“I attended the Friday 4:35 pm screening of Sweeney Todd at The Grove. A full house at the beginning, though numerous walk outs [happened] during first two songs. The film was not sold as a musical and I believe these people were Pirates fans who were caught off guard.” — HE reader Jerry Beck, 12.22.07, 9:43 ayem. Surprised male moviegoer: “What a rook! They screwed us! Let’s ask for our money back!” Wife of surprised male moviegoer: “You won’t get anything back. Let’s just sneak into another film.”
Leaving aside the Bagger’s japey suggestions about how to have an Oscar Awards show without writers or talent in the seats, I was taken by the declaration at the start that the Oscars “are TBTF — Too Big Too Fail. Strike-ridden, snakebit, say what you will, but some kind of the show will go on. Too much money and ego are riding on it for a workaround not to emerge.” The fact that the DGA will cut a deal with the AMPTP a lot sooner than later (i.e., early next month?) will probably affect the WGA talks. Unlike the WGA and SAG, a healthy portion of the DGA members work on a regular basis. But if the strike continues and messes with the Globes and the Oscars, it’s going to be strange in a lot of ways.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets will be #1 this weekend with about $54 million and $14,000 a print. (I may actually pay to see this today.) I Am Legend is down 52% from last weekend but still at #2 — $36.9 million for the weekend. Alvin & Chipmunks will be third with $31.7 million, down 26%. Sweeney Todd will take in $12 million and $9600 a print for a fourth-place showing.
The fifth-place performer, Charlie Wilson’s War, is appealing strictly to a 30-and-over crowd that doesn’t tend to go to movies in any real strength until Xmas Day, so it might uptick next weekend. The Mike NIchols film will earn $9.3 million and $3500 a print.
HIlary Swank‘s P.S. I Love You..$7.4 million, $3000 a print. Enchanted..$4.5 million. Walk Hard…$4,450,000…$1600 a print. The Golden Compass…$4.3 million. Juno is tenth with $3.7 million, $12,000 a print in 384 theatres.
Walk Hard has become the first Judd Apatow-produced comedy since the Apatow hot streak started three years ago to fall on its face. It’s expected to make a lousy $4,450,000 for the weekend at $1600 a print….finished, kaput, off to the showers. It’s funny, clever, sharp, absurdist..what happened? My theory in a nutshell: (a) people figured that a spoof of Walk The Line and Ray wasn’t vital enough to see in theatres, and (b) John C. Reilly isn’t a star, doesn’t put butts in seats.
HE reader Jamie Rosengard, writing from a secret location that may or may not be within the continental United States of America, reported this morning that he “had the pleasure of seeing Sweeney Todd [last] night at a 10 pm showing. I was initially pleased to see there was a full house. However, it quickly became apparent that few people in the audience had any idea what they were getting themselves into. When the movie finally started and the first song began there was an audible gasp — almost no one realized that the film is a musical.”
“Audible gasp”? How completely shut-off-from-the-hullaballoo do you have to be to not have the first clue that Sweeney Todd is a musical? To be a complete human embodiment of a grazing steer and know absolutely nothing about a film except what the ads and trailers convey? To be walking around and not have the slightest idea who Stephen Sondheim is? People have their own lives and concerns to look after, obviously, and the tens of millions who’ve never been to a B’way show can’t be expected to know much about this or that stage musical, but even people who are totally lacking a sports gene (like myself) at least know who the New York Rangers are and that they all carry hockey sticks…c’mon.
“Based on the reactions I heard on the way out, nearly everyone enjoyed Sweeney Todd,” Rosengard goes on, “particularly Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter‘s acting (if not the latter’s singing). But I am curious about how Warner’s marketing strategy has influenced the people interested in buying a ticket for the movie.”
Variety‘s Bill Higgins, the veteran party-coverage guy, reported in yesterday’s print edition that the WGA strike impasse has pushed Golden Globe after-party planners to the edge of the abyss. With the WGA intending to picket the GG awards and talent (i.e., prospective award-winners) reluctant to cross picket lines, party maestros are grappling with a growing possibility that the whole damn shebang could very well implode.
“Planners are studiously trying to avoid upsetting the HFPA by prematurely canceling their after-party,” Higgins writes. “‘We’re trying to determine the point of no return,’ one exec says. ‘Nobody wants to be the first person to drop out.'”
As Higgins points out, by late December invitations “are [usually] printed and the venues are booked for the Golden Globes after-parties, the cost of which range from $300,000 to $700,000.
“But this year the event planners who put on Golden Globe parties need answers. Are the Globes on or off? If there’s a picket line, will the stars cross it? And how does all this affect the $40,000 in matching chair covers and table linens needed for the event?
“For party planners, the key question is whether the nominees are going to attend. If the thesps won’t cross the picket line, then what’s the use? ‘It’s all going to come down to: Can the Globes come up with a feasible plan that the talent is comfortable with and don’t have to cross a picket line?’ a planner comments. ‘And I don’t know what that is.'”
It’s not that unusual for Hollywood hotshots, especially Italians with New York-area backgrounds, to have at least a passing acquaintance with mob culture and, in line with that, an occasional no-big-deal acquaintance with maybe a guy who knows a guy who’s into something. Didn’t Mickey Rourke have some kind of friendly thing going with John Gotti? George Raft was friendly with Bugsy Siegel when young, so their friendship naturally continued when Siegel came out to Hollywood in the early ’40s. Michael Imperioli‘s Christopher Moltisanti character got into the movie business and made Cleaver. In general terms there’s always been a kind of affinity between Hollywood hotshots and wise guys. It’s not advisable to be too friendly with operators of this sort but an occasional friendly phone call….whah?
