Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend Box Office (07/31/11) part II: Attack the Block scores in limited release, Captain America tumbles, Harry Potter 7.2 crosses $1 billion worldwide.

Meanwhile, a little farther down the chart, the much-anticipated and raved-about by geek critics Attack the Block was released on just eight screens by Screen Gems, with respectable results.  The film earned $130,000 for a solid $16,307 per-screen average.  Of course, this means little in terms of the film's mainstream play ability, and I do not yet know the expansion plans for the British alien invasion import.  But every movie geek on my Twitter feed has been begging everyone else to see this one.  As for me, I'm hoping that it goes to the much closer Arclight Sherman Oaks next weekend (as opposed to the much farther Arclight Hollywood).  I'm also a little nervous about those allegedly thick British accents, as I'm a little hard of hearing and am debating on waiting for the subtitled-DVD.  But for those unafraid of accents, everyone I know seems to have really enjoyed this one.  Also debuting in limited release was The Devil's Double ($95,000 on five screens) and The Guard ($80,000 on four screens).

Weekend Box Office (07/31/11) part I: The Smurfs, Cowboys and Aliens do battle,tying with $36.2 million, while Stupid Crazy Love opens with $19.2 million.

This weekend is an excellent example of why it's the numbers, not the rankings that matter when discussing box office.  And, more importantly, the context of the numbers must be taken into account as well as the hard figures.  As of this moment, The Smurfs and Cowboys & Aliens are battling for the top slot at this weekend's box office, with both films hovering at $36.2 million.  One cost $110 million while the other cost $165 million.  One has strong foreign prospects and a guarantee of eternal life as a family DVD purchase/rental, while the other faces an uncertain future as it belongs to a distinctly American genre.  Point being, The Smurfs can take solace that it somewhat over-performed this weekend, while the Jon Favreau genre mash-up may go down as one of the bigger whiffs of the summer season.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 gets a surprisingly revealing teaser.

Considering how completely enshrouded in mystery the second film is, it's a little surprising that Paramount basically ups and reveals the primary plot in this moody and effective teaser.  This time around, it's being helmed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who broke out last year with the somewhat questionable (in regards to its 'non-fiction-ness') documentary Catfish.  I have no objection with the third film in this franchise being an 80s-set prequel, but I have to wonder where they will go after they'd allegedly explained much of the mystery in this alleged 'here's how it all began' third chapter.  I am genuinely curious to see A) if they actually shot the film on old-fashioned VHS camcorders and B) whether this series can maintain the consistency of the Saw franchise, which was flying high for five straight installments before crashing with the sixth (and ironically best) chapter back in 2009.  It took direct competition from the first Paranormal Activity to bring down Jigsaw.  What will be the next October-scheduled franchise to take down the poltergeists/demons from this series in a few years?  Anyway, this one opens on October 21st, which is the same weekend as the wide releases of the first two films.  As always, we'll see...

Scott Mendelson 

Brett Ratner's all-star caper Tower Heist gets a trailer.

This one has been on the radar for awhile purely due to the huge cast.  The big trump card is of course Eddie Murphy returning to slightly harder-edged comedy after 15 years of being a family-friendly entertainer.  The rest of the lineup (Ben Stiller, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Judd Hirsch, etc) makes this a must-see almost by default, while the fact that the first credited writer (out of eight) is Noah Baumbach gives hope regarding its quality (the other seven writers are a mixed bag).  I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I'm a big fan of Ratner's Red Dragon, primarily because he apparently was smart enough to stand back and let his equally terrific cast just do their thing (major caveat - Why was Scott Glenn not asked back to play Jack Crawford this time around?).  Hopefully the same 'go off and play, just come in before dark' mentality will apply here.  It is slightly odd that Eddie Murphy is arguably playing the same type of character he played in 48 Hrs and he doesn't look that much older than he did in 1982 (he turned 50 this past April).  Anyway, this one comes out November 4th from Universal so, as always, we'll see...

Scott Mendelson

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Right idea, wrong execution: Paramount makes the wrong scheduling moves for GI Joe: Retaliation and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

As expected, Paramount was the first to blink this afternoon, moving Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol away from its December 16th release date where it would have gone head-to-head with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  The Brad Bird-directed sequel will now open five days later, on Wednesday, December 21st.  Unfortunately, instead of facing one major would-be blockbuster, it now faces several.  Opening on the same day or two days later are The Adventures of Tintin, The Darkest Hour, We Bought A Zoo, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  The Tom Cruise/Jeremy Renner vehicle very well may win that long Christmas weekend and benefit from those famous year-end legs.  But there was another even more prime release date with absolutely no competition whatsoever.

She's a politician, not a movie star. Why the box office failure of Sarah Palin's The Undefeated doesn't mean a gosh-darn thing.

However immature it may be, it can be fun to crow when your enemy fails.  Thus we've had two weeks of various liberal bloggers jumping for joy at the financial under-performance of the Sarah Palin halo-agraphy The Undefeated.  The film opened with $65,132 on ten screens for a mediocre $6,532 per-screen average.  It expanded to 14 locations this past weekend but dropped 62%, earning just $24,662 for a $1,762 per-screen average.  The film barely has $100,000 after ten days and has announced premature (?) plans to debut on Video on Demand and DVD release.  This is frankly an out-and-out tank, a genuine bomb even when compared to other political documentaries that aren't directed by Michael Moore (comparing all political documentaries to Moore's work would be like expecting Punisher: War Zone to out-gross Spider-Man 3).  Ben Stein's Intelligent Design documentary, Expelled, ended up grossing $7.7 million in 2008.  Even something as relatively low-key as The US vs. John Lennon opened with $11,523 per-screen on six screens and eventually grossed $1.1 million back in 2006.  What does this mean for the political fortunes of Sarah Palin and/or those who endorse her ideologies?  Absolutely nothing.

Battleship gets a teaser, feels very Armageddon-ish.

