Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fantasy Box Office: April 1-3

Friday Cost: 346 FML Bucks
Friday Estimate: $19.10 million
Saturday Cost: 472 FML Bucks
Saturday Estimate: $27.19 million
Sunday Cost: 334 FML Bucks
Sunday Estimate: $18.451 million
After the $166 million weekend with an $81 million opening night and the small number of new movies, the powers that be decided to keep each BvS day as an option.  But with 29% on the Tomatometer a ‘B’ Cinemascore, all signs point to a larger than normal drop for a huge blockbuster.  I’m thinking a 61% drop, with daily percentage splits of 29.5/42/28.5.  STAY AWAY!

Cost: 251 FML Bucks
Estimate: $16.213 million
Another weekend, another weekend as the top family option.  It’s doing so well right now that its net theatre change is +28.  Insanity!  Not enough to pull off a surprise upset for the Bonus, but it is a better option than any of the BvS choices.

Cost: 212 FML Bucks
Estimate: $13.5 million
The sequel for the surprise hit of Spring 2014 as it made over $9 million in less than 800 theatres.  It opens in 2300+ theatres this time so the weekend gross will be higher, but with all the Christian movies that have been out so far this year including a more palatable one in more theatres this weekend, this should be drowned out enough to not be in contention for the Bonus.

Cost: 157 FML Bucks
Estimate: $11.61 million
The real crowdpleaser of the weekend with an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore.  And with a target audience who isn’t the type to run out early to see this, the drop should be minimal.  I’m talking Bonus-winning minimal.

Cost: 93 FML Bucks
Estimate: $5.33 million
No longer the newest Christian-centric movie in theatres.  But the word is out about this as a feel-good kind of religious experience.  It’s just too high priced for Bonus contention.

Cost: 71 FML Bucks
Estimate: $4.717 million
Already down to just above 3000 theatres, this penultimate entry in the franchise is dead in the water.  Don’t even bother.

Cost: 55 FML Bucks
Estimate: $3.791 million
A few weeks after a black-centric romcom, we get another black-centric spoof of THE PURGE.  Opening in only 1011 theatres, needs a good PTA to have a chance at the Bonus.  It will fall short.

Cost: 53 FML Bucks
Estimate: $3.19 million
A well-received drama about drone strikes in the War on Terror notable for being the final on-screen appearance of the late Alan Rickman.  Other than that sentimental factor, how many people are clamoring to see that?

Cost: 52 FML Bucks
Estimate: $3.356 million
Last week’s Bonus winner expands into 959 theatres this weekend.  Sure to be moderately successful but not nearly enough to win back-to-back weeks.

Cost:  FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.938 million
Now in under 2000 theatres…NOPE!  Not doing it.  Not giving commentary on this.  I’m always wrong.  You’re on your own.

Cost: 50 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.97 million
This movie’s success still fascinates me.  Will be a non-factor this weekend, but…wow.

Cost: 47 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1 million
A Hank Williams biopic expanding to only 741 theatres.  There’s something wrong here.  Not worth your time or attention.

Cost: 28 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.514 million
Drops to about 1500 theatres this weekend while probably splitting screens in most places.  Still a great low priced filler, as the cheapest option usually is.

My Cineplex
            A difficult weekend at first sight, quickly turned into something fairly easy.  One medium-priced movie was a fantastic value but going all-in with it is a risk.  But being able to easily round out the Cineplex with low-priced filler while using near maximum dollars made my choice a no-brainer:

Total Cost: 998 FML Bucks
Estimate After Bonus: $84.685 million

As always,

Good Luck & Buy a Winning Ticket!

