Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Halloween, So Have Yourself One of My Not-All-That-Scary Older Stories

Every single year around June, I start pondering the idea of writing a scary short story to post for free on this site on Halloween.  And every single year, I end up getting distracted by something shiny and failing to write it.  Except this year, because I never once contemplated the idea.  Success?

There was one year that I was in an especially silly creative mood, and to make up for failing to write a scary short story for Halloween, I wrote an insane "novel except" two days after Halloween.  It was mostly written because a friend had requested I write a story about pick ax wielding squirrels, and the piece of ridiculousness seemed to be the best place to give them a home.

The funny thing is that this piece was always just meant to be a goofy throw-away story that I tossed together because I had time and was likely tired of complaining about the Conservative government (or whatever it was that I was ranting against in 2010).  Yet I still think about this little and messy piece of fiction.  The town of Hollow Creeps ended being the trigger for the creation of another fictional place, Hollow Grove.  Of course, that fictional place is part of a story that remains unpublished.  My goal has for a long time had been to pull off a Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft by creating a collection of fictional towns with full histories that feel like truly living places.  I also hope to be like them in that I get stuff published that people end up reading.  It is best to do one step at a time.

Anyway, Hollow Creeps doesn't feel like a real town, because this story doesn't aspire to feel like something you can relate to.  It's sort of like the Naked Gun of horror stories where I just throw more and more ridiculous plot points and characters against a wall in an attempt to see what sticks.  Well, except for the fact the Naked Gun of horror stories would be something like Scary Movie, and well, I mind as well become a carpenter if my fiction warrants such comparisons.  Maybe I stop this paragraph now.

The point was that Hollow Creeps and this silly story have inspired some of my writing since.  If I ever get the bravery to finish and publish some of the stories that I actually put my heart into, then one will be able to see how this story influenced future ideas.  It is kind of funny how goofball material can lead to writing more serious tales.

Anyway, here is my not-quite-a-short-story that I wrote a few years back.  Hopefully, you enjoy it.  Even if you don't, it is at least proof that I once wrote creative things on this blog rather than just excuses.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Counselor Review: A Colossal Tragedy for the Moviegoer

The Counselor looks like one of those thrillers that could easily contend for Best Picture.  It has a stacked cast, a legendary modern writer, and an expert filmmaker.  It was also one of the movies that I was most excited to see this year.  In my latest film review for Collective Publishing, I reveal if it all measures up to something great.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Breakdown Goes Trick or Treating Podcast

Halloween is right around that dark corner, so it only makes sense for me and Scott to get into the spirit.  We'll be going "trick or treating" through the vast genre of horror, and picking out five scary movies that are either independent or foreign pictures.  There is a good chance you may not have seen any of them, and so the show hopefully can offer you up some frightening recommendations for viewing.

Enjoy.

Content Timeline:

00:58  Resolution review

11:04  Teeth review

18:46  The Loved Ones review

28:34  The Snowtown Murders review

39:02  Rabies review

47:35  Reviews recap

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The It's Sunday and I Don't Have Time to Blog Hollywood Question Post

In the very competitive 2013 "Oscar Contenders" season, we've seen several highly anticipated films get bumped to the 2014 calendar.  Off the top of my head, there has been Grace of Monaco, Foxcatcher, and The Monuments Men that have all for different reasons been announced to be bumped to a 2014 release date.  The Wolf of Wall Street was once part of that party, but has now been slotted for a Christmas release, which means Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit got bumped out of that comfy coveted position to likely wallow in the early months dump zone of cinema.

But my title promises a question, and none of the above sentences have a question mark.  So, here are my sentences that will eventually lead to a real question.  Pushing a hotly anticipated film out of the very competitive 2013 fall, and sticking it somewhere in the early months of next year seems to be the new trendy thing of Hollywood.  I'm sensing we've got to have at least one more major motion picture pack its bags and take a permanent trip to 2014.

What do you think will be the next motion picture to get pushed to the 2014 schedule?

My pick is American Hustle where it is revealed that the trailers kick so much glorious ass, because that is all David O. Russell has been working on and he forgot to shoot an actual movie. 

Of course, if my prediction was actually right then I likely crawl into my office's closet where I can squeeze up next to my wife's bouldering pad and cry for the next three weeks or so.  This is the movie I've been pumped to see the most this year, but it also seems like the one most likely to pull a cruel thing like this on me.  But at least I'm assured two old guys punching each other in their shorts this Christmas.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yep, It Is a No Blog Post Saturday

Well, except for this one to alert you to the fact you may have already figured out on your own.  My lovely family went out to have lunch with my brother and his wife, and it was marvelous.  I don't feel so bad for not being here.  Hopefully, your Saturday was equally marvelous. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dropping Off Some Heavy Packs On My Writer's Journey

For the last year, I've been relatively open about the anxiety, self-doubt, and panic-attacks that have been consistently showing up uninvited at my house.  Just last week I'm pretty sure they ate the last bag of chips and didn't even bother to wipe the crumbs off the couch.  These demons can be cruel little buggers and a real pain in the ass in one's quest to be the happiest person in the universe.  I've blamed the plagues for some of my periods of utter lack of output on this blog, but never shied away from admitting the irony that such a very lack ramps up the strength of these foes.

I'm kind of tired of them, and ready to permanently show them the door.  I also realize they'll always be peeking through the windows, because they appear to be a constant companion for creative types and one of the "free gifts" that come with self-employment.   They've been screaming a little too loudly lately, and I've got a toddler that we try to put to bed by 7:30.  They can hang out at the front of the house with the ominous sign and skunks.  I've got much more pleasant things I'd rather replace them with, such as confidence, success, and Pop Tarts.

Before I reveal my latest strategy towards sanity, I want to back up and focus on that mysterious toddler I referred to in the past paragraph.  The extra observant among you likely concluded the toddler was none other than my son Everett.  Unless you were under the mistaken impression I offer a Bed & Breakfast for the very young -- which I don't, but will happily take the cash payment you'd have given to any such odd establishment.  I want to mention Everett, because he is in a tricky spot of being indirectly involved with some of my greatest bouts of strife and turmoil but also directly being the source of my greatest happiness.  It is always curious how our greatest joys can also somehow trigger some great pains.

If you regularly read this site or actually know me, then you're aware that Emily and I have opted at the moment to take a pass on Day Care.  Mostly because they appear to expect a payment that is several steps above the half eaten cheese in our fridge.  Besides, I like cheese, and would rather not part with it if such a thing can be avoided.  Emily returned to work last January, but it was also in a part time capacity.  I was initially quite stressed about the shift, because I had already felt I never got as much writing done as I desired even with her home looking after our treasure.  As I've documented before, I started really savoring my mornings with my son, and one of the greatest highlights of the day was getting him out of bed in the morning and seeing his face light up with my entrance.  I have a strong fondness for that that little boy, but I sense it may be part of nature's design to stop me from tossing him over the fence after he redecorates the floor with broccoli for the seventh straight time.

Mornings with Everett were magic, even if I wasn't meeting the standards I'd felt was necessary for daily writing productivity.  Even while Emily was part-time I started suffering from anxiety and what I don't want to necessarily label as depression.  I also mentioned these things here on the site while Emily was part-time, and my emotional breaking started to reveal cracks in my stability during the summer when Emily was home every day.  It is rather paramount to acknowledge a large part of this battle has nothing to do with juggling parenting with writing.  It is the easiest thing to pinpoint, and so it is what I want to use for the purpose of this article.  Simplification can be a writer's friend.

Emily agreed to take on a full-time teaching schedule for this semester, so for about the last months or so, I've had full days with Everett.  It also so happens Emily has found herself working some later days since taking on the new class as well, so my precious time with Everett has extended even farther than the amount that was causing me sleepless nights before everything became official.

Now, this is the spot where I also most confess that I did tell Emily to take the position.  I promised that I could handle it.  Since I haven't exploded into a fine dust, I'd say surviving is what I've done and things have worked out just fine and dandy.  Or as fine and dandy as things can be when you consider I'm using the situation to explain my anxiety, self-doubt, and emotional breakdowns.

Emily being full-time means a large portion of my day has been occupied with Everett.  He usually wakes up around 8 (thought lately he has been trying to aim for an earlier wake-up time) and then naps for about 2 hours, though again, sometimes he tries to surprise me with a 45 minute special.  I try to squeeze most of my during the day writing into the time before he wakes up and his afternoon nap.  When he is awake, he expects for the most part that I am entertaining him or at least, marveling at his running with toys skills.  I'll occasionally try to do some work that doesn't require too much brain power while he is awake (which is where some of you may act shocked that this isn't just a regular thing for me), but it isn't often too long before he comes over to help me smash away at the keyboard.  Unfortunately, a client is yet to pay for any of his masterpieces.  He seems destined to be the next Franz Kafka or John Kennedy Toole to be appreciated after his time.

The bulk of my work has to be reserved during the evening. This also means my relationship with Emily has largely consisted of "How was work?",  "How was Everett?", and  "I'm going upstairs to write now."  Since I get up fairly early to try to cram much of what I need done while the prince slumbers, I tend to be a little groggy and less amped to create word magic at night.  I've still written some of my best stuff during these times, but it does tend to come out a tad slower than when I had entire mornings to create.

