news//'FURY' SLAYS THE BOX OFFICE; 'GONE GIRL' TOPS $100 MILLION

BOX OFFICE



It was a great weekend for Brad Pitt as his newest film, Fury, opened to a stellar $23.5 million, knocking Gone Girl out of the top spot for the first time in three weeks. Pitt stars in the WWII film alongside Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, and Michael Pena. The R-rated film has received some Oscar buzz and benefits from a great fall movie season. As Variety notes, this is the fourth straight weekend, in a row, that an R-rated film has taken the top spot.

Gone Girl still has plenty to celebrate as the film crossed the $100 million mark, quickly inching towards becoming director David Fincher's highest grossing film. 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button currently holds that title, having earned just over $127 million.

The Book of Life, featuring the voice talents of Channing Tatum and Zoe Saldana, was the weekend's other new release to make a splash. The animated film, fashioned after the Day of the Dead holiday, took in $17.3 million.

The third wide release was the Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Best of Me, starring James Marsden. It ended in fifth place with $11.5 million, a relatively small number based on other Sparks adaptations.


In limited release, current Oscar favorite Birdman earned an impressive $415,000 from just four theaters. The film by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu stars Michael Keaton in a stellar comeback performance. Dear White People debuted in 11 theaters, earning a nice $344,136. St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray, expanded, bringing in $685,000.

A specialty live streaming of the Metropolitan Opera's The Marriage of Figaro was a seminal hit. An estimated 90,000 people attended the event in 900 theatres in North America, earning $2.1 million.

Here's a look at the Top Ten:

1. Fury, $23.5 million (NEW)

2. Gone Girl, $18 million (Total: $107m)

3. The Book of Life, $17.3 million (NEW)

4. Alexander...Very Bad Day, $12.9 million (Total: $37.7m)

5. The Best of Me, $11.5 million (NEW)

6. Dracula Untold, $9.3 million (Total: $40m)

7. The Judge, $7.7 million (Total: $26.6m)

8. Annabelle, $7.6 million (Total: $73.8m)

9. The Equalizer, $5.5 million (Total: $89m)

10. The Maze Runner, $4.4 million (Total: $90.7m)

SOURCES: VARIETY, BOXOFFICE.COM

thoughts//TOP TEN NICHOLAS SPARKS FILMS

TOP TEN

If you've seen one movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, then you've seen them all. Or, at least, that's the basic consensus. Nicholas Sparks movies aren't necessarily surprising. You know exactly what you're getting yourself into. They, along with the common cold, are the reason Kleenex is a tissue conglomerate. The films are mostly cliche and everything a romantic drama can be. They are stereotypical date night/girl's night out fare and, for the most part, not usually included on any end-of-year lists. But, in the midst of their cheesiness, there's a subtle comfort in that idea of unrequited love and fighting for that special someone, even if it involves lots of kissing in the rain.

To celebrate this weekend's release of the newest adaptation, The Best of Me, here's a look at how all 8 of Nicholas Sparks' books-to-movies rank. Admittedly, I have only seen a handful of these, so it wouldn't be fair to rank them on my personal preference. Instead, they are ranked by their North American box office clout.

8. A WALK TO REMEMBER (2002)
Directed by Adam Shankman
Starring Mandy Moore, Shane West, Daryl Hannah
2002 Tagline: "There's more to attraction than meets the eye." 
Box Office: $41,281,092
RT Score: 27%

7. NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (2008)
Directed by George C. Wolfe
Starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Christopher Meloni
2008 Tagline: "It's never too late for a second chance."
Box Office: $41,850,659
RT Score: 30%

6. MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (1999)
Directed by Luis Mandoki
Starring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright, Paul Newman
1999 Tagline: "A story of love lost and found."
Box Office: $52,880,016
RT Score: 32%

5. THE LUCKY ONE (2012)
Directed by Scott Hicks
Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner
2012 Tagline: None.
Box Office: $60,457,138
RT Score: 20%