Friday, March 25, 2016


I do not own the above image.  Copyright Warner Brothers/DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

            After the moderate success of 2013’s MAN OF STEEL, Warner Brothers thought it was best to combine their entire comic book catalogue into one movie, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, in order to keep up with rival Marvel/Disney.  This also allowed WB to relaunch the Batman franchise with relative ease.  The move was also seen an overreaction to the success of THE AVENGERS.  Did the move work?  Not really.
            My theory behind my positive reaction to MAN OF STEEL was the belief that producer Christopher Nolan held Zack Snyder back from doing frenetic camera movements & extreme close-ups all the time.  With Nolan no longer over Snyder’s shoulder most days, I feared BvS would allow Snyder go back to his usual self.  My worst fears were realized in the second scene of the movie where the destruction of Metropolis is shown from Bruce Wayne’s view on the ground.  Every shot, from Bruce weaving in & out of traffic to the quiet moment at the end, is shot in a way where the camera appears to be moving in four dimensions.  I’ve ridden roller coasters at Cedar Point that made me less nauseous.  Snyder also uses the darkest color scheme possible for the majority of BvS but when it comes to the numerous explosions, he uses the brightest yellow he can find.  I’ve never squinted more during a movie in my life.  Later on, there’s a car chase where over half the shots are extreme close-ups, most of which are of Batman inside the Batmobile.  In fact, I don’t believe the whole Batmobile is shown in a single frame.  Why build these gadgets, which the fanbase loves as much as the character of Batman himself, if you aren’t going to show them?
            I found myself asking, “what is the difference between Snyder & fellow schlockmeister Michael Bay?”  The scripts they work with.  Chris Terrio (ARGO) and David S. Goyer (DARK KNIGHT trilogy) are given the unenviable task of creating a screenplay that not only contains what seems to be more than two movies worth material required to move this franchise up to where Marvel has The Avengers but to also organize it in such a way that is a half step above understandable.  Unfortunately, not even a master screenwriter like Charlie Kaufmann could crunch two 110 minute movies worth of material cohesively into a 155 minute movie while making room for those audience pleasing action scenes.  Terrio and Goyer have to take so many short cuts during the first hour & a half that the reveals & Easter eggs are cheapened & ineffective.  Once the bloated foundation is laid down as flat as it possibly can, however, the movie slowly begins to work until the third act finally gives us that battle we’ve been promised.  And those final 40 minutes, other than one last stupid rescue moment, are what the whole movie should have been: fluid & alive.
            Each of the actors is at least acceptable in their roles.  Henry Cavill still works well as Superman, juggling with his nobility while showing that unhinged rage when necessary efficiently.  He does, however, get his butt handed to him when his Clark Kent goes mano-a-mano with Amy Adams as his perennial damsel-in-distress Lois Lane.  In their first scene together, Snyder shows his borderline misogynist side by having it performed with Adams naked with little soap in the bathtub; a scene which, as I pointed out to my wife as soon as it ended, was much better portrayed in shoulda/woulda/coulda been Batman helmer Darren Aronosky’s THE FOUNTAIN ten years ago.
            Skeptics can breathe easy as Ben Affleck is almost perfect as Bruce Wayne & is effective as the Dark Knight himself.  Affleck incorporates the perfect amount of suaveness to Wayne & is a very imposing figure as Batman.  But he too is out-staged by a figure close to him.  Jeremy Irons makes it appear that he was born to play Alfred.  But what else would you expect from the classically trained Oscar winner?  Gal Gadot is also perfect as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, proving once again that she was one of the few brightspots of the FAST & FURIOUS franchise.
            But the highlight of the movie has got to be Jesse Eisenburg.  I’ll let you catch your breath for a moment before you keep reading.  Just hear me out: I do agree with the consensus that his character’s motivations are foggy at best.  But Eisenburg as Lex Luthor is that single daisy growing in the charred field that is the first half of BvS.  He is over-the-top but in a partially restrained fashion that worked for me & keeps to movie chugging along until the story is strong enough to take over.
            As wonderful as the cast & the third act are, the rest is the polar opposite.  Overstuffed & incoherent for much of its runtime, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE falls into the trap that the Marvel Cinematic Universe falls into as of late: setting up future projects while sacrificing a tight, cohesive product presently on-screen.


