Hollywood Playbook: Monday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Monday's Top 5 News Items

Summer 2014 Box Office Down Whopping 20% Over Last Year

Things were looking bad July 1, but as I said in my weekend box office piece, things are going to look a lot worse come Monday. The holiday weekend tanked more than 40% over last year (the worst in 15 years) and now Summer 2014 is down a full 20% over last year.

Can the summer’s remaining big entries — “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Sex Tape,” “Lucy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — save the season?

“Dawn” could break out but is unlikely to be the $300 million grosser the summer needs. “Sex Tape” will do fine. “Lucy” looks weak. “Guardians” feels like a meh, as does “Ninja Turtles.”

The failure of “Deliver Us from Evil” is not a small deal. Low-budget horror was a slam-dunk just last year. Along with “The Devil’s Due,” “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,” and “I, Frankenstein,” this is the fourth horror flop in a row  this year.

Just last year “The Conjuring” opened to $42 million. “Insidious Chapter 2” to  $40 million, and “Mama” to $28 million.  

Something bizarre happened to the domestic box office this summer. The fact that “Transformers: Age of Extinction” probably won’t reach $300 million still blows my mid.

Lee Marvin’s “Point Blank” Set for Bluray Release (July 8)

Just a few days ago I saw Jason Statham’s “Parker”(2012) which, like Lee Marvin’s “Point Blank,” is based on author Richard Stark’s (one of Donald Westlake’s many pseudonyms) character of the same name. Westlake wrote 23 Parker novels over almost 50 years. Statham’s film is based on “Flashfire.” Marvin’s film, where his character’s name is changed to Walker, is based on “The Hunter.”

Except for the presence of Jennifer Lopez, “Parker” is pretty weak. All the elements are there — a revenge tale, heists, great supporting actors, a $35 million budget — but there’s something off about it. The story never comes together and hits a stride. The overall production feels like a made-for-Cinemax-time-killing TV movie.

Lopez helps in the same way Raquel Welch and Angie Dickinson helped every film they were in: she’s so stunningly gorgeous you forgive much.

Director John Boorman’s “Point Blank” is a different animal altogether — a mean-as-hell, slightly supernatural, unapologetic piece of pulp with a perfectly cast Lee Marvin as an avenging angel wreaking havoc in and around Los Angeles. Marvin’s Walker is pure sociopath, but a very cool and resourceful sociopath with a code you can live by or violently die by.

Angie Dickinson co-stars in what I would argue is one of the top-five sexiest roles in a decade filled with them.  

Through Vudu, I already own a high-def copy of “Point Blank.” Vudu has a terrific program that allows you to upgrade your DVDs to 1080p for a couple of bucks. Even if the movie wasn’t as fabulous as it is, the upgrade would  be worth it for the cinematography alone. The on-location shooting in L.A. (and even Alcatraz) is something very special.

Mel Gibson kind of remade “Point Blank” in 1999 with “Payback,” which is entertaining but no stand out. There’s actually another 1999 movie that captures the “Point Blank”/Parker vibe better than any other (including the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles) and that’s Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey.”

“Point Blank” is one of those films that wasn’t considered anything special upon release but has since gained a major critical and fan following — which isn’t surprising. Today’s action movies and movie stars just can’t compare. Almost a half-century later, “Point Blank” and Lee Marvin still stir the action-lovers’ soul.

After one viewing, you will never make that long walk to claim your bags at LAX the same way again.

A double feature of “Point Blank” and “The Limey”… Now there’s a reason to live.

“Point Blank” arrives on Bluray tomorrow. At $14.99 it’s a steal.

Speaking of impossibly beautiful women….

Halle Berry’s ‘Extant’ Premieres Wednesday

After the ratings success of “Under the Dome,” CBS returns to the well with another  13-episode, special summer event series. Halle Berry’s “Extant,” premieres this Wednesday, July 9.

Like “Dome,” you’ll be able to watch the latest episodes of “Extant” at Amazon just four days after the original broadcast.  

Here’s the IMDB synopsis:

After spending a year in space, where she lived and conducted strange experiments, astronaut Molly Watts (Halle Berry) tries to resume a normal life with her family consisting of her husband, John, a gifted scientist, and Ethan, their son, a boy like no other. He is not their biological son as Molly is infertile. Ethan was designed by his father as the first prototype of a future line of “Humanichs”, “human robots”. But the return of Molly will have dramatic consequences for the entire planet and the fate of mankind …

Berry’s character, Molly Woods, is married to John Woods, who is played by Goran Visnjic. An interracial marriage. That’s going to piss off the political left. When your political survival depends on keeping the races separated culturally and politically, miscegenation is an ugly word.

At 47, Berry is making a smart move into event television. Her movie choices of late have been terrible. That’s not completely her fault. This is an industry, after all, dedicated to fanboys and independent films that disguise the exploitation of women as the ultimate in feminism.

Because of her incomparable beauty, Berry has a marvelous screen presence but she has never been a very good actress. There’s television acting and then there’s movie acting. Like George Clooney, Berry has movie star looks but television-level talent. TV’s a great place for her to land.

The series looks good enough to at least try.

Siri, set my DVR.

Here’s Variety’s cautiously optimistic review.

The Romantic Comedy Is Dead

 What began with “When Harry Met Sally” in 1989 and ended with “You’ve Got Mail” and “Notting Hill” in 1999, continues to sputter on… But the romantic comedy genre is dead; bludgeoned to death by Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, and only occasionally Weekend at Bernie’d by Ashton Kutcher and Tina Fey.

Andrew Romano at the Daily Beast agrees but over-explains the genre’s demise.

The real problem is that the formula is just played out. Period.

The meet-cute that ends with the guy running through an airport to stop the girl from getting on a plane (you know, cuz once she takes off she enters the RomCom Zone where she’s never heard from again) just got old.

Another factor is that there’s no one to replace Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, or Sandra Bullock in their prime. Ashton Kutcher? Tina Fey? Amy Poehler? Kate Hudson? Paul Rudd is a supporting actor, not a star. Matthew McConaughey is great in many things but when it comes to rom-coms he gravitates towards big paychecks and bad scripts.

Good riddance.

A Movie Trailer to Love – A Movie Trailer to Hate

Which one of these trailers to you think I love and which one do you think I despise?

Go ahead, guess…



Quick Hits:

Nobody’s Seen 18 of 2014’s ’20 Best Movies

First Pink Floyd Album In 20 Years Announced

Lazenby: ‘They offered me $1 million under the table to sign”

Summer Box Office: Analyst Cuts Financial Expectations for Exhibitors

Steven Soderbergh Comedy ‘Red Oaks’ Gets Amazon Pilot Order

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