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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 30/03/2014 - 22:24

Noah floods the box office while Arnie's career Sabotage continues

By Rich Matthews

Banishing apocalyptic worries for Paramount, Darren Aronofsky's dark retelling of the biblical Noah story with Russell Crowe as the eponymous raiser of the boss ark opened at the top with a strong gross of $44m.

Most of the crowd were aged over 25, with a strong pull from Christian audiences and indie Aronofsky fans. The epic movie also managed to muster $51m on its international bow too, filling its bows with $95m worldwide.

Word of mouth has been mixed (if passionate), but Noah's boat may sink a bit next weekend in the face of Disney/Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier's debut, which already won the international weekend this week with a stellar gross of $75m, which suggests yet another box office juggernaut in the making.

The only other major release in the US was Arnold Schwarzenegger's ensemble crime actioner Sabotage, which also stars Avatar's Sam Worthington, but the David Ayer film could only battle its way to number seven with a gross of $5.3 – which is similar to Arnie's 1986 mob thriller Raw Deal, but if you adjust for inflation that lesser Ahnuld 80s flick would have taken nearly $13.5m in today's money.

It's Schwarzenegger's worst ever wide open (more than 2000 theatres) and puts a lot of emphasis on Terminator 5 for the Austrian Oak's onscreen future.

Between Noah and Sabotage, Divergent had a reasonable hold at number two, taking $26.5m for a domestic tally of $95.3m, followed by the underperforming Muppets Most Wanted ($11.4m, US tally of $33.2m, global $40.7m), Mr Peabody & Sherman ($9.5m, $94.9m, $123.1m), God's Not Dead ($9.1m, $22m), and Wes Anderson's indie hit The Grand Budapest Hotel ($8.8m from 700-odd locations, $24.5m domestic and $69.6m worldwide).

Rounding out the weekend's top 10 were Need For Speed ($4.3m, $37.8m, $168.2m), 300: Rise Of An Empire ($4.3m to break the $100m mark in the US, and taking its worldwide tally to $314m) and Liam Neeson's plane hijack thriller Non-Stop ($4.1m, $85.2m, $148.6m).

As previously mentioned, Captain America returns to US cinemas next weekend and is certain to rule the roost, perhaps for a few weeks if Rio 2 can't grab its perch.

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INTERVIEW: Dakota Blue Richards on The Fold

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 30/03/2014 - 17:15

Dakota Blue Richards chats with Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor about her role in the new British drama The Fold – and why we need more female film directors.

Listen to the interview

THE FOLD SYNOPSIS:

A teenage girl lies dead on the floor of a swimming pool. Eleven months later, Anglican priest Rebecca Ashton (Catherine McCormack) moves to Cornwall in an attempt to deal with her daughter's death. She enjoys exploring her new environment and takes over the ministry of a local church, where she finds a Bulgarian girl, Radka (Marina Stoimenova), sleeping rough. Rebecca is compelled to mother the girl and takes over Radka’s English classes at local community centre St Piran’s.

The two become close and as Radka’s dependence on Rebecca grows, Rebecca’s motivation to help her becomes more uncertain. Reminded of her deceased daughter, Rebecca offers to become Radka’s guardian but neglects to tell her she has another daughter, Eloise (Richards). Ignoring Radka’s jealous and volatile nature, Rebecca welcomes her into the family home where Eloise's appearance sparks a violent outburst. As the three women struggle for their lives, Rebecca is forced to come to her senses and embrace the reality of this dangerous situation.

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Screenjabber Podcast: You can't SHIELD yourself from us

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 29/03/2014 - 21:54

This week join David Watson, Amon Warmann and host Stuart O'Connor for reviews of the new UK releases Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Borderlands and Muppets Most Wanted. YAAAAAAAYYY!!!

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 Raid 2 for 1 cinema ticket offer

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 28/03/2014 - 21:55

With the hotly-anticipated arrival of The Raid 2 in cinemas on April 11, distributor Entertainment One UK has rereleased The Raid on DVD and Blu-ray with a special Cineworld 2-for-1 ticket offer.

