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.
The ‘Big Game’ trailer sells a concept that rides a fine line between totally preposterous and incredible. What if Air Force One was shot down and the President’s escape pod landed in the isolated woods of Finland? What is the President, now pursued by terrorists, only had one ally? What if that one ally was a pre-teen boy armed with a bow? What if the President was played by Samuel L. Jackson? Yeah, ‘Big Game’ is a real movie and we still can’t decide if it’s too ludicrous or just ludicrous enough.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
After getting bumped around the release schedule for the better part of a year, the found-footage time travel thriller ‘Project Almanac’ (which used to be known as ‘Welcome to Yesterday’) is finally arriving in theaters this January. And to prove it, the studio has released a new trailer, which makes this look like ‘The Sound of Thunder’ for millennials.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
Marvel's ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was one of the most surprising blockbusters of 2014 for a variety of reasons, but one of the most interesting side effects of its success is that it got people all over the world listening to a bunch of catchy songs from the '60s and ‘70s. Yes, Star-Lord's “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” mix tape took the world by storm, even reaching number one on the billboard charts. Considering how much the soundtrack informed the tone of the film, it's not surprising that the movie ended with the reveal of an “Awesome Mix Vol. 2,” which we‘ll surely get to hear in the sequel.
Now, director James Gunn has revealed the existence of and “Awesome Mix Vol. 0” playlist.
‘Dumb and Dumber To’ arrives two decades after the first film was one of the bigger hits of 1994 and no one knew what to make of it ... until it topped the box office this weekend and made it look easy. Now, the idea of two middle-aged actors returning to two of the most idiotic characters in modern movie history doesn't seem so desperate and crazy. It seems canny.
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