Monday, July 28, 2014

LUCY: GIRL POWER AT THE BOX OFFICE

There has been a lot of talk about Lucy beating Hercules at the Domestic Box Office this weekend, and deservedly so. What surprises me is just how surprised some people are acting. What is the big surprise, that a film with a female lead character made a bunch of money? If that's surprising to you, you really need to wake up and smell the stacks of money being made by female driven films. If you've missed the memo, here's a few reminders...


I'm certainly not saying all of these films are great (The Twilight Saga anyone?), but what I am saying is that it is time people stop acting so dumbfounded when a film starring (gasp) a girl or a woman makes a whole bunch of money at the Box Office. Whether you like it or not, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa McCarthy, Shailene Woodley, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence and all those Disney/Pixar heroines are likely here to stay.

Get with the now.


Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

COMING SOON: "Our Leader the Mockingjay" - Official Hunger Games Teaser Trailer


Found on "The Hunger Games" YouTube channel.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

COMIC-CON WEEK: WONDER WOMAN SCRABBLE

I was sitting at the Blackmarket Bakery in Costa Mesa, CA this morning eating my Pecan Sticky Bun and sipping my Mocha like always, staring at the magnetic wall with Scrabble letters all over it thinking of what words I should create when it struck me... WONDER WOMAN!

The rest pretty much came together on it's own.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

DOES HOLLYWOOD STILL MAKE MOVIES AIMED AT ADULTS?

"Does Hollywood still make movies aimed at adults?"

"Did the advent of the PG-13 rating encourage studios to steer away from mature audiences?"

"Do adults even go to the movies anymore?"

These were questions discussed 140 characters at a time on Twitter today by author Mark Harris (Five Came Back and Pictures at a Revolution) and AwardsDaily.com's Ryan Adams, stirring up much debate amongst film writers and film buffs alike. I chimed in briefly as well. Here's a sample of what occurred...


As you can see, everyone sort of approached the same questions from different perspectives. Not to put words in anyone's mouth, but basically Harris argued that studios no longer invest in movies geared toward adult audiences anymore, Adams feels that Hollywood still makes those films but adults no longer venture out to the theaters to see them, and I hypothesized that perhaps the PG-13 rating (introduced in the mid 1980's) has led Hollywood to stray away from making R rated fare in order to maximize box office performance.

Let's look at some facts and figures to see the reality of the situation. The website BoxOfficeMojo.com has a great breakdown of the box office performance of films based on their MPAA rating. While each and every one of us likely has a different definition of an "adult" film (no, not porn), to make it simple let's consider any film rated R as "aimed at adults". I'm not discounting the fact that many great "grown-up" films have been rated PG-13 over the years (The Visitor, The Social Network, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Philomena come to mind), it's just easier to break down the data that way.


Looking all the way back to 1984 (the year the PG-13 rating was introduced) let's see what the data tells us. Let's look at the first question...

"Does Hollywood still make movies aimed at adults?"

The data seems to say YES.

Over the last thirty years the percentage of films released that were rated R has remained roughly 50%. During the mid-to-late 1990's that number was closer to 60%, but it has since dropped down and remained in the 50% range. We can say then that with roughly half of all films being released with an R rating, Hollywood still makes a lot of movies aimed at adults.

The number of films rated PG-13 has risen steadily over the three decades it has been in existence. From the mid-1980's through the year 2000, between 20-30% of all films were rated PG-13. Since 2000 that number has consistently been between 30-35%. This means that the PG-13 films that once only accounted for 1 in 5 films, now account for 1 out of every 3 being released.

If the number of R-rated films have remained roughly unchanged, yet PG-13 films have increased dramatically, that means that the real shift has not been from R rated films to PG-13, but rather from G/PG films to PG-13. In 1984, the number of PG films released was nearly identical to the number of R-rated films. In 2014 so far, there have been roughly five R-rated films released for every one PG film.

When it comes to the question "Did the advent of the PG-13 rating encourage studios to steer away from mature audiences?", it appears that mature movies haven't vanished, it's general audience films that have disappeared.


So what about that other question...

"Do adults even go to the movies anymore?"

The data seems to indicate that if they do, it's not to see an R-rated film.

During the first decade of the PG-13 rating, R-rated films brought in roughly 35-50% of the overall film business. Starting in the mid-1990's, even though the percentage of R-rated films being released had increased, the revenue brought in by these films started to decline. In 1999, they accounted for over 40% of the domestic box office. By 2002 they brought in less than 25%. There has not been a single year this century where R-rated fare has accounted for more than 30% of the total domestic box office. It's also interesting to note that even though there are considerably more R-rated films being released than PG ones, they bring in roughly the same percentage of the Box Office business. 