4. THE LAST SONG (2010)
Directed by Julie Anne Robinson
Starring Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear
2010 Tagline: "Do you ever really forget your first heartbreak?"
Box Office: $62,950,138
RT Score: 20%

3. SAFE HAVEN (2013)
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Starring Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders
2013 Tagline: "You know it when you find it."
Box Office: $71,349,120
RT Score: 12%

2. DEAR JOHN (2010)
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Starring Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins
2010 Tagline: "Is Duty enough reason to live a lie?"
Box Office: $80,014,842
RT Score: 28%

1. THE NOTEBOOK (2004)
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands
2004 Tagline: "Behind every great love is a great story."
Box Office: $81,001,787
RT Score: 52%

news//NEIL PATRICK HARRIS TO HOST THE 2015 ACADEMY AWARDS

AWARDS COVERAGE



After this year's very successful Oscar stint by Ellen DeGeneres, many thought the comedian would possibly come back for round two. But, the Academy has different plans.

This afternoon the award show's producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, announced that Neil Patrick Harris would be suiting up and taking charge to host the 2015 Oscar ceremony on Sunday, February 22.

This will not be the actor's first foray in award show hosting. He has hosted the Emmy Awards twice and the Tony Awards four times (for which he won four Emmys).

The seasoned host is also a part of the ensemble cast of the Oscar buzzworthy film Gone Girl.

While he wasn't the Academy's first pick (they offered DeGeneres the job, but she turned them down, as did Julia Louis-Dreyfus), he is a worthy pick. It'll be interesting to see how many musical numbers will grace the Dolby Theatre stage.


 

news//FINCHER'S 'GONE GIRL' WINS AGAIN; 'DRACULA' IS A CLOSE SECOND

BOX OFFICE



Great word-of-mouth worked in David Fincher's favor as Gone Girl topped the weekend box office again. The pic, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, earned $26.8 million this weekend for a grand total of $78.3 million in North America. That's only a 29% drop from last weekend, meaning the adult drama looks to become one of the standout hits of the year. With plenty of Oscar buzz surrounding it, Fincher's hit is definitely not going anywhere and could eventually become Fincher's highest-grossing film to date. Currently, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button holds that title. The 2008 film earned $127 million.

Out of the weekend's new releases, Dracula Untold had the best showing with a cume of $23.5 million. The origins film had the added benefit of IMAX screens. Starring a relatively unknown cast of Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper, the flick received pretty decent reviews from critics and audiences, which is possibly good news for its long-term prospects.

Coming in third place, Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day brought in just over $19 million. The film stars Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner. Despite receiving mixed reviews, the film had no other major family films to compete with. This could change with the coming release of the animated The Book of Life.

The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, failed to meet expectations, partially due to going up against the adult drama juggernaut that is Gone Girl. The mixed reviews the courtroom drama received definitely didn't help. The film ended the weekend with just $13.3 million. Adult dramas tend to have longer legs than most, so the studio is definitely in a waiting game to see how the profits of The Judge turn out.

Smaller releases did decent this weekend. The thriller Addicted earned just over $7 million. Kill the Messenger, starring Jeremy Renner, finished with $1 million. And, the documentary Meeting the Mormons surprised with a $3.5 million debut.

St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, opened in New York and Los Angeles to $121,056. Festival favorite Whiplash opened in both cities, as well, earning $143,503. Both films are generating Oscar buzz.

Tomorrow marks Columbus Day in the US and Thanksgiving in Canada, meaning the North American numbers will see a boost over previous weeks.The box office, as a whole, was up 30% from last year; a good sign after the fledgling summer season.

