The 6 Fall movies I'm most excited about

on Wednesday, September 29, 2010   13 comments

Get excited—List Wednesday is back! I know I've been gone for a while and blah blah blah blah blah (lack-of-blogging excuses only exist to help bloggers feel less guilty), but I'm ready to start getting to down to (the movie) business this Fall. What's behind this rekindled excitement? A seriously great looking crop of new Fall movies! Here are my Top 6 picks for this season—give them a read and then let me know what you can't wait to see in the comments below!

6. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I loved the first movie, but was disappointed by the second. Still, the trailer has asked me to "return to hope," and considering this adaptation has much better source material, I am feeling pretty hopeful.

5. Tangled
The shift away from 2D animation (and the awful advertising campaign) had me wanting to dislike Tangled, but the more I see of the film—full of adventure, hair, and gorgeous landscapes—the more excited I'm getting. And I haven't even heard the music yet!

4. Buried
Cool, creepy, and claustrophobic. The sheer ambition of having an entire movie take place underground already had me intrigued, but the great reviews and festival buzz were the last nail in the coffin for me. I'm there.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
This would probably top the list if Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince hadn't fallen so flat for me. Thankfully, I don't see how any director—even David "I like all my movies to be grayish-blue and slow" Yates—could drag down the mile-a-minute action of the seventh Harry Potter novel.

2. TRON: Legacy
LOOKS SO FREAKING COOL, and I wouldn't even consider myself a huge fanboy. Maybe it's the sleek video game premise, but for some reason, I'm finding myself thinking that TRON might look amazing in 3D. (Blasphemy, I know.)

1. The Social Network

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Did Amanda Bynes make 'Easy A' a hit?

on Monday, September 20, 2010   18 comments

Just a quick question for all you Junkies: Does anyone else think that Amanda Bynes may have been the secret weapon behind Easy A's strong $18.2M opening weekend?

I've read in a number of places that she actually has a very small role in the film, but advertisements for the film featured her prominently, and as someone that grew up with Ms. Bynes on All That and The Amanda Show, I've always been interested in seeing what she's up to. I know I'm not the only one who finds her endearing and hilarious, and part of me believes that she was a bigger draw to Easy A than Emma Stone. Back when Hairspray broke out in 2007, I remember theorizing that Amanda Bynes fans had driven a large portion of business, as if there was some quiet legion of Bynes-lovers that support all of her endeavors. Given my own undeniable interest in her career, her face in every commercial for Easy A, and my ridiculous speculation, I'm thinking Amanda Bynes may be a major box office draw in supporting comedic roles. (Of course, I guess you could argue that the combo of Aly Michalka and Penn Badgley's "quiet legions" of fans also contributed to the success, but my money is still on Amanda.)

What do you think? Am I going crazy, or could Amanda Bynes really be an asset to a movie's success? And do you agree that she needs a better agent? How has this talented comedienne not gotten more roles over the last decade?

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Weekend Preview: Can 'Machete' cut down 'Going the Distance' and 'The American?'

on Friday, September 03, 2010   8 comments

I'll be honest with you: I'm having trouble getting very excited about this weekend. As is customary in the first few weeks of every September, the crop of newcomers just isn't all that appealing to the average American moviegoer (in this case, me). George Clooney's latest political film, The American, has already gotten off to a weak start, which leave  exploitation film Machete and romantic comedy Going the Distance duking it out for the top spot. All in all, it's looking like another snoozefest of a frame, and yet another underwhelming Labor Day weekend. (sigh) You can check out my full 4-day predictions after the jump.

1. Going The Distance – 3,030 theaters – $13 million
This romantic comedy is the second in a row—after The Switch—to receive pretty solid reviews. Unfortunately, it will also probably be the second romantic comedy in a row—after The Switch—to be met with fairly underwhelming results. We've learned from The Back Up Plan and The Switch that these movies need a strong female and male lead, and though Drew Barrymore is a rom-com staple, Justin Long is not. Still, over this weak frame, Going the Distance may be able to take the top spot.

