Friday, August 31, 2012

'Lawless' and 'Oogieloves' close out the summer

Leading the box office is the chiller The Possession (2,816 theatres), a "Jewish-themed Exorcist" with "cheap scares." THR's Frank Scheck cheekily predicts that "if nothing else," it should "discourage the practice of buying antique wooden boxes at flea markets." A nice teen-million debut
Possession jeffrey dean morgan antique boxshould be in store for the movie, which hopefully has better luck than The Apparition, which opened last weekend to a lackluster $2.8 million.

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure will be competing for the title of biggest flop this weekend. The movie, which targets kids from ages 3-5, opened to a shockingly low $47 per-screen average on Wednesday. The release on 2,160 screens is way too big for this kind of movie. It will probably earn something in the $5 million
Oogieloves 2range over the four-day weekend. That's still a pittance compared to the $55 million marketing and production budget. How does a movie featuring nobodies in costumes cost that much money? I'm seriously confused about this tot-centered picture, though I bet it will do well in the home video market, where parents can let their kids watch the movie in the other room without being forced to devote their whole attention to content that's way above them.

The uber-violent Lawless (2,565 theatres), which opened on Wednesday to $1.1 million, should end up in the teen millions. With the popularity of "Boardwalk Empire," I was excited to see another Prohibition-set movie, but I found
Lawless violent scene 1the shoot and knife 'em ups to be unnecessarily gruesome. FJI's Daniel Eagan faults the "glum, pompous drama," and also notes there are far better TV shows (he mentions "Breaking Bad" and "Justified") that elicit more powerful reactions in viewers.

Also not to be overlooked is 2016: Obama's America. The political doc has earned $12.3 million to date, $10 million of which came after last Friday's expansion. Most trackers aren't used to predicting a movie with these kinds of demographics, so another big weekend could be in store for the conservative movie.

To lure infrequent moviegoers who may not be caught up on this summer's blockbusters (or who want to see them again), Disney is expanding the releases of The Avengers and Brave. The superhero movie will play in 1,700 theatres, up from 123. Brave will also move into 1,700 theatres, from 423 locations.

For a Good Time, Call... (23 theatres) is the tale of two enemies-turned-friends who start a
For a good time call ari graynor phonephone-sex line business in their apartment. It sounds raunchy, but it's actually a surprisingly engaging story of twentysomething female friendship (with some sex-toy sight gags thrown in). FJI's David Noh agrees, dubbing the "carefree and affectionate" movie a "rather winning little female-fueled comedy." Ari Graynor is particularly sharp in her role, in a rare upgrade from the supporting roles she usually plays.

On Tuesday, we'll give a rundown of how everything did in what's usually one of the slowest holiday periods for the box office.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Female-driven western 'Jane Got a Gun' secures financing

Since her Best Actress win for Black Swan in 2010, Natalie Portman hasn't played another meaty role, instead appearing in blockbusters like Thor, the romantic comedy No Strings Attached, and the stoner comedy Your Highness. She's wrapped work on a Terrence Malick project, but chances are that
Natalie-Portman-23performance won't be seen for some time. Her next big appearance may be in Jane Got a Gun, a western that will film early next year. Portman would both star and produce. The production just secured financing, and the sales agents will be looking for buyers at the Toronto Film Festival in a few weeks.

Portman would play a woman who has to ask her ex-lover for help in order to save her current husband, an outlaw. The husband comes home riddled with bullets, almost on his deathbed, and a gang of Confederate soldiers is after him to finish the job. That forces Portman's character to seek out her ex, who can help her defend the family farm. It had been reported that Michael Fassbender was considering playing the role of the ex, but those rumors were later squashed.

Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) is directing, making this truly a female-driven picture. There really aren't many films to draw on for comparison. Civil War and farm-set Cold Mountain comes to mind, but I see more differences than similarities. Though the western genre has long since passed its heyday, the right kind of project can bring people back, like 3:10 to Yuma or the more contemporary No Country for Old Men, for example. With a farm wife starring in what's normally a cowboy picture, Jane Got a Gun may be just that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

'Black Swan' writer pens 'XOXO,' a social media thriller

I love movies that take advantage of new technology. Remember Sandra Bullock in 1995's The Net? The Internet-induced identity theft in that movie felt very cutting-edge. More recently, The Social Network actually pulled off a scene that made an all-night coding session feel just as thrilling as it must have for Mark Zuckerburg. Most cell phones in horror movies go bust, but in the summer release Paranorman, a character uses his cell phone while being chased by zombies, enlisting a friend to help find out how to beat the undead. That's exactly the kind of innovation that should be more present in movies, but when scripts sit around for years on end, perhaps screenwriters either
Facebook-relationship-statusdon't want to date their script by inserting a soon-to-be-outdated technology, or their technology inclusions seem old by the time the movie comes out. When it comes to using new technology in movies, two things are important. The technology should be used correctly, and it should be current. Both of those things are incredibly obvious, but it's so easy for screenwriters to fall back on answering machines and outdated equipment when they don't want to think their way out of a plot hole in an original way.

The screenwriter of Black Swan, Mark Heyman, has decided he's up to the task of a technology-focused movie. He's written a screenplay titled XOXO. It centers on an engaged, successful man who also likes to flirt online. He hooks the wrong girl and the online relationship turns into a threatening offline one. The script apparently has similarities to the famous 1987 Glenn Close-Michael Douglas pic Fatal Attraction. Now Lionsgate has hired George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) to rewrite and direct the picture, a sign that it's revving up to enter production--provided the script tweaks go well.

Even if the project is a bit campy (I heard an earlier version of Black Swan was purposely more over-the-top), and maybe even because it sounds so juicy, I'll be adding this to my look-out-for list. Lionsgate should take a note from Sony, which had a lightning-quick turnaround with The Social Network, and greenlight the project fast. In three years, the time it takes many fast-moving projects to go from development to release, technology changes so much. Facebook's interface could be completely different. New Internet security measures could be in place that need to be addressed in the plot. All the more reason to get moving and give us a fictional, more deadly version of Catfish.