Fantasy Box Office: March 25-27

Friday Cost: 709 FML Bucks
Friday Estimate: $76.34 million
Saturday Cost: 525 FML Bucks
Saturday Estimate: $55.52 million
Sunday Cost: 408 FML Bucks
Sunday Estimate: $41.64 million
The first of the big, highly anticipated comic book movies of 2016 (What's DEADPOOL?).  For the third time, a new release was divided into days with Thursday night showings (probably) counting towards Friday's total.  I did some research finding the daily splits of these huge blockbusters & after tweaking the formula based on the fact that its Easter weekend to a 44/32/24 split.  A Saturday/Sunday or a double Sunday combo is possible if you have the guts to do that.  At least one of these screens will be part of the Perfect Cineplex, unless another new sequel overperforms.

Cost: 267 FML Bucks
Estimate: $24.9 million
If there is anything that BvS is not, it’s a family movie.  And with no other non-religious movies like it, this will be the choice for those with little children.  Just not enough to be useful this weekend.

Cost: 169 FML Bucks
Estimate: $17.8 million
If there is a box office record that will never be broken, it’s the original’s record of highest gross without hitting #1 for a weekend of over $200 million in 2002.  But the real question is how much can this sequel make opening opposite a huge comic-book movie?  It’s not unprecedented for an alternative choice to make a lot of money opposite a huge blockbuster.

Cost: 134 FML Bucks
Estimate: $12.19 million
The third installment of the series fell 40% from the original installment two years ago as the Young Adult genre seems to have faded.  My projection is higher than just about anyone else’s so this could go way lower.

Cost: 97 FML Bucks
Estimate: $10.1 million
It is Easter weekend and those looking for a Christian faith-based movie have two choices this weekend.  MFH is the bigger of the two and could have a great hold or even an increase, but I remain bullish on that idea.

Cost: 71 FML Bucks
Estimate: $6.253 million
Third weekend of a thriller sequel which loses 625 theatres.  My wife still hasn't seen it & hopes to see it Tuesday.  Who will see this on Easter Sunday?

Cost: 62 FML Bucks
Estimate: $4.646 million
What can it do now that it is no longer the newest comic book adaptation in theatres?  Could be an alternative to those who are shut out of BvS showings but has the target already seen this twice?

Cost: 46 FML Bucks
Estimate: $4.109 million
A week after winning the Bonus, this drops over 800 theatres to begin its well earned slide into obscurity.

Cost: 18 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.68 million
Loses over 1200 theatres on its way to the bargin bin at Best Buy.  It deserves better than that.

Cost: 12 FML Bucks
Estimate: $0.928 million
Leaves about a quarter of its theatres behind.  Will the

Cost: 12 FML Bucks
Estimate: $0.724 million
This movie’s success still fascinates me.  Will be a non-factor this weekend, but…wow.

Cost: 9 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.1 million
What do you call an independent comedy starring a two-time Oscar winner in almost 500 theatres?  A runaway Bonus winner.

Cost: 9 FML Bucks
Estimate: $0.81 million
Christian movie #2.  Will this be overshadowed by the other faith-based movie & its 500+ theatre drop?  Probably.

My Cineplex
            Despite the insane upside to taking five GREEK WEDDINGS, the downside of it is way too much to go there.  So maxing out on BvS’s & DORISes is the play of the week.  After plugging in my figures in my spreadsheet & playing around with combinations, I come up with this as the best, low risk play:

BvS Saturday, BvS Sunday, HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS x5
Total Cost: 987 FML Bucks
Estimate After Bonus: $115.76 million

As always, Good Luck & Buy a Winning Ticket!

Saturday, March 19, 2016


I do not own the above image.  Copyright Summit Entertainment.  All Right Reaerved.

