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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by The Klady

Weekend Estimates 2013-06-30 at 11.10.40 AM

Not a lot more to say since yesterday. Congrats to Man of Steel for getting out of the financial danger zone. Hopefully, you’re next, WWZ. WHD also waiting on international. And two more mega-movies to go.

The Heat has another 12 days to clean up cash before Grownups 2 lands.

Before Midnight and The Bling Ring lead the summer’s arthouse indie, though both films have millions to add before anyone gets too excited.

Sarah Polley’s wonderful Stories We Tell is the top doc, though sadly, the next highest doc grosser is the more traditional (and entertaining) 20 Feet From Stardom at just less than 1/3 the gross of SWT. More people should see both films, but also more docs, like Dirty Wars, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, SOMM and others.

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65 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by The Klady”

  1. Gus says:

    Depressed that Laurence Anyways did so poorly.

    Surprised to see The Bling Ring done so quickly.

    Shocked that the Purge won’t even get to 2x opening.

    Basically just blown away that Iron Man 3 is doing a 100% jump from Iron Man 2. Think about that for a minute.

    Saw WWZ and TITE this week and enjoyed both. Congrats to Paramount for being willing to back a satisfying, smallish, character-driven ending in replacement of the earlier “Rambo vs the Zombies” option. TITE is funny but sloppily written in spots and could have been greater in a more capable director’s hands. That said, I laughed my ass off, but PINEAPPLE, SUPERBAD, or even YOUR HIGHNESS this is not.

  2. LexG says:

    No one will care, but out of curiosity….

    Why did WB slash theaters for Gatsby and Hangover 3 so drastically this weekend? I wanted to see each again before they left theaters, but suddenly they’re pretty much gone or resigned to out-of-the-way theaters. By contrast, IM and STiD are still hanging around in big multiplexes.

  3. Gus says:

    Seems to be a per-screen average kind of thing, no? IM3 doing more than twice the business of Hangover 3, ST doing a third more business than Gatz.

  4. jesse says:

    Don’t the theaters probably have some say at this point, this late in the run for any of those movies? I’d guess that both Gatsby and Hangover were first on the chopping block at a lot of multiplexes that wanted to add The Heat AND White House Down (so at least two screens, maybe three or four). Iron Man 3 actually lost more screens this weekend than either WB movie — but it is sticking around on more screens overall. Kinda makes sense — between those two movies, they’ve only logged three weekends of higher grosses than IM3: the first three weekends of Hangover III, and by the third, it was pretty much a toss-up.

    I imagine Trek and Iron Man will also catch up in screen-shedding with Despicable Me 2 and Lone Ranger coming this week.

    Anyone know how it works with theater bookings? (Honestly curious; I don’t know a lot about it.) I know that most movies are booked for at least two weekends upfront. After that, is it week to week, or do you have to renew in twos, too?

    On the more limited front, I kinda wanted to see Kings of Summer but it is GONE from NYC screens this weekend (granted, I guess that movie’s been out for a month and I kinda slept on seeing it, but still). I love moviegoing in NYC for the most part but I do wish we had a viable second-run theater or two. Hell, a couple of second/third tier arthouse theaters used to function as de facto second run (not much cheaper, but would sometimes get some of the bigger adult-appeal movies around the time they’d be hitting second run in places that have second run)… and still do once in a while (the Quad is playing The Iceman), but not as often, it seems, as they used to.

  5. brack says:

    Grown Ups 2 might take a little bit from The Heat, but considering the difference of appeal demographically, these movies can coexist.

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    Just throwing this out for discussion: Has digital projection made people more willing to see first-run movies late in their runs? Not so long ago, I figured that, if I went to see a movie 4-5 weeks into its run, even at the classier megaplexes, the print might not be in such great shape. But now, I can feel reasonably safe in assuming The Great Gatsby or Iron Man 3 will look as good now as they did opening weekend.

  7. leahnz says:

    joe, if by ‘people’ you movie-crazed freaks like many of the people who comment here that’s probably a good point, but for your ‘average’ movie-goer, not to imply they’re cretins or anything but the difference between film and digital projection and how a film print can degrade probably doesn’t even enter their thought process when it comes to when to see a flick, probably more when can they do a night out or get a babysitter or whatever

  8. Triple Option says:

    Yeah, I don’t know if anyone cares about digital projection but upgrades in the theaters themselves might do something. A lot of renovations have happened across the country. I don’t know if it was ever that big of a deciding factor but I do think people would opt for a newer flick if it was a toss up to something that had been out a while if it meant not having the go to the musty cramped theater down the long hallway in back where you feel like you’re sitting in a hard chair with swing over desk in middle school.

