[Box Office Report] Aladdin Grants a Memorial Day Wish for Earnings

Memorial Day weekend just ended here in the United States, and the four-day box office earnings have come out, and it looks like Disney’s newest live-action redo Aladdin has unsurprisingly taken the top spot with $112.7 million, but what is surprising is how much it made this weekend, even with trailer criticism and rumors of problems on set surfaced for months leading up to its release. The film initially garnered good reviews from critics which have somewhat middled-out since its premiere. The $112.7 was not enough to unseat Disney’s own Memorial Day weekend record of $139 million with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It looks like people are willing to give Disney a chance on Aladdin. I personally thought the trailers looked fun, and I wasn’t going to give into trolls and critics on Will Smith’s take on the Genie because it is unfair to compare him to the late great Robin Williams and his classic vocal performance.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum held onto #2 this weekend with $31 million. The dropoff wasn’t terrible for the Keanu Reeves action film which is celebrating its best box office run in the series still. John Wick 4 has already been officially greenlit and will open in theaters in 2021, so don’t be too concerned for the John Wick franchise. This newest installment boasts some of the most intense and gripping action ever put to film, even if the story isn’t as strong as the original’s.

Avengers: Endgame took third place this weekend with $22.3 million. The long-awaited end to the Infinity Saga edges ever closer to Avatar’s worldwide record gross, but I doubt it will have the legs to make it past the James Cameron-directed sci-fi epic. The only factor still at play for the MCU’s latest is a possible bump when Spider-Man: Far From Home drops, but will it be enough?

In fourth this weekend is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu with $17 million. I was still hoping that the first live-action Pokemon film would have performed better, but give the hesitancy to see video game movies and the juggernaut of Endgame, I think the studio should still be proud of Detective Pikachu’s run. You also have to remember that Detective Pikachu was a popular game in Japan, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t even hit stateside until 2018.

The horror-film take on the superhero myth, Brightburn, opened in fifth place this weekend with $9.5 million, below forecast. Both this film and Booksmart took in less-than-stellar hauls, but I think timing on release was a problematic factor. There’s just too much out there right now and people made decisions with their dollars.

This weekend, I didn’t get a chance to nab any of the new releases mentioned here. I was only able to catch the somewhat wider release for the Ralph Fiennes-directed The White Crow. What did you see this weekend? Did you pick with your dollars? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Keanu Reeves Wants to Return to Constantine

Keanu Reeves recently told Variety, “I’ve always wanted to play John Constantine again. I just love that world…and I love that character. I just had a blast playing a character and that world.” The character, John Constantine, was played by Keanu back in 2005 in the film Constantine, which was based on the Hellblazer comic series. Fans of Hellblazer were none too keen on Reeves or his performance in the film, and as someone who read the comics, I understand their frustrations.

This was a pre-MCU timeframe for comic book movies. Hell, in 2005, Christopher Nolan was just barely redefining superhero films with Batman Begins. Spider-Man and X-Men both had franchises that were running pretty strong, but when Constantine hit, it didn’t really have those superhero vibes, and so it didn’t appeal to non-fans of the comic book and it didn’t really appeal to fans of Hellblazer. I personally enjoyed the hell out of it. I had my issues with the film and its adaptation of the Hellblazer story, but I felt like Reeves kicked ass as John Constantine as much as he wasn’t really playing the version of the character I remembered reading.

It was true, and there wouldn’t be a proper version of the John Constantine character until Matt Ryan played in the short-lived 2014 series, and no one watched that either.

With all that being said, I really liked Reeves’s take on the character, and I definitely liked the style that director Francis Lawrence, who would go on to direct films in The Hunger Games franchise as well as I Am Legend, had developed for the film. I felt like there was a lot of potential for a franchise, but we haven’t seen Keanu Reeves as John Constantine in 14 years.

I would love to see him return as the character, but you would have to be very careful in how you approach a sequel. It would have to have a title like Constantine: Hellblazer or Constantine: Another Subtitle, something that wouldn’t flat-out call your film a sequel.

