Archive for the ‘Sandra Bullock’ Category

Why Sandra Bullock Should NOT Win The Oscar For Best Actress!

January 21, 2010

Two weeks ago, Sandra Bullock won the Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actress for her work in The Blind Side.  I wasn’t too happy, but I managed.  This past weekend, Bullock won the Golden Globe for Best Actress, and once again, I was less than pleased.  You see, with every award that Sandra Bullock racks up, her chances to win the Oscar for Best Actress improve, and that, my friends, is a big problem.  The way I see it, the Best Actress Oscar is cursed.  For the past decade, every woman that has won that award has been reduced to nothing more than box office poison, and Sandra Bullock is far from box office poison!  In fact, the Quigley Publishing Company ranked Bullock as the top box office draw of 2009!  Audiences connect with her down-to-earth attitude, accessible personality, and comedic chops, and she is one of the few stars whose star power alone can open a movie.  With The Proposal having just earned $165 million in 2009 and The Blind Side pushing $230 million, Sandra Bullock is at the top of her game, and I fear that if she wins the Academy Award for Best Actress, her box office viability will quickly deteriorate.  It’s happened to hordes of actresses already, and I can only assume the trend will continue this year.  Look no further than the career trajectories of the last ten Best Actress winners for my reasoning why Bullock should not win the Oscar:

1999 – Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry)

Since her famous gender-bending role, Swank has hardly been box office gold.  Her biggest hit since her 1999 Oscar came from her 2004 Oscar-winning performance in Million Dollar Baby, which earned $100 million.  Swank has starred in movies like Insomnia ($67 million) and P.S. I Love You ($53 million) that weren’t total failures, but other than that, with movies like The Affair Of The Necklace ($471,210), The Core ($31 million), The Black Dahlia ($21 million), The Reaping ($25 million), and Amelia ($14 million), her resume isn’t particularly impressive.

2000 – Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich)

Roberts had a banner year in 2001, following her Oscar win.  The Mexican earned $66 million, America’s Sweethearts found $93 million, and Oceans Eleven grossed $183 million, but of those films, really only America’s Sweethearts was opened on Julia Roberts’ star power.  Since then, her performances in Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind ($16 million), Mona Lisa Smile ($63 million), Closer ($34 million), Charlie Wilson’s War ($66 million against a $75 million budget), and Duplicity ($40 million) haven’t justified the actress’ $20 million salary demands.

2001 – Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball)

Sure, Halle Berry has had a few hits since her brilliant performance in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, but they were all in action franchises. The success of Die Another Day ($161 million), X2: X-Men United ($215 million), and X-Men: The Last Stand ($235 million) had more to do with the famous characters of James Bond and the X-Men than the actors playing them.  Mostly, Berry has just made poor decisions about which films to star in.  Gothika ($59 million), Catwoman ($40 million), Perfect Stranger ($24 million), and Things We Lost In The Fire ($3 million) all not only under-performed at the box office, they were also all just bad movies.

2002 – Nicole Kidman (The Hours)

Studios, if you would like to lose money on a major investment, then by all means, have Nicole Kidman star in your motion picture!  She’s proven box office poison!  She can help expensive sitcom film adaptations like Bewitched earn just $63 million!  She can encourage just $14 million worth of ticket buyers to see Invasion, which cost $80 million!  Even more impressive, she can turn a $180 million blockbuster like The Golden Compass into a sad $70 million earner, or a $130 million epic like Australia into a small $49 million picture!  Truly, there is no box office poison quite as potent as the fair-skinned Ms. Kidman!

2003 – Charlize Theron (Monster)

In the six years that have passed since 2003, Charlize Theron has just one successful movie under her belt, and that’s Hancock, which earned $228 million.  It was no small secret, though, that Sony completely hid her character in the advertising, instead focusing exclusively on Will Smith and his drawing power.  Indeed, I don’t blame them!  With meager grosses from films like The Road ($7 million), North Country ($18 million), In The Valley Of Elah ($6.7 million), and The Burning Plain ($200,730), Theron’s biggest hit that was opened on her appeal comes from the laughably bad Aeon Flux, which only earned $25 million.

2004 – Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)

See 1999 above.

