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Screenjabber visits the set of Vikings

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 04/11/2014 - 17:23

Vikings, the gritty historical drama from Tudors creator Micheal Hirst, launches its second season onto Blu-ray and DVD this week. Having redefined our perception of Viking culture and delivered some epic battles, expectation is high to see where the show can go next. Screenjabber's Paul Anderson was invited to the show's Ashford Studios at Ballyhenry in Ireland to see Ragnar and Co in action and was given access to key cast and crew members to see exactly what was in store for the troubled Viking clan.

Screenjabber was lucky enough to visit the set of Vikings as the cast and crew were shooting scenes for the show's third season. While we can’t talk about that on pain of death we certainly can give you an insight into Season Two and the production of the show in general.

On arrival at the studio the first thing that strikes you is the scale of the production with full size replica Viking Long Ships having been constructed and the village of Kattegat created in minutiae detail. It’s certainly an authentic set up and gives an early indication into the effort and attention that is evident in every scene of the show.

A tour of the on-set armoury only serves to reinforce the effort and craft that is on display here, racks of meticulously designed Viking shields line the left hand wall and these are adorned with the markings of the Viking tribes. A little more intimidating is the wall of weapons hanging on the opposite wall.

While they certainly look deadly on screen, we are reliably informed by weapons maker John Mckenna that the swords used are in fact crafted from bamboo and that the blades can be swapped in and out of the handles with a twist of an allen key.

The axes are scary looking replicas too but created with rubber blades that still pack a punch in the hands of stuntmen. All the weapons start life in steel form but sensibly these were kept out of the less than trained arms of your Screenjabber journalist.

The aforementioned village of Kattegat was our next stop and this was seriously impressive, far more than just a few hastily constructed building fascias the village was full size and the buildings were fully functional and meticulously detailed. The market stalls felt like they could open at a moment’s notice and it genuinely felt like taking a trip back in time.  A brief drive away from the studio took to us to an equally impressive location shoot, surrounded by some beautiful Irish countryside we were witness to a pretty intense looking Viking party around a huge bonfire that again gave a sense of actually being there rather than being witness to a TV production.

Vikings once again reunites Micheal Hirst with veteran costume designer Joan Bergin and it certainly was a privilege to be given a tour of the costume workshop, (although a lot of what we saw was specifically for season 3 so we can’t talk about that in any detail). What we can say though is that again the effort put in by the team is second to none. With a small group hard at work on a vast array of costumes, effort is made to individualise everything that the main characters wear, Bergin explains, ‘One of things we specialise in doing in this workshop is leather work because you do get a little tired sometimes looking at everybody as if they look like Roman Gladiators’.

It's little details that help bring the characters to life and we’re shown some intricately detailed hand-woven leatherwork alongside some beautifully customised dresses that have all been painstakingly modified. There is one team responsible for going out and picking up suitable clothing and jewellery and then bringing it back to the workshop to be ‘vikingised’.  One of Ragnar’s signature outfits for example is being modified with symbols representing the Viking god Odin and this attention to detail makes all the difference. This outfit also shows us an example of an interesting and very effective technique that means a lot what looks like metallic armour on screen is in fact treated leather that even up close looks utterly convincing.

As you can tell from the brief insight here and in the series of interviews with cast and crew that will follow, whatever you make of the end product Vikings is undoubtedly a labour of love for everyone involved and this passion for the project is impossible not to get caught up in. In a cynical world of entertainment existing solely as product this is something that should be applauded and for this reason alone Vikings deserves your attention.

• Vikings Season 2 is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 3 November with interactive features only available on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 03/11/2014 - 11:02

Nightcrawler and Ouija scare up the Halloween box office

By Rich Matthews

In a close-run All Hallow's Eve race, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, the disturbing take on parasitic webcam journalism from Bourne Legacy scribe Dan Gilroy, is estimated to have pipped horror holdover Ouija to the top spot – but by as small a margin as $9,000.

Nightcrawler took $10,909,000, while Universal's sophomore weekender scared up a further $10,900,000 to take it's homegrown tally to $35m (and $42.7m worldwide). No other new release made into the top 10, thanks in part to studios leaving the weekend pretty empty because Halloween itself fell on a Friday, ostensibly destroying most potential business – overall Halloween weekend 2014 was 40 per cent less profitable than 2013's equivalent frame.