I could go on and on about how this represents the pinnacle of what is wrong with the 'tentpole' portion of the film industry at the moment.  But truth be told, I'm more depressed that Peter Berg chose THIS as his follow up to Hancock (arguably one of the best original superhero pictures of the modern superhero era) and chose not to fill the cast with quirky character actors (think The Core).  But no matter, the finished product basically feels like an original (though contrived) invading aliens vs. the US Navy film that slapped the name 'Battleship' on its marquee purely for brand name recognition.  Which, frankly, if you're going to adapt a board game (or a theme park ride for that matter), that's how you do it.  I'm less annoyed at the whole 'let's make a movie out of Battleship' concept that I am at how contrived and generic the picture feels.  Peter Berg (who showed real action chops with The Kingdom) seems to be mimicking Michael Bay.  The alien threat feels like something out of Transformers (the red and yellow peg-shaped missiles are a nice touch), while the core storyline is pure Armageddon.  The only question is not whether Liam Neeson will die at the end (after giving Taylor Kitsch approval to wed his daughter, Brooklyn Decker), but whether Neeson's last words will be "You sunk my battleship!"  This one comes out May 18th, 2012, which is actually prime summer real estate, in apparently glorious 2D.

Scott Mendelson    

The Muppets gets a final domestic poster...

Thanks to Fandango to putting this up originally.  Not much to say, other than I'm glad that Statler and Waldorf are getting prominent spaces in the gigantic deluge of Muppets.  I suppose I could take umbrige over the fact that the humans are given top billing over the puppets that everyone is actually coming to see.  I love Chris Cooper as much as the next person, but he's not exactly a box office draw or a kid favorite.  Anyway, enough whining, I'll be there with bells on for the first November 23rd showing, or an earlier press screening if I can brownnose Disney to a suitable degree (they don't return my emails as often as other big studios).  On a last note, kudos to Disney for not forcing a 3D conversion this time around.

Scott Mendelson  

For the good of the industry: Why The Amazing Spider-Man must not be a smash...

What was merely presumed is now official, as IMAX announced that The Amazing Spider-Man would be debuting in IMAX 3D along with its 2D and Digital 3D counterparts on July 3, 2012.  This is no surprise, as Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 both played in IMAX (the latter opened day-and-date), while the lost Raimi-helmed Spider-Man 4 was announced as an IMAX launch when it was scheduled to open on May 5th of this year.  Of course, the Marc Webb Spider-Man reboot will only have 2.5 weeks in IMAX before Chris Nolan debuts The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th.  I have nothing against anyone involved with the making of The Amazing Spider-Man.  I liked Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer, I think Emma Stone deserved an Oscar nomination for Easy A, and Andrew Garfield has shined in (among his more mainstream films) Never Let Me Go and The Social Network.  And while the teaser trailer failed to make any real impression beyond autopilot 'dark and gritty' brooding, I've been told the footage at Comic Con was more impressive.  But for the good of the industry as a whole, for the sake of the countless untapped sources of big-budget cinematic experiences, The Amazing Spider-Man must bomb.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happily Never After: The sad (and sexist?) rush to cast some of our most promising young actresses as fairy tale princesses.

There were a few interesting articles written over the last several months about the unusual amount of ass-kicking (or at least take-charge) young female roles being written into mainstream cinema.  Whether it was Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, or Saoirse Ronan in Hanna, the last 18 months or so has seen a mini-wave of genre pictures where young females were basically the lead characters (or in the case of Kick-Ass the star attraction), 'strong independent character' (god, I hate that cliche) who not only could fend for themselves but were not defined in any way, shape, or form by their male love interest (not a one of them had a boyfriend).  Yes, I would include Sucker Punch in this category, as it was basically a satiric examination of whether ass-kicking young women in pop culture were automatically sexualized by virtue of the salacious nature of such imagery (stop whining and read THIS).  The somewhat negative undercurrent of this trend is that these actresses were generally under 18, often barely passed puberty.  Point being, what would become of these actresses once they reached adulthood?  If recent developments are any indication, Hollywood has a genuine desire to roll back the progress clock and turn these actresses into fairy tale princesses.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The movie or the marketing? Will going from Paramount to Disney help or hurt Marvel Studios' upcoming films?

It is a clear case of quitting while you're ahead.  Paramount pulled off another $65 million+ opening weekend for another Marvel property, this time with the somewhat more questionable Captain America.  Despite opening in the middle of summer and without the IMAX advantage, Captain America still opened with almost identical numbers to Thor's debut last May ($100,000 more as of this writing).  And that's all she wrote for the three-year long distribution relationship between Marvel Studios and Paramount.  Thanks to a deal whereby Paramount basically sold the distribution rights to any Marvel characters they had dibs on (The Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, etc) to Disney for $115 million late last year, the fate of the ongoing Marvel movie mythology rests with The Mouse House.  As you recall, Disney bought Marvel Studios for $4 billion just under two years ago, but many of the most popular Marvel properties (X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, etc) belonged to other studios.  Disney grabbing back Paramount's key properties was a major step in bringing the Marvel universe under one studio roof (and likely the last step for awhile, as I imagine that Fox and Sony will keep rebooting or remaking their respective properties until doomsday).  But for now the question is simply: Will the Marvel Studios film universe suffer without the seemingly unbeatable Paramount marketing team?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Box Office: (07/24/11): Captain America opens with $65m, Friends With Benefits opens to $19m, Harry Potter 7.2 drops 72% but dominates worldwide..

