MCN Originals Archive for August, 2017

The DVD Wrapup: Ronin, Wedding Banquet, The Stranger, Baywatch, Bring It On, Dean, Born in China and more

On a rain-swept night in Paris, an international crack team of professional thieves, weapons buffs and a computer geek assembles in an old-fashioned neighborhood bistro, summoned by a shady crime syndicate fronted by the enigmatic Deirdre. None of the crooks appear to know each other or the special skills they’re bringing to the table. They will be handsomely paid to steal an aluminum briefcase, handcuffed to the arm of their mark, who’s guarded by several armed men – presumably, ronin, themselves, — and safely make the transfer to Deirdre’s employers. It serves as Ronin’s McGuffin. No matter what the briefcase contains, its theft will inspire two unquestionably great car chases, one through the narrow streets of Nice, the other in Paris; a shootout in and around the centuries-old Arles Amphitheatre and Café Van Gogh; and a sniper attack inside a Paris skating rink. If it sounds confusing, it’s only because viewers aren’t supposed to be able to separate the white hats from the black hats until the final reel.

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Premiere: “Raising Bertie” On POV

One of my favorite docs of the year, Margaret Byrne’s long-in-the-works Raising Bertie, is a behaviorally rich and visually ravishing six-year immersion into the largely African-American North Carolina farming community of Bertie County.

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The Weekend Report

The second weekend of The Hitman’s Bodyguard led  with an estimated $9.9 million as summer ticket sales plunged to their lowest level in a decade. Among new releases, animated Leap! ranked third in the lineup with a $4.8 million debut and Bruce Lee biopic Birth of the Dragon struggled to $2.5 million. In medium-wide release, a crisis of faith and viewers for All Saints gave a $1.6 million kneel. The revival of Terminator 2 also failed to melt with a $572,000 tally from 386 stereoscopic engagements. There was a significant expansion for Wind River that held up comparatively well.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Feels just like the last week in August. But it’s even uglier than usual, as only three previously-opened August releases are still in the Top 10, and the highest-grossing won’t crack $10 million. No Suicide Squad or Straight Outta Compton playing strong through the month. Both newcomers feel like late August dumps. (Remember when Weinstein opened up late August with Inglourious Basterds?) Wind River continues a nice expansion. And Beach Rats finds a good-sized audience on three.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Dawn Of A New Award Season

Venice starts in five days. Telluride in six. And The Gurus are here to let you know that the only films that are considered sure bets are Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s still-editing Pentagon Papers movie. Also accruing over 80 points are Get Out, The Shape of Water, Downsizing and the Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson. So what does this mean? Expect big surprises over the next couple weeks as fortunes rise and fall.

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The DVD Wrapup: Guardians II, Never Let Go, La Poison, Love of a Woman, Kiki, Whale Rider and more

For diehard fans of superhero movies, the spectacular visual presentation might even trigger the same psychedelic revelations as those experienced by their parents and grandparents during the “Star Child” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even the opening credits featuring Baby Groot are worth the price of a rental.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of the larkish The Hitman’s Bodyguard led the weekend with an estimated $21.7 million during an overall summer slump. The session’s other national release, Logan Lucky – Steven Soderbergh’s latest heist caper – charted third with $8 million.

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Jerry Lewis: The Day the Clown Disappeared

I had multiple discussions with Lewis. The first couldn’t have been funnier or more fruitful. Emboldened by the initial discussion, I suggested including footage from “The Day the Clown Cried,” as Orson Welles had his unfinished “The Other Side of the Wind “when he was honored by the American Film Institute. I waded in as delicately as possible, knowing his sensitivity to the issue, as well as the fact he controlled the material. There probably was no diplomatic way of suggesting it.

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Irene Cho: A Force of Nature

Irene Cho, founder and producer of Daily Buzz, passed away on Thursday, August 17 after suffering a stroke. Her sister, Sunny, says that Irene had returned from South Korea the previous week and was about to embark on a three-week journey to Burma. She was 46.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Jackson! Reynolds! Decent number! The Hitman’s Bodyguard hits a number that can’t be called a disappointment (given the date), but yet hardly expresses box office dynamite. Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky is likewise a mixed blessing. The film should do more than double the best Bleecker Street opening ever… but will still be under $8 million on 3,031 screens. And Patti Cake$, an audience-friendly, female-led Searchlight Sundance pick-up, starts softly on 14 screens, hoping to gather steam on word-of-mouth.

