Inside Pulse » Real Steel A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Real Steel Brendan Campbell’s Top Ten Films of 2011 Tue, 03 Jan 2012 18:00:28 +0000

There’s something about top ten lists that get people excited. We’re excited to read them, and in this case, I’m excited to write mine and have you read it. It’s fun to see what someone thought were the “best” films of the year and compare them to your own list of what you believe tops the charts. Whether we agree or disagree, we’re drawn to these types of lists, as they’re just a fun way to wrap up an entire year in one tidy package.

Personally, I know my top ten lists usually have one or two films that come out of left field, and that’s not done to just cause a stir. There’s a feeling you hope to get when a movie is playing or right after it finishes, and that’s a feeling of excitement, or just an overwhelming sense of emotion. It doesn’t happen all the time, and sometimes it happens with the oddest of films, catching you completely off-guard. That was the case in one or two of my choices, while others simply just spoke to me on a level that stuck with me while others fell by the wayside.

There’s also my “Up in the Air” of 2011, which is an award I give to a movie I’ve not yet seen but would likely make my list when I do get around to it – just like Up in the Air did when I finally saw it a little while after my 2009 list was posted. There’s been unanimous praise for The Artist this year and it’s one I wish I had seen. When I do get around to that, as well as The Tree of Life, Hugo, and a few others that just weren’t available to see, my list could look quite different in the coming months.

That said, I still stand behind my choices and feel that they deserve a place of recognition regardless of how this list may look down the road. Without further ado, here are my top ten films of 2011…

10. Real Steel

2011 was a fantastic year for family films, both animated and live action. The choice to put Real Steel on the list above the rest was simply the emotional impact the movie had on me. Excuse me? Boxing robots created an emotional connection? It’s true. Real Steel is a film about boxing robots, but it’s also so much more.

Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo star as an estranged father and son duo that embarks on an emotional journey of reconnection and redemption through the not-so-distant futuristic world of robot boxing. It’s a wonderful movie that definitely caught me with my guard down and hit me in the heartstrings for with a solid right hook. It’s a fun movie I’ve yet to forget and one that I cannot wait to see again.

9. Captain America: The First Avenger

What more can I say about Captain America that I haven’t already mentioned in my theatrical and Blu-ray reviews of the film? 2011 was a huge year for superhero movies, and Marvel led the pack with both their lead-ins to next year’s The Avengers in both Thor and Captain America, as well as the unrelated (as far as same universes go) X-Men: First Class.

Captain America: The First Avenger was the best of the bunch, with beautiful art direction that just made the film scream 1940’s war era. That, alongside the Oscar-worthy musical score by composer Alan Silvestri and you not only end up with one of the most visually stunning films of the year, but also one of the best sounding ones as well. If Captain America is any indication, The Avengers will definitely be near the top of the list of “must see” films in 2012.

8. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m a huge fan of blockbuster movies. While I’ll be a bit more lenient than others may be when it comes to just how deep and fun storyline is compared to the amount of explosions per minute that take place, I still look for overall quality when it comes to choosing the best. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol does everything right, from the over-the-top action scenes (we’ve all seen Tom Cruise doing his famous run through many of his films, but to see him do it while a sandstorm blows in from behind him is nothing short of epic) to the fresh take on an old franchise.

Five years ago, Mission: Impossible 3 debuted during a difficult time for Cruise in his career, and the film (arguably one of, if not the best in the series) suffered greatly because of it. With what turned out to be an incredibly smart release date, and the advantage of being shot for the IMAX, Ghost Protocol has given Cruise’s career the bump it needs to put the past in the past, as well as the bump this once thought dead franchise needs to excel into the future.

7. Warrior

This is the second Rocky-esque film I’ve had in my top ten thus far and for good reason – the underdog formula really works when done right! Add onto that a powerful story about a broken family that sees their problems come to a head during an MMA tournament and you’ve got so much more than a film about guys wrestling in a cage.

Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy star as Brendan and Tommy Conlon, two brothers who took two different paths in life and only have their hatred for their formerly abusive alcoholic father (played by Nick Nolte) in common. While this film works on the emotional story front as is, it hit home for me on another level as I have a younger brother who I’m not as close with as I’d like to be. Our differences aren’t nearly as extreme as the brothers in the film; however, the idea is the same and watching this story unfold really got to me. I’m sure I’m not the only sibling out there that this movie spoke to on this level, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. I went into Warrior not really knowing what to expect, and I left with a better understanding of myself — it’s not every day you take that away from a movie.

6. Shame

Steve McQueen’s film about a man struggling with sex addiction is a fantastically dark film to behold and it definitely earns its NC-17 rating. The thing is, while there’s plenty of sex going on throughout the film, none of it is gratuitous and it all has a deeper meaning than the act itself. It’s a powerful film and one that many won’t be able to get through the first time, let alone line up to see it a second.

Michael Fassbender (who will be known better by most as Magneto from X-Men: First Class) gives an Oscar worthy (and likely winning) performance as Brandon Sullivan, a man who suffers from this life-altering disease and finds his world spinning out of control after his sister, Sissy (played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan) comes back into his life to live with him.

McQueen’s direction is wonderful, staying with shots and single character perspectives much longer than most directors would find comfortable. It really adds to the themes and feelings he’s trying to convey in the film and it really speaks volumes about his vision and his skill behind the camera. Shame is a film that stands out among the rest of the year’s releases and the more I think about it, the more hauntingly powerful it becomes.

5. The Guard

When you think brilliant comedies from overseas you immediately think of British comedies, Simon Pegg, Edger Wright and the likes, and rightfully so as the British are extremely funny. You wouldn’t immediately think of Ireland when it comes to producing the funniest movie of the year, and yet that’s exactly what they did in 2011 with The Guard.

