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News Jab: US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 10/11/2013 - 20:43

Thor: The Dark World thunders to number one

By Rich Matthews

In a turn of events that will surprise no one, Marvel/Disney's superhero sequel Thor: The Dark World hammered its way straight to the top spot at the US box office this weekend, grossing $86.1m. That's less than last year's $88m for the biggest Bond ever, Skyfall, on the same weekend.

However, the original Thor – which also starred Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, and was directed by Kenneth Branagh – took $65m in its opening weekend in May 2011, so this represents a similar bump to the one that saw Iron Man 3 go on to gross $1.2bn this summer. This is the so-called Avengers halo effect, where Marvel's biggest success – to the tune of $1.5bn and the third-biggest film of all time behind Titanic and Avatar – is hoped to boost the individual Marvel hero's movie outings.

Directed by Game Of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor, The Dark World has already soared to a global total of $327m, thanks to an early international release. Seeing as the first Thor took $449.3m in total, TDW is tracking a whopping 90% ahead of the original – it won't hit Iron Man 3 or Avengers numbers, but it now looks likely that the sequel could easily reach $600m worldwide, putting Thor in the same ballpark as Man Of Steel.

The biggest test of The Avengers effect so far will be next summer's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Captain America the lowest performer of the recent glut of Avengers-related heroes. While we don't normally go into demographics in very much depth, two things are noteworthy for The Dark World – there was a higher female turnout (48% of the audience) than normal for this type of film, which helped boost the couple quotient to 62%; and Saturday was marginally bigger than the Friday, which goes against the grain for what would traditionally be a fanboy-driven flick. Both of these factors indicate a cross into the mainstream that could truly take Marvel to even higher success.

Outside of Thor's dominance, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa held strong at number two to take $11.3m and build its total to $78.7m and $100.9m worldwide. Close behind, Thanksgiving-themed CGI turkey comedy Free Birds gobbled up $11.3m to take its tally to $30.2m, while geriatric Hangover Last Vegas – starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline – was also hot on their heels with $11.1m and a domestic gross of $33.5m. Rounding out the top five was another old timer, Harrison Ford, in Ender's Game, which took $10.3m for a US tally of $44m and a worldwide gross of $53.1m.

Two limited releases expanded and were able to crack the latter half of the top 10, with Steve McQueen's acclaimed slavery drama 12 Years A Slave taking $6.6m to land at number seven and a total of $17.3m, and, less successfully, Richard Curtis's time travel comedy About Time, starring Rachel McAdams, got to number nine and a low $5.2m for a US gross of $6.7m. Luckily for the Working Title/Universal film, it already has a worldwide gross of $44.9m.

The remainder of the top 10 sees Sandra Bullock/George Clooney space drama Gravity from Alfonso Cuaron at number six ($8.4m, £231m US, $472.2m global), Tom Hanks piracy thriller Captain Phillips from Paul Greengrass at number eight ($5.8m, $91m, $134.4m) and Sony sequel Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 at 10 ($2.8m, $110m, $180.3m).

Next week is free for Thor to bolster his Asgardian coffers, with only mid-range release The Best Man Holiday with Taye Digs and Terence Howard opening in 2,000 theatres, before mega-sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire goes toe-to-toe with buzzy sperm donor Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man on November 22.

IN OTHER NEWS

Hopefuls have Star Wars in their eyes | The Independent

MPI Group buys US rights to Goldthwait’s Willow Creek | Screen Daily

QUIZ: How much do you know about Quentin Tarantino? | The Guardian

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Screenjabber Podcast: A grave situation

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 10/11/2013 - 16:44

A quick and dirty podcast this week as David Watson agrees to disagree with Doug Cooper and Stuart O'Connor on just how amazing a film Gravity really is. But David and Doug do agree on Seduced and Abandoned. So that's OK then.

You can listen to and download the podcast here – 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 that we should visit to record the show? Then 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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Taking Out the (Trailer) Trash

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 10/11/2013 - 16:23

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 this week's roundup of what is coming soon to a cinema near you ...

