April 19, 2014

Tag Archives: Scott Mendelson

Snow White and the Huntsman New Trailer

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: This is certainly an improvement over the first teaser, if only in that it actually highlights Kristen Stewart’s Snow White over the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Whatever my thoughts on what this film represents (the rush to stick promising young actresses in the fairy tale princess box, the trend of giving completely green young filmmakers the reins to insanely expensive tentpoles, the creative bankruptcy that has spawned two competing Snow White films), this does look awfully compelling, at least on a visual level.
While I still think it’s insane, I now can see why Universal spent $175 million on this picture, as at least the money looks somewhat on the screen. There are certain special effects (the shattering soldiers for example) that are ‘new’, which is always a plus for your marketing campaign. And while the young leads seem quite boring, Charlize Theron appears to be having the time of her life as the ‘wicked queen’. But at the end of the day, this still a Snow White meets Lord of the Rings hybrid, and thus there are only so many narrative paths the story can take. Still, whatever my issues with the project in principal, this doesn’t look like a lazy thoughtless effort (that it’s going out as 2D theoretically implies a certain amount of care). Universal drops this one on June 1st. As always, we’ll see.

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memo
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21 Jump Street topped the box office this weekend with a whopping estimated $35 million

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: There isn’t anything too surprising about a well-marketed and well-reviewed mainstream comedy opening well on its debut weekend, especially when there are no new releases to compete against. Still, 21 Jump Street topped the box office this weekend with a whopping estimated $35 million. If that number holds up, it will be the seventh-biggest debut for an R-rated comedy ever, as well as the fifth-biggest R-rated comedy debut for a non-sequel and the largest such debut outside of summer. Sony knew they had a winner on their hands, as the $42 million-budgeted film was as much a commentary on the current trend of recycling brand names as an example of such. They’ve been screening it out the wazoo, building solid buzz and strong word-of-mouth, for months on end. Oddly enough, the film earned just a ‘B’ from Cinemascore, and I’m frankly puzzled by that. Yes, audiences under 25 gave it an A, but it’s such a winning film that I’m shocked it’s not playing well across the board (my 61-year old father-in-law laughed his butt off at the press screening). It’s a terrifically funny and uncommonly warm and sweet (for an R-rated action comedy) picture, so one would presume that it will have legs in the coming weeks. Hopefully Sony will focus its second round of advertising on getting females into the theater (although it played 47% female and 50% over/under 25 years old) by emphasizing how *not* sexist and/or homophobic the picture is. It faces no direct competition (aside from the all-consuming hurricane that is The Hunger Games next weekend) until April 6th, when Universal debuts American Reunion. This is another big win for Channing Tatum. This is his third-biggest debut behind The Vow ($40 million) and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra ($54 million). He also has a second GI Joe movie as well as a Steven Soderbergh reunion in Magic Mike both opening on June 29th. This is Jonah Hill’s second biggest live-action debut behind the $54 million opening of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
Following last week’s semi-wide release of Friends With Kids (which expanded to 640 screens this weekend and grossed another $1.5 million, dropping 25%), we have three more theoretically mainstream films that have been relegated to the arthouse circuit. Will Ferrell’s telanoleva satire Casa [...]

Barack Obama documentary “The Road We’ve Traveled” is creepy propaganda

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Maybe I’m just too cynical. But even while I agree with about 90% of the content of this 17-minute documentary, I can’t help but be creeped out by the context. With Tom Hanks’s narration, generically swelling music, and various stills of Barack Obama looking ‘presidential’ while various Americans smile or cheer approvingly, this is the kind of thing that bugs me on a number of levels. First of all, I cannot help but be repulsed by the idea that a president ordering a military execution, even one on Osama Bin Laden, is seen as a crowning example of ‘leadership’. Putting aside the issue of how much Obama’s foreign policy has resembled Dick Cheney on steroids (Obama doesn’t torture, but he will hold you in indefinite detention and/or order your due process-free execution while randomly bombing the crap out of civilians with unmanned drones), there is something deeply wrong with a nation that puts the ability to order the killing of another person, even a sworn enemy under just cause, as paramount example of ‘leadership’. Aaron Sorkin of course rebutted the idea in both several episodes of The West Wing and during a key first-act juncture in The American President, where Michael Douglas explains in detail why ordering military action that will take human lives is perhaps ‘the least presidential thing I do’. No, President Barack Obama never donned a flight suit and gave a presidential address from an aircraft carrier, but the idea that the (perhaps lawful/justified) killing of another person should be among the crowning accomplishments of any person, let alone a leader, is distasteful. It was distasteful when Bush played cowboy while other people’s sons and daughters bled out in the Middle East, and its only a little less distasteful when Obama claims this single military action as a shining example of ‘leadership’.