    I also hear people voice their displeasure at 3D. My biggest complaint is the surcharge that’s generally not worth anything. Next, the glasses can sometimes be a bit taxing at first on my ears since I’ll have them on over my regular glasses that really I barely only wear except for movies. Some people complain about headaches and great discomfort.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if people thought the overall quality in seeing a film later in its run has improved but I’m not sure anyone would articulate the projection as being the biggest thing but part of the overall package.

  9. Triple Option says:

    I’m not doubting that “not inviting the ladies” wouldn’t have a negative consequence for White House Down, though the ones I listened to were on board to see Channing Tatum, I was wondering if there weren’t other bigger reasons for White House not opening stronger. Olympus has Fallen, regardless of quality, opening just a few months ago I believe would give people the “didn’t I just see this movie” feel. Which, I think people get too much of in so much attention given to sequels in general. Though I do know people look forward to Monsters U and Despicable 2. Neither Olympus or WHD I think distinguished themselves as the one White House disaster film to see. People I would’ve thought may have associated WHD’s June release date as signifying better quality but I did think some of the shots in the trailer for Olympus made it seem like it’d be the cooler flick. Now, I did miss Olympus so I can’t say which i thought was better but just off of seeing one I don’t feel like I need to see the other based on great experience though perhaps to see if the other got it ‘right’. Considering the lukewarm response I heard from those who saw Olympus, I could see why people wouldn’t make WHD a priority.

    I also wonder if Jamie Foxx as Pres wasn’t a turnoff for many red staters. Morgan Freeman I think has the respect of everyone so most people won’t bat an eye over him occupying the exec chair but Jamie might be too young and too hip. Would some people take it as more liberal Hollywd forcing their Obama-love agenda down everyone’s throat? There was a show on NBC earlier this year called 1600 Penn that despite a big marketing push and decent opening time slot, was DOA, finishing 4th in its debut. You’d think it would’ve at least opened to Whitney numbers just out of curiosity and a few decent laughs in the trailers. Some people who work in and analyze TV speculated that though the characters portrayed in the White House in 1600 Penn were white, the country was/is too divided to see a comedy based on the first family. Just too much animosity to associate anything to do with the subject.

    I’ll admit, I thought WHD would be a bit more gimmicky and veer closer to a Rush Hour movie than Die Hard and I don’t think I was alone in that assessment. But watching the trailer, I didn’t get a big laugh and “oh, I gotta see that!” feeling. I knew it wouldn’t be total buffoonery (relative to genre) but I thought there was an expectation that either needed to be overcome by perhaps showing a more gritty or dire state of affairs by Foxx’ character or they really needed to embrace people’s willingness to see a buddy cop action comedy, which would’ve required a couple of more big laughs. What I got from the trailer fell deftly in the middle.

  10. LexG says:

    Triple Option with something pretty spot-on above:

    WHD is not only strenuously left-wing, but a FULL-ON love letter to President Obama. There is no doubt about it, Foxx is playing an idealized Obama.

    I’m apolitical and leave all that stuff at the door anyway when I see movies, but most people do not; It’s a pretty awesome DIE HARD ripoff, but where Olympus was overtly patriotic and sort of had that Clancy Military Potboiler vibe beloved by Red Staters, WHD overtly depicts a superman black president who can bring peace to an entirely submissive Middle East and the villains are right-wing warmongers and defense contractors looking to keep war going for profit. That’s bound to get a 32-oz ICEE at the screen wherever this is playing in the heartland. Just a cursory glance at places like IMDB or Nikki’s blog, there’s tons of comments fuming that it’s another leftie Hollywood action movie where the bad guys are rich whites instead of brown people.

  11. brack says:

    Yep, the heartland doesn’t read real news, so of course anything that challenges their beliefs will be dismissed. That’s how closed-minded people work. Considering the ads showed nothing political about the movie, but just another black president, that’s more than enough to turn off good old boys.

  12. brack says:

    The bad guys are usually rich white guys. Do you ever pay attention to Congress?

  13. LexG says:

    Well, again, I am not political and you could make a movie where my dad is portrayed as a serial killer and everything I believe in life is slandered, but if it’s a GOOD MOVIE that’s ALL I care about. Movies above everything… Anyone who loves their personal ideologies more than movies can’t be a real film lover.

    But as for this: “The bad guys are usually rich white guys,” yeah I know what you mean… when it’s 3am and I have to walk down a dark alley to my car, I know I’m quaking in my boots that some old William Prince/Mason Adams lookalike Republican is gonna shank me.

  14. Triple Option says:

    Well, once you get in and sit down, I didn’t find White House Down to be at all partisan. I mean, one would assume a Black President to be a dem and there is a running thread dealing with a peace treaty, which tend to thought up at left leaning, but only the lack legitimate alternatives relegate this to lefty/righty. Foxx I just thought played a rah rah kind of President, which is fine but nothing to distinguishable. My thought was prejudice would cause some people to dismiss this movie offhand. I don’t think for a moment that everyone saw this film has love for our current Pres but I think Foxx in this role, which one would imagine to paint his character in a favorable light would be too much for some. I’m not sure if Brad Pitt in the role would’ve help the film win the weekend based on some of the arguments listed above but I can’t help but feel it cost the movie some.

