Green Lantern to Fly Again?

green_lantern_saveAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers may go ahead with a GREEN LANTERN sequel, despite being “somewhat disappointed” with the DC Comic superhero film’s box offices results thus far.
Unamed sources tell them that the studio still has faith in the character as a franchise, even given the relatively modest opening weekend, and his weeked’s sharp drop-off –66%–in ticket sales.  The domestic total for the $200 million production is a little over $89 million, so far. Foreign markets might improve the box-office take, and DVD sales could possbily push it into the black.
The site suggests that Warners might be willing to absorb the costs of the expensive sci-fi superhero CGI film and its massive publicity campaign as a means to introduce the character to the general public, and thus build an audience for further adventures. Certainly DC Entertainment and the studio would want to expand the brand beyond Superman and the Batman films.
A more compelling script next time around might make a big difference. There is a lot of potential there, I think. The scenes on Oa and with Jordan actually in action worked fairly well, at times truly seeming like a comic book brought to life. Where the film stumbled is with the Earth-bound scenes, much of which seemed forced, prefunctory, and all too derivitive of other films.

'Tron Legacy' Passes $100 Million Mark

Tron-Legacy_DiscThe Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision noted that as of Tuesday, Disney’s TRON LEGACY passed the $100 million mark in 12 days of release in the USA. It also picked up about $75 million in overseas markets.
The article points out that the $170 film pulled in about $25 million in IMAX showings alone, which is quite remarkable.  However, the article wonders if the film will have staying power, meaning repeat viewings by fans, and an apeal to wider audiences.
It’s said the rule of thumb is that a film need to gross about three times its cost to be profitable, which in theory would mean that the TRON sequel would have to make about $510 million world wide to put it safely in the black. With home video and ancillary rights, this should be achiveable in the long run. The original TRON was not a big hit in its theatrical run, but it’s generated some revenue ever since. 
With other big budget genere films in the works, including the Marvel projects and  Guillermo del Toro ‘s in-development re-boot of THE HAUNTED MANSION, and David Finchers 20,ooo LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, a cross-over audience is needed — without alienating the often hard-to-please genre fans.

Sense of Wonder: Avatar a box office dud?

Avatar glowing creatureIt has been interesting to view some of the reactions to the box office returns of the special edition of AVATAR, which is currently playing in 812 3D venues across the country. Re-releases seldom pose a real threat to new films in the marketplace, and true to form AVATAR did not destroy the competition, leading some observers to declare that the special edition a failure.
For example, check out this comment from

Avatar tanked in its heralded rerelease, finishing out of this weekend’s top 10 and further tarnishing the economic glamour of 3-D.

Let’s put this in perspective: we are in the late summer slump, when ticket sales fall off as potential buyers return to school. In this marketplace, AVATAR has the highest per-screen average of any 3D film currently playing, which includes not only the recent releases STEP UP 3D and PIRANHA 3D (the real box office disappointment of the bunch) but also such holdovers as DESPICABLE ME, TOY STORY 3, and SHREK FOREVER AFTER. I’m not exactly sure how a nine-month old movie – which boosts the per screen attendance in 3D venues – can tarnish the “economic glamour” of the process.
And check out this exercise in sophistry from the Los Angeles Times article “Rerelease redux: Was the opening of the ‘Avatar’ special edition a disappointment?“:

The movie grossed about $4 million on 812 screens here in the U.S. Several readers pointed out that the per-screen number this averages out to — just about $5,000 — was among the strongest of the weekend. And that number is indeed not terrible for a new opener — except for the fact that “Avatar” wasn’t a new opener; it had the benefit of eight months of marketing and buzz behind it. This is hardly some unknown character drama that has to fight for every ticket.

Emphasis mine. Against all logic, writer Steven Zeitchik is arguing that being a re-release is a huge marketing advantage that should have smoked the competition, when in fact the exact opposite is true. He also overlooks the fact that, until a few weeks ago, AVATAR was still playing a handful of regular, 2D engagements around the country, and it is available on Blu-ray disc. It is not as if the film has been unavailable in a way that would whet appetite. Under these circumstances a box office triumph should be seen as the exception rather than the rule.
The bottom line is this: Yes, 20th Century Fox would have been overjoyed if AVATAR: THE SPECIAL EDITION were doing twice as much business, but only out-sized expectations could frame the re-release as a failure rather than a disappointment. The re-release has added nearly $8-million to the film’s already huge worldwide total, and except for the top three box office hits (THE AMERICAN, MACHETE, and TAKERS) AVATAR has a higher per-screen average than any title currently in release. Do we really think there are many theatre-owners out there lamenting that presence of AVATAR on their screens?

