Tag Archives: minions

US Box Office Report: 14/08/15 – 16/08/15

Audiences head straight into Compton, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s cover is blown, Mistress America takes home a Participation Award, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Surprising absolutely nobody who is at least somewhat aware of popular culture, Straight Outta Compton is your new box office number 1.  Having said that, though, I don’t think anybody was prepared for just how much of a success the thing would be.  You see, Straight Outta Compton didn’t just take first place with ease, it did so with $56 million, almost $40 million more than the second place film managed.  That’s an absolute domination, a ridiculous opening for a non-sequel/franchise movie, and an utterly sensational opening for a film in August which is typically a complete dead zone at the box office.  I’d sit here and make terrible N.W.A, “Forgot About Dre”, and “It Was A Good Day” puns but, honestly, I’m too gobsmacked at the ridiculous success to make puns.  That’s just amazing.

Similarly surprising was the complete non-performance of The Man From U.N.C.L.E..  Perhaps due to a combination of an off-putting marketing campaign, that I really liked if nothing else, and tepid reviews, which are mostly wrong as you’ll find out in my own review later in the week, Guy Ritchie’s latest adventure in Hollywoodland face-planted right out of the gate.  Losing the battle for second place to Mission: Impossible quite handily, The Man cried U.N.C.L.E. – eh? Eh? EH?! – and bowed out for the weekend with only $13.5 million.  Nice to see that the Warner Bros. “funding off-beat and often great blockbusters with loads of money only to see bugger-all people turn up to watch” streak is still intact, if nothing else.

Whilst we’re still affixing our eye to the Top 10, let’s briefly check back in with everyone’s favourite complete and total catastrophic failure, Fantastic 4.  After failing to achieve the number 1 slot last week and earning roughly half of what it was projected to, the film continued its magnificent spiral of humiliation with a near 70% drop between this past weekend and opening weekend.  Enjoy looking at this one, folks.  This is the kind of old-school catastrophe that modern Hollywood was supposedly designed to completely avoid.  It’s a beautiful sight, like a unicorn grazing underneath a double rainbow.

In the realm of limited releases, Noah Baumbach’s second film this year, Mistress America, did surprisingly poorly.  I mean, sure, we’re talking very relatively when I say that $94,000 from 4 theatres is poor.  But Baumbach usually has much better openings than this.  Hell, he already had one such opening earlier this year when While We’re Young opened to $227,688 from 4 screens, whilst his last collaboration with Greta Gerwig, 2013’s Frances Ha, opened to $137,398 from 4 screens.  Maybe, just maybe, audiences are getting sick of movies about annoying self-obsessed New Yorkers.  Wouldn’t that be something?  Meanwhile, the Jemaine Clement-starring People Places Things Nouns got off to a poor start on 19 screens with just $31,000 for a per-screen average of $1,632.


straight outta compton

The jury has found this Full List guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chickensh*t motherf*cker.

Box Office Results: Friday 14th August 2015 – Sunday 16th August 2015

1] Straight Outta Compton

$56,100,000 / NEW

Man, I really cannot wait for this!  That’s literally all I’ve got for this one, since I haven’t managed to listen to Dre’s “Compton” yet – that’s a job for tonight, before anyone asks.  I will note, however, that an opening like this is yet another sign that mid-budget stories about non-White protagonists, starring a non-White cast and aimed at predominately-non-White audiences are a lucrative and untapped market.  A sign that, as per usual, will most likely go stringently ignored by Hollywood.

2] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

$17,000,000 / $138,137,000

Man From U.N.C.L.E. outclasses this movie in every respect.  Just thought I’d let you know that.

3] The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

$13,535,000 / NEW

Saw this on Friday and the review will be up on my site tomorrow – in the meanwhile, Brooker’s got a good review of it up here.  Short version: probably the best non-Fury Road blockbuster I’ve seen all year.  Lot of fun, lots going on under the hood, and impeccably acted with Alicia Vikander nearly running away with the film from everyone else.  It’s the first time that “Guy Ritchie, Hollywood Director” has made sense to me, and not coincidentally is the first time he was allowed a crack at the script, so it’s a shame that the film’s box office failure sadly guarantees that we’ll be getting “Hired Gun, Guy Ritchie” for the next few years.

4] Fantastic 4

$8,000,000 / $41,961,000

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (*continues like so for another 15 minutes*)

5] The Gift

$6,500,000 / $23,577,000

Don’t even talk to me about the ending of this.  Seriously, it’s been well over a week and I still can’t make up my mind on it.  Or, more specifically, I can’t stop trying to rationalise an objectively disgusting and too-far ending as honestly kind of brilliant.  Jackson noted that I basically already summed it up when I described the whole film as “very Fincher”, but I still can’t let this go.  If nothing else, at least The Gift has stuck with me a week later, unlike the very vast majority of films that have been released so far this year.

6] Ant-Man

$5,517,000 / $157,568,000

Emily Blunt for Carol Danvers, please!  Seriously, it’s perfect casting.  She’s got the acting chops, Edge of Tomorrow proved that she can be a walking badass when required, she’s more than willing to dye her hair blonde if that’s necessary, she was already going to be Black Widow until Fox forced her to do Gulliver’s Travels instead, and she’s English which continues the superhero movie tradition of casting British leads in American hero roles!  Come on, it’s a no-brainer!

I mean, unless the Bond producers do the right thing and cast her as the next Bond.  Either of these two things happening will satisfy me.

7] Vacation

$5,330,000 / $46,852,000

Once I’ve finished my Man From U.N.C.L.E. review after this, I’ll be sitting down to watch the original National Lampoon’s Vacation in preparation for Friday.  Not Tuesday, what’s the point of going to a Cineworld Unlimited Screening for a film that’s out about 48 hours later and looks terrible?  Ugh, Unlimited screenings have been going down the drain recently…

Hmm?  “The next one’s Sicario, two weeks before its UK release”?  Oh, Cineworld!  Have I ever told you how much I love you?

8] Minions

$5,200,000 / $312,969,000

A round of applause for Universal Studios for becoming the fastest studio to break $2 billion domestic in a single year, besting Warner Bros.’ previous record by a good 4 months!  That’s what happens when you release a whole load of good films that people want to see… and are also part of really successful franchises.  OK, I guess we should probably temper that applause slightly, this was basically already predetermined by merely looking at that release schedule.

9] Ricki and the Flash

$4,570,000 / $14,656,000

Oh.  Well, err, bye Ricki, I guess.

10] Trainwreck

$3,800,000 / $97,919,000

Review will be up on my site on Wednesday.  Gonna keep my opinion under-wraps until then, in a failed attempt to build up suspense and intrigue.  I will, though, let slip that I can now happily count the number of good comedies released this year on 3 fingers.  That is also a sentence that looks incredibly depressing typed out like that.  This goddamn year…

Dropped Out: Pixels, Southpaw

Callum Petch is nine exits north of Las Vegas.  He now writes for his own website (callumpetch.com).  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

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US Box Office Report: 07/08/15 – 09/08/15

The Fantastic 4 are dead, audiences tentatively accept The Gift, Ricki and the Flash got booed off-stage, motherfuckers didn’t go and see Shaun the Sheep Movie, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

We’re probably never going to get another Fantastic 4 movie again.  Not only is the one that was dropped into theatres this past weekend a complete steaming abomination, so venomously destroyed by critics it makes Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 look like Schindler’s List, and dogged by so many rumours of troubled and failed production that the thing more resembled a turd that is being swarmed by hungry flies – hope you’re enjoying your breakfast this morning – even the public wanted nothing to do with it.  Most stayed away, smelling a stinker, and even those $26 million worth of people who chose to brave the cinema anyway despised it, giving it an atrocious C- Cinemascore.  This franchise is done.  Even if Marvel get their toys back, it’s done.  There is no coming back from a bomb like this, the brand has been tainted irreparably, it is done.