The Raid 2: Berandal

Welshman Gareth Evans is back in the chair for the sequel to his 2011 ultraviolent martial arts masterpiece. The Raid 2 picks up where the first film left off, with protagonist Rama going undercover in a daring attempt to infiltrate a Jakarta crime syndicate. This trailer is only a teaser, so it doesn't give too much away but what it does do, however, is cause excitement induced salivation, as well as remind us how unbelievably awesome the first movie was.
Berandal is scheduled for a March 2014 release

RoboCop

This remake of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 sci-fi/action classic has a supporting cast that I can get behind: Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L Jackson ... plus Omar from The Wire and Rorschach are in there too, somewhere. The first trailer didn't rouse much excitement but that was more to do with the "fear of the remake" ideology that fanboys and forum frequenters still cling to. The Killing's Joel Kinnaman stars as mortally wounded cop Alex Murphy, who is rebuilt and thrown back out on the beat by sinister tech company OmniCorp. "Why is America so Robophobic?" Sam Jackson's character asks - I don't know, but I sure can't wait to find out (that's a lie, I can wait, I just thought that was a good way to end the paragraph. I'll probably wait for the DVD, to be honest).
UK Release: February 7
US Release: February 14

Winter's Tale

Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman makes his directorial debut with this ambitious adaptation of Mark Helprin's 1983 novel of the same name. This trailer might be super cheesy, but it gives us a pretty good idea of what we're in for - A romantic sci-fi period drama starring Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe? I'm not sold, but the girlfriend definitely is. And it comes out on Valentine's Day. Lucky me.
UK Release: February 21
US Release: February 14

Lone Survivor

Mark Wahlberg stars as Marcus Luttrell, the real-life Navy SEAL who penned the 2007 memoir on which this movie is based. It's a war film about a covert mission that goes awry after a Taliban ambush ... but it won't just be about that will it? It will be about camaraderie and bromance and guns and stuff. USA! USA! USA! You can practically smell the testosterone seeping out of the screen. Let's hope the film's title isn't one massive spoiler. Directed by Peter Berg, it also stars Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana.
UK Release: January 31
US Release: January 10

The Railway Man

Another film based on a memoir. This one's a little more poignant though. The Railway Man received rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September and this trailer does nothing to diminish its appeal. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and starring Oscar winners Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, the film tells the remarkable story of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is taken prisoner by the Japanese in World War II and who, years later, decides to confront one of his captors.
UK Release: January 1
US Release: Not announced

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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry — A closer look at the activist/artist

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 06/11/2013 - 22:46

By Peter deGraft-Johnson

Through his politically charged art, and his numerous run-ins with the communist government of China,  Ai Weiwei is one of the most charismatic and well-known artists living today, and as such, he deserves a documentary as charismatic as he is.

Thankfully, journalist-turned-filmmaker Alison Klayman is on hand to deliver Never Sorry, a bread-and-butter documentary film that balances Ai Weiwei’s artistry with his activism, his rage at a clearly corrupt and ruthless Chinese government with his serene and relaxed mannerisms. With her fairly divise subject matter, Alison Klayman’s ability to use everything from talking-head interviews to mobile phone footage to give an in-depth snapshot of Ai Weiwei’s life and works is what allows a remarkable, but niche story to translate so well into a gripping narrative on screen, which many documentaries fail to do.

Never Sorry covers all aspects of Weiwei’s life, and his deep-seated optimism and realism. Whether he is talking to his mother about her understandable worries or trying to file legitimate complaints about the cerebral haemorrhage he developed after being attacked by police in 2009, Klayman’s directing leaves no stone unturned, but respects Weiwei enough to not feel intrusive or imbalanced, with the exception of a few suspect questions regarding Weiwei’s affair with a friend’s wife. There is just as much of Ai Weiwei the family man as there is of Ai Weiwei the internationally renowned artist and Ai Weiwei the campaigner for free speech and democracy, and Weiwei remains as sagely as ever throughout his encounters - some of his team actually call him “Teacher Ai”.

While it’s definitely not a Citizen Kane of documentary films, Never Sorry holds up Ai Weiwei’s life and his views in an accessible, but poignant and challenging film. While it may be subtly biased in Ai Weiwei’s favour – it doesn’t magnify or probe at the darker sides of his art - Klayman and her crew construct a piece of cinematic art able to showcase the mysterious figure of Ai Weiwei, and the freedoms he stands for.

• Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is being aired on Sky Atlantic as part of Sky’s Documentary Film Season this autumn

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Screenjabber Podcast: John Milius is not dead

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 02/11/2013 - 17:41

Join David Watson, Doug Cooper and Stuart O'Connor for this week's Screenjabber Podcast, in which the guys review Milius, Philomena, Drinking Buddies, Short Term 12, The Nun and Thor: The Dark World.

You can listen to and download the podcast here – 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 that we should visit to record the show? Then 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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London Film Academy graduation

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 02/11/2013 - 09:41

Nic Roeg and Alice Lowe present audience award
to Street Fighter at the LFA graduation ceremony

Last week marked the annual London Film Academy Graduation Ceremony at the BFI Southbank co-hosted by director Nic Roeg and actress/screenwriter Alice Lowe, along with academy principals Anna MacDonald and Daisy Gili.