2005 – Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)

Immediately following her beloved performance as June Carter Cash, Witherspoon starred in two remarkably unsuccessful movies: Rendition ($9.7 million) and Penelope ($10 million).  When she got back to doing what she does best in the 2008 comedy Four Christmases ($120 million), her audience returned.  I can only hope that if Sandra Bullock is unfortunate enough to win Best Actress at the Oscars, she also will remember that audiences like her for her comedic chops, and no amount of Academy Awards will change that.

2006 – Helen Mirren (The Queen)

To be fair, a woman in her sixties can’t be expected to be a major box office draw, but the reality around Mirren, as well as the next two actresses on this list, is that she’s always been a critical darling, but not a box office heavyweight.  National Treasure: Book Of Secrets grossed a great $220 million, but again, the action sequel was its own draw, not the supporting actors.  Her other recent films include Inkheart ($17 million) and State Of Play ($37 million), both of which disappointed.

2007 – Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)

Starred in the pretty well-performing Public Enemies ($97 million), a film marketed solely on Johnny Depp and Christian Bale’s appeal, but she also starred in Nine ($18 million), which has disappointed in every sense of the word.

2008 – Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Ironically, the woman who starred in the biggest (soon to be second biggest) movie of all time, Titanic, has a wholly unremarkable box office record.  She hasn’t starred in anything since The Reader, but a quick look at her 2000s movies reveals ample evidence.  With movies like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind ($34 million), Little Children ($5 million), and Revolutionary Road ($23 million), it’s clear that Winslet chooses material that can be hard to market, but there’s just no excuse for the mega-flop of All The King’s Men, which only found $7.2 million, despite a star-studded cast.

2009 – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)

Sandra Bullock has infinitely more box office appeal than these actresses, for she can actually open a movie on her star power alone!  Hollywood mistakenly believes that because the above women have Oscars, it makes sense to pay them ridiculously high salaries, but from a box office analysis standpoint, they provide very little bang for your buck!  Bullock deserves a high salary because of her wide appeal, and I’d hate to see her fall prey to the curse of the Best Actress Oscar- It’s a career killer!

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New And News: The Rock Will Go To Extraordinary Measures To Bring Legions Of Fans To Theaters. Plus, My Golden Globes Recap!

January 18, 2010

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for New And News!  This week, we’ve got three new releases, and true-to-January form, none of them look very good!  Tooth Fairy looks likea film that knows its bad, but doesn’t care because it can make a lot of money.  Legion looks like a film that’s bad because all horror movies look bad.  Extraordinary Measures looks like a film that’s bad, but it’s okay because it was sincerely trying to be good.  After a quick summary of those films, I’m going to do something a little bit different with the News section of this column.  Instead of linking to articles across the web, I’m going to do a quick recap of the Golden Globes, the last half of which I actually managed to sit through last night, despite my extreme distaste for awards shows!

New:

Tooth Fairy (Fox) – 3,000 theaters – Reviews
 A cocky man that is skeptical of unbelievable fantasy characters like the tooth fairy is punished by actually having to become a tooth fairy.  He mustn’t tell anyone who he is, and he cannot expose himself.  He must make the world believe in the tooth- Wait, wait, wait!  Haven’t I heard this plot before?  Oh yea, it’s the exact same thing as Toothless, starring Kirstie Alley.  This time around, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as the tutu-wearing fairy, and his star power should carry this fish-out-of-water story effectively.  Just like last week’s The Spy Next Door, this film reminds me very much of 2003’s The Pacifier, as each film stars an action star attempting to appeal to a family audience.  Tooth Fairy has been advertised well, and it’s family-friendly nature should equal some pretty good business.

Legion (Sony) – 2,400 theaters – Reviews

This movie claims to tell the story of God sending his angels down into a diner to begin the Apocalypse and end mankind, but judging from the commercials, you’d think the whole movie was about a creepy grandma that turns into demon and crawls up the wall.  With Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany, Tyrese Gibson, Lucas Black, and Kate Walsh, the films has some stars, but no real box office draws.  Just like The Book Of Eli, Legion hasn’t emphasized its overtly religious themes too much, instead framing itself as a conventional January horror release.  I’m not expecting huge things from it, but I’m not expecting an outright flop either.  Like most most January horror films, Legion should see some alright box office results before debuting on DVD a few months later and then debuting on the $5.99 DVD rack at Wal-Mart a few months later.

