THE WEEKEND WARRIOR
Box Office, Awards, Festivals and More

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We're three weeks into the summer movie season and just as critics seem to be giving the early summer movies a pass as in previous years, moviegoers are getting more nitpicky about the quality of their summer films, creating a really interesting divide.

I saw Godzilla a second time over the weekend, and while I already reviewed the movie, I realized I had more to say about the movie after other reviews and comments about the movie that have popped up in the past week. I've decided, perhaps fool-hardedly, to offer a counterpoint to the criticisms and frustrations that people have had with the movie. (If you haven't seen the movie and plan to, then there are minor spoilers ahead but nothing that should ruin the movie for you.)

We're three weeks into May and one week away from Memorial Day, the semi-official start of summer (which always used to start on June 21 before all the summer box office craziness), but as in past years, this is a prime slot for a big studio release ever since the Star Wars franchise staked its claim to the weekend before Memorial Day a long, long time ago. This has been a strong summer so far and that should continue with Legendary Pictures' Godzilla (Warner Bros.), which hopes to revive the popular giant monster for new audiences, while Walt Disney Pictures release the very different baseball drama Million Dollar Arm (Walt Disney), starring Jon Hamm.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is the conclusion to Cedric Klapisch's French romantic comedy trilogy, Chinese Puzzle (Cohen Media Group), reuniting Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cecile De France and Kelly Reilly.

I'd love to say that now we're into the summer movie season, everything is going to be just rosey, and theaters are going to be packed from now until Labor Day, but we all know that for every weekend with a movie that opens over $90 million, there has to be a few slower weekends where things just don't connect. That probably won't be completely the case this weekend as we're getting a new R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron that should be a considerable hit and might even give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a run for the #1 spot this weekend. It's also Mother's Day on Sunday, so one can expect that husbands and kids might take their mother out to see something for her special day.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Jon Favreau's new movie Chef (Open Road), which opens in New York and Los Angeles before expanding to other cities.

Lincoln Center is the home to some of New York's finest cultural gems including the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet and on Thursday, May 1, the center's Avery Fisher Hall hosted the first of three very special nights of its own New York Philharmonic performing "Pixar in Concert," an unprecedented tribute to the music that's accompanied the fifteen movies produced by Pixar Animation Studios between 1995 and 2013.

All of the musical selections were performed to a specially prepared montage of clips from each movie that made it abundantly clear that the power of Pixar's films weren't just about the brilliant writing or voice casting, and is as much as about the emotions conveyed by combining the images with music.

As you probably all know by now, May kicks off the summer movie season and personally, I think it's going to be one of the odder summers we've seen in a long time for reasons you probably can read more about in my annual Summer Box Office Preview. The potential for the summer movie season will probably be gauged first and foremost by how well things kick off as Sony Pictures unveils their sequel to their 2012 reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, once again starring Andrew Garfield as the wallcrawler, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Sally Field as Aunt May and bringing in a new cast of villains that includes Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Paul Giamatti.



2014 is just flying by and it's almost shocking that we're less than a week away from the start of what's normally the busiest movie season, the time when the studios roll out their biggest movies in hopes of making enough money to make even bigger movies in the following years. This is a particularly interesting summer since we do have a couple potentially big movies but nothing quite like a "Dark Knight" or "Avengers" or a "Star Wars" movie looking to completely overpower the box office for weeks.

I'm not sure why but every summer it seems to get harder and harder to look into the crystal ball and try to figure out which movies will hit big and which ones will fall hard. Although I've seen trailers and marketing for many of the movies and maybe a little more than most thanks to this year's CinemaCon, there are still a lot of unknowns.

This is it. The end of the sometimes dour winter/spring movie season and the last weekend of April where many movies go to die. This weekend isn't looking that bad even if we're getting a lot of the same kind of throwaway movies we normally get on this weekend with one of them standing a chance of breaking out and possibly even beating the unstoppable Captain America: The Winter Soldier before we start getting a slew of big money summer movies.

First up, we have Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann starring in the female-centric comedy The Other Woman (20th Century Fox), which looks to update the premise of The First Wives' Club for younger modern women who may appreciate the premise of women getting revenge on a cheating husband or boyfriend.

On Wednesday night, April 16, the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival anointed a new venue with its Opening Night Gala of One9 and Erik Parker's Nas documentary Time is Illmatic, premiering at New York's legendary Beacon Theatre, followed by a performance by Nas, running though his entire debut album "Illmatic."

The film's premiere started over a half hour late but by the time it began, the Beacon was packed with Nas collaborators and peers, film and music press from every major outlet as well as a few hundred fans lucky enough to get their hands on the elusive tickets.



Spring has come to New York City but even with the nicer weather that comes with it, any serious moviegoer will be spending much of their free time inside to watch the line-up of movies playing at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, which runs this year from Wednesday, April 16 through Sunday, April 27.

For the second year in a row, Tribeca is kicking off the festivities with a music-based doc, this time showcasing rapper Nas, whose debut album "Illmatic" dropped twenty years ago. Nas and other artists reflect on the impact of that debut album in multimedia artist One9's Time is Illmatic, which will premiere at New York's legendary Beacon Theater followed by Nas performing the album in its entirety.

Merrily we roll along through the month that's just holding us back from the summer movie season and the movies that everyone really wants to see. But never fear, we only have a few more weeks to go and maybe there's a couple buried treasures in this week's offerings… and maybe I could say that with a straight face if I didn't already know that this is the weekend that Marlon Wayans is releasing his sequel to A Haunted House. Never mind.

Not only that but it's also Easter weekend, a little late this year, which means movie houses should get a nice bump in business on Good Friday, a day on which movie theaters tend to be as crowded as a normal Saturday. Since Easter Sunday tends to be slower, that will make all of the movies a bit more frontloaded than usual. Regardless of the options, there are three movies that stand a good chance at making somewhere in the mid-teens or maybe even as high as $20 million or more, although at least two of them are likely to be avoiding reviews.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is John Turturro's New York-based comedy Fading Gigolo, co-starring Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone.

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