Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Ridiculous Prediction of Pop Culture Events in 2014

We don't have much time left with ol' 2013, and depending where you live, you may be already basking in the glory of the new year.  Since we'll be spending lots of time with 2014, it is nice to know what we should expect from him and figure out if we really want to get close.  I did my duty as the pop culture writer and jumped into the future to discover all the major pop culture events of 2014.  You can learn about them in my latest article for Collective Publishing.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

10 Fictional Holidays You May Want to Celebrate

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season so far.  I can understand if you're a little tired and weary of the holiday by this point.  If that is the case, then you may be ready to try out another holiday to see if it is your thing.  In my latest Collective Publishing article, I describe ten fictional holiday that you may want to start celebrating.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Delicious Reheated Christmas Post

The incredibly observant will notice my blogging hasn't picked up since the move to the new house.  I won't bore you with my excuses and reasons, because I'm sure that can be saved for another post.  I do have several articles and pieces lined up to finally get this blog a rocking place again, but that time will likely be saved for after a small little holiday you may have heard about.  A holiday that is now extra wonderful and delightful because the very next day is my little treasure's birthday.

But speaking about that little holiday, I wrote a short story called "Mary Christmas" a few years ago on this blog to mark the event.  Since I'm going to spend the rest of my day either trying to finish some deadline intensive pay copy and if that goes quickly then some Christmas prep and unpacking, it is best to distract you with this past story.

If I don't come on again by Wednesday, have a Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Anchorman Looking to Smite the Hobbit at the Box Office

A really huge weekend right before Christmas, which likely means a busy weekend at the theatres.  Scott weighs in with what films he thinks have the best chance to pick up some sweet yuletide cash.

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This weekend shows that we are on the verge of history in the making, and, unfortunately for Peter Jackson, not the good kind. For the first time in the history of the Middle Earth franchise that is helmed by Jackson, a movie will be bumped from the number one spot after just one week. Unless something miraculous happens over the next 72 hours, all signs point to Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues claiming the top spot. Last year the less than enthusiastically received The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was able to hold onto number one for three weeks in a row, which is a remarkable feat.

Perhaps this will be the concrete evidence needed to persuade people in the ‘there is absolutely nothing wrong with The Hobbit movies’ camp to start listening to reason. But, I am not here to talk about a flawed franchise but to look at movies that are entering into theatres this weekend and shed some light on how I believe they will do. The movie expected to be at the top of the heap this weekend is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which stars Will Ferrell as the mustache wielding news anchor, Ron Burgundy. The original movie, which came out in 2004, was a healthy success as it made almost $90 million world-wide on a budget of $25 million. It came out to an opening weekend of $28 million, and that is a number that I could easily see the sequel surpassing.

While it has been nine years since the original, that has allowed for some real anticipation to build for this movie, and the promotion of it has been extremely well done. Will Ferrell has been in fine form as he has taken the Burgundy character to different venues such as TSN and serenading Rob Ford on Jimmy Kimmel to hype this movie.

Coming up with a prediction for this film took a bit of time, as it is a five day opening weekend. First, I figure that the movie is likely to average around $8,000 per theatre over the traditional weekend (Friday through Sunday) at its 3,400 locations (an average slightly lower than Ferrell’s The Campaign, but that is okay because Anchorman 2 will already have been out for two days before the weekend starts, so the weekend average will take a hit because of this). On top of that, we will have the much lower per theatre averages from Wednesday (which came in at around $2,300 per theatre) and what should be a slightly lower Thursday to create a rough per theatre average for those two days of approximately $4,000 per theatre. All of that put together gives me my prediction. I hope I have not bored you with my thought process, but now you get a bit of an understanding as to how I come to some of these predictions.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 5 Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $41 million

Moving from a comedy, we head to a drama that is being described by many critics as extremely humorous. It is American Hustle, a movie directed by David O. Russell about the Abscam operation in the 70s, full out big lapels and comb-overs. The trailers show a vibrance and style that seems as though the essence of that decade has been perfectly captured, and it has an extremely deep cast consisting of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, and even Louis C.K. It is also coming off recently being nominated for seven Golden Globe awards and thirteen Critic’s Choice awards, all aspects that will increase its chances in theatres.

Last weekend it entered into limited release and ended up taking in $123,409 per theatre over 6 theatres. It will be expanding this weekend to 2,500 locations, so the average will drop exponentially. When David O. Russell’s The Fighter moved to wide release after a weekend in 4 theatres, it went from a per theatre average of $75,000 to $4,800, which represented a 94% drop. That is a drop that is consistent with what I could imagine happening with American Hustle, which would put its projected per theatre average at $7,400. Wow, I am just all about explaining the math today.

