Team Elsewhere has finally gotten a “comments” thing installed, so from here on in it’s no-holds-barred and everyone gets heard in terms of any comments/arguments/exceptions and fuckyou-isms you may want to post following each and every posting I put up. We are truly in a new Hollywood Elsewhere era as of this evening, and I have only the great Jon Rahoi to thank for installing this and making it work. He’s one of the best creative human beings I’ve ever known in my life.
From the computer of Harry Knowles on the post- Superman Returns negative-review-of-a-script-but-not-a-movie shakedown: “Nobody from the studio contacted me in regards to damage control. When the negative alleged film review came out, I decided to contact the filmmakers to see if it was a real review, and it wasn’t. Many of the scenes this person claimed to be watching were in fact never filmed and cut out of the script months before shooting. I also felt it wasn’t an honest criticism because I had had the discussion with a film professional from a non-WB tied company that is not profiting from this film that had seen it…who was blown away. His giddy excitement in regards to the film was such that I really doubted the veracity of the criticisms that were showing up online. I did this because I wanted to at least attempt to get the truth out there. As you’ve said, Jeff — the ‘anti-Superman‘ crowd is awfully vocal. I’m not really sure why they’re so negative.” And by the way, “I don’t have a ‘great’ relationship with Bryan – I had to go through Warner Publicity to set up the 1 hour interview with him that I did for Penthouse. I do have a line of communication with the writers on the project — that’s how I know what draft got leaked and what scenes were not filmed.”
Quite obviously, N.Y. Times reporter Sharon Waxman bonded — related to, got down with, felt a certain emotional comfort with — with Little Miss Sunshine costar Toni Collette, who may have gotten over being ignored by the Academy for a Best Actress nomination for In Her Shoes but I sure as shit haven’t. The most significant part of Waxman’s piece, for me, is her reference to Collette having e-mailed a follow-up response to a question. Remember the days in which interviews were conducted solely in person, over a period of two or three meetings and sometimes even over drinks?
I can’t say who saw Superman Returns recently, but somebody I know did, and he says that the first pedal-to-the-metal action sequence (involving an attack on a sports stadium) doesn’t happen for a good 45 minutes or so into the film, and when it finally happened he said to himself, “Jeez…took you guys long enough.”
In other words, director-writer Bryan Singer waits too long and does too much “set-up, set-up, set-up”…in this guy’s opinion. The analogy, obviously, is with King Kong, which waited a very long 70 minutes to kick into gear. (To be absolutely candid, my friend first said that the first action sequence happens an hour into it…and then he said, well, maybe you’d better say 45 to 50 minutes.) The other issue, as it were, is that he says Brandon Routh‘s Superman briefs and cape are not red-wine colored but are more of a traditional red. Maybe my good informer is color-blind, but all along I’ve been seeing stills that tell me that Routh’s outfit isn’t “red” the way Chris Reeve’s suit was red, but the color of Merlot or Pinot Noir.
Hold on…I may have jumped the gun in projecting that Mission: Impossible III‘s weekend tally will top $50 million. I’m being reminded that sequels (almost) always have their peak day on Friday, and that the more likely weekend figure will therefore be around $46 million. The most telling comparison is with John Woo‘s Mission: Impossible II, which opened six years ago to $70,816,215 over a long Memorial Day weekend, and $57 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period. And that’s without factoring in a 15% inflation in movie-ticket prices since then. So the comparison is not even $57 vs. $46 million , which in itself represents a drop of $11 million. By the numerical standard of 2000 ticket prices and going by an assumption that M:I:3 will make $46 million this weekend, the adjusted weekend gross (compared to the first-weekend gross of the John Woo sequel) is $40,000,000. So it’s really $57 million vs. $40,000,000, which is roughly a 17% drop. Even if M:I:3 makes $50 million this weekend in 2006 dollars, you’re still looking at a fairly significant plunge. And the irony is that J.J. Abrams’ film is the best of the three.
How disappointing is the $51 or $52 or $53 million that Mission: Impossible III is likely to earn on this, its opening weekend? I’m not sure that “disappointment” is the right pocket-drop word since the expectation from the get-go was that the Cruise negatives might keep it from soaring into the stratosphere, but that it would probably do respectable blockbuster business. Yesterday M:I:3 did $17 million on 4054 screens (although I’ve read there are something like 8000 prints out there). $51 or $52 million is about what Van Helsing, a repellent piece of shit, did on its opening weekend in ’04. (If M:I:3 follows the VH pattern, it will finish with about $300 million worldwide .) On the other hand, Ice Age: The Meltdown did $68,033,544 when it opened just a few weekends ago, or roughly $17 million higher. Remember, also, that X2: X-Men United did $85,558,731 when it opened in early May 2003. I would therefore call M:I:3‘s opening weekend moderately disappointing . Cruise has definitely lost some of his box-office potency but, to repeat, this was evident a long time ago.