            Since the immergence of TWILIGHT back in November 2008, the Young Adult (YA) novel adaptation has been the go-to genre for studios who can’t get comic book rights.  While none of them have been great, a few including THE HUNGER GAMES and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES have been at least good.  The current most successful franchise is the DIVERGENT series about a dystrophic society in the ruins of Chicago.  I found little enjoyment in the first two installments so my expectations for the third one, ALLEGIANT, didn’t exist.  And yet, it still failed to meet them.
            After the defeat of Janine & a disagreement over the treatment of her supporters by the new leadership, Tris (Woodley) & Four (James) decide to escape Chicago & explore the other side.  Soon after, they are rescued by members of the army protecting the Bureau of General Welfare, headed by David (Daniels).  Tris soon learns from David about the purpose of the Bureau, its relation to Chicago and the lineage & destiny of Tris.
            Let’s say your biggest ally & lover comes up to you and warns you about the possible sinister happenings of the organization that you know little about.  Do you trust him or the leader of said organization, who you met a few days ago?  Here’s another one: Your biological son comes to you to warn you about the fallout that will occur from an attack on a rival faction.  Do you trust him or this slimy, arrogant little punk you’ve known for about an hour?  ALLEGIANT features characters who have been though recent rough physical & mental battles in the previous two movies where they have to have absolute trust in the person in front, behind or next to them in order to keep their fight going.  But all allegiances, whether through birth or genuine chemistry, are pretty much thrown out the window in two significant, inconceivably stupid decisions by major characters.  I do find it interesting that both decisions were made by women in a movie based on a book by a woman.  It’s almost as if this movie is trying to be some sort of weird, anti-feminism thing perpetrated by director Robert Schwentke (INSURGENT, RED, R.I.P.D.) & writer Noah Oppenheim (THE MAZE RUNNER).  There’s probably nothing to that since ALLEGIANT is all talk & no substance.
            As bad as the main story is, what makes ALLEGIANT unbearable is the presence of Miles Teller’s Peter Hayes.  Hayes’ entire role in this series of movies is to add sarcastic comments in the most assholishly way possible and undermine our heroes in every step of the way.  Teller is at his absolute worst during the final two minutes as Tris gives her closing, voiceover monologue, which is juxtaposed with scenes of Peter whining outside the fence that guards the Bureau’s headquarters, distracting us from the final message the movie wants to present to its audience.  How was he able to hang with that group for so long considering how much damage he’s caused in three movies and HOW THE F*CK WAS HE NOT IMPRISIONED OR EXECUTED AT THE END OF THIS MOVIE?!?!
            Shailene Woodley can act and I understand she needs these bigger movies to keep her visible in the eyes of the general movie-going public but these DIVERGENT movies don’t give her any challenges.  She is the only one of the young actors who isn’t a nuisance since Theo James is only slightly more charismatic than Taylor Lautner, Zoe Kravitz is given nothing to do until the final action sequence and Miles Teller…I’ve already had my rant about him.  I’ve seen Jeff Daniels give better performances in Pure Michigan commercials.  Daniels, just like everyone else, appears to just go blandly through the motions until the third act where some action actually occurs.
            Despite the fact that it looks professionally done, ALLEGIANT is a miserable experience in any way you look at it with a boring first hour, a poor second hour hampered by two inconceivably bad decisions and the most annoying adult male character I’ve ever seen in a movie.  The appeal of this entire series is baffling to me but never in a million years would I think I’d see another YA adaptation this inept.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Fantasy Box Office: March 18-20

Cost: 585 FML Bucks
Estimate: $33 million
The third of four movies in the YA series of books is even worse than the first two (review coming later this weekend).  The second one last year was down $2 million opening weekend & $20 million overall from the 2014 original, despite the 3D additions.  No 3D this time plus the declining interest in this series & YA adaptations in general will doom this one.  Should receive no consideration

Cost: 530 FML Bucks
Estimate: $34.883 million
One weekend after cracking its ceiling last week in making $51+ million, ZOOTOPIA looks to repeat as weekend champ for the third straight weekend.  It will be a little more difficult with the competition from the above YA adaptation but this has one thing going for it: extremely positive word of mouth.

Cost: 225 FML Bucks
Estimate: $13 million
A new, based on true events Christian movie from the makers of HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, which made $22 million opening weekend two years ago.  Can this one with a star in the center repeat?  No.