So, whilst 20th Century Fox was dragging Marvel’s original super-team through the mud one more time out of seemingly nothing more than spite, Joel Edgerton was making his directorial debut with the surprisingly great The Gift.  Having been promised a horror/thriller in the vein of producer Jason Blum’s other works – namely: Damn Near Every Single Horror Movie of the Last 3 Years – audiences arrived in a somewhat healthy amount and were instead presented with a drama with thriller elements.  Whether or not they were happy about this is still up to debate, but it led to a strong $12 million opening, one of the few unqualified successes of this miserable weekend, and people actually seeing The Gift, so mission accomplished!

Yeah, this was one really bad weekend at the box office.  In Wide-ish releases, Jonathan Demme’s return to directing films for a somewhat mainstream audience, Ricki and the Flash, was unceremoniously shrugged to death by audiences, raking in a paltry $7 million for seventh place despite featuring Meryl Streep as an aging rocker.  You’d think that that’d be something that people would be dying to see!  But at least it wasn’t Shaun the Sheep Movie.  Despite being one of the year’s best films, having rave reviews from critics, and me being on your case about seeing it for the last several months, the film didn’t even crack the Top 10 despite opening on well over 2,000 screens.  For fucksake, America!  It’s Aardman!  What do you people have against Aardman, you cretins!?

Things improved slightly in the world of limited releases, though.  Whilst The End of the Tour expanded to 36 locations and flailed about for dear life with only $253,000, The Diary of a Teenage Girl was making a pretty decent $55,000 from 4 screens considering the whole “underage sex” part and everything.  Jon Watts’ sophomore feature, the pretty decent-looking thriller Cop Car, managed a strong $27,000 from 3 screens, whilst Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, an animated adaptation of exactly what it says, managed an excellent $26,000 from two screens because FUCKING LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS THIS THING IS!

Also worthy of note is Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.  The film’s been out since Tuesday and has been blowing people away by posting strong numbers during the week – nearly $2 million on the first day and $1.5 million on the second.  Now, I can’t report anything about its weekend for certain, cos FUNimation have been playing weird “now it’s here, now it’s not” games with it, but Dragon Ball is on course to have earned well over $5 million in its first 6 days, whilst remaining in limited release the entire time, never breaking more than 1,000 theatres.  Considering that Anime doesn’t do well in Western cinemas, that is majorly impressive.


MIRN

“It’s Full List time!” is what my older brother used to say before he beat the sh*t out of me.  I’m just kidding, I only have a younger brother.

Box Office Results: Friday 7th August 2015 – Sunday 9th August 2015

1] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

$29,400,000 / $108,654,000

Forgot to mention this at all last week, but this movie has one of the most blatant examples of Fridging – the art of brutally murdering a character, typically a wife and almost always a woman, for cheap heat/motivation – that I have seen in a Hollywood film in ages.  Like, good lord, even Tak3n was less blatant about it!  But, despite these things usually riling me up to no end, this one did nothing for me.  I just sorta sighed resignedly.  It’s like when a bratty kid tries to microwave the family hamster; you’re not angry, you just sigh because you know they’re just doing it for the attention.

2] Fantastic 4

$26,200,000 / NEW

I’m done.  I’m not going to waste any more words on this.  Here’s my review, go read that.  I’m not going to waste any more column inches on this thing because, as I detailed extensively in my review, this is not a film.  This is 100 minutes of 20th Century Fox mooning Marvel Studios over the fact that they can’t have their toys back.  You could shoot and release bowel movements of mine and they’d be closer to being actual f*cking movies than this piece of sh*t is!  So, no, I’m done.  Let’s move on.

3] The Gift

$12,007,000 / NEW

Review will be up on my site on Tuesday, but I will say that I really enjoyed this one.  I’m even coming around to its ending, which initially rubbed me up the wrong way for a number of reasons but is growing on me as time goes on.  Make sure you give this a shot, even if you’re averse to thrillers since it’s actually mainly a drama.

4] Vacation

$9,145,000 / $37,325,000

Not too bad of a slide, only 37%, but there also wasn’t much to slide from, so let’s maybe not bust out any party poppers or anything, OK?

5] Ant-Man

$7,826,000 / $147,436,000

Oh, man, I really hope that Fantastic 4’s utter abysmalness doesn’t have a knock-on effect to the good comic book movies.  For one, the last thing we need are people believing that the only way to make successful versions of these are to have white male leads, because you know some arsehole pillock studio head is going to correlate the Johnny Storm race-lift to the film’s total box office failure.  Plus, my brother, who is way more down the Marvel rabbit hole than I am, thought that this was a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was therefore planning on seeing this until I corrected him.  Just saying, some people are just going to see the Marvel logo and assume they make all of these movies, even the terrible ones, and that’s the last thing they want.

6] Minions

$7,400,000 / $302,754,000

Despicable Me 2 is now on UK Netflix for those of you who have yet to see it.  I recommend giving it a shot, it’s really crazy and funny but it’s also legitimately sweet…

Look, I’m going to keep working my arse off to ensure you all realise that you don’t hate the Minions because of their films.  You hate them because of advertising oversaturation and appropriation by the kind of evil, heartless, mindless drones who force Facebook memes into existence.  *shudders*

7] Ricki and the Flash

$7,000,000 / NEW

Having watched the trailer for the first time whilst writing this piece, I now understand why this face-planted right out of the gate.  This looks awful, like a Lifetime movie inexplicably granted cinema space.  I’m still optimistic, because it’s Jonathan Demme and Diablo Cody and I know that trailers are oftentimes just dreadful, but I get why nobody really turned up to it.

8] Trainwreck

$6,300,000 / $91,102,000

Four more days!  Oh, thank the Maker for this weekend!  This, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Absolutely Anything back-to-back-to-back!  It’s like the Movie Gods looked down on me and went, “Callum.  Buddy, old pal.  Sorry for the last few weeks, and sorry for pushing Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 out of your Bottom 5 Films of 2015 list.  But you’ve made it through with your love and enthusiasm for this medium still intact, so here’s a week of nothing but good-looking films you’re excited for as a reward!  Good show!”

9] Pixels

$5,430,000 / $57,645,000

Oh, yeah, that spoiler piece on Pixels that I was supposed to write.  I haven’t forgotten, I’ve just been busy.  And my interest in doing it has gone.  Heh.  OK, here’s the deal, if it’s not up on my site by Thursday, it ain’t coming and y’all will just have to deal with it.  Sound good to everyone?  Bully for you if it doesn’t.

10] Southpaw

$4,764,000 / $40,726,000

You people watched this again instead of Shaun the Sheep?  You’re all a disgrace to humanity.

Dropped Out: Paper Towns, Inside Out, Jurassic World

Callum Petch weathered the storm.  He now writes for his own website (callumpetch.com).  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 31/07/15 – 02/08/15

Mission: Impossible doesn’t self-destruct, nobody wanted to go on Vacation cos they’d reached The End of the Tour, you should all Listen To Me Marlon, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Good morning, readers.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out all of the latest Box Office happenings as relayed to you by a tired British hack who has spent way too much time staring at open Word and WordPress documents these past few weeks.  The mission will be perilous, as he makes hacky jokes and the occasional generalisation about films that he hasn’t seen, and he may be acting on false information, since the actuals don’t come in until this afternoon, but if there is anyone who can survive this task it is you, and if there was anybody more qualified to run one simple gag into the ground in an attempt to disguise the fact that he has next-to-no material this week then they’d be doing this instead of me.  I mean, him.  I, err… This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.

