Category: Movies & Facts

The 10 Best Movies of 2016

La La Land - The 10 Best Movies of 2016

From a Japanese animation to a hilarious German comedy, Nicholas Barber looks back at the most enjoyable movies of the year.

1. La La Land

These days, hardly anyone makes film musicals that aren’t adapted from hit stage shows, but Damien Chazelle, the writer-director of Whiplash, makes it look easy. All you have to do, it seems, is cast two goofily charming actors (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling), write them some well-honed songs and spiky romantic banter, embrace them in a rainbow of bright colours, and make the whole enterprise a sincere tribute to the glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood and jazz. The result is one of the most delightful films in years. As buoyant and nostalgic as La La Land is, however, it’s more than a pastiche. It won’t let us forget that life doesn’t always turn out the way it does in the movies.

2. Anomalisa

Anomalisa was directed and co-written by Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And, in its modest way, his latest film is as surreal, ingenious, heartbreaking and hilarious as either of them. An unsettling commentary on loneliness, depression and the ease with which we can fall in and out of love, Anomalisa uses stop-motion animation to tell the strange tale of Michael (David Thewlis), a customer-service guru who is so sick of the human race that, to him, everybody sounds as if they have the same voice (Tom Noonan’s voice, to be precise).

The one exception is Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a fan he meets in a Cincinnati hotel. Anomalisa was written as a play to be performed by three actors on a bare stage, and yet the animated figurines are so integral to its mood and themes that it’s hard to imagine it any other way.

3. Nocturnal Animals

For a film about a woman (Amy Adams) sitting quietly at home and reading a novel, Nocturnal Animals is ridiculously entertaining. Tom Ford’s second offering as a writer-director is a waspish satire of Los Angeles’s glitzy art scene, a poignant tale of youthful romance, and a nightmarish western that pits a mild-mannered family man (Jake Gyllenhaal) against the redneck from hell (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). All three sections are ferociously acted and dripping with style; together, they add up to a proudly nasty treatise on fiction and revenge. You can admire the film’s cleverly intertwining structure and still be absolutely terrified.

Arrival - The 10 Best Movies of 2016

4. Arrival

Not long after the Independence Day sequel came and went, lovers of monsters-from-outer-space movies were treated to a far more resonant take on the same scenario, one that replaced ray guns and explosions with the question of how we are supposed to communicate with creatures from another world.

Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction mind-bender isn’t short of awe-inspiring spectacle or eerie atmosphere, but it’s essentially a small, intimate chamber piece that showcases Amy Adams’ unique balance of toughness and fragility. Then comes That Twist, which raises the film to another level. What’s so satisfying about the final revelation apart from how moving it is is that it’s nearly impossible to guess in advance, but all the clues are there.

5. Toni Erdmann

No other comedy in 2016 matched Maren Ade’s third feature for side-splitting set-pieces, which is inconvenient for anyone who believes that Germans don’t have a sense of humour. It isn’t just the year’s funniest film, though. With its unsparing depiction of soulless, globalised corporate life, Toni Erdmann is one of the year’s saddest and most insightful films, too.

Peter Simonischek is wonderful as an ageing music teacher who finds it so difficult to connect with his careerist daughter, Sandra Hüller, that he resorts to desperate measures: he puts on a cheap wig and a cheaper suit, and turns up at her offices in Bucharest, claiming to be a life coach and/or ambassador. From there, Ade keeps taking her characters to ever more daring and unpredictable places for two-and-three-quarter hours.

6. The Founder

The Keatonnaissance continues. Following his leading roles in two Oscar winners, Birdman and Spotlight, Michael Keaton picks another ideal home for his jittery charisma. The Founder is a balanced, snappy docudrama about Ray Kroc, the travelling salesman who stopped at a roadside burger joint run by two brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch), and knew at once that he could turn it into a coast-to-coast franchise: McDonald’s. There’s plenty here to chew on. John Lee Hancock’s fascinating film may be set 60 years ago, but its competing visions of all-American industry – family businesses versus cost-cutting corporations could scarcely be more relevant today.

