Daily Call Sheet: Box Office Analysis, Spielberg's Biggest Mistakes, 'Swamp Loggers' Returns

Judy Garland

BOX OFFICE ANALYSIS

The post-Thanksgiving weekend is usually one of the worst of the year, and this was no exception. There were no big new releases, so it’s all about how the previously released held on.

1. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: $16.9M — This dropped just a smidge less than “The Muppets” (59.5% compared to 61.7%), but “The Muppets” is only in week two of release while “Dawn” is in week three. Worldwide, these glowing vampires have already raked in close to $600M. By comparison, after 17 days in release, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” (a good comparison methinks) grossed $244.5 domestically. “Breaking Dawn Part 1” sits a little higher at $247M.

2. Muppets: $11.2M — This dropped more (61.2%) and trailed “Breaking Dawn” this weekend by more than most people expected.

3. Hugo: $7.7M — Two weeks in releases, a paltry $25M take, and a budget reported to be somewhere around $150M. Scorsese’s 3D epic might hang in there through Christmas, but profitability will have to come from overseas and a lot of DVDs.

4. Arthur Christmas: $7.4M — With a drop of only 40%, this is showing legs through the season. This is that time of year where unlikely hits can creep up on you over time.

5. Happy Feet Two: $6M — Three weeks in release and only $51M domestic. Catastrophe.

6. Jack and Jill: $5.5M — $64 million in four weeks means disappointment, not flop. With a $79M budget, though, and Sandler not being a big draw overseas, it will have to break even on home video.

7. The Descendants: $5.2M — Clooney’s very well-reviewed family drama is already an indie hit. $18M in three weeks of release on fewer than 600 screens is impressive. I think it goes wide next week. However…

13. Ides of March: $750K — The story much of the Clooney-sycophant press isn’t telling you is that Clooney’s political drama quietly expanded from 151 screen to 1016 last week … and died. The film had already been in wide release, but my guess is that the idea was to try and pick up some of the “Descendants” updraft.

8. Immortals: $4.3M — $76M in five weeks, but kind of hanging in there.

9. Tower Heist: 4.1M — $71M in five weeks. With overseas grosses the total take is $113M, which is a bad sign because the foreign release was pretty wide. Still baffled by this fizzle.

10. Puss In Boots: $3M — Six weeks in release and a worldwide gross of $228M has to be a disappointment for DreamWorks. By comparison, “Shrek 4” grossed $231M in the U.S. alone after six weeks. If there’s a sequel it will likely be direct to video. No spin-off franchise here.

6 VISUAL EFFECTS-HEAVY MOVIES THAT HAVE AGED WELL

“Blade Runner” gets an honorable mention, but I probably would’ve made that number one.

Even if they aren’t as detailed and snazzy, I’ve found that organic special effects work better for me than computer effects. Granted, there are times I don’t notice the computer effects, and that’s always the best outcome, but as crude as the original “King Kong” effects are, that 80 year-old film is able to suspend my disbelief better than, say, the new “Clash of the Titans.” The in-camera effects that create the depth of Kong’s wonderfully mysterious and dangerously exotic jungle are a hundred times more effective than any CGI’d planet George Lucas created for the “Star Wars” prequels.

There are stylistic exceptions, of course — “300” and the like where CGI is artistically and effectively used to create a hyper-reality.

One thing I especially despise with CGI is the laziness it breeds. I hate, hate, hate scenes shot in a moving car as computer graphics roll by. A sense of place is a big deal in films (not such a big deal in television) and to cheat us out of that, especially during a day shoot, is just bad filmmaking.

STEVEN SPIELBERG’S TEN BIGGEST MISTAKES

“Munich” and every single frame of “Raiders 4” get my vote.

Spielberg has two huge films coming out yet this year, “Tintin” and “War Horse.” My guess is that this will not be a repeat 1993, the year he brought us two masterpieces: “Jurassic Park” (which is still a blast) and “Schindler’s List.”

By the way, this “War Horse” trailer is one of the worst I have ever seen.

AND NOW FOR THE WORST MUSIC VIDEO EVER MADE

I couldn’t stop watching.

RETURN OF ‘SWAMP LOGGERS’ TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13

Reader email:

Hi. I was wondering if you might be able to mention in your Daily Call sheet Monday that “Swamp Loggers” will be back on Tuesday. Discovery has played a lot of games with the show this year.

A week or so ago you lauded that horrible “Gold Rush” show, so I’d think “Swamp Loggers” would be right up your alley–plus they’re just good guys. Nothing gets bleeped on the show because they don’t cuss. They pray. They celebrate family. They take care of each other, and Bobby seems to be about the most caring boss on the planet.