Referring to Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim ‘s An Inconvenient Truth , MCN’s David Poland has snidely dismissed Paramount Classics’ “breathlessly ambitious hopes” for this global-warming doc “that no one really wants to see.” Apart from the fact that Truth is extremely well-made and in no way boring or uninvolving, you’d think that even Poland might be swayed by the fact that however interested or uninterested people might be in wanting to see this film, it represents the best chance of rallying people everywere to wake up and grasp that we’re all standing on the precipice of…I’m sorry if this sounds a bit too alarmist or typically liberal…worldwide disaster due to global warming. I believe that the survival of the planet depends upon the total eradication of the disgustingly smug attitude that “the science on global warming isn’t in yet.” One of the support structures of this mentality is that people are bored by Chicken Little global warming fears, that they’ve heard it all before, that they don’t want to be lectured to, that they’d rather just see X-Men: The Last Stand and have a drink and kick back, etc. Poland is a smart guy, but waving this film off as something people don’t want to see is one of the most repulsively smug things he’s ever said. It represents a kind of laissez-faire attitude that lies at the core of the insulated, overfed, leave-us-alone indifference of the affluent U.S. middle-class — a group that has become so inebriated by lifestyle creature comforts that many of them (especially the Humpty-Dumpties in the red states) are unable to read, much less consider, the writing on the wall.
Here is a sprawling, heartfelt, quite beautiful speech that was given by Tilda Swinton in front of a full house at the Kabuki Theatre on 4.29.06, during the just-wrapped San Francisco International Film Festival. My favorite passage: “Filmmaking has always been an act of faith. Not only in the sense in which one needs a certain amount of conviction to get the films made in the first place…
“But also in the more amorphous sense in which one takes one’s faith to the cinema as to the confessional: the last resort of the determined inarticulate, the unmediated, the intravenous experience of something existential, transmuted through the dark, through the flickering of the constant image through the projector onto the screen. The sharing of private fantasy, the very issue of the unconscious made in light. Faith way beyond politics, way beyond religion, way beyond time.” But read the whole thing. Swinton is an exciting writer. As HE’s Nicaraguan correspondent Juan Carlos Ampie observes, “The [letter to a child] conceit feels a tad too precious at first, but as it progresses, it gets…awesome. Towards the end I got chills…and teary-eyed. Yes, I’m a damaged human being.”
Rico Kassman wrote from Berlin response to my question about whether there are actual electricity-generating windmill fields outside of Berlin with the possibility of sheep grazing nearby, as is depicted in Mission: Impossible III . “M:I:3 was not shot in Berlin but there are fields of windmill generators outside the city,” he said, “and I do not exclude the possibility that there could be sheep grazing around them. However, sheep are not very typical over here. You would more likely see cows.”
C.K., a friend of Jean-Francois Allaire (a.k.a. “Deadpool”), wrote last night and said, in part, “I’m not convinced that AICN review of Superman Returns you linked to is legit. Moriarty reviewed the script and panned it, that was then mysteriously pulled and this ‘review’ was put up the next day. It all smells like Knowles is trying damage control so as not to fracture whatever relationship he has with WB/Singer.” I don’t assume C.K. is correct in his assumption, but his words indicate that the anti-Superman Returns contingent is looking to smell and identify a rat on this one, no matter what the facts are. “I read the script and it left me cold,” C.K. said in the same letter. “I’ve been a Superman fan since I was a kid, so I was amped for this movie…but not so much anymore. In fact, I think it’ll be a huge disappointment. As a movie script, it was underwhelming, and as a Superman story — and there have been some cool ones over the years spread across many mediums, including a couple of corkers by Alan Moore — this doesn’t hit the mark. If you’re going into this movie hoping to see something new, you’ll be disappointed. It’s Richard Donner’s Superman rehashed. The structure, pacing and general plot is identical to the Reeve film. They even lift, word for word, tons of dialogue from that film. Mario Puzo’s estate (and any other writer who worked on the first) should take the Superman Returns script to guild arbitration. It feels like Burton’s Batman — all flash and hype, but underneath it’s pretty empty. And the way it ends just doesn’t seem to work. This movie will polarize audience, critics and geeks. And hardcore fanboys — the type who still whine about Michael Keaton — will probably hate it.”