The stress comes from a place of not feeling there is enough writing hours in the day.  A stress that may actually still exist even if there wasn't an expectation I father the little human wandering around in my home.  As I've already admitted, there are other factors to the chipping away at my emotional health, and some just seem to be the reality of who I am.  There is a definite anxiety feeling that "I never have time to write" or at least, "write at the level I aspire" and it feels like a constant race against deadlines.  I also feel I pass on work because I can barely wiggle a finger as I'm buried under a mountain of pay copy.  I mentioned how I tend to see very little of Emily, but that isn't how she envisions her marriage turning out.  A weekend comes along, and she rightly thinks it is time to spend together or as a family.  I hate that what should be leisure often feels like a chore, because I am plagued with the burning sensation that the time should be spent finally getting that report or article done.

Then this is where I throw in the swerve for today's tale by revealing some of my happiest times are my days with Everett.  I still get pure joy entering his room in the morning and Everett shouting my name with glee.  I like that he can now tell me most of his building blocks' colours, and sometimes it is even the right ones.  I love making his stuffed toys talk, and then watch him try to do the same.  I look pushing cars around the kitchen floor.  I love seeing how excited he becomes when he realizes we're going on a walk to the park.  My time with Everett is special.  I love it more than almost anything, and while it is happening, I rarely feel the anxiety or stress and "the thing I don't want to call depression."  Looking after Everett feeds my soul and makes me leap for the clouds.

Then I get my time to write.  I look at what needs to be done.  I see my small window of time.  Those awful feelings start dancing in gut and trying chew away at the once replenished soul.  It leaves scars that sometimes make me less patient and worn-out for the next time I'm set to adventure with Everett.  The worries start to take the physical toll and cling to me even during the times I believe I am mostly happy.

I want to be a writer.  I need to be writer.  I know I've hit some dark depths when I feel compelled to shut down the blog, cancel all my contracts, and declare for myself a life as a full-time stay-at-home dad.  I can make grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti every night for dinner.  It would be wondrous.  Except it wouldn't.  When I ground myself back in reality, I am reminded writing is what I must do.  Things would get a whole lot worse if I disconnected myself permanently from that love.

This week I decided it was time to really focus on what exactly I want out of my writing career.  To look at what are the things I need to do now.  What are the things that can either drift off into the abyss or just be put on the "things to be done in the future but definitely not now" list.  It was time to do some serious trimming and really organize what my current writing career should look like.

There is one thing I've learned about Writer Christopher.  I tend to grab my sling and three pebbles, and then venture off to slay the lion, bear, and giant at the same time.  I plan to celebrate those victories by pulling a sword out of a stone, taming a unicorn, and building a cathedral.  I'm over-ambitious.  I forget to take small bites and just start shoving the metaphorical food into my mouth as if it is a Chubby Bunny contest.

My biggest dream for my writing career is to write books and novels.  Right below that is to create collections of short stories, because the challenge of that art form is appealing to me.  The major thing about all those things is that rarely is there any immediate promise of compensation for those works.  You have to do all the writing for free, and then hope you can sell it to a publisher willing to part with enough cash to justify the endeavor.  As an unknown in the field, the first few offers will likely be quite defeating, and not be enough to be able to make book writing a full-time career.  There are always exceptions, but one is foolish to plan a career around rarities.

I am in a spot where I then need to do other writings to actually pay the bills.  Luckily, many of those other forms of writing are also part of my dream or are things that I've learned to really enjoy.  Ghostwriting for corporations pays really well, and it is a challenge that I've become quite fond.  I also really enjoy writing for magazines and papers, and it is something that I'd likely want to do even if I was able to make a full-time living from novels or books.

I've also started dabbling in other work that isn't directly paying at the moment, but is being used for that marketing buzzword "branding" but also hopefully, leading to some major projects that will create real, live money that I can hold onto and roll all over.  This is stuff like my opinion pieces on my blog (which some I have sold for real rolling-all-over money and others that led to jobs that also paid with things that keep the electric company happy) and my Breakdown podcasts with Scott.  The podcasts still actually involve quite a bit of writing, but are also exciting because it challenges me in a new medium.

The latest thing I've been eyeing is entrance into the Online Film Critic's Society.  It had the perk of letting me be a certified film critic, even though the fact I'm paid for many of my film reviews would seem to hint that I already am one.  It would also hopefully open the doors to allowing me to get into fun things like critic screenings and maybe even lead to opportunities to write for sites I've wanted to see my little name on.  In order to apply there is actually a large amount of professionally written reviews that need to be in my portfolio.  A number that I am short at this point, but that number has been the motivation to watch and review far more movies.  Yep, it can be a tough life sometimes.

While I started making that one of my major goals for the next several months, I started getting into "forgetting to bite and just stuffing the whole sandwich in my mouth" mode, so I can't do any chewing.  I've already confessed that I am far too ambitious with the writing projects I take, but here is where I attempt to fix that.  But first, the culprit must be called out.

I started thinking it would be rather dandy to get into the Online TV Critics Society as well, because my great Uncle Zeb always said two internet societies are more than one.  So, I decided that I would need to start writing reviews for various TV shows.  The plan would be to post several TV reviews and film reviews up on this blog.  Or at least, post the ones that I wasn't contracted to write for other sites.  As you know, I have written TV reviews for BuddyTV and I post some film reviews for Collective Publishing.

Now, this would be all fine and dandy if all I wanted this blog to be was a TV and film review site.  It would be even finer and dandier if I had monetized this blog.  It would be the dandiest and finest if I didn't have any aspirations besides being a critic.  If you've been reading this almost a small book (possibly giant tome once completed) essay then you'd know that critic isn't the only kind of writer I want to be.

In my little head it made a whole lot of sense to write close to 5 full-length film reviews and 15 TV show reviews on a weekly basis, while also making sure I write posts on this blog about other things too on a daily basis.  On top of blog related things, I'd still have my ghostwriting and my magazine writing and my Collective Publishing writing and essentially, all the writing that gives me that much sought after real-live-roll-all-over money.  I'm still leaving out my major dream of writing a book and novel and short stories that also tends to take up a lot of time.  Don't forget I'm looking after Everett from about 8am to close to 5pm every weekday and some days it is longer than that.  At some point, I think Emily wants us to have a thing called a relationship.

Hmmm. . . how did I ever get burned out and suffer from anxiety?  What could it possibly be that made me hide away from the blog for a few weeks?  Maybe we'll never figure it out.

In order to be a successful writer, you really do need to be prolific.  The goal should probably be to write close to at least 3000 sellable words a day if you have any shot of making a living.  Unless you live the world of Castle or Sex and the City where writing seems optional when making a living as a writer.  My world seems different, and so write is what I must do.  I must do heaps of it.
 
But the thing is I need to actually be alive and functional to do that writing.  Having many projects is pointless if I can't accomplish most of them.

So, I am now making a major alteration to my current writing plan.  The only formal reviews at this point that I plan publishing to this blog will be on motion pictures.  I have the podcast with Scott where we review at least 4 films a week already, and film is my favourite entertainment medium, so it makes sense to write reviews of all the films I watch.  Plus I still have the film website that I am targeting to have up in a year or so, and reviews will be a major part of that.  I also find that a good film review is much more than just an analysis of a movie, but rather an opening of the reviewer's soul and an exploration into themes about social issues, philosophy, politics, and life.  I can tackle many of the things I want to discuss with a really strong review about a film that has greatly impacted me.

This means at this point I don't plan to write regular TV reviews anymore.  Now, obviously I will write a regular TV review or do a book review (I didn't mention my plan to do those too, did I?), if a site offers to pay well for it.  I have connections with several editors that will likely commission me to do exactly that, but at this point I don't plan to aim to do them for the blog anymore.

Now, I'll likely still be watching some TV.  I definitely plan to be reading much more in the coming months.  There are times that a show or book is going to trigger thoughts and strong feelings in me.  If that occurs, then I'll definitely share my thoughts about it on the blog.  I'm just relieving myself of the responsibility of churning out regular formal reviews for those mediums.  It will have the added perk of me actually being able to consume both for pleasure rather than in a critical way.  It is quite a relief.

I will be writing some opinion pieces of various TV shows still for BuddyTV.  I may actually have some other stuff lined up in regards to both TV and books for some other sites.  But all that stuff will be paid.  If I find the TV stuff ends up being far more popular than film then I may have to rethink my plans.  For now, I'm going to be more straight film critic than guy who writes reviews for everything.  Though I may possibly opt to review one or two shows in the future (The Americans being the one that I'm contemplating). 

This now frees me up again to be a writer rather than just a reviewer.  I'll be splitting my film reviews between this blog, Collective Publishing, and likely one other site to be named later.  This allows me to go back to making this a place where I discuss writing, my family, throw in some creative pieces, rants about politics, and essentially make it a smorgasbord for my thoughts.  I prefer it that way, because I never wanted this place to become overly structured.  I have paid work for that.  My hope is that I can avoid monetizing this site, and instead eventually launch another site where I'd be making the cash to dump on the bed and practice my somersaults on (what can I say, Indecent Proposal has really stuck with me).  

The elimination of one regular form of writing has hopefully taken out some stress I've been feeling about my other paid work.  I now plan to focus far more on getting more of my work into magazines and major websites.  It also will afford me a chance to start working more on those books and stories I keep alluding to but never showing anybody.