There was a genuine sense of ticking over while Hollywood waits for its big boys to land, starting with Christopher Nolan's epic space drama Interstellar, which has been brought forward two days to launch on November 5. After that, it's a role call of expected blockbusters that are hoped will save the year's overall box office – Disney's Big Hero 6 on November 7, Dumb And Dumber To on the 14th, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 on the 21st, Penguins of Madagascar on the 26th, with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Night At The Museum readying to battle for the Christmas dollars on December 19.

From three to 10, the rest of chart was filled out by Brad Pitt and David Ayer's WWII tank flick Fury ($9.1M, $60.4m, $75.6m), Ben Affleck looking for Rosamund Pike's crazy wife in David Fincher's literary adap Gone Girl ($8.8m, $136.6m, $279.1m – now Fincher's biggest ever hit in the US), the Guillermo del Toro-sponsored animated Book Of Life ($8.3m, $40.5m, $69.3m), Keanu Reeves back on form if not box office appeal in John Wick ($8.1m, $27.6m), Bill Murray earning Oscar buzz in St Vincent ($7.8m, $19.5m), Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner in Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ($6.5m, $53.6m, $69.5m), Robert Downy Jr's vulnerability-illustrating passion project The Judge ($3.4m, $39.6m, $58.6m) and Universal's revamp Dracula Untold ($2.9m, $52.9m, $189m) starring The Hobbit's Luke Evans.

Globally, Guardians Of The Galaxy is now the second biggest film of the year with $765.1m, behind Transformers: Age of Extinction's $1.08bn, while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles boosted its coffers to $434.5m thanks a Chinese opening of $26.5m.

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Screenjabber Podcast: Mr Turner is Marvelous ...

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 01/11/2014 - 09:22

Join Mr Andrew Jones, Mr Amon Warrman, Miss Mark Searby and host Lord Stuart O'Connor for a look back at the 2014 London Film Festival, some Marvel chitchat and a look at a few of the new films on offer in UK cinemas: Mr Turner, Nightcrawler and Ouija.

You can listen to and download the podcast – or subscribe to it on iTunes ... plus you can follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

PubQuest: We're looking to take the Screenjabber Pubcast on the road, and want your input. Know a great pub in London we should visit to record the show? Drop us a line and let us know.

WriterQuest: We're seeking some more writers, particularly those who want to cover video games for us. Please get in touch if you're keen.

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The Halloween Horrors you may have missed

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 26/10/2014 - 18:35

In time for Halloween, and the dark nights that are drawing in, several Screenjabber scribes choose some alternative Halloween films that have scared them silly.

Take your pick, turn out the lights, press play and prepare for the scare ...

David Watson
Martyrs (2008)

Bleak, beautiful and brutal. Martyrs is metaphysical torture-porn. A splattery, cerebral horror that typifies the New French Extremity. Watching it is like being punched in the soul.
The Black Cat (1934)
Beautiful, atmospheric and bonkers. The Black Cat has virtually nothing to do with the Poe short story, but it’s the best horror film Universal ever made. It’s barely an hour long. And it has more in common with Martyrs than you would think.
The Divide (2011)
Bleak, intense, claustrophobic and horrific. The Divide is a hard shining jewel of a film. A post-apocalyptic movie that dares to suggest that the worst thing about the end of the world may be surviving it.
Dead Girl (2008)
It’s like weird Science for sociopathic necrophiles.
Begotten (1991)
Begotten is an experimental shamanic creation myth that pretty much defies description. Intense, shocking, disturbing and just plain messed up.
Melancholic Der Engel (2009)
Arguably one of the sickest, nastiest, most perverse, nihilistic, cruel, vile films ever made. There has never been an English language subtitled version, if you want to watch it you have to watch it in the original German language. And even then you are probably breaking several laws.

