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Film Intelligence: OBAMA'S AMERICA and NINJA TURTLES

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. 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: a big indie hit, a small indie studio fire and a hugely misguided remake.

1. Hail to the Box Office Chief

Amidst a very slow late summer box office, an independent documentary entitled 2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA earned an impressive $6.5 million domestically last week, better than mainstream studio releases like PREMIUM RUSH and THE APPARITION. Directed by a former Ronald Reagan policy adviser, the film provides an interesting example of counter-programming and targeted marketing. To drum up business for the conservative doc, producers teamed with right-wing talk radio in red states, completely bypassing the typical platform release schedule that begins with New York and Los Angeles premieres and then spreads to the country’s interior. You might disagree with the film’s politics — and I might hope that you do — but there’s no disputing its business plan. This sort of grassroots, word-of-mouth success is something for other documentarians to keep in mind in the future — no matter who’s the president in 2016. [Entertainment Weekly]

2. Madea’s Weirdly Flammable Movie Studio

Pretty much everything I know about fire prevention I learned from Smokey Bear, who told me that only I could prevent forest fires (an admonishment I took to mean, “Stay inside and play video games” — you got it, Smokey ol’ pal!). But I do know this: When you’re repairing something that’s been damaged in a fire, maybe it’s not the best idea to be haphazardly lighting cigarettes while you do it. Earlier this week, while construction crews repaired damage to indie mogul Tyler Perry‘s movie and television studio complex caused by a massive blaze in May, another fire broke out. Another one! Two fires in four months! Though investigators say the cause of the initial blaze is impossible to determine, they’ve discovered that this recent incident was the result of “careless smoking” on the building’s roof. Someone get those construction workers a Smokey the Bear video. [Deadline]

3. Dead by Dawn

Ever since the last EVIL DEAD movie, ARMY OF DARKNESS, came to DVD with an alternate cliffhanger ending, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell fans have been pining for a new installment in the cult horror-comedy series. Raimi and Campbell have obliged with comic books and video games — but no movies. There’s a remake in the works, sans Campbell’s Ash, but no sequel, at least not an authorized one, so the folks at a studio called Award Pictures attempted to go around Raimi with a sequel of its own entitled EVIL DEAD 4: CONSEQUENCES, but they were consequently sued by Raimi, Campbell and producer Rob Tapert for infringing on their trademark. Award Pictures claimed the lack of a sequel was proof that the DEAD trademark had been “abandoned,” but a judge — wait for it — awarded a victory this week to Raimi and his team. Consequences, indeed. The authorized, Raimi-produced EVIL DEAD remake recently wrapped production, so look for it in theaters in the near future. [The Hollywood Reporter]

4. Hardcore Lars von Trier

Do you like hardcore sex movies? Do you like the cinema of Lars von Trier? If you answered yes to either or both of those questions, good news! This week, von Trier started shooting NYMPHOMANIAC, “a monumental film about the female erotic desire,” according to a press release about the first day of production. The film will star Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Connie Nielsen and numerous body doubles who will play the roles of the various stars’ naughty bits as they come into contact with one another. Gainsbourg stars as Joe in what an official synopsis describes — in terms that either intentionally or unintentionally eerily reflect the fake soft-core porn from Seinfeld ROCHELLE ROCHELLE — as “the wild and poetic story of a woman’s erotic journey from birth to the age of 50.” It’s going to be a long journey from Milan to Minsk, Lars, but I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say I can’t wait to see how nutty it gets. [/Film]

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ugh

As part of Hollywood’s quest to simultaneously celebrate and destroy everything you liked as a child, Michael Bay had recently begun developing a remake of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES which would have ditched the teenage and mutant parts, and most of the ninja and turtles too, apparently — the script for the movie leaked online this week, and by all accounts the Turtles were intended to take a backseat to their human sidekick Casey Jones, described as “some punk who gets caught up in an interdimensional war” while the Turtles were going to be “aliens, but they’re from Dimension X and the prophecy tells that they are the Chosen Ones destined to save both worlds and bring an end to a war.” The production was recently delayed, perhaps indefinitely. But then who will save us from the alien invasion from Dimension X?!? This news story was brought you by Independent Film. Independent Film: because otherwise, all movies would sound like this. [Comic Book Movie]

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Pictures