The big thing is that I hope this allows me to fire one fierce shot at those hooligans: anxiety, self-doubt, and emotional instability.  It is time I stop being blamed for all the crumbs they've been leaving under the sofa pillows.  Plus they just don't make writing all that fun.

Writing is supposed to be fun.  Or otherwise, my chosen career would have circus clown or Jedi.  But I am destined to be a writer and storyteller.  Just not one who tries to write 34 hours' worth of work in a 24 hour day where some claim I should also sleep and do non-writing things.

This is my new writing strategy.  Hopefully, this opening up of my current emotional inner battle has been a help to other young writers.  If it wasn't, you likely quit reading this after the first time I talked about steamrolling money.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' Exposes the 'Minority Problem' in Hollywood

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is one of the most hotly anticipated films of 2014 and will likely be a January hit.  The picture is most definitely disturbing, but not due to the plethora of jump scares littered throughout the trailer.  The idea of this film leaves me unsettled because of it being yet another example of Hollywood's awful track record with minority characters and actors.  I analyze this issue and the major problems with the upcoming film in my latest article for Collective Publishing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hostages Episode 105 Review: This Series Has Kidnapped Every Known Thriller Cliche

Rating: ** 

With almost all my TV series reviews, I freely discuss plot points, so it is best to watch the episode before reading.

I really don't have a good reason for sticking with this series up to 5 episodes now.  I have even less of a coherent reason to tune in again next week.  But I will.  My sledgehammer to the head justification for continuing on with this goofy series is as a TV critic I don't think I am reviewing enough dramas.  More specifically, I think I am reviewing far too many sitcoms compared to dramas.  Now in 2013 sitcoms are no longer the lowest common denominator of entertainment, and many completely outshine the apparently more serious dramas.  Yet here I am feeling inadequate with the number of dramas I write reviews for, and to punish that feeling I'm sticking with this series.

My lack of drama problem comes from a few places.  The first it is partly invented in my own mind, and feels like I review very few because the majority of them are from the same night with reviews on Revenge, Once Upon a Time, and The Walking Dead all being written after the Sunday night airing.  The next problem come from the fact that I am allergic to procedurals and would rather dip my head into an urn of boiling hot coffee than review the latest episode of the ace crime solving crew foiling the dastardly baddie while the geek throws out a few silly one-liners.  Besides, I already have Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D for that.  The next problem stems from the fact that the really high quality drama series come from premium cable channels that I don't subscribe, and as a person trying to convince others to pay for my creative works, I never feel proper sampling torrent site to access those shows.  Then I have my need to review a show from the very beginning, and so I can't jump in several seasons late, which eliminates all the prestigious shows.  Though once I have time, I do plan to make use of my Netflix account by watching the entire series of Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  I also will be able to purge all my lack of reviewing quality drama guilt when The Americans returns in January, because I have seen the first season and that show is a brilliant combination of complex character, thrilling action, and thought-provoking drama.  It rocks.

This doesn't rock.  Yet here I am sticking with this series, because CBS refuses to cancel it.  But the big question is besides my goofy lack-of-dram guilt, why am I still reviewing and watching this show when it gets more ridiculous by the week?  Well, there is the car-wreck mentality of watching a show go up in flames, but that isn't the reason I'm drawn to this show.  The interesting thing about TV series compared to film is that one individual episode can't dictate or even necessarily affect the overall quality of the series.  If I give a picture 2 stars then clearly I'm telling you to find better things to do with your day.  I can declare an episode like this worthy of only 2 stars, but not declare the entire series worthless.  A series sometimes will have an episode just used to set-up future episodes, which could make for a duller experience but make you anticipate what follows.  I can rate an episode individually, but eventually you have to take each episode in account to how it fits with the entire narrative of the season or series.  The stories connect from each week, and so unlike a film where it is one sitting and the value can be decided right there, you have to let things play out a bit longer with a TV series.

Eventually, the potential must be seen and the episodes need to be of high quality to stick around.  Hostages still has things that have kept me hooked, and willing to give them a chance to turn around.  This is a ridiculous soap opera smashed with thriller series, but that doesn't make it bad.  It just needs to embrace those elements and dial it up a bit more, and stop trying to play itself so seriously.

The big saving factor of this show at this point is Dylan McDermott.  He plays a great cold and mysterious criminal, but the problem is the show is desperately trying to make him relatable and likely plans to have him come out the hero.  His best moments are when he is pointing his gun at poor Toni Collette and forcing her to dig up the grave of her best friend.  I also need to admit the ambiguity of McDermott's character is one of the hooks of the show, and I am wanting to figure out how his sick wife ties in with being an FBI agent involved with an assassination plot against the President.  He is the most entertaining when he is heartless and ruthless rather than the hero type.

The downside is his character, Duncan Carlisle, doesn't seem to be all that bright for someone who is supposed to be an ace FBI agent and hired to be part of a very dangerous mission.  He just wants to scare Dr. Sanders, but does it by almost killing her husband and then frantically trying to keep him alive so she can return to operate on him.  Are they drowning in that much free time that they wanted to fill it up with an emergency home surgery?  There must have been more effective scare tactics.

The other brain fart moment of the episode perpetuated by Carlisle was framing one of his fellow kidnapping assassins.  The reason was that the guy killed the nurse who was friends with Sanders, and the episode did a few "Carlisle is broken up inside" scenes to make it clear this killing tore him apart.  He is about to murder the President and almost killed Sander's husband.  Why was the nurse death enough for him to willingly deplete his team number?  If it doesn't hurt his team then why did he make it such a large size?  Why didn't he just commit the kidnapping with one other buddy?  It isn't like he was planning to wait things out for two weeks like he has to now.  This also makes me ponder why he didn't have a more rigorous recruiting process for something as important as murdering the most powerful person in the world.  The show has made it clear that some of the members don't even seem to know him, and you'd think he would stock the team full of people he could trust.

I shouldn't criticize his lack of a screening process, because it allowed the inclusion of a member that gave us one of the many glorious thriller/action cliches littered throughout this episode.  One of Carlisle's partners, Sandrine Renault, gets jumped by a brute and a private investigator, so she can be delivered to a nasty crime boss type.  It seems like Renault failed to deliver some merchandise and now owes him a rather large debt, because any form of entertainment that has guns apparently must have the crime boss that wants his money storyline.  I do admit this is a version of Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt with much better looking characters this time.  If you're going to trot out cliches, you mind as well do it while being pretty.

Speaking of pretty and cliche, young love gets crushed yet again in TV land as the daughter is forced by the nasty kidnapper to confront her boyfriend and tell him that she doesn't love him anymore.  Of course, she is lying, and is doing it to save his life.  At this point, I think the writers are just trying to cram in everything they've ever seen on TV or film.  Though I sort of hope this was a way to write out the boyfriend who just assumes grown men are his girlfriend's father and pounds away at their door for no other reason than he is tone deaf.  I sort of wish Carlisle put a bullet into him in the one scene that I believe was supposed to be dramatic and touching, but I just kept thinking maybe I don't want a daughter if I have to meet guys like this.

This is a world where people just do stupid things.  Like a son being very aware the baddies have high-tech gizmos and they're living at his house, but he calls home anyway when trying to run away.  His reward is he gets to mop the floors when he gets home.  This is the guy who also just walks around with thousands of dollars in his gym bag, so I'm not sure what I was expecting.

I realize I'm just savaging this episode, and you may wonder why I even gave it 2 stars.  I enjoy watching McDermott and Collette, and this is a fun show when it embraces the corny and campy side.  I am really intrigued to find out all the motives of the kidnappers.  I want to know if the President has a dark side.  I want to see where things are going with the evil White House Chief of Staff.  I still think a good show is hiding in there, and it is just a matter of it focusing on the interesting ingredients in this show and staying away from trying to hit all the standard formulas in action thrillers.  This was a pure set-up episode, and I'm hoping the good stuff gets served up for Sweeps Month.  Now, if I'm still tossing out two stars by then, it is time to call it quits on this series.

I do want to mention one more irritating thing about this show.  There was a long scene where Carlisle had the gun to Sanders and it was building up like he was going to shoot her.  It was attempting to be a tense scene and cause us to worry about the survival of Sanders.  The problem is that not only is Sanders the star of the series and there is no way she'd be written out, but it makes no sense even within the story for Carlisle to kill the person he has gone great lengths recently to keep in charge of the surgery of the President.  How were we supposed to feel fear and worry, when we know it can't happen.  Yet we have this long dragged out scene where the ending was predictable.  That is sort of the major flaw of this series.  It does a bunch of things from better series and pictures, but doesn't seem to really understand why it was done the first time.

How I Met Your Mother Ep. 9.06 Review: Choose Wisely

Rating:  ***

Warning:  If you haven't seen this week's episode then be warned I will be freely discussing the plot and events.

How I Met Your Mother has been one of those shows that has danced near the territory of "shows I'm still watching because I've been tuning in for so long it is as natural as brushing my teeth, except I really do brush more than once a week."  There have been episodes that it felt like the writers got trapped into a vortex and just recycled old storylines or had the characters drift into almost parodies of their former self.  The worst crime was that the lead character, Ted, became an absolute bore and sometimes even an annoying ass, which led to me not even caring a little about the inevitable reveal of his future wife.  Considering the show is about his eventual meeting with her, I shouldn't be overwhelmed with feelings of apathy over his storyline.