After that, you would have to develop a story that didn’t specifically pick up after the first film, but would be a reboot without starting the continuity over again. That way, you could utilize the wonder Djimon Hounsou as Midnite or Peter Stormare as Satan without recasting the characters. This way, people who forgot about the 2005 Constantine would not feel discouraged or, in the event they never saw the original film, unable to understand a sequel.

But I think it could be done. Oh yes, I believe so.

The question begs to be asked, though. Would anyone watch it this time around? That I’m not so sure of.

So what do you think? Would you watch a Constantine 2? Do you think it will ever happen? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Parasite from Bong Joon-ho Wins Palme d’Or at Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival ended Saturday night with Parasite, the newest film from director Bong Joon-ho, taking the prestigious Palme d’Or. It was thought that this year might be Quentin Tarantino’s return with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but his film, which was also widely praised at the festival, failed to snag a single award. Tarantino had won the prize 25 years back with Pulp Fiction.

Joon-ho’s is not a household name in America, but he has been captivated audiences for years with his unique take, not only on genre film, but on storytelling in general, and shouts and praise rained down when Parasite was announced as the winner. The decision was “unanimous,” according to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Jury’s president.

I was a major fan of Joon-ho’s Okja, which came out about 2 years ago, and his Snowpiercer has become a cult classic. This just makes me all the more excited to see Parasite and what comes next for the impressive filmmaker.

So what do you think? Are you excited for Parasite now that it holds the Palme d’Or? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Akira Gets a Release Date!

Cross your fingers on this one, kiddos, because I guarantee we’ve made this claim before.

The Wrap is reporting that the live-action Akira film that has been stewing for years in development hell is now set to release May 21, 2021. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way is set to produce the film with Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi helming the film.

The original Akira is set in Neo-Tokyo, a dystopian city built after the original Tokyo was destroyed. Tetsuo, a teenager, is targeted by the government when he starts developing psychic powers.

It also sounds like Waititi is aiming for an adaptation of the manga source material over a remake of the animated film, which I am all for. We already have an animated Akira that is beloved by many. Why even bother with another version of the same thing if you can go back to the source material and mine it for things that weren’t able to be done when that film was released and give a new fresh spin overall.

It’s hard for me to imagine a Taika Waititi-directed Akira film, and that’s not to say he can’t do it. I just haven’t seen anything from him that makes me shout Akira, but I trust him as a filmmaker after the success he has had with some truly great and fun popcorn cinema.

I know that the track record for Akira project actually getting off the ground is shaky but I have real faith in the version now set to be released in 2021. I won’t guarantee anything until I see some production photos to prove it, but I’m enthused.

What do you think? Are you excited for a live-action Akira directed by Taiki Waititi? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Sequel to A Quiet Place Sneaks Into March 2020 Slot

Paramount Pictures has shuffled several of its movie slots around, including the upcoming sequel to the smash-hit A Quiet Place from last year. The sequel, as of yet, is still untitled, but what is known is that John Krasinski is set to direct the sequel with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe returning and Cillian Murphy added to the cast.

The film’s newest release date is two months earlier, resting in a comfortable March 20, 2020 slot. It had previously held the May 15 position right in the heart of blockbuster season.

For me, I think A Quiet Place 2, or whatever it will be called, has a better positioning in March. So many films and potential franchises try to play in the May slots and it’s a tough battle. I just can’t imagine anything but the billion dollar franchises wanting to duke it out in May. I think the sequel will stand a lot better in March when we get some of that smaller genre fair. The film has great appeal in that it has a type of horror not reliant on the R-rating that other horror films get.

Now, what I want is a little more info on where this film is going. Krasinski and Blunt initially sounded hesitant on returning to the sequel, so I’m curious to see what brought them back and where they plan on taking the story.