Manchester by the Sea - The 10 Best Movies of 2016

7. Manchester by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergen has been the writer-director of only three films in 16 years You Can Count on Me, Margaret, and now Manchester by the Sea but they’ve all been intensely humane triumphs. His new slow-burning drama stars Casey Affleck as a laconic janitor who returns to the eponymous coastal town in Massachussets when his brother dies, but who has his own reasons for wanting to leave again as soon as he can.

Lonergen doesn’t give his characters grandstanding speeches about the tragedies in their past; he just shows us their daily routines and quiet conversations in such credible and often very funny detail that we feel as if we’ve lived through everything they have.

8. The Distinguished Citizen

The Argentinian entry for Best Foreign Language film at February’s Oscars, The Distinguished Citizen stars Oscar Martinez as a suave author who has turned down every honour since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but who decides to accept a tin-pot award from his own home village, 40 years after he left it to find fame in Europe. Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn’s wry, perfectly performed comedy drama strolls breezily from mischievous jokes about provincial incompetence to rigorous debates about the purpose of culture, covering a vast amount of territory in between.

9. Florence Foster Jenkins

In Stephen Frears’ sparkling comedy drama, Meryl Streep is predictably glorious as a New York grande dame who can afford to stage lavish opera recitals in the 1940s – never mind that she has the voice of a dying parrot. But it’s Hugh Grant, as her husband and enabler, who steals the show.

Grant hasn’t always chosen the most challenging material, but in Florence Foster Jenkins he fulfils his potential, injecting his richest ever role with anguished energy and conviction. Thanks to his committed performance and Nicholas Martin’s complex script, the unbelievable true story deepens from a delightful farce to a mature and touching portrait of an unconventional marriage.

10. Your Name

Makoto Shinkai’s Japanese smash hit is dazzling in more ways than one. The range of lighting effects and painterly panoramas makes it the most spectacular cartoon of the year, and the plotting gets weirder and more apocalyptic as it goes along: Your Name starts as a high-school comedy about a country girl and a city boy who switch identities every few days, and then it grows into a mystical, time-travelling disaster movie. But amid all the visual and narrative fireworks, it never loses sight of the tender coming-of-age story at its heart, as its young protagonists realise that they may never meet their soulmates.

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The first official trailer for Fifty Shades Darker

The first official trailer for Fifty Shades Darker

The first official trailer for Fifty Shades Darker has been viewed online 114 million times in the past 24 hours, according to Universal.

The spot debuted on Sep. 14 at 8 a.m. PT, and racked up its multimillion view count across all digital platforms — YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc. Within the first hour of the trailer’s debut, the trailer received more than 2.5 million views on Fifty Shades domestic Facebook page alone.

Darker was viewed 39.4 million times in North America but the majority of online views came from over 32 international markets like the U.K., Mexico and France, where the spot received 74.6 million official views.

Previously the highest performing full-length trailer was the preview for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which racked up 112 million views online in 24 hours.

The Force Awakens broke the record set by its own teaser trailer, the second to debut for the movie, which screened in April 2015 at Star Wars Celebration and amassed 88 million views in the first 24 hours.

Darker will see the return of Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the adaptation of the second installment in E.L. James’ best-selling book series. The first film in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey, grossed over $571 million at the global box office.

The first official trailer for Fifty Shades Darker

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Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet

Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet

1) Has Internet criticism made a significant contribution to film culture? Does it tend to supplement print criticism or can it actually carve out critical terrain that is distinctive from traditional print criticism? Which Internet critics and bloggers do you read on a regular basis?

1) a. Significant and profound. Because the changes it has wrought are ongoing and unfolding, it’s still hard to have a comprehensive fix on them.

1) b. It can and does do both. By broadening the playing field in terms of players, methodologies, audiences, social formations, and outlets, it certainly expands the options. The interactivity of almost immediate feedback, the strengths and limitations of being able to post almost as quickly as one can think (or type), the relative ease of making screen grabs — these and many other aspects of Internet discourse are bringing about changes in content as well as in style and form, shape and size.