    Although, as I write that, I wonder how many African Americans or others would’ve gone out to support a person of color in a lead?? I’m glad Sony didn’t shy away from casting Foxx. The fact that it wasn’t a disaster I would hope would encourage studios to not cast as scaredy cats.

  15. brack says:

    Lex – You walk to your car at 3am down a dark alley? You out clubbing? Buying drugs? Leaving a bordello?

  16. Martin S says:

    Triple Option with something pretty spot-on above:

    One of the reasons After Earth tanked is because it was Will Smith as Mr. Eko. He or Foxx can take a role where their cadence and inflection changes dramatically, but this usually only works in context to something historical or biographical. So Smith would have had to change his AftEarth look to where he was unrecognizable to go with that voice, just as Foxx would have for WHD, as a visual cue for the audience to not expect Smith/Foxx to be playing their usual personality-derived role.

    But the studios are not looking to back genre character pieces, they want the easy slough of jamming heads on every promo and watch the herds line up in the pens.

    With WHD, they trotted out distinguished-Foxx to make him more credible for the role, but the tv trailers were incessantly juxtaposed against real-Foxx with Tatum, which highlighted the makeup and moved the actions scenes from eye-catching to absurd.

    If the role of Pres needed to be played by a black star in his fifties, you’ve got Denzel and Sam. Outside of that, they needed a revision where Foxx could play Tatum’s part alongside whoever as pres, or keep the pair and change it so the pres and whoever else are killed/removed from the White House.

    Air Force One worked because it was Ford as Pres, not Bruce Willis. Willis OR Denzel could play that role today, but not in 1997.

  17. brack says:

    Concerning age as a factor, Barack Obama was 47 at his inauguration (51 now). Jamie Foxx is 44. So is Smith. Neither are really that far away from our real president’s age.

    Sam L is 64. Denzel is 58. Hard to believe. You know what they say, black don’t crack.

  18. Martin S says:

    Casting Foxx is a telegraph that says “we wanted someone who can sell action”.

    So why did they bother to age-up Foxx, when a younger pres is more plausible in the WHD scenario combined with the reality of our real-pres’ age.

    It can’t be fear of drawing the Obama analogy, or else they would have gone the Freeman route, or avoided it altogether.

    It’s about credibility. Foxx is not credible in that role at this time. Smith could have gotten away with it, because it would have been sold on the back of ID4. Hell, with Smith, this could have been the sequel.

    AFO also worked because it was pre-9/11. WHD would have had a better chance back then, too. It’s hard to accept terror-attack scenarios unless the goal is to play it close to real as a selling point. WHD took the opposite approach, then throw in Foxx, and it came across as absurd.

  19. Triple Option says:

    I know I make my share of type-os here but my above post was particularly off. Sorry about that. Don’t know what happened, it’s like auto correct didn’t save when copied & pasted.

  20. Triple Option says:

    I don’t think this is really a spoiler but when you hear Jamie Foxx as President in a film where terrorists have seized the White House, don’t you immediately think “oh man, he’s gonna beat some ass!”? But it wasn’t that. It’s not that I don’t think people would find it too difficult to believe Foxx is the President but why do you put him in the role if he’s not going to be 6th man coming in off the bench to play Navy Seal and save the day? Since he’s not that, do you have him be more of the comedy sidekick? They really didn’t do that. I don’t mind that they had him play Generic Pres, just as a known, likeable face, but it sorta reminded me of years ago when VH-1 did one of the Diva shows with Shakira and they have her sing a ballad sitting on a stool. Not that she’s not a talented musician who has a decent voice but you just want to look at the producers and say “you understand that there are thousands of community college co-eds across the country trying to make it rain from the pole who can’t come close to bringing the heat that she does when she moves??”

    I just saw on imdb that Andre Braugher is 51 today. For what WHD was, he might’ve been a good fit. Although, one thing that did work was Foxx’s youthfulness in relating to the tween girl and that’s really a key element for the film.

  21. Triple Option says:

    Oh yeah, pre/post 911 security. That was a big gripe of mine for the film. The takeover needed to have been much more cunning and believable. Everything happened way too easily and stuff that they did do would’ve brought major suspicion. It wasn’t like I was stewing the whole time over it but that definitely could have raised the quality of the movie.

  22. Mike says:

    Went and saw Monsters University over the weekend and really liked it. The Monsters movies might be my favorites of the Pixars. I like and admire the Toy Stories, but don’t feel a strong connection to the characters. Incredibles was awesome, but it isn’t one I watch all that often. Wall-E comes closest.