Captain America: The First Avenger (review) debuted at number one this weekend, earning a rock-solid $65.1 million.  The opening puts it just behind Thor ($65.7 million) for the second-biggest superhero debut of the year.  The film scored an A- from Cinemascore and had an okay 2.52x weekend multiplier.  It played 64% male and 57% over-25 (I don't have 3D stats yet).  I had hopes for a higher opening weekend after the $4 million midnight debut (bigger than any non-sequel this year), but in the end it played like every other super hero film this year.  On a personal note, I'm a little disappointed that the film didn't play better to women, as Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter ranks as one of the best female lead/love interest characters in comic book movie history (IE - she's an authoritative ass-kicker whose general bad ass-ness is taken completely for granted and whose eventual romance with Steve Rogers actually has emotional weight).  Still the large over-25 percentage implies that the film is playing well to older audiences who were drawn in more by the period and the older actors (Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, etc) than the comic book genre or character popularity.  Still those older audiences are being heavily targeted by Universal's campaign for Cowboys and Aliens (also based on a comic book, albeit a relatively cult one), which hopes to lasso non-geeks with the James Bond (Daniel Craig) teams with Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) gimmick.  Barring unexpected collapse, it should go toe-to-toe with Thor, which just crossed $180 million this weekend.  Overseas numbers are a bigger question (the movie doesn't expand much internationally for a couple weeks), as Paramount is emphasizing the international nature of Captain America's 'Howling Commandos' as well as the fact that the primary threat isn't nation-specific (IE - Red Skull is too crazy even for the Nazis!).  But for now, this is a dynamite debut for one of the summer's biggest question marks, fitting for a movie that turned out to be far better than most were expecting (and if you're that idiot who wants to assign the movie to a specific ideology, READ THIS first).  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Midnight movie math: Captain America: The First Avenger scores $4 million at 12:01am, setting the stage for a dynamite $61-88 million opening weekend.

Captain America: The First Avenger grossed $4 million at midnight alone, scoring the fifth-biggest midnight gross of the year, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($4.6 million), Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($8 million in midnight tickets, plus $5.5 million in advance-night showings), The Hangover II ($10 million on a Wednesday night), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($43.5 million).  So Captain America has the biggest midnight haul for a non-sequel in 2011.  As you know if you've been following all summer, most genre movies that aren't insanely anticipated (IE - not a Harry Potter film or a Twilight sequel) do between 4.5% and 6.5% of their opening weekend at those12:01am showings.  That puts Captain America: The First Avenger on a course for at least $61 million, with as much as $88 million over the next three days.  Predicting how front loaded it will be in relation to the midnight gross is merely an educated guess at this point.  One would presume that the strong reviews, World War II setting, and recognizable grown-up actors (Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci) would bring out certain audience segments not otherwise inclined to check out yet another comic book film.  So the % we're dealing with is probably closer to the 5.2% of Pirates 4 than the 6.4% of Green Lantern.  For now, let's call it at 5% and predict a $80 million opening weekend for Captain America: The First Avenger.  Obviously we'll know more in about 12 hours.

Scott Mendelson    

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm sorry about the 3D mess, but Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is full of sh*t. 2011 is easily one of the best years for movies in a very long time.

Jeffrey Katzenberg is understandably upset that other studios have been diluting the value of 3D movies, something he has championed long before Avatar and believed would be the savior of the theatrical experience.  But that's no reason for Katzenberg to outlandishly whine about how much this year's movies 'suck'.  "They suck," Katzenberg states in an interview with Fortune.  "It's unbelievable how bad movies have been, right?"  He's wrong.  Very wrong.  Without question, 2011 is one of the best movie going years in recent history.  Ironically, my favorite film thus far this year is Katzenberg's Kung Fu Panda 2.  Since Katzenberg didn't specify which movies he disliked (in fact, like a lazy grade school message board commentator, he cited not a single example), I can only assume he includes his own movie in this ranking, I humbly apologize for giving his Dreamworks animated film a rave review.  I was obviously entirely off the mark, since apparently all movies released in 2011 were terrible.

Warner Bros. moves Man of Steel to June 14th, 2013. NOT July 19th, 2013!

In what I guess you could call breaking news, Warner Bros. has announced that they are moving Man of Steel (ie - Zach Snyder's Superman film that seems to be based on Superman: Birthright) from December 2012 to June 14th, 2013.  What's shocking is not that the film is being moved (it is apparently being tinkered with at the screenwriting stage), but that Warner is not moving it into its favorite mega-release date, which in this case would be July 19th, 2013.  For those who came in late, a brief history of Warner's favorite weekend:  It started in July 2007. For, among other reasons, a sense that the fifth Harry Potter film would benefit from a release date close to the release of the seventh and final book, Warner Bros. slotted Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to open on Wednesday, July 18th. It grossed $44 million on that first Wednesday and ended up with $139 million over the first five days ($77 million of that from Fri-Sun). Despite being released in the summer (where Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ended with a series-low gross of $248 million) and being based on arguably the worst book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix ended up with $293 million, becoming the highest-grossing Harry Potter sequel yet released at the time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man gets a teaser, which looks... familiar (in more ways that one).

At first glance, this teaser seems to be selling something akin to the Teen Wolf television show.  Take something that was first presented as light, peppy, and colorful, then redo it as an uber-grim and glum and oh-so-serious variation.  Still, Spider-Man, like Batman, has been done 10,000 different ways, so there is no harm in seeing another interpretation, even if it was a naked cash grab that spawned reboot-fever (if this hits, no franchise will ever make it to part IV again).  The piece looks moody, well-acted, and atmospheric, although the sense of deja vu permeates the whole thing.  Having said that, three things spring to mind. A) The climactic running sequence (arguably designed to show off the potential for 3D in this new Spidey flick) looks like something out of a first-person video game.  B) The score during the finale sounds an awful lot like Danny Elfman's score for the original Spider-Man.  I know it's probably not (not the main theme anyway), but you'd think Sony would want to distance themselves a bit more from the Sam Raimi trilogy.  C) It would appear that Marc Webb and company have spent a bit of time watching the terrific Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon that aired from 2008-2009.  It also told of a high-school-age Peter Parker, who's best pal Gwen Stacy worked in Doc Conners's lab.  It's not bad material to borrow from (the cartoon was stunningly well-written), I just hope if the final film is as similar that the proper people get acknowledgment.  And at least said cartoon didn't make us rehash the origin yet again (and it also didn't try to be pointlessly 'dark and gritty').  Anyway, this one comes out July 3rd, 2012.  As always, we'll see...  If you have thoughts, feel free to share them below.