Love “Swamp Loggers.”

Also, I wasn’t so much lauding “Gold Rush” (only seen a few episodes) as much as I was the knowledge that these concepts are taking off on television — the return of the working class hero. Hollywood is too insulated to ever do working class people (whom most have never met) any kind of justice in scripted shows, but these reality programs fill that gap, and that fact that they are hugely popular and numerous only shows how big of a gap that is.

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LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING

Two seasons of “Sons of Anarchy” are available on Netflix Streaming and after two episodes last night, the wife and I are hooked. It’s amazing the effect “The Sopranos” has had on scripted television. Series with unsympathetic characters or outright criminals as protagonists in self-contained episodes with over-arching character dramas are now becoming the norm: “Breaking Bad,’ “Damages,” “Mad Men,” “The Wire,” “Dexter…”

What makes them work, though, is an underlying and undeniable morality. Thematically, many of these shows deal with the price of depraved behavior (social and sexual) on the soul. What we’re really seeing is a throwback to the classic Warner Bros. gangster films from the thirties and forties. Obviously, what we’re seeing today is more explicit in every imaginable way, but in the end these are very complicated and very moral morality tales.

For the first 15 minutes you might want to join the mob or a bike gang or deal meth, but only for the first fifteen minutes.

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SCOTTDS’ EPIC LINK-TACULAR

FIRST LOOK: JEREMY RENNER AND GEMMA ARTERTON IN ‘HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS

PETER WELLER JOINS THE ‘STAR TREK’ SEQUEL CAST

TOM CRUISE TO STAR IN SCI-FI WAR FILM ‘ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

FIRST LOOK AT ‘TITANS’ SEQUEL

MOVIES THAT MICHAEL BAY SHOULD DIRECT NEXT

44 YEARS AFTER ‘GILLIGAN’S ISLAND’ DAWN WELLS WINS GINGER VS. MARY ANN DEBATE

R.I.P. CHARACTER ACTOR BILL MCKINNEY; TOLD NED BEATTY TO ‘SQUEAL LIKE A PIG’

SCARJO UPSET RYAN REYNOLDS IS NO LONGER UNDER HER SPELL

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF ‘STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME’ (THE ONE WITH THE WHALES)

E.T.’ STARTED OUT AS DARK ALIEN ATTACK MOVIE

FOR YOU SCREENWRITERS: 10 WAYS TO BORE A READER

PIXAR’S ANDREW STANTON DISCUSSES HIS AGENDA TO CHANGE MOVIE MAKING

CHUCK’ STAR ZACHARY LEVI TO HOST SPIKE TV’S VIDEO GAME AWARDS

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO JAMES BOND’S CARS

THE 25 BEST MOVIE PEP TALKS

50 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM HARRY POTTER

6 TV EPISODES THAT SUBVERTED THE “BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL” TROPE

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS ORLANDO CLOSING THE JAWS RIDE

10 UNBELIEVABLE REACTIONS TO MOVIES

9 REAL-LIFE DISEASES NAMED AFTER MOVIE CHARACTERS

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CLASSIC PICK FOR TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6

2:00 AM EST: Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) — Young love and childish fears highlight a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. Dir: Vincente Minnelli Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor. C-113 mins, TV-G, CC.

A virtually plotless but still gorgeous piece of escapism with Judy at the height of her voice and beauty. The story transports you to a simpler time that probably never really existed, but who cares.

I met Margaret O’Brien at an autograph show a couple of years ago and she couldn’t have been sweeter. Over the past 65-plus years I was probably the millionth person to ask her what it was like to have Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her. The memory still made her smile. She told me she’d never forget it and that Judy was wonderful to work with.

Garland didn’t want to do the film. She was tired of “young” roles and worried O’Brien would steal the film (she didn’t). Director Vincente Minnelli changed Garland’s mind and it not only ended up being one of Garland’s best films; ironically, it helped moviegoers see her as an adult probably because Esther (her character) transitions from a teen to a young woman over the course of the story.

The following year Garland would star in the dramatic love story “The Clock” (also directed by Minnelli) with Robert Walker, and the transition was complete.

Minnelli and Garland also fell in love during the production of today’s pick. The following year, 1945, they married and the year after that Liza was born. Minnelli and Garland divorced in 1951, but not before making a few more films together, including “The Pirate.”

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-Please send tips/suggestions/requests/complaints to jnolte@breitbart.com

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