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One of my favorite films in Ron Howard's long career as a director was "Rush," and part of what I loved about it was how it didn't really feel like a Ron Howard film. There was something audacious and rude and hilarious about the film's unlikable set of main characters. Howard is the perfect studio filmmaker because his work is rarely dangerous or challenging. He makes professional movies with good casts that tend to be good but rarely great. There are a number of Ron Howard films that I like, and a I few that I really like. "Apollo 13." "Frost/Nixon." "Parenthood." "Rush." "Night Shift." "Splash." I like that he's spent his career trying different things. He's capable of putting some of the best technical artists in the business together, and he always seems to give himself to his movies 100%. When I'm not a fan of a film he's made, »
- Drew McWeeny
Do audiences take Ron Howard for granted?
He's been an A-list director for more than 30 years now, a status that even recent flops like "The Dilemma" haven't tarnished. Maybe we're just used to him routinely turning out glossy blockbuster fare like "The Da Vinci Code," movies that are competent and well-made but that could have been shot by anyone.
Where Howard really shines, however, is in far-flung adventures and triumph-over-long-odds dramas. His new movie, "In the Heart of the Sea" (opening December 11), an account of the 19th-century whaling-ship disaster that inspired "Moby-Dick," ought to fill the bill. Meanwhile, here's a look back at the highlights of Howard's directing career.
- Gary Susman
Solid, old-school man-versus-nature adventure melodrama, with a simmering green awareness; rollicking, smart, breathtaking, and sobering. I’m “biast” (pro): generally really like Ron Howard’s films; love Chris Hemsworth and Ben Whishaw
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
In the Heart of the Sea is no Moby Dick. But then, it isn’t trying to be, even if it is based on one real incident that inspired, in part, Herman Melville’s classic American novel. Instead, director Ron Howard has made a film that is solid, old-school man-versus-nature adventure melodrama, as much Mutiny on the Bounty as Cast Away, as much Jaws (and well, wasn’t Moby Dick the original Jaws?) as The Perfect Storm. But The Perfect Storm was underlain with hints of a larger hubris that all of humanity, not just individual people, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
It’s going to be rough sailing for “In the Heart of the Sea.” The whaling drama is on track to be one of the biggest flops of director Ron Howard’s career and will serve as a painful coda to what has been a devastating year for Warner Bros., the studio behind the picture.
The story of the Essex, a whaleship that had a nasty encounter with a sperm whale, inspiring Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” is projected to bring in between $12 million and $14 million when it unspools across 3,103 theaters. That’s a disastrous launch for a drama that carries a production budget that hovers around $100 million.
The picture debuted overseas last weekend, earning a mediocre $18.5 million from 38 markets. If it has a prayer of clawing into the black, it will need foreign audiences to warm to the survival story — and quickly. “In the Heart of the Sea’s »
- Brent Lang
With his historical action-drama In the Heart of the Sea steadily gathering Oscar buzz as it prepares for a theatrical bow in just a couple of weeks, director Ron Howard is already lining up another red-hot project: psychological thriller The Girl Before.
The novel, by author J.P. Delaney (believed to be a pen name for bestselling writer Tony Strong), centers around a woman recovering from past traumas who begins to fall for an extraordinary minimalist house and the man responsible for its unusual design. But as she becomes more familiar with the building and its creator, the woman is shocked to learn that a similarly traumatized woman died there three years prior – and that she stands the risk of allowing history to repeat itself.
