Summer Movies

Warner Bros.

I hate to be the one to inform you of this, but Hollywood is in a box office slump. A Great Depression of film profitability, where consumer scorn for summer blockbusters is bitter dust, choking the once-fertile farmland of summer tentpole season. How bad is it? This year, the total domestic gross of all our summer films comes to a paltry $3.46B domestic (for convenience’s sake, assume all total gross figures to be domestic from here on out). And this makes 2014 the first year since 2006 where the total gross was under $4B. Technically, the summer’s not over- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, that George Takei doc To Be Takei or the horror film As Above, So Below could all potentially pull in a billion or two… but that seems a tad unlikely. Unless To Be Takei ends with half-hour of Takei in closeup; eyes glowing red, sultry baritone commanding the audience to spend their life savings on more To Be Takei. It’s entirely possible. Whatever he wants, we’ll do it. But is a mere billion-dollar slump something to get all up in arms about? Yes! Extremely. At least, that’s what the press has been doing all summer, clamoring about that this summer’s film crop has suffered severe cardiac arrest, and each weekend’s big seller is the only thing that can resuscitate it.

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Transformers Age of Extinction

So far, 2014’s highest grossing “summer movie” (in what now seems like a four-and-a-half-month “summer”) was Captain America: The Winter Soldier with about $260m. That’s the lowest domestic gross for the summer’s biggest hit since Mission: Impossible II in 2000, and it was reached with the addition of inflation, 3D and IMAX. I’m not about to make a sky-is-falling claim here; there were a lot of factors and coincidences that went into having a crop of blockbusters that didn’t reach the heights of any of the past 13 years. But when the equation used to be $300 – 400m = blockbuster franchise, it’s worth stopping to ponder what these shifting numbers mean for the future of the biggest of Hollywood business. The endless franchises are running thin, not imploding. Last summer, every film nerd with an IP address was reposting Spielberg’s comments about the inevitable demise of Hollywood’s current mega-budget system. All fingers pointed to The Lone Ranger as the most obvious canary in the projection booth. But as Scott Beggs pointed out, the reality is that every trend in film, and even the most standard modes of productions, eventually change. This summer, we got a sense of what that shift might actually look like. As opposed to bomb after bomb, we saw slowly declining receipts, making for the lowest domestic grosses for Spider-Man and Transformers movies to date. Despite the critical raves for X-Men: Days of Future Past and Hugh Jackman’s boasts about how much it cost, it couldn’t even reach the heights […]

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The Avengers

Last year around this time we were growing tired of the summer blockbuster bloat, so we took a break by looking ahead to the future that’s now the present. We’re feeling a bit winded yet again by all the city-stomping, stadium-lifting largeness, so it’s time to take refuge once again in the eternal potential of amazing movies that we can’t see for another year. Yes, the summer blockbusters of 2015. Fortunately, old robot Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hulk are here to guide us. Plus, we’ll discuss the concept of raising stakes in screenwriting by examining some movies that do it well, and we’ll praise Tom Cruise’s decades-long excellent for no other reason than to praise him. Follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #61 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Godzilla 2014

In order to convince David Straithairn’s Admiral Stenz not to use nuclear power to annihilate the giant behemoths quickly approaching American soil, Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa brandishes a deceivingly quotidian object: a stopped pocket watch. It was Dr. Serizawa’s father’s during the bombing of Hiroshima, an instructive moment in history now literally frozen in time as a cautionary token. Though Ken Watanabe looks nowhere near 70, my (I thought, reasonable) assumption during this scene of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla was that Dr. Serizawa’s father had immediately perished alongside tens of thousands of others during the infamous 1945 atomic bombing. But regardless of this emblem’s status as a memento of death on a massive scale, that Dr. Serizawa’s father survived Hiroshima and Dr. Serizawa is a healthy mid-50s man now seems far more likely considering this film’s view of tragedy. Despite its keeping with the summer movie tradition of mass destruction, despite its conflagration of images evoking recent tragedies from the Fukushima to Katrina, and despite updating a film 60 years its junior that was in no way afraid of dealing with violent devastation head-on, 2014’s Godzilla is not a monster movie about understanding tragedy. It is instead a rather strange film about survivors, and it demonstrates how disingenuously low-stakes studio summer movies have become.

