Quick, what’s the most important element to the enduring success of the Star Wars universe? Jedi? Good guess, but nope. Stormtroopers? Close, but still no. Give up? For my money, the success of the Star Wars universe is owed to the endless supply of talented and high-profile European actors who are willing to add gravitas to the cartoonish aims of the Empire and the First Order. To quote comedian Eddie Izzard, the Death Star is teeming with ‘British actors opening doors,’ and that’s part of what makes the entire thing seem way more substantial and lived-in than it really is.
It feels like we’ve been watching the same six or seven movies shift places on the charts for weeks now, which makes what happened this weekend such a breath of fresh air. With four new releases all cracking the charts, we’ve at least got a little bit of variety in the titles we’ll be discussing, and no The Emoji Movie near the list. I’ll put that down as a win in my book any day of the week. Here’s the estimated box office grosses as of Sunday afternoon:
Every year, Hollywood releases a movie that sparks up so much pre-release controversy that I find myself discouraged from ever seeing it in theaters. For example, I still have yet to see La La Land, the 2016 Best Picture runner-up, owing mostly to the ugly back-and-forth I saw regarding the movie. This year’s contender for that slot? mother!, the brilliant or terrible or visionary or derivative thriller by brilliant or terrible or visionary or derivative filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (depending on who you ask). Like La La Land, I know I’ll see the movie eventually, I just need some of the shouting to die down a little before I give it a chance.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a middle-aged white comedian sits down for an interview and starts complaining about the things he can’t say onstage. This isn’t exactly a new complaint in the stand-up industry. For years, the old guard of legendary comedians have argued that modern audiences are too sensitive these days to the detriment of comedy; and sure, while there are certainly those who look for offense in any commentary — no matter how benign — it’s more than a little frustrating to hear some comedians claim that their decades-old material isn’t funny anymore.
It’s been a relatively quiet last couple of months for Josh Boone’s X-Men: The New Mutants. While there are certainly bigger and louder comic book movies to chase down — hello, Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War — Boone’s film managed to avoid headlines and will have the rare chance to genuinely surprise audiences when it starts rolling out the marketing material. And while there’s still a few hurdles left to overcome — the movie is still months away from hitting theaters, after all — at least Boone and his cast can celebrate the end of production on his standalone X-Men movie.
If there’s one bone I can pick about the most recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It, it’s that the movie doesn’t spend enough time with Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Sure, we get that incredible opening sequence where he lures Georgie to his death, but people are right to call Bill Skarsgard’s character one of the most iconic horror characters in decades: he’s fantastically creepy and desperately in need of a lot more screen time. And now, with Andy Muschietti working on a director’s cut for the home video release, we might have one of the first scenes we’d like to see added back in.
As we head deeper into September, two things have become pretty clear about 2017 box office numbers: one, Hollywood desperately needs to bounce back a little bit from the doldrums of August, and two, whoever decided to hedge their studio’s bets with a September release date for a movie about a killer clown is looking like a [profanity] genius right about now. We’ll get to all of that in a moment, but first, here are the box office numbers as of Sunday afternoon:
If you’ve never had the pleasure of encountering Halo Top ice scream, I’ve got some world-changing news for you: no longer will you need to feel bad for eating ice cream by the pint! The California ice cream company, which recently passed Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs to become the highest-selling ice cream in grocery stores, is the current zeitgeist of low-calorie sweets. Sure, maybe the flavor is a little more bland than you’d prefer, and sure, maybe eating ice cream by the pint — regardless of its constitution — is probably not the best idea, but at only 240 calories a pop? You could do a lot worse with your stress-eating.
One of the fun parts of film criticism is trying to identify which blockbuster movies that open to middling reviews will undergo a critical re-appreciation in the years to come. For example, while audiences were generally disappointed with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus on its release, the movie has slowly gained steam with critics, becoming something of an under-the-wire classic in the last few years. And now, just a few months after the release of Kong: Skull Island, there are already those who have argued that its unique aesthetic makes it one of the better action movies of the year.
If you’re not lucky enough to attend the Toronto International Film Festival this year, you can spend it like the rest of us: keeping an ear to to the ground and trying to decide which TIFF releases will be must-see movies of 2017 and 2018. One early standout is I, Tonya, a humorous look at the life of infamous figure skater Tonya Harding. Our own Senior Editor has described it as darkly hilarious film with dynamite performances (review coming soon!), and that seems to be the general consensus: it’s funny, it’s twisted, and, for as much as any of you care, it’s an early contender for all kinds of award season glory.
Over the year’s, Marvel’s marketing strategy seems to have pivoted slightly. As the movies have become more successful and the core group of actors have settled into their roles, Marvel seems to now be emphasizing the fresh blood in its pre-release publicity. Tom Holland gushing about playing Spider-Man? Brie Larson discussing the importance of Captain Marvel? Taika Waititi having a blast talking up his cast and crew? It doesn’t really matter what side of the camera you were on; if you’re still riding that Marvel high, you’ll be the one to do the talking.
Of all the news stories you expect to be fake, “Black Sergeant Infiltrates the Klu Klux Klan” would have to be pretty far up there. Only it really happened. For years during the ’70s and ’80s, Officer Ron Stallworth dedicated his life to infiltrating gang cultures, in particular that of the KKK. This is what led Stallworth to become (against all odds) a black card-carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s; unsurprisingly, this is also what makes Stallworth’s story ripe for cinematic adaptation in the year 2017.
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