The box office take of PG-13 films meanwhile has risen steadily ever since their advent in the mid 1980's. From 1984 to 1993 it jumped from less than 10% to nearly 40% of the market. By 2000, PG-13 films accounted for nearly 50% of the domestic box office, where they have remained ever since.


So it seems to me that it's not Hollywood that has shifted away from grown-up fare, rather it has been the general public that has done so. If you look at the list of the 25 highest grossing PG-13 films, only three films from 1999 or earlier make the list (Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump and Titanic). When you look at the Top 25 R-rated films, eleven different films from the seventies, eighties and nineties make the list, including The Exorcist, Fatal AttractionRain Man, Pretty Woman and Saving Private Ryan. Just because a film was rated R didn't mean that it's Box Office potential was limited. Not so much today.


How important has the PG-13 rating become? Just look at the breakdown of the 100 highest grossing films of All-Time...


There are only five R-rated films in the entire Top 100, and only one (The Passion of the Christ) in the Top 50. ONE! And yet roughly 50% of all films released are rated R. Did Hollywood abandon it's mature audience? Nope. We abandoned it.

Do yourself a favor, skip Hercules this weekend and go seek out Boyhood instead.


Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

COMIC-CON WEEK: BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN VS. WONDER WOMAN VS. XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS

Today Comic-Con International in San Diego was abuzz with a "surprise" visit from Batman vs. Superman's Director Zack Snyder and the film's stars Ben Affleck ("Batfleck"), Henry Cavill (the "Man of Steel") and Gal Gadot ("Wonder Woman" via Xena: Warrior Princess).

A short clip from the film was shown, and the first picture of Gadot in thigh-high boots and wielding a sword was revealed...


This comes just a few days after the first close up pic of Affleck as "the Caped Crusader" was released...


Below is a collection of all of the images released so far...


Are you excited for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Friday, July 25, 2014

COMIC-CON WEEK: BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE EVER... AMERICAN SPLENDOR


What's the greatest comic book movie ever? The Dark Knight? Marvel's The Avengers? Howard the Duck (just kidding)?

My choice... American Splendor, based on the misadventures of the legendary underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar, portrayed brilliantly by Paul Giamatti.

Yep, American Splendor is the single greatest film ever made from comic book source material. I'll go one step further and proclaim it as overall one of the greatest, most unique and inspired films of this century. This brilliantly daring film seamlessly combines the filmmaking elements of the Animation, Documentary and Biopic genres, while never truly fitting in to any of those molds. It's hard to explain, and has to be seen to truly be understood.

Sadly, almost nobody has seen it. In 2003, it was the 152nd highest grossing film at the North American Box Office. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO!


Which film was the 151st highest (under)performing film, bringing in $76,552 more than American Splendor? GIGLI! That's right, Gigli actually made more money than American Splendor did back in 2003. 


That's okay though, if you want to hear something really depressing there's the fact that this ONE film...


made more money than all FOUR of these films combined...


Even searching for American Splendor on Google is depressing, as you have to type in eight letters, a space, and then three more letters, before it even shows up in the browser's suggestions.


It didn't get completely ignored though, winning prizes at Cannes and Sundance, as well as earning praise for it's wonderful screenplay and direction by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, and Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis' brilliant acting.


So do yourself a favor, go seek out this film! It is a wonder to behold, and is the single greatest comic book movie ever made.

Sorry Batman.


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Thursday, July 24, 2014

COMIC-CON WEEK: SUPERHERO FRANCHISE BOX OFFICE SHOWDOWN


The festivities officially kicked off today at San Diego's "Comic-Con International", the world's largest Comic Book and Pop Culture Entertainment event of the year. So I thought I would gather up the world's largest Superhero franchises and compare their Box Office track records. I left out such smaller franchises as The Fantastic Four and Blade in order to look at how the BIG boys (and some girls) stack up against each other, and over time.

With that in mind, here's a look at how Batman, Spider-Man, The Avengers, Superman and the X-Men have performed over the course of their cinematic adventures at the Box Office (Adjusted for inflation data from BoxOfficeMojo.com).


If there's one common theme that stands out, it's that Comic Book movie franchises start out really strong, but tend to drop precipitously after that. In fact, X-Men is the only franchise to make more money the second time around than the first, but it also started out with the smallest initial launch. It's also clear that the "sixth time's the charm", as the two single biggest smash hits (The Dark Knight and The Avengers) were the sixth films in their respective franchises.

