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Jurassic World box office photo
Jurassic World box office

Jurassic World earned the biggest worldwide box office debut of all time


"That is one big pile of s**t"
Jun 15
// Hubert Vigilla
C's get degrees, and C-grade movies get lots of money. Jurassic World earned an astounding $511.8 million around the world, giving the film the biggest opening global box office of all time. The movie features Chris Pratt all...

The Cult Club: Putney Swope (1969)

May 31 // Hubert Vigilla
Some people come up to me and say, 'You the guy that made Putney Swope?' And I'll say, 'Yeah.' [And they say], 'Well, you really changed my life!' And my answer is, 'I'm sorry. You might have been better off without it.' -- Robert Downey, Sr., 2008 Reelblack interview The surreal anarchism of Putney Swope is established in the first minute, with contradictions played for laughs and all things intentionally off-balance, free-floating, a potential set-up for a punchline or a punchline per se. The film opens on a vertiginous, spiraling aerial shot of New York City interrupted by a dissonant piano chord. We see an older biker in a helicopter descend. A Jolly Roger and a Confederate Battle Flag flap in the wind. The chopper lands at a pier, and the biker steps out with a suitcase secured with a length of chain. On the back of his denim vest, "MENSA." The music is impending and sinister as he approaches a stooped-over square in a suit. They slap each other five and on comes a triumphant 60s groove, as if to say, "Yeah, we cool." In the board room scene that sets the plot in motion, the chairman of an ad agency dies while delivering a spiel, stuttering on his last word. The execs treat it like a game of charades. The nasaliest of boardroom weasels asks constantly, even after the chairman's clearly dead, "How many syllables, Mario?!" The other execs pick the corpse's pockets--ugly capitalist vultures. With the corpse on the table, the board votes for a new leader. The only stipulation is that they're not allowed to vote for themselves. And so they accidentally elect the one person they figured no one else would vote for: the company's token black guy, Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson). (Downey dubbed in his own voice for Swope's since Johnson purportedly kept forgetting his lines.) That's just the first 12 minutes. Revolution and selling out ensues. There's a gritty DIY-ness to Putney Swope that's in service to its irreverence and popular revolutionary vibe. It's at once a kind of guerrilla filmmaking and guerrilla sketch comedy. Anything is possible in the weird world of the film--a midget in a hard hat is POTUS, and bags of money are passed and hookshot off the backboard into an open-top case. Louis CK said he was inspired by Putney Swope's confident nonsense when he hosted a screening of the film in LA late last year. (Excerpts from the event and Q&A with Downey, Sr. can be read here on The Moveable Fest). CK had just moved to New York and bought a VCR, and he found a copy of Putney Swope at the videostore. According to the WTF podcast, Marc Maron was there with him when it happened. CK's early short films such as Hello There and Hijacker have Swope written all over them, as do the stranger segments of his show Louie. The jokes of Putney Swope come in various forms and with different targets. Downey delivers visual gags, verbal gags, quick gags, long-form gags, slapstick, and gallows humor. There are the one-liners, which seem like the stuff of the Marx Brothers and even A Hard Day's Night. I also can't help but hear shades of Dr. Strangelove's "You can't fight here--this is the War Room" in Swope's oft-repeated "Brothers in the black room" line. The zany, all-over-the-place approach is like those early Woody Allen movies as well, or perhaps those edgier 90s sketch shows like The Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show. The sex humor is gleefully vulgar (if The Guardian is correct, this is the first movie to use the word "jism"). The race jokes, sexuality jokes, and gender jokes are built on stereotypes being broken down, reaffirmed, or forced into an uneasy dance of doing both. The grittiness of the picture plays into the film's gritty, unwashed brand of comedy. The film critic for the New York Daily News in 1969 gave Putney Swope a negative-one-star review and wrote, "Vicious and vile. The most offensive picture I've ever seen." Putney Swope isn't just offensive. It's also politically incorrect, though political incorrectness isn't an end in itself, and nor should it be. These days many jagoffs use political incorrectness as a self-congratulatory badge of honor for tastelessness, but they wear the badge without acknowledging that political incorrectness takes many forms. Context is key since not all political incorrectness