Cost: 207 FML Bucks
Estimate: $11.6 million
A horror-thriller with a great 89% on the Tomatometer but a bad ‘B-“ Cinemascore.  Who will moviegoers listen to: professional film buffs or average horror fans?  I expect more of the latter.

Cost: 110 FML Bucks
Estimate: $6.89 million
The sixth weekend of a comic book movie usually means a small decline in theatre count and not that small of a drop.  DEADPOOL will be no different.  (Yes, this is the same spiel as last week.  I think it will actually happen this week.)

Cost: 83 FML Bucks
Estimate: $5.96 million
The third weekend for this sequel & it’s still in over 3000 theatres.  Expect a sub-50% drop and the Bonus.

Cost: 42 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.799 million
A terrific hold last weekend took everyone by surprise.  Can it do it again?  Yes, but even a 40% drop is too much to be in serious Bonus contention.

Cost: 36 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.061 million
Last week, this did everything it was supposed to do to win the Bonus but didn’t thanks to that absurd hold by DEADPOOL.  TPM will act just like every other rom-com for minorities: a 50% drop & not win the Bonus

Cost: 25 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.58 million
No one saw this last week when it was brand new.  What makes anyone think devout Christians will see it this weekend with that new, contemporary Christian movie out there now?

Cost: 22 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.303 million
Sure to split screens with older movies this weekend in most theatres after tanking this past weekend.  My estimate is generous.

Cost: 19 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.273 million
No longer the only Christian themed movie in town.  Should suffer like KFP3 last weekend.

Cost: 19 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.232 million
Now has TWO Christian movies in front of it.  Could go much lower than my projection.

Cost: 17 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.028 million
This movie’s success still fascinates me.  Will be a non-factor this weekend, but…wow.

Cost: 17 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1 million
A 2015 Sundance comedy that’s barely marketed & is very rotten on RT?  Yeah…don’t bother with this one.

Cost: 14 FML Bucks
Estimate: $0.846 million
One last weekend for the best movie so far this year.  Won’t be a factor but…PLEASE GO SEE IT!  PRETTY PLEASE!!!

My Cineplex
            Each of the three decisions I needed to make this week ended up being easy.  For the high priced half of the foundation, ZOOTOPIA is the best option.  Because of the cost of my projected Bonus winner, taking multiple screens of LHF is the best choice of the foundation.  The final two screens mean simply plugging in two random, low-priced movies, leaving me with:

Total Cost: 1000 FML Bucks
Estimate After Bonus: $78.017 million

As always,

Good Luck & Buy a Winning Ticket!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review : The Brothers Grimsby

            Remember when Sacha Baron Cohen used to be someone who was a joy to watch?  Da Ali G Show was a sensation a decade ago & his 2006 comedy BORAT is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  He’s had supporting roles in other movies but nothing has reached the heights as that.  But now, Cohen seems to have hit rock bottom.
            Cohen plays Nobby, a poor, uneducated father of 11 in the poor fishing town of Grimsby, pining for the day he is reunited with his little brother who was adopted after their parents died.  Following a tip, Nobby finds Sebastian (Strong), an assassin for a secretive arm of MI6, & promptly makes him an international fugitive.
            Before I go off on a tangent & give this movie the beat down it deserves, I want to make clear that there are some laughs here.  I genuinely laughed six times in 85 minutes, including twice where my wife & I were the only people in the theatre laughing.  I guess the target audience would have no clue what Chernobyl & Manchester United are.
            The rest of the movie, written by Cohen, Phil Johnston & Peter Baynham, is truly repugnant.  I shouldn’t do this but I really, really don’t want you to see movie but I’m going to list a bunch of the attempts of humor & you let me know if any of these are funny: Rebel Wilson queefing, faking Leukemia for welfare checks, wrapping a pool in a condom & hit a SWAT team member in the balls, watch an AIDS sufferer get shot in the shoulder & have blood splatter enter a fake Daniel Radcliffe’s mouth, an Oscar nominee being seduced in a case of mistaken identity, sucking venom out of your brother’s testicle.  I’ll just stop there.  I can’t stand to think about things I can’t unsee.
            The cast astonishes me.  What in the world is Oscar winner Penelope Cruz doing in this junk?  After this & ZOOLANDER 2, she may want to rethink her representation.  Mark Strong had a great supporting role last year in KINGSMEN.  I understand he deserves a chance to be the lead in a spy movie, but he deserves something better than this.  Ian McShane is the head of the spy organization & has about five lines.  I’m curious as to what was cut & just how bad it was to make this movie only 83 minutes long.
            I understand I might have grown out of this type of comedy and that this movie is not for me.  But I honestly question anyone who finds absolute joy in sitting in a theatre & watching two grown men sitting inside an elephant’s ovulating vagina as it gets penetrated by multiple male elephants.  Just pathetic.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Fantasy Box Office: March 11-13