Monday, August 27, 2012

In late summer slump, 'Expendables 2' leads with $13 million

This week was bad for new wide releases. The three new releases finished seventh, tenth, and twelfth. Those are dismal debuts across the board.

Many expected Premium Rush would have a chance at beating The Expendables 2, but instead the action hero picture topped the box office with a $13.5 million weekend, a 52% drop
Premium Rush Joseph Gordon Levitt 2from opening, on par with the percentage drop of the original. In seventh, Premium Rush earned just $6.3 million. I guess bike chases just don't have the same allure as mechanical smash-ups. Along with Lance Armstrong's decision to not fight against allegations of doping anymore, it was a bad weekend for bike enthusiasts.

Cracking tenth place, Hit & Run's $4.6 million made it a huge hit for indie standards, but some had predicted the well-reviewed picture could have soared even higher. Still, this low-budget movie is already in the green and because it stars TV favorites Dax
Hit and run kristen bell dax shepard 2Shepard and Kristen Bell, it should do well in the home entertainment environment.

In twelfth, horror offering The Apparition reeled in $2.9 million. With a wisely limited release of 800 theatre, the per-screen average of $3,600 was actually higher than all but two of the movies that placed above it. That means distribution costs weren't too high and people had the benefit of seeing the movie in a packed theatre, where screams can be contagious.

The surprise hit of the weekend was the conservative documentary 2016: Obama's America, which expanded on the eve of the Republican National Convention. Many estimated the movie would earn in the $2-3 million range, on par with other right-leaning docs, but instead it pulled in $6.2 million with a strong per-screen average of $5,700. The weekend tripled its total gross to date, which stands at $9 million. That makes it the highest-grossing conservative doc ever. Ads on talk radio helped support the political picture, which also benefits from heightened interest thanks to the upcoming election.

New Specialty releases fared much better than wide ones. Sleepwalk with Me, which had Ira Glass and the "This American Life" audience in its corner, debuted to $65,000 per-screen. Glass hosted a midnight screening of the movie in Manhattan this weekend, which was one reason the movie earned the title of "best per-screen average opening ever from a first-time filmmaker." Mike Birbiglia writes, directs, and stars in the autobiographical work, which will expand into twenty markets next week.

Samsara, a meditative travelogue, opened to $75,000 on two screens. Our filmmaker profile
Samsarareveals just how much work went into the non-fiction picture, which visits 100 locations in 25 countries on five continents. That sounds well-worth the price of admission.

This Friday may kick off a three-day weekend, but it's one of the few holiday periods where Hollywood suffers. With many people trying to get one last weekend outdoors in, the time period is a dead zone. On Wednesday, the violent Prohibition-set picture Lawless will get a head start on the weekend. On Friday, The Possession will open wide and try to pull in horror fiends.

Friday, August 24, 2012

'Premium Rush' will try to coast ahead of 'Expendables 2'

In an end-of-the-summer sprint, Premium Rush (2,255 theatres) will try to grab the last of the hot weather box office. The Manhattan-set actioner about a bike messenger trying to outwit a dirty cop should earn in the teen millions this weekend, but lackluster marketing support could see it
Premium Rush Joseph Gordon Levitt 1debut to less than $10 million. If that's the case, the number won't be enough to beat the second weekend of The Expendables 2. Critics are generally warm on the movie, giving it a 71% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I white-knuckled some of the chase scenes, but had a harder time buying into the motivation behind the constant and sometimes unnecessary racing and evading. But most action-driven plots don't have that much depth, so in that context, Premium Rush is quite good. It's unclear whether smash-'em-up audiences will want to trade in car chases for bike ones, but this is one premise that's actually original.

Hit & Run (2,870 theatres) is a car chase movie, but it's also a low-budget indie and a bit of a comedy and romance. It opened on Wednesday to $625,000, and it's expected to settle at $7-8 million through the weekend. That's not a ton, but the production and marketing cost just $2
Hit and run kristen bell dax shepard 1million, so there's definitely a profit in store. Engaged couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell star in the feature, which was written and co-directed by Shepard. David Noh praises the chemistry between the two stars, explaining that "you are almost fully willing to revel in whatever caper
befalls this eminently likeable and fun couple, so pleasurable is
their company." The "laugh riot" is also "seriously romantic" and " has something for the girls as well as the boys."

The anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama's America will expand into 1,090 theatres, timed to the Republican National Convention. The politically charged picture has already earned $2.6 million, mainly in Texas. The conservative movie is topping Fandango's advance sales chart.

Sweltering audiences in need of a chiller can check out The Apparition (810 theatres), which
Sleepwalk with me mike birbigliastars Twilight's Ashley Greene but doesn't have much else going for it. In fact, advance reviews are giving it a 0% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch. Without much marketing traction or a thumbs-up, it's set to earn in the $2 million range.

On the specialty front, Mike Birbiglia expands his one-man show into a movie in Sleepwalk with Me (1 theatre), a "supremely self-deprecating delight," according to Noh.

On Monday, we'll see if Premium Rush outraced The Expendables 2 and Hit & Run. With the Republican National Convention in danger of being washed out by a hurricane, maybe 2016: Obama's America will pick up the slack.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is Hollywood really encouraging piracy?

Scientific American isn't usually where people go to hear about what's going on in the movie industry. But columnist David Pogue weighs in on the subject in an article, "How Hollywood Is Encouraging Piracy." His observations aren't exactly new; he argues that consumers want to download and stream content because it's easy, but most movies aren't available legally. In fact, of the top ten pirated movies in 2011, none were availabe for online downloading.

I think Pogue makes a fair point. The music industry went through this first, because music files were smaller and faster to download. Now they have gone from rejecting technology to embracing it, and they make money from downloads and concerts of successful artists. I came of age in the Napster era, not the iTunes era. Most of my peers downloaded music because it was the easiest way to get the latest singles. Now, preteens have their parents' credit cards and use those funds to buy the same music legally. Because it's easier. With music, people hear songs on the radio, buy the music, then attend a concert. Their biggest outlay is for the concert, at the end. Movies are a bit different. In this model, people spend the greatest amount of money at the beginning, for a $10-14 movie ticket. DVDs usually cost less than two movie tickets, so they have value on their side, especially for families and repeat viewers. Rentals can go for 99 cents at Redbox or in excess of $9.99 on iTunes. If you compare box office to DVD and Blu-ray rentals on sites like The Numbers, box office wins, by far.