is created equal. The healthy, beneficial, and most complicated strand of political incorrectness is the satirical kind. I don't know if it's necessarily about punching up or punching down because legitimate targets and topics for satire come from all levels of social strata, but maybe effective satire that's politically incorrect is more about an awareness of what's being punched and why it deserves to be. Maybe that's the point. Maybe humor has a higher function. In other words, the offensive joke that someone tells makes you laugh, and if your politics are progressive or you care about your fellow human, you reconsider why you laughed and whether or not you should have laughed, digging into the real cultural meaning of the gag and the mindset of the culture as a whole. The satirist telling the joke, similarly, isn't just laughing at himself or herself. There's more than self-amusement at stake. The joke isn't just a bit of offensiveness--a fart in church that people will politely suffer through and forget--but a meaningful conversation with the culture, its makers, and its members. There's a predictive element about Putney Swope that seems especially important given its place in 60s counterculture. There's an assassination attempt on Swope, which recalls the biggest political assassinations of the decade (JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, Malcom X). Yet as Film Crit Hulk points out in his appreciation of Putney Swope, the person who tries to kill Swope bears an uncanny resemblance to Mark David Chapman, the man who would shoot and kill John Lennon in 1980. (In another bizarre coincidence, Downey joked in a LIFE Magazine profile published November 28, 1969 that the only book he'd ever read was J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Chapman, after shooting Lennon, sat down and read a copy of The Catcher in the Rye.) [embed]219426:42415:0[/embed] The primary prediction by Putney Swope, however, is an eventual shift that the counterculture of the 1960s made, transforming from activists and political idealists into the members of the self-absorbed "Me generation." The transition might have been expected, an inevitable comedown after the decade of love ended with such painful disillusionment. Sometimes it's not about changing the world since that might be impossible. The heroes have been killed, the hippies have cannibalized themselves, and now the whole enterprise seems like bullshit. Sometimes it's just about getting paid, and that's the most you can hope for. We see it in Putney's own desire to not just rock the boat but sink it, which he hopes to do by refusing to advertise cigarettes, alcohol, and war toys. What else, though, is more quintessentially American than the Marlboro Man, Kentucky bourbon, and G.I. Joe (aka my first military-industrial complex)? Swope's whole enterprise is doomed from the start--he's an ideological terrorist armed with only truth and soul. To use the words of Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) from Network, "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Swope." When he spoke about Putney Swope late last year, Louis CK said, "This was made in 1969--it's that way a movie can be like a note in a bottle, this beautiful thing that just stays [the same]." The film captures its era, and yet I think it's also timely because the primal forces of nature, those larger political systems and corporate systems, also stay the same, and will stay the same. The system can't be dismantled, and the boat ain't sinking. Hell, it can barely even get rocked. That sounds hopeless, I know, but the good thing, at least, is that Putney Swope and other satires help you find a better deck chair on this awful ship we're on. [embed]219426:42414:0[/embed] Next Month... June 30th marks the DVD/Blu-ray release of Penelope Spheeris' critically acclaimed Decline of Western Civilization trilogy, a landmark trio of documentaries on the Los Angeles punk scene, metal scene, and the plight of homeless youth. All three films are going to be available for the first time ever on DVD/Blu-ray. To coincide with the release of The Decline of Western Civilization, we're going to look at one of the seminal cult movies of the 80s that's rooted in the ugly aggro-nihilism of the 80s LA punk scene. Yup, we're finally doing Alex Cox's classic Repo Man (1984). PREVIOUSLY SHOWING ON THE CULT CLUB Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) The Last Dragon (1985) Tromeo and Juliet (1996) Samurai Cop (1989) El Mariachi (1992)
Cult Club: Putney Swope photo
"How many syllables, Mario?!"
New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, in one of his signature recurring gags, wrote that Mad Max: Fury Road was rated R because it featured "A ruthless critique of everything existing." The same might be said of Putney Swope...