My lack of interest in Ted continued last season, even though admittedly the show as a whole got back on track.  It has been a long while since I've had any interest in a Ted storyline, probably not since his relationship with the Captain's wife, Zoey.  This is probably part of the reason that it didn't bother me that Ted's wife was revealed last year and she turned out to be played by a relative unknown.  The internet was buzzing with disdain over the choice, but at that point, I cared far more about the stories involving Barney, Robin, Marshall, and Lily.

Even if I was invested in Ted's stories, I don't think I'd have been disappointed with Cristin Milioti as the title character, Mother.  After 8 seasons of build-up, there was absolutely no way any major actor was going to satisfy as the choice of the mother.  It is also an issue of them wanting her to be a fairly major part of this final season, and it would have been harder to get a big name for the entire run.  Though it has actually been a few episodes since we've seen Milioti, so her actual time on the show may be shorter than many first believed.  I've liked her initial set of appearances, and for the first time in several seasons, I look forward to Ted meeting his future wife.

I also think the format of jumping ahead to see Ted occasionally with his wife is a solid creative decision.  I know there are some that wanted the first onscreen appearance between Ted and his wife to be the actual first meeting.  For some the romantic vision was that it would be the very final scene of the series, but would obviously leave you in the tough spot of not caring one bit about the future wife and mother.  There had been talk they'd meet at the end of a season and then the final stretch of episodes would be the beginning of their relationship.  But this show is about Ted meeting his wife for the first time -- it says so in the title.  I always thought it was a little silly to then have an entire season devoted to their courting.  Most TV series relationships derail once the chase is over, which is why most couples end up separated before even their first season together ends.  Even if they have a great chemistry the fact is Ted's relationship with his future wife is an entirely different kind of show and would drift away from this show's original premise and even purpose.  It is about one hopeless romantic's journey to find happiness and contentment, and a lot of that is lost if he is in a relationship that we know ends up being his happy ever after.

The jumps into the future where we see small glimpses of his wife are a far better approach.  It appeases those who do want to see the couple together, but also stick to the actual premise of the show.  Some of the mystery is gone anyway, considering we know who the mother is now.  The intrigue is seeing how it all comes together and what happens to Ted's friends.  As I said before, that is the people I care about more now anyway.

I do have to say that the final stretch has suddenly made Ted a little more stomachable this season.  He still is melodramatic and whiney, but he at least seems less self-evolved and actually apart of his friend's lives again.  It helps that they appear to all be stuck at a resort for the entirety of the season, and so they cross paths much more often (with the exception of Marshall who I wonder if he will not arrive until the finale).  But his pining over Robin has obviously not been wrapped up yet even though we've been spared it this week.  The bracelet will obviously need to make an appearance and Ted has one more grand gesture left in him while the audience rolls their eyes.  I realize Robin is the central connection to Ted discovering the mother, which is why she was introduced way back in the series premiere.  We've played this "Ted tried to win back Robin, and she turned him down, and then he is broken hearted" game several times in this series.  It is way past being dramatic or touching or emotional.  Hopefully, the writers have some fresh ideas for when the time comes to finally put that storyline out to the pasture.  For now, I'm happy to be spared a "Ted mopes about Robin and vows to win her heart" episode.

Instead, How I Met Your Mother grabs another wonderfully iconic character from the '80s with the spooky knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade following Ted around in ghost form and haunting him constantly with "you've chosen poorly."  In one case he reaffirmed what we all know about Ted by letting everyone know he "tipped poorly" too.  Willy Zabka showing up to the Barney's bachelor party and for a brief time being his best man was still the best homage to the '80s, but the knight gag shows that HIMYM is still the master of the show long running joke.  Since I've already brought up the Last Crusade gag, I do need to mention I got a rather powerful giggle out of the "holy grail of cups" line.  This pop culture reference to Indiana Jones was far funnier and well done than the lame rehash I had to suffer through a few weeks ago when I needed to review UHF (thanks a lot, Scott).

On top of the knight mocking Ted for every poor decision, his storyline with the constantly crying girl was a fun one.  Anna Camp was terrific as the always crying Cassie, even if she didn't have much to do other than weep about her lost relationship.  It was a gag that was far more entertaining than I could possibly explain in written form, and it was her presence that made it work -- along with the Ghost Knight, of course.  The interesting part of the storyline is that on the surface it made for a disastrous weekend, as Ted now must scrap his plans of a one night fling.  Cassie isn't in a spot to provide such fun, but she has already been established in all the guest's mind as his date.  With a little insight provided by Old Ted the narrator, we know now that this seeming disaster is what set him up to be available to date who became the love of his life.  Hindsight can be a wonderful thing.  I look back at a past relationship that I thought was an absolute horror and stopped me from having a great deal of fun at the time.  Because of the break-up that at the time crushed me, I ended up taking a job that lead to meeting my wife, who is responsible for the majority of amazing things currently in my life.  Hindsight can be a great healer of some deep wounds when you realize what those pains have led to.

Of course, that is sort of the entire message of this series, I think.  This small storyline with Cassie helped magnify that theme and allowed for the comedy to actually have a bit of resonance.  HIMYM really is at its best when it serves up its crazy goofball comedy but has a nice underlying message about the importance of perspective, friendship, and attitude.

Another thing I was glad to see missing this episode was a fight between Barney and Robin.  I love the chemistry between Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris, but the "we love each other -- nope just kidding -- nope, just kidding about that" nature of their character's relationship has really hampered my desire to see the two characters remain together.  They're both borderline insane, and treat relationships like it is still high school, and maybe it makes for some laughs but sucks the authenticity out of it.  The frustrating part is they sometimes have some really great episodes together, and remind us why we wanted them together in the first place.  It was nice to see them actually support each other this week and hopefully, this becomes a regular thing.

Sure, I understand the show is trying to play up the cold-feet aspect.  They are also both supposed to be damaged goods.  The two characters major storylines have been about how bad they are in relationships.  We're also supposed to believe things are different between them, and that there is a destiny surrounding these two.  But I also realize they're trying to make us doubt if they will actually get married to each other.  At this point, if they want a break-up to have any impact then they need to make them happy with each other for now.  Otherwise, it has been such a bumpy road that the only real option to avoid a torrential backlash from fans is to have them actually get married.  When it has been this painful, you need a happy resolution -- especially in a comedy about love.  I'm pretty sure they will get married, but it will likely be far less satisfying if the writers didn't break them up a billion times before now (except I'm pretty sure they've only broken up once and rejected each other once, but still all the fighting makes it seem like more).

I got a kick out of them stealing Lily and Marshall's getting together story, and it was even funnier to see them steal the nicknames when they obviously don't fit: "Barnmellow" and "Robin-pad."  The really great thing about the storyline is that instead of winning over the priest, they ended up killing him with their real sordid story of how they got together along with all the places they had sex.  An old person dying isn't really original, but it worked here since most shows would have tried to squeeze in a scene where the priest reaffirms they're meant for each other.  This is the type of stuff I want to see Robin and Barney doing -- killing old people with their nasty talk.  Or something equally funny.

We also now have a storyline over who will be the new priest.  I have a feeling this is where the star cameo will come in.  Unless they opt to go with the "real" Karate Kid.  Speaking of brewing storylines, Barney's mom still needs to get her revenge on Robin, and that could possibly tie into this storyline.  I love it when I actually have things that I don't know what will happen and I eagerly look forward to finding out.  This season has been hitting a fine groove even when they've occasionally resorted to digging up past storylines.

The big upcoming story is going to be Lily's discovery that Marshall took a position as a judge.  Unless of course we've been suckered with a false cliffhanger, and Sherri Shepherd's Daphne character was just stringing along Marshal.  At this point, the Marshall character needs some major storylines for the season other than racing to the wedding, and the aftermath of Lily's discovery should last a few episodes at least.  I'll assume she does know the actual truth.

Speaking of Sherri Shepherd, where has she been all my life?  Apparently, in a bunch of shows that I never watched.  She has been fantastic this season, and I've been loving the bickering with Marshall.  I hope it does take the whole season to get to New York, because she needs to stick around this season as long as possible.  I fear she will likely be wrapping up soon enough.  The role playing over how Marshall should break the news to Lilly was a blast, and loved hearing Daphne's words come out of Lily's mouth.  It was great how obsessed Daphne made Lily over wanting to sleep with Marshall and also how she ripped into Marshall for breaking character.  I also agree with Daphne that Lily totally would say "what the damn hell."  I actually hope that is the very first thing we hear Lily say in the next episode.

I have my grievances with this show.  I really hope they stick with this being the final season, because I feel they've stretched out the concept as far as it can go.  They do risk recycling storylines quite often.  This has been a great final season so far.  The episode was not only a great stand-alone, but has set up some tasty storylines for the future.

Gravity Rises Again but One Movie Takes a Giant Plunge

Scott looks at a weekend at the box office that was great for some hold-over films, but a disaster for one major release.

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This past weekend an all-time record was set, though probably not the kind that studio executives will be bragging about on the golf course. As well, audiences continued to show interest in Gravity and Captain Phillips as both pictures were able to hold onto first and second place respectively. We also had a few Oscar contenders open up in limited release, all of which leaves us with a good deal to talk about today.

