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By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Denzel Klady


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61 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Denzel Klady”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Denzel is the sixth actor to notch fifteen $20 million openings. But he’s really in a class of three with Adam Sandler and Tom Cruise, given that Samuel L Jackson and Morgan Freeman lean heavily on supporting/voice work, and Eddie Murphy has the “Shrek” quadrilogy.

    Anyone else think “Big Hero 6” and maybe “Book of Life” are primed to explode? This has to be the weakest year for animation at this point in ages, and it’s stunning considering what a fast start we got off to this year (LEGO movie plus $140 million of FROZEN’s gross took place this year). It’s really the only reason the domestic box office is off this year at large.

  2. jesse says:

    I thought/hoped that maybe the sheer lack of animation over the past few months combined with the late-September date that Sony Animation usually stakes out would mean The Boxtrolls doing more than the usual Laika numbers (it even looked to me like some of the print ads tried to make the movie look more like a CG affair and less stop-motion). 17 is probably fine for them (even maybe on the higher end of reasonable expectations) but I would have loved to see them wind up with 25-30 just because they’re the only kid-movie game in town apart from Dolphin Tale 2 and week 45 of Ninja Turtles. Oh well! LOVED the movie, though — surprised to see some reviews calling it a step down from Coraline and/or ParaNorman… I love all three of those movies and Laika has my full attention for their next two or three releases at least.

    Book of Life seems like a stretch just because it has that somewhat off-brand look to it. Actually, I really like the animation style in the trailers I’ve seen, and the cheesy/hacky/second-tier-animation-trying-to-be-DreamWorks jokes probably play fine with the kids… but I don’t see it doing more than the usual non-Disney/Pixar/DreamWorks numbers (so 50-70).

    Big Hero Six, though… that should be huge. Disney Proper has been on a roll lately, enough so that $185 million or whatever it was for Wreck-It Ralph seemed almost low, compared to how great the movie was and how much appeal it had (or should have had). I imagine they’re expecting their next few Disney cartoons to be $200 million+ the same way that in the 90s, $100 million and change was generally a given.

    I think the reason kid/animation box office can be more erratic than people expect is with parents making the call, it’s not so unusual for them to just, you know… not go to the movies with their kids for a few months if there’s not a must-see event. Adults might just want to go out to the movies for a date or with friends, which might lead to “well, there’s not much else out” and some non-event movies punching through. With kid-centric stuff, it’s not like most families have a standing date for a $100+ trip to the theater (most adults don’t either, but they may have the free time to at least go more regularly).

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    Good points, though at some point there’s a limit and parents finally decide to go see something…which is why I think “Book of Life,” has a chance (I agree with you on the stylistic elements).

    But, yes, Reel FX does not have an inspiring track record as an animation house (“Free Birds” and direct to video “Open Season” sequels). It still stuns me that this is the Fox’s fourth animated distribution deal this year…with a fifth on tap with the Dreamworks Penguins spin-off. And now we have word of a Dreamworks buyout this weekend…

  4. amblinman says:

    I thought Equalizer would open better..or am I missing something? Was this what it was supposed to do?

    The movie itself was good, just too long. Also, the very best sequence takes place early on and the film never really catches that momentum again (when McCall takes out the pimps in the room). The ending is sooooo long and drawn out. And seriously, not a single punch thrown between Denzel and the big bad?? C’mon…you can give me a little bit of a karate fight, it wouldn’t have been any more or less cliche than Denzel’s slo mo strut in the “rain” just before shooting his enemy.

    A question: did I miss something in the movie in which Denzel’s character had sworn off using guns or something?

  5. Triple Option says:

    I kinda agree w/amblin. That first clear out scene gave the hint of some hyper-kinetic threat assessment going on and that Denzel’s character was a lot more cleaver than they otherwise showed him to be. Well, it’s not that he wasn’t but they never really showed what he was thinking or how he was figuring stuff out. I think the movie greatly needed to show the explanation of how cleaver and resourceful his character was.

    It was stylish enough and yeah, could’ve used more hand to hand but in the way, since you see it coming, what good does that do. he’s never going to fight like Jet Li anyway so why bother? Would we believe it?

    I know it’s based on a TV show but I really felt like I had thrown too much money away to watch a TV show. More violent but the way scenes and plot points would wrap up seemed obligatory spot for a Tide commercial. You’ve got Denzel and Fuqua teaming up and this is the title the decide to make? I don’t want to seem like I really despised this when I didn’t. From what I remember the show did OK in the 80s but it was far from being iconic. Besides Sony opening up their checkbook, I’m a bit surprised why this project makes it to the top of the heap to be made???

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m not sure why anyone would expect Denzel/Fuqua to aim any higher than “middle of the road” at this point given their respective trajectories the last ten years. The only thing The Denz has made that’s worthwhile is “Flight” (maybe “Inside Man”….if he’s the person who got Jay-Z to do the “American Gangster” soundtrack he can have credit for that too). I’m especially not sure why anyone would expect this to be the biggest September opening of all-time.