Street Fighter was the audience award-winning short film directed by LFA filmmaking diploma student Emanuele Gabbi. The film tells the story of a character fighting for something that was never his to win.

The London Film Academy generates graduates who make up the life-blood of the British Film Industry and is Britain’s only female-run film school, operating as a not-for-profit trust.

“It’s so full of original and imaginative work, it is like a production company of its own…truly, I have never seen such a programme of terrific movies,” Roeg said.

London Film Academy graduation round table interview

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Taking Out the (Trailer) Trash

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 01/11/2013 - 11:48

By Norman Quarrinton

"They give away the whole film" is an increasingly common and justifiable complaint about the two-and-half-minute trailers that purport to "tease" upcoming movies. And while some trailers do indeed seem to include shots from the final scenes of a film, I believe they should be celebrated in their own right as hyper-distillations of features, or mini-films.

Yes, they can spoil a film, but they can also fill you with a sense of anticipation, excitement and awe which is, quite frankly, what cinema is all about. So without further ado, here is what will hopefully become a regular column exploring the world of "coming to a cinema near you".

The Wolf of Wall Street

The second trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street was released online the day after it was announced that the film would open in the US on Christmas Day. Martin Scorsese's latest offering  is based on the real-life story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who spent 22 months in jail after being indicted in 1998 and later convicted of stock fraud. Don't let the shady subject matter lead you astray, the trailer might contain some mild sleaze, but overall it gives off a pretty comedic vibe, which hopefully means Scorsese and co have decided to exploit the insanity of this story. Jonah Hill co-stars.
US Release: December 25, 2013
UK Release: January 14, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

2011's flawed but enjoyable X-Men: First Class rejuvenated many people's interest in the X-Men franchise, so a sequel was never going to be far behind. The new instalment brings together the casts of the original trilogy (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin and Shawn Ashmore) and the newbies from 2011's X-Men: First Class (including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult).
This dark trailer gives reveals a few details of the film's ambitious plot, but not much else. Wolverine is in full-on grumpy bastard mode and...so is everyone else really.
US Release: May 23, 2014
UK Release: May 22, 2014

The Book Thief

Based on Markus Zusak’s No. 1 best-selling novel, The Book Thief (directed by Brian Percival) follows a young girl in Nazi Germany who uses books as a way to escape the atrocities occurring around her while her family hides a young Jewish man in the basement of their home. The Book Thief stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer and Sophie Nélisse. The film looks interesting, if slightly soppy, but the trailer is worth checking out for Rush's unintentionally comical German accent.
US Release: November 8, 2013
UK Release: January 31, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The first trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier features, in equal measure, the typical superhero movie action as well as some "political-thriller" style important-looking-men-talking-rooms.
Two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers and the Black Widow team up to stop a powerful foe, the Winter Soldier. Directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, The Winter Soldier sees the return of familiar Marvel faces Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, along with newcomers to the franchise Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo and Robert Redford, whose presence only adds to trailer's "political thriller" feel. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be the ninth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
US Release: April 4, 2014
UK Release: March 28, 2014

The LEGO Movie

This film looks like it will be one of those "I'm taking the kids to see it even if they don't want to see it" films. Written and directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (the brains behind 2009's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), The LEGO Movie features the vocal talents of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Elizabeth Banks, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman.
US Release: February 7, 2014
UK Release: February 14, 2014

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News Jab: US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 27/10/2013 - 21:16

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa knocks Gravity back down to Earth

By Rich Matthews

While Hollywood waits with bated breath to see what kind of numbers The Avengers halo effect will have on Thor: The Dark World as Marvel and Disney start its international release later this week, it was up to Johnny Knoxville to be the one to finally knock Gravity off the top of the US box office with Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.

The Jackass spinoff managed to punk its way to a $32m opening (miles behind Jackass 3D's $50m-plus opening weekend; Paramount is quick to point out that it's not a direct sequel), with a little smidge of international gross taking its global haul to $40m. Considering in only cost £15m to make, the first Jackass film with a story already looks likes a winner.

The other new wide release of the weekend – Ridley Scott's film of Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay, The Counselor – could only manage to take £8m and place fourth for the weekend, even though it stars Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Prospect for Sir Ridley's latest don't look good.