Aside from that personal issue, the documentary frankly represents a testament to the dumbing-down of our political culture. This is not a straight-faced, fact-driven information piece designed to explain in any detail the various accomplishments (quite large in number, frankly) of Barack Obama’s first term. No, this would-be viral video is clearly intended to make we voters warm and fuzzy about the current Commander-In-Chief. As such, there is little context, little insight, and no real worth as a factual document of the various achievements and [...]

IMAX domination coming this Summer

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Simply put, during the first twelve weeks of summer (May 4th to July 20th), there are six, maybe seven major movies all debuting in IMAX for at least the first week of their respective theatrical runs. Three of them are in May, one is in June, and two or three are in July. What are they you ask? Well…
The Avengers goes first on May 4th, with a week of 3D IMAX play before losing (or sharing?) those screens to Warner Bros’ Dark Shadows. Despite its big-scale action and explosions, Universal’s $212 million Battleship will go out purely on 35mm 2D film, which gives the Tim Burton vampire comedy two full weeks until it loses its 2D IMAX screens to Sony’s Men In Black 3D. Universal again forgoes IMAX for its next major tentpole, the $175 million (!!) Snow White and the Huntsmen, which debuts on June 1st. That gives Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones a two week run before being supplanted by 20th Century Fox’s Prometheus, which will get 3D IMAX screens for 3.5 weeks, owing to the surprising choice by Pixar to not go IMAX for Brave on June 22nd. and Paramount’s GI Joe: Retribution going out in 35mm 2D on June 29th. If that changes, then just add another one or two to the June tally. But come July 3rd, Sony steals the IMAX screens right back for The Amazing Spider-Man 3D. Spidey gets the IMAX screens for at least 1.5 weeks before Fox debuts Ice Age: Continental Drift on July 13th (which isn’t listed on the IMAX home page but is listed as debuting in IMAX 3D in Fox’s marketing materials). Come what may, summer basically ends on July 20th.
That of course is the release date for Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, which not only features large chunks of the film shot on IMAX film but actually seems to be keeping those IMAX screens all the way until October 5th, when Disney debut’s Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Although not listed on the IMAX website, it is possible that Disney’s Finding Nemo 3D reissue and/or Sony’s Resident Evil: Retribution will end up going the IMAX route in September. That the last six weeks of summer 2012 features not a single IMAX debut would signify either that Warner Bros scored [...]

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part II trailer with The Hunger Games

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Yes, as expected by everyone and their cat, Lionsgate will indeed unleash the first trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part II two weeks from tomorrow, attached exclusively to prints of The Hunger Games. It’s an obvious move, using one massively popular franchise to prop up a new franchise that shares at least some core demographics. But what is most heartening about the move is that Lionsgate will in fact be keeping the trailer offline that entire opening weekend. That’s right, Twi-hards, there may be crummy YouTube bootlegs popping up online on Friday morning, but if you want to see a quality copy before Monday, March 26th (at 3:00am PST… really guys?), you actually have to buy a ticket to The Hunger Games over its opening weekend. What a novel concept!
It seems like a pretty obvious concept, actually debuting big movie trailers in theaters, preferably attached to new movies that share audience demographics (and theoretically giving the new movie a small boost over opening weekend). But, with the exception of Warner Bros’ advertising with the last two Batman pictures, no other studio seems to have the good sense to do this. As you of course recall, Warner Bros. kept official versions of most of the various Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises teasers and trailers offline during the opening weekend of the Warner Bros films they were attached to. If you wanted to see the first teaser for The Dark Knight Rises, you had to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II in theaters over its opening weekend. Ditto for The Dark Knight, which debuted its first trailer with I Am Legend. Eleven years ago, New Line Cinema famously debuted the first teaser for the Lord of the Rings trilogy with prints of Thirteen Days. We can debate whether the Cuban Missile Crisis drama got a boost, but I distinctly remember seeing signs at my theater warning patrons that they could not buy a ticket to Thirteen Days and then get a refund after the Lord of the Rings teaser played.
You’d think that more studios would do this, exclusively attaching anticipated trailers to their own films and using that exclusivity as a carrot to get fans into theaters on opening weekend. You’d think Disney would have had the [...]