The Guard stars Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a small-town cop with a knack for confrontation, a rebellious sense of humour, as well as unorthodox methods of getting the job done. When the FBI comes to town after reports that a drug-smuggling gang is in the area, Sgt. Boyle finds himself partnered up with Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle). Together the two must work together to stop this drug deal from taking place — all while trying not to kill each other in the process.

The dialogue is sharp and the delivery is quick in this film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. Gleeson is superb in the role, and is hugely deserving of his Golden Globe nomination for the part. For those who are scared off by accents in films, throw on the subtitles and enjoy the hilarity as The Guard is a movie that shouldn’t be missed.

4. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is known for making his love affairs with cities come to life in the movies he makes and Midnight in Paris is no different. Allen shows just how masterful he still is at both directing and writing when he divulged in an interview that all he knew when he began the creation process for the film was that he wanted to tell a story about the beauty of Paris. What he ended up crafting is an incredibly creative view on life and love through both characters of his own, and a great many historical figures as well.

Owen Wilson stars as Gil, a writer who is sure that he was born in the wrong era. He dreams of living in Paris during the 1920s and thinks all would be better had that been the case. When he visits Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) he quickly finds himself taken back by the beauty of the city, and also by a magical car that whisks him away to the 1920s every night at midnight.

Everything about this movie is fun and enjoyable. The acting is fantastic, and Wilson (who I believe is one of the most underrated comedic actors of this generation) shines above all, garnering a Golden Globe nomination for his work here. The rest of the cast is just as good, with everyone enjoying themselves and really making every minute of this film a joy to take in.

The art direction and production value of the film is also beautiful, really taking the viewer on a journey to both modern day Paris, as well as Paris in the 1920s. Allen has had a few hits and misses in recent years, but Midnight in Paris is right up there with Allen at the top of his game.

3. Beginners

Beginners is a wonderful story about learning to love and learning to live. Written and directed by Mike Mills (Thumbsucker), the film is woven together by both past and present events in a style that’s both unique and engrossing. Nothing in the film jumps out and yells, “notice me!” and yet it’s one of the most engrossing and heartfelt films I saw all year.

Ewan McGregor stars as Oliver Fields, a young man who has grown up with parents who never really showed affection for one another. Add onto that the fact that his father (Christopher Plummer) was distant as Oliver was growing up and his mother was eccentric in her own right and it’s no surprise that grown-up Oliver has no idea how to handle a relationship of his own. When we meet Oliver it’s 2003, his mother has died years earlier and he tells us that after she died his father came out of the closet and told Oliver that not only was he gay, but he also had a young lover.

Having never seen his father so happy, Oliver’s life is once again shaken when his father is diagnosed with cancer. Trying to piece together his own life and start a relationship with a French actress (Melanie Laurent) he’s taken a fancy to, Oliver looks back over the years when his father was happiest and tries to figure out just what it is you need to do to find it in yourself to be happy.

McGregor is great, and really carries the load; while Plummer is superb and steals every scene he’s in. The direction is wonderful and the story itself is beautiful. Beginners definitely isn’t one of the best-known films of 2011, but it is one of the best ones.

2. Super

Super was one of two films I saw this year that I knew would make my top ten list as soon as it ended, if not before. The dark dramedy from filmmaker James Gunn is a unique piece of work to say the least, which is something the average moviegoer likely wouldn’t get from the film’s premise.

The movie stars Rainn Wilson (TV’s The Office) as Frank D’Arbo, an ordinary nobody who takes on the masked persona of The Crimson Bolt after his wife leaves him for a drug dealer (played flawlessly by Kevin Bacon.) This may sound like a lower-budget Kick-Ass, though it’s anything but. Super is a dark, hyper-violent, shocking film that’s also heartfelt, smart and funny. Wilson is perfection and takes the movie on his shoulders from start to finish, with boosts from his superb supporting cast of Ellen Page and Liv Tyler along the way.

In the words of The Crimson Bolt himself, “You don’t butt in line! You don’t sell drugs! You don’t molest little children! You don’t profit off the misery of others!” What can you do? You can see this movie as fast as you can, that’s what.

1. Drive

It’s hard for me to actually describe just how amazing a movie Drive actually is. Drive is so good that I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t find its way into the Best Picture category at this year’s Academy Awards. I’d also be shocked if Ryan Gosling gets nominated for Ides of March (as great as he was in that) over his brilliant work here. I’d also be disappointed if Newton Thomas Sigel isn’t nominated for best cinematography, and Nicolas Winding Refn for best direction. Can you tell I’m rooting for this to take home everything, even though I’m prepared for it to be looked over entirely?

Drive stars Gosling as The Driver, a Hollywood stuntman by day who moonlights as a getaway driver. He has a window of five minutes that he gives those who hire him to drive their getaway car, and for those five minutes he’s theirs, if anything happens within that five minutes, he’s there for them, no matter what. Anything that happens after, however, is on them entirely and he’s gone, no questions asked.

Driver leads a fairly simple, quiet life; until, of course, he meets and falls for his neighbor Irene (Carery Mulligan). Irene has a son, and she and Driver hit it off, until her husband is released from prison and some men he owes a favour to come to collect. Looking to protect Irene and her son, Driver agrees to assist her husband in a heist to repay his debt. When that heist goes wrong, Driver is forced out of his comfort zone in a wild attempt to protect those he’s come to care about from being hurt by those who betrayed him.

There’s no movie this year that was cooler than Drive, and as soon as it finished I came home and tried to find out how I could get Gosling’s scorpion jacket from the film. Low and behold I was told that it was not a fashion statement I could pull off, and since I don’t have the physical intimidation factor of Gosling in the film, I chose to just be the character in my imagination instead of in jacket form.

