Every time a movie about and for audiences who aren’t white and male does well, everyone acts like it’s a big surprise. “Black people and women like movies? Who’da thunk it?” It’s actually not surprising at all that Straight Outta Compton had a massive opening, handily defeating its more standard competition. Because all kinds of people like movies and when you make movies for all kinds of people, you end up with huge weekends at the box office.
At the time of this writing, early estimates for the weekend box office have Ant-Man edging out Pixels for the top spot in this week’s top 10. That could change. With less than $1 million separating the films, Pixels may very well slide into first place tomorrow, winning one very close competition. But even if it does claim ultimate victory, it doesn’t change the fact that Pixels’ opening weekend is a massive disappointment and another nail in the coffin of Adam Sandler’s career.
The new Vacation may bear the same name as the old Vacation, but it’s actually a sequel, taking place a few decades after the first ill-fated Griswold family trip to Walley World. The first trailer for this new version has arrived and while it has the same title and premise as its predecessor, it bends over backwards to let you know that Ed Helms is the same Rusty Griswold from 32 years ago, all grown up. Can we call this a rebootquel?
With Taken, Liam Neeson became an unlikely action star, with his quiet, solemn masculinity lending gravitas to even the silliest dialogue and story beats. But rather than use the success of that instantly meme-able film as an excuse to pursue more period dramas and British weepies, Neeson embraced his newfound action hero identity. Now, after seven years of snapping necks and gunning people down across several continents, it looks like he’s ready to retire from the action hero game for good.
With some of the year’s biggest movies only a month or two away, the box office seems to have entered a holding pattern. Some of the new releases are minor hits. Others crash and burn. Right now, Hollywood just seems to be crossing their fingers and hoping for the sweet, sweet summer movie season to come along and save them (or at least the April release of Furious 7). In other words, every new release underperformed this weekend.
When he passed away last week at the age of 83, Leonard Nimoy was mourned by actors, artists, politicians, scientists, engineers, astronauts and even the President of the United States. That should tell you something. Few characters have had such a seismic impact on popular culture as Star Trek’s Spock and countless people all over the world felt like they had lost a friend. Amidst the countless tributes, there is now one that stands out: a brief but powerful remembrance from Zachary Quinto, who picked up the Spock mantle in 2009’s Star Trek and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.
As the kids of the ‘80s and early ‘90s are dragged kicking and screaming into middle age, their nostalgia for the things they enjoyed in childhood has only grown stronger. And Hollywood has responded in kind, taking those childhood obsessions and transforming them into movies that are specifically crafted to appeal to adults with fond memories instead of kids. That’s why director Joseph Kahn’s new grim ‘n gritty Power Rangers short film is brilliant and unsettling in equal measure. On one hand, it’s exquisitely made and just tongue-in-cheek enough. On the other, it’s exactly the kind of movie that we’re worried will actually get made in the next few years.
In between all of the tributes and montages and musical performances, the SNL 40th Anniversary Special actually found time for some original content. Right after a montage celebrating the short films that have been featured on the show over the years, Zach Galifianakis took to the stage to introduce a new digital short from Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler. Unlike most of Samberg’s original shorts, which usually traded in genial silliness, this one looked inward and examined a subject that everyone who has ever been on the show should be familiar with: breaking character.
A lot of people are going to act like they didn’t see the enormous success of ‘American Sniper’ coming, but the signs were all there. On top of the promising limited release numbers, there was the awards buzz. On top of that, there were the names of director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper. On top of that, the subject matter of the film is inherently attractive to the same category of moviegoer that makes Christian-themed films into massive hits. ‘American Sniper’ had one doozy of a weekend, but it’s not that surprising.
You’d be surprised by how many beloved directors earn a little extra cash anonymously directing commercials, but when you hire the great Martin Scorsese to help sell your lavish new casino in Manilla Bay, Philippines, you end up with a full fledged Scorsese Picture. Which means that this is one of the most energetic and stylish advertisements you’ll see this year … and that it stars Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
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