Here's a look at the Top Ten:

1. Gone Girl, $26.8 million (Total: $78.3m)

2. Dracula Untold, $23.5 million (NEW)

3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, $19 million (NEW)

4. Annabelle, $16.3 million (Total: $62m)

5. The Judge, $13.3 million (NEW)

6. The Equalizer, $9.7 million (Total: $80m)

7. The Maze Runner, $7.5 million (Total: $83.8m)

8. The Boxtrolls, $6.6 million (Total: $41m)

9. Left Behind, $2.9 million (Total: $10.9m)

10. Guardians of the Galaxy, $1.8 million (Total: $326m)

SOURCES: THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, VARIETY, BOXOFFICE.COM

thoughts//TOP TEN WORST MOVIE SEQUELS

TOP TEN

We're just a few weeks away from the release of Dumb and Dumber To, the 20-years-later sequel to the 1994 classic Dumb and Dumber. While audiences weren't really clamoring for a sequel, especially after the failed Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd debacle of 2003, this new sequel brings back Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. This is either a great sign or a complete dead end. As with other 90s comic stars, the style of comedy in American films has changed. Carrey's antics may be better left in 1994.

It's generally believed that sequels are bad. And, for the most part, that's true. Why is that, though? There are two main reasons. The first has to do with the reason the sequel is made. Most studios think audiences are naive enough to spend millions on a second chapter to a story they really loved. In theory, this makes sense. But, in actuality, some stories are better left untouched. Sadly, we live up to the studio stereotype, which is why sequels continue being made. The second reason sequels suck is that the novelty of the first film has completely worn off. Whether it's great effects or a memorable performance, nothing beats the first time you experience that moment. When it's repeated, it's suddenly clear that it's not quite as special. Remember how great Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow was the first time and how it wasn't quite as spectacular when we already knew what to expect? Welcome to the world of movie sequels.

To celebrate its November 14th release, let's take a look at the list of worst movie sequels and hope Dumb and Dumber To doesn't make the cut.

10. GREASE 2 (1982)
Directed by Patricia Birch
Starring Maxwell Caufield, Michelle Pfeiffer, Didi Conn

Grease was a huge hit in the late 70s. John Travolta was quickly becoming a huge marquee name. The songs were being sung by everyone. What could've hurt the chances of a good sequel? Well, for one, the lack of Travolta and the rest of the Grease gang meant a meandering of talent. Pfeiffer wasn't too bad, especially as a fresh face to the movies, but Caufield was a lousy leading man. The songs are laughably bad. It's a great surprise that Pfeiffer was able to push past this little blemish on her resume and reach Oscar-nominee status with later films. It's even more of a surprise that this movie has quite a following and receives pretty regular TV play.

9. STAYING ALIVE (1983)
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Starring John Travolta, Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes

Saturday Night Fever was Travolta's introduction to the world of Hollywood audiences. Staying Alive could've been his farewell. Where Saturday Night Fever brought an interesting, enlightening look at an era, Staying Alive was mostly fluff. Travolta lost some of his inherent vulnerability and, with most of the first film's cast absent, the cast fell completely flat. The action takes the stage on Broadway, which becomes even more mediocre fodder. It doesn't help that the bell bottoms and musical swag of the first film is lost in distracting costume choices and even worse music.

8. MEN IN BLACK II (2002)
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle

This is a perfect example of movie studio capitalizing on the poor, innocent minds of movie audiences' love for a movie. The first Men in Black is a huge film that will always rank among the best box office returns in history. It was new. It was funny. It was a great example of the type of action/humor we'd come to love about Will Smith. It was everything. This sequel took that and thought we wouldn't care about having a decent story. Also, whatever happened to Lara Flynn Boyle? I'm not talking about in this movie. I'm talking about in life.

7. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009)
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel

The first Transformers worked based on the incredible effects, the like of which we had never really seen. As the end credits rolled and millions of dollars had been made, it was soon easy to see past the great effects at the story-less story. Of course, with a film based on a toy line, more is always better. The second film completely deflates past any story at all (it's actually quite a confusing film if you try to understand any of the action going on) and solely relies on your love of the first film. It worked, since the film was a massive hit and spawned another sequel and a reboot. The only redeeming factor is LaBeouf's talent (which has taken second seat to his lifestyle antics).