American Hustle Expansion Weekend Prediction - $18.5 million

Opening up in wide release this weekend is Walking With Dinosaurs, an animated film about a story with dinosaurs that claims to be the greatest 3D event in 100,000,000 years. Call me a skeptic, but I am calling shenanigans on this one. It appears to be a movie for the whole family, mainly the young ones who are infatuated with thunder lizards, and it appears to have a definite narrative to it. What concerns me is the fact that the dinosaurs do not talk or are given characters, and those are elements that seem essential for connecting with the kids. As well, the animation looks inconsistent, but I doubt that registers with children. I mean, I thought The Last Starfighter was a marvel. Unfortunately for Walking With Dinosaurs, Frozen is still dominating the family animation section of the market and will most likely do so again this weekend.

Walking With Dinosaurs Opening Weekend Prediction - $7.5 million

Also expanding into wide release this weekend is Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about Walt Disney and his attempts to secure the rights to make what would become the beloved tale of Mary Poppins. There was initially a lot of Oscar talk around this movie, but as different awards nominations have started to come out it would seem as though the film is losing traction in that regard. Having not seen the movie, my big concern has always been the executive intrusion that would plague the filming as they would be obsessed over portraying their namesake in the brightest light. The reviews for the film have been fairly decent, but it is appearing to not quite evolve into what they were hoping for. It is a very busy next few weeks in theatres, and there may not be much of a window of opportunity for Saving Mr. Banks to capitalize on.

Saving Mr. Banks Expansion Weekend Prediction - $10 million

A movie that I should also mention, although I am hesitant to make a prediction on because limited release films seem next to impossible to predict, is Spike Jonze’s Her. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man who begins to fall for his artificial intelligence computer operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Those two names make this movie quite intriguing, but when you add into the mix Rooney Mara and Amy Adams then it becomes all the more enticing. The critical reception for this film is extremely positive and it will definitely be battling for some Oscar nominations in a few weeks. Against my better judgement, I think I will throw my hat into the ring with a prediction on this one. I could easily see it skewing towards the same kind of opening weekend as Adaptation, Jonze’s 2002 Oscar bound movie, which averaged $54,000 per theatre.

Her Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $55,000 per theatre

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ten Ridiculous Moments in Wrestling That Make It Embarrassing to be a Fan

I've had to defend my love for professional wrestling for almost 3 decades, and I still need to endure exaggerated eye rolls and shouts of "Really?!?" from my wife anytime I even motion towards my DVDs.  Wrestling at its best can provide an emotional payoff that rivals many films or TV shows, but at its worst, you wish you can be slammed into another time zone when a non-fan walks in during some ridiculous storyline.  In my latest Collective Publishing, I look at ten events that can make it rather hard to admit that I'm a wrestling fan.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Limited Release Films Hustle to the Top, But the Wide Releases Fall Short

Scott looks at a weekend where the wide release debuts were a disappointment but the limited release films hit the jackpot to kick off their campaigns for expansion.

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We are now halfway through the final month of the year, and the last of the anticipated movies are preparing to roll out. This past weekend was host to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which is the second in The Hobbit trilogy and is based off of the book The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Last year gave birth to the first of the trilogy (which was originally supposed to be only two movies) which took in $84 million during its opening weekend. While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had the best opening weekend for a movie from the Middle Earth franchise, it fell incredibly short with critics and had the worst overall outing in the domestic market with $303 million.

The Desolation of Smaug, while it has had somewhat better critical response, was unable to meet the opening weekend mark of An Unexpected Journey as it came in 13% lower at $73 million. While some reasoning for this drop is given to the extreme winter conditions over the past weekend, I think the bigger reason is the lackluster, bloated first film of a trilogy that in actuality should only be one movie, which took a lot of wind out of the sales of the audience. While The Desolation of Smaug was considered a step in the right direction, it primarily still felt like a rehashed Lord of the Rings film and not something that stands on its own with distinct character and personality. That’s just my simple reasoning, however.

Opening weekends for big budget movies are very important as the market quickly becomes crowded and it is hard for a film to sustain solid performances in theatres. Luckily for The Hobbit, there is nothing on the immediate landscape that offers a similar style of adventure. The only looming beast that stands in its way is the monstrous budget, which is reported at $250 million (two of the LOTR movies had $95 million budgets, and Return of the King had a budget of $109 million) and is a large jump from the originals. I have read some rumours that the actual budgets for the first two Hobbit movies are actually closer to $315 million, which means the folks at Warner Bros. could really be hoping that this movie does not take the normal drastic dip in its second weekend that is typical of high performing films.

While I do take some pride in predicting that The Hobbit was going to underperform this weekend, I should man up and admit that I was way off when it came to Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas. Tyler Perry’s movies, especially the ones that feature his Madea character, are extremely consistent and reliable in the box office. If you add onto all of that the appropriately timed and themed Christmas element, it seemed an easier than ever prediction that it would land between $25 and $30 million, with some predictions floating around as high as $35 million.

