Monday, March 5, 2012

The Week That Was and the Week That Will Be - 3/5

Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie died over the weekend. From Star Wars to E.T. to Jurassic Park, McQuarrie had a hand in just about every film that mattered to me growing up. He was one of the best EVER at taking the ideas of a filmmaker and putting them into a tangible, physical form. He will be greatly missed. R.I.P.

The sequel to The Muppets has been given a go but it will proceed without Jason Segel as a writer. That's a real bummer for me. Not only did Segel reinvigorate the brand with his nostalgic but fresh take on Kermit and company, he also brought legitimate passion to the project which it greatly needed. Really hoping his partners who will be moving on to the sequel, Nick Stoller and Jason Babin, can keep that sentiment moving forward. 

Dan Aykroyd has finally admitted that Ghostbusters 3 will not happen. What Aykroyd has (supposedly) come to understand is that while there are millions of people who would love to see a third Ghostbusters flick, there are only dozens of people who would love to see a Ghostbusters flick without Bill Murray. No Bill, no movie, period.

The rest of the week's important movie news can be found in the weekly digest

Weekend Box Office Results
If there was ever a sign that box office sales are on the rise, it is the eye-popping debut of The Lorax. Produced on a reasonable $70 million budget, I would guess the people at Universal would have been thrilled had their film grabbed $35 million over the weekend. Instead, it doubled that figure and reached profitability within the first three days of release. This is a staggering figure made even more impressive when you factor in that we’re talking about an early March release. From my limited research, I’m seeing that this total is the third biggest weekend pull ever for a March release, trailing only Alice in Wonderland and 300 (though you’d have to bet at this point that The Hunger Games will blow those totals out of the water in a couple of weeks). This is going to be a good year at the movies, friends.

1. Dr. Suess’ The Lorax - $70.7M
2. Project X - $20.77M
3. Act of Valor - $13.7M ($45.23M)
4. Safe House - $7.2M ($108.2M)
5. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds - $7M ($25.74M)
6. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - $6.92M ($85.61M)
7. The Vow - $6.1M ($111.71M)
8. This Means War - $5.62M ($41.46M)
9. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - $4.7M ($44.88M)
10. The Artist - $3.9M ($37.08M)

New to DVD
What I’ll Be Renting This Week
Jack and Jill (2011) - Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino
No, I’m totally kidding. Haha! Can you imagine if this was the type of blog where someone can’t wait to see a crapfest like Jack and Jill?! I would hope if that was the case all of you would immediately abandon my site and/or report me to the authorities.

What I’ll Probably End Up Watching
Immortals (2011) - Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt
I couldn’t muster up much excitement for this movie when it was in theaters a few months back. It looks the part of the classic all-style-no-substance action flick and a 300 knock-off at that. But my standards for what I’ll see in theaters and what I’ll rent are dramatically different. Movies like Immortals often find their way into my Blu-Ray player when I’ve had an extra dose of heavy viewing and need some lighter fare. So I might pass this one by in my local Family Video for a while but eventually, I’ll break down. Expect a lackluster review in the near future.

What I’ll Be Buying This Week
Game of Thrones: Season 1 (2011) - Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) - Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle (New to Blu)
I watched Game of Thrones last spring having no background on the subject matter beyond a brief primer I read on someone else’s blog. Since then I’ve read all five books and completely immersed myself in the mythology of the series. I loved the show upon my first viewing but having re-watched a few episodes with the knowledge that I have now, it’s even better. I’m stoked for all the extras this set will surely pack. Meanwhile, The Holy Grail was my favorite comedy for the better part of my life and still stands as one of the five funniest films I’ve ever seen. The Blu-Ray is a must-have for my personal collection.