  7. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    ET- Book of Life is going to tank
    You’re only correct in that it’s going to explode because it has bomb written all over it.

  8. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Any normal people seen The Guest yet? Thoughts?

  9. amblinman says:

    “I’m especially not sure why anyone would expect this to be the biggest September opening of all-time.”

    I don’t know that I did, I just thought the number seemed a little low given pre-release hype.

    I think you’re right on with your assessment, that this material wasn’t going to be anything other than Denzel’s Taken franchise kickoff. However I would argue that when you do have talent like Fuqua and Denzel attached to genre, you would expect the very best version of that genre.

    Triple: I wasn’t hoping for or expecting some ridiculously choreographed exchange between Denzel and Russian Psycho Bad Guy, but just a little tussle. Something. You gotta give me McCall straight up punching the dude at least once before murdering him to death with a nailgun.

  10. amblinman says:


    As to why they would choose this material, I thought it was pretty simple: the concept seems dead solid perfect for Washington. I recall pretty much pumpling my fist and saying “fuck YES” when I first read Fuqua would direct him in this film.

    It’s called “The Equalizer”. You don’t even need to know the 80’s show existed to get the gist of it. Denzel Washington is THE EQUALIZER. C’mon.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    It’s Denzel’s third best opening ever. I think it did better than expected if anything.

  12. berg says:

    i found The Guest practically unwatchable b-movie pap … no where near as interesting as You’re Next

  13. EtGuild2 says:

    @Jeff, it’s tracking on par with “The Equalizer” so barring Zoe Saldana or Channing Tatum lighting themselves on fire and running around screaming the chant of the dead, it isn’t going to bomb, sorry.

    @amblin…I’m getting used to being disappointed by Denzel and Fuqua. Poland needs a Dp/30 where he asks Denzel, opening question, why do you do the same shit over and over (yup, money’s the answer but Denzel has to be richer than 99% of Hollywood stars now…the only thing he’s done for less than his $15 mil fee in the last decade was “The Great Fucking Debaters?”)

    Denzel has become Adam Sandler, but a higher grade of Sandler. Yup, sometime he actually flexes his muscles, like in “Flight,” but how often is that? I thought the Tony Scott death and his impending mortality might make him want to challenge Will Smith, Sidney Poitier and Eddie Murphy for “biggest black actor ever” title (Morgan Freeman is in the conversation because of the failings of his peers). Because, you know, Denzel can actually act. When he wants to.

    Nope. Back to overperforming crime thrillers in off-months.


  14. YancySkancy says:

    I guess I’d want to know what Denzel was turning down before I judged him too harshly. I think we tend to assume the only reason big name stars do iffy, lame or recycled projects is because of a lack of taste and/or an abundance of greed, but I suspect the truth is more like, “These are my choices, eh? They won’t fund my dream projects, eh? Well, I like to work, so let’s do this Equalizer thing. We might be able to make something out of it.”

  15. leahnz says:

    my kid is a massive denzel fan after some years ago when he had a classic denz spree (do you think people call him ‘denz’ as a nickname? hey denz! that would be cool) from my preciousess – glory, the hurricane, X, cry freedom, training day, philadelphia, courage under fire – so he’s keen to see anything denzel now — it’s film writing that’s getting shittier; fuqua is a fairly decent action director but probably about as good as his material, not sure he can ‘elevate’ like some, so while i wouldn’t go so far as to argue david ayer is a great screenwriter he has a certain wordsmithery about him, particularly telling urban crime stories such as ‘training day’ with a degree of panache that goes beyond the utterly mediocre, which pretty much sums up the writing of ‘the equalizer’ by ____________ (insert name here, i have no idea who wrote it but they’re a bit shit). in general the standards for mainstream screenwriting are falling by the day, the idiocracy looms

  16. YancySkancy says:

    Screenwriters don’t stand a chance these days, with studios assigning competing writers on projects, inundating them with stupid, conflicting notes, getting free work from them when possible, along with the general, same-as-it-ever-was de-valuing of their contributions. I’m generalizing, and of course there are indeed terrible writers who get work, but still.

  17. leahnz says:

    yeah, god, so depressing — because good writing is so crucial to the art of storytelling and film-making, the foundation, framing and structure upon which the solidity and integrity of the final creation so utterly depends – and so often the difference between something being ‘good’ and transcendent somehow. i think that’s why in general film-makers/directors who write – or adapt – their own material (or keep it ‘in house’) are at a serious artistic advantage now – but clearly this rather narrow paradigm is not ideal for a robust, creative and innovative industry so i guess we can just hope whoever the *cough*’suits’ are approving these middling, mediocre, forgettable screenplays all just go the fuck away and take a long walk off a short pier to be replaced by people who know what a well-written story looks like.