The look of the film just oozes both stylized beauty and pure awesomeness and there’s nothing else that came close to the pure badassness of Gosling’s character in Drive. Not every actor gets to play an iconic character — let alone an iconic badass that has you leaving the theater wishing you could be that cool — but Gosling has now played his; and dammit, I still want that jacket.×120.jpg

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Weekend Box Office: Immortals Slays Jack & Jill, Puss In Boots Still The Cat’s Meow Mon, 14 Nov 2011 13:00:06 +0000

There’s no secret formula on how a mini-major studio finds success in Hollywood. While Fox Searchlight may be an arm of the much bigger 20th Century Fox, it has been able to find that perfect balance of critical acclaim and box office success for such films as Juno, Little Miss Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire. Relativity Media is still young with comes to distributing films (it became a distributor back in 2010), but for it’s been able to stem the tide of bad box office performance of Season of the Witch, The Warrior’s Way and Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer with its Bradley Cooper-starring Limitless, which became a surprise hit in the spring with $79 million in earnings.

This weekend, Relativity scored a hit with Immortals, opening above expectations with $32 million. Tarsem Singh’s third feature did just enough to be victorious over the Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill. The opening was easily Relativity’s best to date, and I’m sure its nods to 300 in terms of its look helped to cater to those who enjoyed that flick. Having the ads proclaim the film as being from the “producers of 300” probably helped, too. While I’ve yet to see it, we did praise the film’s impressive visuals though the two critics were divided in overall enjoyment.

Opening strong is one thing, but next week it has to compete with the new Twilight feature and a Happy Feet sequel. Obviously, those are targeted to different audiences, but if a guy in the relationship pushed his wife or girlfriend into seeing Immortals look for the other half to return the favor with the cinematic wedding of the century of Bella and Edward.

From the moment the trailer first premiered Jack and Jill had turd written all over it. But Sandler has such a strong following that it wouldn’t be unexpected to see his comedies open north of $20 million. For Sandler, this is his 11th straight PG-13 comedy to open above $25 million, and he’s had 12 starring vehicles gross more than $100 million. Still, his movies come at a price – most of Happy Madison productions cost around $80 million. Next year should be interesting for Sandler, as he once again tries his hand with the R-rated I Hate You, Dad, a comedy that features James Caan, Susan Sarandon, Ian Ziering from the original Beverly Hills, 90210, Vanilla Ice, and the Willis in “What You Talkin’ About, Willis?” Todd Bridges.

Puss in Boots continues to hold strong after its weak opening two weeks ago. In three weeks it has crossed $100 million in the U.S. and performing even better overseas. Early word is that Happy Feet Two isn’t tracking all that well so while it may take a hit next weekend, look for the Shrek spin-off to get a boost Thanksgiving weekend. Good critical acclaim plus a very good CinemaScore will make it a winner well into December.

Tower Heist is a bad comedy and a worse heist film, and its 45% drop in attendance supports this. You know things are bad when more people are talking about Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy bowing out of next year’s Oscars than last week’s no. 2 release. Ratner is a fratboy who runs his mouth and likes paycheck movies, not making films. Murphy also likes paychecks but hasn’t had a funny role since Bowfinger. Sorry Imagine That fans.

J. Edgar dropped on less than two thousand screens and had the fourth-best per-screen average of films in the top 10. Less than 2,000 screens makes it a limited release, but its critical drubbing wasn’t enough to sway its “B” CinemaScore rating. If Warner Bros. is to expand the feature it best decide if it wants to mount an Oscar campaign. Other than DiCaprio the film will struggle to net nominations outside of technical categories (hopefully not for make-up).

The bottom half of the top 10 is a wasteland of nuked cinema leftovers: a weak Christmas comedy (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), a not ready for prime-time Justin Timberlake starring vehicle (In Time), the prequel for Paranormal Activity: Looking 4 More Money, the ’80s retread Footloose and Rock’Em Sock’EM Robots: The Movie.

New films at the arthouse include Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss which played on 12 screens and collected $50.8k. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (aka Elite Squad 2) played on a single screen in New York and grabbed $9.5k. Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, though also available via VOD, pulled an impressive $270k on 19 screens. Like Crazy added 54 new screens bringing its total to 70 and earned $525k as a result. Fox Searchlight’s 4M film, Martha Marcy May Marlene added 85 new screens and had a $490k weekend. It has now earned $1.7 million after four weeks.

That does it for the weekend box office report. Tune in next week to see how the top ten looks with the additions of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and Happy Feet Two, plus Alexander Payne’s The Descendants in limited release.

1. Immortals – $32 million
2. Jack and Jill – $26 million
3. Puss In Boots $25.5 million ($156 million worldwide)
4. Tower Heist – $13.2 million ($43.9 million)
5. J. Edgar – $11.5 million
6. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas – $5.9 million ($23.2 million)
7. In Time – $4.15 million ($30.6 million)
8. Paranormal Activity 3 – $3.6 million ($189 million worldwide)
9. Footloose – $2.7 million ($48.8 million)
10. Real Steel – $2 million ($256 million worldwide)

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Weekend Box Office: Puss In Boots Dominates; Tower Heist Fails To Steal Money Away Mon, 07 Nov 2011 13:00:30 +0000 It’s never a good idea to pit two comedies up against one another during an opening weekend. Especially if those comedies were trying to court the same audience. Luckily there was no crossover appeal for Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. The first wanted to be edgy but tame enough to pass for PG-13. The latter had no problems being edgy, but only catered to a small fan base. While they did enough to separate one another, it was an animated kitty that took the weekend.

Moviegoers were eating up Puss In Boots like catnip. The DreamWorks Animation release only had a three percent drop in attendance, a remarkable hold for a first week release. Granted, Halloween trick-or-treating and the snowstorms in the east played a role in its $34 million opening. So that explains why the small percentage drop; families were able to get out for the weekend and see the Shrek spinoff. Great word of mouth is helping the cause, as the cat with big, wide eyes is also one of the better action-adventure romps of the year.

