March 15-17 Box Office Predictions

Last weekend, 2013 saw the first blockbuster of the year, Oz the Great and Powerful, which debuted to $79.1 million. This weekend, two new films are being released: The Call and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. However, neither will be able to beat Oz.

Evan Almighty and Bruce Almighty (Steve Carrell and Jim Carrey) are reuniting for this funky little comedy called The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, something that looks a little like Blades of Glory. Carrell and Steve Buscemi will be sporting silly wigs, and funky costumes. Jim Carrey seems to be the show-stealing supporting actor in this film. It will draw a good audience, as Carrey has been in 12 $100 million movies and Carrell has had great box office legs since his break-out in The 40-Year Old Virgin.

Halle Berry is starring in the new thriller, The Call, and while many thrillers this year have disappointed this year, this has received a promising marketing kick. It looks like it will earn over $10 million.

Here’s how I see the top 10:
1. Oz The Great and the Powerful: $43, 750, 000
2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $17, 000, 000
3. The Call: $11, 500, 000
4. Identity Thief: $4, 500, 000
5. Jack the Giant Slayer: $4, 000, 000
6. Snitch: $3, 250, 000
7. 21 and Over: $3, 000, 000
8. Safe Haven: $2, 200, 000
9. Silver Linings Playbook: $2, 150, 000
10. Dead Man Down: $2, 100, 000

The Mist (2007)

The Mist

Stephen King’s The Mist

Release Date: November 21, 2007

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

Runtime: 125 min

A small town in Maine has just been struck by a large lightning storm, and many of the townspeople are going to the local grocery store to stock up. Among these people are Mr. David Drayton (Thomas Jane), a small-time celebrity, and his son, Billy (Nathan Gamble). A mysterious mist falls over the town and local man Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) comes running in yelling “There’s something in the mist!” and that the mist took a local man. There is something lurking in the mist, but what is it? Extraterrestrial creatures? All the townsfolk know is that they’re incredibly dangerous, and if they make one wrong move, it could mean their life. The only key to survival is the occupants of the store coming together and fighting, but will human nature allow it?

The Mist is based on Stephen King’s novella of the same name, written for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile). It’s a well-crafted creature feature that brings in brilliant elements of the power of human nature. This situation calls for the people of the store to come together to survive, and not launch at each other’s throats and get bad cases of cabin fever. This is a little hard with a crazy local loon, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden).

Carmody is that crazy person you might see on a street corner saying “Oh Jesus loves ya! He will judge you on this day! Praise Jesus and what not!” You get the picture. I’m not saying that religion is bad, but this woman takes it to a whole new level interpreting the Bible too eerily, and apotheosizing with her imaginary crystal ball. She has read one too many religious books. Even when she may make you want to throw a can of peas at her, she’s an amazing and memorable character. Crazy, yes, but so necessary for the feature, and she is at times an equal threat to the people of the market than whatever’s in that mist. She’s at their throats in the day, and those things come at night. She is also superbly portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden.

The rest of the cast is pretty good. She is the real notable performer, both Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn are good in their roles, but the only other besides Harden worth mentioning is the great Toby Jones, who brings a lot of backbone to an assistant store manager, Ollie. At first glance you might think Ollie is a coward, but give him a gun and put him in this situation, the result is comparable to that of Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs. Though, Hoffman was only fighting against psychopaths, these guys are up against an extreme fundamentalist and monsters of all kinds.
The Mist is a good creature feature that is both taut and clever, slowly paced during the day, but fast-paced when whatever’s out there comes out to play. The characters are top-notch and you can really care for most of them, and the bravery of a select few is extremely admirable. The novella is a little better (as expected) because the reader uses their imagination for what may lie in the mist, and it is much scarier. Though, the creature effects are impressive. One reason it is worse than the novella is the ending that will divide audiences and critics alike.

Darabont takes a much darker route with his ending than King did with his own. Yes, it’s an admirable risk. Yes, it’s what makes the film stand out a little more. But, it just throws it off and messes up the general film. It makes the long film based on a 134-page novella unrewarding. It makes me hesitate to recommend this whole-heartedly, as if one ending could ruin an entire experience, it is this one. It is arguably the most talked about aspect of the feature, but it is no means the best. I still love Darabont with a lot of my might as he directed and wrote for the screen my favourite film, The Green Mile, and he did the same for the amazing The Shawshank Redemption. Darabont took a risk with this new, dark ending, and it did not pay off nearly as well as – say – Stanley Kubrick’s re-imagining of King’s The Shining. That might not be fair to compare the two, but it’s the best analogy that comes to mind.

