We‘ve only just entered May, but in the first few months of 2017, the year has yielded a surprisingly eclectic array of blockbusters. Survey the biggest earners to date, and you’ll see a socially critical horror flick from a first-time director, a spin-off based on a cross-property licensing deal within a corporate brand expansion, and a tough-as-nails superhero side project with post-apocalyptic Western overtones. The latest Fast and Furious installment looks most at home in the top five so far, but more unexpected still is that it’s been handily defeated by the year’s top earner, Disney’s handsomely mounted revival of Beauty and the Beast. And now, the unlikely box-office behemoth has claimed another record.
For every superhero, there is a season — turn, turn, turn. As Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters today following months of anticipation, America now turns our gnat-like attention spans to the next big super-release. In about a month, we’ll have another cape-free caper, with Wonder Woman scheduled for June 2. And while we’ve all had time to gape at the trailers and posters and Instagram posts from those on set, we still have yet to actually glimpse any in-context footage. Until now, that is!
The game of extremely handsome musical chairs that is staffing up for the next James Bond film continued apace today. The two biggest question marks — who will star as the secret agent extraordinaire, and who will direct him in the new picture — remain unresolved, but a new development may hold a clue as to the future of the franchise. A great ruckus was raised over the fact that the Bond property has entered the marketplace for a new studio overseer, and while the new management has not yet been decided, it’s starting to look like Warner Bros. has the upper hand. And it all has to do with Christopher Nolan.
Out with the old X-Men, in with the new. Neither DC nor fully Marvel, the odd-duck X-Men cinematic franchise has been in the process of reinventing itself over the past couple installments by gradually integrating its past and present. I mean that literally — through a whole heap of time-travel tomfoolery, the original X-People we came to know during the original trilogy of films in the early ’00s have been commingled with the new generation of throwback X-Folks as shown in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. The chronology can be a lot to swallow, and it’s about to get even more confusing: we may now have two Rogues.
Oliver Stone gravitates towards controversial figures like a moth to a headline-grabbing flame. He’s taken aim at former and sitting Presidents, serial killers, self-proclaimed warrior-poets, and most recently, a Kermit the Frog-voiced whistleblower by the name of Eddie Snowden. One of the most wanted men on the face of the Earth, Snowden’s a pretty tough act for a scandal-courting filmmaker to follow. Laura Poitras managed to score some precious face-time with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for Risk, her first feature after Snowden doc Citizenfour. Not to be outdone, Oliver Stone landed four interviews with one of the primary architects of what could end up being our next world war.
Now that Austin Powers has safely moved past its “overexposure through incessant quoting” phase, there’s a lot to love about the movie. The peppy flute theme from Quincy Jones, Myers’ screwloose double-turn as the International Man of Mystery and his pinky-brandishing nemesis, the kitschy ’60s-by-way-of-’90s design, it‘s all a pretty good time. (Not to mention that the tactfully obscured nude scene is a marvel of blocking and composition.) A recent oral history has gotten Myers’ most beloved comic creation back in the public eye, and amidst rumors that a sequel may be in the cards at some indeterminate point in the future, another surprising discovery has been made.
Johnny Depp needs some public image rehabilitation, and badly. When it came out last year that he had physically abused former spouse Amber Heard, a dark and sickly pallor was cast over the heretofore beloved actor’s profile. It isn’t helping that he hasn’t been in a good movie since 2011 (Rango, though Verbinski’s follow-up The Lone Ranger has its supporters), and hasn’t been in a really profitable one since 2014’s Into the Woods. The guy has to save a little face if he wants to secure his future in this business, and what better way to do that than to play to the only demographic unaware of his unsavory personal life: the youth!
The Overlook Film Festival just began its inaugural proceedings last night, inviting cinephiles and horror enthusiasts to take in some film with a singular location for a backdrop: the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon, better known to you as the Overlook Hotel and the setting of Stephen King adaptation The Shining. One could scarcely imagine a scene more apropos for the revelation that another big King remake is in the works, so Blumhouse (you know, the studio behind every horror blockbuster of the last few years) head Jason Blum and director-writer Akiva Goldsman took full advantage of their unique surroundings for a major announcement. And in the immortal words of Nelly, it’s getting hot in here.
If you ever bellowed those words in the mirror while holding a cardboard tube aloft like a sword shortly after giving yourself a DIY bowl-cut, you were probably a fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. That, or a kid with extremely weird hobbies. Either way, the series of comics, cartoons and collectibles remains a cherished part of ’80s nostalgia, and as we have learned time and again over the past few years, no corner of Generation X’s childhood is safe from the plunderers at the major movie studios.
People like a legend. When Heath Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in January 2008, he had just completed principal photography on his Academy Award-winning role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s grown-up Batman flick The Dark Knight. With zero foundation in confirmed public knowledge, a narrative sprung up around Ledger’s troubled final days, that the psychological demands of portraying a figure as sick and twisted as the Joker weighed too heavily on the actor. The apocryphal notion that the role ultimately drove Ledger to suicide is way off the mark, however, explains Ledger’s sister Kate.
In the ’70s, Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken starred in the seminal Vietnam War film The Deer Hunter. It ranks among the more harrowing entries in an already brutal genre, unflinchingly depicting the conditions of abject inhumanity in the war zone and then bringing the trauma home to spiritually gut a declining Pennsylvania industry town. A lot has taken place since then, however. We’re now living in a post-Dirty Grandpa world. The news of another collaboration between De Niro and Walken no longer heralds an intense drama with awards potential in its very DNA. They’re now the twin titans of Grandpa Cinema, and their latest project has to reflect that.
This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
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