OK, with that nonsense out of the way, let’s do this properly.  Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the latest in the series that I’ve never quite gotten and whose sequel naming is officially the enemy of the English language, managed to continue the series rise back from the brink of failure with an easy number one opening of $56 million, the second-biggest opening of the entire series barring Mission: Impossible II’s $57.8 million.  I’d say that the film “Cruise-d” its way to victory, but I’m full enough of self-loathing so let’s pretend that never happened and move on.

Not that it had much of a challenge.  The only other wide-release of the weekend came from somebody at Warner Bros.’ New Line Cinema division insisting that we needed a Vacation sequel/reboot/thing – probably the same person who greenlit the Hot Pursuit shooting script – and so one was dumped into our laps even though we already had plans, full of people we didn’t want to spend time with (with apologies to Christina Applegate), and we didn’t want it.  Much like a real family vacation.  Unlike a real family vacation, however, attending Vacation wasn’t compulsory, so most Americans opted out and the film finished the weekend in a distant second with just under $15 million.

In limited release news, The End of the Tour, the controversial semi-biopic about David Foster Wallace directed by the criminally underrated James Ponsoldt, was the roaring success managing to nab $126,000 from 4 screens for a fantastic per-screen average of $31,500 and me sat here wondering in a very irritated fashion as to why it doesn’t have a UK distributor, dammit!  Less successful, but also doing pretty decently, was the Marlon Brando documentary Listen To Me Marlon which picked up $29,000 from 2 screens for a per-screen average of you do the math.  Falling flat on its face, by comparison, was the glorified informercial A LEGO Brickumentary which could only sucker in $92,000 worth of people from 93 screens for a per-screen average of $452.  I guess the dulcet tones of Jason Bateman are nothing compared to those of Marlon Brando when he’s talking about himself.  Although, in fairness, that could also be said about most things.


mi5

This Full List is running running and running running and running running.  That was both a Mission: Impossible gag and a Black Eyed Peas reference because this is that joke that is my life.

Box Office Results: Friday 31st July 2015 – Sunday 2nd August 2015

1] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

$56,000,000 / NEW

Saw this Saturday, but there won’t be a review because it would just consist of something close to 2,000 words of me trying and failing to identify the reason(s) why this series does nothing for me besides “these are technically strong action movies”.  Seriously, this fact bugs the hell out of me.  The Mission: Impossible series presses so many of my personal Things I Love buttons – practical effects action sequences, spy stuff, writing characters into tight impossible situations and seeing how they get out, gambits in spades – but the films themselves just leave me somewhat cold.  Answers on a postcard, please.

2] Vacation

$14,850,000 / NEW

This reminds me, I need to actually watch the old Vacation movies before I get subjected to this in two weeks.  Yeah, the trailer did nothing to me except make my eyes glaze over.  In fairness, I could say that about nearly any comedy trailer, but we are in a f*cking nadir for feature-length comedies with this year’s offerings, and I really doubt that this is going to be the thing that pulls us out.

3] Ant-Man

$12,619,000 / $132,148,000

Oi, you!  Have you watched Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp yet?  If not, go do that!  Actually, wait.  Have you watched Wet Hot American Summer first?  If no, go and do that and then go watch First Day of Camp.  Seriously, you’ll thank me later.  I basically spent my Friday doing nothing but watch First Day of Camp and it was SO WORTH IT!

4] Minions

$12,200,000 / $287,391,000

This appeared at no. 10 on Mark Kermode’s Mid-Term Best Of list this week, which was a surprise.  A pleasant one, because Minions is great, but a surprise nonetheless.  Relatedly, I have only seen 3 of the films on his list and would put none of them on mine because I am a tasteless heathen.

5] Pixels

$10,400,000 / $45,611,000

So, last week, somebody on Twitter, not gonna name any names and they’re not in trouble don’t worry, made the perfectly reasonable statement that we shouldn’t lambast films that we haven’t seen yet.  I actually agree with him, both in the article itself (with my worry about dogpiling) and here, which is why I keep my slams based on what I’ve managed to see and have heard about the film, saving any proper slams and such for when I have actually seen the film.  Open mind, and all that!

I tell you this because it turns out that I should never have given this utterly reprehensible piece of turd shit any benefits of any doubts.  God, I hate this movie.

6] Trainwreck

$9,700,000 / $79,709,000

So, I was in a screening of Hot Pursuit on Saturday and an advert for Trainwreck comes on.  It’s funny, everybody laughs, and then Amy Schumer on screen says “Make sure to come back and see my new movie when it hits theatres on August 14th.”  To which I overhear this old lady, who just seconds earlier had been audibly laughing at the advert, say in a voice that is loud enough for other people to hear whilst still in theory only talking to her friend, “I don’t think so!”

This woman also found Hot Pursuit utterly hysterical so I don’t know what to believe.

7] Southpaw

$7,519,000 / $31,577,000

Wake me up when Creed comes out, OK?

8] Paper Towns

$4,600,000 / $23,816,000

Saw this on Saturday at a nice early screening.  Review will be along on my site on Tuesday, but I really enjoyed this one.  It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s sweet heart-warming viewing for myself.  Man, I might actually be a John Green fan, which is especially weird since the edited Q&A highlights I was forced to sit through prior to the start of the film didn’t make him look like a particularly tolerable guy.  Still, at least he wasn’t Dan & Phil who I’m still not convinced aren’t just the mannequins from the first series of new Doctor Who attempting to pass themselves off as regular human beings.

9] Inside Out

$4,517,000 / $329,594,000

Gonna go see this again this weekend, will probably cry profusely again.  As I’ve said before, I can’t separate myself emotionally from this movie, not enough to offer up a proper objective critical review.  It hits too close to home and is way too personal to me for me to be able to do that.  On the bright side, I guess we now know what a film that is Fury Road’s equal/possible better for me looks like!

10] Jurassic World

$3,800,000 / $631,500,000

IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Shaun The Sheep Movie is finally getting a nationwide cinema release in your country next week.  Go and see it.  That is an order.  Go and see it.  Go and see it multiple times over, it’s one of the best animated features released in the last few years.  Go and see it instead of Fantastic 4, please.  Don’t let me down, folks!  I wanna be reporting strong numbers this time next week!

Dropped Out: Mr. Holmes, Terminator: Amiga

Callum Petch’s red hat gets a rap from the critics.  He now writes for his own website (callumpetch.com)!  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 17/07/15 – 19/07/15

Ant-Man shrinks the standard Marvel opening, Trainwreck is anything but a, Mr. Holmes effortlessly cracks The Mystery of How To Get Into the Top 10, these puns are awful even by my standards, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

So, here’s the deal.  I am really frickin’ tired.  Not gonna lie.  I’ve been really busy these last few days working on something big, and I’m just plain not sleeping well, so Sunday night is currently not the time where my brain is most engaged.  Right now, all I really want to do is lie down in bed and alternate between Phineas & Ferb and Parks & Rec episodes until my brain just collapses into Sleepsville.  However, my “job” involves providing fresh Box Office Reports for your fine self to read first thing on a Monday morning, and if there is one thing that I am committed to it is my “job”!  I spent just over 30 straight weeks pumping out giant DreamWorks Animation essays after all!  So, let’s just try and get through this together, eh?

