Box Office

Box Office Preview for May 1-3, Avengers hoping to break records again

So the summer box office battles unofficially get underway this weekend with the opening of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Herein lie my predictions for the weekend box office.

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – $221 million

It’s safe to assume this superhero sequel will take the top spot this weekend. It’s also almost a foregone conclusion that it will have one of the biggest opening weekend domestic grosses ever. The only question is: Will it set a new mark for highest grossing opening weekend in history? Considering the growth of the Marvel brand since the first Avengers film came out in 2012, the marketing for this being enormous, the addition of many more 10pm Thursday night showings in recent years, and the lack of heavy (film) competition, I could easily see this film answering that question with a resounding YES. I’d be very surprised if it does not clear the $207 million The Avengers opened to back in 2012. The only potential roadblock is the many other non-movie options audiences have this weekend. There are NBA playoff games, NHL playoff games, the NFL draft, Yankees-Red Sox, the Kentucky Derby, and biggest of all, the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. If not for this being one of the biggest sporting event weekends of the century, I’d go even higher.

  • Furious 7 – $10 million
  • The Age of Adaline – $8 million
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2- $5 million
  • Home – $4 million
  • Ex Machina- $3 million
  • Unfriended – $2 million

How big do you think Avengers 2 will open? How much will sporting events hurt its box office? Will it cross 200mil? 220? 250!??!

Please let me know in the comments.

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Recaps, Superhero Tv, The Flash

The Flash Episode 20 “The Trap” Recap

By Jay Berringer

Barry Allen: We thought we set a trap for him, but he set a trap for us.

Harrison Wells is not who he claims to be. We’ve known he was sketchy from the first episode when he killed Simon Stagg. After tonight’s episode, everything is out in the open, and Team Flash knows exactly who he is, and what he wants.

As “The Trap” begins, everybody’s favorite Star Labs brainiac trio is standing in Dr. Well’s hidden time vault as Cisco, (who has a thing for naming stuff,) decides to call it. Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco are there examining a newspaper’s front page that states The Flash has gone missing after a fight with the Reverse Flash. Highlights include the date being April 24t.h… 2024(!) also known as the future, the writer of said article being none other than Iris West, and my personal favorite, her name is Iris West-ALLEN. Barry infers this means he is married to Iris in nine years, as does Cisco who congratulates Barry with a “Mazel Tov?”.( As is usually the case, Carlos Valdes’s delivery here is hilarious.) This leads Gideon, Dr. Well’s futuristic artificial intelligence, to appear to state that Cisco’s congratulatory message is Hebrew. The rest of the scene plays out very much like something out of I Robot, complete with very good CG of Gideon answering questions Barry has. The most significant one, “why did Wells come here?” is answered “To kill you”. Wells enters the building and they are forced to rush out. After a bit more Q & A where we discover that Barry has a promotion in the future, is a founding member of something Gideon didn’t get a chance to fully say, (the Justice League perhaps?!) and that Gideon herself was apparently created by Barry in the future, Mr. Allen super-speeds them all out of there as Wells is about to enter.

Cut to Eddie and Joe having a cup of coffee in Jitters, where the kindest person in the entire CW/DC universe asks Joe if he can have his blessing to propose to Iris. Joe’s answer is a resolute-sounding no. I understand that we are supposed to ultimately be rooting for Iris and Barry to get together, but it’s tough to not feel bad for this guy. He can’t really catch a break. Joe receives a call from Barry to head to Joe’s house for a meeting of the Secret Society for Getting to the Bottom of Barry’s Mom’s Murder and Finding Out Who this Wells Guy Truly is. Ok, I realize I need to work on the name. How about abbreviated, SSFGTTBOBMMAFWTWGTI? Where is Cisco when you need him? Anyway, back to the secret meeting. Barry tells the others about his time travel jaunt from a few weeks back. Barry tells Cisco his recent nightmares are actually memories of the other timeline where Wells killed him. He then announces he has “a really bad idea”.