So, Alfonso Cuaron's Sandra Bullock/George Clooney space vehicle, Gravity, still managed to gross $20.3m, taking its blockbuster total to just shy of the $200m mark and a worldwide total of $365m. It was followed at number three by what looks like to have become Tom Hanks comeback film, Paul Greengrass's true life Somali pirate drama, Captain Phillips, which took $11.8m for a US tally of $70m and a global haul of $96.8m. Sony's animated sequel Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 crossed the $100m mark at number five, taking its global number to nearly $150m.

The only other film of note in the rest of the top 10 was Steve McQueen's unflinching slavery drama 12 Years A Slave, which managed to crack the chart at number eight with a weekend gross of $2.1m from only 123 theatres, which bodes well for its wider release next week. Another notable speciality release was the Palme d'Or winning sexually explicit lesbian drama Blue Is The Warmest Colour, which took $101,000 from four theatres – that's a huge screen average of $25,250.

The remake of Carrie, starring Chloe Grace Moretz, scared up a further $5.9m at six ($26m US total), with Arnie and Sly snapping at her heels in prison-bust-out clunker Escape Plan at seven ($4.4m, $17.4m, $45.5m – woeful given the presence of both Schwarzenegger and Stallone). The top 10 was rounded out by Enough Said at nine ($1.6m, $13m) and Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal abduction thriller Prisoners at 10 ($1m, $59m, $101.5m).

While Thor begins his post-Avengers run out elsewhere in the world, the next biggie in the US is Harrison Ford's return to sci-fi in Ender's Game, turkey time travel cartoon Free Birds and Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline doing a geriatric Hangover in Last Vegas.

IN OTHER NEWS

Tom Hiddleston on the cinematic scoundrels who shaped Loki | EW

Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham dies | The BBC

The Lunchbox wins at Zagreb Film Festival | Screen Daily

Steve Coogan: knowing me? No way | The Guardian

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Screenjabber Podcast: We present two jackasses

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 27/10/2013 - 17:47

Join Doug Cooper and Stuart O'Connor for a quick look at some of this week's UK film releases: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Selfish Giant, Ender's Game, One Chance, Closed Circuit and The Taste Of Money.

You can listen to and download the podcast here – 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 that we should visit to record the show? Then 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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News Jab: US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 21/10/2013 - 07:10

Gravity still has pull; Carrie opens soft; and Sly & Arnie's Escape Plan fails

By Rich Matthews

Alfonso Cuaron's hit sci-fi 3D bonanza Gravity held strong at the top of the US box office this weekend, pulling in a stellar $31 by declining a tiny 28 per cent to take its US gross to $170.6m, while another solid international performance saw its global tally top $280m.

Fellow holdover Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks as the real-life ship captain taken captive by Somali pirates, stayed anchored at number two, also only declining 33 per cent to take $17.3m, making its US gross $53.3m so far, and $62.4m worldwide. Sony Pictures actually ended the weekend with three films occupying second to fourth, with Phillips followed up by Screen Gems' remake of Stephen King's Carrie, starring Chloe Grace Moretz as the telekinetic pubescent high schooler with a penchant for prom massacres, hot on its heels with $17m, and then Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 taking $10.1m (US gross of $93.1m, global $124m).

Rounding out the top five, Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger prison actioner Escape Plan from Lionsgate could only manage $9.8m, which isn't even Expendables numbers, let alone the kind of comeback Ahnuld keeps hoping for.

The other notable release was Dreamworks' WikiLeaks film, The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, which only grossed a lowly $1.7m to come in at number eight. That gives it a per screen average of $969m, which is feeble compared to the limited release of Steve McQueen's slavery drama 12 Years A Slave, which opened in only 19 theatres yet grossed $960,000 with a $50,000-plus per theatre average.

The rest of the top 10 saw Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal abduction thriller Prisoners at number six with $2m ($57.3m US, $91.6m worldwide), James Gandolfini's swansong Enough Said re-entering the chart ahead of Fifth Estate at number seven with $1.8m ($10.8m), Justin Timberlake/Ben Affleck gambling thriller Runner Runner at nine with $1.6m ($17.5m US, $55m worldwide) and horror hit Insidious Chapter 2 at 10, taking 1.5m for a US total of $81m and $117m worldwide.

Next weekend sees Fox launch Ridley Scott's film of Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay, The Counsellor, starring Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Then November 1 will see Harrison Ford return to space in Ender's Game and November 8 has Thor: The Dark World smiting box offices everywhere.

IN OTHER NEWS

The Fifth Estate has worst debut of 2013 | EW

Johnny Depp presents Christopher Lee with BFI Fellowship | Digital Spy

Breaking Bad creator says online piracy helped showBBC

BBC releases Doctor Who 50th anniversary trailer | NME

Berners-Lee to kick off Abu Dhabi Media Summit | Screen Daily

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