Keeping those doom-saying think pieces that pretty much every Box Office commenter and Internet writer has had prepped for the last three years in storage just a little while longer, Ant-Man is your new box office number 1, with $58 million in ticket sales!  Of course, those think pieces could still be trotted out if everyone wanted to, as that $58 million opening is the second-worst in Marvel Cinematic Universe history (only besting The Incredible Hulk’s $55 million), but it’s only one film and a number 1 opening is still a number 1 opening however you slice it.  Besides, I don’t think we need to be encouraging these things.  I honestly don’t know which will be worse at this point: the incredibly smug “I told you so” attitude that every single card-carrying member of Film Twitter and Film Internet will sport when these films do start failing, or the whiney defensive attitude that will come from the part of the Internet that keeps painting Marvel as some kind of victim being bullied by Film Snobs.  It’s like Aliens vs. Predator only somehow even worse than that.

In much happier news, Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck was a huge success, coming in third with $30.2 million!  No, that wasn’t sarcasm.  See, Trainwreck is Apatow’s second-biggest opening weekend as a director, just behind Knocked Up’s $30.6 million, and the film itself is an R-rated female-focused comedy starring an untested talent in the world of film and being released against the newest instalment in the Marvel juggernaut.  This is genuinely a roaring success!  Woo-hoo!  Go Amy Schumer!  Between this, Spy, and Pitch Perfect 2, this has been quite the year for female-fronted comedies.  Now, if we could get some movies fronted by non-white female comediennes, that would be just peachy…

In “really stretching the definition of ‘limited’ release” news, Bill Condon’s excellent Mr. Holmes – a film that just missed out on my Top 5 of 2015 So Far list – crossed the pond to 363 theatres this past weekend, and managed to crack the Top 10 with $2.48 million in tickets and a respectable $6,800 per screen average.  Almost matching it on 100 less screens, and perhaps another sign that Indian cinema is about to finally break somewhat big in America, was Bajrangi Bhaijaan which took $2.42 million for eleventh place and a per-screen average of $9,400.  These two may even switch places when the actuals come in, but, as you all know, I only work from these final estimates cos I have sh*t to do, thank you kindly.

Meanwhile, in actual limited release news, Woody Allen’s latest “older man falls for much, much, much younger woman” tale, this one going by the name Irrational Man, made $188,000 from 5 screens of die-hard Woody Allen fanatics with nothing better going on in their lives.  Everybody does know that they don’t have to help him film everything he comes up with, right?


This Full List is brought to you by the warm dulcet tones of Ringo Starr.  Because Thomas the Tank Engine is featured in Ant-you know what never mind.

Box Office Results: Friday 17th July 2015 – Sunday 19th July 2015

1] Ant-Man

$58,040,000 / NEW

Saw this on Friday and the review should hopefully be up soon – it’s not yet because I didn’t finish writing it until Saturday afternoon, because my brain currently hates me, and Owen was off enjoying The First-Ever Failed Critics Meet-Up so couldn’t get to posting.  Short version: I really dug this one.  It has problems, but I really, really dug it!  There’s a second article that’s going up later this week that may make it seem like I hate this movie, but I do actually really like it.  That’s the thing about criticism, taking issue with a certain aspect doesn’t mean that the rest of the film can’t win you over!  It’s almost like opinions are these multi-faceted and nuanced things or something.

2] Minions

$50,200,000 / $216,692,000

Steeper-than-expected 56% drop, which looks really bad compared to the second-week drops of the first (42%) and second (47%) Despicable Mes.  But, of course, neither of those opened to $115 million domestic and this $50 million second weekend is about in line with those films’ low $30 million and low $40 million weekends.  Yeah, this is doing more than OK, although that unfortunately means that Illumination now have a green-light to run this franchise into the ground.  I mean, they were probably going to anyway, but now they have an excuse to.

3] Trainwreck

$30,200,000 / NEW

Absolutely cannot wait for this.  Really, truly, cannot wait for this.  I think that Amy Schumer is one of the most important voices in comedy right now and I am dying to see what she can with two hours and the romantic comedy template.  News from America indicating that this is way more traditional and less subversive than I was hoping it would be has tempered my expectations and excitement but only slightly.  Seriously: bring this baby on already!

4] Inside Out

$11,660,000 / $306,363,000

When we next meet, folks, I will have seen Inside Out.  I would like to thank Owen for cordoning off review privileges for this on this site for myself and myself alone.  It’s like he understands that I live to be the sole person reviewing all of the animated films.  He gets me, he really does.

5] Jurassic World

$11,400,000 / $611,174,000

I… I really got nothing for this one anymore, folks.  Enjoy this song from Phineas & Ferb, instead.

6] Terminator: 2600

$5,400,000 / $80,640,000

I’m just going to bury my head in my hands and hope against hope that this one just goes away, if that’s alright with everyone else.  Emilia Clarke deserves better, dammit!

7] Magic Mike XXL

$4,500,000 / $58,636,000

I hope this becomes a Cult Movie Night fixture.  You know the ones: those special screenings full of die-hard fans who know the film front-to-back, love and appreciate every last second of it, get its progressive sexual politics completely, and are completely comfortable in their love for this movie.  They’ll all meet up once every few months and make a night out of seeing this film, the cinema will provide each attendee with a roll of (convincingly) fake dollar bills to rain down upon the screen at the appropriate times, and everyone will just have the most fun and best time together shrieking in pure glee.

I hope this happens, at any rate, cos that’s a film screening experience I want to have!

8] The Gallows

$4,005,000 / $18,007,000

THIS JUST IN: Shitty Horror Movie That Nobody Liked Plummets In Its Second Weekend.  More at 11.

9] Ted 2

$2,700,000 / $77,457,000

So, Ted 2I was promised some Rachael MacFarlane in your movie.  I went to see your movie and I noticed no Rachael MacFarlane.  I feel very much betrayed by this, and you can expect a very strongly worded letter expressing my disappointment to be along in the post shortly!

10] Mr. Holmes

$2,489,000 / NEW

I wanted to write a review of this after I saw it, but I never got around to it due to this whole “being back at home and feeling miserable” lark causing me to have trouble putting words to paper.  In any case, I highly recommend it, especially if you’re sick of Sherlock Holmes adaptations cos it’s not really one.  It’s more a mediation on death, aging, memory, regret, and selfishness that ties back into Sherlock Holmes in specific ways but is mostly a movie that just happens to feature Sherlock Holmes.  I loved this one and cannot recommend it enough to you!

Just don’t be one of those berks who marks it down because “the mystery wasn’t that difficult or compelling” otherwise you and I will be having words.

Dropped Out: Self/Less, Baahubali: The Beginning, Max

Callum Petch is not sleeping, cold wind blowing.  Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Ted 2, Dear White People & Song of the Sea

ted 2Welcome to another edition of the Failed Critics Podcast where Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by not one, not two, but three guests in Jack Stewart, Chris Wallace and Phil Sharman from the excellent Wikishuffle podcast!

The last time you might have heard Wikishuffle appear on our podcast was back in April during the Quizcast and, as ever, Steve kicks off this pod with a quiz of his own before the team discuss latest new releases. There’s disappointment over Seth McFarlane’s controversial comedy sequel Ted 2. The Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominated dramady Dear White People doesn’t quite live up to its hype. Even the animated Irish fantasy film Song of the Sea squeezes its way into this edition.

Despite this episode being shorter than our most recent efforts, there’s still time for: Owen to review the much lauded 1994 sports documentary Hoop Dreams; Phil rewatches The Guest, his favourite film of last year; Chris tries to figure out why this season of True Detective isn’t working for him; Jack actually has fun (no, really) whilst watching Minions; and Steve finally gets around to Marvel’s Netflix show, Daredevil.