Pogue has a list of ways that the viewing experience can be improved. I agree that more rentals should give a window of 72 hours instead of 24 hours, for example. But #4, eliminate windowing? I think the movie industry is moving into the future while it's also defending its rear, the traditional sources of revenue. Small indie releases, for example, are deploying theatrical/VOD releases that maintain the higher "first window" price while giving consumers more options, like watching at home. But we are a ways away from major releases doing the same thing.

The music industry may be earning money from online downloads now, but it's a lot less than it used to be, and now concerts are picking up the slack. If Hollywood ever eliminates windowing and some its other distribution measures, it will lose money. I can't imagine it any other way. I do think there will be a time where the changes Pogue suggests will be inevitable. But we're not there quite yet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hollywood abandons fanboys for baby boomers

In the aughts, it seemed that Hollywood's darling demographic was fanboys. They were considered responsible for the huge increase in superhero movies over the years. Now that Disney owns Marvel and the next Iron Mans and Avengers are planned through 2015, Hollywood is looking for the latest trend. Movie like Bridesmaids have given a kick to the female-driven box office, which is now fielding a number of female friendship-focused movies (like this year's Bachelorette and For a Good Time, Call...). But one demographic hasn't gotten too much credit for their steady movie attendance. They're the baby boomers and retirees who attend movies regularly. Today, THR has a lengthy piece on how Hollywood is finally taking note of the older audience.

Meryl Streep Hope SpringsTHR
points out that sometimes the differences can be parsed by region, pointing out retirement communities in Florida that have done tremendous business with Hope Springs and aging-actioner The Expendables 2. Over my years at Film Journal, I've interviewed a couple of theatre owners who revealed their core demographic was the 50+, retiree crowd. Both lean toward indie fare, though they show wide releases from time to time. I think the older market has been overlooked in part because many movies appeal to a broad demographic, so the 50+ people are just one slice of the pie. As journalists, we receive information that's broken down differently each time, either as older/younger than 25, 35, or, for a movie already presumed to have an older audience, over/under 50. That's not good information to deduce trends.

Movies like Red, Something's Gotta Give, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Hope Springs only have older stars as draws, so when those movies succeed, people take notice, because they couldn't have been successes without the support of older viewers. But so many more movies use old-young casting, like thirtysomething Amy Adams and sexagenarian Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia. That movie drew just as many older viewers as Hope Springs, but because the movie had an age-diverse cast, it was easy to overlook the demographic breakdown.

However, the dependability of older moviegoers has a downside. Hollywood needs to cultivate those same habits in younger audiences. THR quotes Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore, who says of the boomers, "This is a group that grew up going to the movies. It was before cable TV, before the VCR...At times, Hollywood forgets them but invariably comes back and realizes how steady and dependable they are." While the baby boomer effect will last for decades, especially as people live longer and longer, there's also a young audience to consider, one that has not only cable TV and VCRs, but on-demand, illegal downloading, iTunes, Amazon, smartphones, and social media to entertain them on Friday nights.

Monday, August 20, 2012

'Expendables 2' powers down with $28 million opening

The original Expendables was something of a sequel itself, trading on the star power of aging action heroes thrust into a situation that demanded their expertise with knives/guns/martial arts. The appeal of seeing these stars again, however, appears to have waned. The Expendables 2 opened to $28.7 million, down from the 2010 film's $34.8 million debut. Overall, audiences liked the Expendables 2 arnold schwarzenegger sylvester stallone bruce willis 2second movie better than the first, giving the second an "A-" rating to the first one's "B+." But is it possible that the sequel only drew the most die-hard genre lovers, who were already eager to give the movie a satisfactory rating? As the summer draws to a close, it's unlikely the sequel will top $100 million, something the first film achieved, but just barely.

Stop-motion animation offering ParaNorman opened to $14 million. That's lower than animation studio LAIKA's previous film, Coraline, which posted an $18 million opening. However, the 3D picture Paranorman ghosts 2performed better than British import Pirates!, which debuted to $11 million earlier this summer. Unless you're Disney/DreamWorks Animation/Illumination, it appears that the animated field is tough. Focus continued its role as a distributor with this movie, which at over three thousand screens is its widest release to date.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green had a middling weekend of $10.9 million. Those that attended gave the sentimental story an "A-" rating, and its Wednesday debut gave it a five-day total of $15.1 million--not so bad. There are plenty of sentimental stories that catch fire at the box office (think: Marley & Me, The Pursuit Odd life of timothy green jennifer garnerof Happyness) but those ones had bigger stars attached. Given that Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton led this picture, the results aren't so bad, although the $25 million budget will certainly take some time to be recouped.

Starring Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston, Sparkle sang for $12 million. Audiences were pleased with the musical remake, giving it an "A" rating. Unlike Timothy Green, this movie only cost $14 Sparkle jordin sparks 1million to make, so it will earn back its budget in no time.

Hope Springs, which earned $9.1 million and eighth place this week, needs to drop minimally in order to be deemed a success. Its 37.9% fall from opening weekend was the lowest of any movie in the top ten, and slightly better than the dip in star Meryl Streep's 2009 film Julie & Julia. That movie leveled its fall to the 20% range by the third week, something Hope Springs will need to do if it wants a "sleeper semi-hit" status.

Perhaps it was the Twilight fans, but Cosmopolis averaged $24,000 per screen at three locations. Will more Twihards turn out to see Robert Pattinson in coming weeks, even if he's not a vampire? My guess is no, though a strong performance in this movie should help Pattinson's career once the vampire franchise is finished.

On Wednesday, real-life couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell star in Hit & Run. On Friday, bikes replace cars in the high-speed action movie Premium Rush, which opens opposite the spooky offering The Apparition.