1) c. Here’s just a sample: To varying degrees (some much more regularly than others), I like to read Acquarello, David Bordwell, Zach Campbell, Fred Camper, Roger Ebert, Flavia de la Fuente, Filipe Furtado, Michael E. Grost, Andy Horbal, Christoph Huber, David Hudson, Arianna Huffington, Kent Jones, Dave Kehr, Craig Keller, Glenn Kenny, Naomi Klein, Roger Alan Koza, Laila Lalami, Kevin Lee, Adrian Martin, Dave McDougall, Mark Peranson, Quintín, Andy Rector, Lisa Rosman, Alex Ross, Girish Shambu, Brad Stevens, Terry Teachout, Alexis Tioseco, and Noel Vera. Some of these writers don’t have blogs of their own and some aren’t even film people, but I’ve included them if what they’ve had to say occasionally relates to my film interests.

2) How would you characterize the strengths and weaknesses of critics’ blogs? Which blogs do you consult on a regular basis — and which are you drawn to in terms of content and style? Do you prefer blogs written by professional critics or those by amateur cinephiles?

2) a. The strengths and weaknesses of most critics’ blogs relate to the fact that they aren’t edited — apart from a few like The Chicago Reader blogs, whose strengths and weaknesses relate to the fact that they are edited (or at least the initial posters are edited, if not the respondents).

2) b. The film blogs I read or consult most regularly at the moment are those maintained by three Davids (Bordwell, Hudson, and Kehr) and Girish. I tend to read Bordwell and Hudson more for content than for style; among the bloggers whom I tend to read more for style than for content are Glenn Kenny, Quintín, and Lisa Rosman.

2) c. I have no idea what differentiates “professional” film critics from “amateur” cinephiles, apart from the fake credentials dispensed by institutional bases — or the fact that “professionals”, whether they’re academics or journalists, don’t have to be cinephiles, don’t have to know anything about film, and don’t have to know how to write or do research in order to be regarded as “professionals” within their respective professions.

As for those with blogs, I prefer those who are cinephiles, know something about film, and know how to write and do research, such as Dave Kehr, even if he didn’t make it into Phillip Lopate’s American Movie Critics collection. I regret that many of the best film critics and film scholars that we have — including Thom Andersen, Raymond Bellour, Janet Bergstrom, Nicole Brenez, Manohla Dargis, Bernard Eisenschitz, Manny Farber, J. Hoberman, Alex Horwath, James Naremore, Gilberto Perez, Donald Phelps, and François Thomas — aren’t bloggers, at least as far as I know.

3) Internet boosters tend to hail its “participatory” aspects — e.g., message boards, the ability to connect with other cinephiles through critics’ forums and email, etc. Do you believe this “participatory” aspect of Internet criticism (film critics form the bulk of the membership lists of message boards such as a film by and Politics and Film) has helped to create a genuinely new kind of “cinematic community” or are such claims overblown?

3) Within my own experience, I would say that the “participatory” aspects of film writing, including criticism and scholarship, have helped to create a new form of community, and I would further submit that those who consider this claim overblown probably haven’t been participants or members of this community, except indirectly. (I’ve written about this topic elsewhere, in “Film Writing on the Web: Some Personal Reflections,” in the Spring 2007 issue of Film Quarterly — an article that ironically can’t be accessed online.)

I hasten to add that my own recently launched Web site doesn’t invite or allow other participants to post, which suggests that my feelings about this community aren’t entirely or exclusively positive, by any means. Nor would I argue that the communities that have formed are always democracies, or that some of these communities wouldn’t have been formed without the Internet. (A 2003 collection that I coedited and contributed to — Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia, which is very much concerned with such formations—initially took shape before any of us had email, but email certainly helped us during its final stages.)

4) Jasmina Kallay, writing in Film Ireland (September-October 2007), has claimed that, in the age of the Internet, the “traditional film critic… is losing his stature and authority.” Do you agree or disagree with this claim? If you agree, do you regard this as a regrettable or salutary phenomenon?