As mentioned above, first and second place were nabbed by two holdovers that are proving to be the recipients of good word of mouth. Gravity dropped 30% from last week and made $30 million this weekend, which is only a drop of 54% from its opening weekend (a lot of films face that type of drop after just one weekend). Gravity has also done well overseas, earning around $240 million so far.

The Tom Hanks starring movie, Captain Phillips, was able to hold off the attack of the newcomers by dropping a very respectable 36% from its opening weekend to make $16.4 million. It barely edged out Carrie, the remake of the 1976 version and based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The horror film starring young Chloe Grace Moretz lost a lot of steam when the reviews started rolling in late last week, and was never able to get traction in the one month of the year when horrors have their chance to be front and centre. What makes the opening weekend even more disappointing is the fact that it is the only major horror release of the month, after Paranormal Activity 5 was pulled from its October release only a few months ago. It is probably a good thing they bumped that film back, because they apparently did not even have writers for it yet, something that is kind of a crucial first step.

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up in Escape Plan, but did so about 25 years too late. This movie had already gone under a bit of an identity crisis (I believe at times going by the names The Tomb and The Escape before finally landing on Escape Plan) and was almost doomed to fail before it opened, based on the soft earnings of both Stallone’s and Schwarzenegger’s winter action film attempts.  It took home $9.8 million this weekend, and will stand no chance of making back its budget of $50 million. I think both of these actors need to look to Bruce Willis and the types of roles he is choosing if they are going to re-establish themselves in cinema.

The Fifth Estate, a docudrama about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks set an all-time record for the least amount of money made by a movie opening in more than 1,500 theatres. The film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl (both of whom did quality performances), made a very weak $1.7 million, and landed in eighth place. It was beaten by Enough Said, which was playing in 1,000 less theatres. This is a sad fall for a film that had some people thinking there could be Oscar discussions around it.

Speaking of Oscar talk, 12 Years a Slave and All is Lost both debuted in limited release this weekend and showed that they have some drawing power. The stronger showing was by 12 Years a Slave, who made an average of $48,000 over the 19 theatres that it opened in. Next weekend it will be expanding to 100 screens, so it will be interesting to see if this movie can continue its momentum. All is Lost, starring Robert Redford (literally, just Robert Redford) made a decent $15,000 per theatre over 6 theatres. This one may have a hard time getting audiences going forward, as people may be scared off by a film that has only one actor and next to no dialogue. It will be seeing a small expansion next weekend as well.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Looking at How 'Instructions Not Included' is An Example of What Hollywood is Missing

Scott did some contemplating of the Hollywood model this weekend, and also looked at a small picture that may be an example of a more successful formula for the big studios.  The current mindset of big budget spectaculars may not be the license to print money that many believe, and a small Spanish picture could be the template for more consistent financial success.

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This past summer saw a lot of conversation appear and revolve around the big budget format of Hollywood. This dialogue was intensified by Steven Speilberg and George Lucas giving a warning that the high budget system of Hollywood could cause studios to implode. The reason being, a film with a budget of $15 million that is a flop is a lot different than a movie with a $300 million budget that flops. If a studio has too many films that end up losing tens of millions of dollars (and hundreds of millions in some cases) it could destroy the studio.

When I look at it, I see the root that is the exact same reason as to why you have Duck Dynasty on television. If one thing works in one instance, then instead of looking at all of the possible reasons why it was a success the common course of action seems to be to simply try and recreate it. Just look at how many similar reality television shows have spawned from Pawn Stars or Deadliest Catch. The reasoning is that if there is money for one, there will be money for a replicate.

Where I am heading with this is the billion dollar desire of studios. To catch a film that will hit ten digit numbers and turn into a franchise. The franchise could equal theme park rides, lunch boxes, video games and any other form of profit that you and I could think of. Of the top ten grossing movies of all time, eight of those movies are from established franchises, with another movie about to become a franchise (Avatar). This seems to lend to the clamour for Hollywood to find new franchises instead of exploring new material. Of the top ten movies, the average budget is $207 million with only two of the movies having a budget under $200 million, and only one of those being under $100 million (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at $94 million).

I honestly believe that these statistics that I mentioned (as well as other analysis we could do as far as the top 25 movies of all time, but will not for the sake of getting to the point) have been the formula that Hollywood is trying to replicate. Instead of taking a look at perhaps what each of those movies meant to audiences, how it connected, and other root cause analysis, it is just a format of Established Material + High Budget + Special Effects = Billion Dollar Franchise. In the scrambling to do this there have been a number of major failures that have cost hundreds of millions of dollar. Disney, we are looking at you (thanks to John Carter and The Lone Ranger).

Why do I bring this all up? Well the answer lies with the Spanish/English language movie Instructions Not Included. This movie, directed by Eugenio Derbez, is the highest grossing limited release movie of the year, currently at a domestic tally of $43 million dollars. That is pretty amazing for a movie that has never been in more than 978 theatres at one time. This movie is relevant for two reasons, which I will now delve into.

Firstly, it is a reminder to Hollywood executives that there is a lot of money that could be had from lower budget movies, currently having grossed $84 million world-wide. At a time when only big explosive flicks seem to be greenlit for production, seeing this example of a movie that returns its $5 million investment sixteen times over is argument against the stringent application of the current high budget format. Creating movies with higher and higher budgets is keeping the kerosene closer and closer to an open flame. Sure, it is nice and handy when you need it, but it can also be disastrous.

R.I.P.D. may have lost $100 million dollars this summer. The Lone Ranger may have lost well over $100 million as well. If one company suffers multiple losses like that over a short period of time, it could spell the end. So why would they devote themselves to a format that could bring about their demise instead of focusing on lower budget movies that could bring in a much higher percentage of profit?

The answer is for that billion dollar franchise. Common thought never seems to be about innovation, but about replication. What has been done successfully could be successfully re-created, appears to be the driving force. This leads me into the second reason for this article, and the more relevant reason, which is a recognition of the success of Instructions Not Included and attempted replication. The replication I am referring to here is not the modest and logical approach to budget and profit, but to the mining of the Latino audience for profit.

The Hispanic population currently makes up approximately 20% of the American population, with a projection to hit over thirty percent by 2060. Tapping into that market is something that media already has on its radar, and Instructions Not Included may have brought even more attention to the money piles that Hollywood can sense are just waiting to be found. Blumhouse Productions (Insidious, The Purge, Paranormal Activity) are about to release a Hispanic spin-off of Paranormal Activity called, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. This represents the problem that I see on the horizon, which is not understanding that people just want to see quality movies and instead packaging standard fare that merely boasts the skin colour of the demographic they are trying to hit.

The movie may end up being a success, but I am doubtful. At the core it is just following a formula and trying to recapture success, the same root cause behind the nauseating amount of disastrous blockbusters this past summer. Swap the actors out from previous Paranormal Activity movies (which are all quite white and in rich suburban neighbourhoods) for Hispanic actors (which appear to be poor and surrounded by gangs, representing just an understanding of stereotypes and not a real sense of the people group) and that is seen as enough. I doubt that Hollywood understands that people may want more than stereotypes, that they may just want quality material that they can relate to (a financially successful example of that being Instructions Not Included). I also doubt that they understand that original scripts are something to really invest in (the two highest grossing movies of all time, and the only two movies to break $2 billion world-wide, are original scripts).

The article is over… what follows are just some fun numbers

- Instructions Not Included beat out movies starring big Hollywood names such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Vin Diesel, Robert DeNiro, Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Jim Carey (twice)

- it was able to out-perform new franchise attempts in The Host, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Beautiful Creatures

- it beat out established franchises in Texas Chainsaw 3D, Kick-Ass 2, and Scary Movie 5

- it’s world-wide total is only $2 million behind Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson

- it looks to be more profitable than high budget blockbusters The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, R.I.P.D., White House Down, Jack the Giant Slayer, After Earth, and possibly Pacific Rim

- low budget movies The Purge, Insidious Chapter 2, and Instructions Not Included have a combined domestic gross of $186 million, a combined world-wide gross of $287 million on a combined budget of $13 million

Breakdown of Captain Phillips (and four other pictures) Podcast

Sorry about the podcast being posted late this week.  I ended up being out for a large portion of the weekend, and opted for slumber by the time this was ready for be to upload and posted on the blog.  It is worth the wait with three docu-dramas that are very different and two romantic comedies that are even more different from each other.  It is also a show where several four stars are served up, so it is a must-listen podcast.

Podcast Content Timeline:

00:45  The Fifth Estate (2013) review

14:24  Captain Phillips (2013) review

25:18  The Social Network (2010) review

36:50  Enough Said (2013) review

48:22  Young Adult (2011) review

58:37  Reviews recap


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Warning About This Weekend

There is a 99.9% chance that I won't write anything on the blog this weekend.  I'm out for a good portion for the next two days, and when I'm home, I've got a brain-jarring amount of non-blog writing that I need to do.  It must be done because it is what gives me the money and lets me call this writing thing my career.

I'll see you Monday with the Breakdown.  Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gravity Tries to Rise to the Top for a Third Week

A slew of interesting movies enter the box office this weekend along with Gravity remaining a must-see movie event.  Scott weighs-in on what pictures he thinks have the best shot at making it to the top of the box office.

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For the third weekend in a row, I am thinking that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity will be taking first place in the box office. Last weekend it suffered a mere drop of 23%, and it will probably need to drop 50% or so this weekend in order to have another movie pass it. It does have some stout (and not so stout) competition, though. There are three wide releases tussling for your dollars this weekend, as well as a number of really interesting limited releases. Let’s take a look at how things may break down.