Not Good News for John Carter Midnight Box Office

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: It’s been awhile since we had a movie that justified running the ‘midnight math’, so let’s make this quick. John Carter grossed $500,000 worth of 12:01am shows last night. That’s quite a bit under the $3-5 million that most of last summer’s tent-pole films were pulling in. Moreover, it’s $3.1 million less than the midnight gross for Tron: Legacy just over a year ago. While one may argue that school is in session so it may not be fair to compare, any number of major summer releases that debut in May or early June have to worry about kids still in school, to say nothing of the boffo $3.7 million midnight debut for Fast Five last April. But, in the name of mercy, let’s give a bit of leeway. Generally speaking, unless the film has hugely positive word of mouth (not likely), the amped-up audience just doesn’t *need* to see it at midnight (probable), or is insanely front-loaded (let’s hope not…) a genre film like this usually pulls in between 4.5% and 6.5% of its money via midnight shows. So under those circumstances, we’d be looking at a probable opening weekend for John Carter of between $7.7 million and $11.1 million. I honestly don’t think that the opening weekend is going to be that bad, so let’s play absolute best case scenario and assume that only the absolute hard-cores went last night. If we presume that the midnight showings made up between 1.5% and 2.5% of the weekend total, then that leaves John Carter between $20 million and $33 million for its opening weekend (or, optimistically, about what Prince of Persia did with its $500,000 midnight opening and $30 million Fri-Sun weekend back in May 2010). Still, if the midnight figures mean anything at all in calculating the opening weekend, and if John Carter’s midnight scores are in any way ‘normal’ for a big-budget fantasy tentpole, then Disney is in deep trouble…
Photos by Walt Disney Studios
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memo
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Universal teases The Flintstones a year in advance…

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: It was no secret that Universal was planning a big-screen adaptation of The Flintstones for the summer of 1994. I remember actually being on the Universal lot while visiting a cousin in the winter of 1993 so I could shoot portions of a Bar Mitzvah movie (long story… another time) and being told by the Universal guy that if we got caught to say “We’re here working on stuff for The Flintstones… nobody knows what the plot is yet anyway.” But a six months later, as my dad and I watched the lights go down for our advance-night 10:00pm screening of Jurassic Park (arguably the best single movie going experience of my life… ask me about it next summer), we were stunned that Universal had already cooked up a teaser for the seemingly un-shot and certainly unfinished Flintstones feature. As you can see, it was basically just a bouncing ball version of the theme song, climaxing with an in-costume John Goodman screaming ‘Yabba-dabba-doo!’ at the top of his lungs. Let me tell you, the entire audience roared with applause and I admit I was caught up in the infectious excitement for a project I couldn’t really care less about. That was the start of something new.
I saw that preview on June 10th, 1993, just under a full year before the May 27th, 1994 Memorial Day weekend release date. I’m sure there were cases in the 1970s and early 1980s of big movies being teased well in advance because they weren’t being released wide to every theater at the same time. But in the wide-release, ‘coming soon to theaters everywhere’ era, this was a first. It was a calculated marketing campaign that started a year before the film was to be released. The Flintstones were the first to try such a long-dart shot, but they were not the last. Sony debuted the first Godzilla teaser with Men In Black over the 4th of July weekend in 1997, just under a year before the film’s Memorial Day 1998 debut (ironically, they would not debut a real trailer until April 3rd, 1998, attached to prints of Mercury Rising, just 6 weeks before the film’s release). Disney debuted a powerful and moving teaser for Pearl Harbor a year before its Memorial Day 2001 release, attached to prints of I [...]