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    Richard Wenk wrote The Equalizer. He is also credited with the masterpieces 16 Blocks, The Mechanic (remake), and The Expendables 2. Which makes me wonder, since others know far more than me about the inner workings of Hollywood, when your resume as a screenwriter is full of crap, how do you keep getting work? Is it that the original screenplays were really good, long before studio tinkering and rewrites and all that? Or because the writers form close relationships with the right people? Do you foster a reputation as someone who can work quickly? Maybe Wenk is a really talented writer. I have no idea. I just know the movies he’s credited with writing are pretty damn terrible.

    Regarding Denzel, didn’t he and Spike Lee try for years and years to get a Jackie Robinson movie made, with no success? Maybe he got sick of going through that. And yeah who knows what he’s turning down, if anything. I’d pay to see him in almost anything. He commands the screen like few others working today.

  19. YancySkancy says:

    I loved 16 BLOCKS; tightly plotted genre picture with a strong “clock.”

    But I’d like to know Richard Wenk’s story. He wrote and directed VAMP, that Grace Jones vampire movie, then nothing but a couple of minor TV credits for the next 13 years, after which he wrote and directed JUST THE TICKET, that Andy Garcia ticket-scalping movie (which was a hit-and-miss character piece). Three years later, he directed something called WISHCRAFT, then it was another four years before he wrote 16 BLOCKS. Nothing again for five years, then THE MECHANIC, EXPENDABLES 2 (w/Stallone) and THE EQUALIZER in the last three years.

    My guess is he’s a decent, cooperative writer who’s happy to have work in his mid-50s after the directing thing dried up and doesn’t rock the boat when the stupid exec notes start flying.

  20. Stella's Boy says:

    Not a fan of 16 Blocks, but that seems like a reasonable explanation for Wenk’s work output. Wouldn’t be surprised if the career gaps are the result of lots of uncredited rewrites. I believe that can be pretty lucrative work.

  21. EtGuild2 says:

    Denzel is on the record as regretting turning down “Michael Clayton” and “Se7en.” So lord knows what else.

  22. movieman says:

    It’s funny.
    I actually prefer Denzel’s “mere entertainments” (“The Equalizer,” “Unstoppable,” “Safe House,” etc.) to his increasingly rare “prestige” vehicles (“Flight,” “American Gangster,” “Great Debaters”).
    Apparently I’m in the minority here, lol.

  23. YancySkancy says:

    Of course we don’t know exactly when a given project was offered to Washington, what else was on his plate at the time, what other elements, if any, were attached, what shape the draft was in, how the schedule or location may have affected his choice, etc. Hindsight’s always 20/20 though.

  24. leahnz says:

    movieman, your comment made me want to add something that i consider important: i don’t necessarily prefer denzel’s more recent ‘prestige’ vehicles either — ‘prestige’ material isn’t necessarily always well written, or better written than ‘entertainments; stories and writing can be sharp and well-observed/-conceived, constructed and then executed in any/all genres, styles and sensibilities. i find writing of ‘prestige’ material as you call it can be just as derivative, rife with clichés and uninspired/conceptually dull as poorly written pop-corn munching eye-poppers – as is often the case it’s not so much what you do but how you do it that defines excellence, and separates greatness from mediocrity; making art vital and engaging rather than middling and forgettable is the challenge, whatever the form and flavour.

  25. movieman says:

    Amen to that, Leah.
    I actually prefer the popcorn rush of Denzel’s oft-derided “Pelham 123” remake to the heavy-breathing dramaturgy (and pretensions) of “Flight.”
    Or pseudo epic “American Gangster.”
    And one “Unstoppable” is worth a dozen “Great Debaters”s or “Antwone Fisher”s in my book.

  26. LexG says:

    There’s some Movie Nerd Rule that apparently Denzel, Cruise, Leo, etc, should be eternally shamed and besmirched for doing movies that Idon’tknow they might POSSIBLY JUST ENJOYING MAKING instead of some outdated 90s prestige model that doesn’t even exist anymore. As much as online movie nerds FOLLOW movies, they never seem able to put themselves in the mind of the actors they watch 24/7…. If you were an actual actor, a movie star, would you have more FUN jumping outta planes and shooting off guns or whatever….or making some Ed Zwick-type pink-hued 1987 model of a “proper” dramatic film?

    I’d rather make THE EQUALIZER than that STATELY REMOVE SCOTCH GUARD shit that all your all hero CLOONEY fucking makes.

  27. jesse says:

    Do people really say that about DiCaprio? I’d hold him up as having some of the best taste in the business, and a seemingly great instinct for movies that tend to be worthwhile AND wind up making a lot of money — basically he seems like he’s on a one-man mission to prove that you can make adult-driven hits that aren’t pandering or lame. Wolf of Wall Street, Great Gatsby, Django Unchained, Inception, Shutter Island… Revolutionary Road and J. Edgar aren’t quite on that level, but they’re also both pretty damn solid.