The ending will divide audiences, some will hate it and some will like it for Darabont’s backbone to be different. I, myself, am unfortunately on the side of hating the ending that did greatly affect my general idea of the mostly solid creature feature. It’s a good film, yes, but it is a big part of what stops it from being great for me. It is also the reason why I hesitate to whole-heartedly recommend this. So, because of that I say: Watch it if you want, but if you like to read, just stick with King’s original 134-page novella.

68/100

March 8-10 Box Office Results

Oz The Great and the Powerful made the box office have a heart beat again, earning a solid $79.1 million. Many thought it would make over $80, and it just missed it. It’s still a great opening, though.

The results

Title: Result

Prediction/Difference

1. Oz The Great and the Powerful$79,110,453

– $87, 000, 000$7, 889, 547 over

2. Jack the Giant Slayer$9,839,135

– $15, 000, 000/ $5, 160, 865 over

3. Identity Thief$6, 334, 220

– $7, 000, 000$665, 780 over

4. Dead Man Down$5, 345, 250

– $7, 500, 000$2, 154, 750 over

5. Snitch$5, 098, 235

– $4, 500, 000$598, 235 under

6. 21 and Over$5, 091, 384

– $5, 000, 000$91, 384 under

7. Safe Haven$3, 753, 384

– $3, 700, 000$53, 384 under

8. Silver Linings Playbook$3, 618, 171

– $4, 800, 000$1, 181, 829 over

9. Escape from Planet Earth$3, 218, 923

– $4, 000, 000$781, 077 over

10. The Last Exorcism Part II$3, 167, 040

– $4, 250, 000$1, 082, 960

Total difference for new releases (2): $10, 044, 297

Total difference for holdovers (8): $9, 615, 514

Breakdown (1997)

BreakdownBreakdown

Release Date: May 2, 1997

Director: Jonathan Mastow

Stars: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan

Runtime: 93 min

Breakdown isn’t very predictable, but there aren’t very many memorable twists. It’s really just an enthralling and compelling taut thriller that puts an average man (Kurt Russell) against a few ruthless criminals and in a situation that could genuinely happen to anyone. Even if it is a little far-fetched. It’s a very engaging ride that truly entertains for its ninety minute runtime. It’s lots of fun.

80/100

Piranha DD (2012)

Piranha DDPiranha DD

Release Date: June 1, 2012

Director: John Gulager

Stars: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner

Runtime: 83 min

Tagline: Double the action. Double the terror. Double the D’s.

Piranha DD is serious garbage. One can notice this as soon as the camera starts rolling: there’s women dancing, in a news report for the chaos caused at Lake Victoria, then there’s an underwater camera through an underground cave, all the way to a new lake where two fishermen are walking through the swamp, and they find something that has eggs being laid or something like that, I really couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, all I know it was weird and not at all scary. Then all the sudden there’s Gary Busey biting a baby piranha’s head off and it’s very odd.

Then the real story begins, where the prehistoric hungry piranhas are going to attack one of Arizona’s biggest attractions, The Big Wet Water Park. Oh and, surprise surprise, there’s an adult pool there, where women are allowed to swim naked, and if you have double D’s, you get to swim free! One part-owner of the park is fairly strict, the young and beautiful Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) who unfortunately refused to take off her bikini, as did the supporting Katrina Bowden (well, she does, but we don’t see anything). But the other part-owner, Chet (David Koechner) is vastly irresponsible as he replaces qualified lifeguards with strippers and David Hasselhoff in order to produce maximum profit, and he to save money, he also gets his water from a local well, unknowingly inviting piranhas to swim free, as well as the Double D gals.

This sequel to Piranha is a little less bloody, a bit more disgusting, and it has more nudity. I think. There’s at least more pointless slow-motion sequences, and a decapitated head somehow motorboats a stripper’s double D’s for whatever pointless reason. It’s seriously just boobs and piranhas, and the entertainment is simply not there. Why produce a film like this? Do they think their target audience hasn’t heard of internet porn or the first film? It’s a pointless sequel that sets up a third film.

The writers try to put campy horror in there for viewers before the finale, but the scares and laughs are little to none. It’s just piranhas gnawing their teeth and trying to look intimidating. And one kind-of “kill” is very disgusting, and not because of the piranha, but because of the guy’s action. It’s ridiculous. It also is not rewarding in the slightest. Some characters’ motivations don’t make any sense, like one action that the deputy does. If you don’t mind, I’ll tell you one action of his, but I’ll be as discrete as possible. One person is in the pool during the “finale” begging to get out, but for some reason that doesn’t make a lick of sense, he abandons because he’s too stressed out. Why? How does that contribute to the film? Uh! Some of this is just so pointless! Don’t ask me why I watched it, because I really couldn’t tell you! It’s seventy-one minutes of agony!