Genre Films Rule Summer B.O.

Inception_DiCaprioNot too surprisingly, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror films were  the biggest grossing Summer box office films this weekend.
Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION hit bigger than expected, with a $60.4 million debut. Let’s see if the challenging SF film has legs.
Universal’s winning animated SF-inspired comedy DESPICABLE ME took in another $32.7 million, bringing it’s total to over 118 million dollars thus far.
THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE came in third place for Walt Disney Pictures, with just over $17 million in its second week, bringing the domestic total to about $24,500, 000 — considerably less than the studio expected, I suspect.
Teen/Tween favorite THE TWILGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE continues to draw respectable business, with another $13.5 million, bringing it’s domestic take to just under $265 million.
Pixar’s well-received TOY STORY 3 came in fifth, with 11.5 million, earning over $362 million in 4 and a half weeks, domestically. It’s made $630,209,000 world-wide.
Figures from

Krueger Slashes Box Office

Still from A Nightmare on Elm Street
Still from A Nightmare on Elm Street

Once again the horror genre proves itself to be critic-proof as Samuel Bayer’s remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is sitting atop the weekend box office with a respectable $32.2 million. The film currently holds a ‘rotten’ 15% rating at Rotten Tomatoes but that didn’t stop it from storming the box office and fending off other high-profile releases.
Rounding off the top three were two films with surprisingly strong staying power; HOW TO TRAIN YOUR earned another $10.8 million at second place and DATE NIGHT came in third with $7.6 million. Jennifer Lopez’ tax paying vehicle, THE BACK-UP PLAN, went from second place to forth with $7.2 million whilst new entry, FURRY VENGEANCE, couldn’t even muster up $7 million (it earned only $6.5). Seems the lure of Brendan Fraser being hit in the testicles by animals wasn’t enough for cinema-goers.
As for the last five, THE LOSERS came in at 6th, CLASH OF THE TITANS went down to 7th, KICK-ASS was 8th, DEATH AT A FUNERAL 8th and OCEANS, the new Disney sea documentary, rounds off the list at 10th. In related news, IRON MAN 2 was released on the other side of the pond and has already  managed to drum up over $100 million.
These box office stats. come courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Clash of the Box Office

Promotional image from Clash of the Titans
Promotional image from Clash of the Titans

CLASH OF THE TITANS, despite an overall mixed reception from critics, has managed to knock kids’ animated fantasy film HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON off of the top spot at the box office over the weekend. The new sword and sandal epic that we recently reviewed has grossed $61.4 million so far (slightly under analysis’ predictions) with Tyler Perry’s relationship drama sequel WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO coming in at second place.
Both these new releases pushed HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON back down to third place, while tween drama THE LAST SONG and ALICE IN WONDERLAND took forth and fifth place respectably. A pretty strong opening for CLASH then, but we’ll have to see how it fairs by the end of the week with new releases such as Steve Carell and Tina Fey starring comedy, DATE NIGHT vying for the top spot.

Alice's Wonderful Box Office

It was a great weekend for horror, fantasy, and science fiction, as ALICE IN WONDERLAND scored an easy victory at the box office this weekend, earning more than the rest of the Top Ten releases combined. The fantasy film, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, sold over $116-million in tickets while playing in over 3, 700 theatres.
Last week”s #1 film, SHUTTER ISLAND, dipped to third place, behind BROOKLYN’S FINEST. The ominous Gothic thriller SHUTTER added $13-million to its $95-million total, making it one of the biggest hits of director Martin Scorsese’s career.
AVATAR slipeed from fourth to fifth place with $7.7-million, adding up to a $720-million total.
THE CRAZIES fared less well: after its third-place debut last weekend, it feLl to #6 with $7-million, yielding a two-week total of $27-million.
The adolescent-themed PERCY JACKSON  & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF landed in 5th place, down two slots, with $5-million, for a $78-million total.
Dropping out of the Top Ten were TOOTH FAIRY with $2.8-million ($56-million total) and THE WOLF MAN with $1.6-million ($60-million total).

Read the complete Top Ten here.


Sense of Wonder: 2009's Biggest Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Blockbusters


The genre delivered big bang at the box office, blowing most of the competition off the screen.