Join us again next week as we’ll be back to review Ant Man! In the meantime, don’t forget to vote for Wikishuffle in the UK Podcaster Awards.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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US Box Office Report: 10/07/15 – 12/07/15

The Minions are their own boss, The Gallows has made back its budget 100x over, people were selfish and didn’t see Self/Less, it’s not been a good week to be a limited release, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

It was only a matter of time.  They started off innocuously in 2010’s Despicable Me, cute little comic relief characters whom we all collectively agreed were the best part of that otherwise mediocre movie.  Then the merchandising flood started and we happily accepted it because they were adorable.  Then their involvement in the films increased exponentially with Despicable Me 2 and we cheered because Despicable Me 2 was a great film, so what’s the problem?  Then those irritating Facebook memes started – useless, insincere attitude stock phrase bullsh*t that pasted random Minions onto their rubbish and called it a day – and we shook our heads in dismay but did nothing.  And then it happened.  Universal drowned us in marketing for the Minions spin-off movie, and you couldn’t avoid them.  Everywhere you turned.  Merchandise, posters, adverts, Amazon packaging.  Nowhere was safe, nowhere was free.  The takeover had occurred, we had to submit to our new Minion overlords for they had won.  They had conquered.

Therefore, Minions opened to $115 million this past weekend, making it the second-biggest opening weekend for any animated feature ever.  May God have mercy on us all.

Meanwhile, like it or not, The Gallows is actually a roaring success.  Oh sure, a fifth place opening of $10 million may not seem like a success, but that’s ignoring the fact that the film allegedly only cost $100,000 to make.  Such is the beauty of Blumhouse Productions, a production company that can get a horror movie made so cheaply that it is almost literally impossible for them to make a film that bombs.  It’s kinda like how Uwe Boll used to be able to write off half of the budgets for his various “movies” through complicated tax breaks except, y’know, Jason Blum has actually produced a good film or two in between his crap.  Plus, he quite literally has three more films coming out in the next two months, so it’s not like this mediocre performance is going to slow him down or anything.

Elsewhere, Tarsem Singh tried to bring back intellectual sci-fi with Self/Less, a film about whether it’s morally justifiable to force Ryan Reynolds to do bad things that he doesn’t want to do, as opposed to those bad things he chose to do like Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past.  Unfortunately, this is Tarsem Singh we’re talking about here, and so the director of Mirror, Mirror proceeded to apparently make a terrible movie that squanders all of its potential.  Consequently, since reviews are make or break for these kind of films, the film has tanked with barely $5 million for eighth place.  Dammit, people!  You can’t stop the Reynoldssaince!  No matter how hard you try, it won’t be stopped!

Having a similarly bad weekend was pretty much every limited release that came out this week.  Doing the best of the lot was Do I Sound Gay?, a documentary examining the stereotype of the gay voice that brought in a decent $11,000 from its one screen.  Next up there was Boulevard, an apparently underwhelming drama that we will all see anyway because it’s Robin Williams’ final role, with $7,000 from one screen.  “Globe-trotting” comedy Meet Me In Montenegro, and I don’t need to see or hear any second of that movie after seeing the phrase “globe-trotting” used non-ironically when describing a film’s genre in 2015, did poorest with $6,000 from 10 screens for a dismal per-screen average of you work it out.  All of these movies were out-performed by a re-issue of the 1992 Mel Gibson romance flick Forever Young, which took $70,000 from 14 screens for a $5,000 per-screen average.  Not one part of that last sentence makes any sense to me.


minions

This Full List, like seemingly everything else on the planet right now, is brought to you by the Minions.  Give into the yellow pill-shaped fellas.  Resistance is futile.

Box Office Results: Friday 10th July 2015 – Sunday 12th July 2015

1] Minions

$115,200,000 / NEW

Watched this again with a friend I hadn’t seen in years this past weekend because we got to the cinema too late to catch the first showing of Ted 2 and way too early for the next screening of Amy so had to see something, and also I am why you people are suffering so.  And guess what?  I still liked it!  So all of you Minion haters out there can go suck something that doesn’t make this insult homophobic!

Also, Fun Fact: the animated movie with the biggest opening weekend of all-time is still Shrek The Third with $121 million because you are all far worse than I am.

2] Jurassic World

$18,100,000 / $590,638,000

This will cross $600 million domestic next weekend which is quite literally insane.  It is now the third highest grossing film of all-time worldwide (or it will be, since Box Office Mojo isn’t immediately up-to-date on foreign totals anymore so there may or may not be a delay), which is also insane.  The backlash is insane, the extreme love is insane, the film itself is insane.  It’s all just one big melting pot of insanity.

3] Inside Out

$17,108,000 / $283,638,000

Turns out that this did, in fact, beat Jurassic World when the actuals came in for the three-day weekend last week.  Therefore, it is no longer the only Pixar film to not hit number 1 on the charts!  Yay!  After all, if this apparently amazing film couldn’t hit number 1 but Cars 2 could, then what does that say about us as a collective society?

4] Terminator: 3DS XL

$13,700,000 / $68,718,000

WOO HOO!  It’s failing!  It’s failing!  Uh huh!  Yeah!  Alright!  And even with foreign grosses factored in, it’s still only made $225 million against a $155 million budget!  Ah, life is good, folks.  Life is good.

(*suddenly remembers that the film has yet to open in China*)

Oh, hell, no.  If the Terminator: Vita sequel moves ahead but the Mad Max: Fury Road one doesn’t, sh*t is going to get royally f*cked up, I am warning you right now.

5] The Gallows

$10,015,000 / NEW

Have you seen the initial trailer for this?  In case you haven’t, it’s embedded below, but Cliff Notes are that it’s literally just a girl sobbing for 80 seconds before being Jump Scare Killed.  Does that rub anyone else the wrong way?  I don’t mean in the way that horror is supposed to make you uneasy, I mean in the sense that it seems more than a little exploitative and fetishizing of a woman in distress?  I guess I can give it points for being honest, but still.  You know.  Yeah.

6] Magic Mike XXL

$9,640,000 / $48,359,000

Allow me to use this space to pay my respects to The Dissolve, real quick.  A beacon of pure light and excellence in an Internet film space that seems to be in a race to the bottom, it was the film site that managed to be intellectual without coming off as snobby, diverse without looking down on mainstream film, clever and witty without coming off as snarky, proof that it was possible to write about films without having to be a closed-off academic cretin or a click-bait listicle doofus.  The only real upside to this incredibly sad news is that at least the site is still up for the time being, so you can still read fine articles like Tasha Robinson’s look at how Magic Mike XXL treats female pleasure.

R.I.P. you beautiful angel.  We apparently don’t deserve you, and that just isn’t goddamn fair.

7] Ted 2

$5,600,000 / $71,619,000

Saw this this past weekend and a review will be along in short order.  Man, I wish Seth MacFarlane would write actual jokes again.

8] Self/Less

$5,379,000 / NEW

Bummed to hear that this apparently sucks, although I will in theory get to find out for myself this week, but at least I get to inform you that The Voices is now available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray!  Seriously, go buy that damn movie.

9] Baahubali: The Beginning

$3,575,000 / NEW

I didn’t mention this in my limited release roundup for two reasons.  The first is that 236 screens is really stretching the definition of “limited” for my liking.  The second is that it broke on through to the top 10 so I can talk about it here instead.  Plus, if I mentioned that this film managed an utterly ridiculous $15,148 per-screen average in the limited release section, then that would have discredited my headline, and I really cannot be arsed to go back and change it now.  It’s late, I’m tired, let’s just push on through.

10] Max

$3,420,000 / $33,705,000

I… I really got nothing for this.  This movie’s premise just makes me too sad.  God knows how I’ll make it through the actual movie, I might singlehandedly put a whole load of Kleenex executives’ kids through college.

Dropped Out: Spy, San Andreas, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Dope

Callum Petch, bring it close to my lips, yeah.  Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Small, Bald, Jaundiced Critics

spidermanWelcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast where the team are at their most despicable.

No, we haven’t brought back Brooker and Paul!! I’m talking about the prequel to Illumination‘s Despicable Me franchise, all about those little yellow goofy sidekicks. Joining Steve Norman and Owen Hughes to review Minions is our animation expert Callum Petch. The team also take a look at action thrillers Everly (starring Salma Hayek) and Eli Roth’s Knock Knock (starring Keanu Reeves).

There’s even some news for the group to discuss this week as Tom Holland is named as the new (yes, NEW) high school age Spider-Man (they’re really making another Spider-Man film!) (Really!)

We also have a special guest débutante to the Failed Critics podcast in Nick Lay, author of our articles on We Are Many, Dish & Dishonesty and Kung Fury! In a pre-recorded review, he joins Owen all the way from Canada to discuss the micro budget British thriller Through The Lens. Meanwhile, Steve reveals the startling news that prior to this week, he’d somewhat unbelievably never seen The Terminator before, whilst Callum takes over the b-movie duties from Owen to review 80’s cult classic Hard Ticket To Hawaii.

Join Steve, Owen and Callum again next week as we review Terminator: Genisys and Magic Mike XXL.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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The Problem With Illumination

…and, in fact, most animation studios in general.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

illuminationBy now, you should have been able to read my review of Illumination Entertainment’s Minions.  If you haven’t read it yet then firstly shame on you and why do you not want me to become successful?  But, in any case, here are the cliff-notes: it’s really funny, I had a load of fun, Scarlet Overkill is amazing, and the Minions themselves are still wonderful comic creations.  I really liked Minions.  Still do, in fact, despite whatever I end up typing in this article.  However, a nagging realisation has stuck with me since I got out of the film and it’s something that concerns me for the studio’s future.

I can’t really tell you what the difference is between Illumination and every wannabe-DreamWorks pretender to come along since the mid-2000s.

I mean, yeah, Illumination has Despicable Me, and that’s all well and good, but somebody asked me on Twitter whether they’d enjoy Minions as the humour of Despicable Me turned them off of those films and I honestly drew a blank when trying to describe what exactly was so special about the Despicable Me humour.  I’ve spent the last few hours re-watching clips of both films to try and figure out what makes the Despicable Me brand, in comparison to any other animated brand out there, and the most I can come up with is that it’s willing to be a bit more openly cartoony than most other animated features.  Sure, its character designs – and therefore, if the designs of The Lorax and the upcoming The Secret Life of Pets are anything to go by, the standard character designs of Illumination in general – are distinctive and unmistakeable, but that’s really all that makes Illumination stand out from the field.

Again, I really like Minions and I really liked Despicable Me 2 when I saw it, but I still can’t tell you what separates them from ten-hundred other American animated features desperate to become the next best thing, besides the fact that they’re really damn good at what they do.  The one thing that does sort of separate them, slightly wackier humour than is usual in today’s animated features, is even running the risk of being outdone by Sony Pictures Animation if Hotel Transylvania 2 is able to deliver on the promise that the underwhelming first film had – since that and the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs series might finally change the studio’s reputation to something other than “Those People Who Helped Make TWO Abominable Smurfs Movies”.

Instead, they’re still just yet another animation studio making family films in a medium already drowning in animation studios making family films.  For example, tell me something that makes Hop different from any number of similarly-awful live-action/CGI hybrids from the mid-2000s besides the fact that this one paid Russell Brand money to voice act.  Anything at all.  This is an animation studio that managed to turn Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, a brilliant low-key cautionary tale about the dangers of excessive deforestation, into another loud whizz-bang CG animation that’s nearly indistinguishable from anything released in, say, 2007.

Just over a week ago, Illumination released the trailer for their next film, The Secret Life of Pets, which you can view above.  I really, really dug it.  It may have reigned in the wacky cartoony-ness of the Despicable Me humour significantly, but it also couched that in reality.  This was a trailer that got most of its laughs through exaggerating observations and ideas that we have about our pets, and its short little vignette form allowed it to maintain the quick pace that Minions has.  It probably wouldn’t be sustainable if it were a feature film exactly like this, but it’s a strong basis and, even with the usage of pop music (although I do appreciate the leftfield choices of Basement Jaxx and System Of A Down), it has a unique feel and personality that’s decidedly lower-key than most of today’s animation.

Then I read the film’s plot synopsis.  This is taken straight from Wikipedia.

Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max’s life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind, when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happily-owned pets and their owners.

If you’re anything like me, your heart and enthusiasm promptly sank about 12 feet once you finished reading that.  It just bugs and irritates the hell out of me to see a film with as much unique and original potential the The Secret Life of Pets’ first trailer showcased, instead turn out to be – or, I should actually say, appear to be, since who knows how the actual film will turn out – an animated version of Cats & Dogs, with the blueprint of a million other animated films buried in it, especially Toy Story.  It could still be a great version of that loud whizz-bang CG animated family feature, but I’m tired of studios not trying to carve out an identity beyond “We make loud whizz-bang CG animated family features”.

I mean, it makes sense that Illumination have yet to establish a unique brand and voice, their founder is Chris Meledandri.  From the early to late 2000s, he was the President of 20th Century Fox’s Animation department, with him being a big part of the early years of Blue Sky Studios, another animation company who – despite having released films for the last 13 years – have still yet to carve out an identity besides “We make loud whizz-bang CG animated family features”.  That’s especially a problem because Blue Sky’s debut feature, Ice Age, actually did have a unique and distinctive voice and identity of its own, being more melancholy and reflective and (slightly) mature than other films that came along then and since, before the sequels (and everything else the studio has ever done) proceeded to stamp out the unique parts in favour of ridiculous cartoony spectacle.  WHICH IS FINE, but it means that I have yet to see a Blue Sky movie that has truly stuck with me besides that original Ice Age, because their films, even Epic’s attempt at an action-fantasy, don’t do anything that a hundred other animated features aren’t already doing.

That means that, in the 13 years that Blue Sky Studios have been releasing movies, they still don’t have any unique or discernible identity besides “That Animation Studio 20th Century Fox Owns”.  That makes them the studio equivalent of Silly Putty, they can mould and shape themselves into whatever they want to but they’ll never be their own unique thing because they’re too indebted to everyone else to have their own identity – which I guess does make them the perfect folks to make The Peanuts Movie after all (side note: PLEASE DON’T SUCK).  Blue Sky have had 13 years to break out of that mould, and they’ve instead continued to settle for being Another One in a sea of likeminded competitors.

But, really, this is more just a problem with animated films in general, right now.  Animation is a medium and therefore capable of so many things, so many stories, and so many genres.  Yet American and British feature animation, and the foreign ones that manage to get a release in English-speaking countries, is resolutely family and kid-oriented, to tie back into that post-1950 belief that animation is only for children.  But it’s patently untrue, the booming TV animation market should have dispelled that notion, yet we very, very rarely get adult or even teenage feature animation – the last one that got a wide release (which I classify as over 1,000 theatres) was 2009’s unfairly underrated 9, a PG-13 action-adventure that unfortunately bombed majorly because, well, animation is for kids, right?