Friday, August 17, 2012

'Expendables 2' sends its troupe of action stars up against 'Bourne Legacy'

Featuring the classic but "underemployed action heroes" of the past few decades, The Expendables 2 (3,316 theatres) creates a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. Each star gets a chance to show off, and "ten minutes of Chuck Norris mocking his old screen persona is a lot more fun than actually sitting through an entire Norris vehicle," opines critic Daniel Eagan. Expendables 2 arnold schwarzenegger sylvester stallone bruce willisThe first action outing opened to $34 million two years ago, and the sequel should meet or top that. The "mindless, state-of-the art nonsense" should please nostalgia-seeking fans of the Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and their ilk.

Coraline studio LAIKA follows up that spooky picture with another creepy story using stop-motion animation, ParaNorman (3,429 theatres). Centering on a young boy whose ability to see ghosts makes him the only one able to save his town from a curse, the feature includes a topical anti-bullying Paranorman groupmessage. But driving that message home means the movie is a "rollicking good time until its jarringly somber and earnest final act." Coraline opened to $18 million, so a similar figure would be a success for this 3D follow-up.

Whitney Houston makes her final film appearance in Sparkle (2,244 theatres), a remake of the 1976 musical about a trio of sisters trying to make it big as singers and performers. Jordin Sparks (a winner of "American Idol") stars as the most promising singer. Houston's dialogue can have a "bizarre, Sparkle whitney houston jordin sparkseerily predictive quality," notes critic Marsha McCreadie, who thought the film lacked soul. The movie is "like watching a 'highlights of' music special strung together by an afterthought-like storyline," she laments. An opening number in the mid-teens is expected for this Motown era feature.

The sentimental The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2,598 theatres) "mistakes cheesiness for charm," according to critic David Guzman. The story of an infertile couple whose dream child magically appears in their garden is "as goofy as it is soulless." Guzman predicts it will appeal to neither children nor their parents. Disney reports the movie is tracking Odd life of timothy green cj adamsbest among women and families. It earned $2.3 million when it opened on Wednesday, so it should end up close to $20 million over the five-day period.

Twilight fans may get something a little different than they expect with Cosmopolis (2 theatres), which stars sometimes-vampire Robert Pattinson. The "serenely crazed view of the present," courtesy of director David Cronenberg, earns the accolades of critic Chris Barsanti. The Iranian filmmakers behind animated Persepolis turn to live action in Chicken with Plums (3 theatres), a "beautifully scored and well-acted" historically-based feature, according to critic Maria Garcia.

On Monday, we'll see if The Expendables 2 crashes through The Bourne Legacy's opening figure last weekend, and which movies broke away from the pack in this crowded, late-summer weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pick your indie: 'Pawn Sacrifice' or 'Nancy and Danny'

Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan both star in The Great Gatsby, which recently moved from a December 2012 to a summer 2013 release--much to my chagrin. The movie was a meeting point for the two stars--one on the rise and the other on his way back up (Maguire took a pay cut from his seven-figure salary in the original Spider-Man franchise). Director Baz Luhrmann's projects, when they're good, can yield both critical acclaim and box-office success, so the project was a strategic career choice for both of them.

Now both Maguire and Mulligan are lining up indie projects that will probably end up releasing sometime in the wake of Gatsby.

Great gatsby tobey maguire carey mulligan

Mulligan has signed on to a thriller that's been described as similar to To Die For, the project that made Nicole Kidman a breakout star. Perhaps Mulligan also hopes this role will launch her further into the stratosphere? In Nancy and Danny, she would play Nancy, a woman who has failed at making it in the big city. She returns home and manipulates a former classmate into helping her in a get-rich-quick scheme she also hopes will help her land her former high school crush. James Marsh, whose documentary Man on Wire won the Best Documentary Oscar, will direct. Between Mulligan, Marsh, and the story, which seems like a thriller version of Young Adult, there's a lot in this project that looks good.

Maguire is teaming up with Ed Zwick for his indie, Pawn Sacrifice. He'll play chess great Bobby Fischer, a boy wonder who turned into a recluse.  Zwick (Love and Other Drugs) is pursuing this project while he waits for financing to come through for The Great Wall, a supernatural project he is set to helm. Zwick is actually taking the reins from David Fincher, who was attached at one point. If Maguire is cast as Fischer, that could lend a clue about what the biopic is going to cover. Maguire is 37. Fischer was 29 when he won the famous 1972 match against Soviet Boris Spassky. After that, he lived in near-obscurity for close to twenty years. It seems likely that the project would focus less on Fischer as a boy wonder and more on what led him to be both the most legendary chess player and a recluse--a bit of a Howard Hughes role, it seems, like that of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator.

Both of these projects seem like worthy follow-ups to the roles of Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan, but only time will tell if they are are as promising as they appear.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

'Bachelorette' finds success by releasing on VOD before theatrical release

Theatre owners and moviegoers take note: Bachelorette has earned a half-million dollars, and it hasn't even opened in theatres yet. The Sundance Film Festival-approved comedy has been available on VOD and iTunes since August 10th, but it won't reach theatres until September 7th. On iTunes, rentals cost $9.99, and the movie debuted at #1, a first for a VOD release.

Normally, distributors don't disclose how much they earn from VOD releases, though it can equal and even exceed the theatrical portion. However, Radius-TWC, a new VOD-focused section of The Bachelorette Kirsten Dunst Lizzy Caplan Isla FisherWeinstein Co., is likely releasing these figures to drum up more publicity for the movie when it hits theatres. In fact, the co-head of Radius, Tom Quinn, says just that, explaining that the company views VOD as a "revenue-generating word-of-mouth screening program." I think there's some truth to that. The Internet encourages impulse buys. Early adopters who looked at star Kirsten Dunst's Twitter, for example, would have been clued into the release and, if they rented it, could have tweeted their own recommendations to people who ended up seeing the raunchy comedy in either theatre or on VOD. Because the film was produced by Gary Sanchez Productions, a co-creator of, the red-band trailer had prime placement on the site, making it very easy for people to click "buy," which is a lot easier than gathering up a group of friends to go to the movie theatre.

While early word-of-mouth can help drive a movie to a successful release in theatres, bad buzz can hurt. Among the "most helpful" comments on Bachelorette's iTunes rental page are a number of comments that say "bad Hangover," "rip-off of Bridesmaids," and "don't let the cast fool you." Of course, comments like ayshleyo3's "Great movie--many laughs along the way! I will probably go see this again in theatres with my girlfriends" even out the criticism.