Also New
Footloose (2011) - Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid
The Skin I Live In (2011) - Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya
Senna (2010) - Aryton Senna
Like Crazy (2011) - Anton Yelcin, Felicity Jones

New to Blu
The Deer Hunter (1978) - Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep
Out of Africa (1985) - Robert Redford, Meryl Streep
The Jerk (1979) - Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel
Harvey (1950) - Jimmy Stewart, Josephine Hull
To Catch a Thief  (1955) - Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Reindeer Games (2000) - Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron
Parenthood (1989) - Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen
The Nutty Professor (1996) - Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett Smith
9 ½ Weeks (1986) - Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) - Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene
Disclosure (1994) - Michael Douglas, Demi Moore
Man from Snowy River (1982) - Tom Bulinson, Kirk Douglas
Striptease (1996) - Demi Moore, Burt Reynolds, Armand Assante
54 (1998) - Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek
Benji (1974) - Peter Breck, Deborah Walley

Coming to a Theater Near You
The Lorax represents the first miss I’ve had in a while as far as Fresh/Rotten predictions go. It started out very strong but as the weekend progressed, more and more critics came back with ho-hum reviews. So I missed the mark on my Fresh/Rotten prediction there (57% versus my predicted 75%). On the other hand, Project X was as poorly received as expected, coming out with a 28% rating (versus the 30% predicted). That was a pretty easy call, though. Anytime you mix Girls Gone Wild with The Hangover, you’re probably not putting together a movie that veteran critics are going to get excited about.

This week brings us several major releases as Hollywood begins the process of ramping up to the summer. We’re in for a very interesting week at the box office and much of that intrigue hangs on the fate of John Carter.

John Carter - Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong
Shortly after the Civil War, a veteran (Kitsch) on the verge of death awakens to find himself on Mars. Emboldened by the supernatural way in which his body reacts to the Martian atmosphere, he joins forces with a group of natives who are fighting for their very survival. I am fascinated by John Carter for a variety of reasons. First, the series of books upon which this movie is based are essentially the first major works of true science fiction and their author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, is sci-fi royalty. I quite enjoyed the books despite their simplistic nature. Second, this is both the first live action film from the Pixar collective and Kitsch’s first real shot at movie stardom. Like any good human I love Pixar’s ingenious work and I’m interested to see what they can do in this format. Kitsch, too, is a favorite of mine, tracing back to his run on Friday Night Lights which was so incredible that my wife and I have actively discussed naming our hypothetical child after his character. I want good things from the man. Third, there were many stunningly poor choices made before, during, and after this film’s production that need to be discussed at greater length. I’m planning a larger piece for next week after I see the movie myself. As far as my prediction goes, my gut says this won’t be as bad as some have guessed it will be but there won’t be enough good to earn a fresh rating. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Rotten, 54%

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas
When a visionary sheik expresses a desire to import the sport of fly-fishing to his desert home, a consultant (Blunt) and a fisheries expert (McGregor) are brought together to make the dream a reality. I’m sure there’s a decent movie in here somewhere but honestly, I nearly fell asleep watching the trailer. No thanks. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Rotten, 48%

Friends with Kids - Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig
Two lifelong friends decide to have a child together without becoming romantically involved. FWK is getting great buzz from critics, which begs the question: why hasn’t the studio done ANYTHING to market it? A trailer made the rounds on the Internet a few months back but that is the extent of this film’s marketing campaign. That seems like quite a missed opportunity considering the outstanding cast Westfeldt was able to assemble for her directorial debut. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Fresh, 83%

A Thousand Words - Eddie Murphy, Cliff Curtis, Kerry Washington
A shady business man (Murphy) crosses the wrong spiritual guru and pays a hefty (but comedic) price. I will not hold this movie against Murphy as it was filmed prior to the release of Tower Heist and the semi-resurgence of his career. But if makes another film or two like this one, I think it’s fair to officially write him off as a complete loss. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Rotten, 30%

Silent House - Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens
A young woman’s (Olsen) plan to help her father fix up a real estate investment goes awry when the pair becomes the victims of a terrifying home invasion. Shot in real time and based upon a Spanish film of the same name, Silent House has some genuine scare potential. It’s not something I’ll ever want to see but if it gets a large-enough release, it could make some quick cash. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Rotten, 50%

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