The finale when the piranhas attack isn’t even good. It’s supposed to be the best part of the film, it’s why people watch this garbage. Instead, it lasts fifteen minutes, maybe. The lead-up to it is too long, and when the so-called chaos does arrive, it isn’t rewarding in the slightest. The bloopers almost felt longer than that scene.

The filmmakers remade an apparent great horror film with the first, and it was mediocre at best. However, they come up with this horrendous sequel. Why? Just because the James Cameron-directed sequel, Piranha Part II: The Spawning is apparently very bad, does not mean you have to make an awful sequel to a mediocre first outing.

I was never for a minute scared, and I might have laughed three times at sophmoric jokes (Christopher Lloyd commenting that his video is more popular than a Laughing Diarrhea Baby on Youtube, Hasselhoff calling a kid a “little ginger moron” [even though it gets tedious after a while] and he doing a kind-of parody of his Baywatch days). It’s really just garbage. The redeeming qualities are limited to Ving Rhames’ just okay cameo, Christopher Lloyd’s also just-okay cameo, Panabaker being her attractive self, one character being killed by a trident to the head (it’s seriously awesome!) and David Hasselhoff who kind-of poorly plays himself. He has a few funny lines, and it’s somewhat silly when he’s so surprised that some kid thinks he’s just another life guard. There’s a line about the film (but I think it’s really about his career), where he says, “Welcome to rock bottom.” Yes man, welcome yourself to the bottom of the barrel, this movie is crap.You’re not the most popular star like you think you are, but you could probably nab a threesome.

12/100

127 Hours (2010)

127 HoursReleased: January 28, 2011Director: Danny BoyleStars: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate MaraRuntime: 94 min.

This review was written sometime in July 2012.

A good three-word-review of this would be: so damn boring.

This was just a little disappointing, as it turned out to be a sort-of docudrama that has an inspiring story, sure, but it’s incredibly slow.
Aron Walston is a man who loves adventures, mountain climbing especially. After Walston gets trapped under a rock in a Utah canyon, he has to survive on little water, and hope.

Some aspects of the film are interesting, like the true story appeal. However, many just watch it for something he has to eventually do. A lot of people know what that it is, but in case you don’t, I won’t spoil it.

I can comprehend the achievement it is because it has stellar direction from Danny Boyle, impressive cinematography, a great leading performance from James Franco who carries the film very well, because for 85% of it, he’s the only one on camera. It is also very well-made and has an extremely inspiring story and is a great testament of the lengths one would go to to survive. However, it didn’t do anything for me but almost lullaby me to sleep.

I’d recommend it to those who like to have new cinematic experiences, and insomniacs, check this out!

It gets a mediocre score of 61 from me because of its impressive cinematography, direction, and the way Franco carried the film. However, I think it’s one of the most boring films I’ve ever seen. Thinking back to this, it’s putting me in a comatose state.

Score: 61/100

March 8-10 Box Office Predictions

Note: The article was written by Joe over at his blog, Two Dude Review, but the predictions are my own. 

Aside from Identity Thief 2013 has been nothing but disappointment after disappointment. Prior to this weekend there have only been two films with the opening weekend bar set at $25 million or higher: A Good Day to Die Hard – $40 million and Jack the Giant Slayer – $25 million. A Good Day to Die Hard was a massive flop and Jack the Giant Slayer went a hair over, but was look at as a disappointment by most. It took 10 weeks, but we’ve reached the point where most new ‘wide releases’ will come with higher expectations than the majority of those released earlier this year.

Oz The Great and Powerful is the first potential blockbuster of the year. With a bar set at $70 million, the film is expected to big a seriously large draw. As a comparison, The Lorax opened the first weekend of March 2012 to over $70 million and in 2010 Alice in Wonderland opened over $116 million. Including The Great and Powerful Oz, all three films already had built-in fan bases having previous established properties; just as important is the fact that all three films are geared towards families, hence the reason the earlier two releases did so well. Oz The Great and Powerful should have a broad appeal as it showcases what appears to be great effects, a good amount of action and a great looking cast (James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams). Playing in almost 4000 theaters, the film will easily win the weekend and should come relatively close to $100 million opening.

