Remember how so many Star Wars fans lost their minds when we first saw Kylo Ren’s bizarre hilted lightsaber in the trailer for Star Wars: Episode 7? Well, they’re about to lose ‘em all over again. Hasbro is introducing a new line of toys that will allow children (and their parents) to customize their own Jedi weapons. If you should a little hilt was crazy, then you probably aren’t prepared for what people will soon be able to create in their homes.
The first ‘Pitch Perfect’ was a sleeper success, doing surprisingly solid business at the box office and earning equally solid reviews from critics. But it was home video that transformed this little a cappella comedy into a genuine sensation, instantly becoming the favorite film of 12-year-old girls (and their initially reluctant parents) all over the world. So the new ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ trailer arrives with the air of an event film. The sequel is not an underdog, but the Bigger, Flashier, and Louder follow-up that has the confidence to suggest that there is an entire franchise to be found here.
In news that should surprise approximately no one, a new study from the University of Texas at Austin has discovered that “binge-watching” has been linked to depression, loneliness, and the inability to make wise decisions, like getting off the couch and doing anything else. Researchers Wei-Na Lee, Yoon Hi Sung and Eun Yeon Kang surveyed 316 people between the ages of 18 and 29, asking them about their mental and emotional states while they marathoned TV shows on Netflix (the study defined binge-watching as at least three episodes in a row).
Forged in the fires of Mount Doom, the Ring of Power was stripped from the hand of Sauron following the final battle with the Last Alliance and became of a keepsake of Prince Isildur. Now corrupted by the One Ring, Isildur fell in battle, losing the ring to the river. From there, “Isildur’s Bane” fell into the hands of the creature known as Gollum and from there, into the hands of the Hobbit known as Bilbo Baggins. It was only through the efforts of the Fellowship of the Ring and the brave Frodo Baggins that the One Ring was destroyed forever ... or so we thought. Because the ring has fallen into the hands of a young Texas boy, who was suspended from school for wielding such an accursed tool.
In most years, January tends to be the most boring month of the year for the box office. This is where Hollywood typically sends the movies in which it has the least faith. This is the dumping ground, the place where movies go to die so the studios can concentrate on their Oscar campaigns. However, thanks to ‘American Sniper,’ this January has bucked every trend. It may technically be a 2014 release, but Clint Eastwood’s war film has made the first chunk of 2015 interesting, shattering expectations and threatening to become the highest grossing film of last year in only a few weeks.
A lot of people are going to act like they didn’t see the enormous success of ‘American Sniper’ coming, but the signs were all there. On top of the promising limited release numbers, there was the awards buzz. On top of that, there were the names of director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper. On top of that, the subject matter of the film is inherently attractive to the same category of moviegoer that makes Christian-themed films into massive hits. ‘American Sniper’ had one doozy of a weekend, but it’s not that surprising.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
The odd couple is one of the basic principles of comedy. You take two very different people, fling them into an absurd situation and (hopefully) rack up some good laughs. The ‘Get Hard’ trailer shows off one of the more inspired comedic pairings in recent memory, with the tall whiter-than-white Will Ferrell teaming up with the short black Kevin Hart. If the differences between two lead actors generated laughs on their own, then this is already the funniest movie of 2015.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
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