That human being in question is the titular Miss Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain).

There....Is....A...Brotherhood! Of Maaaaaaaannn (Down)!

The gradual downfall of Shia LaBeouf over the past decade has been sad to watch to be sure. Once the protege of the likes of Steven Spielberg, LaBeouf has been entangled in a number of legal issues for the past 11 years that have just gradually escalated in their craziness. The dude's basically unemployable by major studios at this point due to his erratic behavior and it's a shame that all of his actions (a number of which, like the plagiarism fiasco, are detestable) because he is talented and deserves better movies to star in than Man Down, a war movie that's been dumped into a small amount of theaters in the first weeks of December and I can't quite say such a release pattern is too ill-fitting for a movie of this level of quality.

Surviving Christmas Will Make You Lose Faith In Christmas, Comedy And Humanity

OK, so, the 2000 live-action Grinch movie is still awful awful awful, but holy hell, the only real compliment I can now pay it is that at least it isn't Surviving Christmas, which may indeed by the nadir standard for all of Christmas cinema to come. To watch this 2004 Mike Mitchell movie is to gaze into a deranged human beings interpretation of what dark comedy is as well as an unhinged conception of what constitutes an entertaining protagonist. God only knows what lured Ben Affleck and James Gandolfini into this trash but Jesus Christ, I hope they got a big paycheck. That's more than I got out of this torturous movie.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

At Least London Has Fallen Is Better Than Its Predecessor?

I'm surprised London Has Fallen did even just decent business at the box office earlier this year, mainly because I was surprised the first movie had registered enough with people that they'd greet a sequel with anything more than a "Ho-hum". Olympus Has Fallen was a dreary disaster, carrying a dismal dark visual aesthetic that ensured that every frame was devoid of proper lighting and coherency. None of the action was fun, it was paced poorly and the release of White House Down just three months later served to only emphasize just how off the mark this March 2013 White House action movie truly was.

Moana Wins The Box Office For The Third Weekend In A Row While Office Christmas Party Gets Started And La La Land Dances To Massive Numbers

Well now, anyone else getting some deja vu from this same weekend last year? It's yet another second weekend of December where everyone's waiting for a new Star Wars movie to debut next weekend. Luckily, things were much livelier this time of year thanks to the presence of Moana and Office Christmas Party performing far better than the higher-profile new release from last year, In The Heart Of The Sea. But first, Moana was indeed on top of the box office for the third weekend in a row, grossing another $18.8 million, a 33% dip from last weekend that brings the smash hit family movies domestic gross up to $145 million in 19 days of domestic release. Where exactly this one ends its impressive domestic run will all depend on how well it holds against Rogue One and Sing over the next two weeks. It could go as low as $210-215 million or it could end up as high as $240-245 million. We shall see in the coming weeks ahead.

Not far behind in second place was a solid performance from Office Christmas Party, which grossed $17.5 million in its opening weekend, the eighth biggest opening weekend for a Jason Bateman movie, the eleventh biggest debut for a Jennifer Aniston movie and the fourteenth biggest opening weekend for a Christmas movie ever. While not a massive bow, this is a solid debut for the film that can be chalked up to a marketing campaign that emphasized raunchy yuletide hijinks and a large-scale ensemble cast that mixed well-known stars (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston) with various noteworthy talents from well-received 2016 projects (Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon and T.J. Miller). Christmas themed films tend to hold quite well, so expect this one to finish its domestic run in the range of $60-65 million, a decent sum though one that'll need foreign grosses to fully recoup its $45 million budget.

In its fourth weekend, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them grossed another $10.7 million, a 40% dip from last weekend, about on par with the fourth weekend dip of the last Hunger Games at the same weekend last year. Fantastic Beasts has now grossed $199.3 million and looks to be headed towards a final domestic gross between $225-230 million domestically. Arrival had yet another great dip in its surprisingly strong box office run, going down only 23% to gross another $5.6 million and bringing its domestic cume to $81.4 million. If this movie can just not get uttely decimated by the new releases over the next two weeks, it looks like Arrival could crack $100 million domestically, an insane feat for the motion picture. Doctor Strange grossed another $4.6 million this weekend had a solid 30% dip, which is slightly larger than the 26% dip experienced by Spectre in its sixth weekend though much smaller than the 41% drop seen by Thor: The Dark World in its sixth weekend of release. Doctor Strange has now grossed a strong $222.3 million domestically. Allied actually had the largest weekend-to-weekend drop in the top ten, going down 43% to gross another $4 million, bringing its domestic cume to $35.6 million in 19 days of domestic release.

Nocturnal Animals went into its first weekend of wide release grossing an alright $3.1 million at 1,262 theaters for a per-theater-average of $2,500. It's managed to gross $6.2 million after 24 days of release (only 3 of those days have been in wide release) and should be able to surpass the $9.1 million domestic cume of director Tom Ford's last movie, A Single Man, though it'll be tough for this one to stick around at the domestic box office considering the onslaught of new releases that are on the way.