    And Cruise at his peak wasn’t doing the 90s Oscar Prestige Movie… he was just doing the current DiCaprio/Damon/Pitt thing where you knock off as many great directors as you can. He had a ten-year period where he worked with De Palma, Cameron Crowe x 2, Spielberg x 2, Kubrick, PTA, and Mann(and, OK, Ed Zwick, can’t win ’em all)… that wasn’t all awards bait faux-prestige, it was just mostly awesome movies. Though, you know, I was a little wary of Edge of Tomorrow post-Oblivion and it turned out to be completely awesome and I love the Mission: Impossible series so I understand a few years of trying to do movie-star damage control.

    I love Denzel and I always dug his genre movies with Tony Scott; his ratio just seems a little off, the past five or six years, and I’d like to see him in more than one type of movie. I’d be delighted if that were something more like Inside Man; it doesn’t have to be Monuments Men or whatever. Basically, I feel like him not being Spike Lee’s go-to anymore sort of throws off the balance of his resume.

  28. LexG says:

    The consistent Leo rap is that he needs to “lighten up,” like any actor with his pick of the litter would rather be doing some modern-day “charming” LEGAL EAGLES type deal than Inception or Django or Departed. It’s that weird thing where McConaughey was CRUCIFIED for years for doing romcoms, but inversely everybody’s been clamoring for DiCaptrio to do some ONE FINE DAY type puff piece.

  29. LexG says:

    Also, jesse, “Cruise at his peak” was doing Rain Man, Born on the 4th, and Few Good Men, which were about as prestige-Oscary as has ever been seen; And Far and Away was surely an attempt at that kinda deal, and The Firm was quasi-Oscary and definitely prestige. And concurrent with those, Denzel was in the likes of Philadelphia, Cry Freedom, Glory, etc. I just think this VERY PROPER brand of great-but-SQUARE movies doesn’t really exist anymore, plus as guys of a certain age, must be more fun to do a JACK REACHER or EQUALIZER than that kinda deal.

  30. Mike says:

    I don’t think anyone gets more of that shit than Harrison Ford. He did his Presumed Innocent, prestige stuff, but at some point decided to treat his career like a job and just make movies for the money. And they were perfectly good popcorn movies. I’m not sure why every actor has to be expected to want to do more challenging work?

  31. Bitplayer says:

    Ford is way more in paycheck mode than Denzelbis. That last Indiana jones movie was way worse than anything Denzel has done.

  32. Stella's Boy says:

    Not to mention Firewall and Paranoia.

  33. movieman says:

    Considering his pretty much flawless taste (“Body of Lies” excepted), I think the major reason Leo hasn’t felt the need to lighten up and do another “Catch Me if You Can” is that NOBODY is writing smart, sophisticated
    rom-coms for thinking adult audiences anymore. Not within the studio system anyway.
    And I don’t think anyone wants to see Leo slumming in the kind of shite Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson used to do before everybody seemingly got tired of them.
    “Crazy Stupid Love” was a long time ago.

  34. jesse says:

    “Crazy Stupid Love” was also appallingly stupid and insulting.

    The Leo-lighten-up stuff is obviously nutty. I mean, I love the charm of Catch Me If You Can, but at the same time, DiCaprio is often dinged for being too boyish, so I imagine he’s not all that eager to play a dreamy rom-com lead, especially as he makes his way through his 40s. And anyway, it’s not like Gatsby is lacking in movie-star panache. Hell, it’s a dark and violent movie, but he’s definitely doing some lip-smacking and scenery chewing in Django. People have such weird, narrow ideas of how a movie can be fun.

    Lex, for ME peak-Cruise is that 1996-2006 period where he was both using his star persona, tweaking it a bit, and challenging himself with great filmmakers on the regular. Rain Man is great and I love A Few Good Men, but I do think he started doing better movies (really almost superhumanly good movies, considered as a track record) when he stopped chasing serious prestige, but also didn’t fall back on Cocktail-style star coasting.

    So basically, I agree with what you’re saying, but in a way that says Cruise should be doing more stuff like War of the Worlds or Magnolia, rather than Cruise should be doing stuff like Knight & Day.

    But no beef with Jack Reacher. That movie ruled. With him and Denzel, it’s really not that I don’t want them to go do their movie star thing. Just that they’re both talented enough to do more than potboilers — mix it up a little more, don’t protect the brand so much. I’m definitely more into 90s-style potboilers than 90s-style prestige pictures, though. (You know what’s an underrated Denzel star turn? OUT OF TIME. Really fun movie. 2003, not 90s, but still.)

  35. Stella's Boy says:

    The mid-late ’90s is a fantastic mix of fun Denzel and more serious, prestige Denzel: Crimson Tide, Devil in a Blue Dress, Courage Under Fire, He Got Game, The Siege. I love those movies. Even The Bone Collector and Fallen are OK for what they are.

    Jack Reacher does rule. Caught my surprise by that one. Way better than I expected. Would love a sequel.

  36. Bulldog68 says:

    “(You know what’s an underrated Denzel star turn? OUT OF TIME. Really fun movie. 2003, not 90s, but still.)”