Cost: 6929 FML Bucks
Estimate: $48.75 million
This record-breaker will without a doubt win the weekend again.  But two big questions: How far will it fall? and Will it compete for the Bonus?  To get a sense of how well it might hold, THE LEGO MOVIE two years ago fell 28.89% on a holiday weekend so a 35% drop is reasonable.  As for the Bonus, I’m not optimistic.  This is too expensive & there are too many lower level options in the competition with better chances.  I’m staying away.

Cost: 334 FML Bucks
Estimate: $28.12 million
The surprise sequel to the 2007 surprise smash found footage horror flick that made over $40 million opening weekend.  While we don’t live in that kind of movie world where marketing can open a movie, a big opening is expected.  How big?  I’ve seen estimates in the mid-30s but I’m not willing to go that far.  But even where I have it, it’s my leader to win the Bonus.

Cost: 130 FML Bucks
Estimate: $10.8175 million
A moderately successful weekend plus an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore means this could be the surprise Bonus winner if it falls less than 50%.  Will the Tomatometer make any difference this weekend?  The target audience doesn’t care.

Cost: 129 FML Bucks
Estimate: $7.22 million
Sasha Baron Cohen used to be someone.  BORAT was a shocking success.  BRUNO had a huge weekend then plummeted.  So did THE DICTATOR.  This movie has too much bad buzz to be worth considering.

Cost: 110 FML Bucks
Estimate: $9.85 million
The fifth weekend of a comic book movie usually means a small decline in theatre count and not that small of a drop.  DEADPOOL will be no different.

Cost: 109 FML Bucks
Estimate: $8 million
The second Christian themed movie of the Lenten season but certainly won’t be the last.  This one is a little more Biblical that the previous or next ones.  Not opening as wide nor as advertised as much as either, I expect a decent but not a Bonus contending weekend.

Cost: 50 FML Bucks
Estimate: $3.126 million
This isn’t the feel-good comedy (or straight comedy) audiences were expecting.  This weekend won’t see a hold of an audience.

Cost: 44 FML Bucks
Estimate: $4.162 million
A romantic comedy for an underserved, minority audience should be a shoo-in for the Bonus.  But what if that movie only open in 925 theatres?  The Wild Card of the weekend, for sure.

Cost: 31 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.04 million
Take my estimate, multiply it by 1.2.  That’s how much this movie should make.  I give up on this movie.

Cost: 27 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.82 million
This movie will disappear from about 70% of all theatres.  So will about that much of its box office.

Cost: 26 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.795 million
No longer the only Christian themed movie in town.  Should suffer like KFP3 last weekend.

Cost: 23 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.786 million
Hanging on by a thread.  Zootopia is too huge for this to survive much longer.  What a shame.

Cost: 21 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.564 million
Americans don’t care about a British skier in a Canadian Olympics.  Should lose at least half its screens & box office.

Cost: 16 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.118 million
The horror enthusiasts will be at movie theatres this weekend.  Just not in the same room as this.

Cost: 15 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.155 million
Still hanging on.  A nice, really cheap filler.

