'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.
Molly Green and James Leffler’s quirky road-trip movie features winning performances by Noël Wells and Matt Mider
One of the most enjoyable parts of attending film festivals is getting the chance to see small indie films made by promising first-time directors and featuring talented actors who are not yet household names. The 19th Annual Los Angeles Film Festival (presented by Film Independent) started this week and I’ve already seen several very original films that completely won me over. One of these is an odd little romantic comedy (of sorts) called “Forev,” written and directed by Molly Green and James Leffler. The film stars Noël Wells and Matt Mider as two slightly damaged souls who get engaged on their first date…sorta.
Sophie (Noël Wells) and Pete (Matt Mider) are kind of friends. Mostly they're just neighbors in a crummy East Hollywood apartment building. When Pete has to drive six hours to pick up his little sister Jess (Amanda Bauer) from college, Sophie invites herself along. Somewhere on the drive through the desert, a joke about getting married escalates, and by the time they arrive at Jess’s sorority house in Phoenix, they are officially engaged. If their lives felt stalled before, then this is the perfect fix. They can split rent, buy milk by the gallon—and, if Sophie marries Pete, he never has to worry about getting up the courage to ask her out. They expect everyone to be as excited as they are by their news but Jess, who just broke up with her long-term boyfriend, is horrified. When their Jeep breaks down on the way home, they find themselves stranded at a seedy motel in the middle of the desert. And, after a night at a local bar, Jess disappears with a bearded drifter. Lost and suddenly dependent on each other, Sophie and Pete’s scramble to find his sister and get back to L.A. exposes the cracks in their budding relationship. By the time they find Jess and her one-night stand, they’ve started to realize that falling in love can be a lot scarier than getting married. “Forev” is a romantic comedy about how far you can go without saying what you mean. It will also make you never want to eat a hot dog again.
I sat down with Molly Green, James Leffler, Noël Wells, and Matt Mider the day before the film’s world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
MSN Movies: How long have you been working on this film?
James Leffler: A little more than two years from the moment we sat down with these guys and said “Let’s make a movie!” to when we finished editing the film a week ago.
Sophie and Pete are such great characters. Did you have to work hard to make them as quirky as they are but still keep us rooting for them?
James: Our thought was that if you knew where they were coming from, you’d still be with them. Most of those moments of humanity came from working with these guys as we were writing the script.
Molly Green: But we did spend a lot of time reining it in so they always seemed real.
Matt Mider: I come from sketch comedy so wacky and silly is what I think is funniest. My first instinct when we were making the film was always to do something really stupid. I feel like they had to do a lot of, “Okay, that was funny but now let’s try it another way!”
Molly: But some of that stuff stayed in. It was good to have those moments, too! Matt’s character is a guy whose only way to express emotion is through weird physical contact. He can only honk on someone or give them a giant hug or noogie. He can’t actually be real with people.
Noël Wells: He treats everyone he knows, even Sophie who he’s interested in, like a younger sibling.
Did you do a lot of improvising on set?
Molly: We mostly improvised the scenes beforehand, and then we incorporated the best stuff into the script.
James: Yeah, we had the structure down but some great lines still came as we were shooting. And a few times we relied on Noël and Matt. One time we weren’t sure how to describe something so we just wrote into the script, “Noël will make this work!”
Molly: Noël will always kill physical comedy!
Noël, so you also came from improv comedy?
Noël: Yeah, that’s how Matt and I met each other. I was in his sketch magic show in Austin. I was a magician’s assistant—and I also played Britney Spears.
Is there a difference?
Only in the boobs.
'I knew "If I don't make this film, someone else will ..."'
Smiling, tanned, and appropriately muscled under a white t-shirt, director Zack Snyder is modestly self-effacing about his work on "Man of Steel"; ask him if he'd like to tackle a sequel (before, of course, said sequel was in fact fast-tracked even before release) and he actually knocks on the wooden arm of his chair for luck before stating that it's all up to fortune. We spoke with Snyder in Burbank about taking rthe job, doing the job, and how deconstructing superheroics in "Watchmen" may have helped him re-construct them for "Man of Steel" ...
MSN Movies: I'm incredibly curious, when Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers who own DC Comics come to you and say, "By the way, we think we'd like you to reinterpret a 20th century icon in the 21st century," do you kind of look over your shoulder and go, "What? Me?"
Zach Snyder: Yeah, I absolutely do that. And I not only do I do that, I go like, when I realize they're serious I'm like, "Woah. Wow. Okay. Are you sure?" (Laughs) No, but I think that, and also I'm a fan. So that's the other big problem. It's not just an icon; it's an icon that I am a huge fan of. So the responsibility is even two-fold. It's massive.
The terrifying responsibility of making a movie that you would've actually liked to see?
100 percent. That's exactly what it is. And more than that it's like, you know, if I don't do it someone else will, and then I have myself to blame again.
Right, and all you're going to be is mad.
Like, "Ooh, I could've done this."
Like, "Why didn't I? What's the matter with me?"
I'm not going to be specific because part of the pleasure of this film is in the changes, but I can think of at least three big pieces of Superman canon that you kind of throw out the window for the purposes of making a better film. Was it good to know that you could do that? That the movie came first and not adherence to the past?