    My two Denzel “failures” that are re-watchable anytime at my house are Fallen and Deja Vu. Flaws and all, I think they are highly entertaining and I never get tired of seeing them. In fact I looked forward to Flight just to see Denzel and Goodman reunited.

  37. Zoetrope Ziti says:

    A different movie website I used to visit had a Box Office Forum where most of the people argued the Movie Star is pretty much dead. I brought up DiCaprio as an example of a star who’s been in a number of decent to large moneymakers that weren’t franchises. Nearly everyone on the forum argued DiCaprio really wasn’t legitimate for a number of reasons. They wanted to either give Scorsese or the material itself all the credit. Regarding Gatsby’s success, one guy credited Luhrman, the book and the production design before DiCaprio.

    Basically, it boiled down to the people on the forum didn’t like DiCaprio and they made up their minds that he had very little to do with the box office success of his movies.
    For a number of those people who visit The Dissolve, Hollywood Elsewhere, Badass Digest, /Film, etc on a daily basis big league directors such as Scorsese, Fincher, the Andersons are the main draws to see a movie. For everyday folks (the majority of the movie going public) who aren’t following the Oscar horserace and maybe go to the movie theater 3-5 times a year, they’ll refer to Wolf of Wall Street as “Leo’s new movie.” before even considering it Scorsese’s sequel in spirit to Goodfellas & Casino.

  38. LexG says:

    ^ Yep. Poland is always guilty of this. He’ll say something like “Fincher has never opened a movie above” so-and-so dollar amount, as if the masses are totally schooled on filmmakers and that’s in any way a factor in their ticket-buying decision. Even in the post-IMDB, Internet forum world, I still doubt more than 10% of moviegoers know or care who directs a movie. Obviously for the collective “us” who live and breathe this stuff, we sort of adhere to the Auteur Theory which is rudimentary even for casual film geeks…. But as has been said here many, many times, other than maybe Spielberg, Cameron, arguably Lucas or Scorsese, maybe Tarantino, Nolan, and (once upon a time) Shyamalan, the director isn’t really the “brand” to the casual customer. As dead as “the movie star” might be, it can still be somewhat of a brand, a guarantee — even a fading star. Like you tell my Mom there’s a new David Fincher movie, she doesn’t know who that is offhand unless you list some credits and might get a halfhearted “Oh.” But you say Nicolas Cage or John Cusack is in something, even in their late-era rut, and it’s still something a casual older moviegoer can hang their hat on.

  39. Bulldog68 says:

    You gotta give Leo credit for the direction he has chosen for his career post Titanic. He could have pretty much written his ticket after that and probably gotten any franchise he wanted. It’s amazing that like Denzel, his resume is sequel free and he has been able to have such diversity in his projects and them be so successful at the box office.

    And as for those guys who credit Martin Scorsese, whom I love, don’t make no mistake about it, with the box office success of his movies, ask them how many $100m plus movies Scorsese has had without LDC. The answer, zero. How many has LDC had without Scorsese, five of his nine.

  40. Zoetrope Ziti says:

    If DiCaprio isn’t considered a major factor to his successes, why do the studios bother to pay him big salaries when they can cast a Reynolds or Patrick Dempsey at a bargain rate? I could recall immediately after the boat movie, every big name director was trying to cast him. I’m not the biggest Leo fan, but I admire that he’s following in the tradition of 90’s Cruise (working with big league directors in adult minded vehicles). When J. Edgar underperformed, he didn’t sign up to wear spandex for Marvel to pad his B.O. numbers. To reach his forties and not have to show up at a Comic Con on a regular basis has to be something.

    When folks on that website forum were ready to credit the fireworks in Gatsby for its success, I decided to call it quits and I haven’t visited since. There’s a great group of people behind those forums, but ultimately I feel some of them were not wanting to accept reality. I suppose DiCaprio is not one of the cool ones for Film Geeks/Snobs. It seems these days, they want Hardy, Phoenix or Chris Pratt to be in everything directed by Refn and the Wachowskis.

  41. Triple Option says:

    Really enjoying this thread.

    I’m not so sure any stars are thinking “this looks like an early Sept release” or “I bet this will come out on Christmas day to capture the winter b.o. window and be the primed position film for end of the year awards”. Sure they might think art or swimming pool but breaking it down to this is an A- title or this is a C+ film I can sleepwalk through but get a decent paycheck, not so much.

    What I really meant was, on paper, The Equalizer seems like a rather ho-hum part for him to play. Avenging people I get but this didn’t have a mysterious stranger with no name and eye patch roll into town with only one bag sort of feel to it. My idealistic/naive line of thinking is that there has to be script out there somewhere where a guy gave a script to his boss, who gave it to his wife, who goes to the same hairdresser as the personal assistant to the SVP of foreign theatrical distribution for Lakeshore Ent, who passed it to a manager and got the ball rolling. Because, seriously, there’s got to be one or two of those floating out there that’s every bit as worthy and cheaper than what they paid for. Unless someone’s gonna tell me The Eq was a use or lose title.