Extraordinary Measures (CBS Films) – 2,450 theaters – Reviews

It seems appropriate that this film was produced by CBS Films because it looks like a made-for-TV movie.  “Inspired by a true story,” Extraordinary Measures follows the story of a loving couple (Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell) who find that two of their children have a rare and fatal disease.  Determined to save his children, the father teams up an unappreciated scientist (Harrison Ford) to research and develop a drug that will cure his kids.  The two men take on the whole medical world, fighting an unsympathetic system in order to provide a solution to the awful crisis.  Cheesy but goodhearted, this film seems pretty hard to dislike, and I actually am a big fan of both Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell.  I’m not sure why, but I just love them!  Even though it won’t, I’m hoping Extraordinary Measures does well!

News:

The Golden Globes weren’t nearly as unbearable as the Oscars, and the show actually ran pretty quickly.  Maybe it was because the awards cover both film and TV, but I thought the show was fairly efficient.  Don’t get me wrong- they were still ridiculously douchey and self-important, but I actually didn’t tune away, and that says something.  You can see a full list of winners here, but first, here are some general impressions:

-Ricky Gervais was an awful host.

-Only 90 people vote for these awards?! Why the heck do they matter do much?

-Mo’nique is pretty tough to dislike.  The Precious star has a fire in her eyes and passion in her words, which is a welcome change on a night when you could probably narrate most speeches with the TV on mute.

-Beards are back!  Jon Hamm, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Christoph Waltz, and William Hurt were all sporting facial hair.  Take that, No-Shave-November-disliking-grandparents!

-James Cameron may make some incredibly successful movies, but man, is he unlikable!  The director came across as cocky (“I used the restroom, so I’m going to take my time, so if the music comes on, we’re going to have a problem…”), which was obnoxious enough, but when he used his own Na’vi language from Avatar while talking about himself, it was too much.  James, if you want to be cocky and endearing, please take lessons from Robert Downey Jr..

-Jason Reitman, writer and director of Up In The Air, looks like a cross between Andrew WK and Dave Grohl.

-Hopefully, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler exhibit more chemistry in The Bounty Hunter than they did while presenting an award.  I know that the teleprompter-induced banter is always awkward, but not saying anything is even more awkward!

-Originally, the only reason I tuned in was to see if Neil Patrick Harris or Lost would win.  I was disappointed to learn that I had missed NPH’s category altogether, even more disappointed to learn that he lost, and hugely disappointed to learn that Lost wasn’t even nominated!

-Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for her work in The Blind Side.  This is a problem.  Sandra must not win the Oscar.  The Best Actress Oscar transforms women into box office poison, and Bullock was just named the biggest box office draw of 2009.  I’ll talk about it more in the Thursday column.

8 Legitimate Box Office Draws

November 25, 2009

When I was editing my Weekend Fix video, cutting out clips and fast forwarding through parts of it to keep the time down, I cringed a little bit when I had to cut out the bit about Sandra Bullock being one of the few remaining box office draws.  Indeed, gone are the days when nothing more than an actor’s name could draw audiences to the box office in droves.  Very few movie stars actually exhibit consistent drawing power.  Unlike the Old Hollywood Era of yesteryear, these days, big box office grosses have more to do with spectacle, story, or popular franchises than they have to do with the actors’ popularity. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few names that can truly mobilize the masses and get people into the theaters.  Therefore, since I didn’t get to say my piece in my video, and it is List Wednesday, I present to you (in no particular order) these eight legitimate box office draws:

Sandra Bullock

The fantastic $34.1 million debut of The Blind Side inspired this list, and Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she can open movies.  Beautiful, hilarious, and yet somehow down-to-earth and relatable, Bullock comes across as funny and appealing to guys, and appealing as an everyday woman to her fellow females.  While her main audience is certainly females, and most of her big box office hits are romantic comedies (Miss Congeniality – $106 million, Two Weeks Notice – $93 million, The Proposal – $163 million), she’s proven a few times that she’s more versatile than that.  Look no further than Speed, with its $121 million gross, or The Blind Side‘s current box office performance- she’s a true-blue box office star.

Adam Sandler

I wrote about Sandler’s box office viability extensively a while ago.  You can read that post here.  All you have to know, is that this man is one of the smartest decision makers in Hollywood.  He knows his target audience, and he constantly releases films that they want to see.  Voila!  You’ve got a formula for great box office results.

