Friday, June 18, 2010

“Movie projector: 'Toy Story 3' appears blessed, 'Jonah Hex' cursed - Los Angeles Times” plus 3 more

“Movie projector: 'Toy Story 3' appears blessed, 'Jonah Hex' cursed - Los Angeles Times” plus 3 more


Movie projector: 'Toy Story 3' appears blessed, 'Jonah Hex' cursed - Los Angeles Times

Posted: 17 Jun 2010 08:47 PM PDT

TS3 The soft summer box office is poised to get a big boost from "Toy Story 3" this weekend.

People who have seen pre-release surveys say that "Toy Story 3" is certain to have the biggest opening for a movie from Pixar Animation Studios, beating 2004's "The Incredibles," which started with $70.4 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Thanks to strong interest among all audience segments, as well as 3-D premium ticket prices, the movie could be Pixar's first $100-million-plus opening if pre-release tracking is on target.

The sequel will likely draw not only the family crowd for animated pictures, but also young adults who are nostalgic for the 1995 original and 1999's "Toy Story 2," which grossed even more than its predecessor.

If it follows the pattern of previous Pixar movies, this weekend will be the start of a long summer run for "Toy Story 3" in theaters. On average, pictures from the Disney-owned animation studio gross more than four times their opening weekend ticket sales -- an exceptionally high "multiple," in Hollywood vernacular.

For most movies, a multiple of 2.5 is typical. However, Pixar movies often attract families on weekdays and repeat viewers, as well as generate strong word of mouth, all of which make for a long life at the box office.

"Toy Story 3" is only the second sequel produced by Pixar and the first in more than a decade, though the studio now appears to have a case of Hollywoodum sequelitus. The movie has a good shot at ultimately raking in more than $340 million, which would surpass 2003's "Finding Nemo," Pixar's No. 1 film domestically.

Jonah Meanwhile, Warner Bros. "Jonah Hex" looks cursed. The big-screen adaptation of the DC Comics series starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox is not tracking well with audiences and will struggle to collect $10 million in its debut this weekend, according to people who have seen pre-release surveys. That's a poor start for a summer release.

Despite extensive reshoots, executives at Warner Bros. and its co-financing partner Legendary Pictures are privately acknowledging little faith in the prospects of the movie, which cost $47 million to produce.

A "Jonah Hex" bomb would be a rare misfire for a movie based on a comic book. However, "Jonah Hex" is an unusual adaptation in that, instead of featuring a costumed superhero, it's a western outlaw tale.

If "Toy Story 3" is the hit everyone thinks it will be, Hollywood would have its second consecutive weekend of positive results after a sluggish start since early May.

Last weekend's surprise hit "The Karate Kid," which opened to $55.7 million, could fall less than 50% and finish in second place. Weekday ticket sales have been strong for the remake starring Jaden Smith.

-- Ben Fritz

Related:

Pixar, with 'Toy Story 3,' shows increasing reliance on sequels

Top photo: A scene from "Toy Story 3." Credit: Disney/Pixar. Bottom photo: Megan Fox and Josh Brolin in "Jonah Hex." Credit: Jamie Trueblood / Warner Bros.

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Movie News - AccessAtlanta

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 09:10 PM PDT

Chinese screen reaches out for more foreign actors

Along with men in fedoras and 1930s cars, the costume drama "Grassroots King" has a feature that nearly every Chinese TV show seems to require these days — a Western character. Kerry Brogan, an actress from Newton, Massachusetts, who plays the lead character's British girlfriend, is one of dozens of foreign performers on Chinese TV, recruited to appeal to increasingly worldly audiences.

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Movie Review | 'Jonah Hex' - Courier-Journal

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 12:00 AM PDT

The 10-word review : A comic-book revenge western that could desperately use some leavening.

Critics always say movies are too long. "Jonah Hex" is too short -- so short, and so bad, you cringe about how awful whatever ended up on the cutting-room floor must be.

Take away the eight minutes of end-credits, a lengthy prologue built around comic-book panels and some repetitive flashbacks of action, and there's barely an hour's worth of actual movie in "Jonah Hex." And that's using the term "actual movie" generously.

"Jonah Hex," starring Josh Brolin as a disfigured 19th-century bounty hunter with his own connections to hell, needed to take the gloves off. This is a story about a man who watched his wife and son burned alive, who communes savagely with the dead and who vows unholy vengeance against the man responsible for all his troubles.

Brolin's Jonah Hex turns to hunting down bad guys after his family is immolated by evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil villain Quentin Turnbull (a boring John Malkovich). Turnbull also scars Jonah's face with a branding iron. The experience somehow leaves Jonah able to bring the dead back to life momentarily with a touch, so he can interrogate them. (This power comes with its own phony rules that include the dead's ability to see the comings and goings of anyone they knew -- handy for a bounty hunter looking for info.)

With Turnbull aiming to unleash a doomsday weapon to destroy the United States as it celebrates its centennial, Jonah is enlisted by the government to stop the madman.

Megan Fox co-stars as Jonah's love interest, Lilah, a prostitute with a heart of gristle and a brain apparently made of the same material. She delivers her lines as robotically in the 1870s as she did in the "Transformers" flicks.

Recommended if : The heat has put you in the mood for a nasty story, dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Not recommended if : Plot, character development and story well-told are key to your movie-going enjoyment.

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Movie Review: 'Please Give' should have dug deeper - Sacramento Bee

Posted: 18 Jun 2010 01:12 AM PDT

Though I wish "Please Give" were a little better, there aren't enough American movies like it. Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, it contains five vivid women's roles and deals with normal life, with how people live, think and feel, as opposed to what most movies do, which is show how people react in a crisis.

Holofcener takes a set of themes – privilege and guilt and the need to give and receive generosity – and explores them through the lives of a half-dozen characters who intersect in modern-day Manhattan.

One person always in Holofcener's world is Catherine Keener, as the face of sensitive, confused humanity wondering about her place in the moral universe. In "Please Give," she and her husband (Oliver Platt) own an antique furniture shop, for which they acquire pieces by buying them from adult children liquidating their parents' estates. Like everybody in business, she buys for as little as she can and sells for as much as she can get away with.

But still, Kate (Keener) feels guilty about this, as well as guilty about having a fairly prosperous upper-middle-class existence when other people are homeless. What's really happening is that suddenly, in midlife, Kate finds herself plugged into the suffering of the universe. She reaches out to her neighbor, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), a socially withdrawn X-ray technician who does mammograms for a living.

Rebecca is another downbeat, sad-sack character, a young woman who slaves for her grandmother, a bitter old lady who was once a nasty middle-aged lady and before that an equally awful young lady, played by Ann Guilbert (Millie from the old "Dick Van Dyke Show").

In this hangdog mix, Amanda Peet, as Rebecca's older sister, is like a breath of fresh air – spontaneous, confident, the enemy of guilt and introspection, determined to break free of the past and live her life.

Holofcener asks moral questions and then is too easy on her characters. She demands only easy giving, and the film's conclusion – in which a surrender to crass commercialism is offered as a moment of spiritual bliss – shows a filmmaker who has tied herself into an intellectual knot.

PLEASE GIVE

2 1/2 stars

CAST: Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Ann Guilbert and Oliver Platt

WRITER-DIRECTOR: Nicole Holofcener

THEATERS: Tower, Varsity Davis

90 minutes

Rated R (strong language, sexual situations)

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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