Tag Archives: Project Alamanac

FIFTY SHADES OF MARKETING

17 Feb

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1. Fifty Shades of Grey/ Universal Wknd/$ 85.0 Total/$ 85.0
2. Kingsman/Fox Wknd/$ 36.2 Total/$ 36.2
3. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 31.7 Total/$ 94.8
4. American Sniper/Warner Wknd/$ 16.5 Total/$ 304.2
5. Jupiter Ascending/Warner Wknd/$ 9.2 Total/$ 32.4
6. Seventh Son/Universal Wknd/$ 4.1 Total/$ 13.4
7. Paddington/Weinstein Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 62.2
8. The Imitation Game/Weinstein Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 79.6
9. The Wedding Ringer/SGems Wknd/$ 3.2 Total/$ 59.6
10. Project Almanac/Paramount Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 15.8

LONELY MOVIE WEEKEND CHOICE #1
Fifty Shades of Grey opens at number one and this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Make no mistakes, it’s bad (the very fact the lead character’s name, Anastasia Steele, is presented without a hint of humor or irony tells you that), but just as my definition of good is a bit higher than others, so my definition of what sucks is much lower. Despite its attempt to seem modern and edgy, the story of 50 Shades of Grey (and Twilight for that matter) is the same one your mother and possibly grandmother have been reading in Harlequin novels for decades: stories of bad boy princes and pirates who are inexplicably brought down by the virginal heroine (yes, Anastasia is a virgin, because god forbid a woman have some actual idea about her sexuality) they cannot resist her. Only now rather than be tormented by the events of Spanish Civil War or The Crusades or whatever tumultuous time period those books were set, she’s now tormented by the hero himself. While the literary ancestor of Anastasia Steel (a name which would fit perfectly in those), had to fight her way through various kidnappings and the fall of the czar as she made her way from Moscow to Venice, this one has to deal with a lover who won’t let her actually sleep next to him or know his past and insist he’s bad for her while stalking her cross-country. Oh, and there’s the occasional spanking. Somewhere, trapped by the sexy pirate Taggart McGirth on his ship The Thruster, Constance Hymen rolls her eyes in disgust. Now, there’s an old rule of thumb that bad books can make good movies because you can change things and if any book need it, then this was it was this one. Unfortunately for them the author (and I use that term loosely) has a background in the entertainment business and she knows what happens to books, so her deal gave her a certain amount of control over the film. The end result is a film so empty and devoid of any sex appeal I was on the verge of reading it despite the many, many, MANY negative reviews saying how awful it was. My curiosity as how something so bland could be so successful consumed me, but then it dawned on me that’s probably why something that started off as Twilight fan fiction (it suddenly makes sense now, right?) could find such an audience. Because it was awful and simplistic, not despite it. Since when are we surprised that ineptitude soars while quality sinks? Surely not in this post-Twilight-Nicholas-Sparks age. But as empty as the books seemingly were they became even moreso when the opportunity to merchandise it took hand and the result is a movie that it so ironically chaste that beyond the nudity there are exactly two uses of the word fuck and absolutely no sucking dick. They wanted the built in audience these books contained, but at the same time wanted to keep them safe enough so as not to put off anyone and draw in even more people (preserving those marginal percentages that only business majors know or care about). Now that makes no sense given the audience would know exactly what and was isn’t in the books (“Where’s all the dick sucking!?! Where’s that tampon!?!”), but the end result is whatever tiny edge they had was dulled and you get something that looks like it escaped from the Lifetime network and into theaters. There is more graphic and honestly arousing sex on your basic cable show, much less pay cable. I mean, I know it’s the Pacific Northwest, but is it really so cool and temperate that no one sweats when they fuck!?! Maybe in the two sequels to follow (it made almost $100M in a weekend from a $40M budget with another $150M overseas) they’ll address it.