Finally cracking the top ten this weekend was Manchester By The Sea, which grossed a strong $3.1 million at 368 locations for a per-theater average of $8,500. The film will be going into wide release this Friday and looks to be set to do solid business there. Manchester By The Sea has now grossed $8.3 million, making it already the eighth biggest movie ever for Roadside Attractions (who are distributing this one theatrically on behalf of Amazon Studios) before it even goes into wide release. Still out there and kicking is Trolls, which grossed another $3.1 million this weekend, a 34% dip from last weekend which is a notably bigger sixth weekend decline than the likes of The Peanuts Movie (which lost 25% in its sixth weekend). Trolls has now grossed $145.4 million and will cross the $150 million mark sometime over the Christmas holidays. Rounding out the top ten was Hacksaw Ridge, which continues to perform splendidly, adding another $2.3 million to its domestic cume that now stands at a strong $60.8 million domestically.

Miss Sloane went into wide release this weekend and became yet another box office dud for EuropaCorp, who are just not having a good 2016. Grossing only $1.9 million, the political drama failed to catch on thanks to a poor marketing campaign and a massive amount of competing dramas in the marketplace. Look for this one to fade quickly from theaters in the coming weeks as a number of new releases open up, meaning this one will likely miss the $5 million mark domestically.

Bad Santa 2 is just limping to the finish line in its domestic release, grossing $1.2 million this weekend, which is a massive 62% drop from last weekend. Bad Santa 2 has only grossed $16.8 million in 19 days. Incarnate, meanwhile, grossed $1.09 million in its second weekend, a 57% drop from last weekend that takes its domestic total to just $4.2 million.

La La Land got off to a massive start in limited release, grossing $855,000 at just 5 locations for an outstanding per-theater average of $171,000, the tenth biggest opening weekend per-theater average of all-time and the third biggest for a non-Disney animated title (only The Grand Budapest Hotel and Red State were bigger in that category). La La Land will be expanding into more theaters on both December 16th (that's when it finally comes to a theater super close to me!) and December 25th, and if these massive box office figures are any indication, La La Land could be set up for a super impressive run at the domestic box office.

Expanding into 572 theaters this weekend was Loving, which grossed $623,380 for an underwhelming per-theater average of $1,090, taking its domestic total to $6.5 million. Jackie grossed $495,000 this weekend as it expanded into 26 theaters for a per-theater average of $19,038, a solid sum that takes its 10-day domestic cume to $859,000.  Not quite faring so well in a theater expansion was Lion, which went into 15 theaters and grossed $171,000 for a so-so per-theater-average of $11,461. It's starting to look like this one won't flourish much in a wider release if these are the kind of numbers it's putting up in a super limited release. Lion has now grossed $493,190 in 17 days of release. Finally, it's worth noting that, after 157 days of release, The Secret Life Of Pets surpassed Despicable Me 2 this weekend to become the biggest Illumination Entertainment movie ever.

The Top 12 movies this weekend grossed $76.4 million, very much on the low end for this time of year though it was up from the same weekend in 2014 and 2015.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Is Agreeable Christmastime Fare

It's interesting, with the benefit of hindsight, to see what stuff sticks around in pop culture. On paper, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation looks like the sort of easy cash-grab that'd be as quickly forgotten as it came, an obvious attempt to milk the National Lampoon's Vacation brand a third time after the first movies in this series had done so well. Instead, what they ended up with was a movie that made tidy chunk of change at the box office and ended up becoming not only the most famous entry in the series by a country mile but also one of the more noteworthy Christmas movies of the last three decades.

Spectral Gets Flanked By Its Generic Nature

Spectral's struggle to getting released at all feels like as much of a struggle as any of the supernatural wartime battles seen in the movie itself. Filmed back in the late parts of summer 2014, the film was produced by Legendary Pictures and set to be released theatrically by Universal in August 2016. Then, two months prior to its release, Universal swiped it off the release schedule without explanation. Spectral basically ceased to exist until two weeks ago, when Netflix abruptly announced that they'd be the ones releasing it on their streaming service on December 9th. They dropped the title yesterday with zero fanfare, no even the official Netflix Facebook page was promoting this thing, instead deciding to further promote the newest season of Fuller House.

Krisha Is A Small-Scale Examination Of The Difficulties Of Escaping One's Past

Our past define ourselves. Not to sound too weird or what have you, but our future and our past can be one and the same creation. One portion of our existence informs the other in numerous ways, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. Keep this in mind as Krisha unfolds, a motion picture all too aware that our actions from the past have consequences that are felt long into the future. Just because tomorrow comes does not mean the slate is clean in terms of both other people's perception of you and your perception of yourself. That concept can make life a struggle and that's certainly one way to describe the sort of existence Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) is going through on this Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Incarnate's Gonzo Premise Doesn't Result In Much Scares Or Fun

Incarnate is yet another modern day entry into the exorcism/demon possession horror film subgenre, something that's gained popularity from the likes of the Paranormal Activity movies, The Last Exorcism and The Devil Inside. However, Incarnate decides to throw in one helluva storytelling twist; religious methods will not be used to get rid of demons in this tale. Nope, instead, a person will travel into a possessed human beings mind and evict the demon out from within. That's certainly an interesting starting point for a horror movie, so it's a real shame Incarnate is a dud of a horror movie and way more boring and rote than its bonkers premise would suggest.

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??"