Jim Carrey

The go-to man for comedy.  Jim Carrey, more than any other funnyman in the last 20 years, has established himself as the most popular comedian at the box office.  Audiences love his brand of absurd facial expressions and heartfelt sincerity.  He’s been trying to branch out lately, but when he sticks to high profile, big budget releases like Fun With Dick And Jane ($110 million), Bruce Almighty ($242 million), How The Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million), Liar Liar ($181 million), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 million) features, he really hits his stride and rakes in the dollars.  I personally love it when Carrey mixes his comedy persona with some more serious roles, like in The Truman Show, which resulted in great reviews great box office ($125 million).

Jennifer Aniston

People love to tear down Jennifer Aniston, saying she hasn’t been successful as a movie star and that she should have stuck to TV.  I beg to differ.  When Aniston sticks to the breezy romantic comedy genre, she’s remarkably popular.  She’s found big success with films like Along Came Polly ($88 million), The Break Up ($118 million), Marley And Me ($143 million), He’s Just Not That Into You ($93 million).  By my calculations, that makes someone a movie star.

Will Smith

Like Sandler above, way back in the day, I dedicated a whole post to Will Smith’s box office success.  I don’t need to tell you how famous he is… Just read the old post and add 2008’s $227 million gross for Hancock to the mix.

Brad Pitt

The godfather of all celebrities has really established himself as a major box office force in the 2000s.  He doesn’t have as much of a defined genre as some of the other people on this list, but he typically plays cocky, comedic characters, though he has done his fair share of dramas as well.  In the last decade, he’s found success with Oceans Eleven ($183 million), Troy ($123 million), Oceans Twelve ($125 million), Mr. And Mrs. Smith ($186 million), Oceans Thirteen ($117 million), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ($127 million), and Inglorious Basterds ($120 million).

Katherine Heigl

Heigl is certainly the youngest and least proven actor on this list, but in the last three years, since che burst onto the scene in TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen her film roles wisely, and I have my eye on her as the young box office star with the most potential drawing power.  She already has figured out that her bread and butter is in the romantic comedy genre.  In 2007, she starred in Knocked Up, which grossed $146 million.  In 2008, she took 27 Dresses to $76 million.  And in 2009, she helped The Ugly Truth to $88 million.  If she continues to pick strong roles within her genre, she’ll keep seeing strong returns.

DVD Sales: The Proposal Wins, Land Of The Lost Loses

October 28, 2009

Another week, another DVD Sales Chart!  Hot on the heels of the huge debuts of Wolverine and Monsters Vs. Aliens, we had yet another blockbuster debut this week, but this time it was females who drove this one to the top.  Click on inside to keep reading my DVD Sales Notes…

DVD Sales Notes:

-Sandra Bullock flexes her star power once again as The Proposal sells a huge 2.4 million DVDs in its first week for a $39.3 million total! For an already successful movie that grossed $163.9 million, this is a fantastic result, and it shows that romantic comedies, if they’re good enough and have the right stars, are still a hot commodity.

-Just as Land Of The Lost was ignored in theaters, its DVD debut is equally inauspicious with a $7.4 million sales week.  The Will Ferrell movie that never took off only made $49.4 million in theaters, though it carried a huge $100 million budget.

Trick ‘r Treat‘s release is confusing to me.  According to reviews, it’s good.  But it’s available almost nowhere, and it received no promotion, so I’m not sure what Warner Brothers is doing with it.  All I know is that it should probably be earning more than the $2 million its earned after two weeks…

-On the TV front, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Season 4 and Bones: The Complete Fourth Season are both doing pretty well on DVD, as each show passed the $10 million mark in sales this week.

-Once again, the Halloween effect is in full force this week.  (Except with the debut of Drag Me To Hell! Why won’t people watch this movie- it’s great!)  If you need proof, look no further that Hocus Pocus‘ #14 re-entry onto the chart!

