You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Movies

  • Staggered releases push summer movies into April
    Summer 2014 is coming early for Hollywood. Studios used to release their big summer films starting Memorial Day weekend, at the end of May. In the past decade, it’s crept up earlier in the month.
  • Experience fuels ‘Transcendence’
    For more than a decade, cinematographer Wally Pfister brought director Christopher Nolan’s cinematic visions to life. Now, he’s the one calling the shots.
  • International flair in Cannes competition lineup
    David Cronenberg deconstructs Hollywood, Tommy Lee Jones goes Western and reclusive New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard returns in 3-D in films competing at next month’s Cannes Film Festival.
Advertisement
File
Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna starred in “Battleship,” which was a box-office flop in North America. It pulled in better business overseas.

Takeaways from summer’s movies

On June 1, “Snow White and the Huntsman” was known as the second Snow White movie in as many months, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were still married, and it seemed as if “The Dark Knight Rises” would give “The Avengers” a run for its money.

Now, as the summer season winds down, “Snow White” is notable for the dalliance it sparked between actress Kristen Stewart and her married director, while Cruise is divorced and daughter Suri is living in New York with her mom.

And talking about the box-office gross for “The Dark Knight Rises” seems insensitive in light of the savage attack that killed a dozen people and wounded 58 in a Colorado theater.

Eleven weeks before Batman arrived, the summer opened with “The Avengers,” the movie that would become the No. 1 release of the year.

“It was a roller-coaster ride from then on, with some box-office ups (‘Ted,’ ‘Brave,’ ‘Ice Age,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Spider-Man’) and some downs (‘The Watch,’ ‘Step Up Revolution,’ ‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘That’s My Boy’),” says Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office division of Hollywood.com.

“High hopes for a record-breaking revenue number were dashed by a weak late-summer marketplace, with no ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ or ‘The Help’ to give us a big home-stretch push,” Dergarabedian said.

A year ago, those movies boosted the summer bottom line by $286.8 million. “There was no late-summer one-two punch like that this year,” he said.

With the season unofficially over as of last weekend, there are lessons aplenty.

The early bird sometimes does get the worm: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Tony Norman called “The Avengers” the movie comic-book fans had been curled up in their parents’ basements fantasizing about for half a century. They embraced it, but so did others.

As “The Expendables” learned, assemble enough action heroes and you’ll bring in their respective fans and generate curiosity about whether they play well with others.

“The Avengers” has grossed more than $620 million in North America and $1.5 billion worldwide. It got out of the gate early, launching the summer season May 4, had the 3-D surcharge (“The Dark Knight Rises” did not) and generated largely enthusiastic reviews.

Some men just want to watch the world burn: Michael Caine’s character, Alfred, uttered the memorable line in “The Dark Knight,” but it applied more than ever when a Colorado man opened fire during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

You can take the movies out of this world, but you cannot take this world out of the movies, which meant some families and others decided to wait for the DVD. The incident reignited debate about gun ownership and recognition and treatment of apparent mental illness and spawned accounts of people trying to bring weapons into theaters as if smuggling in dollar-store candy.

You sunk my “Battleship” and box office: “Battleship,” the action picture based on the board game, cost a reported $209 million but made only about $65 million in North America. It fared far better overseas, but a catchphrase, a cast led by Taylor Kitsch and nostalgia or fondness for a game don’t necessarily translate into box-office appeal.

Other surprising underperformers: “The Watch,” a muddle about an alien invasion that lost the “Neighborhood” part of its title after the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida; “Step Up Revolution,” the fourth installment in the dance series that could use a Channing Tatum visit; “That’s My Boy,” a particularly awful Adam Sandler comedy; “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a bust based on the popular novel; and “Rock of Ages,” a music-soaked adaptation of the play starring Cruise as a sexy rocker.

You talkin’ to us?: On paper, “Ted” might have seemed like the most absurd concept of the summer. In 1985, an 8-year-old boy tells his new Christmas gift of a teddy bear, “I wish you could really talk to me because then we could be best friends forever and ever.”

His wish comes true, and Ted can walk and talk and, once older, smoke pot, invite hookers over to watch bad comedies and drive buddy John (Mark Wahlberg) to work. Seth MacFarlane, director, co-writer and the voice of Ted, reeled in young men along with plenty of other moviegoers.

It’s sparked talk of a sequel and, The Hollywood Reporter says, will spawn a line of talking teddy bears ranging from $14 to $59.99 with sentiments likely not suitable for show-and-tell.

Ladies’ night never goes out of fashion: “Magic Mike” was the ticket for groups of women looking for what we called “a wonderfully low-fat summer treat.” Yes, there were some men in the audience; in a Web review, “Pittsburgh Dad” thought he was going to “Mike the Magician” and expected card tricks and sawing people in half.

The R-rated movie was inspired by Channing Tatum, who worked as a stripper for eight months when he was 18 and 19 years old. He’s still got the moves.

Everyone’s a critic: Never was this driven home more than when two young brothers sobbed (and we do mean sobbed!) over the fate of the title character in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” Their parents uploaded video of their hysterical heartbreak on YouTube, and it went viral, prompting strangers to react to their reaction to the movie rated PG.

Give studios an A for animation: Parents pretty much could not lose, whether they took their children to see “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” “Brave,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift” or “ParaNorman.” A thread in “ParaNorman” about the fate of a youthful witch is disturbing, although the story was salted with all sorts of clever horror-movie references, such as the innocent hockey mask Norman’s pal wears.

It has been a remarkable year for animated movies with such standouts as “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” and “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” although the best didn’t need 3-D to be appreciated. Still to come are a half-dozen more releases – “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.” in 3-D, Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,” “Hotel Transylvania,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Rise of the Guardians.”

Let’s hear it for: The animators who created and curled Merida’s red hair in “Brave”; Andrew Garfield for reinvigorating Spider-Man; singer Katy Perry for reminding us, “The show must go on,” even when the marriage to Russell Brand will not; and Josh Brolin for channeling Tommy Lee Jones in “Men in Black 3.”

Kudos also to “Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin for gambling on non-actors, including Quvenzhane Wallis, now 8 and filming “Twelve Years a Slave”; the makers of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Bernie,” “To Rome With Love,” “The Intouchables,” “The Queen of Versailles,” “Take This Waltz” and “Robot & Frank” for giving mature moviegoers alternatives or supplemental choices; and “The Dark Knight Rises” star Christian Bale for visiting shooting victims in Colorado and laying flowers at a makeshift memorial.

Oscar buzz is barely audible: At this time last year, three of the eventual best picture nominees had been released. “Midnight in Paris” and “The Tree of Life” arrived in May and “The Help” in August.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” and its fierce young star may factor into the race, and here’s hoping “The Dark Knight Rises” receives its awards due, despite the tragic shadow cast over it.

Advertisement