4) I agree, and on the whole regard this phenomenon as more salutary than regrettable — especially after protracted exposure to more “traditional” criticism in both academia and journalism before the advent of the Internet. Even though I miss such invaluable outposts as Cahiers du cinéma during the Fifties and Sixties and Penelope Houston’s Sight and Sound, not to mention such eclectic scholars and critics as Raymond Durgnat and Jay Leyda, I can’t think of any pre-Internet equivalents for Senses of Cinema in its early years or Rouge, either.

I also regret that some magazines as important as Positif don’t have any online presence. Frankly, we get more of everything now on the Internet — including more that’s worse than anything we had before as well as more that’s better. I regret the way that some critical works that aren’t available online have dropped out of our critical canons — Durgnat is a prime example — but this suggests only that we need to make more things available online.

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How digital changed the movies forever?

How digital changed the movies forever?

In the fifth instalment of Danny Leigh’s series about modern cinema, he examines the shift in film-making brought about by digital. The Dogme 95 movie Festen, made at the tail-end of the 20th century, revealed the unavoidable future. But it still cost over a million dollars to produce.

The real revolution, beyond the liberation offered by digital cameras, was ushered in by Tarnation, which foretold society’s obsessive fascination with self-curation on a budget of $218. On another scale, Alfonso Cuarón’s beautiful and terrifying rendition of the vastness of space, Gravity, was made possible with massive processing power. Back on earth, the great Iranian director Jafar Panahi avoided the gaze of the regime that had banned him by shooting Taxi Tehran on tiny dashboard cameras. Catch up on earlier episodes Sex, Money, Death and Film, below.

Episode 1 / Film

The first episode examines how film itself is referenced in contemporary movies: beginning with Mulholland Drive, David Lynch’s sensuous, distorted dissection of Hollywood and of film itself then continuing with Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, where an actor criss-crosses Paris where each location in his odyssey becomes a strange, anarchic movie. Finally, in Joshua Oppenheimer’s extraordinary documentary The Act of Killing, Danny considers how the director relives the 1965 massacres in Indonesia. Here, the unrepentant gangsters who formed the death squads also happen to love films, so the director convinces them to restage their crimes for a ‘movie’ in order to set the record straight.

How digital changed the movies forever?

Episode 2 / Money

In the second episode, Danny looks at movie portrayals of money – and the people making it. Margin Call, starring Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons, takes an insistently authentic look at the rarefied world of investment bankers in 2008, just as Wall Street is about to open up beneath them. In The Wolf of Wall Street, audiences loved Leonardo DiCaprio’s gangster-as-banker Jordan Belfort, who was “at least honest about his dishonesty”, making it Martin Scorsese’s biggest box office success. Spring Breakers features four girls desperate to head to the Florida sun, who land with James Franco’s character Alien, a “svengali, drug dealer, rapper and enthusiastic capitalist”. Is this the good life?

Episode 3 / Sex

The third episode of Film Now takes a look at sex and gender. The Hollywood sex scene’s heyday was rendered obsolete by the internet’s arrival. Away from the mainstream, arthouse auteurs reacted to online porn’s challenge – or perhaps took advantage of it. As well as being explicit, and sometimes brilliant, films like Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac were about women as seen by men, and directed by men. But, slowly, women have started to get their visions seen on-screen, and they see women differently – soaringly so in Celine Sciamma’s Paris-set Girlhood. And gender, sexuality and relationships are central to Tangerine, which portrayed trans street culture in Los Angeles and smashed conventions with both its casting choices and filming techniques.

How digital changed the movies forever?

Episode 4 / Death

The fourth episode of Film Now, Danny Leigh’s exploration of modern cinema, takes a look at approaches to death in three key 21st-century films. Directed by Paul Greengrass, United 93 was the tragic story of the only flight of the four hijacked on the morning of September 11th 2001 not to reach its intended target.

Only God Forgives was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, his follow-up to the much-loved Drive, and again starring Ryan Gosling. This time, the response was what we would politely call divided, to a movie slick with Refn’s stylised bloodshed. And at first glance, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows looks like that most mundane of things, the American suburban teenage horror movie, with a cast destined to be sliced, diced and forgotten. But it messes with every expectation.