What we got, however, was an underwhelming performance of $16 million that may indicate that the cross dressing performance of Perry as the sharp mouthed Madea may be losing some traction in the box office. One article I had read pointed out that perhaps it was Best Man Holiday that filled the void in the market place for and African American Christmas comedy, and left little reason for people to see Madea save the holiday. Whatever the reason is, and especially after the poor performance of the Perry produced Peeples earlier this year, it could be time for a bit of re-tooling from Tyler Perry. He has proven to be box office gold in the past, so I will not be surprised if he gets there again in the near future.

Speaking of being incredibly off on predictions, the performance of David O. Russell’s American Hustle saw an incredible opening weekend as it averaged $123,000 per theatre over 6 theatres. I had predicted in the ball park of $55,000 per theatre and was shocked at how it took off, and has gained one of the best averages of 2013 (I think it may actually only be second to Frozen). I am incredibly happy to see this, as this movie has been my most anticipated movie of the year for the past ten months, and I am realizing that perhaps the awareness of this film was the factor that I underestimated the most.

For one thing, one day before it opened it was nominated for seven Golden Globes, making it tied with 12 Years a Slave for most nominations. As well, they have done a great job marketing this movie, making intriguing theatrical trailers as well as engaging television commercials. Add on the huge names involved (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner) and an incredible critical reception, and there is plenty of positive going for this film. While the name of David O. Russell is one that I do not often hear floating around the lips of the public as a great director, it is quite possible that this movie (whose promotions ensure you see his name) could begin to establish him as a household name.

Also opening in limited release is the Oscar hopeful, Saving Mr. Banks, a Disney movie about Walt Disney and his attempts to get Marry Poppins made into a movie. It may seem a bit like pure Oscar bait, but backing up the film are sure to be strong performances by Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers. Saving Mr. Banks opened in 15 locations this weekend and averaged $27,000 per theatre and is set to expand to nationwide release this upcoming weekend.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Weekend Plans. . .

To not be on the blog.

Our new house still is imitating a storage facility and also is screaming for a serious cleaning, and it really does deserve to become a real home we can all love and spill coffee inside of.  This will be one of the time consuming things of the weekend.

Also I'm going to do something totally new and use "I have pay copy that needs to be finished this weekend" as my second excuse for not being on here.  Because. . . well. . . I have pay copy that needs to be finished this weekend.

But my honest and sincere hope is that my lack of writing on here will end on Monday, and I'll have oodles of words for you to digest.

If that becomes the reality is something that will have to be discovered on Monday.  So, I'll see you then, and have yourself a great weekend.

Hobbit Battles Tyler Perry in Drag for Box Office Supremacy

This is a blog post promising predictions from Scott, and it then delivers exactly that.  Mostly, because Orlando Bloom won't return my emails.

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After a bit of a break due to some health reasons, I have returned to the prediction game in an attempt to conquer the mighty dragon Smaug, as the next installment of The Hobbit trilogy of material from the much loved book and lesser loved appendices hits theatres. This weekend also sees Tyler Perry bring back the Madea character just in time to save Christmas. Also, a few more of this year’s anticipated Oscar hopefuls enter into limited release to set the stage for their runs at the box office and critical acclaim.

While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey did really well in theatres last year (taking $303 million domestically and $1 billion word-wide), it seemed to fall far short of expectations and was the lowest domestically grossing film of the franchise (yet had the best opening weekend). From my perspective, it was a bloated script that lost sight of the fact that the movie was supposed to be about the hobbit (Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman) and it seemed to try and recapture the sweeping feel of The Lord of the Rings trilogy instead of focusing on one unlikely and small creature caught up in an adventure.

Having seen some of the trailers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, my fears for a repeat of neglecting the title character are reinforced, as Legolas (who was not even in the book) gets as much trailer attention, if not more, than Bilbo does. It really leaves me feeling like it will once again be a film that is constructed more in a way to revive the Lord of the Rings magic than to tell the tale that has its own distinct feel.

So, enough of my own personal thoughts aside, this weekend will be very telling to see if audiences are still enthusiastic and on board for getting them some sweet LOTR theatrical action. While An Unexpected Journey was able to take in $84 million last December, I am thinking the numbers may be a little down this time around but it is hard to feel safe in saying that because you never know what could happen with a much beloved franchise, especially when there is no direct competition for it to face. The critical reception for the film is better than the first movie, but is steadily dropping and now sits at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this. Currently 99% of people on Flixster want to see it, but as one site pointed out, the number of people who want to see it is around 30% less than those who had wanted to see the first film. Some predictions floating around out there have this film topping last year’s opening weekend numbers, but I could see it landing close to $80 million before suffering a massive drop next weekend.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Opening Weekend Prediction - $78 million

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas is opening this weekend in 2,100 theatres as he looks to right the ship after Peeples made only $4.6 million its opening weekend. Now, the reason for this could be because Perry was only a producer on Peeples as movies that he writes and directs are very consistent in how they perform. The two most recent movies starring Perry as Madea were both able to secure great opening weekends of $25 million each, and I think this is exactly where this movie will land once again.