After a quick convo with the captain, who is getting married, and a run-in, more of a bump-in with Iris, Barry has a super awkward talk with Eddie, where the young police detective asks him to talk to Joe to try to get him to change his mind about giving his blessing. Barry, of course is beyond excited at the prospect of helping Eddie and Iris get engaged.

Back at Barry’s loft office, Cisco, Kaitlin, Barry and Joe begin step one of Barry’s “bad idea”. This involves causing Cisco to have a lucid dream, where he can relive the minutes leading up to his “death,” and tell them all what Wells said through the beauty of science… stuff. This made me think of Fringe, which I just started watching on Netflix, as something similar to this occurs in the pilot, and also Tom Cavanagh’s underappreciated early 2000’s dramedy series “Ed,” which had an episode that was almost entirely the titular character’s lucid dream. As Cisco’s dream/memory plays out, the group discovers Wells’ name is Eobard Thawne, and he didn’t intend on killing Nora Allen. Of course, these are things we already knew, but it’s interesting to see the character’s reactions, as well as getting sort of a replay of one of the best scenes this series has had thus far. After Cisco is nearly killed in the Matrix, I mean his dream/memory, he almost has a stroke in the “real world.” The team successfully gets him to wake up, and Barry receives a call from Dr. Wells informing him of a fire in the building where Captain Singh’s fiancé Rob works. With Dr. Harrison Eobard Thawne Wells’ assistance, Barry is able to stop the fire and save a floor-full of people including Rob.

Back at Joe’s house, Joe feels guilty that he ever let Wells save Barry in the first place. This does not completely make sense to me, as without Star Labs, Barry would be dead or in a coma. Moving on to part two of Barry’s really bad idea, the group tries to bring Wells into the bunker and trick him into confessing to Barry’s mother’s murder. This does not go particularly well. Wells walks into the room, threatens Cisco, and then reaches up to “kill” him with his super-speed karate chop. Joe shoots Barry who tries to stop the bullets but is only able to stop two of three after one has crossed through the containment field, which Cisco has reversed the polarity of, so that speedsters cannot enter. The bullet pierces Not-quite-Harrison-Wells’ heart and Caitlin pronounces him dead. Except, it isn’t him at all, it is the shapeshifter from the previous episode. This was a great fake-out that I did not see coming.

Eobard’s voice comes over the PA at star labs. He tells them he is one step ahead and that he will be coming to see them all very soon. (Props to Tom Cavanagh who is wonderfully devilish in this scene. He is showing these people he has been hiding from for so long who he truly is, and Cavanagh perfectly captures it with some slight tonal and inflection changes to his voice.) Barry darts to the time vault where he sees nine screens replaying video from all of the places Barry and his friends have frequented over the last several months. He realizes they’ve been watched this entire time and that wells was setting them up.

As this is transpiring, Eddie is on a bridge about to propose to Iris. The reverse flash runs up, and knocks Eddie back. He then threatens Iris. The flash gets to her as he is prepping his favorite martial arts chopping move. Reverse flash takes Eddie and runs off. Barry tells her it will all be alright and as he is running away Iris feels a shock similar to one she felt taking Barry’s hand when he was in a coma. Iris realizes in this moment that Barry is the Flash. Welcome to the party, it’s a bit crowded but you’ll fit right in.

Finally, in this week’s epilogue stinger, the Reverse Flash reveals himself, and his name and familial connection, to Eddie, before telling him he is his insurance. We then flashback to Wells standing over Barry in a coma at Star Labs several months prior where he shares that he’s been watching Barry for 15 years, and while he must “create” the Flash, in order to get home, he will kill Barry Allen at some point.

Overall this was another excellent episode of what has quickly become one of my favorite shows currently running. (See what I did there!?) While it does not reach the heights of an episode like “Out of Time,” this is definitely one of the best chapters in this young series.