Jenny Priestley
Theatre Of Blood (1973)

I was forced to watch this film at the age of 11 by my then stepmother. I hate horror movies but there was nothing else to do and so I sat and watched it. The scene that always stays with me is when Vincent Price makes Robert Morley eat a pie made of his babies (his poodles). It totally creeped me out and I’ve always been a little wary of pies ever since

Mark Brennan
The Entity (1982)

First watched this only about 5 years ago and found it creepy fright from the off. The sinister, evil and invisible force provided a particularly nasty threat. It’s let down by some woefully dated special effects, but other than that it’s a sound horror film
Mirrors (2008)
I was surprised by how grizzly this film turned out to be – particularly the bath scene. An interesting story that doesn’t resort to meaningless body counts.

Katie Wong
Return To Oz (1985)

After the dreamlike and quite lovely Wizard of Oz, its 1985 sequel Return to Oz is the film that nightmares are made of.  Even though fans consider it to be a more faithful adaptation of L. Frank Baum's Oz books than the classic 1939 musical. In Return to Oz, Dorothy is confronted by a headless princess with interchanging heads and an evil Nome King that threatens to eat her and her friends in a bid to save Oz. It may sound far-fetched but put a six-year-old in front of this and they'll never want to watch Wizard of Oz. Ever.

Mark Searby
Carnival Of Souls (1962)

Beautifully filmed in black & white. Wonderfully acted from a group of unknowns. Fully atmospheric throughout. It has only one special effect, the rest of the film is left to the supernatural invading a human life. The final 10 minutes are some of the most haunting imagery put on celluloid.
Threads (1984)
Yes this is a TV movie. But what a TV movie it is. Nuclear holocaust in England and the after effects in one city. So bleak and without any real sense of hope that you have to fear for whoever decided this would be a good idea to put on screen. Raw and unflinching in every way. You’ll never forget this grime movie.

Jessy Williams
Frailty (2001)

Frailty is a subtle and disturbing story that focuses on a man’s account of his childhood. It plays on fears of insanity and the frightening innocence of children. If you prefer your horror psychological rather than gory, then this sinister and quite distressing flick should do the trick
Dead End (2003)
This is a horror film that I often forget about. However, it is an under-appreciated horror film. It’s a darkly funny, truly creepy and very unpredictable film that is very entertaining. Dead End is a road trip to hell where you’ll enjoy the ride.
Absentia (2011)
This film is a genuinely terrifying exploration of grief. The atmosphere in Absentia is, at times, unbearable and makes for an unsettling and chilling watch. This isn’t something I would recommend watching alone (I made that mistake), especially if creepy figures in the corner freak you out. Absentia is a heart-breaking and very scary little film.

Simon Williams
The Fly II (1989)

The plot takes a back seat to the visual effects, but what a visual feat it is! Serving up the grue is director Chris Walas, whose special effects work on the first film bagged him the Academy Award for Best Make-Up. In addition to the incredible fly make-up and models there’s several memorable death sequences including an acid-sprayed face and a head crushed by an elevator. Gore aside, there is also some quite affecting scene between young Martin and a deformed dog.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Let’s get this straight, Maximum Overdrive is not a good film. Even Stephen King, who directed his own adaptation, called it a moron movie. He admitted he was off his face on cocaine the entire time. There are enough moments to suggest King was not utterly clueless when it came to directing, and it would have been interesting to see what he could have managed had he not been coked out of his mind.

Stuart O'Connor
Lake Mungo (2008)

A stylish Aussie mockumentary (no, it's NOT a found footage film, no matter what anybody tells you!) that takes its time to build the tension and creep you out of your skin, Lake Mungo introduces us to the Palmer family, grieving over the recent drowning death of 15-year-old daughter Alice. The less you know before you watch it the better, but this is one of the best horror films ever made on the subject of grief and how a family handles it.
The Loved Ones (2009)
Another Aussie shocker, this feature debut from director Sean Byrne is the tale of the "romance" between Brent and obsessive loner Lola. Awkward Lola has her eye on Brent as her date for the end-off-year high school prom, and nothing - or nobody - is gong to get in her way. The absolute star off this film is the very talented Robin McLeavy, who has created a screen psycopath that can easily rank alongisde Norman Bates,  Jack Torrance, Patrick Bateman and Annie Wilkes...
You’re Next (2011)
It probably wouldn't make the poster, but a fitting tagline for You're Next would be: "Don't fuck with an Aussie." And if you think you know the home invasion horror sub-genre then think again, because You're Next rewrites the book. And Sharni Vinson is one incredible, arse-kicking "final girl" ... with a twist.

