Box Office, Awards, Festivals and More


CinemaCon 2014 is officially over, and hopefully by now, you've already read some of our reports on the various studio presentations. The only question remaining after all the free booze and food has been consumed is which studio and/or movie took advantage of the rapt audience of exhibitors to reap rewards from bringing their movies to CinemaCon and which ones just dropped the ball? For the most part, the summer blockbuster tentpoles already had gained a great deal of interest, though there doesn't seem to be nearly as much of them this year, which could allow room for other movies to sneak in and make money. The summer's best bet seems to be comedy and there are a lot of R-rated choices that could very well break out ala Ted or The Hangover in past years.

Anyway, read on for our final thoughts on this year's theater exhibitors' convention, its high and low points.

They say that time flies when you're having fun, so is anyone having fun yet? March has been quite a month and it's coming to a quick end with three very different movies with varying degrees of interest and two of them likely shooting for some of the same audience

This weekend's big(gish) movie is Darren Aronofsky's take on the biblical epic Noah (Paramount), starring Russell Crowe, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone, a film that's gotten a lot of attention, partially due to the controversy of Aronofsky taking on a biblical story in an untraditional way and partially due to the confusion of people not knowing what the movie is, but still wanting to see it.

Also opening this weekend is David Ayer's DEA thriller Sabotage (Open Road), starring Arnold Schwarzeneger, and a look at Civil Rights leader Cesar Chavez (Pantelion Films/Lionsgate), as played by Michael Peña. Plus Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight) and Jason Bateman's Bad Words (Focus Features) will expand nationwide.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is the behind-the-scenes documentary about the rock band The National, Mistaken for Strangers (Starz Digital Media), directed by frontman Matt Berninger's younger brother Tom.

As March continues to be the winter/spring month where studios seem to favor releasing some of their bigger potential tentpoles, partially thanks to previous hits like The Hunger Games and the original 300. This week, we have the start of a potential franchise based on a series of popular Young Adult novels and the sequel to Disney's revival of Jim Henson's popular Muppets, both of them trying to take advantage of many schools being on spring break in hopes they'll do decent business.

The big release of the weekend would be Divergent (Summit), the first movie in a potential series based on Veronica Roth's bestselling young adult series of novels which is looking to be the "next Twilight"… oh, wait… no.. now every movie based on a young adult novel would rather be the "next Hunger Games."

Undaunted by taking on a possible new franchise juggernaut, Disney have decided that March spring break is the best time to release the sequel Muppets Most Wanted (Walt Disney), which bring back Kermit, Miss Piggy and all the favorites, joined by humans Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell, for a European adventure involving an amphibian criminal mastermind named Constantine who looks a lot like Kermit.

This year's South by SouthWet (SXSW) Film Festival wrapped up this past weekend, marred by a horrifying drunk driving accident earlier in the week, but continuing for a few days beyond that as the music part of the festival kicked off.

For whatever reason, this didn't seem like a year with any sort of real breakout film like last year's Short Term 12, but I also didn't see nearly as many movies at the festival as I would have liked and missed a number of movies I definitely wanted to see like David Gordon Green's Joe and Space Station 76, starring Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler. Of course, it would have been nice to have seen some of this year's award winners as well, but I only caught one of those.

While I'm not going to do the normal "Best of the Fest" list because I'm not sure I saw enough movies I really loved to do one, I basically will write a little something about every movie I saw either before or during SXSW and what I thought of them. Many of them already have distribution and will be released over the next few months but a few of them are still looking. Just to make things a little more fun, we'll go from the best movie we saw to the worst, though really, we didn't see that many bad movies either.

March, the month with no nationally-recognized holidays except maybe St. Patrick's Day—which may not even count--continues with two very different movies, each trying to find polar opposite audiences while also trying to get business away from the strong returning movies that opened over the past few weeks.

This week's movies are the DreamWorks movie based on EA Games' Need for Speed (DreamWorks), starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, rapper Kid Cudi and Michael Keaton, and the latest from Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club (Lionsgate).