It’s the end of the year. Time to look back and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the last twelve months worth cinefantastique. Before getting into the artistic side of the equation (a thornier problem that requires some actual analysis on my part), let’s look at something more quantifiable: box office results. Judged purely on this basis, 2009 was another banner year for horror, fantasy, and science fiction, with those genres taking not only the win, place and show positions, but also filling eight of the Top Ten slots. Equally impressive, 19 horror, fantasy and science fiction titles surpassed the $100-million blockbuster mark (20 if you include ANGELS & DEMONS, which had a sci-fi MacGuffin fueling its plot).
One could try to dismiss the genre’s performance by noting that box office results were up across the board, topping $10-billion for the first time – apparently in response to the recession (despite rising ticket prices, a trip to the movies is still just about the cheapest night out). However, a close examination of the numbers suggests not that cinefantastique  benefited from a rising tide that lifted all boats; rather, genre films were buoys that raised the box office to new heights.
What conclusions can we draw from this? The most obvious lesson is a familiar one, from past experience: audiences enjoy escapism in times of stress, and what better way to escape than into alien worlds, future times, fantasy lands, or even dark and sinister realms of horror? (In the latter case, the escapism works a little differently; it’s nice to emerge from the theatre thinking real life doesn’t look nearly so bad as what was up on screen.)
Previous explosions of horror, fantasy, and science fiction have often been timed to unfortunate eras of history: the silent horrors of Lon Chaney after World War I; the first wave of sound horror during the Great Depression; the 1950’s science fiction films, filled with alien invaders and mutant monsters, during the Cold War, and on and on.
2009 continues in that tradition, as the world tries to dig itself out of a global recession and deal with the continuing threat of terrorism. The anomaly in this case is that the year saw a new President sworn into the White House, who was elected on a campaign of change, promising optimism for the future. Yet films conceived and created during the previous administration still resonated with audiences, indicating that the national mindset is still troubled and looking for escape from a lingering unpleasant reality. It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues in 2010.
Looking closer at the box office results, we can see a few trends, indicating what sort of escapism audiences preferred in 2009. The most obvious lesson – hardly surprising – is that films designed to appeal to a broad audience did well, while those targeted to a specific niche were less successful. You would be hard-pressed to strictly define any of the big winners with such limiting terms as “children’s film” or even, in most cases, “family film.”
Instead, the blockbusters tended to be PG-13 films with something for everyone. Live-action efforts like TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, STAR TREK, and AVATAR were filled with action that would attract teens and young adults, and they also include at least hints of sex appeal; however, they avoided going too far into territory that the majority would deem offensive or risque, and they usually retained a certain good nature that prevented most parents from fearing harmful effects for their children. Meanwhile, the top animated films were conscientiously family-friendly, yet they made sure to include spectacular action visuals (MONSTERS VS. ALIENS), humor (ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS) or deeper emotional resonance (UP) that would appeal to adult viewers, whether or not they were obligated to bring their kids to the movies. Although it did not do quite as well as the others, Henry Selick’s film version of CORALINE showed that even sinister stop-motion efforts could attract an audience, pushing the boundaries of what is considered a “children’s film.”
We also saw, as expected, that pre-sold audiences will patronize their favorite franchise, regardless of the quality of the films. STAR TREK deserved its multi-million dollar ticket sales, but TRANSFORMERS 2, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE,THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE proved that servicing expectations is the surest was to success; actually making a good movie is of secondary importance, if any. 
The good news is that original films can succeed just as well as familiar product. James Cameron’s AVATAR, for all its flaws, is already at #7 for the year, and it will no doubt continue to earn millions well into 2010. Likewise, Pixar’s UP seemed almost deliberately designed to flout commercial conventions (a grumpy old guy flying in house lifted by balloons – who wants to see that?), and yet it became the third biggest hit of the year.
Along these lines, 2009 also saw a pair of cinefantastique sleepers: DISTRICT 9 and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Both of these looked like interesting little movies that would reach at most a specialized audience in theatres before heading off to video and hoping to be discovered by wider audience there. Instead, each became a certified blockbuster, proving that movies without stars of pre-sold storylines can defy the odds, thanks to interesting storylines and clever filmmaking techniques.