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Japanese Sideways

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Summer Movie Season

Take a moment and pull out you day planner (old school) or fire up your iCal (or similar) or even yank your monthly calendar down from the wall (watch the pushpins), and refer to the months of May through August, 2016. How do they look? Free? Probably. They shouldn’t be, at least if Hollywood has any bearing on your scheduling choices. The 2014 summer movie season – which now, apparently, starts in May – hasn’t even kicked off yet, but Hollywood is already looking ahead two years to the bounty of (hopeful) riches that will await movie fans in 2016. From superheroes to, well, more superheroes to long-awaited sequels to even something for the kiddos, the 2016 summer movie season looks like it’s going to have it all. And now it’s going to have the first of a planned six-part series about the adventures of King Arthur, because why the hell not?

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2013 Summer Movie Social Spectacular

[Click to largify.] It’s fitting that there’s a kind of social media silo that we create around ourselves that limits our perspective (mine is movies and equestrian artwork). After all, there’s no way we could take every bit of information in without going a little crazy. Fortunately, the fine folks at Silver Pop have done it for us — creating an overview of how movies large and small utilized social media this summer. This is only going to get more pervasive, people. The question is how far we’re away from actors and actresses being cast in projects because of how large their twitter following is. I give it 3 years. Of course, what this doesn’t tell us is the value of the Tweets and Likes. After Earth may have had close to 1.9M followers across networks, but that didn’t add up to box office success, and I’m curious to know if Man of Steel picked up any heat from people wanting to be in on the debate about mass destruction. As a bird’s eye, though, it gives a clear picture of how important social media is to the success of a summer movie. It’s also pretty awesome that the star who tweeted the most is also the youngest. Imagine what this thing will look like in 10 years when Twitter has been replaced by something even more terrifying: an all-acronym social network. TFIB.

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Fruitvale Movie

During the summer of 1998, one of the two multiplexes in my modestly sized hometown devoted one of its sixteen screens to limited release films throughout the entire season. They showed a range of small, non-mainstream narrative works from that surprisingly indie-rich summer, including Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66, Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box, James Toback’s Two Girls and a Guy, Don Roos’s The Opposite of Sex, Whit Stilman’s The Last Days of Disco, Neil LaBute’s Your Friends and Neighbors, and Mr. Jealousy, a film that almost nobody remembers Noah Baumbach made. Despite their nearby availability, I saw approximately zero of these films. I was thirteen years old, and my parents maintained their strict no-R policy. But it was enough for me that the names of these films showed up in the local paper, and that I saw their posters displayed through smudged plexiglass outside the box office as I bought my ticket to see Jane Austen’s Mafia! for the third time (I’m not kidding). I told myself I was perfectly content with the likes of Godzilla, Small Soldiers, and that other Avengers, but I patiently looked forward to the day when I was brave enough to sneak into (and, a few years later, pay to see) these movies so that I could figure out what this trailer was all about. I wasn’t yet experiencing blockbuster fatigue, just bottled excitement that there were new and weird and envelope-pushing movies that existed out there. But apparently, my multiplex’s experiment was a […]

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feature summer winners iron man 3