    I really liked the message of Monsters U, which is about dreams deferred. Not something you see a whole lot in kids movies.

    All the people crying about the decline in quality of the Pixar movies should watch the previews before the movie. Free Bird. Planes. Turbo. As a dad who likes to watch animated movies with my kid, I’ll gladly take so-called sub-par Pixar over what else is on the market.

  23. Don Lewis says:

    LAURENCE ANYWAYS did poorly because the company they signed with for U.S. distribution is probably the worst company they could have signed with. THE WORST. Unless you want your film to get no publicity….then it was an awesome decision. I speak from first hand knowledge.

  24. Ray Pride says:

    I had not even heard of Breaking Glass, Don. Another tiny distributor doomed the US distribution of Dolan’s first film.

  25. LexG says:

    Yes, instead of movie star Jamie Foxx for a big A-list movie, they should have gone with beloved show-killer and 19th-billed-actor-from-SALT Andre Braugher. That would’ve really brought the masses.

    I swear, people say the nuttiest stuff on movie blogs.

  26. Triple Option says:

    LOL! I’m just saying expectation vs role, not that I was advocating for someone else to be in the role. I’m just saying if you’re going to put Jamie Foxx in there use his skillz.

  27. Joe Leydon says:

    LexG: Hey, be fair — Braugher helped keep Homicide on for a while.

  28. palmtree says:

    Honestly, I feel like it was the premise that brought White House Down down. I haven’t seen it or the trailers, but the thought of something so alarmist and absurd just makes me feel like this isn’t going to be quality. It was the same thing with Olympus Has Fallen…pass. Die Hard worked in an office building and in an airport because those were public places that I could also believe had high stakes. Make it the White House and all suspension of disbelief goes to nil.

  29. anghus says:

    Pixar movies aren’t sub par. They are simply ‘par’. Its the same basic movie toting the same basic structure. They are not bad movies, just nothing special anymore.

  30. Yancy says:

    Pixar movies remain very, very special. They are, time and again, among the best and most enjoyable movies of their year – including this year.

    This culture would have turned against The Beatles by the time Revolver came out, just because they were tired of them, regardless of their quality. Humanity’s desire to see and encourage failure is now stronger than it’s desire to be pleased.

    To think that anyone could consider giving MONSTERS U a “thumbs down” in this movie season, in this culture, is shocking.

    And we turn on our favorite performers and artists with such venom, it’s as if we feel nothing positive or supportive about them even though they made us so happy. (See: George Lucas)

  31. Paul Doro says:

    I totally agree Yancy. I lowered my expectations for Monsters U based on lukewarm reviews that called it subpar Pixar. I ended up liking it nearly as much as Monsters, Inc. It’s just pure enjoyment from start to finish. A smile rarely left my face. It’s great, and my kid absolutely loved it. He’s still quoting it more than a week later.

  32. Glamourboy says:

    I didn’t really like Monsters Inc (maybe my least favorite of the Pixar originals), so when people say that it is almost as good as the original…I know that I’m just gonna pass.

  33. anghus says:

    I could stomach the Pixar argument better if they weren’t going back to the well with pained regularity. Every Pixar film feels eerily similar in terms of story beats and humor. They are all very well made but there’s nothing new here. The fact that we’re getting stuff like Cars 2 and Monsters Inc 2 shows that this is product, not art. No matter how much the middle aged film fans with well developed inner children claim them to be.

    The Beatles actually grew as artists. I don’t recall Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band 2 or Hey Again, Jude.

    Admire the artistry. Admire the great voice work. But call me when i get a story that doesn’t follow the same basic structure and feature the same sight gags again and again.

    And again, i wouldn’t call any of the Pixar films ‘bad’, but i would call them bland. They’ve taken me on the same ride a dozen times, and with the exception of Toy Story, Up, Incredibles, and the first half of Wall-E, i feel like i was watching the same basic movie. Success has wrecked the idea of innovation at Pixar. They do one thing extremely well and as long as it’s a license to print money, they will keep doing it.

    Pixar now reminds me of Disney in the 90’s when they kept putting out their annual animated movie and started hitting the creative skids. It was Pixar that showed up and revolutionized the animation industry.

    When’s the last time you would have used the word ‘revolutionary’ to describe what Pixar is doing?