So what do you think? Is the move to March 2020 a successful one for A Quiet Place’s sequel? Are you excited for it? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early TV Review] The Hot Zone: Episodes 1 & 2 (2019)

Director: Michael Uppendahl

Cast: Julianna Margulies, Noah Emmerich, Liam Cunningham, Topher Grace, Paul James, Nick Searcy, Robert Wisdom, Robert Sean Leonard

Screenplay: James V. Hart, Brian Peterson, Kelly Soulders, Jeff Vintar

96 mins. Rated TV-14.

 

I had the pleasure of viewing a press screening for the premiere episodes of The Hot Zone, a new miniseries based on the book by Richard Preston. My wife loves the book and has read it a few times, but I knew very little about the story save that it was based on true events. Nevertheless, I was probably more excited because of how little I knew, and upon seeing the first two episodes, I really want to see the conclusion.

The year is 1989. The Ebola virus appears on U.S. soil, in close proximity to the White House, in a group of chimpanzees in a research lab. There is no known cure. Dr. Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulies, The Upside, TV’s ER), a U.S. Army scientist, puts herself in danger in order to try and cut off the potential outbreak before it reaches the general population.

The first thing I can say about the episodes I watched is that they are generally not for the faint of heart. If you know anything about the viruses depicted in the show, then you know that there are a lot of nasty things happening to its victims. It’s not a joy to watch, but it looks incredibly real and detailed, and the mystery and danger around it is quite exciting.

For the most part, the acting works. It’s a good crew of principal performers, and Margulies does a capable job of believably keeping the focus on a threat, but there are time when she and Noah Emmerich (Super 8, Jane Got a Gun), who plays husband Jerry, feel like they missed the chemistry and, in doing so, the performances get a little wooden. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it kind of takes you out of the story.

Everyone else is mostly on par with things here, with specific attention thrown to Liam Cunningham (Hunger, TV’s Game of Thrones). Cunningham plays Wade Carter, former mentor to Nancy, who has secluded himself from this kind of work but now finds himself back in the game. Cunningham gives an intense and powerful turn as Carter, something not so surprising after his great performance in Game of Thrones.

Director Michael Uppendahl, known for his work on TV’s The Walking Dead, directs all six episodes in the miniseries, and his work in the first two is quite good. I was pretty enthralled and interested in seeing where it leads. It’s tough to see his follow-through on only a third of the work, but most of the audience at our screening was pretty captivated by his storytelling on display.

The screenplay is written with good pacing, but there are questionable choices made on the writing of Peter Jahrling’s character. Jahrling, played by Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3, Breakthrough), should be a smart man, and he is portrayed as a rather cocky man, but he does some stupid things out of fear, and I would need to find out if what happened in the miniseries with his character is completely truthful, but I feel like it was written in a way that didn’t make is arc completely believable in the series, and something should have been done to elevate it.

The Hot Zone has an engaging and exciting opening pair of episodes that should keep viewers enthralled to see its conclusion. It always feels like TV, but it’s pretty solid TV overall. The performances are mostly good most of the time, the standout being Cunningham as well as the always entertaining Nick Searcy (The Shape of Water, The Best of Enemies). It’s a gruesome story at times, but always for the sake of realism and never to extreme excess to shock the viewership. I’ll be looking forward to its conclusion. You should be looking forward, too.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[The Untruth] The Pokemon, Home Alone, and Seinfeld Cinematic Universe

This is The Untruth, a new series of articles examining the craziest theories I have come up while watching movies. But it’s all true, I swear!

Today, we will be examining how the Pokemon Universe actually contains Home Alone and Seinfeld.

I saw Pokemon: Detective Pikachu recently (actual review coming soon), and there two moments that stood out to me. Actually, there were probably a hundred moments, but we are just going to focus on two. The first moment happens when Tim Goodman returns to his father’s apartment to clean it out, and the second is a shared moment in a supply closet/office between Pikachu and Psyduck. Follow me here…

 

Point #1: Angles with Filthy Souls

Tim Goodman arrives at his dead father’s apartment to clean up and get it over with. As he enters the apartment, he hears something playing on the television. His father’s television is playing Angels with Filthy Souls, an old mobster noir film. This film appears in Home Alone as well.