Let's take a look at each franchise individually, going from highest average gross (Batman) to lowest (X-Men).

Batman is the single most reliable Superhero at the Box Office, with both the highest adjusted average ($386 million) and highest total adjusted gross ($2.7 billion) of any of the big five franchises. Five of the seven films have grossed the equivalent of $300 million dollars or more. Basically, he's kind of a big deal.


Next up is Spider-Man, whose $385 million per film adjusted average is almost identical to Batman. The main difference between Batman and Spider-Man though, is that while Batman's track record is full of ups (Heath Ledger's Joker) and downs ("Bat Nipples"), Spider-Man has drawn a straight downhill line. Instead of "rebooting" the franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 have actually just continued the downward trend that started with the second Toby Maguire outing. It's no surprise then that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been pushed all the way out until 2018!


Marvel's The Avengers franchise can really be split into two different groups, Iron Man and everyone else in The Avengers. As a whole, the nine films in the Avenger's "Cinematic Universe" have a healthy adjusted average of $297 million, but when looked at separately it's clear that Iron Man puts the Super in this Superhero bunch. The three Robert Downey, Jr. helmed flicks have averaged a whopping $360 million dollars per film, while the five flicks featuring The Hulk, Thor and Captain America have managed to bring in $194 million on average, or roughly only 54% as much as Tony Stark. It's no wonder then that Downey has been the highest paid actor in Hollywood each of the last two years ($75 million EACH year according to Forbes). Put them all together though, and they rise to a whole other level still, as 2012's The Avengers went on to beat The Dark Knight and become the highest grossing Superhero movie of All Time.


Next we have Superman, who has been not so super when compared to these other Superheroes (though it's $250 million adjusted average is not too shabby). While 1978's Superman starring Christopher Reeve launched the Comic Book genre in movies, the next three films performed progressively worse and worse. After 1987's disastrous Superman IV, the franchise needed an IV itself and it was almost twenty years before another Superman flick was made (2006's disappointing Superman Returns). Because Returns failed to return the Man of Steel to his place amongst the Superhero elite, it would take another seven long years before last year's Man of Steel was to hit theaters. It's slight improvement in performance over Superman Returns coupled with Marvel's successful Avengers strategy made Superman vs. Batman inevitable, and certainly one of the most buzzed about film projects in recent memory (of course the whole Batfleck thing will keep people buzzing for the next two years as well).


Last, and I guess therefore least, is the X-Men franchise. With a total combined adjusted gross of $1.52 billion at the domestic box office, the Wolverine led bunch has slightly out-grossed Superman's $1.5 billion haul, though it has taken one extra film to get there, making for an adjusted average of $218 million per flick. The main thing you'll notice about X-Men's trend line is that it doesn't have the same jagged edges that most of the other franchises have. They've never really had the high high's the other franchises did, so the low's don't look quite as low. Consistency has been the key. The X-Men have never really gained the enormous following that the other Superheroes did, but they've also held on to their audience more reliably than the others over the years.


What's your favorite Superhero franchise of the bunch (mine's Batman)? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

COMIC-CON WEEK: BATMAN DAY, BATMAN AT THE BOX OFFICE

In case you didn't know already, today is Batman Day! DC Comics this year is celebrating 75 years since Batman first hit comic books. With that in mind, I thought I'd look back at how the "Caped Crusader" has performed at the Box Office over his years on the silver screen, starting with Tim Burton's Batman in 1989.


These numbers are adjusted for inflation, since it's too hard to compare the performance of films over such a long period of time. For example, the $250-plus million that Batman made in 1989 made it not only the highest grossing film of the year, but one of the highest grossing films IN HISTORY. Only eight other films that year even crossed the $100 million mark. Flash forward to 2012, the year of The Dark Knight Rises, and THIRTY other films made at least $100 million, with TEN of those grossing over $200 million.

So clearly we're not talking apples to apples, hence it makes more sense to compare using adjusted for inflation numbers (found on BoxOfficeMojo.com). All in all, the "Dark Knight" has proven to be a consistently strong performer, with The Dark Knight and Batman still to this day sitting as two of the TOP 50 highest grossing films of All-Time. Even the last Joel Schumacher fiasco Batman and Robin starring George "Bat Nipples" Clooney and Arnold "Can't understand a word you're saying" Schwarzenegger managed a sizable $190 million when adjusted for inflation.  