Danny Leigh introduces the series

In film the urge is always to look ahead or behind us. In one direction there’s the giddy rush of new releases, the endless Willy Wonka conveyor belt of colourful forthcoming treats, often better in anticipation than reality. In the other there’s the weight of history, that glorious movie past, a gorgeous panorama of black-and-white filled with Monroe and Brando, Hitchcock and Citizen Kane.

What we do less is look at the moment. So I wanted to dedicate six short videos to the century of cinema so far. The 21st, sixteen years in. As well as enthralling us, movies can be a mirror. On the surface there are headlines, beneath it the stories we tell ourselves on screen, a collective subconscious bubbling up into characters and plots.

So what’s been on our minds, I wondered, in the era that began with a sigh of relief that the Millennium Bug hadn’t snuffed out civilization, and which brought us to right here. Wherever this is.

Some of the videos we’ve made are about film itself – reshaped by the rise of digital technology and filled with thrilling new talents, but still with room for Scorsese, Lynch, Lars von Trier, Kathryn Bigelow.

Most are about the place where it meets the real world. Not film as it was, or might be in the future. But about film and money, love and sex, fear and death, how we see ourselves and each other. In other words: about film now.

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Steven Soderbergh is making a movie about the Panama Papers

Steven Soderbergh is making a movie about the Panama Papers

We all knew the Panama Papers would inspire a movie at some point, but there’s already a feature in the works that’s coming together quickly—and enticingly.

Just months after journalists exposed records from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonesca that detailed illegal financial activities committed by the rich and powerful, big names are already attempting to bring the scandal to the big screen—including Steven Soderbergh, who’s attached to produce and possibly direct the first film about the incident.

Soderbergh will adapt the yet-to-be-published book Secrecy World by Jake Bernstein—an award-winning journalist who was part of the team that broke the news, bringing more than 11 million records into the public eye—Deadline reports. Bernstein will executive produce, while frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns will pen the film’s script.

A Panama Papers movie would mark the fourth project Soderbergh and Burns have worked on together, following Contagion, Side Effects, and perhaps most relevantly The Informant!, which managed to spin a comic yarn out of price fixing within agro-business. But if Spotlight’s Best Picture win at last year’s Academy Awards taught us anything, it’s that journalism movies don’t need to be funny to get attention—as long as they’re exposing something that lands with a bang.

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Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

The director’s new film isn’t without resonance, writes Richard Lawson from Cannes, but is too preoccupied with its least interesting character.

There are maybe three different movies fighting against each other in Woody Allen’s new film, Café Society, which opened the 2016 Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday night. It’s part creakily nostalgic ode to Old Hollywood, part satiric appreciation of the Jewish-American male’s romantic neuroses, and part wistful, half-serious rumination on the ephemeral fixations of love.

I like that last movie, Allen in his reflective years revisiting a familiar, old trope—the sexual-social peccadillos of the heterosexual intellectual—with a final huff of “Eh, who knows?” Café Society ends on a pleasing note of bittersweet ambiguity—or perhaps there’s nothing ambiguous about it, Allen arguing that there is certainly some uncertainty in life, always a wondering about what could be, a speculation that never quite merits seeking out answers.

But the other two-thirds of this disjointed movie, which starts in 1930s Los Angeles and ends in the New York City social scene referenced in the title, is Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish, Jesse Eisenberg’s aspiring somebody (what he does to “make it” doesn’t really matter) rattling through scene after scene of fretting dully over women, all of whom are inexplicably attracted to this irksome, self-involved jerk.

Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

Those women are played by Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively, both giving appealing performances. (Though, Stewart’s cadence is perhaps a bit too modern.) Neither character—the Hollywood assistant Eisenberg’s Bobby courts nor the New York society gal he eventually marries—is very fleshed out, but these two often unfairly maligned actresses do their best at pretending that Bobby is worth anyone’s time.

Buried underneath all of Café Society’s cheap-looking period gloss—the cinematography, by Vittorio Storaro, is oddly lush and intricate and garish for an Allen picture—is a simple story of a young man exploring the sense of possibility he finds in women. The movie treats its female characters as territory to be discovered, resources to be used, in Bobby’s journey toward manhood. There will always be another girl flickering and flaring on the outskirts of a man’s life, roads not taken more than people not known, and there is something a little sad, and a little sweet about that, Café Society suggests.