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Top 10 British Soap Stars on Film

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 21/10/2014 - 15:07

The worlds of small-time gangsters and burnt-out City Boys collide in the  fast-paced crime thriller The Smoke, out now on DVD and digital platforms from Signature Entertainment. The Smoke stars Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey who are famous for their roles in classic British Soap Operas Eastenders and Hollyoaks¸ respectfully. Here we look back at other Soap stars who have attempted to make the big leap to The Big Screen. Some successfully, others not so...

Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey – from EastEnders and Hollyoaks to The Smoke
After entering their careers as soap stars on EastEnders and Hollyoaks, respectfully, Matt Di Angelo and Anna Passey make their film debuts in the new gangster crime thriller, The Smoke. In Hollyoaks Passey played Sienna Blake, a beautiful, clever and calculating character who entered the village with her controlling father, Patrick, but stays with her estranged twin brother, Dodger. Di Angelo began on EastEnders as Dean Wicks in 2006, a dark, brooding man with a chip on his shoulder, leaving in a whirlwind of violence and drama in 2008, but returning to Walford this year. After his further successes on TV in Hustle and Brogia, Di Angelo has landed the starring role in The Smoke as city lawyer Brad Walker. In the worst day of his life, Brad’s high-maintenance girlfriend Sasha (Passey) has unceremoniously ditched him for his so-called friend Tom (Christian Brassington) and to add insult to injury he's just been fired. On a night out drowning his sorrows with old friend Dean (Jeff Leach), he happens to overhear a conversation between Phil (Darren Ripley) and Ben (Stephen Marcus) - two drug dealers working for small-time gangster Jack (Alan Ford). In no time at all, Brad manages to make off with a sports car, a call girl and £400,000 in cash... But that’s just the start.

Martine McCutcheon - from EastEnders to Love, Actually
Martine McCutcheon first starred in the role of Tiffany Raymond, the abandoned child of Louise, on the popular BBC Soap Opera EastEnders. As the role of Tiffany grew, so did McCutcheon's popularity, and 22 million viewers tuned in to see her final scenes in Albert Square on New Year’s Eve in 1998. In this episode McCutcheon’s character was run over and killed by one of Frank Butcher's dodgy used cars, thereby killing her EastEnders career. In 2003, after a brief and failed attempt at a pop music career, McCutcheon featured in her first major film role. She appeared as tea-lady Natalie in the Richard Curtis romantic comedy Love Actually, now a Christmas-classic, where the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) falls in love with McCutcheon's character. McCutcheon and Grant’s budding relationship is exposed when a curtain is raised on them kissing at big finale of a school play.

Jude Law - from Families to The Talented Mr. Ripley
Arguably Britain's biggest soap-star-to-movie-star success is Jude Law, now one of Hollywood's finest actors. Unbeknownst to most, Law began his acting career rather unglamorously with a two-year stint as Nathan Thompson in Granada TV's ill-fated and little-watched Soap Opera, Families. This weekly Soap Opera told the relationship of two families, the Thompsons (in England) and the Stevens (in Australia). The main storyline concentrated on Mike Thompson leaving his family to move in with Diane Stevens and the complications that ensued. Law was one of the few cast-members of Families to go on to bigger and better things, since starring in Hollywood blockbusters The Talented Mr Ripley, Alfie, Enemy at the Gates and most recently Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Sir Ben Kingsley - from Coronation Street to Gandhi
Like Jude Law, many forget that acting legend Sir Ben Kingsley CBE began his career rather unglamorously on a Soap Opera. In Kingsley’s case, he played Coronation Street’s Ron Jenkins from 1966-7, a character who courted the attention of Irma Barlow. Irma encouraged his attention, but when Ron stole her compact and refused to give it back until she agreed to a date, the only way she could get rid of him was to introduce him to her husband and face the consequences. Since Coronation Street, Kingsley has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. He is most famously known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the Richard Attenborough 1982 film Gandhi, however he also went on to feature in award-winning blockbuster films Schindler's List , Sexy Beast, Lucky Number Slevin, Shutter Island, and Iron Man 3.