My Cineplex
            The foundation is for the weekend is easy: Two Cloverfields & a Deadpool.  Where the weekend got tricky was what I did with the remaining 223 Bucks.  For the longest time, I had another Deadpool & a bunch of random picks to max out the 223.  But, in my research, I found a nice comp for The Perfect Match in Baggage Claim, which made about $4500/theatre two & a half years ago.  Using that, TPM had a good chance for the Bonus AND I could max out on it.  Therefore, here’s my lineup:

Total Cost: 998 FML Bucks
Estimate After Bonus: $96.9 million

As always,

Good Luck & Buy a Winning Ticket!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: London Has Fallen

I do not own the above image.  Copyright Gramercy Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

            Mike Banning (Butler) is back as the lead Secret Service Agent for President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart).  Banning, with a wife at home & baby on the way, wants to resign from his post.  Those plans change as the British Prime Minister has died under mysterious circumstances.  Banning, Asher & Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Bassett) head to London with the world’s other major heads of state for the funeral.  Then all hell breaks loose.
            As some of my long-time readers may remember, I didn’t like Antoine Fuqua’s 2013 predecessor OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN.  Well, Fuqua’s gone & Iranian-Swedish director Babak Najafi is in the director’s chair.  And he actually extracts most of the energy the original had.  A bulk of the initial action sequence features generic helicopter shots of London landmarks being blown up with some of the worst CGI special effects I’ve ever seen. To spend money to sit in a theatre and watch Parliament & Westminster Abbey be destroyed by sub-Sharknado effects is insulting.  The eight (at least) different special effects companies who worked on this movie could have used mismatched Legos as the exploding buildings or helicopters and it would have looked more realistic.
            The screenplay is even worse.  Written by OHF writers Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedict and Christian Gudegast (A Man Apart) and Chad St. John (first feature credit), LHF depends solely on the audience being completely fine with extreme coincidences & the main villain not being on the same continent as the action.  So many basic questions that should not be asked in a movie like this.  First & foremost, why was the Prime Minister’s funeral scheduled before the autopsy results released?  Suspicious deaths don’t happen in this universe apparently.  How did the villain know the Japanese PM would be stuck in traffic on London Bridge?  Or that the Italian PM would take his mistress on a self-guided tour of Westminster Abbey minutes before the funeral?  Or that the French PM would sit on his boat for an extra 10 minutes?  Or that the US President would escape his assassination attempt & would lead a car chase down through London, which would require dozens of faceless, black motorbike drivers?  Or that his attack would cause Londoners to immediately barricade themselves in their homes instead of panicking in the streets?
            The main villain is supposed to be Aamir Barkawi, an illegal arms dealer who is the target of a drone strike that kills his daughter on her wedding day & severely injures his son & other associates in the first scene.  Barkawi then spends the remainder of the movie in an apartment in a random Middle East city in front of a laptop where he taunts the Vice President & Cabinet a few times.  In his place are his son & associate, who also sit behind laptops until the opportune moment to kidnap the President so he can fulfill the family’s ultimate goal: to kill the President live on the internet & force the world to watch.  That’s one lofty goal, isn’t it?  The entire movie is that simple & uncomplicated.
            Butler & Eckhart do their best to brighten the festivities with some witty banter but there’s too little of it & they have no chemistry because Gerard Butler is actually a wooden plank who was magically transformed into a real man.  It also doesn’t help that Najafi doesn’t care if the actors mumble their lines or if the bullets hitting the ground cause the dialogue to be intelligible.  The target audience won’t care.  Just keep blowing stuff up and they’ll be happy.
            There is one element of LHF that sort of works: the opening action scene of the third act is this long take of a long corridor where Butler has his way with everyone who tries to kill him.  That was fun.  The rest of LONDON HAS FALLEN is a jumbled mess of bad everything: direction, writing, acting, special effects & ticket buying.  LHF should be the shining example of what happens when the general movie-going audience goes to see a bad movie in droves enough to warrant a sequel.  They got what they wanted & we suffer.  Thanks for nothing!