This year saw editorials and prominent directors alike decrying the death of cinema as we know it, but none of that stopped ticket-buyers from dropping over $7 billion (domestic) to take in Hollywood’s wares. That’s on target with last year’s numbers, and since 2012 was a near record year, this summer has probably been a fairly solid success too, right? As always, it depends on who you ask. Critically speaking, while just about every movie has its defenders, a large number of this summer’s blockbusters were heavy on flash and style while growing even lazier than usual when it comes to the substance. Job one of summertime cinema is obviously to create a fun and thrilling piece of escapism, but it seems like studios have began putting in even less effort than usual when it comes to script, characters and even a modicum of brains. That’s a problem, but the box office receipts offer compelling evidence to the contrary (which is probably a bigger problem). It’s a bit easier to judge films on a commercial scale, or at least it should be, but thanks to Hollywood’s creative accounting it’s almost never clear cut as to whether or not a certain film is considered a financial success. (Just ask Forrest Gump author Winston Groom.) The formula varies depending on who’s doing the math, but for our purposes a general (and as close to believable as it gets) rule of thumb seems to be that a film needs to gross 1.5 to 2 times […]

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lawrence-mystique

We’re a little bit exhausted by the summer of 2013. To take a break from it, we wanted to look into the future, and even though there’s a giant conversation to be had about Untitled Marvel Studios Movie hitting in 2016, we figured we’d keep it simple by only jumping ahead a year. So we’ll be getting excited about the bursting-with-potential summer movies of 2014, and Geoff will answer a listener’s screenwriting question focused on which character romantic comedies should focus on. Plus, we’ve got an outstanding piece of orchestral music fresh out of a Warner Bros. studio to share with you. It’s from a promising young composer with a Reddit-worthy story. For more from us on a daily basis, follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #23 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Breaking bad

Tonight on Movie News After Dark, it’s time to talk about Breaking Bad (YES!), dig a little deeper into the world of Iron Man, examine spoilers in trailers and get excited for summer movie season. Pretty much the same stuff we do every day, but better.

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Iron Man 3

Harmony Korine and friends already gave us a taste of sand, sun and heavy weaponry, but it doesn’t quite feel like summer yet. Maybe that’s because global warming is making everything so cool or because President Obama keeps delaying all of our vacation planes, but the hugeness of the season still hasn’t fully descended. That’ll change this weekend when Iron Man 3 drops an arc reactor into theaters. Then, the parade of unbelievably massive summer movies commences with buddy cops, mischievous teens, people probably named Khan, bald Matt Damons, super men, and the end of the world itself in tow. It’s a tight race this year. Optimism runs high, and the next few months are packed full with studios and indie outfits hoping to entertain and score big, so the task of naming the 13 most-anticipated summer movies was a tough one. So instead of hurting our brains over it, we let math do the work by putting the question to the whole staff and tallying up the results. It’s a slightly eclectic mix, displaying the powerful potential of cinematic storytelling to bring us into the cool, dark room with a single light source. As luck would have it, we found a fittingly seasonal place to start:

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The Bling Ring

It’s almost time for sunscreen, something you won’t need to purchase if you plan on staying in the cool, dark space of the movie theater from June through August. But what are you going to see? How could you possibly know what’s coming out and when? Did you even know there’s a Superman movie on the way? Of course you did. Geoff and I have combed through studio press releases, had a lot of secret meetings in parking garages, and decided to talk about 6 Limited Release Summer Movies that might have slipped under the cape-filled radar. Plus, our big interview is with Cheech and Chong, who review Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines and promise to make Up in Smoke 2 if their new animated movie makes $100m in its opening week. For more from us on a daily basis, follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #15 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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A young scrappy pilot, conveniently, accomplishes what a non-freakazoid Howard Hughes (played by the Terry O’Quinn) and a few lackeys at the C.I.A. couldn’t do: create a flying man! That pilot, Cliff, becomes that gold helmeted flying phenom. This comic book adaptation is full of Nazis, a vain and villainous actor, and an ugly as hell goon. What more could you ask for?