LONELY MOVIE WEEKEND CHOICE #2
Now, if opening 50 Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day was perfect programming to grab the lonely, sexually frustrated female audience, then opening Kingsmen: The Secret Service was equally perfect counter programming to get the lonely, angrily sexless male audience. Both were counting on an audience that would be dateless this lover’s weekend and both were right and rewarded. The difference this is actually entertaining and delivered on what its source material promised: comedic, silly ultraviolence. This is based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and the best description of his work that I ever read was that it was something an angry 15-year-old would love, which is to say he understood the heart of superhero comics better than anyone else around him: angry virgins. This wasn’t a superhero comic but it still applies and carries over to the film. Our hero is a smart, capable guy, but the world is in his way (not his own personal choices). His chances to be better are derailed by the fact he’s such a good guy and had to take care of his mother, while she’s married to a guy who is a low level thug and beats her. Typical bullshit, geek self-serving-pity. Fortunately for him his father was a recruit of a secret intelligence agency and died in the field so one of its top agents feels a debt is owed and our hero is recruited to be James Bond times ten. His training begins just as The Kingsmen stumble upon a plot hatched by an insane corporate billionaire to save the world by killing most of the people one it. The violence is graphic but exaggerated deliberately to maximum silliness and there’s actually metatextual commentary on how dour modern secret agent films are, as opposed to the wonderfully silly ones with would be world conquerors in the conversation between the cool, bespoke secret agent Colin Firth and the eccentric megalomaniac (he plans mass genocide, but hates the sight of blood, and has an assassin sidekick with blades for legs) Samuel L. Jackson. Needless to say this is clearly a love letter to the crazier Bond films though believe it or not, even more British. The movie is actually partially driven by the class awareness that still exists in England to this day (both our hero and his dad are working class and their recruitment is considered an “experiment”) and ironically gives it a depth that it’s desperately trying to avoid in favor of simply being entertaining.

THAT 21ST CENTURY CAREER
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water is down to number three, followed by American Sniper at number four and Jupiter Ascending down to number five and starring in this is Mila Kunis who must have thought she grabbed the brass ring when she got the lead in a Wachowski big-budget science fiction action film. Clearly she didn’t read the script, which showed her as a princess who constantly needs to be saved along with a dozen other problems. While on one hand she’s actually having a somewhat successful career going from Oscar nominated, overrated indie fare like Black Swan to empty big budget vehicles like Oz The Great and Powerful to crass comedies like Ted and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (hell, she was even in the remake of Annie), on the other hand none of those were truly starring vehicles for her. She was the female lead alongside Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits which tanked (ironically her fiancée Ashton Kutcher’s version with Natalie Portman was hit) and now this where she is flat out the title character. Clearly it did not go well and while The Wachowskis are at fault, it won’t be the same black mark on Channing Tatum’s career (also equally varied) as it will be for her. You know, ‘cause she’s a chick and it’s an action movie. Forget they don’t actually allow her to be an action star, which is odd for them. Trivia: she played the younger version of Angelina Jolie in Gia.

YOU KNOW NOTHING OF THE CONTRACT YOU SIGNED, JON SNOW
The Seventh Son is down to number six is Seventh Son and also in this for about 5 minutes as a previous Seventh Son is Kit Harrington, limited as to the roles he can take when not shooting Game of Thrones as his contract doesn’t allow him to cut his hair! This is how he winds up here and in that Pompeii movie last year. Though I guess he could play a musician…or a poet…or just someone pretentious in the present day.

THE OTHERS
Paddington is down to number seven, followed by The Imitation Game holding at eight and The Wedding Ringer down to number nine.

CINEMATICALLY TRASMITTED DISEASE
Finally, Project Almanac closes out the top ten at number ten and this is part of a small genre empire Michael Bay is clearly building. He’s producer on this as he was on Ouija and The Purge films. Because their budgets are so low they’re pretty much guaranteed to make money, which means they will continue. He’s like a rash. An itchy ugly one that spreads the more you scratch it.

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FLASH! HE CAN STILL SAVE EVERYONE OF YOU!

8 Feb

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1. The SpongeBob Movie/Par                        Wknd/$ 56.0   Total/$ 56.0
2. American Sniper/Warner                          Wknd/$ 24.2   Total/$ 282.3
3. Jupiter Ascending/Warner                        Wknd/$ 19.0   Total/$ 19.0
4. Seventh Son/Universal                               Wknd/$ 7.1      Total/$ 7.1
5. Paddington/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 57.3
6. Project Almanac/Paramount                    Wknd/$ 5.3      Total/$ 15.8
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 74.7 8.
8. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                    Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 55.1
9. Black or White/Relativity                          Wknd/$ 4.5      Total/$ 13.1
10. The Boy Next Door/Universal                Wknd/$ 4.1      Total/$ 30.7

I DON’T WATCH ADVENTURE TIME EITHER
The SpongeBob Movie opens at number one and I’ve never seen the show. That whole hipster moment totally passed me by. And while the trailer did look exceptionally funny I feel it’s a little late to hop onboard.

