Suddenly, Disney’s upcoming live action version of Beauty and the Beast is looking like a very wise move. After all, their new take on Cinderella shook the box office out of the doldrums, launching with numbers that feel more at home with the summer than March. Yes, it even took down that might spring movie season titan Liam Neeson.
Whenever SNL breaks out the “guest host answers audience questions” template for the opening monologue, it feels like a sign that the writers waited until the last possible moment to write this bit and couldn’t come up with anything better. And yet, when they use this formula for Chris Hemsworth, it works for one reason and one reason alone: their guest host has a couple of famous (and not-so-famous) brothers who can join him on stage.
It’s an SNL sketch premise so silly that it feels like it belongs in the early ’90s, not 2015. Taking place in the distant future, the scene asks us to believe that chickens have evolved to be more intelligent than humans and that a chicken could command a spaceship of human beings and, most importantly, that a crew member played by guest host Chris Hemsworth would fall in love with the chicken.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (which the real, actual title of this film) has been bombarding us with trailers for so long that it feels like the movie should have come out by now. But alas, the next chapter in this young adult dystopian romantic action series is still a month away and Summit has released the final Insurgent trailer. To their credit, this is easily the most effective preview they’ve cut so far, even if it seems like it’s in an alien language to the people who skipped Divergent.
Last year, John Travolta took the Oscar stage to introduce Idina Menzel so she could perform “Let It Go” from Frozen. What should have been a very simple, teleprompter-aided introduction quickly became a Big Deal when Travolta stumbled over his words. Instead of “Idina Menzel,” Travolta said “Adele Dazeem.” An internet meme was born and everyone added another great John Travolta joke to their repertoire. The 2015 Oscars decided to revisit that memorable flub and the results were weird, awkward, and yeah, pretty funny.
The first ‘Pitch Perfect’ was a sleeper success, doing surprisingly solid business at the box office and earning equally solid reviews from critics. But it was home video that transformed this little a cappella comedy into a genuine sensation, instantly becoming the favorite film of 12-year-old girls (and their initially reluctant parents) all over the world. So the new ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ trailer arrives with the air of an event film. The sequel is not an underdog, but the Bigger, Flashier, and Louder follow-up that has the confidence to suggest that there is an entire franchise to be found here.
In most years, January tends to be the most boring month of the year for the box office. This is where Hollywood typically sends the movies in which it has the least faith. This is the dumping ground, the place where movies go to die so the studios can concentrate on their Oscar campaigns. However, thanks to ‘American Sniper,’ this January has bucked every trend. It may technically be a 2014 release, but Clint Eastwood’s war film has made the first chunk of 2015 interesting, shattering expectations and threatening to become the highest grossing film of last year in only a few weeks.
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.
Yep, it’s that time of the year again. The 2015 Oscar nominations are here and it’s time for everyone to get outraged and cynical over which movies get the opportunity to take home statuettes of naked golden dudes. Sure, we always tell ourselves that the Academy Awards don’t really matter and that a film’s legacy will live or die for reasons beyond trophies, but we always end up getting angry about these things anyway. However, this year’s biggest snubs seems more egregious than usual and require slightly more yelling and stamping of feet.
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.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
Every generation has their Batman. Depending on the age of the person you ask, you’ll discover Adam West fans, Michael Keaton fans, Kevin Conroy fans and, if you stare into the darkness long enough, a George Clooney fan. For a certain group of fans, Christian Bale’s take on the Dark Knight always be the definitive interpretation, with his gravelly growl and trademark intensity instantly beating out whatever Ben Affleck brings to the character in ‘Batman vs. Superman.’ Some of these people are going to resent Affleck no matter what. And, in a surprising turn of events, it looks like they can all rally around Bale himself.
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