 4 stars out of 5

Best Lines:

Wells to a comatose Barry: “But fate, fate’s tricky, isn’t it? I come here to destroy you, and then to get home I have to be the one who creates you… And to be clear, nothing is forgiven. There will be a reckoning, I promise you Barry Allen, and you will die.”

Cisco realizing he may have caused Barry to change the shade of red of his suit by looking at Future Flash: “That would mean we’re living in a causal nexus. Wow, this is so trippy, like Marty and the Polaroid trippy.”

Eddie: “Iris Thawne, sounds pretty good eh?” Barry: “I have a feeling she’s gonna want to hyphenate”

Cisco: “Except I’m pretty sure I die in this dream. If I go back into it, am I gonna die in real life? I mean what are we talking about here, is this Inception or Dreamscape?”

What did you think of this week’s episode?

Please let me know in the comments.

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Box Office

Mockingjay soars to a weekend win! (or crashes and burns, depends who you ask)

It may have not been the windfall Lionsgate was hoping for, but Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 pulled in $123 million over the weekend. This is the largest opening of the year by a wide margin over Transformers: Dawn of the Planet of the Robot Dinosaurs or whatever the title is. The first films in the franchise each opened over $150 million which is why this tally is considered somewhat of a letdown. This can be easily explained however by seven key factors:

a) Critics and fans are more mixed regarding this film vs it’s predecessors. The first Hunger Games has a 67/100 critic score and a 7.0/10 user score on Metacritic, while Catching Fire holds a 75/100 critic score and a 7.9/10 user score. Mockingjay, on the other hand, has a 62/100 critic score and a 6.2/10 user score.

b) Mockingjay is considered by the majority of fans of the book series to be the weakest link in the trilogy.

c) Too much Hunger Games too quickly. Three films in three years is a lot.

d) No IMAX screenings as Interstellar is still being shown in all such theaters.

e) The Part 1 in the title may have scared some people off who are hoping for a complete film experience.

f) While marketing was decent for this film, with a lot of key actors on the talk show circuit and plenty of tv spots running, it was not as prevalent as it was for the first two films.

g) There are no hunger games in the film titled HUNGER GAMES: Mockingjay Part I. This could keep away some casual fans. This fact is not hidden as it was even mentioned explicitly in some of the advertising.

As far as I’m concerned, opening to over $100million, (let alone 120,) while not the incredible mark it once was, is still quite impressive. If I’m Lionsgate I’m happy with this result and wouldn’t lower my guesstimates for part 2’s opening weekend next year.

I would however consider rethinking the decision to split “Divergent” threequel “Allegiant” into two films. Compared to the loathing of that book among a great deal of Divergent fans, Hunger Games fans uniformly consider Mockingjay to be the greatest book of all time. I understand the monetary motivations to split these final films in popular series into two films, but with that one they may bite off more than they can chew.

I will be posting my 7 second review on twitter later in the week along with a lengthier review in a blog post over Thanksgiving weekend.

In the meantime, are you surprised by Mockingjay “failing” to make it over $130million? Did you see the film? If so what did you think? Please let me know in the comments.

Jay

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Top 7 lists

The Top 7 Scenes from the Hunger Games Franchise Before Mockingjay.

Welcome to another trusty top 7 list from Jay at 7 second reviews. Why 7 you ask? Well 10 is too long, and 5 is too short. Plus, it’s a theme! 7 second reviews. Top 7 lists. Get it?
In honor of the release of the next film in the Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay Part I, I’d like to present:

The top 7 scenes from the Hunger Games franchise to this point.

Beware, there are spoilers ahead for the first two installments in the Hunger Games Franchise. Spoilers as far as the eye I can see. There are however, no spoilers for Mockingjay, the book or film.

