Before he was a CGI creation, Jedi master Yoda was a puppet. Before green screens became the norm, the Dagobah set for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was built elevated off the ground to accommodate Yoda’s puppeteers. And before he brought Yoda to life, puppeteer and voice actor Frank Oz was best known as the man behind Miss Piggy. In a weird way, that makes the most wizened character in the ‘Star Wars’ universe a distant relative of the extended Muppet family.
Nicolas Cage has made a habit of selecting atrocious film roles for the better part of a decade, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when he finds himself attached to something that actually sounds promising. Fresh off a Razzie nomination for the quick and dirty paycheck gig that was ‘Left Behind,’ Cage is set to lead ‘Army of One,’ a film adaptation of a truly bizarre story about man’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
A lot of people are going to act like they didn’t see the enormous success of ‘American Sniper’ coming, but the signs were all there. On top of the promising limited release numbers, there was the awards buzz. On top of that, there were the names of director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper. On top of that, the subject matter of the film is inherently attractive to the same category of moviegoer that makes Christian-themed films into massive hits. ‘American Sniper’ had one doozy of a weekend, but it’s not that surprising.
Yep, it’s that time of the year again. The 2015 Oscar nominations are here and it’s time for everyone to get outraged and cynical over which movies get the opportunity to take home statuettes of naked golden dudes. Sure, we always tell ourselves that the Academy Awards don’t really matter and that a film’s legacy will live or die for reasons beyond trophies, but we always end up getting angry about these things anyway. However, this year’s biggest snubs seems more egregious than usual and require slightly more yelling and stamping of feet.
It’s become fashionable in recent years to hate the Golden Raspberry Awards (AKA, the Razzies) and for good reason. The inherently negative awards claim to celebrate the worst films of the year, but they frequently nominate or “honor” ambitious misfires or boring studio junk over the real worst films of the year. To be fair, the Razzies are and have always been a big silly joke, but they’re a joke that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And yet, it’s really hard to look at this year’s nominees and disagree. With a handful of minor exceptions, this looks like a year where the Razzies actually, well, kinda’ got it right.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
‘Big Hero 6’ may only be tangentially related to the Marvel comic on which it is based and completely unconnected to the larger Marvel cinematic universe, but it still has the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. Yes, this is an animated movie featuring an animated version of the legendary comic book icon/Marvel mascot. But hey, it’s a tradition at this point.
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