Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival has just announced their lineup and the usual suspects return to the festivals. "Carnage" by Roman Polanski opens the festival on September 30 while "The Skin I live in" by Pedro Almodovar and "A Dangerous Method" by David Cronenberg have Gala presentations. All three of these films are being released by Sony Classic Pictures in time for an awards run. 

The new film that has had little or no buzz is "My Week with Marilyn". The film was predicted to have its world  premiere in Toronto or Venice but did not end up in the lineup. The film is about Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's, who documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe's during production of the Prince and the Showgirl. The film which will be released in November by the Weinstein Company will have its world premiere at the New York Film Festival..

Other high profile films include "The Descendants" by Alexander Payne and "Melancholia" by Lars Von Trier. The Film Festival begin on September 30 and ends October 16

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Let the Summer Begin

That title is not a mistake. Nor is this article being printed too late into the summer. It is actually August 6 and Hollywood is already starting the arms race of Summer 2012. This summer has been met with disastrous results for the age-old assembly line that is Hollywood. At the moment Harry Potter's grand finale is slated to be the summer's big grosser and it is only slated to reel in no more than $360 million (according to box office analysts). That is a far cry from summers past (Toy Story grossed $415 million last year, Transformers grossed $402 million in 2009, The Dark Knight $533 million in 2008). 2007 is the last time Hollywood had a film that grossed less than $400 million at the box office and even that year 4 films hit the $300 million mark in the summer.

This year has only seen 2 films reach that feat in the face of multiple films underperforming tremendously. Below is a list of tentpoles that were expected to reel in tremendous grosses and failed to succeed.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($238 million; however all of its predecessors made at least $300 million, with the second film making well north of $400 million.). It is important to note that it did well overseas, but it is pretty clear the USA is growing restless of Johnny Depp's idiosyncratic pirate.

2. Cars 2 ($183 million). The first Cars made $244 million and this sequel (which is the worst reviewed Pixar film to date) gained the distinction of being the first Pixar film to not make $200 million since Bug's Life and Toy Story).

This film has provided Pixar with its first true humbling experience (unless you count the 2006 Oscars where they lose the Best Animated Picture award to Warner Brothers' Happy Feet. Their film that year was... Cars (the first one). 

3. X-men: First Class ($144 million) The worst grossing of all X-men films and yet many critics considered it to be the best of the lot.

4. Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America. After Iron Man's big hit of $300+ million, the studios felt the need to market lesser known Super Heros to mediocre results. Thor has barely surpassed its budget of $150 million with a gross of $180 million and Captain America ($133 million) is likely to creep past the $140 million that it cost to make. However, Green Lantern is more than $80 million away from its $200 million and is almost certainly not going anywhere. They all won opening weekends, but did not impress in their debuts.

I''ll even add that Harry Potter and Transformers, both of which had impressive openings (a recording breaking $94 million on the opening day for Harry Potter followed by a record setting $168 million) saw their grosses drop steeply from week to week. Keep in mind that this is reflective mainly of the American box office which is still the standard for most studios.

So what does any of this have to do with starting next summer early? Well, if you have been following the industry, you may have noticed what Sony, Warner Brothers, and Marvel have been up to of late. In case you have no idea what I am talking about, here you go:

The Dark Knight Rises - Teaser Trailer Officiel... by Lyricis

In a matter of weeks, all this (and much much more) information has flourished on the internet for films that are coming out next years. The trailers to "The Dark Knight Rises" and the Spiderman film all came out "accidently" online a day after each other. Then the official trailers were released a bit after. Coincidence? I think not. Then images of The Avengers film and a subsequent trailer also made their debut after the other two big juggernauts of next summer showed off their weapons. But it did not end there. Warner Brothers has constantly released images from the upcoming Dark Knight film almost on a daily basis. Sony has already announced the RELEASE DATE (May 4, 2014 for those interested) for the SEQUEL (yes the sequel) to the reboot of the Spiderman series before the franchise restarting film has even come out. How do they know that it's even going to be good? They probably don't but they want to create a sense of optimism around this film by already extending confidence in a sequel. Clearly these are the big contenders for next summer and the studios know that if they want to maintain enormous profits in the face of an unstable market, they have to hype the crap out of these films to ensure that people do not forget them for the next few months leading up to Oscar season.

It will be interesting to see how many more trailers these companies release for their films to up the hype. For Harry Potter's grand finale Warner Brothers released a whopping 3 trailers for the film (and that doesn't include the teasers). You get the feeling that Warner Brothers will likely send off the Batman franchise (for now) in similar fashion. Sony will probably want to usher in the Spiderman series in similar fashion. As for the Avengers, they are just hoping to stay afloat in the face of the two franchise titans. Who wins is still an entire year away.