October 23, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

This Week In Movies by Pete Hammond – Tower Heist, Puss In Boots

By Pete Hammond

HollywoodNews.com: The Best laid plans.
This was supposed to be the weekend that Tower Heist would rule the boxoffice roost and easily claim the number one spot while in resurrecting Eddie Murphy’s languishing career in the process. Instead that conniving little latino cat, Puss In Boots was the one who pulled off the heist, stealing the primo spot away after initially trailing on Friday night. In the end it was no contest. Puss took it away by more than $8 million leading Eddie, Ben Stiller and friends $33 million to $25 million, that was only a 10% week one to week two drop for the Dreamworks ‘toon but a $10 million shortfall for Heist, at least according to analysts projections. Like I said, ‘the best laid plans’. When I spoke to Dreamworks Animation honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg Saturday night he seemed more than relieved at the strong hold and continued business for Puss In Boots. “This is best second week for a movie in 15 years,” he told me. That ought to calm Wall Street which was concerned about the film’s performance , even though it easily opened in first place. Last week heavy snows on the east coast killed a lot of potential business but this week’s sunnier results more than made up for the shortfall.

As for Tower Heist this should have done better. It’s just a terrific caper film in the tradition of Ocean’s 11 and The Hot Rock. In fact it all started with Murphy who had an idea to do an all-black cast Ocean’s style heist movie , but as things often happen in this business that morphed into something quite different although I still think Murphy’s original idea had merit. Surprisingly audiences were lukewarm on this version even though it is a lot of fun and critics seemed to like it for the most part. ‘Heist’ got a 68% fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes but only a middling ‘B’ cinemascore audience satisfaction rating. That doesn’t bode well for great word of mouth for a comedy that deserves better than it is getting here. A few months ago director Brett Ratner told me he fully expected this film to spawn a brand new film franchise along the lines of his wildly successful Rush Hour series but that would seem to be in doubt unless the numbers dramatically improve.

The week’s other wide opener, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas was in 3rd place with only $13.1 million, very disappointing but further evidence that the young male demo this was designed for is no longer a reliable movie going segment. Or maybe this just isn’t the kind of “Christmas movie” people want. Remember when Xmas flicks were warm and cuddly rather than gross out comedies with a lot of scatological humor? How times have changed. Somehow though this sequel to a sequel earned a 76% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes meaning critics must have been as high as Harold and Kumar when they saw this thing.

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About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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