While it is timed well with the holidays, it could be affected by going up against The Hobbit. One thing that it does have going for it over The Hobbit is that fans of Perry’s popular Madea character will be guaranteed that the title character will actually be the focus of the film, while fans of the title character from The Hobbit will most likely be disappointed with the lack of screen time he receives.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas Opening Weekend Predictions - $27 million

Entering into limited release this weekend is David O. Russell’s American Hustle which stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. Robert De Niro has an uncredited role in the film, but not to worry De Niro fans… you will get full doses of him in theatres soon enough in a boxing match with Sylvester Stallone. The very timely release of Golden Globe nominations could help the success of this film, as American Hustle picked up seven nominations and will most likely help increase awareness of the film and give it more credibility. While there is talk floating around about lukewarm reviews of the film, it is hard to see the evidence of that as it is at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The word around the campfire is that the casting is great, the directing is great, and it is incredibly funny, all of which help people see past the flaws of the film. When The Fighter opened in four theatres it was able to average $75,000 per theatre, and Silver Linings Playbook opened to an average of $27,000 over 16 theatres. American Hustle will be opening in 6 theatres, and I could see its performance skewing more towards that of The Fighter.

American Hustle Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $55,000 per theatre

Opening in fourteen theatres this weekend is Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about the beloved Walt Disney and the process of getting the movie rights to make Mary Poppins. Going into the film, it is very easy to assume that Disney will be portrayed in an immaculate light, as what studio who makes magical family fare would want their namesake to be portrayed as a chain smoker? It stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in a year where it looks like he is attempting a career resurgence. The success of Captain Philips will likely help the prospects of Saving Mr. Banks as Hanks name is now just as relevant as ever. The possible downside to this movie could be the intrusion of the studio in how they portray this story as the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes praises it, but calls it ‘aggressively likeable and sentimental to a fault.’ That’s alright though, because we know that Hanks will entertain us, and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers will do the same.

Saving Mr. Banks Limited Release Opening Weekend - $45,000 per theatre

I do want to make a brief note on the predictions for limited release movies. There is a larger than realistic chance that I could be disastrously off on any of them as I have not yet found any good formula for predicting how they will do. If I end up nailing them, I knew what I was doing. If I am way off, there is no way to know exactly how these movies will perform.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

10 Ill-Conceived Sequels That Almost Happened

Everyone moans that there are too many sequels, and even though the art of franchising seems to have got better over the years, we still get pictures like Hangover Part II that just feels like a rehash of the original and a shameless cash-in on the popularity.  There appears to be those films that arrive that are sequel proof because filmmakers realize it only ever needed one story and it would be wrong to try to continue it.  Except greedy studio executives don't believe in such myths, and many movies that combated sequelitis were likely just one small event away from having a second or third or fourth story attached.  In my latest Collective Publishing column, I look at 10 sequels that almost got made, and a few of these would have been dreadful memory destroyers of classics (while also were just blatant cash grabs to stories that have nothing left to tell).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

About That Whole Being Back on Tuesday Thing. . .

I expected a hectic and crazy weekend, but the chaos was not only served up in a beautiful package with a bow on top but it also came with a whole batch of unexpected gift baskets.  We may be in the new house, but it is currently just a really nice storage facility, because the last few days has been devoted to wrapping things up at what now is officially our former home.  Something I'm sure I'll talk about more on here soon, but now I've got lots of pay copy to finish while also trying to turn this into a home.  For now, just assume I'll be MIA until well, I'm not.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Sylvester Stallone is the Beverly Hills Cop. . .

Or at least he could have been, and it would have been a very different movie.  Just as different as if Gizmo was a homicidal monster or E.T. had a thing against cows or if there was no Luke Skywalker or John McClane.  If many famous movies stuck to their original idea than we'd have some very different pop culture references.  Over at the Collective Publishing, I look at 10 films that had the chance to be very different from what turned out to be the finished product. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Remember Yesterday's Warning?

Well, I likely won't be writing anything on here today as my schedule is jam packed with Everett, writing, and packing parties.  Hopefully, will have something of substance to say later in the week, but as I cautioned, you may also not really get anything until next Tuesday.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Today Seems Like a Fine Day to Post Summer Pictures

More specifically, Everett's first trip to African Lion Safari.




































This will likely be the only thing I get around to posting up on here today.  Some fair warning for the week, I likely won't be too wordy on here and posting too much until about next Tuesday as we've entered into the final days of packing before our big move on Saturday, plus I have the usual juggling act of writing pay copy and being Everett's provider of animal noises and oatmeal.