Although a number of indies like IFC and Magnolia have long been in the VOD-theatrical combo game, The Weinstein Co. (and by extension Radius) is known for its marketing acumen. With their highly publicized release of the movie's success so far, they're showing they're a force in the VOD game, and I'm sure they'll have more tricks up their sleeve in capitalizing on the VOD-to-theatrical release plan.


Monday, August 13, 2012

'Bourne Legacy' and 'Campaign' take lead from 'Dark Knight Rises'

Arriving a month after The Dark Knight Rises, The Bourne Legacy relieved the Batman film of its number one spot with a $40.2 million opening. That's off 42% from the Matt Damon-starring Bourne Ultimatum. Hollywood so frequently relaunches franchises, it's easy to put that figure in context. X-Men: First Class suffered a 53% loss when it revved up again, while The Amazing Spider-Man had better luck, performing 30% off the previous incarnation of the franchise. That Bourne legacy 1 jeremy renner rachel weiszmeans The Bourne Legacy is right in the middle. Attendees gave the movie a so-so B rating in exit polls, which is partly attributed to the abrupt ending. I was one of the people who turned to my guest and said, "That's it?" in confusion, too, so I'm actually glad that other viewers didn't buy into the sudden ride off into the sunset either. I suspect this Bourne film will yield a sequel, but I think the production team will need to work a bit harder to close up those gaps in believability.

The Campaign overperformed to place second with $27.4 million. The Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy earned a 67% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is on the high side for Ferrell's comedies. His best-rated movies top Campaign will ferrell 1out in the 70-80% range, and he's no stranger to the other side of the ratings spectrum either. THR reports that the comedy broadened its base beyond the typical under-25s that go for R-rated laughs. In Boston (Mitt Romney's home base) and Washington D.C., the feature performed well on Saturday, a time that usually sees drop-offs for this genre. The North Carolina-set comedy also played well in the South and the Midwest.

Hope Springs finished fourth with $15.6 million over the weekend, for a five-day total of $20 million. That's actually the same figure earned by Meryl Streep's 2009 feature Julie & Julia, which ended up earning just under $100 million. The audience was two-thirds female, with 69% of ticket buyers over the age of forty. Because Hope Springs isn't bringing in as broad of an audience, most doubt it will reach the same Hope Springs Tommy Lee Jones Meryl Streep 2total as Julia & Julia, but the older moviegoers should ensure the film plays over a long period, since this demographic doesn't focus as much on seeing movies opening day.

Star/writer/director Julie Delpy's follow up to 2 Days in Paris, 2 Days in New York, averaged $13,500 per screen in two locations. Fantasy romance Ruby Sparks passed the $1 million mark by earning $453,000 in 261 locations.

Nitro Circus: The Movie totaled $1.1 million over the weekend and $2.1 million since it opened on Wednesday. At $1,100 per screen, the average theatre totals aren't so high. Could the movie have done better on fewer screens?

With just two weekends before Labor Day, when the box office takes a dive, studios are throwing in all their final summer films. On Wednesday, Disney releases the sentimental pic The Odd Life of Timothy Green. On Friday, The Expendables 2 will vie for the action-focused male audience, stop-motion animated Paranorman will attempt to scare adults and kids alike, and the late Whitney Houston will make her final cinematic appearance in Sparkle.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Bourne Legacy' challenges 'Dark Knight Rises'

There's no Matt Damon in the fourth Bourne film, The Bourne Legacy (3,746 theatres), but that won't stop the Universal picture from earning somewhere over $40 million this weekend. Since The Dark Knight Rises earned $35 million last week, and will drop even further, it's pretty much a Bourne legacy jeremy renner gunguarantee that Legacy will end up on top. Although there were a fair number of head-shaking moments in the action-heavy feature, I think the casting of Jeremy Renner was one choice that wasn't a miss. FJI critic Daniel Eagan, however, felt the plot is mainly smoke-and-mirrors and characterization was weak, explaining that the fourth film is "missing the layers and nuances of earlier episodes. Cross [Renner] isn't out to expose Outcome or avenge a loss, he's just a junkie after drugs." Younger males are the biggest supporters of the film, but they'll be choosing between this PG-13 film and R-rated The Campaign, meaning younger teens really have no choice.

Starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two bumbling political candidates, The Campaign (3,205 theatres) "has enough sheer silliness to score a modest hit," according to critic Kevin Lally. However, he felt that this "hit-or-miss affair that could have been so much more incisive and Cam brady the campaign podiumsatisfying with a sharper, more focused screenplay." Undemanding fans in search of a laugh will probably cut the comedy some slack as it "leap[s] arbitrarily from one zany setup to another." Warner Bros. has modest expectations for the release, with a number in the mid-teens expected.

My vote for a sleeper hit, Hope Springs (2,361 theatres) is on track to either slowly build or flop. It debuted to just $2.3 million on Wednesday, half of last year's (admittedly very different) The Help, which also opened mid-week. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as empty-nesters who seek the help of a psychologist (Steve Carell) to save their marriage and sex life. The "pitch-perfect chemistry" of the stars made critic Shirley Sealy a fan, and she predicts that Hope Springs Tommy Lee Jones Meryl Streep 3"viewers who can relax and go with the shenanigans in this delightful and insightful movie may come away with a new understanding of what intimacy is all about."

Nitro Circus: The Movie also opened Wednesday in 800 theatres, though the distributor Arc Entertainment hasn't yet released figures from opening day. In this Jackass takeoff, participants have even a greater likelihood of being killed, according to critic David Guzman, but somehow "it takes itself too seriously to have the same joy that 'Jackass' has. You probably wouldn't think that'd be a problem in a movie that shows somebody riding a tricycle into a flaming loop-de-loop, but there you go." While this type of content attracts plenty of followers, low name recognition will likely hurt the stunt movie's box office, despite added grosses thanks to the 3D format.

The most notable specialty release this week is Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer (4 theatres), a "highly flawed" drama that's "downright embarrassing," according to Chris Barsanti.