    I could see that the two would like to work together again, I was more just curious as to why this one and not any of the other 10,000 scripts out there. I guess I mean this more philosophically than practically.

  42. EtGuild2 says:

    The last 5 or 6 years, as mentioned above, it seems like Denzel is in a mode of cruise control that Cruise or Dicaprio have never approached, where the projects can be summed up in one sentences pitches…. “Remake of The Equalizer” “Denzel as CIA Station Chief” “Denzel partners with Marky Mark” “Remake of Pelham 123” “Denzel has to stop a train.” ” Yup, it’s hard to blame him if he’s having a ton of fun. It’s also hard to feel that there isn’t a touch of unfulfilled promise, because he’s so magnetic when he wants to be.

  43. jesse says:

    He Got Game! Love that one, and a terrific Denzel performance. But not super faux-prestige-y or Oscar-y. That’s the kind of thing I’d like to see him mix into his regular schedule of movies that should have been directed by Tony Scott but now can’t be.

    I’ve said this before, but it’s not just DiCaprio who follows the Cruise 96-06 model: it’s pretty damn impressive the way Matt Damon and George Clooney and Brad Pitt have stayed the course, too. Since the mid-aughts, Pitt has made time for Soderbergh, Andrew Dominik twice, the Coens, Fincher, Tarantino, and Malick, with smaller roles in 12 Years a Slave and The Counselor to help some difficult movies get made. World War Z felt like such an outlier that it actually kind of bummed me out, and I generally like horror movies and big summer movies! Fury feels a little second-rung, too, though I will see it of course; Ayer is fine but a little bit of a comedown after the names Pitt has been racking up. And at least some of those movies were hits; no way would Benjamin Button have done as well without him.

    Damon hasn’t scored as many great movies but can’t really argue with his strategy: Soderbergh, Coens, Greengrass, Eastwood, Cameron Crowe, Gus Van Sant, Blomkamp, Clooney, a dash of Gilliam.

    And Clooney himself for a while seemed only to do stuff with the Coens or Soderbergh (or Soderbergh associates), but then he branched out with Wes Anderson, Jason Reitman, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuaron, Anton Corbijn (making the only Corbijn movie I’ve actually liked!), Brad Bird.

    Collectively, the only sequels these guys have done have been the Ocean’s movies, which are dormant and star all of them having a laugh under Soderbergh’s direction, and Damon’s Bourne series, which I’m not that into but seems to pay for the rest of his career.

    Lex dinged Clooney but being kind of a scotch-tape snooze, and as a director, yes, I agree — he’s gotten startlingly milquetoast as a filmmaker, I think taking his King of Hollywood Class shtick too seriously. But those are four big movie stars who have been resolutely appearing in movies by interesting directors, pretty much doing stuff for adults. Not to sing the praises of a bunch of rich and famous middle-aged white dudes; they’re not curing cancer with their career management. But it does give me hope that in ten years we won’t be asking if maybe DiCaprio or Clooney could OCCASIONALLY take a break from genre potboilers the way we might be inclined to ask Denzel or Harrison Ford or even Cruise. Washington is at least as good an actor as Leo/Clooney/Damon/Pitt, so it’s a shame he hasn’t worked with the same caliber of filmmakers.

    Oh, and I also really like Deja Vu, Bulldog. Haven’t seen Fallen but I’ve heard enough positive stuff that I want to check it out.

  44. Hcat says:

    God bless him for taking these roles and giving actual gravitas to the action genre. Deja Vu would have been unwatchable without him and he elevates thing like Out of Time, Man on Fire and Unstoppable from disposable to rewatch every six months must sees. I fucking love Bruce Willis and think Dwyane Johnson has huge potential, but neither of them in the last decade can carry an action film like Denzel. If you want a real movie hire a real actor.

    And I am not the hugest Leo fan, will be the first to admit I am in the c’mon there has got to be a Jerry McGuire script out there for him somewhere, but I always have to give him the deepest respect in how he has written his own ticket, and probably more than any other working actor pledges that like the film or not at least he is promising to deliver a MOVIE.

  45. Zoetrope Ziti says:

    I think the reasons we see Denzel taking these action movies (other than him enjoying the work) are because at almost 60, he only has a few years left as a viable action star and Hollywood isn’t interested in making the types of movies he starred in back in the 90’s. I believe Flight was a struggle to get greenlit when fifteen years ago, it would have been the studio’s major prestige offering. I don’t think I would have given The Equalizer the time of day if it starred Statham or Willis. I saw the movie strictly to see Denzel outclass everyone on screen. I’d love to see him and Spike team up for another movie in the vein of Malcolm X or He Got Game, but the times have changed. I really don’t begrudge him, Neeson, or DeNiro for their latter day choices. It doesn’t lessen their early iconic work for me and as Lex pointed out previously, maybe they want to have fun nowadays.