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“I don’t believe in magic, a lot of superstitious hocus pocus. I’m going after a find of incredible historical significance and you’re talking about the Boogieman! Besides, you know what a cautious fellow I am.” Anybody who has watched any amount of the History Channel knows that Hitler was obsessed with the occult. What this movie presupposes is that he probably lost the war because he diverted too many of his resources towards the doomed goal of acquiring the Ark of the Covenant, which in case you didn’t know, is the chest that contains the original stone tablets on which the ten commandments were written. According to religious hocus-pocus, any army that marches while carrying the Ark would be unstoppable on the battlefield, as they would have the endorsement of the good Lord Himself. So what does the U.S. government do when faced with the task of racing the Third Reich to unstoppable power and endless influence? They hire an archeology professor from Marshall College, one of the most rough and tumble adventurers in the world, to go out and find it first. They get Indiana Jones. The only problem with the plan is that the key to finding the Ark is in the possession of one of his ex-girlfriends, and she’s kind of a crazy drunk.

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After their university’s dean forces them out of their cushy jobs in the world of academia, parapsychologists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), go into business for themselves. They eradicate specters aka bust ghosts throughout New York City. Along the way, they’re hired by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a woman whose apartment is haunted by a demonic, ancient Sumerian demigod—an entity that is far more powerful and destructive than anything the ragtag Ghostbusters have ever faced.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up column that didn’t mean to take the night off last night, but was forced into it by some “internet connectivity issues.” Which means, plainly, that its internet provider sucks sometimes. And things happen. Like trains — sometimes they get blown up in small town in Ohio, unleashing unknown terrors upon small-town, late-70s folk. Shit happens, y’know? My confession of the evening is that I was able to see Super 8 this morning. Reviews are under embargo for now, so I can’t share too much, but know this: whatever level of excitement you hold for it, you’re probably on the right track. Moving on, but not too far, Empire has a great interview with producer Steven Spielberg and Spielberg Jr., director J.J. Abrams. You can check it out after the jump. It’s not spoilery, as Abrams is a good keeper of secrets. But if you want to go in completely untainted, skip ahead and there’s plenty of other news to read.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as DogEatsHeart and 5Obstructions5 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair apply some sun screen and some green screen in order to forecast how the movies of Summer 2011 might shape up. Is there a secret weapon to its inevitable success? Is its success inevitable? Anything would be better than last year, right?

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Last summer was a good (not great) movie season. Granted, there were some notorious duds with Robin Hood, Jonah Hex, Avatar: The Last Whatever-It’s-Called, the one where Jake Gyllenhaal talked real funny and had his shirt off a lot, and many, many others. And, of course, there were some rather disappointing missed opportunities (*COUGH* Iron Man 2 *COUGH*). But overall, it was a solid time for both big event films and the smaller ones. There were two excellent high profile films (Toy Story 3, Inception) and a handful of great little-seen ones (Animal Kingdom, Cyrus, Solitary Man, etc.). And who could forget about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? This summer will most likely be no different. There are a few films not to get too excited about, but there are plenty of other films to get tingly about. There are two Marvel films, a new frickin’ Terrence Malick epic, a great looking new X-Men…the list goes on and on. In fact, the list goes on right now with the 15 Must See Movies of Summer 2011:

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All this Summer, Movies We Love is transforming itself (by getting into a bikini) to celebrate the movies we love that came out in the hottest months. This week, we fall in love all over again with X2. “Have you ever tried…not being a mutant?” Synopsis After a solitary mutant who can teleport attacks the President, a secret military squad led by a man named Stryker (Brian Cox) is given carte blanche to find and capture the students and teachers at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. But the mutants, especially Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), recently returned from his trip to the North, aren’t going to go quietly. Instead, the team made up of Storm (Halle Berry), Jean Gray (Famke Janssen), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and Pyro (Aaron Stanford) work to seek out the squad’s base where they are holding the captured Professor X (Patrick Stewart). But the X-Men aren’t alone. Joining in the hunt is the telaporting assassin, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), Magneto (Ian McKellan) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), who have called a truce with the team in what may be an inevitable war with the human race.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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