Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels still attached to long-awaited sequel
An eerie American thriller from the Korean director of 'Oldboy'
"Stoker" (Fox) - Hollywood is always drafting new talent from abroad, especially from thriving cinema cultures. From Mexico, we received an injection of new blood thanks to Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cauron, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Back in the nineties, it was the Hong Kong action stars on both sides of the camera, from Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-fat to John Woo and Corey Yuen.
For the past few years, South Korea has been leading the Asian wave of hit action movies, horror films, and thrillers and Hollywood has once again taken notice. 2013 marks the respective American debuts of three top South Korean directors: Kim Jee-woon ("The Good, the Bad, the Weird," "I Saw the Devil"), who made the Arnold Schwarzenegger come-back film "The Last Stand" (released earlier this year on disc and reviewed here); Bong Joon-ho ("The Host"), whose end-of-the-world thriller "Snowpiercer" is due for release later this year; and Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy," "Thirst"), director of "Stoker," a film that doesn't fit within the usual genre parameters.
I like to think of "Stoker" as a vampire movie without a vampire. At least not in the mythic sense of the term. Mia Wasikowska is dreamy and uneasy as India Stoker, a teenage girl who is preternaturally attuned to the world and disconnected from the kids around her. Matthew Goode is creepily calm and seductive as the uncle she never even knew existed until he arrives for a funeral and stays on in the family manor (he is her Uncle Charlie, in fact, an offhanded reference to Hitchcock's take on another dark uncle-niece relationship). Nicole Kidman is dizzy and disconnected as her weak and ineffectual mother. She seems to want to be there for her daughter, but she hardly seems present in the world at all.
'Spidey 3' and '4' expected in 2016 and 2018, respectively
'Thor: The Dark World' may be the villain's swan song
Cartoon comedy aims for a December 2015 release
'Man of Steel' wastes no time trouncing the competition
It’s not exactly a big surprise that the much-anticipated “Man of Steel” came out on top of the North American box office this weekend. A more impressive achievement may be the second place showing of the modestly budgeted “This Is the End.” True, the apocalyptic comedy trailed that guy from Krypton by almost $100 million but it’s still good news for the much smaller Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen film.
Leaping to the top of the list in a single bound, Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel,” directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams, raked in a whopping $116.6M domestically (at 4,207 theaters) over the three-day weekend. I’m sure plans are already underway for sequels featuring our rebooted friends. At #2, Sony’s “This Is the End” scored $20.7M (at 3,055 theaters) as well as great word of mouth. “Now You See Me” remained the #3 film this week, adding $11M (at 3,082 theaters) to its now $80.7M domestic total. “Fast & Furious 6” slipped to #4 with $9.8M in ticket sales (at 3,375 theaters) and a hefty domestic gross of $219.7M in its fourth week while last week’s “The Purge” dropped to #5 with only $8.3M (at 2,591 theaters) and a domestic total of $51.9M.
In its second week, “The Internship” fell to #6, earning $7.1M (at 3,399 theaters) while “Epic,” at #7 in its fourth week, brought in $6.2M (at 3,151 theaters) for a domestic total of $95.7M. “Star Trek Into Darkness” moved to #8, also with $6.2M (at 2,331 theaters) and a domestic gross of more than $211M. The abysmally reviewed “After Earth” continued its slide to #9, adding only $4M (at 2,432 theaters) to its less-than-expected $54.5M domestic total while “Iron Man 3,” in its seventh week, came in at #10, with $2.9M (at 1,649 theaters) and a whopping domestic gross of $399.6M.
In terms of per-screen averages, Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” though only at five theaters, beat “Man of Steel” by a wide margin. Can you say Girl Power? I’d be surprised if Clark Kent and his pals didn’t stick around at #1 for a while but they’ll have some stiff competition next week from the students at Disney’s “Monsters University” and a little film called “World War Z” in which an irritated Brad Pitt tries to save the planet from a nasty infestation of zombies.
Veteran movie producer Lynda Obst explains it all in an excerpt from her book 'Sleepless in Hollywood'
We all know that DVD sales have dropped drastically since the heyday of the mid-2000s, and Blu-ray hasn't come close to making up the difference. Streaming media and VOD has cut into disc rentals and thousands of rental stores have shuttered in the last eight years, resulting in huge drop in disc sales for rental libraries. Digital copies are challenging individual sales. It's changed the way we collect and watch movies at home.
It also changed the way Hollywood makes movies, and the kinds of movies that get made, says Lynda Obst, a veteran Hollywood producer with such credits as "The Fisher King," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" (okay, so they weren't all classics).
In an excerpt from her new book "Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business" featured at Salon, she lays out the economics of Hollywood and the business model shaken by the loss of disc sale revenues, in a conversation with producer Peter Chermin:
This was, literally, a Great Contraction. Something drastic had happened to our industry, and this was it. Surely there were other factors: Young males were disappearing into video games; there were hundreds of home entertainment choices available for nesting families; the Net. But slicing a huge chunk of reliable profits right out of the bottom line forever?
This was mind-boggling to me, and I’ve been in the business for thirty years. Peter continued as I absorbed the depths and roots of what I was starting to think of as the Great Contraction. “Which means if nothing else changed, they would all be losing money. That’s how serious the DVD downturn is. At best, it could cut their profit in half for new movies.”
Which brings up a question: what was the business model before disc? Or even before glory days of VHS home video rentals?
I guess you'll have to buy the book for that. In the meantime, I can now justify my disc purchases as my contribution to saving Hollywood.
"Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business" by Lynda Obst is published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Plus 'The Loving Story,' 'Mumia,' American poets, and more
These are all DVD and VOD only, unless otherwise noted.
"Brooklyn Castle" (Millennium), which won the Audience Award at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, profiles the championship-caliber inner-city chess program in New York as it was on the verge of even greater glory when the program budget was suddenly slashed. "There is no cinematic way to show a chess game," confesses Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert. "But you can photograph eyes and smiles, and the pride on parents’ faces. And Rochelle’s glow as she’s presented with the title of master, and the four-year college scholarship awarded by the same tournament." More reviews here. Also available on Netflix.
"The Loving Story" (Docurama) recounts the landmark civil rights case surrounding the marriage of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial union that was ruled illegal by a Virginia judge in 1958, a case that they spent nine years fighting all the way to the Supreme Court. "But there are other reasons to watch this film besides feel-good expediency," writes New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley. "The improbably named Lovings, Mildred and Richard, make a compelling couple, and not just because she is half-black, half-Native American and he is good ol’ boy white. In a rich collection of 16-millimeter film, old news clips and still photographs, the Lovings don’t look like two people caught up in a cause, they seem like two people caught up in each other." The film debuted on HBO in 2012. More reviews here.
"Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary" (First Run), a portrait of the Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamam jailed for the shooting of a Philadelphia police officer, is "More a deification than a documentary," writes Philadelphia Inquirer film critic Steven Rea. "[Director} Vittoria offers lots of context - about the Black Panthers (Abu-Jamal was a member), MOVE (Abu-Jamal, a Philadelphia radio reporter, covered the group and its combative history with police and city officials), George Wallace, and Frank Rizzo - the events of Dec. 9, 1981, are barely examined." Includes the short film "Manufacturing Guilt."
"As Goes Janesville" (Facets) looks at the economic state of the heartland from the ground zero of Janesville, Wisconsin, after the closing of GM factory threw much of the town out of work. The disc includes both the theatrical version of the film and the shorter cut that played on the PBS documentary showcase "Independent Lens." Mike Hale reviews the latter for The New York Times.