The second new release of the weekend, Dead Man Down is a movie that has very little hope of doing well this weekend. The marketing behind the film has been practically non-existent, unless you were lucky enough to catch a trailer prior to viewing another film. The sad part is that the movie has a pretty solid cast (Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell and Terrence Howard), and having been lucky enough to see the trailer I think it looks like an enjoyable thriller. Dead Man Down should break the top 10, but don’t expect it to break the bank.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

1. Oz the Great and the Powerful: $87, 000, 000
2. Jack the Giant Slayer: $15, 000, 000
3. Dead Man Down: $7, 500, 000
4. Identity Thief: $7, 000, 000
5. 21 and Over: $5, 000, 000
6. Silver Linings Playbook: $4, 800, 000
7. Snitch: $4, 500, 000
8. The Last Exorcism Part II: $4, 250, 000
9. Escape from Planet Earth: $4, 000, 000
10. Safe Haven: $3, 700, 000

Hugo (2011)

Hugo

Release Date: November 23, 2011Director: Martin ScorseseStars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben KingsleyRuntime: 126 min.

Hugo is a fantastic film that really sweeps the audience up with its charm, lavish production design, engaging cinematography and thoroughly impressive visuals. One great thing about this is that it isn’t only a marvelous piece of cinema, eye candy or a great film of technical achievements, but it’s a fairly simple and emotional mystery that is easy to follow, but it also gives something special for us film buffs and older audiences alike.

Film buffs might have the mystery figured out by the time they understand who a primary character is, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be a compelling watch. There’s some real emotion in the concept of being forgotten, as we all we want to be respected in some way and we know what it’s like to be neglected at some point. In this way, we can really relate to some of the characters. Hugo also knows what it’s like to be alone as he as an orphan, and it’s really something more most can relate to.

The antagonist, a train inspector portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen, is also very funny, and he has an extra real layer, because he has one bad leg and he knows what it’s like to be an outcast. His character might as well just be called the Orphan catcher. Cohen has proven to be a versatile performer, as he voices a King lemur in the animated Madagascar series; he has taken on roles in musicals like Sweeney Todd and Les Misérables; while he still plays his signature characters of a flamboyant Austrian trying to make his way in the film industry (Bruno), an Anti-semetic foreigner (Borat) and his most recent character of General Aladeen in The Dictator. He’s really a rare and great talent, if you can get past his tendency to always show frontal nudity. Ben Kingsley also offers a great performance, as do the young actors, Chloë Grace Moretz and Asa Butterfield.

Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s ode to film. It’s also a great ode to one of the greatest pioneers of the film industry (watch the film and find out who!), all wrapped up in a magnificent family adventure that is truly delightful and one of the finest films of 2011. It’s a must-see for cinephiles everywhere, and it’s a visual treat for the whole family.

Score91/100

‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Comes up Short (Box Office Results)

Jack the Giant Slayer comes up small with an opening weekend of $27.2 million, noticeably lower than last March’s box office bomb, John Carter, that opened to $30.2 million. 21 and Over also disappointed with an $8.75 million opening ($12.3 million lower than Project X‘s opening), The Last Exorcism II disappointed with a $7.73 million opening ($12.63 million off of its predecessor’s opening), and Phantom earned an awful $508, 000 at 1118 theaters. The first-time RCR distribution company was even late with their numbers, and the advertising campaign seemed non-existent, so I don’t see them making it well in this industry.

Top 10 Results:

Title: Result
Prediction/Difference (Over/Under)
1. Jack the Giant Slayer: $27,202,226
$26, 500, 000/ $702, 226 under

2. Identity Thief: $9,706,145
$8, 400, 000/ $1, 306, 145 under

3. 21 and Over: $8,754,168
$15, 500, 000/ $6, 745, 832 over

4. Snitch: $7,768,391
$6, 500, 000/ $1, 268, 391 under

5. The Last Exorcism Part II: $7,728,354
$10, 200, 000/ $2, 471, 646 over

6. Escape From Planet Earth: $6,619,827
$6, 300, 000/ $319, 827 under

7. Safe Haven: $6,278,530
$5, 500, 000/ $778, 530 under

8. Silver Linings Playbook: $5,723,010
$5, 150, 000/ $573, 010 under

9. A Good Day to Die Hard: $4,572,486
$4, 900, 000/ $327, 514 over

10. Dark Skies: $3,468,553
$3, 700, 000/ $231, 447 over
Other predictions

23. Phantom: $508, 000
$2, 300, 000/ $1, 792, 000 over

Total difference for new releases (4): $11, 711, 704
Total difference for holdovers (7): $4, 804, 864

The Green Mile (1999)

The Green MileThe Green Mile

Release Date: December 10, 1999

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse

Runtime: 189 min

Tagline: Miracles do happen

Did you knowOriginally set in 1932, the timeframe was bumped to 1935 so the movie Top Hat could be featured.