7. Peeta “dies” and Finnick revives him.

This is one of several scenes that showcase Sam Claflin’s pitch perfect novel-to-screen portrayal of Finnick, and one of dozens of scenes that display how excellently cast Jennifer Lawrence is as Katniss. Additionally, this is a key scene for the overall trilogy as this is the moment that Snow and Finnick both realize (whether Katniss truly does or not,) that her feelings for Peeta is not all an act. She does care for, and in some way, love Peeta. This realization, by Snow especially, becomes paramount as we enter the next installment in the series.

6. Katniss volunteers at the Reaping.

This is perhaps the most well-known scene of the series. Prior to the reaping, it’s made abundantly clear that the chances of Prim being chosen are slim. Sometimes though, slim is enough. Plus, two of the most prominent qualities of Katniss Everdeen are established here; she is brave, and she loves her sister.

5. Katniss destroys the arena with one well-timed, well-aimed shot.

The end of Hunger Games: Catching Fire played out exactly as it did in the book. As the viewer, you are just as dazed and confused as Katniss. Who is my ally? Who is my enemy? This scene raises the mystery quotient while pushing the special effects budget through the roof. (See what I did there?) Katniss being lifted out of the arena in a mockingjay pose with the swelling musical score is done so very well.

4. Katniss lays Rue to rest & District 11 revolts.

Katniss’s “burial” of Rue is incredibly beautiful, especially when combined with the stunning score provided by James Newton Howard. Gary Ross’s decision to show Katniss’s screams of anger and sadness without sound is also a smart touch. The second part of this scene I did not appreciate on first viewing. For those who have read the book, you know that this part does not exist. However, the way the book is written, from Katniss’s first person point of view, this scene couldn’t have appeared. In the context of the film series, though, it works. Katniss’s treatment of the dead body of this young girl is not how the “Games” normally play out. This, along with the three finger “rebel salute” is the first true sign of revolution from Katniss, although that is a second thought to paying respect to a girl, as young and innocent as her sister, who became her ally and friend. It needed to be shown that Katniss’s tiny bit of rebellion is noticed by Rue’s district. This, combined with the anger and grief of what I’d assume is Rue’s father, leads to the unrest in the district boiling over as the scene closes.

3. This girl is on fi-errrrrrr (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

Cinna is lauded for the gorgeous dress he designed for Katniss. Unfortunately, this bit of rebellion would lead to the unfortunate beginning of the next scene on this list. Katniss “becoming the mockingjay” is only part of what makes this scene great. It is what comes after, where the tributes, all former victors, show solidarity by raising their arms together. It is absurd that they have to enter the arena once more, and everyone knows it.

2. The 75th annual Hunger Games begin.

This scene’s claim to fame is that in theaters, as Katniss’s tube rises into the arena, the screen expanded to full IMAX. Does it still work on a smaller screen? Most definitely. This is perhaps the most exciting, heart-pounding action sequence in the first two films. Katniss has reached a breaking point when one of her most staunch supporters, and friends, is beaten near-death in front of her as she is about to be launched into the hell of another games . She must take all her built-up fear, anger, and sadness, and channel it into focus and power in the arena. This is perfectly conveyed by Jennifer Lawrence here.

1. Katniss gives a speech to District 11 on the “victory” tour.

I consider this to be the most powerful scene in the first two films. From Jennifer Lawrence’s delivery of a beautiful “off-the-cuff” speech that is lifted almost directly from Suzanne Collins’s novel, to the reprise of “Rue’s Farewell” score from the first film, to Francis Lawrence’s wonderful direction, this scene is truly great. The conclusion, where an old man dies for standing up for his beliefs is as depressing and captivating as any you’ll see in a modern blockbuster.

I hope you enjoyed the list, and if you haven’t seen these films, I recommend checking them out. If you have a different favorites list, please let me know in the comments.
Enjoy Mockingjay Part I and thanks for reading!