You say, “Big whoop! It’s a classic mobster movie, isn’t it?”

Here’s the ticket: Angels with Filthy Souls isn’t a real movie. It was a fake film only created by the production team behind Home Alone. So if it isn’t real except in the world of Home Alone, then obviously Pokemon: Detective Pikachu exists in that world.

POINT MADE!

 

Okay, okay, okay, but it’s probably just a little fun easter egg for the fanbase, right?

Wrong! Careful consideration was put into placing Angels with Filthy Souls into Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. Sure, it’s a reference to noir films that Harry Goodman liked so much to watch, but is it really? Because according to the Home Alone wiki, the film only really has one scene of note, and it features two gangsters in a duel of wits and weapons. Even the sequel, Angels with Even Filthier Souls, doesn’t feature detectives, nor does the actual film that the title is based on, Angels with Dirty Faces. If it’s only there to denote the noir detective story that Detective Pikachu is, then why not use the myriad of other noir detective films of merit, like The Big Heat or Out of the Past, both featuring great detective characters.

So the choice to put Angels with Filthy Souls on the screen was deliberately to reference Home Alone, not the detective subgenre of noir. Therefore, it exists only in a world where Angels with Filthy Souls exist: The Home Alone Pokemon Cinematic Universe, or The HAPCU.

POINT DEFENDED!

But wait, there’s more…

 

Point #2: Serenity Now, Insanity Later

For those of you that do not spend a lot of time in the Pokemon Universe, Psyduck, the Pokemon partner of Lucy Stevens, is a Pokemon with a lot of power, but in the film, we see that Psyduck’s power breaks free when it becomes too stressed. Pikachu knows this, and tries to calm the concerned and frustrated Psyduck down by saying “Serenity Now” to it.

You say, “Big whoop! I’ve heard people say that before, what of it?”

Here’s the ticket: The phrase Serenity Now only entered the lexicon in the last twenty-some years. Where did it come from? Seinfeld, a show about nothing. Okay, so what does this mean? It means that Pikachu would have to exist in a world with Seinfeld, because there’s no other explanation for this phrasing’s inclusion in the film.

POINT MADE!

 

But I’m not done here, folks…

Because it is possible that the fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld from the television series doesn’t exist in the HAPCU, but instead is a show within the universe. Why would this matter? Because there is another piece of pop culture that contains Seinfeld as an in-universe show. What’s that, you ask?

Curb Your Enthusiasm.

 

Point #3: A pretty…pretty…pretty good argument.

Throughout Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Nine-Season run on HBO (with reportedly more on the way), we’ve seen the fictional version of Larry David credited and known for creating Seinfeld with Jerry Seinfeld. So just like the argument for Angels with Filthy Souls being a fictional film within the Home Alone franchise and the Pokemon franchise, Seinfeld is a fictional show in the Pokemon franchise and the Curb Your Enthusiasm series. If that is indeed the case (which it is), then Pikachu would have to have seen Seinfeld, the television series, created by the Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Therefore, Pokemon exists in the same universe as Curb Your Enthusiasm.

POINT MADE AND DEFENDED!

 

So what does it all mean?

It means that Pokemon: Detective Pikachu has constructed a fictional universe which contains Kevin McCallister, Larry David, and a talking sentient Pikachu who solves crimes and loves coffee. The Home Alone Pokemon Curb Your Enthusiasm Cinematic Universe, or the HAPCYEUCU for short.

-It means that, if Kevin really wanted to defend his home from the Wet Bandits, he need only a Charizard.

-It means that, if the Wet Bandits really wanted to rob the McCallister home, they could’ve used a Gengar with much better results.

-It means that, if Jerry Seinfeld really wanted to put his girlfriend to sleep so he can play with her toys, he should catch a Jigglypuff and have it sing to her.