Judi Shekoni – Eastenders to Garfield 2 and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Judi Shekoni first starred on TV as Marjorie "Precious" Hudson, the glamorous girlfriend of Angel Hudson (Goldie) on EastEnders. Following her experience on EastEnders Shekoni moved to LA in search of work on the big screen. Whilst she was initially unsuccessful, playing small parts such as a tour guide in Garfield 2, Shekoni recently landed the role of Amazonian vampire Zafrina in Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Interestingly, Shekoni only landed her Twilight audition after spotting an advert for the role in a trade magazine, going to show that you need luck as well as talent to make the leap from Soap Opera to film.

Louisa Lytton — from EastEnders and The Bill to American Pie: Book of Love
Louisa Lytton starred in two Soap Operas before her efforts to make it in film. Lytton went from playing much-troubled teenager Ruby Allen in EastEnders to being Sun Hill's young and cautious PC Beth Green in The Bill. In between EastEnders and The Bill, Lytton starred successfully in the 2006 TV dance competition Strictly Come Dancing. Off the back of The Bill, Lytton played a British exchange student in the painfully contrived and unwatchable seventh straight-to-DVD American Pie instalment, Book of Love. Louisa Lytton’s case is certainly an example of how not to make it onto the big-screen.

Alan Cumming – from Take the High Road to GoldenEye, Spy Kids and The X Men
Part-time Scot, naturalised American and respected film, TV and theatre actor Alan Cumming OBE is known for his political activism as well as being an established Hollywood actor. Cumming can often be seen campaigning and promoting rights for LGBT, but he established his career appearing in the likes of The X Men (and its sequels), bond film GoldenEye and the Spy Kids movies. However Cumming’s roots also lie in Soap Opera – remembered by those north of the border as evil woodcutter Jim Hunter in Scottish soap Take the High Road in the early eighties. Take the High Road started in February 1980 as an ITV daytime soap opera, but was dropped by most stations in the 1990s, although Scottish Television, Grampian Television, Border Television and Ulster Television continued to screen the programme until the last episode.

Jimi Mistry - from EastEnders to East is East, Blood Diamond, 2012, Coronation Street
Jimi Mistry is most readily recognised for playing Dr. Fred Fonseca in EastEnders during the late 1990s, a role that began his career on TV and enabled him to make the big jump to Hollywood. In 2006 Mistry starred opposite none other than Leonardo Di Caprio in Blood Diamond, and then alongside John Cuszack in apocalyptic film 2012. After experiencing a taste of Hollywood, appearing in these impressive film roles, Mistry has uniquely made the return jump back to Soap Operas and can now be seen as former army soldier and personal trainer Kal Nazir in Coronation Street. Mistry’s career path goes to show that some actors cannot help but return to their Soap Opera roots.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 20/10/2014 - 08:32

Fury cannons to top while Book of Life isn't as lively as hoped

By Rich Matthews

Brad Pitt tank team vehicle Fury, written and directed by Training Day scribe and Sabotage director David Ayer, drummed up $23m to take the top spot at the US weekend box office.

It's not as big a victory for Pitt as in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which bagged $38m, and is more on par with Pitt crony George Clooney's recent Monuments Men, which took in $22m. War movies are a tricky proposition at today's box office, so Fury will have show true grit to hold off any further salvos from the upcoming slate of big boys, but it has a couple of weeks with only the likes of Keanu Reeves in John Wick, Halloween-friendly entries Ouija and Nightcrawler, before Disney pounces with Big Hero 6 and Paramount goes Interstellar with Christopher Nolan's latest.

All three of this weekend's new entries were separated by holdovers, with the Guillermo del Toro-produced animation The Book Of Life landing at three with $17m, marginally behind Gone Girl's $17.8m ($107.1m US, $201.6m worldwide, taking it past Panic Room in David Fincher's back catalogue, and closing in on The Social Network's $224.9m), and Nicholas Spark adaptation The Best Of Me at five with $10.2m, behind Steve Carell in Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at four with $12m ($36.9m, $43.5m).