As for Tower Heist, it was a glossy production with not much muscle. Considering the story was an amateur robbery with an ensemble that consisted of an Axel Foley turned criminal, “Still Neurotic” Ben Stiller, Old Ferris Bueller, and “Precious with a Jamaican accent”, a better comedy should have been expected. Instead the amateur robbery was met with amateur comedy. If it wasn’t for Chistophe Beck’s musical score and Dante Spinotti’s cinematography it would have been a total write-off. Not even its coincidental relevance to the Occupy (insert city here) movement had much of an impact. Harold and Kumar did a better job in its opening scenes.

So what does this mean for the two big stars of Tower Heist: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Consider it a wash for Stiller, who will probably move right into Zoolander 2 or another Night at the Museum sequel. Eddie Murhpy may have gotten a boost in visibility for his upcoming hosting gig at next year’s Oscars telecast (produced by his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner), but a better vehicle would have been nice. At the very least, the film is better than his last few outings, minus Dreamgirls where he was cast in a supporting role and not meant to carry the picture. Not one to pay much attention to critic quotes or blurbs, it’s very disconcerting when someone says that Tower Heist is Murhpy’s best since Beverly Hills Cop. Apparently that person missed him in Coming to America and/or Bowfinger. Still, Tower Heist is generic enough for mainstream audiences to enjoy, so expect this one in the top ten for the rest of the month through December.

It’s looking more and more like this may be the last time we see the affirmative action friendly pairing of John Cho and Kal Penn as Harold and Kumar. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is like a raunchy Christmastime special that would air on Comedy Central after hours. With a $13 million opening, the film failed to eclipse their predecessor’s $14 million haul. Neil Patrick Harris may have broken the fourth wall and told H&K that he’d see them in the fourth, but those chances look bleak. Despite the good chemistry between Cho and Penn, this third installment in the series feels like Kevin Smith’s Clerks II where it seems like the closing chapter of the two friends. Though if a fourth ever came down the pike, perhaps the filmmakers could include cameos by two TV celebrities that NPH mentions.

Don’t look now, but Paranormal Activity 3 is close to being the most profitable of the series and could eclipse the original in a few more weeks.

Outside of the top 4, In Time goes from third to fifth this weekend. While Justin Timberlake isn’t quite ready to play action hero leads, 2011 was a good year for him. Riding on his strong supporting work in The Social Network, he got to play rich and nerdy in Bad Teacher and sing “Closing Time” to Black Swan’s understudy in Friends with Benefits. Not quite Frank Sinatra The Man with the Golden Arm material, but maybe he’ll learn a few acting tips working with the Coens and Carey Mulligan on Inside Llewyn Davis (to be released in 2013).

Footloose continues to show legs, as it is still a draw in the top ten. Having the lowest drop of a theatrical release that’s played for more than three weeks is good news for studio Paramount Pictures. While it may have not caught fire like Sony Pictures’ The Karate Kid, this was still another remake of a film that didn’t need to be remade. Real Steel continues to do okay, but will be unable to make to $100 million here. Overseas, it’s already at $127 million and counting.

Audiences continue to stay away from Johnny Depp and his Rum Diary, while Sony’s one-two punch of adult fare, The Ides of March and Moneyball round out the top ten. Both have stayed in the top ten for more than a month (Brad Pitt’s baseball movie has managed an impressive 7 weeks).

Looking at the arthouse scene, we had new releases The Other F Word (two screen opening with a $14.6k total) and The Son of No One. The Son of No One is the latest from Ditto Montiel, of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Fighting previously. Both featured Channing Tatum. Tatum returns for Montiel’s third directorial effort and is joined by Al Pacino, Ray Liotta, Katie Holmes and Tracy Morgan. Despite the cast, the film played on 11 screens but only grossed $19.8k. Films that got a much needed boost with new engagements included Anonymous, which added 248 screens and finished with $1.2 million. Margin Call, though also available on VOD, made an impressive $778k on 178 screens; Martha Marcy May Marlene and Like Crazy had healthy returns with their expansions, netting $471k and $270k respectively. The Weinstein Company’s Sarah’s Key had the best percentage increase of any film in the box office list with a +1,868.7%. The decision to expand it for the month of November was a right one as the film brought in $277k from 318 total screens.

1. Puss in Boots – $33.1 million ($75.5 million)
2. Tower Heist – $25.1 million
3. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas – $13.1 million
4. Paranormal Activity 3 – $8.5 million ($172.4 million worldwide)
5. In Time $7.7 million ($24.2 million)
6. Footloose – $4.5 million ($45 million)
7. Real Steel – $3.5 million ($205.9 million worldwide)
8. The Rum Diary – $3.1 million ($10.4 million)
9. The Ides of March – $2 million ($36.8 million)
10. Moneyball – $2 million ($70 million)

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Weekend Box Office: Puss In Boots Is Purrfect With $34 Million Weekend Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:00:14 +0000 Hopefully this doesn’t start a trend where supporting characters of successful movies get their own movies. I say this half serious and half in jest. One, because I know that Judd Apatow’s next comedy (This Is Forty) is a spin-off from Knocked Up, with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in the starring roles. But then you think of the bad spin-offs that have occurred because of the success of a film or franchise. Seven years after they thought people had forgotten about Batman & Robin what does Warner Bros. do – they give us Catwoman with Halle Berry. Puss In Boots was so appalled, he stuck his head in the litter box and would only come up for air after his boots were shined. Others not worth your time include Elektra, The Scorpion King and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Are you sensing a pattern with the comic-book spin-offs?