    I’m a big Damon fan, but I give DiCaprio the edge in terms of Movie Star Bankability. If Damon’s not playing Jason Bourne and being pursued by one of Sayles’ Players, audiences tend to wait for video. I get the feeling Damon agreeing to reprise the role a fourth time is less of an artistic calling and more of a financial one. If that helps him with making another passion project, that’s all the better. For the most part, DiCaprio gets to make his passion projects and have audiences show up. Pitt likely has the edge over DiCaprio in that department. I like franchises as much as the next person, but I’d like to see the star vehicle concept return someday.

  46. movieman says:

    “Crazy Stupid Love” was also appallingly stupid and insulting.

    Are you perhaps confusing “CSL” with, say, “The Ugly Truth,” Jesse?
    That 2011 gem was the best James L. Brooks movie since “As Good As It Gets.”
    (And, yes, I know Brooks didn’t write or direct it.)

  47. jesse says:

    I am not — and honestly, awkwardness and all, I’d call How Do You Know a better Brooks movie, and just a better movie overall, than Crazy Stupid Love. The Gosling-Stone parts are pretty charming, and it’s the first time I saw Analeigh Tipton in anything, and found her pretty charming too, despite the creepy way her subplot ends. But the Carell/Moore stuff in that movie is so dumb, and weirdly conservative, the way it insists that the characters are each other’s soulmates pretty much because they once decided to get married. The way the movie portrays Carell’s one conquest, Marisa Tomei, is pretty cruel (and one of the few Tomei performances I wouldn’t say is very good), and the whole thing actually climaxes with Carell giving a big speech in public about what he’s learned. Yech. It’s also one of those movies where everyone says “really?!” or “seriously?!” in place of dialogue that is actually funny or interesting.

    I was especially shocked because the directors did I Love You, Phillip Morris, which was excellent.

  48. Stella's Boy says:

    I see the trailer for Tak3n (sweet title) and I cringe a little and my knee-jerk reaction is to bash it while wishing Neeson would do another Michael Collins or something. On the other hand, I recently watched Non-Stop and 3 Days to Kill, both totally ridiculous and nonsensical movies that I enjoyed anyway almost entirely because of Neeson and Costner. Those movies must be relatively fun to make, they offer great paydays (especially in Neeson’s case), and they provide great exposure (again especially in Neeson’s case since his recent mainstream action flicks have been hits). I love The Grey, and it did decent box office, but it came and went, it must have been a bitch to make, and surely he didn’t get paid anywhere near what he gets for Tak3n. Costner tried for years to make Black and White. I think Denzel struggled to get The Great Debaters made, and his Jackie Robinson flick never got made. That’s got to get old. It must be nice to have a major studio call and say “this is getting made now and here’s a big check.”

    Not giving Leo any credit for the box office of Gatsby or Wall St. or whatever is completely idiotic. I know maybe 1-2 people who could tell you who directed Great Gatsby or Wolf of Wall St. Realistically how many people went to see those just because of the director? Not many.

    I also found much of CSL cringe-worthy. I was looking forward to checking it out because of the cast and mostly positive reviews, and I figured it would make for nice Saturday night viewing on HBO. Didn’t really like it, for many of the reasons jesse states.

  49. movieman says:

    Wow; I’m actually kind of shocked.
    “CSL” is as good as 21st century studio rom-coms get.
    Sharply written, expertly directed, beautifully acted, nary a false note as I seem to recall. (Admittedly, I haven’t seen it since the original theatrical release.)
    It was the kind of sophisticated, adult mainstream comedy we used to see on a fairly regular basis before H’wood went into the Marvel-and-CGI-‘toons-all-the-freaking-time business.
    And I think you and Armond White may be the only ones who ever made a case for “How Do You Know” being a good movie, Jesse, lol.
    That was a soul-crushing disappointment for me and everyone I know.

  50. YancySkancy says:

    I’m pretty much with Jess on Crazy, Stupid, Love. (with its crazy stupid punctuation). Gosling and Stone are great together; Analeigh Tipton is a find; couldn’t care less if Carell and Moore stay together; the “what-I-learned” ending is jaw-droppingly bad. I had high hopes for this one, because I do mourn the loss of mainstream adult comedy. It may indeed be “as good as 21st century studio rom-coms get,” but that sounds more like an indictment than a compliment, IMO.

  51. Stella's Boy says:

    “CSL” is as good as 21st century studio rom-coms get.

    That’s like saying Saw VI is as good as torture porn gets. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any really great 21st century studio rom-coms. I’m sure there’s at least one or two, but I am drawing a blank.

  52. movieman says:

    Wow. I can’t believe the amount of “CSL” bashing on this blog.

    I truly believed it was a very well-liked, even loved film.
    I guess you learn something new every day, lol.

  53. Stella's Boy says:

    I think most people liked CSL movieman. That’s partly why I was looking forward to seeing it when I sat down and watched it. You’ve just run into a few naysayers here is all.

  54. EtGuild2 says:

    “Crazy Stupid Love” is the “Julie and Julia” of modern rom coms to me. Not bad my anymeans just an unhealthy/overly sugared main course (Carell) with a delightful side-dish (Stone/Gosling).

