Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Takers, take these numbers.

Summer continues it's graceful wind-down. This summer is, weirdly, the best ever in terms or revenues but the worst in 5 years in terms of attendance. NOW the 3D thing makes sense, huh? Best quote ever, and something you'd only find on the BBC:
"Audiences were underwhelmed, and they voted with their absence," Mr Dergarabedian said.
Two new movies opened this week to middling results: at #1, Takers, a heist movie from Screen Gems, the Ghost Studio Who Walks. Takers took $21 million. At #2 with $20 million, The Last Exorcist. Until the next exorcist, presumably.

This week's bottom o' the barrel award goes to Everyone Else. If that wasn't a title, the sentence would still work! But it is, and it made $160 for the weekend. Which probably didn't even pay for the title.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Courting Favor

So yesterday I took another baby step into the world of working actors by working, as an actor. I acted and someone gave me money for it. In fact, yesterday two things happened that I thought never could - I was associated with a reality show, and I found a way to make money from improv. It wouldn't surprise me if somewhere in Chicago yesterday, a handful of pigs flew to freedom.

Monday I managed to snag an audition for a show called America's Court. You havn't seen it yet because it won't be syndicated until next month. I tell you when the audtion was to give you an idea of how accelerated the schedule for this show is. Auditioned Monday morning, told I got the gig Tuesday night, showed up at Sunset and Bronson studios Wednesday Afternoon. By the end of the day, if I understand them right, they had two weeks of shows in the can. The can in this case is a hard drive.

Spoiler - though it is a reality show, America's Court is not real in any way. I played a dad who had discovered his daughter sexting naked pictures with an older boy. Anybody who knows me knows I don't have a daughter, and if I did I would probably give her lighting and angle tips. World, be grateful that I only play a dad on TV! Incidentally, the girl who played my daughter, Samantha Jordan, is phenomenal. Talented way beyond her years. Will succeed.

I was struck by how efficient an operation Byron Allen is running there. Actors showed up, waited in a main room, sat around and discussed the case with each other. One by one, a group would be called in the green room and another would arrive. As it happens it was the first day of shooting and there was a problem with the equipment that threw the schedule off by a couple of hours. We had plenty of time to shoot the breeze with other tables: "Hi, we're Sexting Teens!" "Hi, we're Vampire Speed Dating!" Surreal.

At one point the woman who was playing the mom of the other teen realized that if she stayed to tape our segment she wouldn't make her callback for Disney down the street. Team Allen was very understanding, promised her they'd use her in another episode and had her replaced within half an hour.

The taping went smoothly and the episode will probably air in September, though I can't tell you when, what time, and on what channel in your area. No one can. Keep googling until you get something.

Unfortunately the tech glitch caused me to arrive late at the 48 Hour Film Project in Santa Monica. The premise behind these short films is teams are given a line of dialog, a prop, a character and a genre on Friday night and then have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and score 4-7 minutes of finished product. When I was was invited to the screening I thought it was a fun gimmick; having done a day on a strip courtroom show I now see the festival as a recruiting tool. All good movies by the way! That which does not kill you makes you stronger, I guess.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Summer's almost gone, and soon our numbers will turn golden and fall off the tree.

The thing about Las Vegas is, they don't have a lot of top-quality movie theatres in that town. This must explain why box office is down last week... everyone has gone to Sin City. (Crackpot theory. Truth is, I really wanna go there. Probably September.) A buncha movies opened this week, and nothing cleared $17 mil. Know what? I'm tired. Read for yourself.