Scott Mendelson  

Review: Captain America (2011) saves best pre-Avengers film for last, offering wonderful characterization and old-school adventure.

Captain America: The First Avenger
124 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Joe Johnston's Captain America is a gloriously old-fashioned bit of shoe-leather adventure. While there are plenty of elaborate special effects, the emphasis remains on character and narrative. Like the best of the recent comic book films, this is a genre film first and a comic book adaptation second. It is, at its core, a genuine World War II action picture that happens to be based on a comic book. It is filled with terrific actors doing wonderful character turns. It is filled with colorful heroes and dastardly villains, plus dames who have more important things to do than stand around and look pretty. It has a wonderful score, a variety of exciting locations, and a number of solid action sequences that feel real even when we can see the strings. It is, to put it simply, a real movie, a genuine piece of pop-art that is the kind of comic book film built for those who generally aren't in to comic book movies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises gets a sloppy, lazy teaser that looks like a bad fan-edit.

I admit, I did watch the bootleg version of this over the weekend, but I didn't want to comment too much until I had seen the official version.  Well, I've seen the official version.  It still looks like a half-assed fan-edit preview.  The two telltale signs of a fake preview have always been cheesy onscreen text and the use of copious footage from previous films of a given series. This has both, insultingly reminding us that 'every hero has a journey' (thanks Campbell) and every journey has an end (also knew that, but thanks).  The first 45 seconds is nothing but footage from Batman Begins, with a dash of The Dark Knight thrown with Liam Neeson's narration tossed in.  The only new footage we get is Gary Oldman lying in a hospital bed whining about how Batman left us, evil rose, and now Batman must Return.  We do get a brief shot of someone climbing up a well (the Bat Cave hole?), a worn-down Batman facing down a mostly offscreen Bane, and a single close-up of Tomas Hardy as the villain of the day, Bane.  Are we thrilled yet?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Box Office (07/18/11): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II dethrones The Dark Knight, earning $169.1 million in its opening weekend.

The Harry Potter series finished where it started, at the top of the box office with a record breaking opening weekend. Nine-and-a-half years ago, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone opened the series with a $90.2 million, breaking the 4.5 year old opening weekend record set by The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($72 million).  Over the next 9.5 years, said record was broken four more times, with the last such toppling this very weekend three years ago with The Dark Knight's $158 million Fri-Sun take.  With nearly ten years of anticipation, The Boy Who Lived has returned to the top of the opening weekend charts with a massive $169.1 million Friday-Sunday gross.  That includes a record $91 Friday (best single day, best opening day, best Friday) which in turn included a record $43.5 million at 12:01am alone.  As expected, the picture was massively front-loaded, ending the weekend with the second-smallest weekend multiplier on record, 1.85x (for newbies, weekend multiplier is the final weekend total divided by the first day).  It also set another 'negative' record, earning 25.7% of its weekend total in those Thursday at 12:01am showings alone (the previous such record was set by the last Harry Potter film, which grossed 19% of its $125 million Fri-Sun haul at midnight).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II nets $92.1m in single day, crushing the single day record and heading towards new opening weekend record ($175-185 million seems likely).

In November 2001, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone set a new opening weekend record by grossing $90.2 million in three days.  Yesterday, the series finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II (review) grossed $92.1 million in a single day. Let that sink in for a moment.  Yes, the eighth and final chapter of the Harry Potter series overtook the single-day record from The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which had grossed $72.7 million on its opening Friday back in (same weekend, natch) mid-November 2009.  Yes, some of this 26% increase can be attributed to the 3D price-bump (I imagine that Summit is in a room right now convincing themselves to convert the last two Twilight films to 3D).  And yes, the film earned a record 47% of its opening day total at midnight alone ($43.5 million).  But I'll let someone else complain about that.  Even with inflation and 3D prices taken into account, the film still sold 11.7 million tickets, the most ever for a single day (and a little over 2 million more than The Dark Knight and Twilight Saga: New Moon).  Even if Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II has the most front-loaded opening weekend in history (African Cats has the record with a 1.81x weekend multiplier), it still will likely dethrone The Dark Knight ($158 million) as the new opening weekend champion.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II crushes midnight record, with a $43.5m 12:01am haul. A $100m Friday and $200m weekend are within reach...

The final chapter of the Harry Potter series demolished its first short-term record right at 12:01am.  The film earned an eye-popping $43.5 million in midnight shows alone ($2 million of that was in IMAX alone).  That crushes the old record, Twilight Saga: Eclipse's $30 million midnight haul by 45%.  Now, to be fair, about 30% of that uptick could arguably be credited to 3D ticket-price bumps, but money is money.  It now looks quite clear that the opening day record (Twilight Saga: New Moon with $72 million) is almost guaranteed to be toast, and The Dark Knight's $158 million opening weekend haul is in jeopardy.  The worldwide opening weekend record (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's $394 million five-day haul) is pretty much toast, as this finale has already grossed $126 million in two days heading into the actual weekend.  Let's presume (as we should) that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II may have the most frontloaded opening weekend ever.  As of now, African Cats holds the record, with a meager 1.81x weekend multiplier earlier this year ($3.3 million opening day with a $6 million weekend).  So, let's presume it has the smallest midnight-to-opening day and midnight-to-opening weekend number in recent history.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sean Bean is the new Gary Oldman!

