9 items from 2015
Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s romantic caper film Focus easily topped the North American box office this weekend, although with a milder debut than expected. The heist flick opened with an estimated $19.1 million, which is solid for a film about con artists, but pretty tepid for Will Smith’s standards. In the last 10 years, only one film with the Fresh Prince headlining has opened worse: 2008’s Seven Pounds ($14.9 million). Despite an appealing marketing campaign, a lack of competition, IMAX theaters and the presence of co-star Margot Robbie, Focus couldn’t even top the opening for Smith’s much-derided 2013 bomb After Earth ($27.5 million).
The estimated $19.1 million take is equal to the opening for directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s 2011’s romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. It was also around the same mark as adult-oriented thrillers from the first quarter of the year, such as Limitless ($18.9 million) and The Adjustment Bureau ($21.2 million). Still, »
- Jordan Adler
On another quiet Friday at the box office, newcomers Focus (2015) and The Lazarus Effect both started off a little bit slower than expected.Opening at 3,323 locations, Focus took first place with an estimated $6.47 million. That's nearly identical to Crazy, Stupid, Love. ($6.58 million), which was the previous outing from directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. It's also generally on par with star-driven, adult-friendly thrillers Limitless ($6.6 million) and The Adjustment Bureau ($6.7 million).Still, it puts the movie on track to finish just below $20 million for the weekend, which is a tad disappointing when considering the star power involved (Will Smith and Margot Robbie) and the pervasive marketing effort as of late.Playing at 2,666 locations, The Lazarus Effect opened to an estimated $3.8 million on Friday. That's a bit higher than Dark Skies, a Blumhouse horror movie that opened to $3.1 million around the same time in 2013. Still, it's noticeably lower than last Spring's Oculus »
- Ray Subers <email@example.com>
Before I get started on this week’s musings, here are a couple of housekeeping items:
1) Have I mentioned lately how great the other writers here at ComicMix are? It’s probably been awhile, so let me take a quick minute to do so (again). If you somehow found ComicMix via me and primarily read my column here on the site, a) Cool, thanks! and b) I highly recommend you give the other folks here a try. Even in just reading through the last few days of columns, from Mindy Newell’s thoughts on Battlestar Galactica to Marc Alan Fishman’s discussion of guarding one’s creative integrity versus going for a payday and wider success, to Molly Jackson’s rejoicing over the awesomeness that is Agent Carter, I am reminded of how quality the folks who write for this site are, and how lucky I am to be amongst them. »
- Emily S. Whitten
Ballet adds a surreal, creepy quality to many films and tv shows. Here are 12 of the most unsettling...
Ballet is not natural. Dancers perform exhausting routines with legs and feet turned out to bizarre angles, arms held just to the point where they really start to hurt (that’s when you know you’re doing it right), backs bending to angles of 90° and more, limbs held stock still while balancing on their toes, in bodies mathematically maintained in a state that contains absolutely not an ounce of fat but can sustain two or three hours of jumping and running around.
And then the female dancers add to all this by putting their entire weight on the points of their toes, feet bruising and bleeding, nails cracking, and the male »
While angels eavesdrop discreetly in “Wings of Desire” or spoil lovers’ dates in “The Adjustment Bureau,” a celestial tea server descends to Okinawa, slurps ramen, becomes a celebrity and fights predestination with riotous gusto in the fantasy romance “Chasuke’s Journey.” Enjoying a surge of creativity since his 2009 misfire, “Kanikosen,” Nipponese helmer Sabu is in his most fun-loving element, stirring Okinawa’s magical folk art into a Capraesque yarn that flirts with ideas of fate and self-determination, but really just revels in a rich tapestry of human experience. Full of whimsical twists and high-octane action, this festival-friendly lark could generate lively ancillary biz.
The maverick helmer has cut loose in recent years, shedding some of his bone-dry irony for the gentler dramedy of “Bunny Drop,” or the deeper emotional resonance of “Miss Zombie.” Adapted from Sabu’s yet unpublished debut novel and shot exclusively in Okinawa (where he has been »
- Maggie Lee
To get the obvious out of the way, the new NBC drama “Allegiance” clearly suffers from cable envy. Like “Homeland,” this spy thriller was adapted from an Israeli series, and the basic Russian-moles-among-us plot sounds an awful lot like FX’s Cold War homage “The Americans,” merely relocated into a contemporary setting. Putting those concerns aside, what emerges proves fast-paced and enjoyable in a check-your-brain-at-the-door kind of way, with the disclaimer that the perilous premise can take a left turn from amusingly silly to distractingly ridiculous at any moment. In terms of capitalism, while “The Blacklist” lead-in might help, ABC’s “Murder”-ous competition won’t.
Written and directed by George Nolfi (“The Adjustment Bureau”), the premiere opens with the brutal execution of a former Soviet operative on U.S. soil. That event hints at a larger plot, with a Russian go-between, Victor (Morgan Spector), approaching the seemingly idyllic couple »
- Brian Lowry
A lot of people are likely to look down on Allegiance before it even starts, and only because The Americans isn’t that old. I have to give them that, if I’m really being honest, but this one is quite a different spin on things, and I’m a lot more intrigued by the possibilities.
In this telling of the Russian agents living as American citizens story, Mark and Katya O’Connor (Scott Cohen and Hope Davis) have a complicated backstory. They fell in love when Katya was still working for the Kgb, and a deal was ultimately made that allowed the couple to marry and live in America, but with a vague understanding that one is never really out of the Kgb… or whatever.
Fast-forward a lot of years, and their son, Alex (Gavin Stenhouse), has started working as analyst for the CIA. He also rather a sharp cookie, »
- Marc Eastman
Stars: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, James Corden, Daniel Huttlestone, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Lilla Crawford, Simon Russell Beale, Johnny Depp, Billy Magnussen, Richard Glover, Frances de la Tour | Written by James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim | Directed by Rob Marshall
Rob Marshall has had plenty of success in the world of musical motion picture. His 2002 film adaptation of Chicago won Academy Awards and boosted Marshall’s name into the Hollywood “it crowd” in the process. Following up Chicago with a lovely adaptation of the Arthur Golden novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, showed Marshall was an accomplished director who was capable of more than musicals. Those two films showed style, heart and confidence. Since then, Marshall has directed Nine, a less well-received musical in 2009, On Stranger Tides, the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, in 2011, a film that many thought was unnecessary and failed in comparison to its prior instalments, »
- Chris Cummings
After delivering another knockout film last year with the sincere Nebraska, director Alexander Payne is busy at work gearing up to shoot his latest film, Downsizing, a science-fiction dramedy about a man and his wife who try to reinvigorate their lives and voluntarily have themselves shrunk down. Unfortunately for the man, his wife backs out at the last minute.
During the last week, Oscar Winners Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Adjustment Bureau) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Inherent Vice) have signed on to play the leading couple of the film, but The Wrap is today reporting that Jason Sudeikis (We’re The Millers), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) , and upcoming Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl) have all signed on to join the project in unspecified roles.
- Scott J. Davis
9 items from 2015
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