  34. leahnz says:

    well one of the things about Die Hard that made it so special and delicious is the utterly sublime villain in Rickman’s Hans Gruber, he’s the dark to McClane’s light, the ointment to john’s fly, the ass to john’s pain, there is no legend of Die Hard without Rickman’s Gruber, it’s a synergy of sarcastic chess-play, one upmanship and badassery (and since Air Force One came up, to a much lesser degree the same probably applies to Oldman in that flick), and while I’ve only seen the trailers for ‘white house down’ it makes me ask (yet again), where is the fantastic blockbuster villain? what’s happened to the superb character villain, the critical source of conflict so glaringly missing from so many flicks in recent years featuring dull or way undeveloped antagonists, does nobody know how to write and use a terrific adversary anymore? it’s so much more satisfying when someone really heinous and vivid is behind the skullduggery and trying to kill the good guys making the stakes feel high (one reason why TDK was so successful imho) — nero was blah, bane like sean connery on ‘roids, snyder’s Zod like a blood-vessel bursting screech owl – not a patch on stamp’s evil Zod, loki and the new khan and bacon in x-men babies and weaving’s red skull were ok i guess, nothing to write home about, i can’t even remember the villains from so many recent movies…
    anyway it seems to me one thing White House Down could have used – just in the marketing even – is a great villain to root against, it’s like leaving out half of the equation for me, i don’t get it.

  35. Paul Doro says:

    Some Pixar movies are masterpieces, and some are just really entertaining. Few are mediocre or worse (and Monsters U is infinitely superior to Cars 2). I don’t know that I care whether or not what they are doing is “revolutionary.” With few exceptions, they make great animated movies, and I think they have a strong track record overall even with the sequels and prequels.

  36. leahnz says:

    oh i was going to add and forgot – and since i pretty much just talk to myself here i might as well: a friend who saw ‘white house down’ said what they really should have gone for is a female president in the Foxx role; that would have avoided some of the issues/hang-ups with ‘a black pres as an imitation of a black pres’ and provided a more original, previously unseen-in-blockbuster ‘buddy’ template with a fresh dynamic, he said the role as written could easily have been played by a woman and be essentially the same tone they were going for while providing a new twist (again i haven’t seen it so can’t really comment on the notion)

  37. jesse says:

    Can we drill a little further down into your argument, anghus?

    First, you list exceptions to Pixar doing the “same” thing (which you haven’t really specified beyond vague stuff like “the same sight gags” — do they actually re-use sight gags? Or do you just mean that they are movies with sight gags? I don’t really understand this objection). According to you, those exceptions are Toy Story, Up, The Incredibles, and Wall-E (or “the first half” which is about as fresh an argument as “A.I. should have ended with him at the bottom of the sea”). That’s four movies out of thirteen they’ve ever released. Not for nothing, but that’s a third of their output that you admit are really good movies. By itself, I’d say that’s pretty damn impressive considering it’s not thirteen movies by a single top-tier filmmaker (and tellingly, all four of those exceptions have different directors).

    Let’s go through the nine non-exceptions:

    Toy Story 2+3: Do you feel that these movies basically retread the first Toy Story? Fair play if you do, as they do cover similar themes. But I would argue that (a.) 2 and 3 are both a lot better than the first movie; funnier and more affecting; the first one gets a lot of credit for its firsties, same way some people will always say Snow White is the best Disney movie no matter how many better ones they made afterward and (b.) even if you don’t think they’re as good as the first one, they do an admirable job of continuing and deepening that movie’s story, rather than just replaying it.

    Cars + Cars 2: Kind of formulaic and very formulaic, respectively, sure. With you there. I think most people are, even though there’s a lot of charm in the first Cars movie.

    Monsters Inc and Monsters University: I’m no fan of their newfound willingness to franchise, but the two Monsters movies tell pretty different stories with very different themes and ideas at their core. One is more about parenting (as a lot of Pixar movies are, admittedly; more on that in a moment), and one is a surprising mature exploration of the idea of talent versus hard work, and where those things can get you. MU doesn’t exactly feel *necessary*, but it does do something different.

    Three left: A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille. Do those strike you as basically the same movie?! I mean, they do all cover different small animals. Finding Nemo has some echoes of Monsters Inc and the Toy Story movies because they’re all very focused on the experience of parenting. But do you seriously consider Ratatouille just one more race around the old Toy Story track? In its surface-cute way, Ratatouille is actually a pretty daring movie about recognizing talent that can come from anywhere, as well as the talented needing to recognize their ego. I never once, watching Ratatouille thought, “aw, jeez, more of this Bug’s Life crap” (and though A Bug’s Life is pretty formulaic, it’s also pretty delightful in addition to being a pretty early try for them).

    So your 4/13 estimate seems low to me. I’d say even a less-than-generous assessment would put their originality rate closer to 6 or 7 out of 13.

    Who else gets dinged for not making a “revolutionary” movie thirteen times in twenty years? Is that even possible? Has ANYONE actually done this? They do have very old-fashioned classical storytelling at their core. Is it hard for you to watch Casablanca or It Happened One Night because they’re so formulaic, too?