The success of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY also gave fans of genuine, quality horror – as opposed to mindless torture porn – reason to rejoice. The biggest horror hit of the year, its straight-faced, serious, suggestive approach easily surpassed the cruder shock techniques and campy antics of the year’s other horror films. The next biggest horror film for the year was ZOMBIELAND, which tempered its carnage with humor.
After that, it was several steps down to the likes of THE FINAL DESTINATION, FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE UNBORN, and DRAG ME TO HELL – all of which embraced the idea that the “horror movie” tag offered some kind of dispensation, relieving the filmmakers from concerns for credibility and good drama, as long as they supplied the scares. Perhaps the most encouraging news is that Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II topped out at less than $34-million, and the latest SAW sequel (number 6) fell short of $30-million. Though not as big a hit as PARNORMAL ACTIVITY, the spooky HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT easily outdistanced both of these sequels. Hopefully, Hollywood will heed the lesson.
So, then, let’s peruse the best box office results for horror, fantasy, and science fiction films in 2009. But be warned: as Cinefantastique’s late founder Frederick S. Clarke was wont to point out, artistic achievements and box office success seldom go hand-in-hand. The tremendous profits earned by genre titles this year ensure that the genres will continue to be well represented at cinemas for the foreseeable future, but that does not necessarily translate into challenging, ambitious cinefantastique that explores the full potential of what cinema has to offer.
3. UP – $293.0-million
4. THE TWLIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON – $281.9-million
6. STAR TREK – $257.7-million
7. AVATAR (still in release) – $250.4-million
8. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS – $198.4-million
9. ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS – $196.6-million
11. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE – $179.9-million
14. 2012 – $161.5-million
16. G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA – $150.2-million
19. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (still in release) $136.2-million
20. ANGELS & DEMONS – $133.4-million
21. TERMINATOR SALVATION – $125.3-million
24. G-FORCE – $119.4-million
25. DISTRICT 9 – $115.6-million
27. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY – $107.8-million
28. WATCHMEN – $107.5-million
29. ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL (still in release) $100.2-million
35. SHERLOCK HOLMES (still in release) – $83-million
36. KNOWING – $79.9-million
38. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE – $75.8-million
39. ZOMBIELAND – $75. 6-million
40 CORALINE – $75.2-milion
45. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (still in release) – $70.1-million
47. RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN – $67.2-million
48. THE FINAL DESTINATION – $66.5-million
50. FRIDAY THE 13TH – $65.0-million
51. 17 AGAIN – $ 64.2-million
52. THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE – $63.4-million
56. GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST – $55.3-million
59. MY BLOODY VALENTINE3D – $51.5-million
60. LAND OF THE LOST – $49.4-million
63. UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS – $45.8-million
65. YEAR ONE – $43.3-million
66. THE UNBORN – $42.7-million
68. DRAG ME TO HELL -$42.1-million
69. ORPHAN – $41.6-million
71. PLANET 51 – $39.2-million
72. SURROGATES – $38.6-million
78. HALLOWEEN II – $33.4-million
80. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT – $32.8-million
85. 9 – $31.7-million
87. TOY STORY/TOY STORY 3 (3D) – $30.7-million
89. THE STEPFATHER – $29.1-million
92. SAW VI – $27.7-million
96. THE FOURTH KIND – $25.4-million
97. ALIENS IN THE ATTIC – $25.2-million
104. GAMER – $20.9-million
105. ASTRO BOY – $19.3-million
108. THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX – $18.5-million
113. JENNIFER’S BODY – $16.2-million
114. IMAGINE THAT – $16.1-million
120. PONYO – $15.1-million
131. SORORITY ROW – $11.9-million
134. PANDORUM – $10.3-million
139. DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION – $9.4-million
150. THE ROAD – $6.1-million

Paranormal box office overseas

The sleeper hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, which earned over $100-million in U.S. theatres, is repeating its success in foreign territories, earning $19.4-million last weekend and raising its overseas total to $34-million. That put the ultra-low-budget horror film in third place behind NEW MOON and  2012, and just ahead of Disney’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
NEW MOON GROSSED $40.7 million in its third overseas weekend, lifting its foreign take to $314-million with a worldwide total of $570-million – $200 million more than TWILIGHT.
Roland Emmerich’s 2012 sucked in $37.1-million during its fourth weekend abroad, yielding total foreign sales of $519.3-million, on top of its North American earnings of $149-million. Do the math, and the film has cashed in on $668.2-million around the globe.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL took in $18.3-million over the weekend. The foreign total stands at $128.6-million, the worldwide total at $243.8-million.
Source: Variety