Now Puss In Boots is interesting, because unlike those movies mentioned above the spin-off was well received by critics and viewers alike with a 81% aggregate rating on RT, plus our own positive stance. A family film opening days prior to Halloween is always tough to attract viewers, because kids are still scrambling to decide what they want to wear on Halloween when they go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. Factor in the early winter storms in the Northeast and lower numbers would have been expected. Still, even with Halloween and the East Coast becoming an early Winter Wonderland, Puss In Boots had a $34 million opening. The figure was just enough to make it the biggest Halloween weekend opening, dethroning Saw III‘s $33.6 million record from 2006.

To put the opening of Puss In Boots in perspective, last year’s Shrek Forever After opened at $70 million. It was the swansong for the franchise (we think), and opened during the summer. But word of mouth should be good for the cat with the adorable eyes, and shouldn’t have sizable drops in the coming weeks until Happy Feet Two comes out on November 18th.

Horror movies always have an inflated first week before dropping into obscurity like a mobster wearing concrete shoes. Paranormal Activity 3 nosedived by 65% in ticket sales from its record-setting first weekend, but still managed an impressive $19 million for its second weekend. A fourth was all but assured after last weekend, and even if this is the weakest earner in the series so far, we can expect at least five more of these if the costs remain low.

Last year, Justin Timberlake was money playing Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Network, but that was a supporting role. With In Time he was the leading man. If the numbers for the sci-fi flick are any indication, he’s not ready for prime-time yet. A weak RT rating of 37% didn’t help, neither did its B- CinemaScore. Andrew Niccol’s film had many attractive faces – Amanda Seyfried played Timberlake’s female opposite – but no real headliners. Timberlake and Seyfried’s success will come…in time.

After three weeks it appears that audiences have found all the shoes they kicked off when Footloose opened and went elsewhere. It’s yet to crack $40 million. It will finish north of $50 million which is an okay final domestic total, though I’m curious to see how it will play in China. Perhaps it needed new music from Kenny Loggins, because if a new Top Gun shies away from Loggins tunes or a Harold Faltermeyer score people are going to leave their +1 (aka “wingman”) and riot!

So if there’s anyone who wants to convince me that Johnny Depp is a movie star, let’s have it. FilmDistrict’s release of The Rum Diary, Johnny Depp’s passion project to the life and times of Hunter S. Thompson opened on 2,200 screens and only made $5 million. Basically it means that unless it’s Depp in Pirates garb or working with Tim Burton people aren’t buying a ticket. Now that may change with his extended cameo in Jonah Hill’s take on 21 Jump Street, because you know that Channing Tatum isn’t the draw for that flick. The $5 million opening is disappointing for small production outfit FilmDistrict, who has failed to make a strong hit since Insidious. Shame, too. I really like their company titles before the movie starts. Reminds me of the old HBO channel movie introductions for some reason.

Though no one may be going as the mechanical stars of Real Steel, it appears that not many have made it a point to see it in theaters either. With a $74 million domestic gross after four weeks, I fully expect this one to sell like crazy on home video. Unlike Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which I found to be overbloated like the rest of the Pirates save the original adventure, I sort of dug Paul W.S. Anderson’s take on Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. American audiences may have rejected it, but Europeans love swashbuckling tales. Why can’t this swashbuckling renaissance take off here other than Pirates of the Caribbean?

Oscar hopefuls The Ides of March and Moneyball continue to show serious legs at the box office. George Clooney’s political thriller has been around in theaters as long as Real Steel but its $33 million earnings versus a $12.5 million budget makes it a bigger winner, and should get released back into theaters pending if Clooney picks up some nominations. Moneyball has been in the top 10 for more than a month but has only made $17 million more than its estimated production budget. Brad Pitt is on the shortlist to get a nomination for Best Actor and the film should easily be up for Adapted Screenplay.

And if you are wondering about Sony’s Anonymous from 2012 director Ronald Emmerich, well, you won’t find it in the top 10. The studio took a machete to a printout list of all the theaters it was slated to drop and cut the list to 265 screens. The Shakespeare drama made $1 million was decent for the number of screens, but considering the cost of the set design alone, it looks like this is the pre-Thanksgiving turkey.

1. Puss In Boots — $34 million
2. Paranormal Activity 3 — $19 million ($81.3 million)
3. In Time — $12 million
4. Footloose — $5.4 million ($38.4 million)
5. The Rum Diary — $5 million
6. Real Steel — $4.7 million ($73.8 million)
7. The Three Musketeers — $3.5 million ($14.8 million)
8. The Ides Of March — $2.7 million ($33.5 million)
9. Moneyball — $2.4M ($67 million)
10. Courageous — $1.8M ($27.6 million)

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Weekend Box Office: Paranormal Activity 3 Sets New Record For Horror Opening Sun, 23 Oct 2011 19:00:22 +0000 Paranormal Activity takes the weekend easily. Meanwhile Real Steel shows more fancy footwork than Footloose. ]]> Did you hear something? It wasn’t something that goes bump in the night. It was a round of Paramount execs exchanging fist bumps with the ad team behind the shrewd marketing behind Paranormal Activity 3. Misleading as the ads were, the audience came out in droves and allowed PA3 to have the most successful horror opening of all time. With $54 million in ticket sales, the horror release bettered its closest competitors by as little as $4 million to as much as $14 million (depending on what you qualify has a horror title). Even if the series is long-in-the-tooth and the “found footage” genre has yet to give up the ghost (so to speak), critics seemed willing to give this third installment mostly positive reviews with a RT aggregate score of 80%. This is despite audiences giving it a C+ CinemaScore, clearly a sign they didn’t like being duped by the advertising. Considering how anemic the box office has been, $54 million will remain as one of best opening weekends of 2011.

The final numbers exceeded Paramount’s projected estimates of $40 million – the same opening total of Paranormal Activity 2 – and the total figure will give it the biggest opening weekend for the month of October, unseating last year’s Jackass 3D ($50.3 million). With such a debut plan on a fourth installment to this series to arrive October 19, 2012.