Jay

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Box Office

Guardians of the Galaxy Putting Up Numbers

Guardians of the Galaxy moved to $300million domestic and $600million worldwide today. The Marvel scifi/comedy recently became the (domestically) highest grossing film of the year, a title I don’t think even the film’s most avid supporters ever expected prior to its release. It’s likely the film will relinquish this title to either Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I (likely) or Interstellar (less likely), but still it’s quite an incredible accomplishment to be leading the yearly box office in September.

It’s especially remarkable when you consider

(A) the film is about a group of misfit heroes that most people have never heard of, one being a talking raccoon

and

(B) there were two  comic book films  X-men: Days of Future Past & Captain America: Winter Soldier that not only are sequels in a huge franchise but also were critically acclaimed (and rightfully so as far as I’m concerned).

I for one am glad that Guardians has done so well. It was truly an extremely well-made film and easily one of the funniest of the year. Congrats to James Gunn. As of today it is in my top 10 of 2014, and I don’t expect that to change.

Jay

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Uncategorized

Is Nightwing Getting a TV series?

I guess I have more pull than I thought. One day after I included Dick Grayson AKA “Nightwing” on my list of the “Top 7 Comic Book Heroes That Need Their Own Movie” he is apparently getting a TV series. According to Variety, TNT is ordering a pilot titled “Titans” about the Teen Titans led by Nightwing himself. While it is not a movie and The Teen Titans is not exactly my favorite comic team, this is exciting news! Hopefully the show is picked up and if it reaches its potential it could be something special! You’re welcome guys.

Jay

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Top 7 lists

The Top 7 Comic Book Heroes That Need Their Own Movie

A Top 7 list brought to you by Jay at 7 second reviews

Why 7 you ask? Well 10 is too long, and 5 is too short. Plus, it’s a theme! 7 second reviews. Top 7 lists. Get it?
Ten years ago this list would be much more difficult to whittle down to just 7 names. All the way back in 2004 the following had yet to make it to the Silver Screen: Iron Man, Thor, Ghost Rider, The Fantastic Four, and Green Lantern among others. For better or worse, all of these characters (and teams) have had their own films. There are still plenty of interesting and cool heroes that have either never been in a movie or haven’t had their true due with a film that focuses squarely on them. Here are the top 7 that hopefully will have their own feature film in the near future.
Honorable Mention-
Black Panther, Dr. Strange , Martian Manhunter, The Question, and Venom

7. Black Widow-

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson has done an excellent job evolving Black Widow through her three appearances in the MCU. While the character was written to be fairly one-dimensional in Iron Man 2, she truly got a chance to shine in Avengers, and especially in the spectacular Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The MCU should have a solo film for a female hero, and it’s actually pretty surprising that it has yet to be seriously developed. Black Widow clearly has an interesting backstory that has been hinted at throughout her appearances. A film devoted to her (perhaps with a part for Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton) could be great and I hope it happens.
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years- 45%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 80%

6. Deadpool-

deadpool

This one has been in and out of development hell for over a decade. Could a Deadpool solo film be amazing? Most definitely. Could it be awful? Unfortunately it certainly could. It would need to be rated R, and to be written and directed by someone(s) who is both a quality story-teller, a quality joke-teller, and a fan of the comic book. It would also need to have no relation whatsoever to the “Deadpool” in X-Men Origins: Wolverine which probably takes Ryan Reynolds, (who could have shined in the role,) out of the running.
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years- 15%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 40%

5. Nightwing-

nightwing

This one is tough. I am a huge Richard Grayson fan. It is however very understandable that Nightwing has never had his own film. In order to have that, it is almost a necessity to introduce the character as Robin in a Batman-starring movie. Then, that character and that movie would both need to be received well. The closest he’s come to this happening was with the dreadful “Batman and Robin”. The name “Nightwing” is even mentioned in it. Fast forward to today, where Nolan’s films were never going to include Robin, let alone Nightwing, (though spoiler alert… they sort of did,) so a Nightwing movie would definitely not emerge from that series, (though spoiler alert 2… it could have with DKR’s ending). Now, the character is in constant rumors to appear in some capacity in Batman VS Superman. This could eventually lead to his own feature, but who knows?
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years- 10%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 45%