J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek 2 debuts in the summer of 2013

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: By the time J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek 2 (or whatever it’s called) debuts in the summer of 2013, it will have been just under 21 years since the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which was supposed to be the final Star Trek film. Since that time in December, 1991, we’ve had (counting the upcoming sequel) an additional six films, meaning that just half the Star Trek films explicitly involved the original cast and crew of the Starship Enterprise. Star Trek: Generations had cameos from several members of the crew, and Spock showed up in the third act of Star Trek, but we will soon reach a point where we’ve spent more cinematic time in the company of the Next Generation crew and these alternate-universe youngins than we have with the original icons. I have no criticism or commentary about that, other than to say that it’s not a little ironic that Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew have slowly been put out to pasture by younger replacements. After all, the first six Star Trek films were all about the now-elderly crew coming to terms with their own mortality, their eventual retirement, and whether or not the lives that they had dedicated to exploring that final frontier really made a damn bit of difference.
All of this is just a silly essay to justify posting this scene, the climax from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It is the best film in the Star Trek series, one where the two-fisted swashbuckler Captain Kirk comes to terms with his own rage and his own eventual irrelevance, forgives his mortal enemies, and becomes a broker of peace rather than a weapon of war. This final bittersweet moment never fails to move me. I can think of no better goodbye than this moment, and there is a part of me, my enjoyment of the next six films aside, that wished they had let this final grace note be the true and undisputed finale.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memo
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Despicable Me 2 gets a trailer… uhmm

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: I’ve whined before about the inexplicable need to spend countless millions of dollars on marketing campaigns so far in advance of the film’s release that only the hardcore fans are paying attention anyway.
So here we have a teaser for Despicable Me 2, just over a year from its release date (July 3rd, 2013), with no known plot to tease. Universal is merely going with what it knows sells – the minions. The first film was smart enough to hold those characters somewhat in reserve despite their obvious appeal, and here’s hoping that the sequel will muster the same restraint.

I’m presuming that Universal didn’t spend too much cash putting together this minimalist teaser, so I won’t hold it against them.
Mendelson’s Memo
Despocable Me 2
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The Phantom Menace is about to out-gross The Dark Knight!

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: With just $1 million separating the two films, today or tomorrow is likely the day when one of the more reviled films in geek-ville, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, will surpass one of the more openly worshipped geek film in recent years, The Dark Knight, at the global box office.
As of Wednesday, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace crossed $1 billion, becoming the eleventh film to do so and the first Star Wars film to cross said benchmark. Obviously there is inflation and 3D price-bumps to figure, but just remember that The Phantom Menace’s adjusted-for-inflation grosses from 1999 would equal about $664 million in domestic grosses alone (it earned $431 million in the summer of 1999, the second-largest grossing first-run film behind Titanic at that point). And don’t forget that a number of major fantasy films, chiefly the first three Star Wars films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, have had several theatrical releases since their initial respective debuts.
In the days before VHS became mainstream, it was not uncommon for popular films to show up repeatedly at a theater near you. With the apparent consumer appeal of 3D-converted re-releases, we are seeing a return to what may be a revolving door atop the list of all-time box office champions.
One immediate effect of these 3D-converted releases is the fact that a number of benchmarks will be arbitrarily altered as a result of these successful re-releases. If Titanic earns $161 million in the US during its 3D-release this April, it will swap places with Avatar (now at $760 million) at the top of the domestic box office chart. We all witnesses how The Lion King added $166 million to its international coffers to leapfrog several places up the domestic and worldwide list, ending as the biggest-grossing cartoon of all-time on both fronts. Should this September’s 3D release of Finding Nemo proved as popular (if not more-so), we could again see another rearranging of the list for top-grossing cartoons. Hell, if Warner Bros cares (they probably don’t), they may try to do some kind of Dark Knight re-release in early July to get fans pumped for the third installment, which may allow the film to make up whatever ground its lost to the Star Wars prequel.
What if Warner Bros. decides to invest in [...]

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