Which, sure. At 80 years old, Allen is well positioned to look back at the entanglements of youth with a knowing sigh. But much of Café Society is tainted by a cynical, transactional view of (straight) sex and romance, Allen perhaps setting his film in the shimmery past to protect himself from the glare of social consciousness. There’s a truly hideous scene in which Bobby hires a prostitute (played by Anna Camp with her usual despite-it-all dignity) who shows up late, annoying Bobby, and then practically begs him to sleep with her out of a desperate need for validation. Allen used to be somewhat insightful about women—Hannah and Her Sisters at least had a glow of empathy to it—but his view on the sexes has gotten narrower and far less charitable as he’s aged.

Café Society Is Woody Allen at his most lazily Allen-ish

Bobby and his uncle, a high-powered agent played with alarming flatness by Steve Carell, consistently forgive their own loutishness as they go, preventing the film from achieving any truly honest self-assessment. Ultimately, Allen seems not nostalgic for the particular era of his birth—the dread-tinged time between the Depression and World War II—but instead for a certain callowness that is no longer celebrated the way it used to be. Only one man, Bobby’s gangster brother, played by Corey Stoll, gets any comeuppance for his loutishness, but it’s for a number of murders.

Bobby and his uncle—both philanderers and objectifiers of women—don’t need to be punished, of course, but some sense of balance or fairness or perspective would be appreciated here. Especially when the movie is so stocked with talented actresses giving winning performances. There’s Stewart and Lively, but also Parker Posey as a Dorothy Parker–esque friend, Jeannie Berlin as Bobby’s plainspoken mother, and a warm Sari Lennick as his sister.

Still, when Café Society reaches its quiet conclusion, Allen has managed to conjure up some pensive feeling, softening his movie’s jarring pointiness. The film is nowhere near as effective as, say, Midnight in Paris’s murmuring about time, or his earlier dramas’ rueful interpersonal wisdom, but it’s not entirely without resonance. I just wish the film wasn’t so fascinated by the least interesting character wandering around this whole crazy scene called life.

Related: View full production notes for Café Society

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Sicario sequel gets a new title and director

Sicario sequel gets a new title and director

Emily Blunt won’t be returning for the follow-up that is set to focus on del Toro’s hitman.

Details on the sequel to Sicario – one of last year’s most underrated dramas – has begun to trickle in following its greenlight earlier this year.

Officially titled Soldado, the follow-up is moving ahead without original director Denis Villeneuve. Instead, Deadline reports that Stefano Sollima will step behind the camera. The filmmaker’s previous credits include acclaimed Italian miniseries Gomorra and gritty drama Suburra.

Casting-wise, it was previously reported that Emily Blunt would be reprising her role of idealistic FBI agent Kate Mercer. However, her decision to take on the role of Mary Poppins in Disney’s upcoming remake has officially rendered her unavailable with Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin sharing lead duties.

Their characters – hitman Alejandro Gillick and CIA Agent Matt Graves – will return in a story from Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan that continues to focus on the illegal smuggling of drugs across the border between Mexico and the U.S.

While the Spanish word ‘sicario’ means ‘hitman’ in English, the translation of ‘soldado’ is ‘soldier.’ Original director Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) is currently hard at work making Blade Runner 2 with Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and House of Cards ‘ Robin Wright.

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‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ tops foreign box office thanks to China debut

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ tops foreign box office thanks to China debut

Chinese audiences powered “X-Men: Apocalypse” to the top of the foreign box office charts over the weekend.

The mutant adventure picked up $59 million from the People’s Republic, becoming the second-highest opening in China for Fox, the studio behind the superhero franchise. The latest “X-Men” earned a leading $84.4 million overseas from 66 markets including South Korea ($4.5 million), Brazil ($2.2 million) and the United Kingdom ($2 million). So far, “X-Men: Apocalypse” has earned $402.5 million globally.

