Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Friday's Top 5 News Items

Box Office: ‘Maleficent” Surges, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” Aims for $20 Million

The Thursday night numbers are in.  Disney’s “Maleficent” hauled in an impressive $4.2 million, which is even better than the awful Disney blockbusters “Alice In Wonderland” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Weekend projections have inched up for the Angelina Jolie fairy tale, from $60 million to $70 million. That might be low. “Alice” opened to $116 million in March of 2010 and “Oz” hit almost $80 million in March of 2013.

“A Million Ways to Die In the West” brought in a little under $900,000 Thursday night and expectations are for a $20 million opening weekend. Anything at $17 million or below is likely to be considered a dud.

My reviews of both films are already up. “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is hilarious and probably would have been a better movie with a PG-13 rating (but wouldn’t make as much money). “Maleficent” is all about Jolie’s magnificent star turn.


Today’s Rebooty:  “Stargate,” “Independence Day,” “Left Behind,” and “Cliffhanger”

“Stargate,” 1994’s sturdy little B-science fiction adventure, continues to reign as the franchise that keeps on franchising. After a successful feature film and somewhere around 187 different television series, the franchise is in motion to return to the big screen in the form of an all-new trilogy with original director Roland Emmerich returning,

Somewhere in-between all those “Stargates,” Emmerich will helm “Independence Day Forever” Parts 1 and 2, the back-to-back sequels to his 1996 summer smash. The delay in the long-anticipated sequels is that Emmerich is a moron:

“In Independence Day, it was about a king who leads his country into a fight against an outside invader. I didn’t want to make that movie during the Bush years. It was not thought that George W. Bush would have made a great king. Now with Obama, it’s another story.”

Yeah, that Obama has proven himself quite the inspirational and competent leader.

THR has the story on both franchises.

If that’s not enough rebootery for you, the trailer for the latest incarnation of the “Left Behind” franchise just went live:

I’m not thrilled with the look of it. I was hoping the reboot would have enough of a budget to look more like a feature film and less like a television movie. It might just be the smallish trailer. I do, however, very much like that no one is trying to hide the religious angle, it’s right there on Lea Thompson’s sleeve.

Finally, we come to the most unnecessary reboot/remake of them all, a “re-imagining” of Sylvester Stallone’s 1993 mountain climbing thriller, “Cliffhanger,” which 20 years on still plays as well as it did then.

In ’93, Stallone was the draw, not the Die Hard On a Mountain concept. I’m curious how a remake can be sold without a Stallone.

Furthermore, even in our post-“Matrix” era, “Cliffhanger” still feels like it pushes the boundaries of credibility during some of its more intense action sequences. That makes it hard to see how a remake can push the action any further. Or maybe the idea is like the “Robocop” and “Total Recall” remakes: brand, brand, brand – disposable, disposable, disposable.


Vimeo Enters the Original Series Business

Vimeo, a serious streaming video-on-demand provider with 26 million users and 170 million monthly global visitors, has just joined Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft Xbox by ordering up 6 original episodes of “High Maintenance,” a comedy about pot dealers.

All the momentum is with Streaming, and yet…


Time Warner CEO Not Worried About Cord-Cutting

Yesterday, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes assured everyone *cough*shareholders*coughcough* that “cord-cutting is more of a notion than a reality.” He believes cable TV will survive through the HBOGo model that TV Everywheres cable channels. He’s also confident that the same young people who many assume will never subscribe to cable, will eventually give in.

If you read the full article, it’s basically about Bewkes not worrying about a whole lot of things.

At best right now, like the film business, cable television is not a growth business. This, even with the population increasing every year.

One factor Bewkes didn’t mention is one that is undoubtedly having a crippling effect on the cable television business: the state of Obama’s dismal economy. Obama’s policies have hit young people especially hard. One reason Millennials are being socialized into the streaming culture is that they cannot afford cable television, which is ten-times as expensive as a Netflix subscription.

If the economy were better, fewer young people would be learning that it is possible to live without cable TV. Thanks to Obama’s ongoing failures, who knows how many young people are learning to live without cable television even though they would have preferred not to.


Tonight’s Double Feature

Well, I have one episode of the latest season of “Mad Men” left, and that’s first on the agenda. Like “Breaking Bad,” “The Shield,” and “The Sopranos,” this is another series that looks as though it will finish its run without a single storytelling misstep. This is the first half of the 7th and final season, and the show is as good as it has ever been. The final 7 or so episodes will air sometime next spring.

Depending on how late it is, my Bluray copy of Robert Aldrich’s “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” (1977) arrived in the mail last night and that’s a film I’ve been waiting 25 years to see on something other than a VHS tape recorded off of Cinemax in 1989.  As far as I know, the nuke-thriller was never released on VHS or DVD.

If you haven’t seen it, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” is an anti-Vietnam War thriller about a rogue Air Force General (The Mighty Burt Lancaster) who takes over an ICBM nuclear missile silo and threatens a launch unless the American government admits they went into Vietnam knowing they couldn’t win.

Yeah, it’s a lefty film, but a brilliant one with Charles Durning, Richard Widmark, and Paul Winfield in supporting roles.

I must say, though, that after 6 years of Obama’s non-stop  scandals, a movie about a corrupt American government lying and covering up a mercenary and corrupt foreign policy doesn’t feel as lefty as it once did.

Have a good weekend, everyone…


Quick Hits:

Bryan Cranston teases a return as Walter White

Lionsgate’s fourth-quarter net income falls 70%

“American Movie’s” Mark Borchardt Pens a Column

Tell MGM it’s time – NOW – to save John Wayne’s The Alamo before it’s lost forever

Tom Cruise’s ‘Vanilla Sky’ Hits Bluray October 14


Upcoming Releases:

From a Disney press release…

MARVEL’S CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLIDER arrives on Disney Movies Anywhere on August 19th and on 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack on September 9th! This release is armed with explosively entertaining bonus features, including Making-of Featurettes, Audio Commentary, Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes, Bloopers and more!

Bonus Materials Overview for These Products:

Blu-ray Includes:

Making-of Featurettes

Audio Commentary

Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes


After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off assailants sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy–the Winter Soldier.



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