Top DVD Sales for the Week Ending October 18, 2009
# Title Units this Week % Chg Total Units Sales this Week Total Sales Wks
1 The Proposal 2,413,215 -.-% 2,413,215 $39,261,077 $39,261,077 1
2 Land of the Lost 460,924 -.-% 460,924 $7,370,175 $7,370,175 1
3 Monsters vs. Aliens 380,564 -46.4% 3,326,567 $6,744,774 $58,075,082 3
4 Drag Me to Hell 341,229 -.-% 341,229 $5,797,481 $5,797,481 1
5 X-Men Origins: Wolverine 177,854 -3.1% 3,697,164 $2,748,076 $62,869,550 5
6 Year One 148,654 -56.6% 491,556 $2,376,977 $7,859,980 2
7 Hannah Montana The Movie 107,388 13.7% 2,632,023 $1,624,780 $45,431,718 9
8 Katt Williams: Pimpadelic 97,494 -.-% 97,494 $1,656,423 $1,656,423 1
9 The Wizard of Oz 79,395 -34.9% $1,468,014 656
10 Edward Scissorhands 76,982 -14.0% $805,586 476
11 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past 73,603 -27.7% 913,902 $1,397,721 $16,104,058 4
12 Corpse Bride, The 73,362 -28.8% $402,757 194
13 Spookley the Square Pumpkin 68,535 -14.8% $641,261 215
14 Hocus Pocus 64,433 -.-% $385,954 385
15 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 4 62,985 -.-% 411,649 $1,573,995 $10,644,577 5
16 Bones: The Complete Fourth Season 62,502 -70.5% 274,623 $2,343,200 $10,189,556 2
17 Dr. Seuss – Green Eggs and Ham and Other Favorites 62,261 -25.5% $404,074 315
18 Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season 60,572 -.-% 60,572 $1,937,698 $1,937,698 1
19 Clifford the Big Red Dog: Clifford’s Big Halloween 60,330 -22.8% 199,057 $512,202 $1,689,994 162
20 My Life in Ruins 58,882 -55.4% 190,871 $1,177,051 $3,815,511 2
21 Break-Up, The 57,435 -23.6% 3,120,825 $466,085 $51,548,518 157
22 Coraline 53,091 -4.4% 2,088,101 $825,103 $38,144,080 13
23 Race to Witch Mountain 50,678 -21.4% 1,586,609 $828,347 $28,766,644 11
24 Bring It On: Fight to the Finish 47,782 -21.1% 624,910 $716,252 $10,903,483 7
25 Observe and Report 45,610 -37.5% 438,837 $911,744 $8,110,879 4
26 Trick ‘r Treat 43,438 -53.3% 136,356 $651,136 $2,043,976 2
27 Barbie and the Three Musketeers 42,473 -26.5% 730,153 $636,670 $10,601,492 5
28 The Sandlot 38,989 -42.2% $279,575 403
29 Management 35,681 -.-% 118,931 $713,263 $2,377,431 3
30 Crank 2: High Voltage 35,474 -24.5% 624,346 $667,110 $11,336,000 6

Weekend Fix: Final Destination Wins Labor Day Weekend

September 7, 2009
 
Blah.  Labor Day weekend is traditionally the calendar spot where studios dump their worst movies.  They do this because the box office is always so poor on this weekend, but part of the reason why the box office is poor is because the new releases are always so bad.  In this way, Labor Day weekend has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and in all likelihood, it will remain a low point at the box office for years to come.

 The number one film this weekend is again The Final Destination, and the horror film is performing better than anyone expected.  With $12.3 million over three days, and $15.4 million over four, the fourth installment of the Final Destination franchise has already cumed $50.6 million, and, thanks to the 3-D gimmick, it is well on its way to becoming the highest grossing picture of them all.  I guess this means we’ll be seeing Warner Brothers pump out The Final(er) Destination some time in 2011.

Inglorious Basterds continued its fantastic run this weekend, and the Quentin Tarantino picture is clearly benefiting from good word-of-mouth.  Enjoying a second weekend at number two, the Weinstein film mustered up $11.6 million over the regular weekend frame, and $15 million over the extended weekend.  The pulpy WWII comedy has found a stellar $95.2 million thus far.

In third place is the Fox “comedy” All About Steve, which found $11.2 million over the 3-day and $14 million  over the 4-day.  Even though this stars the always reliable Sandra Bullock, I swear I hadn’t heard a single thing about this film until The Hangover became a smash hit earlier this Summer.  It appears that with Bradley Cooper’s newfound stardom, Fox thought it could capitalize on the opportunity and actually earn a few bucks out of this stinker, which probably should have gone straight-to-DVD.  Well, their strategy paid off, and they should be pleased with this result.  In a perfect world, All About Steve would crash and burn from here, but romantic comedies have proven to be the most review-proof genre in all of the film industry, so a $30-40 million finish should result.  