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The DVD Wrapup: Latin Lover, After the Storm, Bluebeard, Meantime, Hickok and more

With dialogue in Spanish and English, How to Be a Latin Lover recovered a respectable $32.1 million at the domestic box and another $30 million overseas. It would be nice to think that those numbers mark a trend and exhibitors are paying attention to Spanish-speaking audiences. Lionsgate has testied the DVD waters with such titles as Everybody Loves Somebody, Un Padre No Tan Padre, 600 Miles, The Legend of Chupacabras and Sundown. It’s doing so in a “synergistic partnership” with Hollywood-based Pantelion Films and Mexican conglomerate, Grupo Televisa.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of Annabelle: Creation scared up an estimated $35.1 million to claim the box office crown in an otherwise largely downbeat session. Another recycle The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature saw its $8.7 million debut plunge more than 50% from the prior 2014 animated foray and the adaptation of the confessional bestseller The Glass Castle bowed to a tepid $4.8 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Annabelle 2/”Conjuring 4″ is right where it was expected to land, maybe slightly behind. But a happy day for creepy little-girls-in-peril films. Dunkirk keeps holding strong, slightly ahead of Interstellar, but without the generous Christmas holiday that Interstellar had ahead. (Expect them to be very close in the end.) The Nut Job 2 is about 40% off of the surprise hit of the original. Spidey hits $300m domestic. Detroit drops out of the Top 10 in its second weekend. And in exclusive runs, Good Time and Ingrid Goes West score.

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Tipping Point: The Streaming Wars Are About To Start (in 2020)

The pieces are coming together.

Disney is the first to announce that it will launch a proper studio streaming-app business in 2019.

The non-renewal of the deal with Netflix will “open up” $450 million or so for the streamer… but the number is irrelevant to both Netflix and Disney, although all the headlines seem to find this the most important angle.

Netflix can do a deal with another studio, though the price will be higher.

But Disney is going after the future. Completely guessing at a number here, but… $8 a month… 10 million subs in the first year… almost a billion in gross revenue.

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The DVD Wrapup: Kung Fu Yoga, Breaking Point, Wolves, In Shadow of Women, Stand, Taisho Trilogy, Re-Animator and more

At a time when saber-rattlers in China and India have begun squabbling over a road along their shared border, it’s easy to forgive this Sino-Indian co-production for underachieving as the action-adventure it might have been, if only box-office returns weren’t an object (which they always are). Make movies, not war.

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The Weekend Report

The Dark Tower edged ahead to take the crown with an estimated $19.4 million. The session also saw two new companies debut their initial national releases. Aviron launched distaff actioner Kidnap to a decent box office of $10 million, slotting fifth. Annapurna’s critically acclaimed Detroit bowed way below expectations with $7.2 million following last weekend’s successful exclusive run on 20.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Dark Weekend.

Question 1. Why did Tom Rothman do The Dark Tower cheaply? Because it can do $50m domestic and $100m international and not hurt Sony.

Question 2. Why did Kidnap get a theatrical? Because it can do $25 million in theaters and make itself more valuable in post-theatrical and in international theatrical.

Question 3. What happened to Detroit? Publicized tracking numbers set the bar too high and the film didn’t have a long enough runway to overcome the bombs that were thrown that, with a little more time, might have been defused.

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Review-ish: The Dark Tower (spoiler-free)

It’s not as bad as people made it out to be.

You’re going to read that a lot.

And it’s not. But it is bad. And I am not going to do the normal work of reviewing to explain why. It’s the choices made before they rolled a frame of film that killed this thing, not the choices of the film itself.

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The DVD Wrapup: Circle, Amnesia, Lovers, I Am the Blues, Wakefield, Opening Night, 1944, Slither and more

Far-fetched? Not since Julian Assange and Edward Snowden became household names and Russian hackers interfered with U.S. and French elections. If anything, the sting of Ponsoldt’s cautionary tale was blunted by these revelations. Mae’s enthusiasm for the concept completely evaporated when Bailey’s team overplayed its hand by demonstrating to employees how any criminal – or average citizen, like her friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane) – could be tracked down, anywhere in the world, and arrested or harassed. Not nice. Any character played by Tom Hanks is going to be a pretty tough nut to crack, however, it will take all the magic left in the former Hermione Granger to save us from corporate tyranny. Again, a bit too obvious.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon