Those of you with an interest in the changing face of theatrical exhibition and film festival bylaws (there are dozens of us!) may have caught wind of some recent meshugas unfolding in France. This year’s main Competition slate at the Cannes Film Festival included two films from online-streaming giant Netflix, Bong Joon Ho’s creature feature Okja and Noah Baumbach’s singlehanded resurrection of Adam Sandler The Meyerowitz Stories. But there‘s been some consternation about opening the gates of Cannes to films that may never see release in France outside of the Internet. Is a movie that doesn’t play in a movie theater a movie at all?
We‘ve only just entered May, but in the first few months of 2017, the year has yielded a surprisingly eclectic array of blockbusters. Survey the biggest earners to date, and you’ll see a socially critical horror flick from a first-time director, a spin-off based on a cross-property licensing deal within a corporate brand expansion, and a tough-as-nails superhero side project with post-apocalyptic Western overtones. The latest Fast and Furious installment looks most at home in the top five so far, but more unexpected still is that it’s been handily defeated by the year’s top earner, Disney’s handsomely mounted revival of Beauty and the Beast. And now, the unlikely box-office behemoth has claimed another record.
For every superhero, there is a season — turn, turn, turn. As Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters today following months of anticipation, America now turns our gnat-like attention spans to the next big super-release. In about a month, we’ll have another cape-free caper, with Wonder Woman scheduled for June 2. And while we’ve all had time to gape at the trailers and posters and Instagram posts from those on set, we still have yet to actually glimpse any in-context footage. Until now, that is!
For my money, Rose Mary Walls is the worst mother in the whole of literature, and that includes Sophie Portnoy. A million-dollar heiress who refused her wealth because she believed it’d be good for her children to grow up in abject poverty with a profligate alcoholic, she put her daughter Jeannette through hell. Jeannette would later translate her tragic upbringing into the best-selling memoir The Glass Castle, which director Destin Daniel Cretton will soon translate once more onto the silver screen. And in addition to the first official still above, that film has inched closer to being by laying claim to a release date.
In case you weren’t aware, a pretty major situation has been percolating in the entertainment industry over the past month. Unsatisfied with the conditions of their work and continued employment, the Writers’ Guild of America went to the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers to renegotiate the terms of their collective contract. A bitter standoff summarily broke out, with the possibility of another writers’ strike — you may remember the last freeze-out, which stretched from late 2007 into early 2008 — looming on the horizon. Today brings a resolution to the saga of the last few weeks, and in true Hollywood fashion, everyone’s getting a happy ending.
Out with the old X-Men, in with the new. Neither DC nor fully Marvel, the odd-duck X-Men cinematic franchise has been in the process of reinventing itself over the past couple installments by gradually integrating its past and present. I mean that literally — through a whole heap of time-travel tomfoolery, the original X-People we came to know during the original trilogy of films in the early ’00s have been commingled with the new generation of throwback X-Folks as shown in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. The chronology can be a lot to swallow, and it’s about to get even more confusing: we may now have two Rogues.
Now that Austin Powers has safely moved past its “overexposure through incessant quoting” phase, there’s a lot to love about the movie. The peppy flute theme from Quincy Jones, Myers’ screwloose double-turn as the International Man of Mystery and his pinky-brandishing nemesis, the kitschy ’60s-by-way-of-’90s design, it‘s all a pretty good time. (Not to mention that the tactfully obscured nude scene is a marvel of blocking and composition.) A recent oral history has gotten Myers’ most beloved comic creation back in the public eye, and amidst rumors that a sequel may be in the cards at some indeterminate point in the future, another surprising discovery has been made.
The Overlook Film Festival just began its inaugural proceedings last night, inviting cinephiles and horror enthusiasts to take in some film with a singular location for a backdrop: the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon, better known to you as the Overlook Hotel and the setting of Stephen King adaptation The Shining. One could scarcely imagine a scene more apropos for the revelation that another big King remake is in the works, so Blumhouse (you know, the studio behind every horror blockbuster of the last few years) head Jason Blum and director-writer Akiva Goldsman took full advantage of their unique surroundings for a major announcement. And in the immortal words of Nelly, it’s getting hot in here.
If I learned anything about Abu Dhabi from watching the entirety of Sex and the City 2 while sitting in a tattoo parlor waiting room (which actually happened and is not a joke), it’s that the United Arab Emirates city is a mecca of wealth. The oil-rich nation has concentrated much of its affluence in its capital, and accordingly, the area has exploded with development in recent years. Skyscrapers have cropped up like so many dandelions, massive tourist resorts now dot the coastline, and high-end boutique shopping caters to such fashionable visitors as Carrie Bradshaw and her pals. And while Abu Dhabi’s latest attraction won’t invite as many Dolce & Gabbana puns as one might like, it will delight comic book fans worldwide.
People like a legend. When Heath Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in January 2008, he had just completed principal photography on his Academy Award-winning role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s grown-up Batman flick The Dark Knight. With zero foundation in confirmed public knowledge, a narrative sprung up around Ledger’s troubled final days, that the psychological demands of portraying a figure as sick and twisted as the Joker weighed too heavily on the actor. The apocryphal notion that the role ultimately drove Ledger to suicide is way off the mark, however, explains Ledger’s sister Kate.
This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
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