On Monday we'll see if The Bourne Legacy lived up to its box-office expectations, if The Campaign managed to wrangle away young males from Legacy, and if Hope Springs built up some momentum after its so-so opening.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

'Hope Springs' will be a hit with older moviegoers, but it works with all ages

Older moviegoers are a force to be reckoned with at the box office. They are the demographic that has driven the success of indies like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. As theatre owners tell it, seniors are some of the most dependable moviegoers of all, able to enjoy a growing amount of free time unhindered by obligations of children.

Hope Springs heads straight into their wheelhouse, offering a gentle, funny tale of a long-married couple who are trying to bring the love (and sex!) back into their marriage. The script and actors Hope Springs Tommy Lee Jones Meryl Streep 1(Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell) manage to dance around most explicitness in a way that will appease more conservative viewers. They also get a lot of laughs out of Jones' discomfort with anything related to matters of the heart or body. He gets uncomfortable enough for the rest of us.

Streep and Jones are closer to the age of my parents than my peers, but Hope Springs shows that demographics don't matter. It's hard not to get drawn into rooting for the characters' marriage, and doesn't everyone want to believe in a happy-ever-after? As our critic Shirley Sealy puts, it, "The pitch-perfect chemistry of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones makes Hope Springs a must-see for anyone who’s been in a relationship, or hopes to be."

The role is yet another home run for Streep's career. Movies like  The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, and Mamma Mia! appealed to both the young and old. She's not exactly Betty White, who has amassed a following of younger viewers enamored with the former "Golden Girls" star specifically because she combines old age with a incongruously sharp humor; rather, Streep has an ageless appeal. If the old adage for a successful star was "men want her, women want to be her," perhaps the update is "older people want to be her, younger people want her to be their friend/boss/mother." Younger viewers shouldn't discount Hope Springs because its stars are greying around the temples, because everyone can be touched by the sweet, hopeful story within.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reese Witherspoon lines up romantic comedy 'The Beard'

On a recent plane ride, I caught a few minutes of the in-flight movie, this year's Valentine's Day dud This Means War. The high-concept love triangle involving two spies (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) and the woman they love (Reese Witherspoon) bombed at the box office. Although I closely followed Reese Witherspoon's early career, since she won an Oscar for Walk the Line she hasn't had a quality film by my measure (positive reviews + great box office) since. This Means War: case in point. Walk the Line was, in fact, a whole decade ago, and she made a number of so-so films in that wake, including the romances Just Like Heaven, Four Christmases, How Do You Know and Water for Elephants. The latter two could have been good, since they had James L. Brooks and literary

Reese WItherspoon Cannes Film Festival
Reese Witherspoon at the Cannes' premiere of 'Mud'

success, respectively, behind them, but neither earned accolades from critics or audiences. Witherspoon needs another good project, stat, and it looks like she finally has a few more projects that might just do that.


On the "may actually break $100 million, but probably won't get great reviews" side is The Beard, the star's most recent announcement. Witherspoon will play a woman who is a beard for a gay man (as in makes him appear to be straight to the public/outsiders), a situation that gets complicated when she actually falls in love. I see this working best if she really has a genuine affection and sincere friendship with this guy, but ends up being torn between that and her love of someone new. If there are celebrities involved, I definitely envision a scene where she is branded a cheater when in fact she's really just pursuing love for the first time. The Chernin Entertainment production comes courtesy of a spec script by TV writer Becca Greene. I can't really imagine this project being set anywhere other than Hollywood, where there are constant whispers of stars serving as each other's beards. But couldn't this blow the whole lid off this allegedly common Hollywood practice? I'm sure this will end up leaving countless readers of Us and People more cynical after realizing the lies they may have been told.

The Beard may be Witherspoon's comedy comeback, but the projects I'm most excited about are her dramas. The Southern-born star has turned back to her roots for a couple of her upcoming projects, something that will serve her well.

I was extremely impressed with writer/director Jeff Nichols' debut Take Shelter. Witherspoon has a small role in Nichols' follow-up project Mud, which centers on two boys' attempts to reunite a convict (Matthew McConaughey, also a star redefining his image) with his long-lost love (Witherspoon). I like that she's in a small, independent film. She showed up at the Cannes Film Festival to support the movie, though she reportedly has just a small role in the project. I think she'll need to have a bigger part in such a film in order to help her break out of the same-old.

That role might be in Devil's Knot, an adaptation of the West Memphis Three case that has been explored in documentaries like Paradise Lost. In Arkansas, three teens were falsely accused of killing three boys in a satanic ritual and sent to prison. Witherspoon is listed as playing Pamela Hobbs, the mother of the victim Stevie Branch. Her husband, the boy's stepfather, was accused by some of committing the murder. Atom Egoyan, the respected indie director of projects like The Sweet Hereafter, is directing.

Witherspoon's IMDB list includes plenty more questionable projects, including a role in the adaptation of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and a starring role in Wish List, in which a thirty-something career woman finds all her childhood wishes have come true. I worry that these projects seem trite and stereotypical. Witherspoon rose to fame because of one-two punches like Election and Legally Blonde, and I know she's capable of more than her recent films have shown.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MoMA opens the Quay Brothers’ ‘multiplex’

From August 12 through January 7, New York’s Museum of Modern Art will host the first major retrospective of identical twin brothers Stephen and Timothy Quay, the prolific stop-motion Moma_quaybrothers2012_quaybrothers2animators, filmmakers and graphic designers whose handcrafted surreal visions are the stuff of unforgettable nightmares and dreams. This morning, the press got an advance look at the exhibit, whose floor plan was overseen by the brothers themselves as a combination labyrinth and series of screening rooms spanning all facets of their career (which the show’s curator, Ron Magliozzi, called “the Quay multiplex”). The Quays were also on hand for a Q&A session conducted by Peter Reed, MoMA’s senior deputy director of curatorial affairs.

The exhibit begins with the twins’ earliest paintings (done at age eight) and film clips from their early 20s before paying tribute to some of their formative influences: illustrator and naturalist Rudolf Freund, an exhibition of Polish poster art at the Philadelphia College of Art, and the experimental shorts of Polish filmmakers Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk. The Quays made their first films while design students in Philadelphia and at London’s Royal College of Art, and struggled to make a living in the commercial design world; their most prestigious commission at the time was a series of drawings for the American edition of Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Testament or Enderby’s End.