Two of the Top 50 films of All-Time pitted Batman versus The Joker. SOURCE: BoxOfficeMojo.com
The one thing that really stands out in my eyes... THE POWER OF THE JOKER! The two films that have made the biggest impact both commercially and in Pop Culture lore, are the two Batman films where he squared off against The Joker. No offense to Catwoman or Bane, but it's safe to say that no other villain in comic book history inspires so much intrigue. Plus, it doesn't hurt when actor-extraordinaires like Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger are playing the role.

In case you're wondering, if I had included The Lego Movie, which heavily featured Lego Batman, it would be just a bout in line with Batman Begins at around $250 million. Not bad for a guy who only works in black (and sometimes very, very dark grey). We'll have to wait until 2016 to see where Ben Affleck's Superman vs. Batman ends up on this chart. My guess is somewhere between Batman Forever's $344 million and The Dark Knight Rises' $469 million. We'll see.


What's your favorite Batman flick? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

COMIC-CON WEEK: 45 HIGHEST GROSSING COMIC BOOK MOVIES

In honor of Comic-Con's 45th Anniversary this year, I present to you the 45 Highest Grossing Comic Book Movies of All-Time (Not adjusted for inflation, per BoxOfficeMojo.com)...


What's your favorite? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Monday, July 21, 2014

BOYHOODS (ANTOINE DOINEL AND MASON JR.)


With all the hype and press (much deserved) that Richard Linklater's Boyhood is getting, I thought I'd remind people that Francois Truffaut did something similar (yet very different) back in the 1950's through the 1970's. From 1959 to 1979, Truffaut and actor Jean-Pierre Leaud made a five-film arc that Criterion calls "The Adventures of Antoine Doinel". It followed the same character, Antoine Doinel, over a period of twenty years. At the beginning of the saga he was a fourteen year old delinquent, and by the time the last film was released he was in his mid-thirties and still a bit of a scoundrel.

The 400 Blows (1959)
Antoine and Colette (1962, Short)
Stolen Kisses (1968)
Bed and Board (1970)
Love on the Run (1979)

The films can be purchased as a box set through CRITERION.

This gave me an idea. Richard Linklater has a connection to the Criterion Collection as well, with his early films Slacker (1991) and Dazed and Confused (1993) getting the Criterion treatment already. Linklater has stated that Boyhood will also be released by Criterion, and he has expressed interest in releasing a box-set of his Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight trilogy on there as well.

So I think it would be pretty interesting to see Linklater take the five films (and nearly seven hours) that make up the adventures of Antoine Doinel and condense them into a two hour and forty-five minute single feature, a la Boyhood. Maybe it could be a special feature on the Boyhood release?

It won't happen, but it would be cool. Right?


GO SEE BOYHOOD, IN THEATERS NOW!

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COMIC-CON WEEK: 9 MOST ANTICIPATED COMIC-CON EVENTS/PANELS


Found on the "Clevver Movies" YouTube channel.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

EAT SEE HEAR - AMERICAN PSYCHO


I'm super excited for tonight's EatSeeHear showing of American Psycho up in L.A.! This hilariously twisted, perfectly executed black comedy is one of my all time favorites (you've probably noticed I have a lot of those). It's going to be awesome to finally see it on a big screen for the first time.

The summer is half way over but there are still a lot of great EatSeeHear screenings left (each event features a live musical performance and plenty of food trucks as well). Check out EatSeeHear.com for more information and to buy tickets.



Below, one of the funniest scenes ever put to celluloid...


If you get a chance, head over to FunnyOrDie.com and check out their spot on parody of this scene with Huey Lewis and Weird Al. You will laugh 'til you cry!



If you're going to the screening tonight, I'll see you there!

Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Friday, July 18, 2014

LINKLATER

Image from SLATE.COM

I finally got the chance to see Boyhood by Richard Linklater tonight (★★★★★ out of ★★★★★) and even though his body of work up to this point is already quite remarkable, this one just confirms that he is a God living and working amongst mere movie mortals. His films are (mostly) small in stature but huge on heart and emotion and have a sense of realism that few others in modern film can touch. Sadly only once (School of Rock) in his two-and-a-half decade career has one of his films ever reached a mass audience. In fact the TOTAL domestic gross of all of his films combined is roughly equal to 1986's Crocodile Dundee or this year's 22 Jump Street.