CAREERS DESCENDING
American Sniper is down to number two, followed by Jupiter Ascending opening at number three. Now this was supposed to be one of the big summer movies last year, but got pushed back, which is never a good sign. That they chose to release it in February made it perfectly clear the studio thought it was a dud and unfortunately they were right. The Wachowskis (no longer the brothers as one has become a woman) have never made an unattractive film, but they’ve only made two actually good ones: Bound and The Matrix. The others range between messy but entertaining (Cloud Atlas, Matrix Reloaded Speed Racer) to flat out bad (The Matrix Revolutions). This sadly goes into that latter category, though like always is easy on the eyes. It thoroughly embraces the idea of eye candy in space opera which has basically been lost since 2001: A Space Odyssey utilized actual science in its production so the “look” science fiction space operas has been utilitarian ever since. Seeing this makes me wish they’d done an adaption of Flash Gordon instead as they could have brought the beautiful imagery of Alex Raymond’s work to life, all the way down to women in slutwear being a fashion universal. I never enjoyed the film more than when they just showing gigantic spaceships that basically looked like chandeliers flying through space. And honestly that’s all I had, because The Wachowskis once again utilize the idea of an ordinary person who is in fact a very special person who enters into a fantastic world that was around them all the time. The difference being while Neo became an actual participant in that world, Jupiter is always the spectator or the damsel to be saved. She’s the protagonist, but not the hero. The story would have been better told from the perspective of her savior, Channing Tatum, a human spliced with a wolf to be a better space soldier who tracks her down as a result of the inner struggles of a family space dynasty. Yeah, I make it sound more interesting than it is. Basically, she’s the genetic recreation of the matriarch and is now a pawn between the matriarch’s three children as she “owns” the earth, which would make her richer than all of them. Okay, it’s actually as dull as that sounded. It’s so ill conceived, that one of the siblings is totally dropped by the third act and you don’t even miss her, nor do we see what happens when one of them dies, which literally changes everything because the whole fucking movie is driven by sibling rivalry! I think it’s telling that Channing Tatum, who is best known for his body didn’t feel the need to get in top shape for this despite the fact that the movie has him shirtless for half-an hour for no real reason. A weak script isn’t worth crunches or dieting. And what’s the point of having reincarnation as a central plot point when the character is only the physical reincarnation and has no memories from their previous life?

THE MUSTACHE ABIDES
Opening a number four is The Seventh Son, another delayed film whose February dumping boded ill and once again that decision was dead on. This film is about Jeff Bridges’ mustache and a male model in their battle against Julianne Moore paying the bills so she can do Oscar-worthy indie film work. Yes, this is yet another attempt to create a franchise out of a Young Adult novel and yet another failure because they don’t seem to realize that unless it’s a mega success like Harry Potter or Twilight in print form it’s not coming with a built-in audience of millions. You actually have to but something behind it. This is just a waste of actually talented actors and a decent CGI budget because it lacks a better director who realizes you just can’t say there’s light in the villain and dark in the hero, you have to show it. That way you get fully realized characters. And if you want just a big cartoon (which is fine too) then you have to drop those concepts and amp up the pace. It does neither of those things. But it didn’t bore me like Jupiter Ascending did.

TO BE FAIR, NO ONE SAW HER MOVIES WHEN SHE WAS MRS. CRUISE EITHER
Paddington is down to number five and I suppose I should say something about this since it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Um, Nicole Kidman is in it. Clearly making movies her kids can see…or that someone, somewhere might even want to see.

THE MORE YOU KNOW
Project Almanac is down to number six, followed by The Imitation Game at number seven and that actually sounds like the title of a science fiction movie too, but it’s just about real science.

IF YOU WANNA BE A STAR, GOTTA ACT LIKE ONE
The Wedding Ringer is down to number eight, but has more than doubled its budget, so while not a runaway hit, it ain’t no failure either. Both Kevin Hart and Josh Gad have done better but Kaley Cucco needed it. Especially if she insists on hyphenating her famous maiden name with her less known rebound-married name. Courtney Cox did that for a hot second then realized her error and wound up dropping both it and the man it came from.

ONCE IS HAPPENSTANCE, TWICE IS COINCIDENCE, MORE THAN TIMES IS A CURSE!
Black or White is down to number nine and also in this is Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and while yes, the lack of change in her career is partly racial and partly sexist, I feel it’s mostly the curse of Best Supporting Actress. I mean, seen Melissa Leo lately? Marcia Gay Harden? Rachel Weisz? Mo’Nique? Jennifer Hudson? It even took down Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones after they won it. Tilda Swinton seems unaffected because she never gave a crap about mainstream success anyway, but Cate Blanchett is the only survivor of the last decade.