  38. palmtree says:

    Leahz, thanks for bringing up the villain thing. It goes to a larger point. Hans Gruber was smart, likable, and developed a familiarity with McClane that was endearing. It wasn’t constant threats and chases…it was like you say, two men playing a game and to an extent being good at it and enjoying it. Of course, he deserves to die, but that doesn’t mean he has to only serve that purpose. I’m not sure how you’d sell that in trailers, etc., but as far the movie goes, I’m there.

  39. leahnz says:

    palmtree, from back in the day, taste the yummy villain:

  40. anghus says:

    I don’t expect them to be revolutionary all the time (or at all). That is more a reaction to the die hard Pixar fans who seem to anoint everything they do as being exceptional.

    Your assessment of Ratatouille sounds like A Bugs Life and Monsters University to me. Finding potential in those well intentioned souls who yearn to be something more than what others tell them they have to be.

    Pixar make movies that consistently please audiences. But I think they squandered a lot of potential and have become CG Disney. Whenever I hear about Directors on Pixar projects getting replaced or producers stepping in to tinker with the movies, it feels like assertion of control from a company afraid to deviate from the model. And I find the model a little tired.

  41. palmtree says:

    Leahz, I’m shocked, shocked. Where’s the Beethoven’s 9th? It’s a staple of every trailer, even the newest shitty Die Hard. Well, back to your point, it’s not bad although 30 seconds longer than most trailers nowadays so you figure they had more to play with.

    anghus, yes, I agree that corporate Disney has made Pixar conform in ways that are annoying. But sometimes we mistake retreading for what really is voice, sense of style, and craft, no? I guess it’s like that other Steve Jobs empire, Apple, where I have almost no interest in the product but I must admit their gadgets are well-made, well-designed, and consistent in their quality. That’s an achievement (even if I will never ever buy one).

  42. Jerryishere says:

    If Pixar is tired, sign me up for a nap.

  43. leahnz says:

    it is a surprisingly long trailer (but i don’t think the length is the reason the source of conflict and characters are fairly clear and compelling)

  44. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Palm – you mean Finlandia? That’s Sibelius, not Beethoven.

    Edit: Apparently it’s both Beethoven’s 9th and Finlandia.

  45. LexG says:

    For the record, since he wasn’t featured much in the trailer and some people are writing their dissertations without seeing the movie yet, James Woods is a FANTASTIC villain in WHD, pretty much the best thing about the movie, doing a classic Woods ham job like from The Specialist or Against All Odds but playing it three-dimensional at every turn, running the gamut from patriotic to insane to damaged to comical to kick-ass. Between Woods, Jason Clarke, and the guy who plays Devil on “Justified,” the villains in WHD are all enjoyable foils for Foxx/Tatum.

  46. anghus says:


    the apple comparison is excellent.

  47. Mike says:

    Yeah, but separate the Pixar comparison from itself, and compare it to the other animation companies. Other than Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon and Wreck It Ralph, there is nothing but crap out there. Just watch the previews for Free Bird or Turbo. Those look awful. And I would argue the good movies, like Wreck It Ralph, are still only on par or below par in comparison with Pixar movies like Monsters University or Brave. No one but Pixar is even trying to make another Wall-E.

  48. Paul Doro says:

    I don’t care what the movie is, if you tell me that James Woods, Jason Clarke, and Devil are playing villains, I want to see the next showing. If nothing else that is some great casting. I’ve read elsewhere that Woods is great in WHD, clearly aware of the type of movie he is in.

    Agreed Mike. Wreck It Ralph is enjoyable and made for good home viewing, but it’s not Pixar. As Jesse demonstrates above, Pixar has a solid track record. I think it’s way too soon to declare that they’ve lost it.

  49. anghus says:

    Again, the complaint isn’t that Pixar doesn’t do quality work. The complaint is that they are making he same movie. And to be fair, How to Train Your Dragon… Wreck it Ralph… they are trying to make the same movie too.

    Hell, doesn’t ‘the plight of the underdog’ pretty much cover the theme for 90% of these movies.

    I was Andy’s favorite toy, then Buzz Lightyear showed up
    I want to create gourmet food, but i’m a rat
    An ant doesn’t like his lot in life and dreams of being something different…
    You’ll never be scary Mike… “I’ll show you.”
    I’m a fish with a wonky fin and i have to be saved by my Father who is scared of everything and a goofy fish with a memory problem…
    I don’t want to be the villain anymore…
    My dad is a great warrior, and i’ll never live up to his expectations…

    The Pixar movies i like are the ones that deviate from the model. The Incredibles is a good, fun adventure. Up is a beautiful story with an unconventional protagonist. The first half of Wall-E is beautiful in a way so many animated films aren’t. Then he hitches a ride on a rocket to the space station and the movie becomes anattention span killing boilerplate animated kiddy movie.

    With all these animated films, you know exactly what you’re getting. And yes, there are formulas for all films, not just animated, but outside the romantic comedy, is there a less original, more formulaic genre of film than the Hollywood produced animated film?

