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Film intelligence: Gluttons for punishment

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: THE HUNGER GAMES devours the competition, Charlie Kaufman continues being Charlie Kaufman, and we enter a glass case of emotion over the announcement of a big sequel.

1. Reaping What They Sow at the Box Office

If you build it, and then you market the hell out of it, and you convince teen girls that their lives will not be complete until they see it, they will come. And man, did the audiences ever come out in support of THE HUNGER GAMES, which earned a staggering $152.2 million dollars domestically over the weekend. That makes it the third largest opening weekend for a film in history behind HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 and THE DARK KNIGHT, and the largest opening weekend for a non-sequel ever. In five days of release — less than a week! — THE HUNGER GAMES has already grossed over $232 million worldwide (JOHN CARTER, by contrast, has taken nineteen days to get to about that amount). When all is said and done, it will be one of the most successful movies of the year. So prepare for Hollywood to shove sequels and ripoffs down your throat until you’re so full of melodramatic sci-fi romances that you want to puke. [Box Office Mojo]

2. Ready-Made For An Adaptation

Charlie Kaufman, the brilliant screenwriter of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION and more — not to mention the bold director of SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK — will soon add a new title to his resume: novelist. Deadline reports that Kaufman just closed a deal with Grand Central Publishing for his first novel. No details as to the subject or a title, or even a release date at this point, but given the fact that Kaufman has yet to produce an uninteresting screenplay, how can you not be excited to see what he does with his own book? His next Hollywood project, by the way, is still scheduled to be FRANK OR FRANCIS, about the feud between a Hollywood director and a movie blogger. I haven’t seen the film yet, obviously, but I already filed my review: it’s just the word “Malkovich” repeated over and over 650 times. [Deadline]

3. “Avengers Assemble (Somewhere in Lower Manhattan)!

With the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival just three weeks away, we now know this year’s closing night film: THE AVENGERS, which will make its New York Premiere as part of the festival on Saturday, April 28th, days ahead of its worldwide debut. In a statement, writer/director Joss Whedon joked that “showing at Tribeca is both an honor and a double homecoming for me, who grew up in Manhattan, and for the movie, which wrapped production there.  I’m thoroughly psyched to be closing the festival with our intimate little think-piece.” True, THE AVENGERS is not exactly the most independent of films — with at least two different major studios involved, it’s more an undependent than an independent. But c’mon: it’s set in New York City. It wrapped production in New York City. And the characters themselves — Iron Man, Captain America Thor — they’re all independent dudes. Okay, fine, yes, it’s a stretch worthy of Mr. Fantastic. Who cares? We just want to see it. [Tribeca Film]

4. The Weinstein’s Ongoing BULLY Project

And now, the last ever item in Film Intelligence about the controversy surrounding the MPAA’s R rating for The Weinstein Company’s documentary BULLY (until next week, when something else happens, and we cover that). After weeks of wrangling and controversy, the film finally opens, unrated, in theaters around the country this Friday — but only in theaters willing or even legally permitted to screen an unrated movie (some theaters aren’t allowed to play unrated films as condition of their leases). So far the reviews have been good — 95% positive on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday at midnight — but not unanimous; at Gawker, Tim Grierson wrote a really interesting piece that called the kerfuffle over BULLY’s rating a shameless attempt to lend credibility and importance to a documentary that is, in Grierson’s words, “not a particularly great film.” If Grierson is found severely injured tomorrow morning in a drive-by wet willie-ing, we’ll know who’s the prime suspect. [Deadspin]


5. “Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I’ve just been handed an urgent news story… CANNONBALL!”

And finally this week, exciting news for fans of Will Ferrell and polyester clothing: Ferrell Ron Burgundy announced he will be returning to the silver screen in the upcoming ANCHORMAN 2 (subtitle yet to be determined, but I like ANCHORMAN 2 TICKETS TO THE GUN SHOW). A possible ANCHORMAN sequel has been discussed for years; at one point, Ferrell was even considering an ANCHORMAN Broadway show, but was all that was repeatedly nixed by Paramount Pictures executives over budgetary concerns. Well, at last the man at Paramount punted the budgetary concerns (and Baxter), and gave the green light to the most anticipated (by me) comedy sequel of all time. Ferrell will be joined by returning co-stars (and legendary Channel 4 News Team) Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner, along with ANCHORMAN co-writer and director Adam McKay. If the lukewarm response to Ferrell’s Spanish comedy CASA DE MI PADRE in any way facilitated this sequel by making him more desperate for a hit, I just discovered a newfound respect and love for CASA DE MI PADRE. [Moviefone]