Fifty Shades of Green photo
Fifty Shades of Green

Fifty Shades of Grey stars want fifty shades of green


Mar 11
// Nick Valdez
Although Fifty Shades of Grey had the worst staying power imaginable, as it dropped over 70% in box office sales its second weekend out which meant that word of mouth was deservedly awful, it still made $550 million worldwide...

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American Sniper is the top grossing film of 2014


That's some prolific legs for any film
Mar 09
// Matthew Razak
I had a lot of problems with American Sniper as a movie about PTSD and veterans, but despite these issues it had a very good redeeming value of bringing Veteran issues to the forefront of the discussion in America. It se...

Sony's Spider-Man officially joining Marvel cinematic universe

Feb 09 // Nick Valdez
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS MARVEL STUDIOS INTO THE AMAZING WORLD OF SPIDER-MAN New Spider-Man Will Appear First in an Upcoming Marvel Film Within Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Marvel's Kevin Feige to Produce Next Installment of the Spider-Man Franchise with Amy Pascal (Culver City, California, and Burbank, California February 09, 2015) – Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.  Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films. Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films. The new relationship follows a decade of speculation among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been an integral and important part of the larger Marvel Universe in the comic books – could become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel's world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes in the MCU. Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company said: "Spider-Man is one of Marvel's great characters, beloved around the world. We're thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building." "We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises and develop our characters. Marvel, Kevin Feige and Amy, who helped orchestrate this deal, are the perfect team to help produce the next chapter of Spider-Man," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. "This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans." "Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker's story into the future," added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group. "I am thrilled to team with my friends at Sony Pictures along with Amy Pascal to produce the next Spider-Man movie," said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. "Amy has been deeply involved in the realization on film of one of the world’s most beloved characters. Marvel's involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years." Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.
WHAT photo
Does whatever a miracle can
Wow, so, uh, yeah. I'm at a loss for words. Because both Sony and Marvel like money, and Sony has been wondering what to do with the The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, the two companies are now working together. According to t...

Dreamworks photo
Dreamworks

Dreamworks Animation cuts 500 jobs, reveals new release slate


One original and one sequel a year
Jan 26
// Nick Valdez
Back when Dreamworks Animation needed to compete with Disney, they stopped making films in 2D (even if those films are some of the greats) and churned out ten Shreks to a very successful box office performance each time. Basi...
Ouija  photo
Ouija

Ouija 2 is happening because money


Ugh
Jan 19
// Nick Valdez
It may not have been a good film, or even entertaining, but Ouija is going to get a sequel on top of its already bare bones story because it made near $85 million dollars from its slim $5 million dollar budget.  In an in...
VOD photo
VOD

The Interview grossed $31 million on VOD despite piracy


Jan 09
// Nick Valdez
When Sony released The Interview on most video demand services but its own, it was promptly pirated nearly 100 million times. At first it seemed like this news would only deter studios from simultaneous theatrical and VOD rel...
Industry Malarkey photo
Industry Malarkey

Movie theater attendance in 2014 was the lowest since 1995


But maybe we just need new metrics... or better movies
Jan 02
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
2014 is officially over. Celebration aside, this means that we can finally evaluate the year as a whole. The Hollywood Reporter has started us off right, with a breakdown of the box office numbers from the year. And... well, ...
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Green Inferno on hold indefinitely


You'll have to get you Cannibal Holocaust fix elsewhere
Aug 11
// Matthew Razak
Sad news for those you like the boundary pushing of Eli Roth and the disturbing Cannibal Holocaust. His homage to that film, Green Inferno, has been put on hold indefinitely. It's not because of any controversy, surprisi...
TMNT T photo
TMNT T

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles getting a sequel because money


Aug 11
// Nick Valdez
It's hard to be cynical or excited about announcements like these because these days when a big franchise reboot or new property is announced, it's almost guaranteed that any given studio is planning at least three or four mo...
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Transformers 4 becomes the highest grossing movie in China ever


Film pulls in over $1.39 billion beating Avatar
Jul 09
// Matthew Razak
Damn it, China. What happened to you? You used to be cool. This is why we can't have nice things.  [via Variety]
Enchanted 2 photo
Enchanted 2

Enchanted 2 is still happening because money


Jul 03
// Nick Valdez
Wait..."still"? Yes, a sequel to the 2007 Disney Princess film Enchanted has been in the works for some time now, but it hasn't progressed passed the "it should happen" stage. But now that Frozen was a mega hit for Disney, th...
Godzil-Two photo
Godzil-Two

Godzilla sequel already happening because money


"I'm the one who kno-EEEERRNNNNGHHHHHHHHH!"
May 21
// Nick Valdez
Because Godzilla made a monstrous amount of money in the box office its opening weekend (over $93 million dollars domestically), naturally talk of a sequel is already underway. At this point, it's not even really news as we a...
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Box Office Numbers: All hails the mighty LEGO


Lord Business would be happy
Feb 24
// Matthew Razak
The LEGO Movie didn't face much stiff competition this week, but it still pulled in a whopping amount beating out both new releases and pulling in more money than many films make in their entire run. Looks like word of mouth ...
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Frozen is highest grossing original animated film ever


Rejoice! Good things do happen to good movies
Jan 28
// Matthew Razak
I don't think anyone would have guessed that Disney would be back on top of the animation world, knocking Pixar down, at the beginning of 2013, but it seems the animation studio finally figured out (with the help of Pixar hea...
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More 'Divergent' coming 2015/2016