With PA3 safely sitting in the top position, the rest of the field had to contend for second place. It is another close finish for Footloose and Real Steel. But it looks like audiences were up for more robot boxing and less country line dancing. Real Steel bettered the ’80s remake by $500k to nab silver this weekend. Still, Footloose stood up considerably well in its second weekend only losing 30% of its first week audience. Both films are getting good word of mouth from friends and families looking to cut loose at the movies. Unless Real Steel catches fire overseas or on home video, it may be a no go for a sequel.

The hot gossip this weekend was Milla Jovovich condemning studio Summit Entertainment for its handling of The Three Musketeers. The studio showed little interest in marketing the latest Paul W.S. Anderson film which, if you are familiar with his work, is either viewed with disdain or it can be seen as “good bad movies” that better the likes of Michael Bay’s most expensive monstrosities. While Anderson’s steampunk vision of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale had great chemistry among the three musketeers, critics and audiences could care less. This is despite it being much more enjoyable than the latest Pirates of the Caribbean flick. I mean it had airborne pirate ships for crying out loud. Expect Jerry Bruckheimer to pull something similar with Pirates 5 and be showered with praise. Overseas, Musketeers is a winner with $49 million collected from ticket sales. Apparently, Christoph Waltz is still a Bingo! with German audiences.

For the longest time I couldn’t put my head around why the world needed a sequel to Johnny English. It didn’t do that well in the U.S., but I keep underestimating the appeal of Mr. Bean overseas. Though Johnny English Reborn had its domestic release this weekend and only netted $3.7 million, across the pond it has already accumulated $91.7 million. Considering the first in the series amassed $160 million globally, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the sequel will repeat, and possibly better, that sum total.

Still maintaining a spot in the top five was George Clooney’s The Ides of March. As the must-see title for adult viewing (translation: think of the demographic that made NBC’s Frasier a hit for years), the film is maintaining interest and has already made its production budget back. Even if it loses theater screens in the coming weeks, look for it to slowly return to screens if Sony Pictures decides to mount an Oscar campaign for Clooney and star performer Ryan Gosling.

With the arrival of Paranormal Activity 3, any chance for The Thing to better its less than stellar first-week showing went for naught. The “premake” of John Carpenter’s ’80s cult fave had a 63% drop in attendance. With a weak opening and unkind word of mouth, the film had stinker written all over it. Perhaps studios should rethink what properties it wants to update for new audiences. If it worked the first time, why not let it be? Because we can only imagine what a new Big Trouble in Little China would look like if it starred Channing Tatum.

Finally, we have 50/50, a comedy that has been a top 10 staple for four weekends now. Its star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, must be living right. While his performance isn’t likely to be met with an Oscar nomination, he should be a shoe-in for a Golden Globe, since that award show has separate drama and comedy/musical categories for its actors. Another plus is his workhorse mentality. After having a scene-stealing moment in Inception, he’s on every director’s radar. 2012 will be a strong year for him career wise, as he will featured in The Dark Knight Returns, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and if he can work around his schedule he’ll also be a part of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. He also saw his film Premium Rush be bumped from its January 2012 release to August 2012, as studio Sony Pictures looks to market the film’s release noting it features one of the stars of The Dark Knight Rises.

1. Paranormal Activity 3 – $54 million
2. Real Steel – $11.3 million ($67 million)
3. Footloose – $10.9 million ($31 million)
4. The Three Musketeers – $8.8 million
5. The Ides of March – $4.9 million ($29 million)
6. Dolphin Tale – $4.5 million ($65 million)
7. Moneyball – $4.1 million ($64 million)
8. Johnny English Reborn – $3.7 million
9. The Thing – $3.1 million ($14 million)
10. 50/50 – $2.8 million ($29 million)

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Weekend Box Office: Close Finish – Real Steel Repeats As #1, Footloose Close Second Sun, 16 Oct 2011 14:00:37 +0000 Yesterday, it looked like Footloose had a slight edge over last week’s number one release, Real Steel. The ’80s dance remake opened on one hundred more screens and early estimates had it finishing with $16.5 million. But Saturday matinee ticket sales were so good for Real Steel that it finished the weekend strong instead of “cutting loose.” After two weeks Real Steel has an estimated cume of $51.7 million. $16 million this weekend is an okay holdover, but the PG-13 rated family flick should be doing better. DreamWorks figured on having this release be a modest summer blockbuster released in the early part of fall. Now it looks like its success for a future installment will depend on foreign grosses and home video performance.

Remakes don’t come cheap. 2011’s Footloose was $24 million, to which Paramount execs figured they’d recoup the first weekend. Apparently they failed to do their box office homework and crunch some numbers when it comes to dance movies. The best opening weekend for a dance movie was 2001’s Save the Last Dance. Also a Paramount movie, Dance opened with $23.4 million. Footloose looks to finish the weekend with around $15.5 million. Comparatively, that’s only $7 million more than 1984’s Footloose. Also working against Paramount is knowing 46% of those in attendance were over the age of 35 looking to wax nostalgia and see if it still smells like Bacon. Since the mid-’00s, dance flicks seem to open in the $10 million to $15 million range. If that’s the case, look for the eventual Dirty Dancing remake to have a $13 million opening.

There’s someThing wrong with this picture. Why Universal picked this weekend to deliver another ’80s retread is beyond me. Even with Paranormal Activity 3 opening on Friday, the studio could have easily slated it for October 28th. It would have been timely in the days leading up to Halloween. But knowing them they looked at what happened to the Saw series and how it performed a few days before Halloween. Still, there was never a Saw movie that finished worse than a $14 million opening. The Thing looks to finish with less than $9 million. Even with comic-book nerds jonesing for some hot Mary Elizabeth Winstead in icy terrain and rising star Joel Edgerton, audiences weren’t biting. Actually, the best entertainment I’ve had this weekend that was Thing related was reading two critics argue the importance of John Carptenter’s 1982 release starring The Thing. One had never seen it, while another considers it one of the landmark horror films ever released (which it is).