Take advantage of the #RaidRules2For1, grab your specially marked promotional copies of The Raid.

And be a part of a tweet-a-long at 9pm on April 10 in preparation for the arrival of The Raid 2 in cinemas.

There are no excuses not to be part of The Raid phenomenon in 2014.

Synopsis: Deep in the heart of one of Jakarta’s most deprived slums stands an impenetrable high-rise tower block. To most it is 30 floors of hell, housing the city’s most dangerous criminals including gangsters, drug dealers, killers and the area’s most notorious crime lord. The people fear it, the police dare not go near it however in a desperate bid to flush out these offenders an elite SWAT team is tasked with infiltrating the building. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness the mission begins and rather than being a clean sweep becomes a fight for survival for all those involved.

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Taking Out the (Trailer) Trash

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 28/03/2014 - 09:54

By Norman Quarrinton

Trailers can sometimes spoil a film, but most of the time they fill you with a sense of anticipation, excitement and awe. So here is the latest roundup of what is coming soon to a cinema near you ...

Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman star as James Brown in this Mick Jagger produced biographical drama. I can already see critics getting snooty over this one, but who cares?Well, I do actually, but I think this film looks swell. Hopefully it doesn't shy away from, or attempt to sugar-coat some of the more brutal and depressing aspects of the time period it's addressing, unlike director Tate Taylor's previous effort, The Help. I really want this to be a proper warts and all James Brown biopic that doesn't hold back when it comes to dealing with the man's flaws, and as we all know, the Godfather was a very flawed man.
UK & US Release: August 1

The Giver


This adaptation of Lois Lowry's 1993 children's novel stars Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, and some other guy. The trailer isn't giving too much of the plot away, but as I just said, it's based on a book, so Wikipedia it if you're that bothered.
UK Release: TBC
US Release: August 15

Peanuts


Charlie brown goes digital. That's right folks, everybody's favourite emo is back for the YouTube generation or whatever clever name they're using as a collective name for kids these days. This is another teaser, and the film doesn't actually come out until late next year, so don't get too excited. We can see what the updated animation will look like though. It appears they're going for a digital-but-still-retro-looking vibe, which is nice.
UK Release: October 16, 2015
US Release: November 6, 2015

The Maze Runner


No, it's a not a sequel to The Kite Runner. It's another film based on a kid's book. More dystopia. More action. More "you are the chosen one blah blah blah" stuff. This film appears to tick all the boxes, and if the box office performances of recent releases such as Catching Fire and Divergent are anything to go by, it will make lots and lots of money. Which means we can probably expect three more films from the same franchise. And we grown-ups will enjoy the films, but secretly cry on the inside as we witness the film industry drown itself in teen-fiction adaptations and sub-par comic book films. The plot? Oh yeah - Some teenagers talk about a maze and then go into a maze. I think. And Will Poulter and Kaya Scodelario do American accents.
US Release: September 19
UK Release: October 24

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 25/03/2014 - 07:42

Divergent breaks YA curse while Muppets aren't Most Wanted after all

By Rich Matthews

Lionsgate and Summit seem to be the only studios capable of successfully launching Young Adult adaptation franchises, adding Shailene Woodley's Divergent to their tally of Twilight and The Hunger Games.

Taking $56m domestically, the Neil Burger film it isn't on the same scale as the Jennifer Lawrence mega-hit, but may have enough legs to ensure a follow-up. Its success – with a mammoth 69% of the audience being female – was at the expense of Kermit and co, with Disney's Muppets Most Wanted only managing to muster $16.5m compared to the franchise relaunch's $41m three years ago.

It's perceived underperformance is also likely due to an over-saturated family market, what with Dreamworks Mr Peabody & Sherman still at number three, grossing $11.7m for a total of $81m and $183.2m worldwide.

The Spartan warriors of 300: Rise Of An Empire managed to hold off religious flick God's Not Dead despite a decline of 54.9%, taking $8.7m for a total of $93.8 and $289.2m globally. Meanwhile, God's Not Dead managed to genuflect up $8.6m to land at number five.