In second place, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” picked up $34 million overseas from 40 foreign markets. The sequel disappointed in its domestic debut, opening to $35.3 million, a more than 40% drop from the first film’s $65.6 million launch in 2014. Paramount, the studio behind the $135 million film, hopes that the film can make up ground overseas. China, where the first “Ninja Turtles” earned $62.1 million, will be a critical test. “Out of the Shadows” opens in the country on July 2.

“Warcraft,” an adaptation of the hit video game series, is facing fierce headwinds as it braces for its domestic debut next weekend. Tracking has been soft, and it will have to hold off competitors such as “Now You See Me 2” and “The Conjuring 2.” Still, the fantasy adventure has done respectable business overseas. It earned $29.9 million from 28 territories last weekend to take fourth place on the charts.

The results bring “Warcraft’s” total to $70 million after two weeks of release. The film opened in first place in Spain with $2.5 million, debuted to $2 million in Italy, enjoyed a $3.8 million second weekend in Russia, and topped charts in Germany for a second weekend with $3.1 million. The Universal and Legendary release still represents a big gamble. It carries a $160 million price tag and is on pace to open to less than $25 million in the U.S.

Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and Sony’s “The Angry Birds Movie” snagged third and fifth place on the foreign box office charts, earning $30.9 million and $16.7 million, respectively. The big screen adaptation of the “Angry Birds” game has done solid business, earning $283.5 million worldwide. Not so “Through the Looking Glass.” The “Alice in Wonderland” sequel is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest bombs. It has earned $176.3 million worldwide, but will have to fight its way into the black given its $170 million price tag and the tens of millions spent to market and distribute the film.

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‘Ninja Turtles 2’ Opens #1 with Soft $35M

'Ninja Turtles 2' Opens #1 with Soft $35M

The first weekend in June 2016 played out mostly as expected, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows taking the #1 spot followed by last weekend’s first place finisher, X-Men: Apocalypse. Warner’s Me Before You, however, did manage to break out well above expectations while Universal’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping may have received great reviews, but couldn’t find much of an audience. Overall, the weekend was a wash compared to last year with estimates for the top twelve coming in just $56,118 higher than last year’s actuals, but there are still some highlights to discuss despite something of a slow start to a sequel driven June.

Paramount’s Ninja Turtles 2 brought in an estimated $35.25 million, which, as discussed in our weekend preview, puts the film pretty much right on the average for so many of today’s sequels based on the original film’s performance. In the case of Ninja Turtles, this is a 46% drop from the 2014 film’s $65.5 million opening. Considering the $135 million budget for Turtles 2 is $10 million more than was spent on the original, that’s not exactly what the studio was hoping for when they flipped the green light.

The sequel is now looking to bring in $90 million or so domestically, which is around $100 million less than the original. Of course, box office grosses are just half the story with a film like this as ancillary merchandise is a big revenue driver for a film of this sort. From a demographics perspective, the film did score an “A-” CinemaScore and audience members under the age of 18 made up 40% of the audience and scored the film with an “A”. In all, 52% of the audience was under 25 and 54% male vs. 48% female.

In addition to its domestic total, Ninja Turtles 2 also opened in 40 international markets and earned an estimated $34 million. The UK delivered the highest returns with an estimated $5.3 million followed by Russia ($4.8m), Mexico ($4.5m), Indonesia ($2.3m) and Malaysia ($2.2m). The movie will continue to expand throughout the month and will release in China on July 2 where the first film brought in over $62 million.

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Star Trek Beyond Theatrical Trailer

Star Trek Beyond Theatrical Trailer

The first leg of the USS Enterprise’s five year mission takes them into uncharted territory. There the Enterprise is nearly destroyed and strands Kirk and his crew on a remote planet with no means of communication. Kirk must then work with the elements to reunite his crew and get back to Earth.

Star Trek Beyond is an American science fiction film directed by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, based on the series of the same name created by Gene Roddenberry. It is the thirteenth film in the Star Trek film franchise and the third installment in the reboot series after Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock, with Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin reprising their roles from the previous films, and Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella joining them. Principal photography began on June 25, 2015, in Vancouver with the film scheduled for a July 22, 2016, release.

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