Monday Morning Critic – Chris Evans, The Avengers And Twilight Are Interrelated … and The Muppets

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

The most surprising thing about this weekend was just how big of an opening The Avengers had this year. I had expected somewhere between $140-160 million or so, right around or bigger than The Hunger Games but not 30% greater. $200 million, the biggest opening ever, is fairly remarkable as a number but there has to be a smidgeon of an asterisk because of the sheer volume of 3D screens boosting the bottom line.

But then again you can argue that with nearly every major film release of the summer season sans The Dark Knight Rises.

3D is kind of the game changer in bolstering up box office revenues. Me, I paid almost $15 to see the 3D version of The Avengers this weekend and I imagine plenty of other people did as well. Normally I stay away from 3D but there are a handful of films I will indulge that particular aspect on and this was one of them. But it brings up something I think is going to get missed as this film makes a truckload of money for Disney and Marvel Studios.

Mainly the Twilight Comparison that needs to be made that won’t for a while.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What the hell does a franchise about sparkly vampires, emo werewolves and a vapid twat trying to figure out which one to have comically hilarious sex with have to do with another franchise about superheroes saving the world? Plenty, actually, in that this weekend’s box office grosses are going to make a whole lot of people a whole lot of stupid when it comes to future projects. And it starts with Chris Evans, who’s about to become rich and famous as an actor without really becoming a star. And there’s a recent historical context to make that fits.

On a side note, I used to call this the Star Wars Comparison because of how divergent the careers of Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill went but that franchise has been replaced in it because it’s more topical to me.

When you break it down Robert Pattinson doesn’t sell tickets in the same way Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t. It’s also going to be the same way Chris Evans won’t, either. All three have something in common: they’re talented young actors who are about to find out that being someone who puts asses in seats and playing a character who puts asses in seats are two very different things. Just look at recent history:

— Radcliffe is just starting this process. The Woman in Black had a respectable box office earlier this year, making a tidy profit off a small budget. But the $120 million or so it made during its run worldwide was about the same size as an opening weekend for a Harry Potter film. An above average amount of horror film fans came out to see the film, as did I, but Harry Potter fans stayed home for the most part. Every major hit he was a part of has Harry Potter in front of it.

— Pattinson had solid box office grosses for Water for Elephants and Remember Me but neither broke $100 million domestically. Elephants broke that mark internationally but the latter didn’t cross $60 million total. Both were helped by small budgets, thus remaining profitable, but neither could be called a hit.

— Evans hasn’t been in a film that has grossed significantly that hasn’t involved a superhero. Captain America was a hit, as were both Fantastic Four films, but when you look at Evans as a box office draw without tights on then it’s a losing case. It’s odd to think that his biggest hit was the first film he starred in, Not Another Teen Movie, which is the high water mark outside of superhero films at under $40 million.

And I feel bad, because I’m not picking on Chris Evans. I like him as an actor; I like Pattinson and Radcliffe as actors as well. I think all three are going to end up getting screwed because of their franchise success because they won’t have the sort of star-power we think they do to get projects they want to get made, et al. In a way I kind of feel bad for all three, particularly the sparkly vampire. Pattinson is a really talented actor who you can tell is happier making and discussing indie films than he is being Edward Cullen; it shows in his interviews and press for projects he makes.

He believes what he’s saying, as opposed to going through the motions to protect the box office like he does with Twilight. And you know six months after the super massive Twilight DVD box set with everything is released three years from now, the final big money thing you can release with the franchise, he’ll come out and be honest about it all. Probably something along the lines of Shia Labeouf’s thoughts on the final Indiana Jones film without the wannabe tough guy/douche bag antics of the guy who has made it his mission to ruin anything good related to the ‘80s.

I don’t think Evans will come out and trash the entire series, which has gotten great reviews (mine notwithstanding), but I think somewhere inside of him the fact that the film made $200 million probably hurt inside. It means that films like Puncture, which he was genuinely passionate about go to the wayside because blockbusters have massive shooting schedules and publicity tours that take up more time. It’s one thing to be famous and to have a project succeed beyond your wildest dreams; Chris Evans is going to have steady work as Captain America in both sequels to the original as well as Avengers films for quite some time.

It’s better to work than not, especially as an actor, but part of me thinks Evans is going to have similar problems once this is over and he’s back to being the sort of handsome leading comic actor he was before all this. He may have been Captain America, which is pretty badass don’t get me wrong, but when that’s all people will pay to see you as it’s not the best spot to be in. Kind of like being Harry Potter … or Edward Cullen … it’s the price of being a popular character and not a popular actor, which aren’t the same thing but many people tend to get confused all the same.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – The Muppets

One thing kind of bothered me after the success of The Muppets last year. Talk of a sequel, more specifically. I mean honestly … do you really need any more of a story after this film?

You can read Travis’s review here for more formal thoughts, as mine echoed his. Not all the time though; he loved The Avengers and I did not. It happens sometimes.

The Muppets follows the return of the old Muppet gang as they try to save their theatre from an evil oil man (Chris Cooper) by throwing a telethon. Cue in wacky shenanigans in one of the most genuinely affecting films of the past couple years. This isn’t a film to love on the first try, oddly enough, though many did. It’s a film that gets better on the second and third viewing; now I watch it and think if I had to do my best of 2011 list again I might throw it on there.

Strongly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Dark Shadows – Johnny Depp is a vampire in the 1700s who is unlocked into the ‘70s. Shenanigans ensue.

Skip It – We’ve seen Tim Burton do this film before in style, tone and look. The plot has just changed.

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest, a screed against pop culture or something about a guy who starts killing people or something. In Limited Release

Skip It – Goldthwait’s last was really good but this is getting toxic level word of mouth.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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