9 items from 2015
You'd have thought that opening "The Longest Ride" opposite the still-strong "Furious 7" would have been a smart counterprogramming move. With all that testosterone on display in the latest installment of the car-chase franchise, surely some female moviegoers would feel underserved and turn to the new Nicholas Sparks movie, that they'd flock to the kind of cathartic tearjerker that is the "Notebook" author's bread and butter.
As it turned out, not so much. "Longest Ride" opened in third place with an estimated $13.5 million, below even the modest expectations for the film (about $14 to $16 million). That's better than the even weaker opening of last October's Sparks entry "The Best of Me" (which premiered with just $10.0 million and topped out at $26.8 million) but well below the $22.5 million debut of 2012's Sparks saga "The Lucky One."
Does the relative weakness of these recent spark-free Sparks movies mean that the Sparks vogue, which has spanned 10 movies over 16 years, »
- Gary Susman
It wasn’t even a contest.
“Furious 7″ roared to the top of the box office chart for the second weekend in a row, picking up $60.6 million and driving its Stateside total to a massive $252.5 million. That’s a slender 59% drop from the Universal Pictures release’s record-breaking $147.2 million debut and puts “Furious 7″ on track to be the highest-grossing film in the history of the “Fast and Furious” franchise.
“People feel like they’re living through the summer movie season right now even though it’s not summer,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “It’s the essence of a popcorn movie.”
It’s also the essence of perfect timing. By debuting in April, “Furious 7″ avoided being cannibalized by other major summer tentpole films. The next heavyweight to enter the multiplexes is “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which doesn’t hit screens until May 1.
“Studios are not »
- Brent Lang
Nicholas Sparks adaptations are their own ecosystem. Though characters never overlap, they might as well all exist in a shared universe — one with its own logic, its own attitudes, and its own idea of fan service. The relationships are interchangeable and easy-to-assemble: Sometimes it’s the boy who’s got the chip on his shoulder, sometimes it’s the girl; sometimes class gets in the way, sometimes war, sometimes differing worldviews. Love always wins out, naturally, but often it does so ironically; Sparks is not one to shy away from killing off a lover or two, which occasionally gives the stories some much-needed suspense.Seen in that light, The Longest Ride is actually one of the more competent Sparks films in some years — a far cry from the creaky noir of Safe Haven, the awkwardly backloaded melodrama of The Best of Me, or the phony brooding of The Lucky One. »
- Bilge Ebiri
Okay multiplex maniacs, before we make a most welcome return visit to the Marvel Movie Universe, it’s time for that annual (sometimes semi-annual) slog into another movie universe, Sparks-land. I’m talking about another flick based on another product off the novel assembly line from Nicholas Sparks. Box office gold occurred with The Notebook eleven (!) years ago and the studios have been returning with pick, shovel, and camera to that mine ever since. Just like cinema stars and franchises, he’s a brand name. It’s just a question of which familiar themes will be re-hashed and which photogenic actors will be put through some now familiar paces. But hey, we may get a surprise, although this one’s title seems more than a little daunting. Are you ready to embark on The Longest Ride?
- Jim Batts
Nicholas Sparks is arguably one of the most successful crossover star in the film and publishing industries, prolific in churning out sweeping bodice rippers and offering them up for adaptation. But more than his ability to find the intersection of earnest romance and socially acceptable sappiness, Sparks films are major vehicles for male and female movie stars. Would Mandy Moore and Shane Wast be nostalgia bait for millennials without “A Walk to Remember?” Where else would Zac Efron try to cut his teeth as a romantic lead but “The Lucky One?” Matthew Barry, a casting director on the most iconic Sparks big screen. »
- Linda Ge and Matt Donnelly
Nobody does romance like Nicholas Sparks! Now, the latest adaptation of Sparks’ work is getting the big screen treatment and heading into theatres this Friday.
The Longest Ride tells two parallel tales of love and loss that explore the nature of what it means to sacrifice it all for the one you love. Sophia (Tomorrowland’s Britt Robertson), and Luke (Scott Eastwood) are unlikely lovers whose lives become intertwined with a much older man, Ira (Alan Alda). As he reflects on his long lost love, we see his story of the past unfold through Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin whose romance offers wisdom and insight to the younger couple.
The Longest Ride marks the 10th film adaptation of a Sparks novel. While The Notebook might be the most popular of his page-to-screen adaptations, it was 1999’s Message in a Bottle with Kevin Costner and Robin Wright that began the wave »
- Rachel West
Now here’s a pairing none of us saw coming: hot off an Oscar nomination for his powerhouse leading turn in American Sniper, Bradley Cooper has entered negotiations to take the reins on a Warner Bros. remake of A Star Is Born that was previously being circled by Cooper’s Sniper director Clint Eastwood. The redo, which has been in the pipeline for many years, had courted Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and Tom Cruise over the years to star, but it’s expected that Cooper will also take on the male lead.
As for the equally important female lead, the project is apparently still angling for pop royalty, with eyes for veritable Queen of the World Beyoncé Knowles. Of course, Beyoncé has not yet been approached, but the producers are hoping to do that very quickly if Cooper signs a deal to direct.
- Isaac Feldberg
Could the Queen B be teaming up with the current king of the box office? Deadline reported Tuesday that Bradley Cooper is in talks to make his directorial debut with a remake of the classic showbiz drama and romance A Star is Born, and that Beyonce will be approached to star alongside Cooper in the film.
Nothing is confirmed yet, but Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. hopes he can jump into the project, along with producing and taking a stab at the script by Will Fetters (The Lucky One, Remember Me) once he is finished starring in the Broadway production of The Elephant Man.
The bigger complication however may not be securing Cooper, but Beyonce. Clint Eastwood has long been attached to this project, but he recently revealed in an interview with THR’s Stephen Galloway that Beyonce is obviously very busy being a super-megastar, and that Warner Bros. »
- Brian Welk
Variety reported Feb. 9 that Jackal had signed a first-look feature film deal with Fox 2000. Koslow will oversee the development of all films.
Koslow previously served as senior VP of production at Kevin McCormick’s Langley Park Pictures, overseeing “Gangster Squad,” “The Lucky One” and the “Arthur” remake along with the London stage musical of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” directed by Sam Mendes. He is also producing the upcoming feature film “Ashby,” starring Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts and Sarah Silverman.
The Jackal Group has several feature film projects already in development, including Jesse Owens biopic “The Runner,” set at Disney, with Netter Films’ Gil Netter also producing and Antoine Fuqua attached to direct; an untitled feature for Warner Bros. based on the life of Elvis Presley, »
- Dave McNary
9 items from 2015
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