The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

The Green Mile follows one of the most miraculous stories of fantasy and mystery to ever be told. It’s filled with fantastic performances, awesome characters, a great story, great direction and superb writing.

This film is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It combines crime, drama, mystery and fantasy and makes it one of the best features I’ve ever seen. The good majority of the characters are Death Row inmates, so there is a good helping of crime in this, as each of those inmates did a horrendous crime to get in there. However, a good percentage of the inmates’ fatal sins are never exposed. The purpose of this is for when the inmates take a seat in Old Sparky, the Green Mile’s infamous electric chair, we must get emotional. We wouldn’t get as emotional as we do with a select few characters if we actually knew they were convicted rapists, like one character is revealed as in the source novel. One of the primary characters, John Coffey (“like the drink, only not spelled the same”), is actually accused of child murder and rape. There’s great emotional depth in the feature, and it’s surprising how emotional an audience can get about a few inmates dying for their sins. Both the mystery and the fantasy interlap with each other, because the real mystery is what Coffey’s gift is exactly, and what his purpose is in the dark world.

Stephen King is the one to write the original novel, and he is a great person to analyze the darkness of the world, and the darkness that fill the hearts of some people. This brings in the concept of the world only being a dark home, with people who kill others for joy, or killers who use little girls’ love to kill each other with. This is a story of some inmates who can actually feel remorse, and die for others.

Michael Clarke Duncan is the best he has ever been as John Coffey. He may be a giant, but he is such a tender soul with a heart as big as a semi-truck. The fact that this brute of a man is afraid of the dark reminds me that the world is a scary place, and he is just as vulnerable to the dangers of the universe as much as Mr. Jingles may be. Even though Coffey is in no certain danger of being squashed by Percy Wetmore.

Percy is one of the most despicable characters of the feature, but he is really a fascinating character, who is well-performed by Doug Hutchison. Percy is established as a young, ignorant man who thinks he is the only one in the world with connections, and he doesn’t understand that there are consequences with every action, something he learns the hard way. He is also hungry for power, but power is earned and not given freely. He is a young person who really, for some reason or another, wants to see a death up close. This adds a disturbing aspect to the feature, but a very necessary one. It all goes in the expertly mended mix of genres and concepts.

One of the meanest cats around town, among the prisoners, is Wild Bill (played by Sam Rockwell, who seems like he had a hell of a time). He is a sort-of comic relief, but he is also a character that is critical to the story development. Much like Percy, he is the sort of character that you might hate, but you can’t help but appreciate.

Tom Hanks delivers a solid performance as Paul Edgecomb with the help of others in the cast: David Morse as Brutus, Bonnie Hunt as Paul’s wife, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix, Sam Rockwell and Doug Hutchison as the despicable Percy Wetmore. However, no one is better than Michael Clarke Duncan. Duncan is in his finest hour with his performance as the tender John Coffey, a giant, uneducated black man who has seen too much darkness in the world.

A vast majority of the film is set in the prison, with only ones’ home life expressed are Paul’s and the warden, Hal Moores’. It actually works for it. There are amazing characters all-around, even Percy, one of the most despicable characters in all of cinema. With fine pacing as well as characters you’ll find yourself so enveloped with, this film is equal parts beautiful, emotional, and extremely engaging.

The direction is great, Darabont wonderfully brings King’s novel to life. He may have left a few things out, but he stayed faithful to the key elements. And, often enough, the reason Darabont left a few things out was to allow us to feel emotional if anything happened to them. Darabont writes in all sorts of hidden elements, even adding onto King’s novel. These changes aren’t nearly as severe as Kubrick’s to King’s The Shining, so it’s great he stayed so faithful to such a mesmerising and spell-binding story.

In a nutshell: The Green Mile is my favourite film. It is profound, disturbing, charming, engaging, sad, and funny. These amazing performers bring the characters of King’s novel to life; characters as small as the little circus mouse, Mr. Jingles, to as big as John Coffey himself.

Oh, my favourite part of my favourite film is very, very hard to choose, but that scene where John is watching his first “flicka show”, Top Hat, is up there because it’s just so charming.

100/100

Also, check out this “brief discussion” of the film I had with Joe over at his blog, Two Dude Review. This discussion really does prove it’s a movie that’s difficult to stop talking about!