2. Takers – 2,206 theaters – $10.5 million
Last week's number one action film should fall fairly quickly, but the Labor Day holiday should soften its second week decline. Still, considering most people thought Takers would only earn about $10M in its first weekend, this is a pretty great result.

3. Machete – 2,670 theaters – $9.8 million
There are a lot of people predicting an easy #1 for Machete, but can someone tell me this: Since when have movies like this been mainstream successes? It's like Grindhouse 2.0—I think it will be lucky to break $25M in its full run.

4. The American – 2,823 theaters – $9.5 million
Things Americans don't like: political movies. Things Americans also don't like: false advertising. The American has been marketed as an action movie (kind of like the way Clooney's The Men Who Stare At Goats was marketed as a comedy), and people won't take kindly to the fact that it's really much more of a dialogue-heavy thinker. Despite that long-term problem, The American might be able to do some modest business this weekend. It started off with a weak $1.7 on Wednesday, which may translate into a $9.5M weekend over four days.

5. The Last Exorcism – 2,874 theaters – $8.5 million
Despite good reviews, audiences don't like this movie. A precipitous decline is in the works.

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DVD/Blu-Ray Sales: 'The Last Song' becomes the latest sobfest to rule the home market; 'Dexter' kills competition!

on Wednesday, September 01, 2010   7 comments

Another week, another slew of DVD/Blu-Ray sales figures courtesy of The-Numbers! Check inside for news about Miley Cyrus and Dexter's great weeks, as well as my own DVD Sales Notes and Blu-Ray Sales Estimates.

DVD Sales Notes:
–Miley Cyrus' first foray into the post-Hannah Montana acting world, The Last Song, was a modest success at the box office with a nice $63M domestic gross, but after a strong start on the home market, I think its safe to call this one a legitimate hit. The Nicholas Sparks adaptation scored a $13.7M debut, shifting 760,880 copies (and an additional 80,000 on Blu-Ray) in its first week. Like A Walk to Remember and The Notebook before it, The Last Song is proving that weepy chick-flicks can be very powerful on the home market. Miley can't be tamed... and apparently neither can her success.

Dexter had a stunningly good week for a cable drama on DVD. The season 4 set sold a humongous 366,516 units, for a strong $11M in first week sales. Meanwhile, the seventh season of One Tree Hill, which regularly pulls higher numbers on network television, only attained sales of 73,805 in its first week.

Furry Vengeance looked a whole lot more like road kill in its first week on the home market. The critically reviled children's pic only earned $17.6M in theaters, so a paltry $2.5M in its first week on DVD was all but expected.

–After a disappointing theatrical performance, the fact that Hot Tub Time Machine crossed the 1 million copies-sold threshold has to be a little bit of a consolation to MGM... oh wait, they already folded.