Rounding out the chart from six to 10, were Luke Evans Vlad the Impaler vampire reboot Dracula Untold ($9.9m, $40.7m, $136.4m), underperforming Robert Downey Jr/Robert Duvall two-hander The Judge ($7.9m, $26.8m), Conjuring spin-off Annabelle ($7.9m, $74.1m, $149.3m), Denzel Washington busting heads in The Equalizer ($5.5m, $89.2m, $158.8m) and mid-range YA adaptation The Maze Runner ($4.5m, $90m, $251m).

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 12/10/2014 - 16:17

Gone Girl still on the run while Dracula Untold draws first blood

By Rich Matthews

Ben Affleck's career rehabilitation may have been in full swing for a few years now, but the impressive second weekend drop of only 29 per cent for his latest, David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, shows that it is complete.

Digging up a further $26.8million to bulk its coffers to $78.3m at the domestic US box office, Gone Girl now has a shot at becoming Fincher's biggest ever flick, closing in on the Brad Pitt vehicle The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and its $126m haul. Globally, Gone Girl has so far grossed $141.6m. The homesoil performance is even more impressive, given that newcomers Dracula Untold, from Universal and starring The Hobbit's Luke Evans, and Disney's Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, both opened strongly at second and thirds, respectively.

The latest spin on Bram Stoker's classic vampire grossed $23.5m, taking its worldwide tally to a strong $86.1m, while Very Bad Day grabbed a healthy $19.1m. Sadly, the other major contender going into the weekend, Robert Downey Jr's The Judge, got mauled by critics and could only manage fifth place, with a lukewarm $13.3m – which isn't that bad for this kind of dramedy – co-starring Robert Duvall and the first film from the Iron Man star's Team Downey shingle, but is weak for the otherwise high-flying megastar. It couldn't even get past The Conjuring spinoff Annabelle, which tumbled 57 per cent to land at fourth with $16.4m and a frankly whopping US tally of $62.2m for such a cheap movie.

The other two new release to crack the top 10 was Lionsgate's thriller Addicted, starring Sharon Leal, which took $6m to place seventh, and documentary Meet The Mormons, which managed to take in $3m and come 10th.

The rest of the chart was rounded out by Denzel Washington meting out rough justice as The Equalizer at six ($9.7m, $79.9m), YA adaptation The Maze Runner at eight ($7.5m, $83.8m) and Laika's The Boxtrolls ($6.7m, $41m). So far, the Autumnal box office is proving more promising than the summer, with heavy hitters such as Interstellar, The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 just around the corner. And talking of big guns, Marvel's runaway summer hit Guardians Of The Galaxy finally opened in China (with Italy one of the few major territories left to go), setting a new October record with $26.6m, which takes it past last year's Man Of Steel's global gross of $663m to $687m – still less than stablemate Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but now big enough for the sequel possibilities to seem endless.

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Trips of the Week

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 11/10/2014 - 15:27

By Stuart O'Connor

Each week, the Screenjabber inbox gets overloaded with emails containing new film trailers, or clips of films or upcoming Blu-ray/DVD/VoD releases. Here are a few of those trailers and clips (hence trips) that caught our eye this week ...


Black Butler trailer

Gutshot preview clip

The Book of Life: Land of the Remembered clip

The Babadook: Washing Dishes clip

Penguins of Madagascar: Cheesy Dibbles Room clip

The Woman in Black: Angel of Death

The Evil Within new gameplay trailer

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 06/10/2014 - 09:02

Gone Girl makes an appearance at the top spot

By Rich Matthews

David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's hot-button novel has given the Fight Club and Social Network director the biggest opening weekend of his career. Pulling in $38m, the kidnapping/murder/marital strife potboiler is also a notable triumph for star Ben Affleck, with his biggest opening since his notorious turn as blind Marvel superhero Daredevil opened to $40m in 2003. Certainly, with Affleck's performance earning plaudits and the film opening so well, suits over at Warner Bros in charge of Batman vs Superman must be high-fiving in anticipation.