See Sean Bean perish onscreen 21 times.  Thanks to Comic Book Movie for the list of films.
00:07 - Don’t Say a Word (2001) 00:24 - Equilibrium (2002) 00:33 - Outlaw (2007) 00:39 - Airborne (1998) 00:43 - Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009) 00:51 - Essex Boys (2000) 00:57 - Ca$h (2010) 01:02 - Patriot Games (1992) 01:14 - Black Death (2010) 01:28 - Henry VIII (2003) 01:39 - GT 01:45 - The Island (2005) 01:58 - Clarissa (1991) 02:03 - Caravaggio (1986) 02:08 - War Requiem (1989) 02:20 - The Field (1990) 02:41 - Lorna Doone (1990) 02:47 - Scarlett (1994) 02:56 - Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 03:14 - Goldeneye (1995) 03:30 - The Hitcher (2007)

Scott Mendelson

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II (IMAX 3D) delivers a satisfactory, but not superlative series finale.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II
130 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Judged on its own merits, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II is a fine film, full of terrific acting, solid action beats, several emotional high points, and exceptional visuals. But as a series finale to an eight-film saga spanning ten years and around 19 hours, it is just a touch underwhelming. It's not 'nothing could live up the hype' so much as David Yates and Steve Kloves making the arbitrarily odd decision to make this film, of all the films in the series, the one that is too short. We have a film series where the average entry ran 145 minutes, yet Yates and Kloves decide to try to end the whole saga in just over two hours. Furthermore, even with that comparably truncated length, the film wastes valuable first-act screen time with business that arguably should have been dealt with in the last picture. When you split up a book into two whole movies, you have absolutely no excuse to feel rushed and somewhat incomplete. Furthermore, I can't think of a single Harry Potter fan who would not have relished a series finale at least as long as the shortest Lord of the Rings film. It is a fine thing to leave fans and audiences desperately wanting more, but it is a less fine thing when there is no 'more' to be found.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A look back at Harry Potter part VI: The Half-Blood Prince delivers the worst adaptation from one of the best books.

This will be a six-part retrospective on the Harry Potter film series, covering films 1-6 (I think most Potter fans can remember the one that came out eight months ago...).  This essay will be covering Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

When I first saw the film two years ago, I concluded that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was my least favorite of the series (original theatrical review).  Looking back at the films, I've amended that somewhat.  The Chamber of Secrets is arguably the worst film in the franchise (keeping in mind that I like them all), and The Half-Blood Prince is what it always was: a good entry in the franchise that suffers from (in my opinion) the choice to edit out much of what made the original book worthwhile.  At the time, I gave the film much grief for how it handled the climactic plot twist, rendering what I remember being shocking and unexpected in the book something that was all-but preordained.  But the movie is not the book.  Whatever issues I have with the film as an adaptation of a novel that I was quite fond of, the film itself remains a solid piece of character-driven fantasy.  Like The Goblet of Fire, The Half-Blood Prince arguably was judged harsher than it should have been because it was among my favorite of the books.  I still have problems with the film, but that should be kept separate from my problems regarding its worth as an adaptation.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows gets a needlessly busy trailer.

It is no secret that I was not a fan of the marketing campaign for the first Sherlock Holmes.  But that action-packed "EXTREME" campaign was a clever disguise for what actually turned out to be a relatively traditional and character driven Holmes adventure.  So on one hand, I should give this trailer the benefit of the doubt, as the previous film was one of those rare pictures where the movie was far better than the trailer.  On the other hand, this is a pointlessly hectic and frantic piece, full of context-less action and would-be incident.  This is a sequel to a pretty popular original, a film that grossed $525 million worldwide despite going head-to-head with Avatar over Christmas 2009 (on a $90 million budget no less).  Point being, the marketing department should have a little confidence in their franchise.  The ingredients worked well the first time around, and the addition of Noomi Rapace and Jared Harris (as Professor James Moriarty) in lieu of bigger names shows a degree of trust in the storytelling.  Thus the nonstop gunplay and unfortunate emphasis on a cross-dressing Robert Downey Jr. feel desperate where no desperation should be felt.  Frankly, the biggest obstacle that this film will likely have to deal with (especially if Paramount moves Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol away from the December 16th release date) will be the snobby comparisons to the terrific BBC miniseries Sherlock that premiered in the US late last year.  I happen to think both this Guy Ritchie series and the BBC modernization are fine adaptations of a classic fictional character.  May they both be artistic and commercial successes.  The game will be afoot on December 16th and, as always, we'll see.  Your thoughts below...

Scott Mendelson  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

EXCLUSIVE! The jaw-dropping first shot from The Dark Knight Rises teaser!

Sorry, I couldn't help it...

Scott Mendelson

A look back at Harry Potter part V: Order of the Phoenix proves value of editing, creating one of the best films from the worst book.

This will be a six-part retrospective on the Harry Potter film series, covering films 1-6 (I think most Potter fans can remember the one that came out eight months ago...).  This essay will be covering Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

In my humble opinion, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the worst book in the seven part series.  It is obscenely long, endlessly padded, and painfully frustrating.  Yes, the frustration thing is intentional, as we're supposed to empathize with Harry as the original 'order of the phoenix' ignores him, as Dumbledore inexplicably avoids him, and as Dolores Umbridge torments him.  But the book is nearly 900 pages long, and the original novel plays out like one long waiting game before what is sure to be a massive climactic event and/or revelation.  As we all know, there is a big climactic event, but the revelation is halfhearted (wait... so Voldemort watched Gargoyles in the 1990s?) and undermined by an even more tantalizing reveal (that Neville Longbottom is actually the chosen one) which is shot down moments after it is introduced.  But the longest book is the second-shortest movie at 138 minutes (behind the series finale, which runs 130 minutes, although it's technically half of a single book).  Making his series debut, David Yates and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (taking over for Steve Kloves just this once) trim every drop of fat from the overlong text, shaping a lean and potent bit of pop fantasy that is easily one of the best films in the series.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises gets a bright and arty teaser poster. And I'm the one millionth movie blogger to show it to you!

For what it's worth, this is easily the artiest (and brightest) piece of poster art for any Chris Nolan Batman picture.  As is to be expected, it tells you nothing about the story or the characters, other than to suggest a figurative (or literal?) crumbling of Gotham City in the wake of The Dark Knight.  Yes, the crumbling buildings do bring to mind Inception, just as the initial Inception poster art resembled The Dark Knight character posters.  I'm really just rambling here (share YOUR thoughts below...), but it's a nice bit of marketing and I certainly look forward to seeing the trailer whenever it becomes available online (unless Warner is nice enough to show it to us at Wednesday night's IMAX Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II screening).  This one comes out July 20th, 2012.  As always, we'll see...