The other big debut of the weekend was Lionsgate’s Gamer, a film starring Gerard Butler and Michael C. Hall about a video gamer who discovers he can control another person.  Gamer got off to a rough start, earning a small $9.1 million over the 3 -day, with $11.2 million over the 4-day.  This movie was very peculiar to me, for it seemed like it was undermining its target audience by implying that video games had the capacity to do great evil.  Gamers dont like wn u try to pwn thm, Lionsg8!

Many holdovers did very well this weekend, including District 9, which crossed $100 million, Julie And Julia, which crossed $80 million, and The Time Traveler’s Wife, which passed $55 million, and G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra, which reached $141 million.  If only Joe hadn’t cost so much to produce… Still, it’s done pretty well for itself, considering many were scoffing at the action picture.

Despite the success of many movies, there was one holdover that did not do well at all, and that was Weinstein’s Halloween II, which dropped dead (HA!) this weekend.  With $5.7 million over three days, and $7 million over four, you could say that Halloween II fell either 65% or 57%.  No matter how you cut it, that’s not good.  The horror flick currently stands with $27.1 million.

The final new release of the movie was Extract, a small comedy starring Jason Bateman that wanted to pose itself as a new Office Space.  Out in only 1,611 theaters, Extract didn’t make much of an impact, with just $4.3 million, and $5.3 million over the long weekend.  Extract will not make it far past $10 million in theaters, but it should have a long life on USA or FX down the road.
Top 12 Actuals For September 4-7, 2009

Rank Movie Studio Theaters Weekend AVG. Total
1
The Final Destination Warner Bros. 3121 $15,445,000 $4,949 $50,576,000
2
Inglorious Basterds Weinstein Co. 3358 $15,030,523 $4,476 $95,226,130
3
All About Steve Fox 2251 $14,000,000 $6,219 $14,000,000
4
Gamer Lionsgate 2502 $11,200,000 $4,476 $11,200,000
5
District 9 Sony 3139 $9,000,000 $2,867 $103,000,000
6
Halloween 2 Weinstein Co. 3088 $7,073,884 $2,291 $27,129,775
7
Julie And Julia Sony 2528 $7,000,000 $2,769 $80,500,000
8
G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra Paramount 2846 $6,700,000 $2,354 $141,015,000
9
Extract Miramax 1611 $5,500,000 $3,414 $5,500,000
10
The Time Traveler’s Wife Warner Bros. 2803 $5,455,000 $1,946 $55,797,000
11
Shorts Warner Bros. 2631 $3,770,000 $1,433 $18,193,000
12
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Warner Bros. 1091 $2,490,000 $2,282 $297,594,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

Updated Friday Estimates: Audiences Avoid The Movies Over Labor Day

September 5, 2009

Early Friday numbers are in for the Labor Day frame, and it looks like audiences were certainly aware of how bad this weekend’s offerings were.  All About Steve could win the weekend, but with just $3.6 million on Friday, the horrible romantic comedy is headed to about $10.8 million over the three day, and $13 million over the four day.  Look for Inglorious Bastards and The Final Destination to reach similar grosses.  The number one spot is very much up for grabs.  Gamer did even worse, as it found a sad $3.3 million, which points the thriller towards an $9.5 million weekend, with $12 million over the long weekend.  The final new opener, Extract, was pretty much ignored.  It could only find $1.4 million on Friday.

Friday Estimates for September 4, 2009
1. The Final Destination – $3.6 million
2. All About Steve – $3.6 million
3. Gamer – $3.3 million
4. Inglorious Bastards – $3 million
5. District 9 – $1.8 million
6. Halloween II – $1.7 million
7. Extract – $1.4 million
8. Julie And Julia – $1.3 million
9. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra – $1.3 million
10. The Time Traveler’s Wife – $1.2 million
11. Shorts – $575,000
12. (500) Days Of Summer – $515,000

The Proposal Is Unsurprisingly Unsurprising, But It’s A Good Date Movie

June 20, 2009


Ah, the romantic comedy. Formulaic and predictable to the end. The only things that separates the good from the bad are the humor and the chemistry between the two leads. You’ll usually be able to map out the plot before the movie gets going. In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (my favorite chick flick), you knew their lies would be revealed in front of everybody at that huge party, and you know in The Proposal that it’s going to fall through at the alter. Fortunately you also know they’ll come to love each other, and it will get all lovey dovey and end neatly and happily. The exception to this was The Break Up, which went for something they thought must be more ‘realistic,’ and of course pissed off everybody who saw it. Nobody wants to see a romantic comedy end sadly.