-It means that, if Larry David really wanted to use the carpool lane at all times, he should catch a Ditto and then have it transform into a passenger.

 

It’s all so simple now!

And the most important thing, It’s The Untruth. All of it. I swear.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

They May Not Like It, But Literally Everyone Watched Game of Thrones

As expected, the much anticipated and much scrutinized final episode of Game of Thrones aired on Sunday night, and the reports have come out with its impressive viewership.

The episode’s viewership numbered 19.3 million across the various HBO platforms, including the television channel, HBO Go, and HBO NOW. The previous episode, The Bells, had held the record for a week with 18.4 million. The telecast also broke HBO records, with 13.6 million. The previous record-holder was The Sopranos with its Season 4 premiere at 13.4 million.

As divisive as the fanbase has been over this final season of the hit HBO fantasy series, everyone still turned out to see if showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were going to stick the landing.

This writer and fan believes they did.

I was truly engaged with the series and happened to find a lot to love in the final season. Really, my two biggest problems were the pacing (a necessary aspect due to the production budget and scheduling that I just had to accept) and the treatment of Bronn. While the latter is perfectly tied up, it worked well enough for me to give is a pass. I also have things I didn’t agree with in the finale, but I’m not the storyteller here and, even though none of my predictions came to fruition, I didn’t really care. I would rather be surprised with a plot point than have everything I want at the end. It was still a very satisfying ending to a very satisfyingly frustrating show.

Not everyone agrees with me, though, and critical reviews of the last half of Season 8 will drag the entire season into the lowest-rated season of the series.

So where were you when Game of Thrones ended? Did you view the telecast or catch it the next day? Did you watch it at all?  Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Box Office Report] John Wick Takes the Avengers Out

So consider this your box office report.

The weekend numbers are rolling in and it sounds like the Avengers have been taken out of the top spot domestically by John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The third film in the John Wick franchise earned $57 million dollars. This is a huge increase from the opening numbers for the second film and sure signs that audiences are still turning out huge for Keanu Reeves and his master killer. It’s no surprise that the film is set to do well with critics (see Rotten Tomatoes) and fans (see Cinemascore) praising the film.

I wouldn’t be too concerned for Avengers: Endgame, though, with taking second place this weekend. The film brought in $29 million and has passed Avatar at the domestic box office. I’m officially off the certainty wagon for the film’s chances to pass Avatar at the worldwide take, but either way, this one is going to a close race. Domestically, though, Endgame sits behind The Force Awakens for the #1 domestic of all time, a feat which I also do not believe it has the stamina for. I think the deciding factor will be Endgame’s legs and resurgence once Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out.

In third is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, bringing in $24 million and now sitting with $93 million domestically. It’s been a hard road for Detective Pikachu opening just two weeks after Endgame snapped out all competition, but Pikachu is chugging right along. Globally, it has $287 million on a $150 million budget, so here’s hoping it can keep those little yellow legs scurrying toward some more take if we are to see franchise potential here.

A Dog’s Journey plopped into fourth with $8 million, making less than half of its predecessor’s opening weekend back in 2017. For someone like me who did not have much interest in the first film, I thought the ideas presented in the sequel were at least interesting and worth checking out, but the audience numbers just weren’t there.

The Hustle took fifth place this weekend with $6 million. The film, starring Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway, has not performed to expectations and was met with scathing reviews upon release. It’s no wonder it has ceased to find an audience. I personally was more than underwhelmed by its marketing campaign.

Finally, The Sun is Also a Star, the last major new release of the weekend, opened to a disappointing eighth place with $2.6 million. These types of films tend to do pretty good on streaming platforms, but as theatrical releases, this is a sub-genre that just struggles to bring asses to the seats.

So there you have it. The box office reporting for last week. I’m glad to see that John Wick, Avengers, and Pokemon are seeing good returns in the top three spots and as May continues to drop heavy-hitters, it will be an interesting box office battle to say the least.

Did you see anything this last weekend? What did you think? Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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