Scott Mendelson

The Muppets gets a great international poster. When critics use their kids as alibis.

My daughter and I attended a press screening of Winnie the Pooh last Saturday.  It was filled with families with kids, but there were a few child-less critics in attendance.  While she enjoyed the movie and was well-behaved throughout, she did almost trip a prominent LA critic as she was walking down the aisle.  I apologized via Twitter merely out of courtesy, and said critic remarked that they 'felt like a conspicuously solo adult on a playground'.  I replied that most of us 'with-child' critics were likely using our kids as alibis, excuses if you will to attend a Saturday morning screening of a Winnie the Pooh movie.  And you can bet that we 'with-child' critics will be dragging our kids to the press screenings of The Muppets this November.  And you can bet damn sure that it will be far more for us than for the youngins in tow.  But we (critics and general moviegoers alike) are looking forward to see The Muppets this Thanksgiving.  You know... because our kids wanted to see it, right?

Scott Mendelson

A look back at Harry Potter part IV: The Goblet of Fire hits the most of the major story points, but lacks the fiery emotion of the best book in the series.

This will be a six-part retrospective on the Harry Potter film series, covering films 1-6 (I think most Potter fans can remember the one that came out eight months ago...).  This essay will be covering Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is easily my favorite book in the series.  It is not my favorite movie in the series.  It is also a very long and complicated book, one that was nearly split up into two films.  That director Mike Newell decided to stick to one long movie is I suppose commendable.  But as a result, the fourth Harry Potter film is the only entry that truly feels like a Cliff Notes version of the original text.   It hits most of the major plot points, but feels understandably rushed and somewhat compromised.  Taken outside of its worth as an adaptation, it still remains one of the better films in the series.  It is easily the most action packed film in the franchise (until the finale, I presume), and there is plenty of solid character interaction between our young heroes.  The adults again get the shaft, although Michael Gambon finally comes into his own as Dumbledore (I love the moment where he basically attacks Harry while asking him if he indeed sneaked his name into the Tri-Wizards tournament cup).  It is, objectively, an exciting and entertaining fantasy action picture, but one that feels curiously remote considering the emotional stakes and epic narrative.  As the first entry actually directed by a Brit (Mike Newell), it perhaps maintains too much of that stiff upper lip.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows gets character posters... Enter Moriarty!

I'm guessing we'll see two more of these, with the character placement respectively reversed.  The highlight of course is what appears to be a token glance of Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty.  The teaser trailer will be attached to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II this Friday.  Enjoy...

Scott Mendelson

Weekend Box Office (07/10/11): Transformers 3 tops again, Horrible Bosses scores, while Zookeeper slightly underwhelms.

The Autobots and Decepticons ruled the box office yet again, as the Middle East-occupation parable grossed another $47 million over the weekend.  That was a drop of 54%, which was smaller than the 61% drop for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which had the Fourth of July holiday weekend to theoretically bump it up.  It was a larger drop than the 47% second-weekend drop for the original Transformers on this same weekend back in 2007.  In terms of actual dollars, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (review) had a larger second weekend than both prior Transformers pictures, despite opening slightly less than the second film ($180 million in six days versus $200 million in five days last time).  It now has $261 million in the domestic till, with an international total that should be around or at $600 million today (which would be a record twelve days).  It broke $500 million on Thursday, becoming the fastest film to do so in history (nine days).  While it opened smaller than the last picture, it relative quality (it is a more audience pleasing spectacle than the last) is allowing it to slowly catch up (Transformers 2 had $293 million at this point in its run). So far, it most resembles the 2004 July 4th contender, Spider-Man 2, which also had a $180 million six-day start and ended weekend two with $256 million (it ended up with $373 million).  Barring a complete collapse or faster screen loss due to a crowded marketplace, the picture seems destined to pull about $390 million domestic while becoming the second film this year (after Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) to cross $1 billion worldwide.  The big question is how it handles Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II, which opens next weekend and could theoretically also join the $1 billion club this year.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review: Winnie the Pooh is feather-light and subtly clever family fare.

Winnie the Pooh
72 minutes
rated G

by Scott Mendelson

This won't be the longest review I've ever written, as there is little to say other than a list of tempered superlatives.  Winnie the Pooh is exactly what a Winnie the Pooh movie should be, no more and no less.  It is quaint, gentle, subtle wicked and as cozy as a blanket just out of the dryer.  Running just under an hour after a five-minute short film (a surprisingly poignant fable involving a homeless dragon) and before the closing credits, the picture is a perfect introduction to the age-old Pooh mythology to a generation raised on somewhat more complicated and more visually frantic cartoons of our modern times.  It is beautifully animated with lush, but simple, 2D hand-drawn animation, with eager vocal performances to go with it.  If you're merely in the mood for a harmless but intelligent and thoughtful family cartoon to bide the time between Pixar and DreamWorks epics, it is as perfect a choice as can be imagined.  If you are a genuine fan of Winnie the Pooh, well, imagine you're a Batman nerd walking into The Dark Knight...

Friday, July 8, 2011

A look back at Harry Potter part III: The Prisoner of Azkaban deepens the mythology and lets the adult wizards come out to play.