The rest of the top 10 consisted of a running-out-of-petrol Need For Speed ($7.9m, $30.4m, $125.6m), a wider 300-plus screen release for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, which cracked the 10 at seventh worth $6.8m ($13m, $46m), Liam Neeson being less Non-Stop than he hoped ($6.3m, $78.2m, $142m), the little yellow chaps of blockbuster The LEGO Movie ($4.1m, $243.4m, $391m), and finally, Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club ($3.1m, $13m).

Also of note, controversy magnet Lars von Trier's unrated sex-themed curio Nymphomaniac: Volume I couldn't get it up, taking only $175,000 from 22 locations for a lowly average of $7,000 per location.  Disney behemoth Frozen made it to 12th on the all-time chart, with its total of $1.05bn.

Next weekend sees Russell Crowe building a big boat in Darren Aronofsky's bible adap Noah and Arnold Schwarzenegger partnering with Avatar's Sam Worthington in Sabotage, before Captain America: The Winter Soldier punches into theatres on April 4.

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INTERVIEW: Elliot Goldner on The Borderlands

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 24/03/2014 - 08:56

Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor chats with British writer-director Elliot Goldner about his new found-footage horror film, The Borderlands.

SYNOPSIS: Don’t believe everything you see. A team of Vatican investigators are sent to the British West Country to look into reports of paranormal activity during a Christening at a newly re-opened remote church. Father Crellick has webcam proof of artifacts moving on the altar and other weird happenings. But two of the three-man team aren’t so sure.

Deacon and Father Mark Amidon are experts in the field of faked miracles and play the footage continually looking for wires and trickery. Going back through church records though, the holy place does seem to have a history of strange occurrences, and there is that raspy scratching sound they keep hearing coming from the walls. So they set up cameras in the nave and around the pulpit in the hope of filming and recording something unusual. An elaborate fake, or could this one be the real deal? If they don’t lose their way they may just find out.

Listen to the interview

As part of the launch of Our Screen, The Borderlands will have exclusive screenings this Friday, March 28, at the Edinburgh Cameo, Liverpool Fact, Norwich Cinema City, Brighton Komedia, Hackney Picturehouse and Brixton Ritzy.

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Screenjabber Podcast: A long way to the pub

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 22/03/2014 - 16:38

This week join Doug Cooper, Peter Johnson, David Watson and host Stuart O'Connor back in the pub for reviews of the new UK releases A Long Way Down, Labor Day, The Machine and Starred Up.

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 New (In)Complete Complete and Utter History of Britain

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 19/03/2014 - 13:02

Before there was Monty Python and Ripping Yarns, there was The Complete and Utter History of Britain.

Written by and starring comedy legends Michael Palin and Terry Jones, The New (In)Complete Complete and Utter History of Britain includes the two surviving episodes, along with never-seen-before footage available to own for the first time.

Releaswd by Network Distributing, this DVD and Blu-ray set will be available to buy from April 7 2014, with a recommended price of £19.99.
 
The two existing episodes can be seen as recorded and as transmitted, plus a new 50-minute feature with brand new linking material by Palin and Jones, and previously unseen series footage from Terry Jones’ personal archives.
 
Shown in 1969, the same year that Python became part of the national consciousness, this series takes a typically skewed look at British history – and reports it as if television had been around to cover it at the time.

A notable influence on television comedy, this series fed directly into the work they did for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
 
The set includes:
A 50-minute feature containing new linking material by Palin and Jones;
interview with producer Humphrey Barclay;
the first two episodes as transmitted (the only ones still to exist);
the first two episodes as recorded (includes some different sketches to those transmitted);
all existing film insert material used in the series, kept safe by Jones for more than 40 years
a brand new booklet by archive television historian Andrew Pixley;
extensive image gallery;
and script and production paperwork PDFs.
 
Only existing incompletely in the archive, Palin and Jones revisited this series in 2013 and recorded new material to link the best of the existing material into a new feature: The New (In)Complete Complete and Utter History of Britain 2013.