TW LW Title (click to view) Studio Weekend Gross % Change Theater Count / Change Average Total Gross Budget* Week #

1 1 The Expendables LGF $16,968,032 -51.3% 3,270 - $5,189 $65,357,117 $80 2

2 N Vampires Suck Fox $12,202,831 - 3,233 - $3,774 $18,566,733 $20 1

3 2 Eat Pray Love Sony $12,111,162 -47.6% 3,082 - $3,930 $47,214,078 $60 2

4 N Lottery Ticket WB $10,652,297 - 1,973 - $5,399 $10,652,297 $17 1

5 3 The Other Guys Sony $10,163,337 -41.6% 3,472 -179 $2,927 $88,253,482 $100 3

6 N Piranha 3D W/Dim. $10,106,872 - 2,470 - $4,092 $10,106,872 $24 1

7 N The Switch Mira. $8,436,713 - 2,012 - $4,193 $8,436,713 - 1

8 N Nanny McPhee Returns Uni. $8,407,685 - 2,784 - $3,020 $8,407,685 $35 1

9 4 Inception WB $7,838,179 -30.5% 2,401 -719 $3,265 $262,031,594 $160 6

10 5 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Uni. $5,201,970 -51.0% 2,820 +2 $1,845 $20,898,255 $60 2

So yeah, it looks like we're slidin' into home here and the game is almost over. Some summers are better than others!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's a Satire of Meet The Spartans

This Friday, a spoof called Vampires Suck opens. I can't wait! More specifically I can't wait until September when the whole enterprise drops from theatres for good. Then by late September it will be released on DVD, and after that you'll only see it for sale in grocery stores, where it won't sell because most of the jokes will be too dated to laugh at.

It's in the same... I can't say it!!!... okay, vein as Meet the Spartans, Date Movie, Scary Movie, and other such juvenile nonsense. I love comedy, and I even love parody, but there is something about this particular genre that just sandpapers me. I sense that the writers aren't really motivated. You get the impression that they're locked in a janitor's closet, given a quota of jokes and not allowed to leave until they produce. Quality of jokes isn't a factor.

In fact, I'm pretty sure the movies would be a little funnier if they simply crowdsourced the gags. "teen vampires!" they would tweet, and then whatever gags get repeated the most, use those. At least you'd feel a little enthusiasm. As an added bonus you could save money on writers. Maybe have one guy on staff to put the jokes in some kind of order. Or not. Whatever.

Summer is almost over and I managed to get out to just ONE movie so far, the ultra-hilarious Inception. Maybe I'm just going all Andy Rooney on the film industries ass, but d'ja ever notice how all the movies just seem to be remakes of some other movie somewhere? I'd rather play Portal.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Eat, Pray, Numbers.

It's mid-August and the studio execs are just phoning it in. Action movie starring action movie stars, chick flick with Julie Roberts, last year's ComicCon sensation offered up to the non-geek civilians. Pick up your check on the way out, so you have beer money for Cancun.

The Expendables, a movie produced by and starring guys whose careers faded 20 years ago, proves the winningest bet. Debuting at #1 with $34 million! Of course, once you divide that among the cash it's about a million apiece. In a shrewd counterprogramming measure Eat Pray Love (aka The Counterexpendables) picks up $24 million at #2. The audience composed entirely of disgusted wives. At #5 Scott Pilgrim Vs The World with $10 million. Not much, but huge for director Edgar Wright.

Inception has made $248 mil in 5 weeks, assuming movies even exist.

At the bottom of the chart is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead, my favorite title of the year so far. What it proves though is that you can't make money just by adding zombies to anything. I wonder if it would help if they were 3D zombies?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Attention Sports Fans!

We don't cover sports here, but it IS entertainment. And we don't usually cover embarassing tidbits about celebrities, but it IS Friday. So here are the 30 worst baseball cards of all time.

All right, samples it is.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

INCEPTION Ending Explained!

SPOILER ALERT! The following is the worst kind of spoiler, and if you're someone who has waited even longer than I to see Inception, then stop reading, because this will ruin the whole damn thing for you. It just will. Go read something else. See you next time.

Caught this Inception thing last night, all by myself, because I couldn't convince my friend to see a "scary movie". It's actually a suspense picture - specifically a cross-breed between The Matrix and Oceans 11.

Okay, so the very last shot of Inception, a spinning top, is supposed to be at least a little ambiguous. If the top stops spinning, we are told, it indicates the scene is reality. If it spins perpetually, it's a dream. Director Christopher Nolan pans over to the top and then cuts away mid-spin, thus throwing into doubt the whole happy ending. Does Cobb reunite with his children? I mean really? No.