    Better recent rom-coms? 500 Days of Summer, Adventureland, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up, Going the Distance…and not sure it’s a comedy, but Ruby Sparks.

  55. Stella's Boy says:

    Hate 500 Days of Summer and didn’t like Going the Distance, but absolutely adore Adventureland. Such a great little movie. Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Knocked Up are good, too. But I’m glad you mention Adventureland. I can rewatch that one anytime.

  56. Joe Leydon says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed “Going the Distance,” one of the very few glossy rom-coms I’ve seen in recent years that actually acknowledged real-world concerns. (Loved the fact that the lovers had to surf the web to find bargain airfare so they could visit each other.)

    BTW: Just saw a TV spot for “The Good Lie” that blurbed a rave by… Glenn Beck. Wait until Chucky gets wind of this!

  57. LexG says:

    What’s the deal with THE GOOD LIE’s release, anyway? WB star vehicle obviously going for the Blind Side kinda vibe (though looking maybe more like Disney’s recent Million Dollar Arm)… How did that end up only getting one of those doomed “few hundred theater releases” this weekend? Is that just a show of zero faith? Surely it wasn’t conceived to be a mid-range limited release? Did they cut the theater count back by 2500 at the last minute?

    On that note, I know it made festival rounds last month, but how and why did they whip out that Reitman-Sandler thing so soon? And why did it come out on Wednesday? That CAN’T be making ANY money. I assumed it was some late-December Hail Mary a la Labor Day, but, nope, rushed out in limited release during this hectic zoo of a time when SO much stuff is falling by the wayside from glut of “I know it’s good but so much is out” medicine watches like Eleanor Rigby, Tracks, Zero Theorem, Two Faces of January, etc etc. I try to keep up with everything but there’s like 10 movies a weekend coming out this month.

    Guess EtGuild was spot-on when he told me I’d regret being relieved at the dearth of new releases in early September because this cluster was coming.

  58. berg says:

    Zero and Tracks are worth their weight … interesting how Adam Sandler makes a 4 pic deal with Netfl … but does anybody remember when Stallone make a deal with Summit for 3 films at $20-mill each and nothing ever got made?

  59. leahnz says:

    “Better recent rom-coms? 500 Days of Summer, Adventureland, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up, Going the Distance…and not sure it’s a comedy, but Ruby Sparks.”

    i like some of those but gee, that’s a pretty conservative, boring, conventional (not to mention fairly [straight] dudeprotag-centric) list of ‘better’ romantic comedies, or romantic dramadies as the case may be… terrific recent romcoms/romcomdrams: ‘obvious child’, ‘enough said’, ‘waitress’, ‘the private lives of pippa lee’, ‘whip it’, ‘i love you phillip morris (i think someone actually mentioned that up thread), ‘submarine’, ‘midnight in paris’… even stuff like ‘nick and norah’s infinite playlist’, ‘the 5 yr engagement’, ‘morning glory’, and ‘warm bodies’ is more charming and sparkly/less stodgy and conservative than ‘knocked up’. probably other gems i’m spacing on

    not a lot of racial diversity in that selection though for sure, which brings to mind what someone said about wishing denzel would work more often with a ‘higher calibre’ of director like clooney, pitt, dicaprio and damon do: but those guys are lily white boys with a far, far greater variety of roles and stories to choose from given the film industry’s deeply entrenched white male bias. denzel has done incredibly well in transcending the typical, insidious limitations imposed by the film industry by playing men first and foremost who just happen to be black – rather than ‘black men’ as the industry likes to segregate them – but ignoring that many/most of the so-called ‘high calibre’ directors in the industry work consistently, relentlessly, and almost exclusively with white male leads and mostly white casts telling stories about white people, how can you place the onus on denzel to work with more higher-calibre directors like dicap/pitt/cloney/damon when the high-toned directors they work with choose time and time again to cast their leads with white men; it’s not like denzel can force ‘great directors’ to move away from the freakin’ white people. (to tony scott’s credit, he may not have been high-toned but this is one area where he was a real progressive, obviously not afraid to cast a black man as his lead to play a variety of diverse characters)

  60. EtGuild2 says:

    That’s a good list (though cant stand Odious Child or Enough Said, and Whip It is really more about grrrrrl power).

    Regarding racial diversity “Something New” with the great Sanaa Lathan is good stuff, though that was like 8 years ago.

    This is more straight up romance, but anyone else stoked for “Beyond the Lights?” “Love and Basketball” is my jam, so seeing Gina Prince-Bythewood return to that genre has me excited. Also dug Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance in the otherwise overly stodgy (speaking of conservative) “Belle,” so am curious to see if she’s the real deal.

  61. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah for really good rom coms you have to look for indies, not major studios.

    Boy Reitman has fallen on hard times. The golden boy days seem so long ago. Men, Women & Children is being dumped, isn’t it? The reviews are so-so or worse.

    I really like Something New and Love & Basketball. Sanaa Lathan is great. An actress I wish I saw more of.

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