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The Muppets are lost in the House Of Mouse

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 19/03/2014 - 08:57

By Mark Searby

At one point or another, everyone has laughed at a Muppet joke. Whether it was during their successful stint on Sesame Street, or maybe when they had their own TV show, or one of their numerous film outings (OK, some were better than others). And yes, even the times when they have popped up in a TV show or a film for a cameo.

The Muppets will last forever. Jim Henson created them with so much enthusiasm that we can’t help but love them. And yet... and yet... they have lacked any real focussed direction for a couple of decades now. One of the biggest franchises on the planet just seemed to be relegated to the direct-to-DVD market for most of the 1990s.

Step forward Disney. In 2004, the studio paid $60 million to acquire the rights to The Muppets from the Jim Henson estate. If anyone could make the ragtag bunch of funny puppets into a revitalised worldwide phenomenon, then it would be the company that has enjoyed success on such a grand scale in every decade since inception.

Walt Disney knew how to make TV shows and movies that all ages would enjoy, and that ethos – as well as his rules – have been passed down to each generation that has worked for the company. Michael Eisner, the chairman and CEO at the time of the purchase, was a huge fan of The Muppets even before he worked at Disney. He said at the time: “Since the time I worked with Jim Henson on the first Muppets TV special in the 1960s, it was obvious to me that his characters would make a deep imprint on the hearts of families worldwide, and this announcement is the culmination of a long-time desire to welcome them into The Walt Disney Company.”

But since that buyout in 2004, what has Disney done to promote The Muppets? One TV movie called The Muppets’ Wizard Of Oz starring R&B singer Ashanti, which was enveloped in nothing but negative reviews. A direct-to-video release of Kermit’s Swamp Years and only three TV specials – all in 2008.

The original Muppet Show TV series (which ran for five seasons) is only partially available on DVD. The first season was released while the ink was still wet on the takeover contract, but musical numbers were cut due to copyright. It then took them two years to release season two, but this came uncut. Another year and season three was pushed out uncut with a nice collection of extras too. However, season four was announced but failed to materialise due to musical and Star Wars copyright issues. The original films languished on VHS and poor transfers to DVD. And we had no new film from 1999 up until 2011’s The Muppets.

Yet The Walt Disney Company seemed reluctant to push The Muppets further during their 2011 rejuvenation. Why? What is Disney afraid of? Is it keeping Kermit and friends down because a decades old rivalry when Henson’s TV programmes would constantly win the ratings battles against Walt’s shows? Are they more interested in churning out merchandise than putting them back on the big screen?

The answer seems to be that The Walt Disney Company just didn’t know what to do with The Muppets. So many ideas have been floated about since the purchase. A new start for The Muppets never happened as they got pushed between different corporate divisions; a new TV series called America’s Next Muppet (a riff on America’s Next Top Model) completely died at the planning stages. Further shuffling around the Disney corridors continued, and then in 2008 Henson’s creations were pushed into the new, expanding teen High School Musical/Hannah Montana market.

Dick Cook, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios at the time, said: “Developing the kind of high-quality entertainment we have planned for the global relaunch of The Muppets takes time.” Three TV specials with various teenage music/film stars, alongside seeing their furry faces adorn clothes in stores that were happy to stock them – Macy's had a limited edition tote bag and department store F.A.O. Schwarz created a Muppet-themed boutique where customers could design their own Muppet. But this new direction didn’t take hold and soon they were relegated to their boxes again.

But maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of The Muppet-verse. In part due to Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, who had to virtually beg Disney to let them near the franchise. It may have taken the duo (and other writers) the best part of three years to finally get a script together that reintroduced The Muppets to the new movie world, but it seems to have done the trick. The Muppets was a commercial and critical success around the world in 2011-12.

The new film, Muppets Most Wanted, looks set to continue the trend of getting the gang back together on the big screen for further outings. Ten years on from the purchase of Henson’s creations, Disney executives seem to have got their heads around how to make The Muppets a proper money-spinning and hugely popular franchise all over again.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me ...

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