I’m giving HE’s 2007 Worst Movie of the Year award to Steve Carr‘s Are We Done Yet? The aspect that made it seem more reprehensible than Norbit, Good Luck Chuck, Evan Almighty, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium or Daddy Day Camp was, for me, the fear-of-animals humor. The idea that a chipmunk or a squirrel would attack humans like a Jurassic raptor is something that only corpulent shopping-mall zombies would laugh at. Only a person who lives in a realm totally apart from nature (and therefore living in fear of it) would laugh at these asinine gags.
There’s no way around calling Michael Bay‘s Transformers my second most despised ’07 film. The worst single moment of my moviegoing existence this year came when Optimus Prime said “E-Bay” to Shia LeBouf.
I still feel that the ending of 3:10 to Yuma was the most disappointing of the year because I felt so let down by the nuttiness of it, especially after being so satisfied with the second act.
I didn’t feel Rendition was bad enough to rank as one of the very worst. I respected certain aspects of Lions for Lambs — what it tried to do, the daringness of leaning so heavily on mere words, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep‘s performances — so it, too, justifiably, evaded the list. I hated the decision to go big and obvious with the giant tentacles in The Mist, but it was interesting enough in the beginning to avoid inclusion. I didn’t see Sydney White. Good Luck Chuck was pretty damn awful. I’ve become so used to Eddie Murphy‘s abrasive potential that Norbit, strangely, didn’t rub me as negatively as it did others. (I saw it later than most.)
Georgia Rule, Number 23, etc.? It’s open to discussion. Are We Done Yet? aside, I’m not feeling the hate vibes.
In view of today’s Sweeney Todd opening, a partial re-run of my 11.30.07 review: I went to Sweeney Todd (Dreamamount, 12.21) with a guarded attitude. And then it began, and less than two minutes in I knew it was exceptional and perhaps more than that. Ten minutes later I was feeling something growing within me. Surprise turned to admiration turned to amazement. I felt filled up, delighted. I couldn’t believe it…a Tim Burton film that reverses the decline!
All my life I’ve loved — worshipped — what Stephen Sondheim‘s music can do for the human heart. Blend this with a tragic, grand guignol metaphor about how we’re all caught up with some issue of the past — needing on some level to pay the world back for the hurt and the woundings. Add to this Burton’s exquisite visual panache and precision, the drop-dead beautiful, near monochromatic color, the ravishing production design and…pardon me for sounding like a pushover, but this movie pushes over.
At times it melted me like a candle. I was lifted, moved. I was never not aroused. Every frame is a painting and a pageant and a falling tear.
Johnny Depp is fantastic as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street — he has to be a Best Actor candidate as of this moment. Helena Bonham Carter can’t sing very well but she’s great anyway. Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower (a major new arrival), Jayne Wisener, Sascha Baron Cohen…everyone fills the bill.
Sweeney Todd is a locked Best Picture contender at this stage. It’s too beautifully made, too full of feeling, too exquisitely performed to shunt aside. But it won’t win because of the blood.
I was lifted, touched, moved, melted…and also showered and sprayed. And I’m sorry for this. If only Burton had held back and focused harder on the metaphor of a man consumed by bitterness, determined to pay back those who ruined his life…if he’d only elected to turn away and not indulge his B-movie director’s fetish for the gushing red vino, as if from a garden hose or a fire hydrant. The film is its own tragedy, in a way. So near and yet so far.
Something very deep-down kicks in when a human being is killed or mutilated or both. It’s horrible and ghastly, and the spirit naturally recoils unless — and this is a very big “unless” — the style and the context turn it around and redefine it in some way.
Al I know for sure is that I was mesmerized. I loved the duets, the look of it, the control, the poise, the ache, the tragedy. This is a major, major film. Way up there. Better, impact-wise than the B’way stage version I saw a couple of years ago with Patti Lupone. The finest big-time movie musical since the under-appreciated Evita, which I feel is Alan Parker‘s best film ever.
So into the top-five slot it goes and let the back-and-forth begin. It almost certainly won’t win the Best Picture Oscar because Burton, intractable mule that he is, allows a gore fetish to override the emotion and the metaphor and the beauty. Okay, perhaps not “override” but he gives too much exposure and power to the plasma. But this is still a masterful work. Heart-stopping, heart-lifting. I came close to tears several times, and I don’t like admitting this stuff because people use it against you later on.
A New York reader caught a research screening of Ron Howard‘s Frost/Nixon last week near Union Square, and has some generally favorable things to say. Shot only about three months ago, this adaptation of Peter Morgan‘s play about the famous David Frost/Richard Nixon TV interview of 1977 is “a solid, satisfying historical drama….no knockout but it fights a good fight and lands its share of solid punches.
“Frank Langella‘s Nixon is very good,” the guy says. ” Wearing very little make-up (thankfully), his performance is fully felt and fleshed out. His Nixon is competitive and guarded, but Langella makes him sympathetic, a political fighter angling for one last twilight bout without being scrubbed entirely clean of his…uhm…imperfections.”
Universal will be releasing Frost/Nixon sometime in the late summer or early fall…I think. Unless they come to believe that audiences will be sick of the ’08 presidential campaign by then. An instinct is telling me this may be the case and that Frost/Nixon, certain to be commercially limited in any season, will play better in late March or April or perhaps even early May — sometime before the nominating season peaks in the mid to late summer.