Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Film Critics Attack! - X-Files: I Want To Believe

"Astute readers will note that I have abstained from making cheap cracks about the I Want to Believe title, an almost superhuman feat given this movie's abundance of sheer nonsense."

- Peter Howell of The Toronto Star, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office Estimates 07/18-07/20

(Stats and Links courtesy of
1 N The Dark Knight WB $158,411,000
2 N Mamma Mia! Uni. $27,605,000
3 2 Hancock Sony $14,000,000
4 3 Journey to the Center of the Earth NL $11,910,000
5 1 Hellboy II: The Golden Army Uni. $10,038,000
6 4 Wall-E BV $9,813,000
7 N Space Chimps Fox $7,350,000
8 5 Wanted Uni. $5,097,000
9 6 Get Smart WB $4,085,000
10 8 Kung Fu Panda P/DW $1,750,000

There was no doubt that The Dark Knight would break all sorts of records, let alone the all time opening weekend record, formerly held by Spider-Man 3. When your first single day take (midnight showing included) is a whopping $67 million, you know that greatness is on the horizon. Will Dark Knight make $400 million, $500 million or possibly even $600 million and top Titanic as the all time top grossing film of all time? Quite possibly. How or why Titanic made so much is still being pondered by statisticians and philosophers alike. Realistically, Dark Knight's second weekend should not be nearly as large (probably about half). Although with it going up against the premieres of X-Files: I Want To Believe and Step Brothers, I can't imagine that it isn't going to be the first choice for many yet gain. I'm seeing it a second time and I've only done that once in my lifetime. The DVD cannot come out soon enough.

A major shock and a "how did that happen?!?" moment, Mama Mia! actually made money this weekend. It brought in an estimated $27 million. How did this film do so well with The Dark Knight taking in so much money and selling so many tickets? Are there really that many ABBA fans? One would be that many film goers intending on seeing The Dark Knight were forced to shed a tear and resort to seeing Mama Mia! when they came upon that 'Sold Out' sign. Needless to say, the team studying Titanic's success will be mulling this one over during lunch breaks.

did quite well in it's third week with a take of $14 million, for a grand total of $191 million so far. This is Will Smith's fourth film to open on the July 4th weekend, and they have all been blockbusters. This film is no different, even though not being so well received by movie goers and reviewers alike. Which only goes to show that even a halfway decent Will Smith film will pack them in like sardines.

Lastly, Space Chimps grabbed the 7th spot with $7 million. Studio Execs will be hoping for DVD sales to help bring some profit to this film, as it should disappear completely in the next 2-3 weeks. Expect the DVD to be out in record time, as well as a speedy journey to cable stations and premium movie channels in fire sale fashion.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight Midnight Take 7/18/08

As it is truly no surprise:

"Dark Knight" midnight opening: $18.489 million at 3,040 theaters.

Tops 'Revenge of the Sith's $16.5 million record.

Please take notes on this, you Hollywood goons. This isn't a magic trick or slight of hand. This is what happens when you take a classic franchise with a long history, huge fan base, and rich tapestry of past story lines both simple and complex, and put them in the hands of competent filmmakers.

This is what happens when you don't let delusional self-important artists turn a borrowed concept into a canvas for their own half-ass surreal artistic expressions. This is what happens when you don't dumb down an idea until the cartoons based on the same subject seem more mature and logical. This is what happens when you don't cram as many villains as possible into a film so there is no time for actual character development and reasonable plot advancement, because you are too busy giving everybody a chance to pose for promotional stills and blurt out one-liners that would have made Adam West storm off set. This is what happens when you don't give Batman's suit nipples.

This is what happens when you make a real movie.

People pay to see it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Weekend Theater Threat Alert - 7/18/08

Weekend Movie Threat Level: Green (Low Risk) - Why So Serious? Relax and buy a ticket.

As rare as it may be, this weekend is a completely safe for film audiences to view new releases. No worries, no concerns, no fears. Buy a ticket and some overprices concession stand snacks, and relax in your semi-reclining stadium seat with complete confidence. You simply can’t lose.

In all fairness, we should probably warn you about Space Chimps, another mediocre animated movie built upon a flimsy concept, annoyingly cute talking animals, and second-rate voice acting talent (Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, and Patrick “The Tick” Warburton). We should also probably caution you about Mama Mia, yet another in a long line of film adaptations of Broadway musicals, this one even doubly obnoxious as it is based on ABBA’s greatest hits. But we aren’t. As a matter of fact, we’re just going to ignore them. You might as well ignore them, too, because the rest of the country isn’t even giving them a second thought. Why?

They’re all going to be watching The Dark Knight.

How does a comic book movie sequel create such an overwhelming atmosphere of anticipation that it it practically sells out at every theater offering reserve ticket purchases? There are a lot of contributing factors that one can point to (screenplay by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, direction by Christopher Nolan, performances by Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart, phenomenal art direction and set design), but the simplest answer is really a two word reply: Heath Ledger.

Despite what many might imply, this mad rush to see The Dark Knight has nothing to do with Ledger’s accidental death, and the tasteless rumors that immediately flooded the media. It might have sounded cool to claim that playing the role of the Clown Prince of Crime drove Ledger to madness and suicide, but those fanciful deductions were proven false and laid to rest before the week was out. Admittedly, the Oscar nominated actor’s untimely death heightened the nation’s awareness of his upcoming performance. But it is a great insult to imply that millions of people are flocking to the theaters simply to satisfy their morbid curiosity by watching the last film of a great actor who died at a tragically young age. It is an insult, because it overshadows the true reason why this film is promising to break an ass load of box office records.

Heath Ledger’s Joker is freakin’ scary.

For the first time in a long time, American audiences are being confronted by a villain that is truly and undeniably evil in the creepiest sense of the word. This isn’t Sid Cesar mugging for the camera and giggling like a fool. This isn’t the loveable smart-ass Jack Nicholson acting nutty and occasionally killing people. The Joker that the Dark Knight trailers have introduced us to is a darkly disturbing lunatic, criminally insane in the purist sense of the term. This is a kill-happy lunatic with a pocket full of knives, a face full of running greasepaint, a talent for creating havoc, and a spine-chilling chuckle that would make Peter Parker wet his Spidey underoos.

What was the last movie bad guy that was both unimaginably scary, yet frighteningly believable? The closest one that springs to mind here is Hannibal Lecter, and only from the first film. Its been that long, and like the rest of the people out there scrambling to secure opening weekend tickets, we can’t wait to bear witness to that kind of entertaining evil once again.

As Michael Caine so eloquently explained in the dialogue-only teaser, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” After getting a mere glimpse at the Joker in the Dark Knight trailers, we just want to watch him try and set it on fire.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bad Movie Reveiw Coming Attractions - The Happening!

Coming soon to This Movie Sucks! A detailed look at M. Night Shyamalan's latest exercise in alienating his audience: The Happening!