DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg has said that “everyone” will see the Spider-Man, Shrek and Pirates three-quels, “but the key will be which one gets the most multiple viewings,” writes Slate‘s Kim Masters. “His argument, not surprisingly, is that Shrek will prevail because it’s only 81 minutes long. The math, at least, is on his side: Pirates is a butt-numbing 170 minutes [and] Spider-Man is 140 minutes.
“A distribution executive at a studio that has nothing to do with any of the films just mentioned predicts that Spider-Man 3 will open huge, at about $120 million,” Masters continues. “The film is an event with a following, and there is nothing in theaters right now that anyone wants to see, according to this executive. But the question is the strength of the movie’s eight legs.
“Shrek and Pirates have broad, broad appeal,” this executive says. “With Spider-Man, the word is out that it’s dark.” Taking into account the movie’s cost, our veteran believes that could mean trouble.”
So we’ve got the numbers game set up now. Anything less than $100 million in earnings this weekend means Spider-Man 3 is a short-faller and $120 million will be regarded as somewhere between pretty good and par for the course. Is that fair, or should box-office handicappers be jumping up and down if this happens? If the columnists and critics keep pissing on it and the “dark” word-of-mouth continues unabated, we could be looking at a very signficant (45% to 50%) second-weekend drop.
Sam Raimi has told Fox 411‘s Roger Friedman that there will be a Spider-Man 4. As Ned Beatty‘s character says in the second act in Deliverance, “My God…there’s no end to it.” Raimi told Friedman that “it’s all about getting a script.” Beware of any franchise in which a supporting player confides to a columnist at a premiere party, “It turns out I may not be completely dead.” Ugh!
Mel Gibson has gotten too old (51) and too weathered-looking to play a sexy smoothie in a Maverick sequel, as he’s indicated he’d like to do. He’s gotten chunky-framed and his hair has been thinning like crazy. Plus he’s regarded as too much of a nutter to play light and frothy — he can’t go home again after the drunken Malibu rant. Gibson was always great at playing eccentric nutjobs along the lines of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon — that was always his home turf because he’s always been in touch with that side of himself, and he probably has no choice but to stick with that now. I remember describing Richard Donner‘s original Maverick (1994) as “a $75 million dollar Elvis Presley film.”
I’ve been thinking so much about the musical nature of John Carney‘s Once (Fox Searchlight, 5.18) since seeing it at the Sundance Film Festival last January that it didn’t hit me until this morning that it’s a 21st Century Brief Encounter. No exaggeration or reaching — it really is that at its emotional core.
The essence of David Lean‘s 1946 classic is the notion of love found and love lost — a love between two people (Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson) that’s clearly in their eyes and hearts but not quite in the cards, largely due to an inability or unwillingness to break free from another lingering relationship (i.e., Johnson’s marriage). The relationship between Once‘s Glen Hansard and Marketa Itrglova is similarly charged and similarly constrained. And — I love this — both films run exactly 85 minutes.
I did a phone interview with Carney, Hansard and Irglova this morning. They were in Boston last night, they’re doing press chats today in Manhattan, and they’re about to embark on a cross-country promotional tour that will take them to I’ve-forgotten- how-many-cities, but the trip will span about 18 days, give or take. They’ll hit Los Angeles on 5.15 or 5.16.
The interesting thing is that due to Carney’s fear of flying they’ll be driving the whole way in a van (i.e., paid for by Fox Searchlight) that will have a Once banner on the side. At each screening they’ll be doing a q & a and performing a couple of songs “and maybe going out for a drink with whomever wants to come,” says Carney. I asked John to please send me a photo of the vehicle once they’re on the road, and he said sure.
An electrifying, must-watch trailer for Asgar Leth‘s Ghosts of Cite Soleil (ThinkFilm, 6.27). Superb in all respects — ThinkFilm should adopt this as the U.S. trailer. Here’s my original review that ran in March ’06.
After that first screening, I wrote that “I now see Haiti as less of a Ground Zero for abstract political terror and more of a place where people on the bottom rung are trying to live and breathe and create their own kind of life-force energy as a way of waving away the constant hoverings of doom. In short, this excellent 88-minute film adds recognizable humanity to a culture that has seemed more lacking in hope and human decency than any other on earth.”