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Beth B's documentary Exposed about the New York City burlesque scene that's exploded in popularity in recent years.

Tonight we were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek at a startling new art exhibit in the SOHO district of New York City titled "Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood," curated by none other than director Darren Aronofsky. The Black Swan helmer is releasing his own vision of the Biblical hero Noah, starring Russell Crowe, but this exhibit has only a tenuous connection to the film itself, serving as more of an installation exploring our collective imagination of the story.

The pieces ranged from highly abstract to illustrative, with a large number of the artists culled from the comic book world: Jim Lee, Jim Woodring, James Jean, Peter Kuper, Jock. Even '90s fan fav Rob Liefeld contributed a piece that looks more suited to the cover of the premiere issue of "Noah's Action Rangers" than the MOMA.

Normally, the overused cliché is that March enters like a lamb and leaves like a lion—or at least I think that's how the saying goes—but that isn't the case this year as we're getting two fairly big studio releases right out of the gate, which will try to keep moviegoers coming back to theaters after a few slower weeks where it took Liam Neeson and the story of Jesus to tear them away from The LEGO Movie.

Almost seven years to the date that Zack Snyder blew people away with what could be done when adapting a graphic novel to the screen with Frank Miller's 300, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are finally going back to that well with 300: Rise of an Empire (Legendary/WB), a combination prequel and sequel to that blockbuster hit which opened with $71 million on its way to $454 million worldwide.

After having one of their first true bombs with last summer's Turbo, DreamWorks Animation returns with the delayed CG version of the ‘50s and ‘60s cartoon Mr. Peabody & Sherman (DreamWorks Animation/Fox), this one directed by The Lion King's Rob Minkoff as they try to revive a classic cartoon character for modern families.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is the latest from Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight), starring Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and lots more. has not attended the SXSW Film Festival every year, but this will be our second year in a row at the Austin, Texas-based festival that grew from out of the long-running annual music festival.

Unlike Sundance and Toronto, SXSW is not necessarily all about the big stars and you'll find that a lot of the better indie films feature complete unknowns or actors who aren't normally known for big studio movies. This year, we've picked thirty movies that are premiering at SXSW, some of them in competition, some studio movies being sneak previewed before their official theatrical releases, and we've also included a few movies that premiered at Sundance and Berlin that we missed out in earlier previews, because they fell below our radar.

It's the day after Oscar night, the biggest night of the year for the film industry. While most of the overworked Oscar bloggers are already disregarding any sort of celebration for the winners and moving onto heralding the 2014 movies that might receive nominations or accolades in a year--they're a fickle bunch, for sure--the Oscar Warrior prefers to look back at last night's winners and make note of how while there were very few real surprises, a few of the winners will surely mess with how we predict the Oscars in the future.

See, that's the thing about the Oscar prediction "business"--because it is a business now or else why would every single website and television news channel offer up their own predictions? In the past there was always historical data that can be used to back up the predictions. It wasn't just about seeing a movie and saying "that's the best performance" and a lot of time predictions are made based on other factors--early buzz, promotional marketing, etc. As I mentioned before, a lot of full-time Oscar bloggers are already looking at movies coming out later this year to see if they can be the first to predict a breakout. (Put it this way, few people in this business knew about The King's Speech or Argo or The Artist or even 12 Years a Slave a year before they won Best Picture.)

Well, that's a wrap on February as this snowbound year flies by quicker than usual, and after a couple weak weekends, there's still hope the winter/spring season can be saved by a couple more big hits along the lines of The LEGO Movie, Ride Along and Lone Survivor.

Universal Pictures is certainly going to give it a go for their third hit of the year with the action-thriller Non-Stop, which reunites actor Liam Neeson with director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unkonwn).

And in some of the oddest counter-programming we've seen so far this year, 20th Century Fox are releasing Son of God (20th Century Fox), a feature film apparently culled from footage from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's hit History Channel mini-series "The Bible" focusing on the story of Jesus.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Ritesh Batra's wonderful Mumbai-based film The Lunchbox (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Irrfan Khan.

« Older Posts Newer Posts »  

Follow on Twitter