The Quays’ first foray into stop-motion puppet animation was a case of “sheer bluff,” Stephen Moma_quaybrothers2012_streetofcrocodiles4confessed during the Q&A. Though they knew nothing of that craft, it seemed like a smart way to make a film with little money, and the intimate nature of the tabletop work appealed to them. Within a few years, they were crafting some of the finest examples of the genre, including the 1986 short “Street of Crocodiles,” which Terry Gilliam has called one of the ten best animated films of all time.

Magliozzi noted that “the complete history of the Quays has been untold,” and indeed fans of their animated and live-action work (like 1995’s Institute Benjamenta) may be surprised by their range: artworks both commissioned and “hypothetical,” commercials, music-videos, set designs for operas and dramas, and displays of miniature décor boxes. (The miniature boxed environments viewed through special magnifying lenses in a gallery outside MoMA’s Titus Theatre 1 are especially wondrous and perception-defying.)

Like MoMA’s blockbuster Tim Burton exhibit, the Quay Brothers show is not the work of “gallery artists,” as Magliozzi explained, but the result of discoveries unearthed from the private working collection of singular visual artists. Their early paintings and design commissions are striking and evocative, and peering into one of their miniature sets or studying one of their puppet models close-up is a privileged experience.

Stephen Quay said the maze layout of their MoMA tribute is appropriate, since the brothers’ career has followed “no predictable route.” Their various commissions, he noted, “bend you in a direction you hadn’t planned.” Stephen also pointed out that the retrospective (accompanied by twice-monthly screenings of their films and videos) was all the Museum’s idea. “We should be dead” before receiving such an honor, he joked. Visitors to this eye-opening and bountiful new MoMA show are bound to disagree.

That uncomfortable moment in 'The Bourne Legacy'

Last night's press screening of The Bourne Legacy in New York City was for the most part all fun. Jeremy Renner stars as a secret agent whose physical and cognitive performance is enhanced by blue and green pills, enabling him to accomplish superhuman feats. It's action fantasy, not the action reality of Renner's previous big outing, Iraq War-set The Hurt Locker. But the first act contains a mass Bourne legacy rachel weisz jeremy rennershooting that hits a bit too close to home in the wake of the Aurora shootings, Sunday's shooting in a Sikh temple, and even the now-awakened memories of the shootings in Columbine. In the scene, a scientist locks all of his co-workers with top clearance inside their lab, then kills them one by one, as they beg him not to shoot. It's a harrowing scene. Later on, Renner snaps the necks of uniformed security guards and murders any number of additional people, but those killings don't have quite the same impact as seeing unarmed scientists helpless against a deranged colleague.

There's no way Universal could have omitted the scene without pulling the film altogether. I don't think I would have felt uncomfortable until Sunday's copycat killing made mass killings in general taboo to my mind. However, I would be surprised if the studio hasn't at least had a conversation about the scene. Perhaps it's not as eerily similar as a scene featuring a shooting in a movie theatre in Warner Bros.' The Gangster Squad, which was pulled to be reworked because the narrative hinges on that sequence, but the similarity took me out of the movie and reminded me of all the tragedy that has taken place in real life.

Here's an argument that has no easy answer. Is it better to stage fantasy violence, with actors who never seem to be hurt even when they're injured, and who perform feats no one could ever do in real life? Or is it better to make the violence painfully real, with gruesome pain and weariness and failure? The latter, which is often more graphic, can make one viewer feel absolutely repelled and disgusted, while the other is enthralled by the gore. That's where any argument for how to portray violence runs into trouble. Violence in movies isn't just about how it's portrayed, but about the myriad of ways people respond to seeing violence on screen. Hollywood movies are designed to make money, but the form is also an art, and one I have no desire to see censored. The scene in The Bourne Legacy brought the horror of such an event to life. If this makes people engage with what they have seen, post their response on social networks and talk to their friends about it afterwards, I think movies have done their job.

Monday, August 6, 2012

'Total Recall' takes second place to 'Dark Knight Rises'

As predicted, Total Recall placed second to The Dark Knight Rises this weekend, earning $26 million to the final Batman film's $36.4 million. Total Recall is a remake of the 1990 film starring California's former governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. My expectations for a remake of such a well-known original weren't that high, but other remakes/relaunches have had impressive debuts. Total recall jessica biel colin farrell back to backThink of the remake of The Karate Kid, which debuted to $55 million and totaled $176 million. Or last year's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which had a near-identical performance, opening to $54 million and finishing with $176 million (but earning twice as much abroad, over $300 million). Sony is probably less focused on domestic totals and more on international ones. This is the kind of project that translates well internationally, so the distributor should expect to see even stronger returns abroad as it starts to roll out in more foreign markets.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days of Summer, the third in the adaptation of kid's books, opened to a less-than-stellar $14.7 million. This entry opened in August in order to match up with Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days zachary gordon 2 pool the movie's summer setting, but that may have hurt the movie's opening. The first two film chose a March "Spring Break" timeslot, opening to $22 and $24 million. Star Zachary Gordon filmed both Dog Days and the prior movie back to back last year in a battle to outrun puberty, so even without these box office results, this may be the final entry in the series.

Within the top ten, Ted posted the strongest hold, dipping just 26% to finish with $5.4 million in its fifth week. That was enough to tip the R-rated comedy past the $200 million mark. Beasts of the Southern Wild rose from thirteenth to twelfth place, posting a 26% gain as it added 110 theatres for a total of 318 locations. It was one of thirteen specialty releases to post gains this weekend. The highest-earning of the bunch included Versailles-set Farewell My Queen, which went up 40% for a total of $186,000, and Killer Joe, which expanded from three to fourteen locations and brought home $163,000 in the Celeste and Jesse Forever rashida jones andy samberg 2process, a 330% increase from its debut.

Un-rom-com Celeste and Jesse Forever averaged $28,000 per screen in its opening in four locations. That puts the Rashida Jones-Andy Samberg picture in a strong position for expansion. Magnolia's 360 had a softer opening, averaging $6,300 per screen in two locations. That release is also opening on-demand so it's likely the use of multiple platforms will bolster returns.