This will be a six-part retrospective on the Harry Potter film series, covering films 1-6 (I think most Potter fans can remember the one that came out eight months ago...).  This essay will be covering Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

As anyone who follows my year-end lists can attest, I firmly believe that it is possible for a film to be good yet still be overrated.  So it is we come to the third Harry Potter film, which is often referred to as 'the only good one' or 'the arty one' or 'the only cinematic one' and other such rubbish.  I am not going to get into the reasons why certain film critics and film snobs hold this third chapter is such high esteem compared to the others, but I'd wager that a big part of it comes from an elitist attitude towards original helmer Chris Columbus, combined with a certain snobbery directed in favor of director Alfonso Cuaron.  Point being, while this third Harry Potter picture does branch out a bit in several positive directions, it also undermines itself and the eventual fifth film by failing to properly develop its most important new character.  As a result of this, while it may be one of the more stand-alone of the pictures, it flirts with irrelevancy in the ongoing narrative despite technically jump-starting that very mythology.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A look back at Harry Potter part II: The Chamber of Secrets stumbles with far too much time to do far too little.

This will be a six-part retrospective on the Harry Potter film series, covering films 1-6 (I think most Potter fans can remember the one that came out eight months ago...).  This essay will be covering Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is not one of the best films in the series.  It is arguably one of the lesser books as well, although I enjoyed that book more than most.  But both the book and the movie accomplished the same feat: they made me feel right at home upon arriving back at this world, and reaffirmed that I would be returning again and again.  But looking objectively at the second film, there is a distinct lack of an emotional core.  It lacks the thrill of introduction and it lacks the highly personal stakes that start to reveal themselves in the next installment.  As a result of these comparative deficiencies, it is far-too long a film considering how little ground it has to cover (to be fair, I watched the extended cut, which runs nearly 3 hours long).  Of all the films in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets most closely resembles 'just another episode' for Harry and his pals.  In X-Files terms, it was a 'standalone', as opposed to a 'mythology' episode.  But it remains an entertaining romp in good company, and it represents a genuine leap in terms of visual effects and intensity of action.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A look back at Harry Potter part I: The Sorcerer's Stone starts things off right.

This will be a six-part retrospective on the Harry Potter film series, covering films 1-6 (I think most Potter fans can remember the one that came out eight months ago...).  The first essay will be covering Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

I have long defended the Chris Columbus Harry Potter films.  Despite their kid-friendly nature and exposition-heavy narratives, they had to do the heavy lifting right from the get-go.  And in hindsight, with the series about to end, it is apparent that Chris Columbus's first two pictures had two major jobs to do: nail the casting and introduce the world at-large.  And in that respect, Christopher Columbus's films are triumphant successes.  I have said countless times over the years just what a miracle it was that the gigantic cast of youngsters and British character actors stayed intact over the course of eight films.  Aside from the death of Richard Harris in 2002, there was not a single cast change from the first film to the last.  And while few would expect anything but the best from the likes of Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, and Robbie Coltrane, the kids were where Columbus and company really hit pay-dirt.  That Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson all grew up to be capable actors and (it must be said) physically attractive young adults is a gift, that's even discounting the sheer luck that so many of the smaller supporting players (Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, etc) turned out to have the relative chops when they were needed (and yes, puberty was quite kind to them as well).  So before I get into the strengths and minuses of the first two pictures, let us acknowledge how much of a bloody miracle this cast was from the very beginning, a cast that Columbus deserves much credit for assembling.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pixar can survive Cars 2. Some free advice to Pixar as they take a critical and (relative) commercial beating over an unasked-for sequel.

Cars 2 is indeed terrible.  It's sophomoric, needlessly convoluted, senselessly violent, and pretty much negates everything that people liked about the first Cars.  But even with all of those things being true, Pixar will be fine.  It's one movie, something that John Lasseter really wanted to do.  And while no one will call it a bomb, it will likely be one of Pixar's lowest grossers ever and a rare critical whiff.  But Pixar will be fine.  They will have three sequels nearly in a row between 2010 and 2013.  That's partially due to the original Disney contract, which demanded five original films (hence they held off on sequels until they took over Disney animation).  But Pixar will be fine.  And so will you, moviegoer and fan.  They just have to keep moving forward...

Scott Mendelson

In a pop-culture based on recycling, will our children have icons for their own?

My wife is currently excited because my 3.75 year old daughter has just discovered She-Ra: Princess of Power (otherwise known in our house as He-Man's incestuously-inclined sister).  We happened to play an episode on Netflix Instant and said daughter was relatively entertained.  It's never been a major sticking point, but pretty much from the time Allison was old enough to periodically watch television, it's been a constant debate of 'when will she be ready for (insert show or movie that my wife and/or I enjoyed as a kid)?'  Should we show her Star Wars when the Blu Rays come out in September, or should we wait and take her to see The Phantom Menace in 3D next February?  Or should we just wait a couple years until we know she can 'handle' them and merely allow her to like them or dislike them on their own merits?  We've mellowed out considerably in that regard, basically realizing that she can watch Star Wars or Harry Potter or The Muppets when she damn-well wants to.  I know we're not the only parents who do this.  For those who were raised in the 1980s and came of age in the 1990s, there seems to be an unwillingness to let go of our childhood entertainments.  Combined with a need to expose our children to the same things that we loved as soon as possible, this begs a question.  In an era when the biggest movie of the summer is a live-action variation on a 1980s cartoon and most of the major films are based on comic books that stretch back to the 1940s, in a time when studio executives are trying to 'bring back the Looney Tunes' and 'revive The Muppets', in a place where everything from the 1980s and 1990s seems to be being groomed for a remake or reboot (Teen Wolf? Another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie?  One more Thundercats cartoon?), will our children actually have entertainment icons of their very own?      

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekend Box Office (07/04/11): Transformers 3 crushes July 4th records, Larry Crowne underwhelms, Cars 2 crashes, Bridesmaids and Pirates 4 hit milestones.