Friday, March 4, 2016

Fantasy Box Office: March 4-6

Cost: 699 FML Bucks
Estimate: $67 million
First new kids movie in six weeks is the new Disney animated flick.  Before you go off and rubber-stamp a $75 million weekend, a little fact: Only two non-Pixar, non-summer animated movies have hit $60 million opening weekend, THE LEGO MOVIE and THE LORAX.  ZOOTOPIA isn’t a known commodity like those two so player beware.  But if DEADPOOL taught us anything, trends can be shattered.

Cost: 247 FML Bucks
Estimate: $23.6 million
The sequel to the shocking 2012 hit has huge downsides & upsides.  OLYMPUS opened to $30+ million but got mixed reviews & didn’t face competition like DEADPOOL so that result is skewed.  However, LONDON opens in at least 200 more screens & is 24 minutes shorter, allowing for one more showing per screen per day.  I’m a little optimistic.

Cost: 201 FML Bucks
Estimate: $17.113 million
Its reign at #1 will end after three weekends.  Some of its target audience may be taken away by the previous movie in this piece but with the love this movie has received by fanboys, they may come back for seconds or thirds this weekend.

Cost: 106 FML Bucks
Estimate: $9 million
Tina Fey means box office power right?  Right?!  Not exactly.  Fey hasn’t had a $15 million opening that didn’t involve Muppets since DATE NIGHT w/ Steve Carrell six years ago.  Here, she’s the lone star & hits only 2300 theatres.  Filler is its only purpose this week, if at all.

Cost: 69 FML Bucks
Estimate: $6.364 million
A $14 million opening, $140 million budget, 14% on RT, ‘B-‘ Cinemascore and one pissed off filmmaker.  What else could go wrong for this movie?  How about a 55% drop?

Cost: 65 FML Bucks
Estimate: $5.784 million
Not only is this not the newest animated movie in theatres, it’s also not the best reviewed animated movie in theatres anymore.  This could plummet or drop less if ZOOTOPIA’s overflow go elsewhere in multiplexes.

Cost: 43 FML Bucks
Estimate: $4.089 million
We inch closer & closer to Easter and RISEN is still the only Christian-themed movie in cinemas.  It may continue to reap the benefits for one more weekend.  Enough to play?  Maybe.

Cost: 40 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.97 million
Winner of three Academy Awards…but not the big one and it will suffer the consequences because of it.

Cost: 33 FML Bucks
Estimate: $3.164 million
A well-liked but under-watched inspirational sports movie.  Too bad he’s British.  Has no legs in the States.

Cost: 32 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.754 million
[Insert failed ‘ladies night’ joke here]

Cost: 31 FML Bucks
Estimate: $3.055 million
Missed last week’s estimates by 50%.  This weekend it’s underpriced & has a great shot at winning the Bonus, as long as theatres don’t bury it.

Cost: 31 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.533 million
A disaster of mammoth proportions on multiple levels.  And now it loses over 1400 theatres.  Ouch.

Cost: 27 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.8 million
If a horror movie opens in 500 theatres with little fanfare & no one shows up, does it exist?

Cost: 25 FML Bucks
Estimate: $2.052 million
Inspirational true sports story holding on for dear life.  The theatre count kills it.

Cost: 24 FML Bucks
Estimate: $1.792 million
Final weekend for the highest grossing movie of all time in the United States.  Will make a fine theatre filler one last time, if necessary.

My Cineplex
            There are two types of realistic lineups this week: ZOOTOPIA with seven filler screens or three LONDON HAS FALLEN screens w/ WTF & four fillers.  ZOOTOPIA has a solid base but a little bit of history against it.  The reviews may not be great but the target audience for LHF may not care.  All that being said, I’m taking the safe route, especially after the Thursday night numbers.  Need to get off to a good start.

Total Cost: 991 FML Bucks
Estimate After Bonus: $102.327 million

As always,

Good Luck & Buy a Winning Ticket!