CRITICS DON’T PAY YOUR BILLS!
Finally, The Boy Next Door closes out the top ten at number ten. $30M from a $4M budget and JLo was also a producer. Make that money, girl.

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THE OPPOSITE OF KIERA KNIGHTLEY

2 Feb

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1. American Sniper/Warner                           Wknd/$ 31.9    Total/$ 248.9
2. Paddington/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 8.5      Total/$ 50.5
3. Project Almanac/Paramount                     Wknd/$ 8.5      Total/$ 8.5
4. Black or White/Relativity                           Wknd/$ 6.5      Total/$ 6.5
5. The Boy Next Door/Universal                   Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 24.7
6. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                     Wknd/$ 5.7      Total/$ 48.1
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                Wknd/$ 5.2      Total/$ 68.0
8. Taken 3/Fox                                                  Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 76.1
9. Strange Magic/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 3.4     Total/$ 9.0
10. The Loft/ORF                                              Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 2.9

OH, I LOVED KEEN EDDIE SO MUCH
American Sniper holds at number one, which makes sense given this is the holy American holiday of the Super Bowl, but sadly getting lost in the controversy is the return of Sienna Miller. You remember her from the 00’s, right? Pretty, blonde, English actress slowly rising before sadly becoming most famous for boning Jude Law during his “moment” then being humiliated when he started boning his kid’s nanny. Not helping was an unremarkable indie film career. It’s one thing to do good work and go unnoticed, but she wound up in mediocrity both big (Alfie, Stardust, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra) and small (Casanova, Factory Girl, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh). This is her second go round and don’t think she doesn’t know it. I know she’s happy to be in a hit, but it’s got to be killing her that she’s making a comeback (she’s also in Foxcatcher) and no one is noticing.

TIME (TRAVEL) AFTER TIME (TRAVEL)
Paddington rises to number two, while Project Almanac opens at number three and once upon a time I would have been head first into this kind of thing, but as I’ve grown older nothing turns me off sooner than a time paradox movie. Honestly, I could not give less than a crap that the main character couldn’t exist unless he’d gone back in time and introduced his grandparents or the main character accidentally kills his dad before he’s conceived. They all think they’re clever and they rarely are (I’m looking at you, Looper, Interstellar, etc). Not to mention it’s another “found footage” film, which means it means instant nausea from the ironically named “steady cam.” Sadly it probably cost nothing so at the very least will probably break even thus insuring more of them are made. Sigh.

BUT I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU AS CRASH DAVIS
Black or White opens at number four and while this may seem like a timely film, the presence of Kevin Costner (who also financed it) means it’ll be about as deep as a saucer with nothing really to say about race relations in America. The trailers suggest hamfisted deliveries without the slightest hint of nuance. I sat through Losing Isaiah so I feel no need to go through it again here.

‘CAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS TO SLUTS, AMIRITE, FELLAS?
The Boy Next Door is down to number five and also in this is Kristen Chenoweth, so it’s just filled with women who deserve better but have bills to pay. Given this all about punishing a woman for sex (when was the last time you saw a movie about a guy who bangs a legal teenager and suffers for it?) and she’s the horny best friend, I’ve no doubt she dies a horrible death and I seriously don’t have time for that bullshit.

DOUBLE EDGED SUCCESS SWORD
The Wedding Ringer is down to number six, followed by The Imitation Game at number seven and Taken 3 at number eight. Probably my favorite commercial of the Super Bowl was Liam Neeson making fun of his new tough guy image as an angry online gamer. I know a few women who loved it a little too much…and by that I mean it’s become basically a 30 second porn film. Much in the way that other online gaming commercial with Kate Upton is for lonely, lonely, lonely dudes.

IT’S A GEEK’S WORLD NOW
Strange Magic is down to number nine while The Loft opens at and closes out the top ten and because I can only think geek, when I see a movie with Karl Urban, James Marsden and Wentworth Miller all I see is a movie about Judge Dredd, Cyclops and Captain Cold (the comic book characters they’ve played) getting an apartment together. Of course it’s going to end badly, what with the superbattles. And you may not know it, but there are actually five guys involved in the loft, but one is European actor you wouldn’t know and the other is Eric Stonestreet who plays Cam on Modern Family. Yeah, exactly. They’re not going to show the fat guy who’s probably better known than all of them put together. Poor Cam.

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