With all of his projects, J.J. Abrams has shown extraordinary good taste in casting and ‘Star Wars: Episode 7’ is no different. Forget about the old-timers returning to the saga and think about John Boyega, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie and the other terrific thespians being given the biggest spotlight of their careers. Abrams, more than most working filmmakers, knows how to showcase an actor or actress in a way that makes us wonder why they weren’t movie stars before he cast them. Anyway, this is just a longwinded way of getting around to saying that Abrams’ impeccable taste is once again on display since a trio of actors from ‘The Raid’ and ‘The Raid 2’ are apparently in ‘The Force Awakens.’
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of ‘Star Trek,’ which debuted on CBS in 1966, and Paramount has been adamant about getting the next film into theaters in time to mark the occasion. Today, they officially set the date. If all goes according to plan, ‘Star Trek 3’ will warp into theaters on July 8, 2016.
The ‘Entourage’ trailer is here and it’s exactly what you’d expect from the cinematic continuation of the popular but divisive HBO show. With the series finale currently four years in the past, this offers fans their first look at Vince, Johnny, Turtle, Ari and the rest of the cast in quite some time. Have the past few years treated them well? You’ll have to check out the trailer for yourself.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
The Sony hacking scandal has proven to be a massive headache for a company that’s already been having a rough few years. And now, this increasingly weird story has taken an even darker turn: the hackers are threatening to launch terrorist attacks against theaters showing ‘The Interview’ this Christmas. Seriously.
As major movie productions keep on getting more secretive, even the best laid plans keep on getting foiled by one thing: merchandising. Yes, hide you costumes and characters and plot points all you want, because when the toys arrive, all bets are off! The latest casualty in this very silly war is Iron Man’s new armor (the Mark XLIII), which was supposedly going to make its debut at some point in ‘Avengers 2’ but can now be clearly seen, examined, and salivated over in toy form.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Justin Lin was being courted by Universal to return to the ‘Fast and Furious’ series after taking ‘Furious 7’ off and giving the director's seat to James Wan. It was also reported that his return would be be part of a two film “grand finale” that would send this beloved franchise driving off into the sunset. But that second part is just plain silly. Have you seen the box office receipts for these movies? So it should come as no surprise that the studio has “at least three” more Dominic Toretto and company adventures in the pipeline.
‘Dumb and Dumber To’ arrives two decades after the first film was one of the bigger hits of 1994 and no one knew what to make of it ... until it topped the box office this weekend and made it look easy. Now, the idea of two middle-aged actors returning to two of the most idiotic characters in modern movie history doesn't seem so desperate and crazy. It seems canny.
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