6. SON OF THE MASK (2005)
Directed by Lawrence Guterman
Starring Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Traylor Howard

With the lack of Jim Carrey, Son of the Mask was destined to fail. Also, again, audiences appreciate more than just hilarious antics. We need a story. This had none. The first film worked well by playing up the slapstick sight gags at just the right time. This sequel feels like having as many CGI moments as possible is what we really want to see. Not to mention the fact that the CGI is horrendous. Jamie Kennedy, while not being a huge comedic talent, deserved a better film. We deserve our money back.

5. LOOK WHO'S TALKING TOO (1990)
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Starring John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Bruce Willis, Rosanne Barr

I'm not heartless. I was a kid when this movie came out and I remember thinking it was fun. But, like most sequels, this does not live up to the quality film we were first given. While it'd be hard to get anyone to agree that the Look Who's Talking films are great, there is a certain novelty to them that would be hard to duplicate, as seen with this sequel. Bruce Willis and Roseanne Barr offer decent voiceover work. It's really the story that's at fault here. There is nothing strong enough, so they rely on a cheesy script and lousy sight gags to keep us entertained. It's insulting.

4. SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Topher Grace

Spider-Man 2 was everything you want in a sequel and probably ranks among the best of all time. It's the perfect continuation of a story. This, however, feels like Raimi and his team were just ready to wrap things up. Everything was wrong here. The script was lame. Maguire's Spidey said more nonsensical one-liners than anyone could ever want. The hilarious musical sequence was anything but cool. There's was basically nothing of merit. As someone who isn't crazy about superhero movies to being with, this was something that could've easily turned me off from them completely. They should've stopped at number two.

3. BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen

Now, I'll be honest, this movie isn't completely horrible. There are a few fine moments and Zemeckis is a completely compatible director. What makes this rank so high (or low?) on this list is the fact of the prestige of the film trilogy in which it is a part. It actually feels like a completely separate film from the trilogy. It's doesn't even come close to the cleverness and sheer groundbreaking films that came before it. Again, it's not a complete shame, but it is a complete embarrassment to the Back to the Future world. I'd say it's probably okay to catch the first two movies and forget this one ever happened.

2.  STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
Directed by George Lucas
Starring Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman

Where to even start with this one? The original Star Wars movies (I'm not sure if you're supposed to refer to that trilogy as the first trilogy, last trilogy, or the middle trilogy) were so groundbreaking and incredible that even this many years later they still hold up. There's a certain panache with the blood-and-sweat practical effects and the heart of everyone involved. Episode I suffers from being made and released during the era of computer effects driving every moment possible. The effects were decent, but quickly became old-looking. The story, while already somewhat complicated, seemed completely all over the place. Lucas is an incredible talent and, at least, the continuing of the story gets another chance with the upcoming films. Hopefully, for his sake, they are better than this. The only plus here is the mainstream introduction of Natalie Portman.

1. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)
Directed by Jan de Bont
Starring Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe

The first Speed was one of the highlights of the 90s action movie genre. It introduced us to Sandra Bullock, who would go on to become one of the highest-grossing female movie stars of all time. Keanu Reeves was at his best (and then it all went downhill). And, Jan de Bont was quickly establishing himself as a lucrative action director. The story behind Speed 2 is almost as laughable as the film itself. Apparently, de Bont had a dream involving a cruise ship running into a resort town. And a film was born. Reeves refused to be a part of the film, leaving the studio scrambling and asking literally everyone to take the male lead role. Bullock only agreed to do the film in order to get financing for Hope Floats. It was a disaster from the beginning. The film has no plot. The action sequences lack any clout. The final scene cost an astounding $25 million to make and isn't remotely impressive. At the end of the day, there were two boat movies released in 1997. One went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The other went on to win Worst Picture at the Razzies. I'll let you figure out which one is which.