  50. Glamourboy says:

    I like LeahZ’s idea of having a female president instead of a black one in WHD…in fact, if they’d have casted Melissa McCarthy in either role then the film might have had a better week.

  51. jesse says:

    Yeah, see, anghus, the way you just described six or seven animated movie plots doesn’t really make them sound the same to me, beyond the general mechanics by which 80% of movies could be reduced to a similar-sounding logline. How is “I don’t want to be a villain anymore” the same dilemma as “I was Andy’s favorite toy until Buzz Lightyear showed up”??

  52. anghus says:

    well, technically those two are ‘different’. one character is trying to shed his role, the other is trying to get it back.

    To me, thematically, they’re no different.

    There really is no reason to continue the discussion. My point is ‘pixar movies are basically the same experience’ and the counter point is ‘no they aren’t’.

    Take something cute. Give it a celebrity voice. Set them up as the underdog. Admire their plucky spirit as they fight adversity. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    Pixar does a better job with the polish. God knows stuff like Turbo looks painful. I admire Pixar for their technical acumen. But i’ve become bored with their annual formulaic experience. Like the apple comparison, they still make a popular product and every year deliver a slight variation on the same basic model. I’d like to see them try something different. But ‘different’ implies risk. And Pixar seems more averse to change than a money clip.

  53. Paul Doro says:

    I’d think that the announcement that Pixar will release an original movie every year starting in 2015 is a step in the right direction.

  54. Sam says:

    This Pixar conversation reminds me of other criticisms I’ve heard. One is that Alfred Hitchcock basically made the same movie over and over again. I think some of his admirers even say this. It’s not much of a criticism: Rear Window and Vertigo are not redundant. I couldn’t do without either of them.

    Another is that John Wayne was a bad actor, because he only ever played himself. I defy anyone to watch The Searchers and True Grit and call that the same character, but never mind: acting talent isn’t necessarily about range. It can also just be about conveying emotional complexity in just a single character.

    Like Hitchcock and Wayne, Pixar has a certain style. At a surface reading, it looks like mechanical repetition. But there differences within that style (even in the cases where the themes are similar) that are glorious and well worth celebrating.

  55. Mike says:

    Anghus, I don’t think the conversation is really reduced to yes and no. You’re saying that the three-act, hero’s story formula is the same, and you’re right. But while the formula remains the same, they change the story and the themes up enough to be different, and especially different from the more formulaic offerings from other studios, that they feel unique to me.

    I think Monsters U’s theme of hard work not necessarily being enough makes for an interesting story I hadn’t seen before in an animated movie. But at the same time, you’re right that it is sight gags, cute characters, and an underdog story, which is all Pixar ever does.

    What I appreciate is that they were going to make a sequel to Monsters Inc and they could have made the same movie again. Instead, they turn it into a prequel, college story, with an interesting theme. They get a lot of credit from me for mixing it up, even if they don’t mix it up enough.

  56. christian says:

    Pixar’s films usually have a grain of real truth or insight (think of UP’s sad montage) — shit like TURBO looks like a team of marketing people spitballing.

  57. Double D says:

    I remember these words vividly when a friend and I walked out of “Toy Story 3”, he turned to me and said, “I think they blew their wad on UP.” And I think he’s right. I thought Brave was sub-par, and Monster’s University had its moments but nowhere near the energy of the first one. UP seems to be the culmination of Pixar’s powers and they haven’t been able to conjure them up again. For me, UP is “the” Pixar film.

    The one news that really broke my heart was sequel to Finding Nemo. Of all the films that should absolutely be left alone – that’s it.

    The Bling Ring – the one movie my wife HAD to see this Summer, and she left the theater livid. She’s a huge sofia coppola fan, and couldn’t believe this lost opportunity. This one had a real shot at connecting and it’s basically a thirty minute film squeezed into 87 minutes.

  58. palmtree says:

    The climax of Toy Story 3 really makes that movie. A lot darker than I would imagine them going.

    Finlandia was used in Die Hard 2 only. I was referring to the Die Hard trailers, which ALL have used Beethoven’s Ninth. FYI: Kamen’s score is famously derived from the Ninth. It’s fascinating if you’re familiar with the entire piece and not just the Ode to Joy section.

  59. Don Lewis says:

    It takes a very, very special kind of ineptitude to release a heavily buzzed about gay film on pride weekend and pull in $1000. That company is awesome if you want distribution that’s a heavily guarded secret.

    Our ugly dog movie has the misfortune of being with that distributor and once again as the world’s ugliest dog contest comes and goes, they do their very best to make sure the massive amounts of internet traffic aimed at covering the contest absolutely does not tie into our film. I honestly don’t know what the point is.

