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Thompson on Hollywood

Clip Watch: Mirren, Willis Play CIA Seniors in Red

Summit introduced their grown-up thriller Red at Comic-Con, where star Helen Mirren wore an American Splendor t-shirt in solidarity with the late great Harvey Pekar.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 17, 2010 9:46 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Zombies Reign at Weekend Box Office as Resident Evil Afterlife 3D Scores $27.7 Million

What makes Resident Evil run? Anthony D'Alessandro examines the longevity of the horror franchise, which scored a $27.7 million opening weekend on its fourth go-round. Giving Avatar director James Cameron more motive to throw 3-D films under a bus, genre filmmaking reigned this weekend as Sony/Screen Gems’s fourth Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D, based on the 1996 videogame, scored $27.7 million.  It was evident from the zombie film’s Friday bow, which zapped $10.9 million, that it was bound to outstrip the record of its last installment, 2007’s Resident Evil: Extinction ($23.7 million).  The lack of frosh wide entries in a historically sleepy session coupled with 3-D premium prices fueled Afterlife’s ticket sales to greater heights.  Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on the underserved femme audience, Summit re-released The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in 1,187 theaters in celebration of the September 13 birthday of the series’ leading protagonist Bella Swan. However only a few fans showed up, shelling out an estimated $745,000. The distributor’s overall goal was to catapult Eclipse’s domestic B.O. past the $300-million mark; the film’s B.O. is about $400,000 shy of that benchmark. Overall, the top 12 films totaled $63.9 million (per Box Office Mojo), off 16% from the post-Labor Day frame a year ago.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 12, 2010 5:51 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Fassbender/McQueen Reunite, Studio Critique, Love And Other Drugs, Mulligan Talks Never Let Me Go

- The Guardian calls Hollywood's summer box office victory - approximately a 2.4% lead on 2009 - a hollow one; "the abiding memory of summer 2010 will be of a decline in standards" (the standards of storytelling, not technical effects). The arguments behind this hollow victory include the decline in actual people in theatre seats (lowest since 1997) and the rise in revenue (thanks, 3-D), the root of which conflicts with studios' growing challenge to stay relevant amongst growing sources of alternative entertainment (if they're only making movies for profit, they're undermining the argument for preserving the relevance of film). The Guardian also disses too many studio-approved screenplays that "too often settle for tired storylines, hackneyed dialogue and vacuous characters hiding behind music video sensibilities and loud explosions." The Guardian does see hope in the next year (including Never Let Me Go, but warns another "creatively impoverished" season of films will descend upon us sooner or later.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 8, 2010 7:30 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Summer Box Office Wrap: Winners and Losers, from Karate Kid to Cats and Dogs

In the final analysis the summer box office doesn't look so bad, writes TOH numbers cruncher Anthony D'Alessandro, who insists that weighing cost vs. return is more important than tallying the grosses or admissions.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 8, 2010 7:14 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Weekend Box Office: Euro-thriller The American Trounces Mexi-Western Machete

George Clooney's Euro-thriller The American may not be a mainstream studio entertainment, but it's a sign of his stardom that the movie still opened at Number One over the Labor Day weekend, trouncing holdover Takers, which was ahead of Robert Rodriguez's Machete through Sunday. Upbeat word-of-mouth pulled the Mexican western ahead by Monday. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:Focus Features’ George Clooney somber thriller The American took out its Labor Day weekend competition, grabbing the top four-day box office spot with $16.4 million at 2,823 theaters.  The opening comes as a boon for Clooney, who tends to topline platformed Oscar-potential R-rated fare such as Michael Clayton and Up in the Air.  Outside the actor’s ensemble features, i.e. the Ocean’s Eleven movies, The American stands as one of Clooney’s more notable solo bows.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 6, 2010 5:27 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Affleck Talks The Town with Co-Star Blake Lively

- Ben Affleck interviews his The Town co-star Blake Lively for Interview Magazine. Lively, who plays Affleck's ex-girlfriend, a 29-year old drug-dealing single mother, jokes her way through the interview. They are clearly comfortable with each other--they shot a sex scene together on her first day of shooting.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 3, 2010 4:55 AM
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LaBeouf is Forbes' Best Deal; Americans Still Like Gibson; Lohan Talks to Vanity Fair

- Shia LaBeouf, for a second year running, tops Forbes' list of Best Actors for the Buck. As an investment, LaBeouf is very attractive: "he offers a great return…For every $1 studios spend on the 24-year-old actor his films return an average $81 of profit." LaBeouf's paychecks will continue to grow; this won't hurt his agent's requests for a raise. Forbes' top 36 earners each had to have three movies open in over 500 theaters in the past five years, and meet a myriad of other criteria including their Celebrity 100 status. LaBeouf is king and Anne Hathaway is queen at #2, earning studios $64 for each dollar they pay her. Harry Potter boy Daniel Radcliffe is #3 ($61 for them, $1 for him), Robert Downey Jr. took fourth ($33), and can-do-no-wrong Cate Blanchett took fifth ($27). And before we all dig Aniston's box-office grave, lets give her credit for landing the #6 spot on this list (and for sharing it with Meryl Streep); $21 to their studios for each dollar they earn. Johnny Depp ($18), Nic Cage ($17) and Sarah Jessica Parker ($17) round out the top ten. Basically the list rewards mid-level stars who aren't at the top of the pay heap, which suggests that the more you get paid, the less you return..
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • August 31, 2010 3:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Weekend Box Office: Last Exorcism Over Takers in Summer Photo Finish

Two pictures vied for the top slot on the last slow dog-days-of-summer weekend. At press time it looked like Lionsgate's The Last Exorcism was beating out Sony/Screen Gems' Takers. Meanwhile holdovers The Expendables and Eat Pray Love hung onto slices of the top-five b.o. pie, reports Anthony D'Alessandro.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • August 29, 2010 4:28 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Disney Dumped The Switch, But Aniston Needs Strong Co-Stars

What went wrong with The Switch, and is Jennifer Aniston's anemic marquee value to blame? Anthony D'Alessandro comes up with some surprising answers.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • August 26, 2010 5:57 AM
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  • 25 Comments

Scott Pilgrim vs. Universal and the Matrix

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's bottom line comes down to the same problem that has faced a long line of Universal projects. It was an indie movie that cost too much to be successful inside the studio paradigm and should have been produced and released on a smaller less ambitious scale at the studio's specialty division Focus Features, which could have nurtured it and sent it into the world on a more limited basis and built on the film's strong word-of-mouth from its narrow base. To them a $12 million gross would have been fine. To Universal, it's less than the film's marketing budget. (A funny mash-up of Scott Pilgrim vs. The Matrix is below.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 23, 2010 11:37 AM
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  • 8 Comments

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