Data from BOXOFFICEMOJO.COM
Data from BOXOFFICEMOJO.COM

This is a totally unacceptable fact in my opinion. Dazed and Confused? CLASSIC! Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight? TRANSFORMATIONAL! Sure "nothing ever happens", and "all the characters do is talk the whole time", but GODDAMMIT THAT'S LIFE! While so many other directors cut out "all the boring bits" of our everyday existence, Linklater instead makes them the focus of his work.

After all, it's those little moments in life that make it so interesting in the first place.

GO SEE BOYHOOD!!!


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Thursday, July 17, 2014

ABOUT A BOYHOOD


I'm so excited for Richard Linklater's latest offering, the intimate-epic, 12 years in the making, Boyhood. The film continues to be one of the most buzzed movies of the year. Below I gathered up a few of the best clips from IFC Films and others highlighting this unique motion picture experience.

OFFICIAL FEATURETTE:


OFFICIAL U.S. TRAILER:



"TALK TO ME" CLIP:


FILM 4 INTERVIEW SPECIAL:


Have you seen Boyhood already? What did you think? Haven't seen it already? What are you most looking forward to? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RE2PECT Commercial honoring Derek Jeter, featuring Spike Lee, Billy Crystal & Michael Jordan



As one of the greatest players in baseball history, and one of the most respected professional athletes in all of sports, Derek Jeter certainly will be missed after he retires at the end of this season. He is a superstar whose love for the game shows each and every time he steps onto the field. Even people who can't stand the Yankees (like Red Sox or Mets fans) have to give it up for "The Captain". That's why this Nike "Jordan Brand" commercial featuring Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, and Michael Jordan himself (amongst many others) is so great. It truly captures the admiration that Jeter commands from people across all walks of life. His passion for the game on the field and the way he handled his fame off the field is a blueprint for how it can and should be done by all celebrities. I will never forget seeing him play during his Rookie of the Year season in 1996 in Old Yankee Stadium, as well as seeing the last game he played at Angels stadium just this May. What a player. What a career.

Thanks for the memories #2.

I tip my hat to you.

Much RE2PECT.


What's your favorite Derek Jeter memory? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BORN ON THIS DAY: INDIANA JONES, PROFESSOR X, MR. CHOW & ME


"THEY SAY IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY... IT'S MY BIRTHDAY TOO, YEAH..."

Roughly one-third of a century ago today my Mom and Dad gave birth to a (mostly) cute little baby boy that turned into the rugged, dashing, shortish, balding, man-child that I am today. I thought I'd take some time to reflect on the films that were number one at the Box Office each year around my Birthday, to see what films were big during certain milestones in my life.

The weekend I was born John Carpenter's Escape From New York came out. AWESOME start I must say! A year later on my 1st Birthday everyone and their mother (maybe even my Mother, and Dad too) was still flocking to see Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. A couple years later in 1984 the #1 film at the Box Office was Ghostbusters, with Back to the Future winning the same weekend a year later. It's easy to see why I have so much love for Sci-Fi films, as my entire early childhood was filled with classics of the genre. It was practically encoded into my DNA.

This trend continued as I turned 10 years old and Terminator 2: Judgment Day ruled my Birthday weekend. Arnold Schwarzenegger was still the king of the silver screen a few years later when I became a teenager and True Lies was the top flick for my 13th Birthday. The summer I turned 16 Will Smith had officially taken over as the top action star in the world, following the previous years Independence Day with Men in Black. It's fitting that as I myself was turning 18 the iconic coming of age film of my generation, American Pie, was released. No, I never humped a pie (I know that's what you're all thinking right now).

The summer I turned 21 Will Smith was still hanging around the top of the Box Office with the second (this time disappointing) film in the Men In Black series. Another disappointing sequel followed a few years later as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest stole two-and-a-half hours away from my 25th Birthday weekend. Things were much better though as I turned 30, when the Harry Potter franchise concluded with a bang in The Deathly Hollows, Part 2. Obviously as a 30 year old I was certainly not the target market for Potter, but I feel like the films got better and better as they went on, and I too have tried to become better and better as the years have gone on for me.

So it's fitting that this weekend we went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to once again celebrate my birthday at the movie theater. Over the years they weren't all winners, but overall I've had many fond memories celebrating with friends and family at the movies.

Here's the full list of the number one movies at the Box Office for on or around today's date since 1981...


I'm in good company too, as I share a birthday with these fine gentlemen...


1940 Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men)
1941 Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, The Descendants)
1942 Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
1946 Cheech Marin (Up in Smoke, The Lion King)
1957 Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous)
1969 Ken Jeong (Role Models, The Hangover)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ONE AND ALL!


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