  60. leahnz says:

    just to be clear my intent was not to write a dissertation on ‘white house down’, which i think i made clear i haven’t seen; i tend to steer clear of reading much about movies i’ve yet to view to avoid overhyping syndrome, so i wasn’t even aware James woods was the nemesis, and that was my point really: if he’s a great well-fleshed villain (and i love me some Woods, i was just watching ‘Cop’ on cable, what a hard case – i like ellroy’s book better but JW kills as ushe), where is he in the marketing, is he a secret or something? is there some conspiracy i’m not aware of, what’s happened to using a formidable villain in selling tickets – they seemed to do the same thing with cumberbatch/khan for ‘trek’, which is just ridiculous, people love a compelling baddie to root against, keeping the great characters and source of conflict out of the marketing in favor of 180 effects shots and meaningful glances is just mental.

    (i love the ugly dog contest, so adorable, so i’ll keep an eye out for don’s film)

  61. Triple Option says:

    Hans was a great villain. So was Tommy Lee Jones in Under Seige, which I believe one of the vills in WHD does the exact same movement after hacking into a computer that Tommy Lee did in Siege. I’ll have to go check.

    I think there still might about been backlash if a female had been cast as Pres. Only then it’s “damn Hllywd libs! Trying to be sooo PC. Now they want to condition everyone into voting for Hilary!”

    Heath ledger was of course an amazing villain. Batman Begins I thought the biggest villain was actually Bruce Wayne fighting against himself. Spidey II had that strong inner conflict as well. Did anyone see Speed II? What was the villain like in that one? The whole premise was too big of an eye roll for me to even bother to sit down and watch on cable. I think I tried a couple of times but got too bored with it before the “crisis” could even kick in.

  62. leahnz says:

    yeah i’m sure there would still be backlash from morons for a female pres – same as for a black pres – but my mate’s point was the role could have been played by a woman pretty much exactly as written, in the same way that DP mentions in his brief non-spoilery review (which i did skim) that in WHD the president’s race is portrayed as a complete non-issue for the role, it also would have worked with gender being a non-issue.

    and god forbid someone should attempt to break new ground and make a good old-fashioned buddy flick with a new twist, christ how many times are we going to get a white dude and a black dude team (unless it’s a magical reteaming of pryor and wilder), snooze – lethal weapon did the black cop/white cop pair without murtaugh’s race being defining or pivotal to the role ad nauseum, not exactly a new phenom, and it would have been a point of difference from ‘olympus has fallen’ too. (not to mention perhaps a 40-something woman pres could have been a small step towards rectifying this nonsense of the portrayal of the universal male as ‘the norm’ with women – half the population of the planet, diverse individuals and probably more than half the ticket-buyers to movies if statistics are to be believed – relentlessly depicted as ‘the other’ and relegated to ‘supportive of the hero on his journey’ in mainstream flicks, with women in lead roles bizarrely perceived as ‘niche’ requiring men and romance to be portrayed as the only thing of importance in their lives. but then again casting a female pres would have required having some guts and imagination and going against the grain, a quality sorely lacking in many of today’s mainstream film-makers, big scaredy-cats)

    (I think willem Dafoe was the villain in ‘speed 2’, set on a very slow moving ship (???), but i don’t rememeber a single thing about the movie except everyone looked vaguely embarassed to be there)

  63. palmtree says:

    Cherry Jones was a very good female Pres on 24. Significant because I do credit that show with Dennis Haysbert (EDIT) as a believable black Pres.

  64. anghus says:

    i can remember a surprising amount about the villain from Speed 2. He was a former employee or something with a terminal disease which he used leeches to help treat. He smuggled aboard his equipment in a golf bag.

    1997 was a great year for film but had one of the weirdest Summer releases. You had massive misses like Lost World, Batman & Robin, Speed 2. Movies that felt so strangely placed in the summer like Contact and Conspiracy Theory. I’m trying to imagine a studio that would put a movie like Contact into their summer line up in the current climate.

    But it was also the summer of Cage as we were blessed with both Con Air and Face/Off, possibly the most wonderfully weird one-two punch in summer cinema.

    Looking at that Summer, Sony had 3 of the top 4 films. My how times have changed.

  65. hcat says:

    I’ll always remember Speed 2 as being a film where with the (Really old, not real spoiler) exception of the villian’s death the hero’s were not able to stop any aspect of his plan. Dafoe wanted to steal some diamonds and crash the ship for revenge, and by the end ship crashed, diamonds lost, and an oil tanker blown up for good measure. Dafoe dies but had a terminal illness anyway so they only sped it up about a year.

    There actually would have been less damage if Patric and Bullock had just evacuated like they should have, and stayed out of the way entirely.

    Anghus if you look at the surrounding years Sony was always floundering, every five or so years they would strike gold and then fade into the mist again. It wasn’t until 02 that they were able to maintain the streak for longer than a year, now it seems they stumbleing more and more.

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