Ballantine Bantam Dell Random House isn’t publishing the book until the fall of next year, but it was recently the subject of a bidding war between Universal, »
- Isaac Feldberg
Whatever is in the script for "Collateral Beauty" penned by Allan Loeb ("The Dilemma," "Just Go With It," "Rock Of Ages," and "Here Comes The Boom"), it has attracted some big attention. Hugh Jackman was attached for a spell before he dropped out when his scheduling couldn't work, and then Johnny Depp was taking a peek for a moment. Now a big name has finally signed up to replace Jackman and star opposite Rooney Mara in the film. The usually quite picky Will Smith is putting his name down for the flick, reports Deadline. "Me And Earl And The Dying Girl" director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon will helm the tale that follows a New York City ad executive who slips into depression following a tragedy and embarks on an unconventional method to get out of his funk. Read More: Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Talks “Me & Earl & The Dying Girl,” Brian Eno & The Movie Being Compared To ‘The. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
As recently reported, there's been a change at the top of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Collateral Beauty, with Hugh Jackman forced to drop out due to a schedule clash with Wolverine 3. There was some talk of Johnny Depp being sought to step in, but apparently that went nowhere, because the official word this morning is that Will Smith has picked up the baton. He'll co-star with Rooney Mara.Allan Loeb wrote the screenplay, which revolves around a New York advertising agency, and a man - presumably now Smith - struggling with depression after a tragedy that turns his world upside down.Loeb has recently been churning out comedies like Here Comes The Boom, Just Go With It and The Dilemma, but his earlier work on dramas like Things We Lost In The Fire and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is probably a more relevant touchstone here...Gomez-Rejon, meanwhile, got his start »
Although Hugh Jackman will soon say goodbye to Wolverine with X-Men: Apocalypse and James Mangold's upcoming Wolverine sequel, in the process of putting away the claws the actor has to give away some other roles in the meantime. That would include the lead role in Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's much talked-about Me & Earl & the Dying Girl follow-up Collateral Beauty, also starring Rooney Mara. It was only last month when the Aussie actor signed onto the project, but time commitments apparently won't let Jackman play the role when production begins this fall. Producers don't seem too discouraged, though, for they've taken their efforts towards bagging another big-name star: Johnny Depp. Even if the Mortdecai's star seems to be fading these days, Depp does have the buzzed Black Mass coming up, in addition to another Pirates of the Caribbean sequel set for release in two years time. So don't rule out a comeback, »
- Will Ashton
Maybe this is the reason why Hugh Jackman is finally ready to lose Wolverine's mutton chops —playing the marquee X-Man gets in the way of other projects. The actor's about to start shooting "The Wolverine 3" soon, which has seen him removed from starring in the developing "Collateral Beauty" co-starring Rooney Mara and set to be helmed by "Me And Earl And The Dying Girl" director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. But another big name might step in. Read More: 5 Ways Johnny Depp Can Get His Career Back On Track Post-'Mortdecai' Deadline reports that the producers are reaching out to Johnny Depp to take over for Jackman. Penned by Allan Loeb ("The Dilemma," "Just Go With It," "Rock Of Ages," and "Here Comes The Boom"), the story follows a New York City ad executive who slips into depression following a tragedy and embarks on an unconventional method to get out of his funk. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Even though I enjoyed Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 “Magic Mike,” I went into Gregory Jacobs’ sequel “Xxl” with low expectations, expecting to be entertained by Channing Tatum, at least. That's because the well-muscled model-turned-actor, 36, who broke out a decade ago in the gritty street drama “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” and energetic dance romance “Step Up” has become a reliable movie star. What does that mean? No matter how bad the movie—and there have been a few Hollywood clinkers, from “The Dilemma” and the two “G.I. Joe” actioners to “White House Down” and "Jupiter Ascending"—he’s believable. The bad stuff bounces off him like Teflon, and he survives with his charisma intact. Every time. Tatum’s just delightful to watch on screen, no matter what he does, drama ("Foxcatcher," “Stop Loss”) or comedy (the “21 Jump Street” series). Did his background as a stripper make him confident and »
- Anne Thompson
Following Joe Wright's Pan, Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara are already both set to work together again on Collateral Beauty, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's follow-up to his Sundance hit Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. Now it's looking as if they'll be joined by Jason Segel, who's in talks to take on an as-yet unspecified role.Allan Loeb wrote the screenplay, which revolves around a New York advertising agency, and a man - presumably Jackman's character - struggling with depression after a tragedy that turns his world upside down. Loeb has recently been churning out comedies like Here Comes The Boom, Just Go With It and The Dilemma, but his earlier work on dramas like Things We Lost In The Fire and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is probably a more relevant touchstone here...Gomez-Rejon, meanwhile, got his start on television with Glee and American Horror Story. He also »
Having just worked together as, respectively, Blackbeard and Tiger Lily on Joe Wright's Pan, Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara are set to be reunited. They've both signed on for Collateral Beauty, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's follow-up to his Sundance hit Me And Earl And The Dying Girl.Allan Loeb wrote the screenplay, which according to Variety revolves around a New York advertising agency, and a man - presumably Jackman's character - struggling with depression after a tragedy that turns his world upside down. Loeb has recently been churning out comedies like Here Comes The Boom, Just Go With It and The Dilemma, but his earlier work on dramas like Things We Lost In The Fire and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is probably a more relevant touchstone here...Gomez-Rejon, meanwhile, got his start on television with Glee and American Horror Story. He also directed this last year's clever remake of »
Later this summer fall, Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara will bring audiences into Joe Wright's "Pan." Iit seems the pair hit off because they've quickly lined up a new movie together. Read More: Joe Wright Enters Fairy Tale Land With First Trailer For 'Pan' With Hugh Jackman And Rooney Mara The duo will star in the indie drama "Collateral Beauty." Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who is running hot following the huge Sundance reception — which included two awards — for "Me And Earl And The Dying Girl," will direct the story about a New York City ad executive who slips into depression following a tragedy. So it sounds very promising, but our only reservation is that the script is from Allan Loeb, who tends to churn out stuff like "The Dilemma," "Just Go With It," "Rock Of Ages," and "Here Comes The Boom." No word on when it will shoot, but »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Hard to believe, I know, but this is a real movie that real people have unashamedly put their names to. Because a sweet paycheck trumps human dignity. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): hated the first movie
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Imagine being asked to feel sorry for the Three Stooges. Except there’s only one of them, a combination of Larry and Curly (incorporating Moe would bring too much gravitas and intelligence to the character). Stir for 90 minutes, and leave for undemanding moviegoers to serve themselves. And then do it all again, though with even less sense of anyone involved giving a damn or putting in any actual effort, because the first such attempt made an ungodly amount of money so why bother?
