With some of the year’s biggest movies only a month or two away, the box office seems to have entered a holding pattern. Some of the new releases are minor hits. Others crash and burn. Right now, Hollywood just seems to be crossing their fingers and hoping for the sweet, sweet summer movie season to come along and save them (or at least the April release of Furious 7). In other words, every new release underperformed this weekend.
You’d be surprised by how many beloved directors earn a little extra cash anonymously directing commercials, but when you hire the great Martin Scorsese to help sell your lavish new casino in Manilla Bay, Philippines, you end up with a full fledged Scorsese Picture. Which means that this is one of the most energetic and stylish advertisements you’ll see this year … and that it stars Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The advent of new technology has effectively killed so many old school horror cliches (it’s not easy to get lost in the woods when you have a tiny computer for a phone) that filmmakers working within the genre often have to work overtime to invent brand new cliches that complement the age of the iPhone. The ‘Unfriended’ trailer represents a movie that has clearly gotten the memo but decided to take things to the extreme. This isn’t just a horror movie that features all of the social networks and online tools you use on a regular basis, it’s a horror movie about those things. Dun, dun, duuuun!
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.
A few weeks ago, this column was skeptical that Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' could reach $300 million. Now, it seems impossible that it won't. Thanks to ecstatic word of mouth, killer marketing and only one genuinely successful box office challenger (that would be 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'), Marvel's oddball space opera has managed to spend three of the past four weekends at the number one spot at the box office, giving it enough momentum to officially become the highest grossing film of 2014.
Everyone expected '22 Jump Street' and 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' to open well, but you won't find many people who expected the raunchy R-rated comedy to open bigger than the family friendly animated adventure. But here we are! Both films opened well, but '22 Jump Street,' like the first film, is has taken a hammer to all expectations.
The Memorial Day weekend brought with it the third Marvel superhero movie of 2014 and like 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2,' 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' opened to over $90 million at the box office. Sure, people online keep on wondering if audiences are getting tired of comic book films, but the box office keeps on saying otherwise.
It turns out that 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' didn't need the Sinister Six to bring it down. All that was required was Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and a very funny marketing campaign. 'Neighbors' not only opened at number one at the box office, it derailed its super-powered competition so dramatically that it may be difficult for it to fully recover.
As expected, 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' opened the summer movie season in style, overcoming mixed reviews to dominate the top 10 and cause every other film's weekend gross to tumble. Coming weeks will see if it can do the business of the other films in the franchise, but this is a strong start to what looks to be a jam-packed summer.
This weekend saw a neck-and-neck race for the first spot at the box office, with the animated 'Rio 2' offering strong competition for last week's champion, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier.' When the dust, debris and feathers settled, the one starring the superhero took the first slot, but there is no shame in a second place that strong.
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