DVD Sales Chart for week ending August 22, 2010
RankTitleUnits this Week% ChangeTotal UnitsSales this WeekTotal SalesWeeks in Release
1 The Last Song 760,880 -.-% 760,880 $13,688,231 $13,688,231 1
2 Dexter: Season Four 366,516 -.-% 366,516 $10,991,815 $10,991,815 1
3 Date Night 222,557 -64.3% 845,095 $3,781,243 $14,358,164 2
4 Furry Vengeance 181,926 -.-% 181,926 $2,454,182 $2,454,182 1
5 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 120,904 -48.9% 1,021,758 $2,260,905 $17,566,414 3
6 Death at a Funeral (2010) 113,219 -65.2% 438,184 $1,923,591 $7,444,746 2
7 Clash of the Titans 111,697 -41.9% 1,466,444 $1,897,732 $24,763,063 4
8 Kick-Ass 106,599 -45.4% 737,376 $2,355,966 $16,275,154 3
9 One Tree Hill: The Complete Seventh Season 73,805 -.-% 73,805 $2,751,450 $2,751,450 1
10 Letters to God 50,979 -22.0% 116,346 $799,861 $1,825,469 2
11 The Book of Eli 47,098 -11.9% 1,787,018 $982,714 $35,049,425 10
12 Lost Boys, The 44,588 23.3% - $315,518 - 656
13 Alice in Wonderland (2010) 43,370 -24.0% 3,890,446 $810,898 $69,411,234 12
14 Hot Tub Time Machine 43,142 -4.9% 1,053,628 $748,514 $19,416,789 8
15 Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief 42,838 -2.7% 1,586,201 $736,814 $29,784,594 8
16 The Bounty Hunter 42,685 -24.5% 972,766 $728,206 $17,154,649 6
17 Cop Out 42,077 -7.7% 595,590 $699,741 $10,222,453 5
18 Avatar 41,468 -16.3% 8,194,086 $913,399 $143,678,155 18
19 Billy Madison 40,783 -.-% - $244,290 - 757
20 Dora the Explorer: Save the Day! 40,193 23.2% - $286,576 - 241
21 Matilda 40,022 -.-% - $279,754 - 683
22 Wedding Crashers, The 38,102 -.-% - $208,064 - 242
23 Repo Men 36,218 -4.8% 287,838 $703,354 $5,287,053 4
24 Dora the Explorer: Pirate Adventure 35,168 -2.0% - $213,118 - 343
25 Green Zone 35,153 -24.6% 749,311 $554,714 $13,683,274 9
26 The Shawshank Redemption 34,485 19.8% - $208,714 - 557
27 The Losers 34,087 -2.9% 372,687 $589,023 $6,462,496 5
28 Toy Story 30,816 -5.5% - $578,869 - 721
29 Steel Magnolias 30,615 -.-% - $198,691 - 842
30 Toy Story 2 30,283 -13.0% - $586,018 - 492

Blu-Ray Sales Estimates
RankTitleUnits this Week
1 The Last Song 80,000
2 Dexter: The Fourth Season 60,776
3 Clash of the Titans 56,000
4 Kick-Ass 52,256
5 Date Night 40,112
6 Avatar 33,016
7 Law Abiding Citizen 21,496
8 Death at a Funeral 18,088
9 Alice in Wonderland 16,000
10 Terminator 2: Judgment Day 15,912
11 King Kong 15,856
12 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 13,176
13 Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
The Lightning Thief
14 Hot Tub Time Machine 12,168
15 Brooklyn's FInest 11,672
16 Green Zone 11,128
17 The Dark Knight 11,112
18 Rambo 10,952
19 Shutter Island 10,536
20 The Bourne Trilogy 10,400

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Forbes' "Best for the Buck" list: Are these really the ten biggest box office draws?

on Wednesday, September 01, 2010   0 comments

Forbes released its "Best for the Buck" list yesterday, which purports to reveal the top ten actors in Hollywood who bring in the most money for each dollar spent on them. Now, you and I both know that the concept of being an actual box office draw is fairly outdated, and this list certainly isn't a very good judgment of anyone's real drawing power, but it is List Wednesday, and the stats here are interesting, if a little bit misleading. With the exception of list-topper Shia LaBeouf, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and maybe Jennifer Aniston and Nicholas Cage, the rest of the actors lauded as "Best for the Buck" were really just lucky enough to land parts in big-budget franchise films like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Alice In Wonderland. Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett? Really? They must not demand much of a salary...

LaBeouf's films earn a robust $81 for each one dollar spent to attain him in a movie, and with the upcoming releases of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps and Transformers 3, I'd expect his stock to stay very strong—at least until his asking price goes up. Not only has he wisely chosen major franchises like Transformers and Indiana Jones, but he's proven his drawing power in Eagle Eye ($101.4M) and Disturbia ($80.2M). Undoubtedly, he is the most solid box office draw of his generation, and I can't argue with his placement atop the list. Check out the rest of Forbes' Top 10 list below:

1. Shia LaBeouf ($81)
2. Anne Hathaway ($64)
3. Daniel Radcliffe ($61)
4. Robert Downey Jr. ($33)
5. Cate Blanchett ($27)
6. Jennifer Aniston ($21)
7. Meryl Streep ($21)
8. Johnny Depp ($18)
9. Nicolas Cage ($17)
10. Sarah Jessica Parker ($17)

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