It’s basically a self-perpetuating problem.  Feature animation is in a sort of rut – and I want to specify the “sort of” because some outstanding and all-time great animated features are being made and released – because it believes that feature animation is only “loud whizz-bang CG family features”, a belief reinforced by a public who reject anything adult that isn’t tied to a recognisable property (hence why The Simpsons Movie was a mega-success) but keep flinging money at these mostly interchangeable films – in writing this article, I discovered that Ice Age 3 and 4 have made $897 million and $887 million worldwide respectively – which undoubtedly prevents these studios from creating their own unique identities because, hey, why turn away free money?  And with foreign dollars being ever so important in today’s filmmaking landscape, and slapstick and spectacle translating flawlessly no matter the language, this probably isn’t going to change any time soon.

That’s ultimately a shame, because animation is capable of so much more than this, yet right now I honestly can’t tell you much of difference between any of the animated features that are not put out by Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Laika, or Aardman, and only Laika of those five is less than twenty years old.  Animation studios need to carve out their own different identities, they need to aim to create something special, something unique.  There really isn’t much separating Blue Sky Studios and Illumination Entertainment, at the moment, and this is not how things should be.  Blue Sky have been around for 13 years, so they’re rather set in their ways and identity by now.  Illumination are barely half a decade old.  It’s not too late.

Callum Petch can’t live on, live on without you.  Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Minions

Minions is a precision-tuned, finely-honed, 91 minute joke machine.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

minionsThe best parts of the otherwise middling Despicable Me, which I’ve never quite gotten as a whole in the same way everybody else seems to have, were the Minions.  I mean, what’s not to love about the Minions?  Their design is simple yet distinctive and adorable, their collectively simplistic and mischievous personalities are endearing, Pierre Coffin’s voice work – that combines words of various languages and straight up babbling into nonsense sentences – of each Minion is stellar, and they’re home to the film’s best examples of ridiculous physical comedy.  They’re great comic inventions, so it makes sense that the second Despicable Me would double down on their screen time and that they would eventually, much like their Madagascar counterparts in the form of The Penguins, get their own solo spin-off movie.

It also stands to reason that their appeal would run out quickly when turned from minor comic show-stealers to vital part of the plot to main stars of their own movie.  However, much like The Penguins, that’s yet to happen.  Despicable Me 2 was far better than the first movie, although the increased Minions screen-time is not the sole or even main reason for that, and Minions manages to keep up that comic momentum for pretty much all of its 91 minutes.  Unlike the Penguins of Madagascar movie, Minions is not a film that wants to add legitimate emotional depth to its comic creations, barring one small little scene cribbed straight from The Land Before Time.  Instead, it just wants to turn them loose for 91 straight minutes of loud, ridiculous slapstick silliness.

And that’s OK, because it works!  Or, at least, it worked for me.  There are some lame gags, namely whenever the Minions break out into choreographed song-and-dance routines, but most come thick, fast, and with a resounding cleverness and intelligence to the way it performs its slapstick.  The rhythm and pacing of the film’s comedy is such that film almost never lingers on any punchline for an excessive amount of time, perhaps best epitomised by a short gag where the Minions escape from a polar bear by swimming away on a sheet of ice only to immediately try turning around when they spot a grizzly bear on the other side of the lake, with the film cutting to a different scene almost as soon as the second bear is revealed instead of holding it for diminishing laughs.

That kind of blistering pace is kept up throughout the film.  Don’t like this one joke?  Don’t worry, another 7 will be along in a few seconds, maybe one of those will take your fancy instead!  The story – which, for what it’s worth, involves Minions Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (all Pierre Coffin) trekking off to find a boss for their kind to serve, stumbling into the life of female supervillain Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) in the process – zips by as a result, being the launching pad for the gags instead of anything worthy of proper scrutiny, and any and all attempts at creating legitimate emotional depth will be undercut at every last opportunity by one gag or another.  Again, this would be a problem if the film wasn’t riotously funny, but I found it to be, I was in hysterics pretty much the entire time.

Strangely though, for me, the Minions almost end up being upstaged in their own movie by the supporting cast.  By its prequel nature, Minions gets the chance to explore the world of villainy more than both of the Despicable Me movies have been able to, which allows for a whole bunch of utterly ridiculous gag characters to make brief appearances – a time-travelling villain who keeps bringing his future self back for menial tasks, a prideful sumo wrestler, a unicycle-riding clown who juggles and spills bombs, one beautifully brilliant bait-and-switch that I don’t plan on spoiling here.  Their appearances are short but memorable and, although the film still doesn’t dig as deep into its world as I would like for it to do, they help shade in the world, make it feel like there is a world outside of our otherwise limited cast.

Which brings me onto Scarlet Overkill.  I love Scarlet Overkill.  I love everything about Scarlet Overkill.  I love her initial owning of her sexuality.  I love her amazing fashion sense.  I love her driven personality that starts off as affable and slowly goes more crazed and straight up evil as the Minions keep inadvertently screwing up her plans.  I love her wonderfully exaggerated facial expressions and body language.  I love Sandra Bullock’s slowly-unhinging voice work.  I love her relationship with her husband Herb (Jon Hamm), a relationship that is shown to be rock solid and filled with genuine devotion, in a sharp contrast to how most marriages are shown in movies, yet doesn’t fully define her life.  I love how much the film is willing to make her the butt of the joke and how funny she gets to be.  I love how she doesn’t command the film despite being, arguably, the best thing about it.  …I just think that she’s an amazing character, basically.

Animation-wise, Minions sticks to the Illumination standard, with simple yet endearing character designs in very good yet not amazing environments.  That said, Minions does show Illumination making strides in terms of technical strength, even if they still haven’t quite carved out an identity of their own yet.  Specifically, I really like the film’s commitment to shading.  Rather than working entirely from primary versions of the film’s various yellows and oranges, Illumination instead utilises different strengths of each colour to create this warm, comfortable glow that’s most noticeable when Kevin and Stuart are searching for Bob in a New York shopping mall.  It almost feels like a warm nostalgic filter that works very well for the 1968 setting, but also keeps the visual style from being a garish technicolour overload.

As much as I found myself laughing at Minions, though, I did also find myself missing that emotional undercurrent that could have pushed the film into being fantastic instead of just great.  Again, the film proceeds to undercut any attempt at legitimate emotional depth with a gag at any time; even the collective depression of the Minion tribe is played for ridiculous laughs instead of anything we’re supposed to take seriously, whilst the bond between Kevin and Stuart and Bob mostly just comes down to ‘these three share screen-time together’.  That is all fine because, again, the film is funny enough to make this a non-major issue, but I recalled how Penguins of Madagascar was able to foster a legitimate emotional depth and connection between its main protagonists and how pulling that off managed to push that film into being one of last year’s best animated features.  So I ended up a little disappointed in that not being the case here, especially since one of the reasons why Despicable Me 2 was such an improvement from the first one was because that emotional grounding was there.

Nevertheless, and despite it still not painting enough of a distinct or unique identity for Illumination to capitalise on in future films (more on that later this week), I really enjoyed Minions.  I’d been having a really miserable past few weeks prior to walking into the film, and so all I wanted it to do was make me laugh and cheer me up.  I just wanted something to laugh at for 91 minutes, I wanted what the film was selling me.  And I did.  A lot.  I laughed from the opening credits, that trace the origin and evolution of the Minion species, right up until the close, where it ties the whole story back into the standard Despicable Me series far quicker than I thought it would.  That is all I wanted, and that is exactly what I got, so I am more than satisfied with Minions.

