With the diversity of movie product this weekend, no wonder it was a record breaker Thanksgiving Weekend for the Industry. There was a movie for almost everybody! This is what Hollywood needs to keep doing. Provide products for a wide array of audiences. Let’s take a look how this happened:
‘Twilight’ Woman Rule
It was hard to believe just a few years ago, rumors flew around that Hollywood decision makers supposedly questioned if women could or couldn’t open a movie. As “Twilight” comes to a close, the answer is obvious! Many fans showed up to watch the conclusion to the beloved series. When I polled it, I left this dreadfully bad feature after I saw the CGI baby’s face. No thanks! The only people that will miss the poorly executed franchise besides the Twihards, will be Summit/Lionsgate. Don’t cry for the studio. “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” will open this time next year assuring this base will show up and be satisfied.
Kids Movies Still Pack Them In
Children movies traditional dominate the weekend and this was no exception, but the new release performed softly. Dreamworks Animations “Rise of the Guardians” opened so-so, but garnered a solid reaction from audiences. The problem is, this movie is expensive! ($145 million) I wasn’t interested in watching this because the animation looked pitiful. The Santas Elves featured in the ads were as creepy as the “Despicable Me” Minions were cute. Dreamworks does have one thing to be thankful: ‘Guardians’ is Holiday themed and should play well through the coming weeks. Not surprisingly, audiences were still catching up seeing Disney’s “Wreck It Ralph.” The sentimental and cute video game themed Family Film has grossed $150 million. This seems to be a better option for parents to want to see a quality critically acclaimed kids movie.
‘Red’ State Throwback
“Red Dawn” was scheduled to be released last Thanksgiving and faced the MGM bankruptcy drama. Despite the setbacks and mediocre to bad reviews, it performed better then expected during the weekend. Of course, younger men in more conservative parts of the country stormed theaters to watch the remake. (I witnessed this first hand while in Texas.) Critical of remakes, I wasn’t interested in seeing it and probably won’t. This plays well to the crowd who signed the online secession movement, sympathetic to the Tea Party, or fans of the original. Audiences who go in and know what to expect are at least liking it for what it is.
Ang Lee’s anticipated adaptation to the not adaptable bestseller “Life of Pi” performed better then expected. This was probably the perfect counter programming to the “Red Dawn” crowd. For me, the lush and stunning visuals got in the way of telling an engaging, thoughtful story. This was compared to this year’s “Avatar” or “Hugo” which I disagree. Not even close. There was too much CGI for me and slow moments, but not enough organic imagination. Due to strong word of mouth, this should appease the ‘CoExist’ crowd who enjoy multicultural experiences.
Familiar Brands Score: Abraham ‘Lincoln’ and 007
People want to spend money on a familiar, reliable brands. Thus explains the continued solid success of the latest James Bond entry and the hottest Spielberg historical epic in several years. “Skyfall” is escapist fun. Roger Deakins cinematography was outstanding and I admired how director Sam Mendes reflected the style and mood of a Christopher Nolan ‘Batman’ film. Compare that with Spielberg’s exceptional “Lincoln” and the authenticity of the production value was stunning. Daniel Day-Lewis reminds us he is one of the best actors alive with such a poignant and solemn performance, as well as the various supporting cast of characters. I was fully engaged with the wonky, dense dialogue and amused by the old fashioned insults declared in the halls of Congress. This is a necessary movie for our divided country and provides necessary context for our current political climate. (Even member of Congress are hosting screenings. How we can hope they all attend and learn something!)
Limited Releases Underwhelm Saturated Market
“Lincoln” and “Skyfall” are why adult audiences have been preoccupied with other movies in limited release. Oscar bait movies such as “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Hitchcock,” and “Anna Karenina” failed to post big numbers due to a saturated market and some mixed critical reactions for ‘Hitchcock’ and ‘Karenina.’ I can understand the mixed reaction. ‘Karenina’ was gorgeous to look at but fails to make a connection. I wanted to love the movie, but couldn’t. The stunning theatrics cannot make up for an emotional detached experience. ‘Hitchcock’ is a contrived, stale snapshot into the making of “Psycho.” Those numerous sarcastic one-liners come off as corny but the audience sure loved them! Its redeeming value are the performances by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. As will the older audiences and the Academy. I’m already calling “Hitchcock” the overrated movie that wont deserve its Oscar nominations. As these movies expand in the coming weeks, they will eventually find an audience…if not the Oscar nominations serve their audiences on a platter. What I heard at advanced screenings from movie fans who see all three of these movies is nothing but high octane praise.
More Profits To Be Made
Finally, there still aren’t movies for Hispanic or African American audiences (unless you include Denzel Washington’s emotionally exhausting turn in “Flight”). Think of how much more money that could’ve been made if this wasn’t the case. This needs to change Hollywood!