This Week In Movies By Pete Hammond “Rio”

By Pete Hammond

Family films continue to rule this week at the movies, and not just in America. With an estimated $40 million in its domestic launch and a very impressive $168 million worldwide 20th Century Fox’s Rio is clearly taking flight. The tale of a macaw who can’t fly and his adventures in Brazil had the year’s best opening in the States following an international debut last week. It soared past the $37 million opening of another family hit with three letters in its title, Hop (now up to $82 million in its third week) although to be fair Rio has the advantage of hiked-up 3D ticket prices while the 2D Hop was relying on regular admissions. Both films though prove the resilience of the family market in saving Hollywood from itself and both are “originals”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rio is doing well . It comes from Blue Sky, the same company responsible for the monster Ice Age series. This one works as an animated charmer with bright, colorful visuals , a great voice cast and characters and some seriously terrific music. Sergio Mendes of Brasil ’66, ’77,’88 etc was involved along with other fantastic Brazilian musicians . You can already bet the Jamie Foxx – duet “Fly Love” will be an Oscar contender. Standouts in the cast are Jesse Eisenberg, at his neurotic best in the lead role and Anne Hathaway as his love interest along with Foxx , George Lopez and Jemaine Clement as a psychotic bird. I’ve decided these ‘G’ and ‘PG’ rated flicks this season are really the pick of the crop. Not quite sure why it is the animators who are turning it out so consistently but the rest of the industry could take a lesson in the kind of quality work these artists are doing. It’s reflected in the box office and audience satisfaction. Rio scored a solid “A” from Cinemascore which means it should have a long play in theatres and probably spawn a whole new franchise for Fox. Even the 3D effects here are winning and the dark glasses don’t really take away from the overall sunniness of the picture.

Opening opposite it in a wide break this weekend was the fourth installment of the endless Scream horror series. I am not sure why 11 years after the third one the Weinstein Company decided we had to have another but here it is. Does anyone really get scared by this guy in the Ghostface mask? We know even though he gets killed in every sequel the filmmakers will just resurrect the character and set him loose again. Without credibility these things are just so repetitive . Perhaps that’s why Scream 4 completely underperformed with only about $19 plus million for the weekend. That’s just under half what the first two Screams generated in their opening rounds but again that was over a decade ago. The exit polling indicates the biggest audience sector to show up was over 25, somewhat older than the average horror film gets and probably people with nostalgic pains for Ghostface. There are people who actually fondly remember this series? At any rate if you are into horror skip Scream and run, do not walk to catch Insidious. Now THERE’S a freakin’ scary movie . And it is clearly getting great word of mouth, dropping only 27% in its third weekend after a similar miniscule drop in its second. That’s almost unheard of in the horror genre. It means movie goers are liking what they are seeing and telling their friends. Insidious is a devilish cross of The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Night Of The Living Dead. It also proves you don’t need an’R’ rating (it’s PG13) or a slasher plotline to satisfy true horror fans. This one is the real thing and at only a $1 million dollar production cost its profit potential is enormous. And enormously encouraging.

In a semi-wide break on only 700 screens Robert Redford’s gripping historical drama, The Conspirator hit the top ten with an estimated $3.9 million, very strong for something in this genre . Clearly it is drawing older audiences who are into this story of the conspiracy behind the Abraham Lincoln assassination. It is the first venture from the American Film Company, a Chicago-based group dedicated to making movies with new twists on American history. The fact that there was a conspiracy behind Lincoln’s murder comes as news to anyone who studied this stuff in school. It was never brought up. John Wilkes Booth shot him. End of story. Yet the fact that there were seven conspirators charged including a woman,Mary Surratt was big media news of the day and on the front pages of every newspaper. Somehow this information was not deemed that important by our educators. It is nice now that writer James Solomon and Redford have put it back in the conversation. Lincoln is really hot again. Steven Spielberg has been plotting to shoot his own Lincoln bio for years now and only this week announced the casting of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln . She will join previously cast Daniel Day Lewis in the biopic written by Tony Kushner (Angels In America). It should finally roll in the Fall. Can’t wait.

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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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One Comment

  • April 17, 2011 | Permalink |

    Rio is a great festival of color and music, romance, drama, comedy. Perfect. Better than ice age.

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