Monday Morning Critic – “The Sky is Falling” and Other Myths About the 2014 American Box Office


This was a slow Labor Day, film wise, as Guardians of the Galaxy made its climb towards the top of the American box office complete. It marks the fourth film from 2014 to be in the Top 10 of the year and also be a comic book film, cementing a year in which the genre seems to have cemented its hold in the American cinematic lexicon. In a down year the genre has been a continued bright light for studios as Marvel properties lead the way. But as we hit the 2/3 mark of the year in 2014 the story that will dominate for the rest of the year is going to be how awful the box office is.

And by proxy we’ll also be hearing about the state of the industry, blah blah, and how perhaps the art of cinema and the movie theatre business could be a dying one in front of our eyes.

The box office for this year is going to be significantly lower than 2013’s even after the final 2014 film closes in 2015. We’ll be surprised if a film crosses $300 million by the end of 2014, as Guardians might have the best chance to do it in the current year. My guess is the latest Hunger Games sequel in December will be the only other film from 2014 to have a chance to do so, mainly because it’s the only real big blockbuster remaining in 2014. It won’t count for nearly as much on 12.31.2014, though, because it’s likely to collect a huge portion of its box office in the dredges of January.

The key thing to all of this is that the narrative for 2014 is already out and is collecting steam. Hollywood is burning, the sky is falling and everything is horrible. The problem is that this was almost intentional as 2015 is going to be a profoundly legendary year. Why? Look at everything that’s scheduled as of right now.

A new James Bond film. The Avengers sequel. Another Mission: Impossible film. Star Wars next episode. And that’s just off the top of my head. You can go up and down the 2015 cinema schedule and see a stacked year, especially in comparison to 2014. That’s not even including the Justice League launch, which had been a 2015 summer target but was moved nine months due to visual effects issues. Next year is going to be a massive, massive year and the story will be about how Hollywood is having a revival, et al.

It’s not the case at all; 2014 is the culmination of several years of lackluster films, nothing more. 2015 won’t be a revitalization, either, but that’ll be the story this time next year.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

I checked out The November Man so you wouldn’t have to.

Joe Corey tackled the whole series of Welcome Back, Kotter but really you only need to watch the first season.

Mike Noyes looks at an Elvis Presley concert film.

Brendan Campbell oddly liked the latest Amazing Spider-Man sequel.

And now on MMC … we watch Ricky Gervais gets his ‘80s new wave on.

This isn’t made up or a bad British Office bit. Ricky Gervais was actually, for a two year stretch, a musical artist trying to get in on the new wave musical movement of the early 80s. It has a Wikipedia entry and everything!

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This week’s DVD – From Paris With Love

When John Travolta gives a crap it’s awesome. There’s a reason why in the cinematic action movie villain hall of fame he’s a a charter member; Travolta over acting is never a bad thing in a genre film. He doesn’t just chew scenery on occasion; parts of it wind up caught in his intestines. Travolta’s never dull when he turns it up for a genre flick and From Paris With Love is a film I’ve written about before in this space but is always one I like going back to. It’s a fun film, nothing more, and sometimes you just want to have two hours to watch something fun.

Simple premise. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a CIA flunky given a shot at becoming an operative by partnering up with the agency’s best: Charlie Wax (Travolta). From there the two get into all sorts of shenanigans because a terrorist attack is going to happen on French soil directed at an American target. His whole life will be turned around because of his 24 hours with Wax.

This is a fun little action film that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. It’s interesting to see Meyers and Travolta together as they have a fun little chemistry with one another; Travolta is a blast as Wax and I’m shocked Luc Besson has never gone for another film with these two. It didn’t make its budget back, not by a long shot, but usually combinations that work together on screen get another chance to make money together. It’d be fun to see them together as mismatched partners; it’s a genre conceit these days that every partnership is wacky but when two actors have genuine chemistry it should be rewarded.

This isn’t a great film but it’s one of those films that holds up for a quick afternoon viewing, ala The Delta Force. Pulpy enough to throw on Netflix and be like “Yo, I’m down for some violence” but not like super pulpy. it’s got just enough pulp, like a good glass of OJ on a Sunday morning. Good enough that you want some bacon and/or toast with it … but not awesome enough that you want a full Southern breakfast.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

The Identical – Not Elvis’s twin brother tries to be a rock star.

Skip it – Elvis had a twin brother that was stillborn, thus the premise of this thinly veiled allusion starring an Elvis impersonator is historical fiction I suppose. Still … two Elvises in one film is too many.

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

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