So don’t worry, The Proposal doesn’t repeat that transgression. In the span of three days, Margaret (Sandra Bullock) and Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) go from hating each other to falling helplessly in love.

The premise: Margaret is a successful, but cold-hearted, book editor from Canada who has a VISA application pending. She breaks the rules and leaves the country to appease a client, which means her application is denied. She has to leave the country for at least one year, and won’t be able to work at the job she’s devoted her life to (and would be replaced by the guy she just fired). Andrew is her ‘executive assistant,’ a young man who has dreams of working in literature and sees this as his best path. Margaret treats Andrew (and the rest of the office) like slaves, such that they all send out mass text messages warning to each other when she’s walking into the room. So when she gets the news of her deportation, she blackmails Andrew into marrying her so she can stay, with the promise of making him an editor. This is a highly questionable move, so the Office of Immigration informs them that they must pass a rather rigorous test, and end up having to fly out to Andrew’s small hometown in Alaska to spend time with his family, and inform them of the engagement.

Pretty straight up formula, right? You’re going to get a lot of ‘big city girl can’t handle small towns and nature but comes to love it’ and ‘warm hearted family melts ice of frigid bitch.’ You find out Margaret’s past holds a tragedy that likely affected her to become the person she did. In a somewhat funny gag, Margaret assumes Andrew is dirt poor only to learn that his family pretty much owns this small town and has built a small villa on the Alaskan coast. But daddy Paxton doesn’t approve of his son leaving to seek what he sees a foolish dream, and wants him to come home to ‘run the empire.’ They don’t see eye to eye, to say the least. It’s actually one of the more compelling subplots, but it never gets to where it should, and ends far too abruptly and neatly.

The cast is pretty solid. Sandra Bullock, halfway through her fifth decade, is getting a little cougar-ish to be playing this sort of romantic role, especially across from 12 years younger (looks 20) Ryan Reynolds. But all things considered, she pulls it off really well. There’s a scene when she’s all but naked, covering up using only her hands, and I’d be lying if I said she didn’t look pretty damn good. Her face is just barely starting to show the trying-to-stay-young look, with botox and make-up and all that jazz, but she might have a few more romances like this in her. She allows Margaret’s soft side to come on gradually, and it’s actually pretty sweet to see how she changes.

Betty White plays the ninety year old grandmother. She’s a treat to watch, though they missed a lot of opportunities with her. She’s on screen a lot, though I thought they could have given her some more comedic lines to work with. There’s an odd scene, where Margaret walks up on her in the woods practicing a Native American ritual. It’s as weird as it sounds, she’s in a full pheonix costume, dancing around a fire, and playing Indian drums on a boom box. It’s explained later that she has some Native American heritage in her, but I certainly could have done without it. The gag really wasn’t that funny, until Sandra Bullock started rapping “From the windows…” to the drums when she didn’t know the chant.

But the real star here is Ryan Reynolds. He really plays comedy well, and is quickly become the sultan of sarcasm. His delivery of lines is spot on, and he can make the unfunny funny with inflection and facial expression. He manages the more serious scenes, with his father and with Margaret, very well also. He seems to be on the rise, and I’d be glad to see him more. Most of the funniest lines come from him.

There are some jokes that fail, and only get light chuckles, but it’s funny enough to appease. It drags a little long, and the jokes get more scarce towards the end. But the real hurter in this romantic comedy is the romance. It was pretty underdeveloped and simple, even by romantic comedy standards. The two leads spend remarkably few scenes together, and when they are it’s usually for a joke, like running into each other naked or teasing each others idiosyncrasies. Margaret spends a lot of time with the family, and she seems to fall more in love with that than with Andrew. But we definitely see her fall more than he does, so it just seemed a little sudden when he decides to, you guessed it, chase her to the airport (don’t worry, it’s not totally cliche). But after three short days, they decide they’ve fallen for each other, impassioned speech and all.

I would like to see a movie like this, where two people have to lie in some situation, that doesn’t result in them ending up together. What? I thought you said you wanted romantic comedies to end well? I did, so don’t make it a romantic comedy, just make it a comedy. I think there’s a lot of humorous aspect to the idea of the two liars never falling for each other that gets lost when they do. They don’t have to hate each other throughout, maybe they grow to become friends. If you have to have romance, let the ‘Andrew’ of the story fall back in love with his old ex-flame (played here by Malin Akerman), and have him explain to her why he had to lie at the end. But keep the couple in the facade as the liars that they are, and work the hijinks from that angle. I don’t know, could be fun.