4. Green arrow –

green arrow

Arrow is a very good comic book show. While Smallville’s success and the glut of successful superhero films in the last decade are the main thrust for Arrow to be greenlit, I believe Arrow itself has been more of a launching pad for comic book TV. Since Arrow premiered, (and quickly became a hit,) several comic TV series have been greenlit. Perhaps Agents of Shield, Gotham, Constantine, and a non-spinoff Flash still come out without Arrow’s success, but I doubt it. Having said all of that, Green Arrow is an excellent character and would be a great candidate for a solo movie. There was a film in development at one point called “Supermax” that would focus on Green Arrow needing to defeat a rogues’ gallery in order to break out of prison. Now that sounded cool. Does that fit into the current DC film Universe plans? I highly doubt it. Hopefully Green Arrow makes it into one of these DC team-up movies in the near future whether it’s Stephen Amell or a different actor playing a different iteration of the character. This could eventually lead to his own film.
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years – 15%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 50%

3. Gambit-

Gambit

The Ragin’ Cajun himself. Growing up in the 90s, most of my friends were fans of the X-Men Animated Series. I’m sure that it will come as a surprise to many, especially kids of this generation, that Wolverine was not the most popular character among the majority of the TV show’s fans. It was instead Gambit AKA Remy Lebeau. Yes, Wolverine was the most popular when the comics are taken into consideration, but even then, Gambit was at worst top 5. You don’t get your own book if you’re not ultra-popular. A Gambit cameo was a late cut from 2003’s excellent X2: X-Men United. He eventually made it to the big screen portrayed by Friday Night Light’s Taylor Kitsch as one of the highlights in an overall average comic-book effort X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A film starring Channing Tatum is rumored to be in development now, with Channing potentially appearing as Gambit in 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse. While I am not entirely sold on the idea of Tatum as Gambit, he’s shown he has charisma and is an underrated actor. If the writing is good and the director is good, it could certainly work.
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years- 55%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 85%

2. Flash –

Flash

How has the Flash never had a movie? This is crazy. Years ago, there was a solo film in development with David Goyer as writer/director and Ryan Reynolds as the rumored Flash. While that combination would never happen now as Goyer has since directed a widely panned comic book film, Blade: Trinity, and Reynolds has starred in a widely panned comic book film, Green Lantern, I think it would have worked beautifully. If Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice is a success, my guess is Flash will have a cameo in Justice League (in 2017?), and then he’ll have his own movie at some point in the next decade. At least there’s a promising new TV series about the scarlet speedster.
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years- 25%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 70%

1. Wonder Woman-

Wonder woman

How could number 1 be anyone else? The fact that Wonder Woman has never had her own feature film is a travesty. (Well, a pop culture travesty, let’s keep things in perspective, but still a TRAVESTY!) She has never even had a cameo in a film. DC screwed this up. Wonder Woman is one of the most well-known, most popular superheroes ever. She should have had her own film many years ago. It came very close a few years ago. Back in 2007, (a Post-Buffy, Pre-Avengers) Joss Whedon wrote a script for WW that he would direct. Warner Brothers and Joss did not see eye to eye and he left the project. Seven years later, and Diana has never made it to the big screen. That is set to change with her impending appearance in Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. Hopefully she is portrayed properly as the strong, awesome Amazon that she is. If all goes well, she has a great shot at her own movie in the not-too-distant future.
Chance of solo film in the next 5 years- 50%
Chance of solo film in the next 10 years- 90%

What do you think? Is your favorite character missing from the list? Is the list too DC-heavy? If you did have an addition who would he/she replace? Please let me know in the comments.
Jay

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