Horror re-makes are a dime a dozen, but rarely is there one that looks intriguing. Kimberly Peirce is directing Stephen King’s Carrie, and the rumour is that this version of the film will be aiming to stay close to the written material. It stars Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore, a possibly great combination to play Carrie and her mother. The highest opening weekend for a horror re-make is Friday the 13th (2009), which brought in $40.5 million before dropping an incredible 80% for its second weekend. I doubt that Carrie will come anywhere near those opening weekend numbers, but it should be able to hold a bit better in its second weekend. Chloe Moretz is still building a name for herself, and this movie should help to establish herself as a rising star.

Carrie Opening Weekend Prediction - $20.5 million

Escape Plan is a movie that stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a film that is around 25 years too late. Is it better late than never? I will be quite bold and say, ‘nope.’ Both of these action heroes have found it hard to gain the audiences that they once commanded, and being together is no longer a nostalgia sale, thanks to The Expendables. During the winter, both stars had movies hit theatres with a thud. Schwarzenegger had The Last Stand which made $37 million worldwide on a budget of $30 million (it may look like it made money, but the studios do not get all of the money made in the box office, and there would have been promotional budgets in there as well). For Stallone, the story was much worse. His movie, Bullet to the Head, made a very dismal $13 million worldwide on a budget of $55 million. The budget for Escape Plan (a movie that seemed to have a constantly shifting title for a while) is a staggering $70 million, which I do not think they are going to get back.

Escape Plan Opening Weekend Prediction - $8 million

Also opening this weekend is a movie that at one point had some Oscar buzz around it. The talk of awards seemed to end during the Toronto International Film Festival when The Fifth Estate played.  After the balloon was deflated a bit, Disney started talking about how the movie was not being marketed as an Oscar contender. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. The movie, which did have a good amount of anticipation behind it at one point, is currently sitting at a Rotten Tomato rating of 38%, a fact that will not help it when there are so many quality films in theatres. Earlier this year saw a biopic about a technical personality, which ended up failing to connect with audiences (Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, which opened to $6 million) and The Fifth Estate will probably follow suit.

The Fifth Estate Opening Weekend Prediction - $3.8 million


In limited release, there are two movies that have some legitimate Oscar potential. One of them is 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. I could go deeper into the cast, but it would take an extremely long time, as it is just brimming with talent. Brad Pitt is a producer of this film about a free man being kidnapped and sold into slavery, and it is said that without his participation this would have been a movie that may never have been greenlit. The best picture contest at the moment seems to be a two horse race between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave and it is time now for audiences to be able to compare and weigh in.

12 Years a Slave Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $70,000 per theatre


All is Lost is the other limited release movie that I mentioned above. Similar to Gravity, it is a lone survivor style movie. It is directed and written by J.C. Chandor and stars Robert Redford. Literally… just Robert Redford. He is the only person in the entire movie, and early reviews seem to indicate that he is up to the challenge of carrying an entire movie and is a strong contender for an Oscar. All is Lost opens at 6 theatres, and I am opting out on the prediction (tossing in the towel) as I am just too short on time to do the needed research for saying something educated.

Heck, I’ll shoot from the hip and see what happens.

All is Lost Limited Release Opening Weekend Blindfire Prediction - $45,000 per theatre

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Real Life People in My City That will Inspire Fictional Characters

For about 3 years, I've been screaming and waving my arms on this blog about how I'm going to be publishing short stories and novels one day.  I believe both have made the "goals of the year" article every single time I've written such a thing.  Those stories will someday saunter out of the darkness and declare themselves to the world.  I have no idea in what form or medium, but you'll get to read or listen or kick them in the future.  When I do start churning out works of fiction I'll have several years' worth of story ideas that have been swimming around in my head that will be ready to dry off and dance about on my computer screen.  But a story idea means very little if I don't have interesting characters to drive forward the narrative.  Once again I am a lucky man, because my hometown of Brantford has a small army of quirky folks I come across on a daily basis that can be inspiration for future fictional characters.

Here are a few nameless folks that exist in my city, and will possibly someday be altered to be the next Willy Loman, Katniss Everdeen or Ignatius J. Reilly.  Or more likely Chuck Cunningham.

Mad professor-looking guy who spends his evening leaning against his fencepost:  Once the evening hits, there are a few guarantees in life such as it will get dark, cats will come out to play, and a creepy guy will start hanging out by himself on his fencepost.  He obviously is using that location to concoct a dastardly scheme that involves creating an abomination of nature.  I also think it is far more entertaining to believe that he actually lives a few blocks away.

Convenience store clerk who dances to blaring music and then timidly turns the music off when customers enter the store:  Every writer must create a story about the small city dreamer yearning for something more and to make it big.  This little fellow that must suppress his love of flailing his limbs to salsa music so he can dish out lottery tickets will be the basis for mine.  There obviously must be the cranky store owner who refuses to lose the "fastest cash register operator in the west" and tries to sabotage our hero's dream.  Fling around that body young hero; fling it right to your destiny.  

Dog walker who huff and puffs when his yappy beast barks away at other dogs that are trying to ignore it:  Every horror story needs a first victim.

Garbage collector who screams at people for actually putting out their garbage:  Most horror stories need a second victim.

The obnoxious windbag who has spent the last 3 years ranting about how the current house is temporary and he has a massive custom home being built at the moment:  One would assume the man strutting around in an undershirt and boxers with so much free time to rant and rave that it is questionable he has a job would likely be lying about moving to a mansion.  If there isn't any sign of a house being built where he claims then the easy money is on there just isn't a house.  Maybe he is telling the truth, but the building isn't in this dimension.  It is waiting for him in a parallel universe, but he has lost the magical key that unlocks the portal to that world.  Alas, will our brave hero ever get to his home, which is built on a giant purple mushroom, has loyal flying kangaroo servants, and backs on to a cream soda river?

The pushy door to door salesperson who believes the gods have bestowed upon him the right to enter your home and endlessly prattle on about his product, and anyone who denies him is a horrid fiend that must be vanquished with his ramblings and spittle:  There are quite a few horror stories that need a third victim.

The cashier/server who keeps popping up at different stores or restaurants:  The easy answers are she needs several jobs to help pay the bills or that she just isn't all that happy at one mindless job for a very long time.  These would be the wrong answers.  She is clearly a clone created by a computer system that has now become sentient and there is now an army of minimum wage servers designed to win over the trust of the citizens through great service and a warm smile. Before the world knows it, we will all be bowing to our robotic overlords, and we better hope we didn't skimp on the tip

A kind, plump grandmother type who hangs out at the park without any apparent kids of her own but wanders around pinching children's cheeks and offering the parents hard candies:  Obviously, she is trying to form a toddler army where she'll be the mighty Queen who rewards the loyal with delicious teeth crushing candies and subjects the dissident to mass stretch marks on their face.  But one brave woman has been chosen to vanquish this hideous evil, but the question is if she can form a resistance during the two hours the insidious grandma is distracted by her stories.

The mullet sporting family with a giant Confederate flag hanging in their house, but are good friends with their Black neighbour:  I believe, they also had a truck up on cinder blocks for a few weeks, but they must have feared stereotyping and got rid of it.  The crazy thing is I live in Brantford, which happens to be in Ontario, which you may have noticed is in Canada, which the smart ones among you will realize is not a Southern State.  They've opted to proudly sport a flag that not only really stands out when you're not in the South, but also one that is the symbol of a union formed out of several States' desires to be able to continue enslaving people.  More specifically, Black people.  Yet somehow in this wacky world of non-fiction, the best friend of the brood of rednecks appears to be Black.  We not only have a real life Odd Couple, but possibly a story I'd never be able to make up on my own.


The want-to-writer who buys coffee for professional writers so he can ask for career advice, and then waits a few weeks, so he can ask the exact same questions again:  One of the most popular protagonists in fiction are writers, which shouldn't be a shock since we're always told to write what we know.  The problem is that reading about a person writing at a desk all day is pretty dull.  The writers almost never actually write in works of fiction, but once in a while, refer to some novel he is trying to get done.  The alternative might be to have a hero that always talks about wanting to have a writing career and rattles on about his various ideas, but "never has time to write."  This frees our hero up to actually go on all the adventures, but still has the perk of being labelled as a writer, which is a career in literature almost as important as architect is in romantic comedies.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reviewing Every New Network TV Series

Every single fall there is a smorgasbord of new TV series from the major networks.  Nobody has time to check out each one, but a lover of TV also fears the idea of missing out on the next big hit.  My latest Collective Publishing article is here to help by offering an analysis of the success and quality of each new TV series.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gravity Rises to the Top in the Box Office Once Again

Scott looks at what was a newsworthy weekend at the box office as Gravity is a legitimate hit and a respected action director takes a hit with a giant flop.

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Last weekend had Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity setting records with the highest October opening weekend of all time. This weekend it looked to maintain its dominance on top. Challenging it for top spot this weekend is Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, and Machete Kills from director Robert Rodriguez. The competition was tough, at least from Captain Phillips, but that did not stop Gravity from walking away with a second consecutive weekend at number one.