However, Affleck and Fincher were given a close run for their returns by Warner Bros' own killer doll horror Annabelle, a spin-off from The Conjuring, which took in $37.2m at number two – a massive overperformance considering it only cost $6.5m to make. Which, by the way, is nearly 10 times less than Gone Girl's budget of $61m. But GG's legs look likely to prove strong given that both Fincher and Affleck's recent movies have all been slow burners – notably Affleck's Oscar-winning Argo.

The only other entry into the top 10 was Nicolas Cage thriller Left Behind, which opened at six with a weak $6.9m. Left Behind was directed by renowned stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong, veteran of Bond, Indiana Jones and recent big hitters like Thor. The top five was rounded out by Denzel Washington continuing to right wrongs at three in The Equalizer, which declined 44 per cent to take $19m for a healthy domestic US haul of $64.5m and a worldwide total of $104.1m, Laika's grimy, gloopy stop-motion fairy tale The Boxtrolls with $12.4m, $32.5m US and $58.5m global, and Young Adult sci-fier The Maze Runner at five with $12m for a home tally of $73.9m and a pretty impressive global gross of $175.5m.

After Nic Cage being Left Behind at six, Shawn Levy's starry-eyed ensemble book adap This Is Where I Leave You landed at seven ($4m, $29m US), Warner Bros stablemate Dolphin Tale 2 at eight ($3.5m, $38m, $41m), the summer's biggest hit, Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy still busting a few blocks at nine ($3m, $323.4m, $654m) and Idris Elba thriller vehicle No Good Deed at 10 ($2.5m, $50.2m, $51.3m).

Next weekend sees a few big release jostling for pole position – and it could to any of them – including Luke Evans in Dracula Untold, Robert Downey Jr in The Judge and Steve Carell in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 29/09/2014 - 21:28

Denzel shoots to the top in The Equalizer

By Rich Matthews

There was nothing equal about Denzel Washington bruising his way to the top spot at the US box office this weekend, with his remake (in name only) of the Edward Woodward 1980s TV series The Equalizer being his third biggest opening ever at $35m, behind American Gangster ($43m) and Safe House ($40m).

Also taking $17.8m overseas, Washington's latent franchise has opened to a healthy $52.8m worldwide. The reunion of Denzel with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua (whose last film, Olympus Has Fallen, won the White House under siege battle last year) will need to have real staying power to beat Gangster ($130m) or Safe House ($126m) but it should certainly outperform Washington's recent Flight ($93.8m) from Robert Zemeckis and 2 Guns ($75.6m) with Mark Wahlberg.

The other big opener of the weekend was Laika's stop-motion animation The Boxtrolls, which grossed $17.3m for third place, taking its global tally up to $35m. Previous efforts from the Oregon-based animation house, Coraline and ParaNorman, amassed $75m and $56m from openings of $16.8m and $14m, respectively, which bodes well for the icky kiddie fable.

The two newcomers were separated at number two by YA holdover The Maze Runner, which dropped a respectable 46 per cent to gross $17.5 and take its US domestic haul to $58m and its worldwide tally to a very healthy $148.7m.

The remainder of the top 10 saw a slight shuffling of last weekend's order, with, from four to 10, Warner Bros occupying the fourth and fifth spots with Shawn Levy's Jason Bateman/Tina Fey ensemble comedy This Is Where I Leave You ($7m, $22.6m US) and family sequel Dolphin Tale 2 ($4.8m, $33.7m), followed by Sony's Idris Elba thriller No Good Deed at sixth ($4.6m, $46.6m) and Universal's Liam Neeson vehicle A Walk Among The Tombstones ($4.2m, $20.9m, $25.9m worldwide) at seven, plus three summer season holdovers bringing up the rear – Marvel's megahit Guardians Of The Galaxy ($3.8m, $319.2m, $644.3m), Warner's Jake Johnson/Damon Wayans Jr comedy Let's Be Cops ($1.5m, $79.6m, $105.6m) and Paramounts reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($1.5m, $187.2m, $342.1m).

Next weekend will see if David Fincher's Gone Girl can be as big a success in cinemas as the novel was in bookstores (well, Amazon anyway), or if The Conjuring spin-off Annabelle can scare up greater business.

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