This Wednesday, the empty nester sex-and-relationship comedy Hope Springs will get a head start on the weekend. On Friday, the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign will open opposite The Bourne Legacy, the first of the franchise without Matt Damon in a starring role.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Batman predicted to fly above 'Total Recall'

2012's Total Recall (3,601 theatres) is a remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Remakes always have a tough time going up against the original, but reviews haven't been too unkind in their comparisons--it appears to be partly a matter of preference. Schwarzenegger's one-liners or Colin Farrell's superior acting? "In the rare moments when [Farrell]'s Total recall colin farrellnot parkouring his way through would-be assassins, he imbues Quaid with a touch of genuine humanity," Maitland McDonagh says of the lead. Since The Dark Knight Rises is expected to earn around $35 million this weekend, Total Recall will end up in second if it stays within industry expectations of $25-30 million.

"Not so wimpy after all," according to THR's Michael Rechtshaffen, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (3,392 theatres) is on track to earn in the teen millions this weekend. The lead character is "closer to those wimpier roots" after he "came across as a little too mean-spirited the last time out." Parents may be twiddling their thumbs Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days zachary gordon 1a bit if they tag along, but the "harmless" and "pleasant" comedy gets points from me for being one of the few kid movies about real-life kids, not animated creatures.

A couple learns to be friends after their divorce in Celeste and Jesse Forever, which received accolades on the festival circuit. Rashida Jones stars opposite Andy Samberg in a romance/comedy she co-wrote along with her own ex Will McCormack, reportedly using notes from their own romance-turned- Celeste and Jesse Forever rashida jones andy samberg 1friendship. The "juicy, self-referential part," as described by Marsha McCreadie, includes plenty of self-deprecating pratfalls, including a "comic bit where Jones floats by, passed out on a pool float." Also debuting on the specialty circuit is 360 (2 theatres), a tale of interconnected, round-the-world stories linked by each character's romantic connection. With "life practically bursting out of every pristinely shot scene," FJI critic Chris Barsanti feels "it's more than enough" to make it worth audiences' time.

On Monday, we'll see if Total Recall ends up close to or above The Dark Knight Rises, and if kids convinced their parents to take them to a Wimpy Kid screening during these last Dog Days of Summer.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Trailer for 'The Paperboy' chock-full of Southern sizzle

Coming out of the Cannes Film Festival, the talk of director Lee Daniels' The Paperboy seemed to be this: It's no Precious. I took that to be an indictment on the quality of the pulpy, sex- and crime-infused adaptation of a novel by Pete Dexter, but it actually may have been a reaction purely to the fact that it's "pulpy." Although the Southern-set drama, which is set to release October 24, has just a 54% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes from sixteen reviewers, the recently released trailer looks intriguing. It even includes a quote from Film Journal contributor Jon Frosch (writing for the Atlantic blog), who came out in favor of the film.


The plot of The Paperboy involves a woman (Nicole Kidman) who wants to get her man (John Cusack) out of prison. She ends up romantically involved with one of two brothers and writers (Zac Efron) who is trying to help her free the imprisoned man. The other is played by Matthew McConaughey. Once known mainly for tabloid shots of his abs on the beach and leading man roles opposite Kate Hudson, McConaughey has been branching out. He is currently starring in Killer Joe, which our critic Rex Roberts also described as a pulpy tale that "exults in its in-your-face nudity, perverse sexuality and graphic violence." McConaughey also has a role in this summer's indie breakout hit Bernie. Last year, he made quite an impression as an independent-minded, flexible lawyer in The Lincoln Lawyer. He's also starring in director Jeff Nichols' (Take Shelter) follow-up project Mud, opposite Reese Witherspoon. And let's not forget Magic Mike, which successfully riffs on his sexy image. I would have written McConaughey off a few years ago, but his role in The Paperboy is part of a powerful redirection of his star image. Not many actors can pull that off. Plus, the Texas-born star is the only one that can pull off a Southern accent, mainly because he doesn't try to overdo it like everyone else. Even Frosch, who praises the bleached-blonde Kidman's performance, says she sports an "accent that samples every twang from Southern-fried to Australian outback." The Paperboy sounds like that summer beach read you just can't put down. The trailer is putting the October release back into my must-see queue, because I may just need a little summer sizzle this fall.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Revenge of the sequels

The next few years are going to see a lot of the same films cropping up with colons appending their names, and "2's" and "3's" or part I and part IIs tacked to the end. First up, The Hobbit is being expanded from two films to three films. To those who aren't in the know, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is a single, 300-page book. How could that possibly cover the ground for three movies? THR notes that "production cost of the third could run between half and two-thirds as much as one of the other two films thanks to work that's already been done" [emphasis added]. That means that The Hobbit unexpected journeydirector Peter Jackson is essentially stretching out the book into three films instead of two, so fans will have to wait two and a half years to see the series complete. The first installment opens this Christmas, with the two after planned for the fourth quarter of 2013 and summer 2014. This isn't that different than what Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games did or plan to do: chopping the final book into two parts. Although I've never read Tolkien's books, there must be an awful lot of material to turn such a short book into three movies. In Jackson's official statement, he notes that the Hobbit movies include material from other Tolkien works, and that the decision to add another movie was made after watching preliminary cuts of the first and second films. But did the filmmakers really see a gap in the story, or simply an opportunity to turn two movies into three when presented with a long, unedited first cut? I wonder if the films will end up with lagging pacing, or if the three movies will be filled with just the right amount of action sequences and plot.

Besides The Hobbit, there will be plenty of other multi-film franchises of this summer's films, which THR compiles in a lengthy and slightly depressing list. With the exception of Prometheus, which may not even get a sequel, there have been very few films I've seen this year that have warranted a repeat. However, the success of Ted and Magic Mike, along with Snow White and the Huntsman (star Kristen Stewart's affair with the director notwithstanding), Men in Black 3, and The Amazing Spider-Man means these films will be the first of many. Get ready, because the next couple of years will bring plenty of déjà vu.