I had felt extremely confident that Gravity was going to be able to maintain its spot this weekend, but I had no idea at all that it would perform the way it did. After having opened to a record setting $55 million its first weekend, it pulled in $43 million for its second weekend, a drop of a mere 23% in gross. Not only did it hold well from week one to week two, it maintained quite well over the course of the weekend. It saw a 47% jump in gross on Saturday over Friday, and an incredible Friday to Sunday drop in grosses of a mere 3.9%. It does not get much better than that, and it is a sign that people are still dying to see this film, which may end up in first place next weekend as well. For a movie that is in serious contention for an Oscar, this box office performance may go a long way towards affecting who Academy members vote for. After its two weekends, it has made a global cumulative of around $200 million and is bound to end up with a lot more.

From one Oscar contender we now turn our attention to another as Tom Hanks is reasserting himself as a powerhouse in the ‘based on a true story’ Captain Phillips, which brought in $25 million this past weekend. It has large support from both critics and audiences, with both giving it 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and was able to debut very strongly considering the competition it was up against with Gravity. It opened in 3,020 theatres and average of $8,516 per theatre. There is talk about possible Oscar nods for best picture, best director, best lead actor, and there is even some talk about actor newcomer Barkhad Abdi for best supporting actor for his portrayal of the Somali pirate captain. It appears that for Abdi the transition from driving taxis to acting opposite Tom Hanks is a seamless task.

Also opening this weekend was Machete Kills, the sequel to the Robert Rodriguez directed Machete, which came out in 2010. While the original was able to open to $11.4 million dollars, the sequel managed an opening weekend of only $3.8 million dollars, a sixty six percent decrease. The movie is geared towards a niche market, birthing from a fake trailer for the 2007 movie Grindhouse. Films based on novel concepts seem to have a much lower ceiling than others, but I don’t know if anyone saw this poor of a showing coming. The poor performance puts Machete Kills at the 8th worst opening for a movie in over 2,500 theatres. There is a rumour that a third movie, possibly titled Machete Kills Again… In Space!, has already been greenlit. Seeing as how it may have a very hard time making back the modest budget of $20 million, the brakes may very well be put on the franchise.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Breakdown Celebrates Thanksgiving Podcast

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian listeners.  For everyone else, hope your Monday is wondrous.  To celebrate the holiday where we commemorate the first ever feast between pilgrims and Native American by "re-imagining" it, Scott and I will be reviewing remakes of five films with strong followings.  Enjoy some movie discussion while recovering from that turkey coma.

Breakdown Content Timeline:

The Magnificent Seven Review:  0:46

True Grit: 13:42

The Fly: 23:26

The Manchurian Candidate:  33:57

The Crazies: 44:27

Recap Rundown:   54:47


Friday, October 11, 2013

Two New Movies Try to Rise Up Against Gravity at the Box Office

Scott looks at Gravity's competition, as the sci-fi thriller aims to nab the top spot two weeks in a row.

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For a little while it was unclear as to if I would be able to get my predictions done this weekend (on account of the family engagements of Thanksgiving), but luck was on my side. I will waste no time at all in stating that I believe none of the newcomers to theatres this weekend will have what it takes to oust Gravity from its roost in the number one spot. There is some interesting material opening, but a film like Gravity does not face the same depreciation that Dude, Where’s My Car could encounter. It is a good sign for a movie when it suffers less than a fifty percent drop from week one to week two, and Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller may end up only dropping around thirty percent. This is based off of the great word of mouth and the older audience that may be attracted to it, as older audiences don’t necessarily rush out opening weekend to see a movie. So if it is going to land in first place, what will be taking second?

My guess for that is Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in this ‘based on true events’ movie about a container ship that is taken over by Somali pirates. My interest in this film was spiked when I saw a trailer that seemed to portray the pirates, and most notably their captain (played by first time actor, Barkhad Abdi, who was driving taxis prior to this role and is getting a bit of Oscar talk around him already) as complex people who may be the victims of their circumstances, and not just caricatures of baddies. The movie is directed by Paul Greengrass, who was nominated for directing United 93 back in 2006. There is a great deal of buzz around this movie, as it has just come off a showing at the New York Film Festival and is currently sitting at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While Tom Hanks used to be a great draw at the box office, recent movies like Cloud Atlas and Larry Crowne have shown he is not invincible. His role in Captain Phillips seems like the perfect one to remind audiences that he is an all-time great and well worth the money. There is already a lot of appreciation shown towards his performance, as well as that of the performance of Barkhad Abdi who is able to show in the trailers alone an ability to command attention. There is currently news around the real life Captain Phillips, as the crew of the Maersk Alabama are filing a lawsuit claiming the captain ignored warnings about the pirate activity and sailed too close to shore in order to save the company money (they were warned not to sail within 600kms, and I have heard different numbers that state it could have been between 200kms 300kms from shore). Regardless of how the court case turns out, it is just another way to educate the public of the movie and is some great free advertising.

Captain Phillips Opening Weekend Prediction - $20 million

Also in the mix this weekend is Machete Kills, a sequel to 2010’s Machete. It stars actor Danny Trejo, who has been building a bit of a cult following, and is directed by Robert Rodriguez. The original movie was based on a fake trailer for the 2007 work Rodriguez did with Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse.  Machete Kills features a large cast of notables, some of them carry overs from the first movie and some of them are new additions. The main factor that will limit the ceiling of this movie is the fact that it is targeted towards a niche audience, and while the critical reviews of the first movie were fairly positive, it is not looking like the sequel is carrying the same appeal. In some cases, it is the novelty of a concept that makes it intriguing, and that may mean a sequel starts to lose steam. The Expendables 2 opened to a weekend roughly 18% less than the first, and finished approximately 17% less in the domestic market.  I figure that Machete Kills may follow the same route and end up with a depreciation of around 20% from the original, which had an opening weekend of $11 million.

Machete Kills Opening Weekend Prediction - $8.5 million


And, because of all of the talk I did at the beginning of the power of Gravity, I may as well make a prediction on how it will do this weekend. After opening to an October all-time record of $55 million, it has shown there is a lot of interest towards this film. During its opening weekend, it suffered only a very small drop from Friday to Sunday (approximately only 12%), which is an oddity and would suggest this movie will not be dropping significantly any time soon. Even with the emergence of a quality film like Captain Phillips, a lot of talk still centres on Gravity, which is most likely going to steal some ticket sales from Tom Hanks this weekend. I predict it will only face a loss of thirty five percent, and that will keep it strongly in the lead.

Gravity Second Weekend Prediction - $35 million

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Officially Chucking My Mini-Review Compilation Article Idea into the Furnace

Though it isn't that cold out, so not sure why I'd have a furnace on.

But it is a symbolic furnace, so they tend to not make the house too warm.

Okay, we've established the type of furnace I was referring to.  Now, for the point of this article.

You may remember a few weeks back that I promised I'd be writing a mini-review compilation of all the films I ghost wrote and a collection of small reviews for all the TV shows I did ghost reviews for.  The problem is that was several weeks ago, and since then I acquired a rather hefty backlog of my movies and TV episodes that I've ghost written for but not written with a byline.

It was a combination of anxiety, pay copy, a running Everett, and other lovely things that comprise this thing called life that stopped me from being able to throw together the review compilations.  The idea that I need to get it done has actually been causing stress.  The longer I wait then the more TV shows and movies I'll have not written a review.  At this point, I'd rather just start writing full reviews rather than tossing more mini-reviews into the compilation.

As my title alludes to, I've decided to scrap the idea of putting together a collection of mini-reviews.  From this point forward, I'll start writing full reviews for the movies and shows I watch.

The problem was that I was ghost writing for many movies and TV shows, and so it was an overwhelming concept to have to try to write entirely new review for this blog.  The contract for those type of reviews have officially ended, since the person I was doing the work for is back in a place to do the reviews.  It is a bit of a bummer for the bank account, but it will make it easier to put reviews up on here.  This will hopefully serve in helping obtain some of my long term goals as well.

Has the idea that my collection of reviews will not be written caused your entire world to crumble?  Fear not.  Almost all the movies that I'd have included in the compilation have been on the podcasts, so you'll still be able to find my thoughts on most of the movies.  As for the TV shows, I'll hopefully write an analysis of the fall premiere season that will include my thoughts of most of the shows I'd have included in the compilation.

The more important thing is the scrapping of this idea means I can start on full reviews now.  Hopefully, I'll have the chance to put some up before the end of this Canadian long weekend.

Anyway, I am aware it is slightly pretentious to devote an entire article about why I didn't write another article.  It was something I had previously hyped, and so I thought it was my duty to address.  Even if nobody likely remembered my promise.

With that, I'm off to try to eliminate some of the pay copy load I'm drowning in, so I can hopefully write some reviews for you in the coming days.

Box Office Predictions May Be Delayed This Week

Just a heads up that the box office predictions may not get posted first thing in the morning tomorrow.  Hopefully, will have them up a littler later in the day.  I know you're all dying to discover which new releases Scott thinks will prevail in the battle for highest grossing picture of the weekend.

An Inspirational Video About a Brave Boy Standing Up Against Bullying

Bullying sucks, but the video about this courageous young man's attempt to change things does not.



This video provoked some water to come scurrying out of my face, and some may even say caused tears.  It was heartbreaking to hear what this poor boy had to endure just because a few insecure jerks deemed him different.  It was also exhilarating to see him make a major stand and try to represent all the other kids bullied at his school.  It can take a lot of guts for an adult to make a speech in front of a board, so it is doubly impressive how brave Caine Smith was for presenting serious facts in front a group of scary looking adults.