And screw the top.

The reason you know this is still a dream is because Cobb's children haven't aged a day since his last image of them. In fact his memory of those kids is exactly the shot we see at the end. Thus the whole implausible adventure takes place in Cobb's brain, and God only knows if that backstory about the wife isn't a dream also.

Speaking of her, there's another indication - Marion Cotilliard played Edith Piaf in a movie, and the song that the extractors are using is an Edith Piaf song... I mean, come on. Reportedly Nolan picked the song first and considered changing it when he cast Cotilliard as the wife, but Hans Zimmer convinced him to keep it. All signs point to dream!

Of course, all this is a moot point if I just DREAMED I SAW INCEPTION. Or if you're dreaming that you're reading this. Though you're not, because you don't exist. Or do you? Oh hell, whatever. I'm gettin' lunch.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Click here if you're curious where these numbers come from.

Okay, it turns out we all wrote off Will Ferrell a little too soon. Team him up with Mark Wahlberg and call it The Other Guys, you have a #1 hit on your hands; opening at $35 million. They probably ain't there for Wahlberg, just sayin'. Also opening at #3 to a modest $16 million, Step Up 3D. I'd have expected better considering it's not about a CGI animal! Speaking of which. Anyway...

At the very bottom of the list, First Run Pictures' Behind the Burley Q, which pulled down $507. Adult entertainment ain't what it used to be.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Core Samples

If I could tell the people who produced the episode of Suspense I'm listening to that one day we could all listen to them around the world on our portable phones, they'd have told me to go peddle that stuff to the producers of Space Patrol or X Minus One.

Suspense was on the air for a long long time - from 1940 to 1962. And because of that, it's a great bellweather to track the rise and decline of radio drama. During the war the shows were a little silly and obvious, uncomplicated tales of people victimized by thieves or Nazis or maniacs. Then came the ten years following the war, the Golden Age or Radio, with a new big name guest star each week and protagonists who were, as often as not, the maniacs themselves. Then came the final seven years as televsion ate up the audience for drama. Suspense cut the budget only, it seems, for scripts. They reused scripts from the golden age frequently (Sorry Wrong Number turned up 5 or 6 times), or comissioned new lacklustre material by fledgling writers. The stars were few and far between too, but usually those guys were working for scale anyway to promote whatever movie was coming out that week so it didn't make a difference on the budget; but the big names didn't bother any more. They were doing variety shows.

You can test my notion of Suspense as a quality gauge by sampling episodes from here. I think they're all in some copywrite grey area - not illegal unless someone makes trouble. My recommendation is shows from the Elliot Lewis era (1950-1954) - great music, and full-throttle overacting by guest stars. It's like having William Shatner in your own head.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Your beloved numbers.

First of all let's get this outta the way - it's still Inception at #1. Now that I have a few free weeknights I may even see it myself! The Chris Nolan directed thriller pulled down $27 million, which is the best he's ever done without a caped superhero to back him up.

Trying to knock this juggernaut out of the number one spot is Dinner For Schmucks, a remake of a French comedy that opened to some mighty tepid reviews. $24 million! Then Zac Efron vehicle Charlie McCloud enters the fray at #5 with $12 million. We're rooting for you Zac! Finally, and this is kind of an upset: at #6 is 3D computer animated Cats And Dogs: the Revenge of Kitty Galore. 3D has been so reliable this summer that C&D's $12 million opening prompted a think piece in the Hollywood Reporter wondering if the market for movies with animated 3D CGI animal characters is drying up. After all, look at this and Marmaduke! I'll sidestep the issue and just say that whatever is keeping kids away from these couple of movies, there must be a lot of grateful parents.

Alert to Skot: One theatre in the nation is booked with The Cremaster Cycle. 5 feature-length movies, though they're more like paintings. Loony paintings with zombies and the Chrysler building. I can't find out where it is, but if it were near you, you'd probably be hearing about it.