George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Ides of March, is his best overall and adults seem to agree. With a 29% drop in attendance overall, the Ryan Gosling-starring political thriller earned an estimated $7.5 million this weekend. Sony Pictures’ other adult-aimed release, Moneyball, finished with an estimated weekend cume of $5.5 million. After four weeks it has grossed $57.7 million.

Summit’s 50/50 looks to be a smallish hit when it finishes its run. The comedy starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was made for $8 million and has accumulated $24.5 million after three weeks.

How Twentieth Century Fox expected viewers to attend The Big Year when the TV spots didn’t help audiences realize what the film was about is baffling. You would think that the combination of Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin would be enough. But adult audiences weren’t buying it and neither was anyone else – it finished with a paltry $3.2 million. Also disappointing is that the film was hatched by director David Frankel, who also directed The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, both hits for Fox. Clearly, the studio made it because of Frankel’s relationship. Fox claims that its investment was just under $30 million. Considering Prada and Marley made more than $500 million combined globally, the studio can eat the costs and hope that the comedy becomes a steady earner on home video.

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Weekend Box Office: Real Steel Soundly Defeats George Clooney’s Ides Sun, 09 Oct 2011 21:00:06 +0000 Real Steel this weekend proved something that Universal failed to realize over the summer. Robots are in, and Cowboys and Aliens are out. DreamWorks’ Rocky-inspired robot boxing picture, released through Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, wasn’t tracking all that well, so the marketing department went into overdrive to pump up those tracking numbers in order for it to dominate this second weekend of October. It’s only major competition was an R-rated political thriller from George Clooney, The Ides of March. Disney saw Steel‘s grosses increase 30% from Friday to Saturday to finish the weekend with an estimated $27.3 million. An ‘A’ CinemaScore and A+ rating from the 25-and-under crowd is sure to please Disney execs, as they look to repeat its first-place finish against two ’80s remakes (Footloose, The Thing) and the comedy The Big Year this upcoming weekend.

Settling for silver was The Ides of March, a thriller with a $12.5 million price tag. Despite strong showings on the festival circuit (in Venice, Telluride and Toronto), it was still a hard sell for viewers. Still, it managed $10.4 million. Not a bad weekend by any stretch, but audiences and critics gave it about a B rating. What’s interesting is that audiences under the age of 25 gave it a B+ CinemaScore. You’d think older audiences would have been more inclined to rate it higher.

Unlike The Ides of March which should have some legs if Sony Pictures makes an incentive to push it for Oscars, Real Steel needs to make some serious money overseas if it is to be considered a box office success. With Monday being a Columbus Day holiday the movie might get a boost in attendance with kids having the day off from school.

The Ides of March has a strong ensemble with a standout lead performance from Ryan Gosling who has been killing it this year with his supporting work in Crazy, Stupid, Love and his stone-cold persona as Driver in Drive. It’s a venerable shoe-in for an Adapted Screenplay nomination, and if the Academy was smart they would show Ryan Gosling some Oscar love and reward him with a second Best Actor nomination, following 2006’s Half Nelson. Audiences may have been confused by the film’s title, though it sounds much better than the original play that is the basis for the film, Farragut North. But if they were expecting Shakesperian sonnets and a special appearance by Julius Caesar, perhaps we’ll see a series of lawsuits levied against Sony Pictures for mismarketing. If a woman can bring a suit against FilmDistrict because she was expecting Fast Five when she saw Drive, why not sue Sony for the lack of Shakespeare.

Third and fourth place go to last week’s top finishers Dolphin Tale and Moneyball. The aquatic family film had a $9.1 million weekend to bring its overall total to $49 million. Brad Pitt’s baseball movie that isn’t a sports movie, Moneyball, is just a few hundred thousand shy of matching its production budget of $50 million. It had a weekend total of $7.5 million.

50/50 maintains its fifth-place position as its sustains a 36% drop in attendance. The comedy dealing with cancer has made $17.3 million versus a $8 million budget. Religious-themed Courageous took a 50% hit in attendance but has already made seven times production budget back.

With the Blu-ray release of The Lion King, the 3D attraction looks to wrap up its four-week run with an estimated haul of $86 million. For some reason people either didn’t read the reviews of Dream House or just like to spend money on crap. The Daniel Craig-Rachel Weisz thriller made another $4.5 million despite paid critics and Internet bloggers warnings.

Scrapping the bottom of box office barrel was the romantic comedy What’s Your Number? with $3.1 million and Taylor Lautner trying to be Jason Bourne in Abduction. It finished the weekend with $2.9 million.

Taking a look at what’s new at the arthouse, The Human Centipede sequel made $54k at 18 locations, while the Juno Temple-starrer Dirty Girl dropped onto 9 screens earning $17.5k.

1. Real Steel – $27.3 million
2. The Ides Of March – $10.4 million
3. Dolphin Tale – $9.2 million ($49.1 million)
4. Moneyball – $7.5 million ($49.3 million)
5. 50/50 – $5.5 million ($17.3 million)
6. Courageous – $4.6 million ($15.9 million)
7. The Lion King – $4.55 million ($85.96 million)
8. Dream House – $4.46 million ($14.5 million)
9. What’s Your Number? – $3.1 million ($10.3 million)
10. Abduction – $2.9 million ($23.4 million)

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Box Office: Early Estimates Have Real Steel As An Opening Day TKO Sat, 08 Oct 2011 11:00:17 +0000 So this is how the box office is shaping up this weekend. With no surprise, Real Steel‘s early estimates look for it to have a mid-$20 million weekend that could break $30 million if the returns for Saturday matinees are higher than originally predicted. The Amblin-inspired release with nods to ’80s relics Rocky and Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots is geared to families and early teens. Audiences venturing to see Hugh Jackman’s aging pugilist help train a sparring bot will undoubtedly take away Dolphin Tale‘s first-place viewers from last weekend. That family film with the A+ CinemaScore rating should finish the weekend with $9 million.