- MaryAnn Johanson
In the noughties, Vince Vaughn and buddies including Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell could do no wrong, with megahits such as Wedding Crashers and Dodgeball. But the laughs have dried and the audience withered. What went wrong?
Vince Vaughn used to be funny. Or, more accurately, a surprisingly wide international audience used to find Vince Vaughn funny. The rambunctious persona premiered in Swingers – pure id in a party-hard alpha-male – then recycled in hit films such as Wedding Crashers and Dodgeball, made him a reliably lucrative booking. But last weekend saw his latest comedy – Unfinished Business, a farce about a work trip which gets out of hand – become the biggest flop of his career so far, with toxic reviews and audience apathy.
- Benjamin Lee
Expect to see a lot of premature eulogies for Vince Vaughn's career today, after the disastrous opening of "Unfinished Business," just like you saw a lot of premature obituaries last week for Will Smith's career after the lackluster debut of "Focus."
True, "Business" was an especially spectacular flop, premiering in 10th place with only an estimated $4.8 million, less than half of the already modest $10 million pundits were predicting. That the movie is only the latest in a string of Vaughn flops (including "The Watch," "The Dilemma," "The Internship," and "Delivery Man") seems reason enough for pundits to start measuring the coffin.
Weep not for Vaughn. His hands and feet were immortalized in concrete outside Hollywood's Chinese Theatre just this past Wednesday. Next month, he'll star in the eagerly-anticipated second season on HBO's "True Detective," which, if nothing else, will remind those viewers who think of him only as »
- Gary Susman
Maybe HBO’s “True Detective” will turn things around for Vince Vaughn. The comedy actor’s new film “Unfinished Business” became his fifth consecutive — and worst — belly flop at the box office, taking in an anemic $4.8 million in its debut this weekend for distributor Twentieth Century Fox. Vaughn’s other recent misfires include “Delivery Man,” “The Internship,” “The Watch” and “The Dilemma.” A stint on the hit cable TV series seemed to work for Matthew McConaughey, whose Emmy for his work on “True Detective” was part of a career rebound that included a Best Actor Oscar for the “Dallas Buyers Club, »
- Todd Cunningham
Overall ticket sales plunged as “Chappie,” a science-fiction adventure about a sentient robot, topped charts with a weak $13.3 million from 3,201 locations. Going into the weekend, Sony Pictures was aiming for a debut of roughly $15 million and some analysts expected the film could hit $20 million. Reviews were tepid, and the picture is the latest in a long line of R-rated new releases such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Focus,” which may have hurt it with moviegoers looking for something that appeals to kids as well as adults.
“There’s been a glut of R-rated movies starting from the first of the year,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s worldwide distribution chief. “I think there’s some R-rated fatigue.”
The odds may have been against “Chappie” from its inception. »
- Brent Lang
The U.S. box office is as glum this weekend as the dystopian future depicted in one of the new releases.
Although off to a soft start, Neill Blomkamp’s robot thriller “Chappie” is No. 1 at the box office, aiming for a lower-than-expected $13 million to $13.5 million this weekend, while the comedy “Unfinished Business” is giving star Vince Vaughn the worst opening weekend of his career.
Sony’s “Chappie” launched to $4.5 million on Friday in the U.S. Blomkamp’s third film is far behind his previous two (dystopian thrillers as well): “District 9,” which opened to $37.4 million in 2009, and “Elysium,” which launched to $29.8 million in 2013.
Made on a modest $49 million budget (financed partly by Mrc and LStar Capital) and shot in South Africa, much like the low-budget hit “District 9,” the Johannesburg-set film could do better business overseas as it opens simultaneously in 53 markets, including the U.K., Germany, »
- Maane Khatchatourian
Vaughn’s R-rated comedy “Unfinished Business,” distributed by 20th Century Fox, is projected to see a dismal $5 million opening from 2,777 locations. The actor’s previous career-low was earned by 2013’s “Delivery Man,” which opened to $7 million domestically.
In the No. 1 position, “Chappie” will finish the weekend with an estimated $15 million, ahead of Fox Searchlight’s “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and Warner Bros.’ second weekend of Will Smith’s “Focus,” which will battle for second with about $10 million each.
The two-week slump in the U.S. box office came after a 10% surge in moviegoing this year, with the industry hoping that Disney’s “Cinderella” can reignite business next weekend.
- Dave McNary
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