Rating: If you’re a guy on a date: 7/10, if you’re a girl: 7.8/10, if you’re a guy alone or with other guys: 6.5/10 (but you’ll pretend you didn’t like it).

This Week In Blockbusters: The Hangover, Year One

June 16, 2009

After the lackluster release of last week’s new movies, let’s hope this weekend fairs better at the theaters. The Hangover is making good money, and Up won’t completely fade out of the picture anytime soon, and soon Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen will rack in millions of dollars as people line up to see Megan Fox run. Until then we have two movies that might make decent money, hopefully more than the combined 30 million of last week’s “This Week In Blockbusters.” Both are PG-13 comedies with big names in the leading role, so I don’t think it’s out of the question to see some decent cash flow by Sunday.


The first is The Proposal, a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Margaret Tate (Bullock) has taken the corporate ladder by force, and is now the editor in chief of a large publishing company. She pushes her assistant Andrew (Reynolds) very hard, but when she is threatened to be deported to Canada, she must use him for a different person. In order to remain in the country, she forces him to marry her, promising him a promotion to the position of editor. Once people start investigating, they have to legitimize the claim and spend a weekend with Andrew’s family in Alaska. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I bet they fall in love. Expect them to be apart and sad with fifteen minutes left in the movie, only to have one of them romantically show up and express their love to the other.

It’s going to be absurdly predictable, but what romantic comedy isn’t? And do we want them not to be? I didn’t like watching The Break Up end with the two leads still broken up, so I won’t fault them too strongly for predictability. The two stars are pretty solid as well. Sandra Bullock does comedy pretty well, and Ryan Reynolds is actually a pretty funny actor. It looks like the perfect date movie, that will be funny enough for the guy in the relationship to not want to slice his tongue and pour salt on it. Ouch.

Excitement buzz: 7.2/10

The second film coming out is the Jack Black and Michael Cera comedy Year One, a prehistorical farce of a comedy that could really buzz or really bomb. The first preview I saw for this movie left me underwhelmed and thinking it was a pretty dumb idea. When I saw the second trailer for it, I had the “not this again” reaction. That is, until one brief exchange changed my whole view entirely. David Cross plays Cain and Paul Rudd plays Abel, the two brothers from Genesis. They don’t get along:

Abel: This is my brother, Cain. And I am called Abel.
Cain: You are called Suck.

That’s it, that’s all I had to see. I burst out laughing, at something that wasn’t too complex, but it’s a new, funny approach to look that the relationship that ends in fratricide, and the two actors made it hysterical. Now, I can’t wait for this movie. Jack Black plays the obnoxious but lovable buffoon, like he does in every movie, Michael Cera plays the awkward but genuinely kind dweeb, like he does in every movie, the only difference is this time they’re in loin cloths and it’s set in a very fictionalized pass. Comedy gold? I hope so. This summer’s previous foray into temporal comedy, Land of the Lost, didn’t go all that well, so let’s hope Michael Cera’s geeky charm will win us over. Also look out for Olivia Wilde, the beautiful actress who you might recognize from T.V.’s The O.C. and more recently as ’13’ in House.

(That’s her. She’s purdy.)———->

Excitement Buzz: 7.7/10

In the smaller-bad-ass-film-with-limited-release-that-I-won’t-get-to-see-but-am-excited-about category, the zombie horror film Dead Snow will have a limited release this Friday. Not only are they zombies, they’re Nazi zombies, the worst kind, which have been showing up in videogames since the debut of the ‘Wolfenstein’ series. The preview shows the heros wielding hammers, knives, and the necessary for zombie fighting chainsaw (when did this start?) to bring down this undead Fourth Reich. Since I live in the midwest, we don’t get these super-cool releases, meaning I won’t get to see this or Moon for months, if not longer. But it looks like a funny, gory, obvious-in-a-good-way film, that reminds me of March’s Lesbian Vampire Killers, a film that also wasn’t released here. Is there anything more satisfying than watching a Nazi zombie get his arm chain-sawed off? I declare to you that there is not.

As if we don’t dehumanize Nazi’s already. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is pretty much going to be this movie, except just Nazis, no zombies. So until that comes out, I hope to get a chance to see this bloodfest of the swastika-wearing undead.

Excitement Buzz: 8/10