I've mentioned on here before that I was bullied as a kid.  It wasn't to the point that Caine has been abused though.  I was definitely lucky enough to have real close friends to be a support during those shitty times.  But I suffered enough to know it is a serious problem and it affects your outlook on life and sticks with you for your entire life.  I haven't been able to erase the tormentors from my mind and those rough periods still occasionally flash before me.  In some ways it is good that I haven't forgotten, because it reminds me how awful it was and how important an issue it is.

Bullying has always existed.  I'm not sure if it has gotten worse.  It has become something society is finally becoming aware of.  Unfortunately, it is something that also now has new mediums to be perpetuated on like the internet, where these spineless asshats now have the chance to be anonymous cretins.  But I am not here to argue if it has gotten worse than my time, because that isn't the point.  It's awful.  It causes massive damage to children's self-esteem.  It needs to end.

Maybe we'll start to see real change with the help from a brave little champion like Caine Smith. 

Edit: I forgot to give credit to The Bully Project, which is a site not only doing a great thing, but also the original  location for this video.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Gravity Film Review: A Thriller That Will Spiral You Out of This World

Gravity is a movie that some were declaring the ultimate film experience after just seeing the trailer.  It has dropped in with a fair amount of hype, but has now been backed up with huge critical acclaim.  Does Gravity deserve all this recognition?  Find out in my latest film review for Collective Publishing.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What Could Have Ever Inspired this TV Show?

This video is for all the complainers that modern television is unoriginal and just copies good ideas from the past.



Goober, goober, goober, where are you?

Goober and the Ghost Chasers may be the most blatant rip-off of an extremely popular franchise that I've ever seen.  They could have at least made the dog into a cat.  But they don't seem to own a van and they really like to take pictures.  I guess that is what was passing for original and new.  It now looks like Munsters may have been a much fresher idea than I once believed when compared to this.

It does get me in the mood for some Scooby Doo now, though.

Gravity Levitates Far Above the Rest at the Weekend Box Office

It is weekend box office aftermath time, and Scott is here to analyze the carnage.

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The weekend has come and gone and atop the pile stands Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. There was a great deal of critical appreciation for this film heading into its opening weekend, and audiences proved that they are on board. It is not often that both of those camps are in complete agreement, but such is the case here. Gravity was able to snatch the record of highest October opening weekend from Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.5 million in 2011) with $55.7 million. Myself, I had been feeling sort of confident with my $40 million dollar prediction, which was in the ballpark of others but a little more to the low end. Normally as a weekend progresses, the projections for a movie drop but for Gravity they kept getting altered with higher and higher numbers. What exactly caused that?

Well, a decent movie may have a slight drop in grosses from the Friday to Saturday and then a much more significant drop on Sunday. A good example of a movie that performs better than the norm was The Conjuring, which did exceptionally well when it was released back in July. The James Wan directed horror movie dropped only 18% on its opening Saturday and then 21% on Sunday (The Conjuring actually had a better Friday through Sunday hold than did Iron Man 3 - 33.5% to 36.7% respectively). When we look at Gravity, we see that it gained an incredible 32% on Saturday and then a drop of 33% to Sunday. If my math is correct (and I believe that it must be, ever since I became a self-appointed ‘mathamagician’ once I realized that I had the ability to make remainders disappear) then the Friday to Sunday drop is a ridiculously low 12.6%. That is a great example of solid word of mouth and a sign that this movie may not depreciate a whole lot into next weekend, as it very well should be able to hold onto first place and thwart the attempts of newcomer Captain Phillips.

While one movie over performed this weekend, another one went in the other direction as Runner Runner had an underwhelming opening weekend of $7.7 million. While nobody was expecting a great outing for this crime thriller starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, most were thinking it could do a lot better. There is a lot to be said for scheduling, and this weekend may have been one of the worst options for Runner Runner. Not only was it running against a movie that dominated, but it was against a fellow thriller (the highest opening weekend for a thriller this year). Maybe at another time it could have held up a little better, but that is just complete speculation. The folks involved with this movie can at least be happy that it has already done over $11 million in foreign markets.

Also making it into the top ten this week was two limited release movies, both of them romantic comedies. One of them was the debuting Pulling Strings, which is a Spanish language movie that had earned $2.4 million from 387 theatres and showed that there is a hungry market out there. A month ago, Instructions Not Included started its march towards a $40 million dollar gross and reminded distributors that perhaps the Latino market needs to be remembered. Pulling Strings averaged $6,375 per theatre and was able to land in ninth place this weekend.

The other limited release movie to crack the top ten was Enough Said, the romantic comedy starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It expanded to 437 theatres from 227 last week, and made $2.1 million and averaged $5,017 per theatre. It is getting a bit of Oscar talk right now (albeit not incredibly strong talk at the moment) and has a great Rotten Tomatoes rating of 95%. Count me as one of the lucky folk who was able to take in this delightful movie about two divorcees, about to turn empty nesters, who find themselves fumbling through the game of courtship once again.

Pimping a Brand New Movie Review Blog

Do you love Scott on the podcasts and look forward to his box office analysis and predictions, but find yourself craving more of his thoughts?  Well, Christmas has come early for you, because you're now in store for a wondrous gift.  Scott has started up the A Movie a Day blog, where he follows the title he has given it and will review a movie a day.  His first film review is on the hot new sci-fi thriller, Gravity.  Head on over there and support my good friend Scott in his newest endeavour.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Breakdown of Gravity, Metallica Through the Never, The Hunger Games, Insidious, and The Sessions Podcast

I'm thinking that it may be time to stop putting every single movie Scott and I review in the title.  Seems like a lot to slog through before you get to the write-up.  Then of course, the write-up goes over the exact same movies again to ensure you have it all memorized before we then proceed to mention all the movies again in the podcast.  Seems a bit monotonous, doesn't it?  Consider this the final podcast with the super long title, and we'll see what I start to come up with next week.

For now, enjoy this week of the Breakdown as we look at two big event films and dip into the vault for three pictures with large followings.

Enjoy!

Content Timeline:

00:41  Gravity review

16:55  Metallica Through the Never review

28: 12  The Hunger Games review

38:37  Insidious review

52:32  The Sessions review

1:02:25  Recap of reviews


Saturday, October 05, 2013

It's Saturday Night and I Haven't Blogged. . .

Just in case you didn't notice.

Been a long day, so the blog had to go dark today.  I'm hoping some fun content will be in store for this week.

How was your Saturday?

Friday, October 04, 2013

Gravity will Battle a Thriller and Concert Movie to Drift Up to the Top of the Box Office

Most experts think Gravity is the guaranteed winner this weekend.  We all know it really matters what Scott thinks.

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Well, I need to admit right at the beginning that this week’s weekend preview will be a little rushed, and likely not as detailed as other weeks. Schedules are a surly beast, and in a few moments it will be departure time to head out for Metallica Through the Never, an IMAX concert film that Chris and I will be reviewing on Monday’s podcast. It opened in just over three hundred theatres last week, and is expanding to around twice as many this weekend. Let us ponder on how it may fair, as well as two wide release newcomers that will be trying to fill up their coffers this weekend.

Just as sure as I was last weekend that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 would come in first, I have the same cocky strut in believing that Gravity will be this weekend’s number one flick. The space thriller stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and is absolutely thriving off of a lot of buzz from recent festival performances and is looking like a safe bet for getting a best picture Oscar nomination. It is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, whose last movie, Children of Men, was nominated for three Oscars and was able to average over $8,000 when it expanded to wide release its second week. There is much more room for financial success this time around, as Sandra Bullock has proven to be a major draw and has had three movies open to over $30 million in the past four years. As well, it has performed well on Facebook and Twitter for a movie that is geared towards an older audience.

Gravity Opening Weekend Prediction - $40 million

Also opening this weekend is Runner Runner, a crime thriller that stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck. It is hard to predict exactly what factor Ben Affleck will have on the financial success of this movie. On one hand his star is rising as ‘Ben Affleck the director’ is showing the world that he is an elite story teller. On the other hand, he was hauled to the social media gallows when it was announced that he will be the next Batman, so ‘Ben Affleck the actor’ was the focus of fanboy anger just a month ago.

People forget things quite quickly, so it really is a bit of a wildcard. While Timberlake is quite popular on the singing front, he is still developing both his talents and a fan following in the realm of acting.  Two years ago In Time opened to $12 million, and that is most likely the mark that this movie will land on. Add to that the lack of critical love (it is currently 18% on Rotten Tomatoes) and the fact that it is opening opposite a movie with two proven leads that is at an incredible 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it may be a long walk to make back the rumoured $30 million budget.

Runner Runner Opening Weekend Prediction - $12

And lastly, there is Metallica Through the Never, which has been getting some decent critical love. Over the past week and a half, it has hovered just above and just below 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Given the length of the career of Metallica, there are a number of generations who have either been long-time fans, or who have gone through fan phases that could be curious about this movie. Its opening weekend it pulled in $5,000 per theatre, and I am thinking that it will suffer a decent, but not horrific, drop and will land in the realm of around $2,700 per theatre in its expansion weekend.

Metallica Through the Never Expansion Weekend Prediction - $1.7 million