As expected, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (review) dominated the long Fourth-of-July holiday frame this weekend.  The film had a Fri-Sun debut of $97 million and thus far sits with $161 million since opening late Tuesday night.  It netted a 6.25-day opening of $180 million, with a worldwide six-day opening weekend of $418 million.  There are those who will scream "DISAPPOINTMENT!" because Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened with $200 million in its first five days two years ago.  If $180 million in six days is disappointment, sign me up for failure anytime.  The film played 62% male and 55% under-25.  Oddly enough, the picture scored an A- from males and an A from females in Cinemascore polling.  I'm sure pundits will find sexist explanations for that finding ("Oh, the girls just LOVED that LeBeouf goes into a war-torn Chicago to save his girlfriend."), but I'll just chalk it up to the fact that any woman who walks into a Transformers movie likes robot-smashing and explosions as much as the stereotypical guy.  The picture sold 60% of its tickets in 3D, which is an uptick from the usual 45/55 2D advantage over the last few months.  Point being, if you give teens and older audiences something worth seeing in 3D (as opposed to families with really young kids), they will make the choice to plunk down the extra $3.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's the basics, stupid: Why Independence Day still holds up 15 years later.

I'm sorry if this makes you feel old.  But it's been fifteen years since Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin blew up the White House with a giant flying saucer.  It's been fifteen years since Will Smith punched out an alien, exclaimed "Welcome to Earth!" and became the biggest movie star in the world.  It's been fifteen years since Bill Pullman gave what still ranks as one of the corniest and most shamelessly uplifting battle speeches in cinematic history.  Yes, tomorrow (July 2nd) marks the fifteenth-anniversary of the theatrical release of Independence Day.  And while many armchair pundits like to hold the film up as an example of when blockbuster filmmaking turned to shit (as they like to do with every single major blockbuster since Jaws), the truth is that it still works as the kind of old-school, character-driven fx-spectacular that seems in painful short supply these days.  The truth is that the film still feels like perhaps the biggest-scale adventure movie ever set on planet Earth.  But, take away the Super Bowl trailer, take away the box office records ($100 million in six days!), take away who did and who didn't become a star as a result of its success.  The fact remains that Independence Day still holds up because it's a damn good movie.

Horrors! Michael Bay borrows stock footage from The Island for Transformers 3! Surely Walt Disney and company would never do such a thing!

Yes, Michael Bay borrowed a scene from The Island and used it in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  Horror of horrors!  Yes, Mr. Bay borrowed a bit of highway mayhem in order to avoid re-shooting a stunt where a stunt woman was seriously injured and/or actually putting the take where she got injured into the movie.  The fiend!  Obviously a true artist, say someone like Walt Disney and the Disney animation department would never do such a thing right?  Right?  Oh... right.

Scott Mendelson

Box Office (07/01/11): Transformers: Dark of the Moon picks up the pace ($32.9m), while Larry Crowne underwhelms and Cars 2 crashes.

First, the good news... Transformers: Dark of the Moon grossed a massive $32.9 million on Friday.  That's $11 more than the first Transformers film grossed on its first Friday and just $4 million less than Revenge of the Fallen (despite the first sequel having a $20 million-bigger opening day than this latest installment).  It went up about 50% from Thursday to Friday, the biggest such jump in the franchise.  It's also the third-biggest non-opening Friday in history, behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($36 million) and Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($33.5 million).  Point being, it's clear that many fans (and general moviegoers) were just waiting for the regular weekend to check out the latest installment.  The film has grossed $97 million since Wednesday, making it technically the biggest three-day gross of 2011.  It has an outside shot at becoming the first $100 million Fri-Sun debut, especially as Monday is a holiday (hence Sunday acts like Saturday).  But whether it ends up with $165 million by Monday or $185 million by Monday, the film is also doing gangbusters business overseas.  The total worldwide six-day debut looks to be in the neighborhood of $400 million.

Hoping for yesterday: why Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and the big movie stars of our generation are not going to magically reclaim their past stardom.

This is a slightly updated version of an essay I wrote back in late May.

This Fourth of July holiday, we have seen the release of Larry Crowne, a poorly reviewed romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks.  The film will not top $20 million over the four-day weekend (on just a $30 million budget, natch), which will countless pundits to wonder why Hanks and Roberts aren't mega stars anymore.  Two months ago, we saw the wide release of Jodie Foster's flawed-but-interesting drama The Beaver, which failed to even gross $1 million for a variety of factors (mixed reviews, weird premise, a terrible trailer, etc).  But the film is being held to the perhaps unfair standard of determining whether or not Mel Gibson can return to his former box office glory.  Never mind that the film should no more be expected to perform like Lethal Weapon 4 than The Man Without A Face, the media has been abuzz with articles along the lines of 'Can The Beaver save Mel Gibson?"  This year will see much hand-wringing about the sustainable stardom of some of the very biggest 1980s/1990s stars.  Over 2011, we have seen or will see the alleged box office comebacks of Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, and Tom Cruise, plus the continuing saga of Arnold Schwarzenegger's post-'governator' movie plans.  Without obsessing too much on certain offscreen behaviors that jeopardize the popularity of a few of those names, the question is: Why should we be expecting these former mega-stars to still be at the peak of their stardom?

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's official! Bridesmaids is the highest-grossing film in the Judd Apatow cannon! Let's keep up the Kristen Wiig Oscar buzz (tag, you're it)!

It took a day or two longer than predicted, but Bridesmaids currently sits at $149 million at the domestic box office.  That means it is now the biggest-grossing film that Judd Apatow has been involved with in any capacity.  In this case, he was the producer (Paul Feig was the director), and the film just passed the respective $148 million+ totals of Knocked Up (which he directed) and Talladega Nights: The Story of Ricky Bobby (which he wrote).  It has started to lose screens over the last few weeks, so how high it can claim is an open question.  As of sometime this weekend, it will pass $152.6 million, to overtake Sex and the City as the biggest-grossing female-led comedy of all time.  As of now, it's the 27th-biggest R-rated film ever.  Amongst R-rated comedies, it currently ranks 11th, and it will surely crack the top ten before the holiday weekend is over.  With a debut of $26 million back in mid-May, it has already amassed a dynamite 5.7x multiplier with gas still left in the proverbial engine.  It's also Universal's biggest-grossing completely original live-action film in eight years (Bruce Almighty earned $242 million back in summer 2003).  It is the 23rd-biggest grossing film in Universal history.


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