George Clooney’s fourth directorial effort, The Ides of March, is counter-programming for adult couples looking to take a break from the round-the-clock news cycle coverage of the Republican presidential nomination process and watch an R-rated political thriller about a Democratic primary that’s influx with Ryan Gosling starring. If it makes $10 million this weekend, versus its $12.5 million production budget, Sony Pictures will consider that a win. It may not be catching awards buzz as fast as Moneyball (which looks to finish around $7.5 million, and is also a Sony Pictures release), but could be a viable contender for adapted screenplay, with Gosling on the outside looking in, if not the shortlist, for lead acting honors.

Relgious-based Courageous and the cancer dramedy 50/50 will fall in the $5 million range, while audiences have already decided to not venture inside Dream House.×120.jpg

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Real Steel – Review Fri, 07 Oct 2011 12:00:43 +0000
Proof that Super 8 Wasn’t the Only Amblin-Inspired Release of 2011.

Of all the movies that came out this past summer that had Steven Spielberg’s name emblazoned on screen during the advertisements, the only one that felt Spielbergian (is that the appropriate adjective?) was Super 8 from J.J. Abrams. While others may have been marketed with Spielberg’s name – most notably Cowboys &. Aliens and Transformers: Dark of the Moon – none had that Amblin magic that Spielberg’s company was known for in 1980s. Luckily Reel Steel does, and it fits the mold surprisingly well.

Amblin in its heyday was all about family films built on high concepts. Which is why we had middle schoolers as treasure seekers in The Goonies, a teenager with Family Ties going back in time in Back to the Future, and Bob Hoskins trying to find out Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  Two of those films were from director Robert Zemeckis, while another was from a filmmaker who made us visualize a flying Christopher Reeve. Shawn Levy is just a director-for-hire who’s yet to adapt the iconic Superman comic-book hero or be one of the early adopters of motion-capture technology. What he is, though, is the type of director movie executives love. His films may be painful for some to watch but they make money regardless. And with the successful Night at the Museum films, both big high concept productions, it’s no surprise that Amblin would have him in its crosshairs.

The bigger surprise is how well Shawn Levy’s ‘80s throwback film plays. Real Steel is loosely based on a short story by Richard Matheson (of I Am Legend fame) which was previously adapted as an episode of The Twilight Zone. Now it makes the leap to the big screen. The film is not very original, but there’s little waste in telling the story it wants to tell. It’s highly energetic throughout, and Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo have great chemistry together.

Charlie Kenton (Jackman) used to make his living as a boxer. He was good but not a super-elite pugilist. Now he makes his living in robot boxing, which replaces humans with big hulking pieces of metal controlled by humans. The problem with Charlie is his hard-headedness, and his ability to lose money he’s come to possess while looking for a quick score or blow it all trying to build a bigger bankroll. His fortunes begin to change the day he learns of his ex-girlfriend’s passing. They had a little boy together, Max, who he’d rather not father. So he makes a deal with Max’s wealthy uncle (James Rebhorn) to keep Max for the summer for $100,000, until Max’s aunt (Hope Davis) and uncle return from their overseas vacation. It is during those few months together that Charlie and Max find a mutual bond over robot boxing, going as far as to restore an older model sparring robot that can do more than take a beating.

It’s a simple premise that ultimately is an amalgamation of the Rocky series, Over the Top, and Rock ‘Em Sock ’Em Robots; again with the ‘80s comparisons. Transformers may have had tons of flash and special-effects wizardry with a dozen different talking robots, but Real Steel forgoes giving the robots personalities and leaves them as machines. Charlie and Max’s relationship arc anchors the film along with Charlie’s sometimes ladylove-voice of reason-robot repair goddess, Bailey (Evangeline Lilly). The daughter of Charlie’s old trainer, she takes on a role that’s similar to Talia Shire’s Adrian in Rocky. She sees the greatness in Charlie that he can’t see in himself, and while they may have drifted apart romantically, watching Charlie and Max together sees those romantic flames begin to flicker again.

I know what you’re thinking: I thought this was a robot-fighting movie. The robots are there, but the story doesn’t revolve around them. But when they fight you will be entertained. Visual effects supervisor Matthew Gratzner and the rest of the SFX artists deliver with close to a half dozen robot-on-robot fights, while Oscar-winning cinematographer Mauro Fiore (Avatar) gives the more intimate moments a visual punch – the scenes at the boxing gym truly standout.

Real Steel was high concept enough to be a summer blockbuster; it’s actually better than some of the heavy-hitters that were released. But it’s less noisy and rambunctious and more at ease. Call it Shawn Levy being mellow in the director’s chair. Now the movie looks to defy the notion that high-concept material only works when kids are out of school. With kids as the target audience Hugh Jackman retracts those Wolverine claws venturing into a genre where both Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel have succeeded previously. Adults should find the material not too terribly taxing and be equally entertained. Real Steel will likely find an audience and a sequel will get made (there’s already rumblings). It won’t become a long-running series like Rocky, which had six films total, but the movie will prove robots are still cool. Granted, these robots may not be more than meets the eye, but at least one has the “eye of the tiger.”

Director: Shawn Levy
Notable Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis, James Rebhorn
Writer(s): John Gatins, story by Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven×120.jpg

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Hugh Jackman Gives Robot A Rocky Training Montage For Real Steel Tue, 27 Sep 2011 18:00:03 +0000 The one thing that always made Rocky sequels so amusing was their training montages. And if this is any indication, we’ll get one for Real Steel with Hugh Jackman in the Mickey Goldmill role.×120.jpg

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