Callum Petch made the scene, week to week, day to day, hour to hour.  Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 19/06/15 – 21/06/15

When dinosaurs ruled the box office, Inside Out/Inside Win, people sadly Just Say “Nope” to Dope, Manglehorn gets mangled, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Before we move on, a brief apology and correction.  Last week, we reported that Jurassic World had scored the second-highest opening weekend of all-time at the domestic box office with $204 million.  Well it turns out that we misreported those numbers and I would like to apologise for that.  Jurassic World actually made $208 million and is, therefore, actually the highest grossing opening weekend of all-time domestically.  The Avengers has, in fact, been dethroned.  In my defence, I can only work from the estimates, since the actuals don’t come in until late-afternoon on a Monday and I have sh*t to do then, which is why these get written on a Sunday night.

Hence why I don’t want to make any definitive statements regarding Jurassic World’s box office performance this weekend, record-wise.  Whatever happens, it is finishing in first place, but the box office records are what’s in contention.  Currently, the film is sat on $102 million for its second weekend, which puts it almost exactly $1 million below The Avengers’ record-breaking second weekend, but the numbers are so close that, and since Universal under-estimated last weekend, there is every chance that Jurassic World’s actuals will push it higher than The Avengers after all.  It’s already a pure and total unstoppable juggernaut that will pass $400 million domestic by lunchtime, so it’s not like this is much of a stretch.  Just saying, if it does happen, you can’t say I got it wrong, cos I’m not definitively saying anything!  So there!

What will be indisputable, unless some kind of catastrophic error causes 15 million bucks to mysteriously go missing between now and the actuals coming in, is the success of Inside Out, which now holds the record for the biggest domestic opening weekend ever for a non-sequel non-adaptation, taking the title from Avatar’s $77 million opening weekend back in December of 2009.  I mean, technically one could argue that it does count as a sequel in the sense that it’s a part of the Pixar brand that might as well be a franchise unto itself by this point, but I’m just going to block that out and savour this Avatar-crushing moment.  Aaaaaahhhh… that feels good.

Unfortunately, all this wantonly spent cashola had to skip out on one of the week’s releases, and that poor sod ended up being the Sundance hit Dope, which bravely launched on 2,000 screens but could only manage $6 million for fifth place because, well, it went up against Pixar and dinosaurs.  I applaud the bravery of Open Road Films for putting a black film out there as an option for mainstream audiences, but they were never going to win this one.  Similarly failing to lift off, albeit in limited release, was the new David Gordon Green film, Manglehorn.  Even with Al Pacino apparently deciding to try this whole “acting” thing again to see what that was like, the film couldn’t really get butts in seats, possibly due to mediocre critic reviews, and it only made $13,000 from 3 screens.  But, hey!  This should hopefully not discourage Al Pacino’s decision to start acting again!  Last thing we need is him crawling back to Adam Sandler.

Fun Fact: I have seen all of Jack & Jill but only one Alfred Hitchcock film in the 20 years I have lived.  Why on earth do you people listen to what I have to say?


jurassic world 1

I don’t actually have any witty segway pun for this Full List, since I’m trying to stay dark on Inside Out.  So, here’s the thing, then, I guess.

Box Office Results: Friday 19th June 2015 – Sunday 21st June 2015

1] Jurassic World

$102,019,000 / $398,230,000

I think I am the only one of my Internet friends – cos I don’t have real friends with the exception of Lucy (*cries profusely*) – who actually likes this, which is always a good thing to have happen when you’re constantly paranoid that what you do and feel is wrong and that you’re bad for doing and feeling those things.  It’s especially more so in this case since, well, Jurassic World is actually a pretty terrible film, yet I like it anyway.  I dunno, maybe I’ll someday get lucky and not be so self-conscious.

2] Inside Out

$91,056,000 / NEW

Staying as in-the-dark as possible until it drops here at the end of next month, since this and Minions have basically swapped places on the release calendar for the UK.  I’m hoping that this will be as good as critics are saying… but critics also gave Monsters University a seal of quality and that was a massive disappointment, so Pixar are still on my Warning List for now.

And, yes, I am aware that a trailer has dropped for Kung Fu Panda 3.  Don’t send me it.  If I’m keeping myself in the dark for a film that I’m honestly not that excited for, then why do you think I would want to watch the trailer for a film that I am on tenterhooks for?

3] Spy

$10,500,000 / $74,374,000

So I feel like I’ve been acting a lot like Jason Statham in Spy whenever the subject of The Peanuts Movie is brought up for whatever reason.  Just me constantly and unfairly going “They’re gonna f*ck it up,” over and over and over and over again, totally blind, thanks to my own prejudices, to the idea that Blue Sky Studios may not actually f*ck it up.

Folks, and I say this with no hyperbole and complete sincerity, Blue Sky Studios may not have f*cked this up.

4] San Andreas

$8,240,000 / $132,229,000

This might end up one of the highest grossing films of the year.  It’s up to $414 million worldwide, after all.  I, err, really did not see this one coming.  OK, then.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and an actually good disaster movie will come from this?

5] Dope

$6,018,000 / NEW

Doesn’t come out here until September 5th, despite looking like as much of a Summer movie as they come.  Unless that was actually the plan all along and its UK distributor is taking advantage of the fact that our one nice week of Summer-like weather is going to come in September!  That’s genius, and I also want to know the secret to their psychic and weather-controlling powers!

6] Insidious Chapter 3

$4,110,000 / $45,370,000

Oh, God, It Follows is due on home media next week!  Guess I’m done putting it off and it’ll be time to watch a film that I know I will love but which will undoubtedly cause me to not sleep for at least three weeks afterwards!  I hate being a wuss.

7] Pitch Perfect 2

$3,300,000 / $177,500,000

Pitch Perfect 3 is officially happening.  I personally think that this is really stretching it, and I say that as a huge fan of the second instalment, but we’ll see when the film comes out, I guess.  Besides, if they’re going to use this as an opportunity to correct the race problems that these films do have, then that’s alright by me.

I mean, they probably won’t, they’ll likely just do number 2 again, but I can hope, can’t I?

8] Mad Max: Fury Road

$2,815,000 / $143,602,000

…I’m out of things to say about this movie, by now.  Or, at least, things to say in the tiny space that I get each week.  Needless to say, I still doubt that anything will surpass it for my Film Of The Year, it’s amazing, and that’s that.  So… yeah.

9] The Avengers: Age of Ultron

$2,723,000 / $451,039,000

Never did get to see this again, sadly, such is the life of somebody who is just terrible at time-management.  Or, more specifically, realising how long stuff actually takes to do.  Since I’ve written something close to 250 or-so articles of similar excessive length in the past two years, you’d think that I’d know how long it takes for me to write one of the damn things by now.

10] Tomorrowland

$2,009,000 / $87,696,000

Tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  This film might not suck, tomorrow!  But it’s always a day away!

Dropped Out: Entourage (AND STAY THE FUCK OUT), Love & Mercy

Callum Petch took a holiday, seven sweet days in Majorca.  Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Here Comes The Summer

jurassic worldWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast with Steve Norman once again returning to hosting duties. He’s joined as ever by Owen Hughes, with guests Callum Petch and Mike Shawcross.

Unlike the British summer time, we’re bringing you a podcast that seems to go on forever as the team not only review new releases Princess Kaguya, Spongebob Squarepants: A Sponge Out of Water, The Gunman, The Voices AND Divergent Series: Insurgent (or Divergent 2) (or Divergent: Insurgent) (…or just Insurgent…) but also look ahead to those due for release between June and September with a summer 2015 preview triple bill.

Join us again next as we reach our 150th episode!

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