Hey, at least they're not splitting the last book in two, right?
Dec 17
// Mike Cosimano
Variety is reporting that Neil Burger, director of the latest attempt by a studio to cash in on that sweet, sweet young adult money, will not be returning to direct Latest Attempt By A Studio To Cash In On That Sweet, Sweet Y...
Fast and Furi-YES photo
Fast and Furi-YES

Fast & Furious 7 getting rewrites to honor Paul Walker


O'Conner still owes us a ten second car.
Dec 13
// Nick Valdez
Now that Fast & Furious 7 has officially halted its production for the time being to properly get its bearings after losing Paul Walker, Universal is still in the midst of a very confusing situation. One of the many optio...
DisIndy  photo
Disney jonesin' for more Joneses. Jones.
Disney continues its quest to own everything most people enjoy with Indiana Jones. Reaching a distribution deal with Paramount, Disney now owns future rights to every future Indiana Jones film (with Paramount still making a s...

Han Solo's Blaster photo
Han Solo's Blaster

You cannot afford Han Solo's blaster, now up for auction


Do you have the ducats?
Dec 04
// Nick Valdez
Do you like The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi? Do you like Han Solo so much you'd be willing to sell several of your kidneys to own a piece of him? Do you have 200,000 ducats lying around, taking up space? Do I ha...
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Oldboy may be one of the biggest bombs in recent history


Dec 02
// Matthew Razak
Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy has been pretty much universally panned across the board. Some of this might be simply because the original never needed to be remade, but it's also because the movie just isn't that good. It...
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Disney breaks its own all-time box office record


Scrooge McDucking like a boss
Nov 12
// Matthew Razak
Did you know that Disney held the all-time box office record? In 2010 they made $3.79 billion. They still hold the record, it's just more now. This year they've officially made $3.79 billion, and they still have the holiday s...
Insidiou3 photo
Insidiou3

Insidious: Chapter Three is now a thing because money


Insidiou3
Sep 17
// Nick Valdez
Since Insidious: Chapter Two (Insidiou2) made big bucks during its opening weekend, Sony Pictures Worldwide has announced that Leigh Whannel (the screenwriter of the previous Insidious films) has now begun working on Insidiou...
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Vin Diesel leveraged his house to make Riddick


Aug 30
// Matthew Razak
We all know Riddick was a bit of a passion project for star Vin Diesel and that it wouldn't have gotten off the ground without a lot of help from him, but I didn't think he put this much into the movie. The movie is as i...
Paramount and them VODs photo
Paramount and them VODs

Paramount looking to expand on "day-and-date" VOD indies


As Video On Demand becomes a better option, Paramount looking to release them simultaneously with theaters.
Aug 01
// Nick Valdez
While going out to see a movie is getting more and more expensive, it makes smaller independent movies more of a risk to the consumer. Would you rather spend you ten dollars on a smaller film like Only God Forgives, or go wit...
Too high ticket prices photo
Too high ticket prices

Ticket prices are too damn high according to NATO


I ain't saying theaters are gold diggers, but they don't mess with no broke brokes.
Jul 26
// Nick Valdez
NATO, or better known as the National Association of Theater Owners, confirmed what most of us already knew. Seeing movies in theaters is getting too damn expensive. According to them, the average price of a movie ticket rose...
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Regal Cinemas to raise their ticket prices 4%


Gotta learn to love boot soup if you wanna watch them Hobbit sequels
May 23
// Hubert Vigilla
Deadline reported that Regal ticket prices are expected to go up 3% to 4% this year, in keeping with patterns from previous years. This means that you'll need to take out a loan if you want to waste your money on World War Z ...
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World War Z needs $400 million to break even


Things that won't happen
May 01
// Matthew Razak
Summer movie train wreck World War Z is looking to cause a world of hurt for Paramount when it releases if a recent Vanity Fair article is correct. Doing some quick math the article concludes that the film will have to b...
That'a a lot of Iron, man photo
That'a a lot of Iron, man

You cannot afford this life sized Iron Man 3 figure


["I'd rather have a working suit for that much money" goes here]
Apr 29
// Nick Valdez
Are you swimming in an ocean of extra couch change and are eagerly awaiting Iron Man 3 this Friday because Nathan gave it rave remarks in his review? Maybe Sideshow Collectibles has the right thing for you! If you have an ext...
Jack the Giant Flop photo
Jack the Giant Flop

Jack the Giant Slayer on track to lose $125-140 million


Jack the Giant Flop
Apr 03
// Nick Valdez
The rest of the world seems to agree with Matt on this one. In his review, he criticized Giant Slayer's lack of anything special, and that's now reflected in its Box Office performance. After its four week run (it's only been...

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