While fans from around the world have gathered to share their love of Star Wars at this year’s Star Wars Celebration, there has been one sobering element to the festivities. The loss of Carrie Fisher has been felt at every level of the convention, from Thursday’s bittersweet memorial video put together by Lucasfilm to the sadness felt while Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson shared his behind-the-scenes footage from the set. And since this is a convention of all things Star Wars, fans have also speculated about the role the actress might play in the next film. Is there a place for Fisher in Star Wars: Episode 9?
In a parallel universe where Paramount Pictures doesn’t alienate its fanbase, we might be talking about Ghost in the Shell as the big winner of this weekend and the de facto start of a new wave of Japanese Hollywood adaptations. Instead, DreamWorks Animation and The Boss Baby blew up the box office, no doubt delighting a handful of DreamWorks executives who watched the Ghost in the Shell controversy unfold with glasses of champagne in hand. After all, nobody’s going to boycott a movie about a baby who wears a suit.
Are all Australian filmmakers and actors friends? On an episode of the WTF with Marc Maron back in 2013, Maron shared a theory with guest Nick Cave that everyone who comes from Australian and has achieved “a certain level of celebrity” must know each other. Cave almost immediately proved his point correct, confirming his friendship with Russell Crowe before discussing his script idea for a Gladiator sequel. Maron’s theory has stuck with me in the intervening years; doesn’t it seem like everyone in Hollywood from Australia seems to be personal friends with each other? It can’t be that small a country, right?
After several weeks of limited movement, a handful of new releases prompted a pretty thorough shakeup of the Box Office Top 10. While Beauty and the Beast continued its unstoppable assault on the domestic box office, we also said hello this weekend to three new movies and goodbye to a handful of old favorites from the first few months of the year. Let’s start with the estimated numbers as of Sunday afternoon.
The smartest thing that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise ever did was introduce a revolving door of ghost pirate enemies. I don’t really care why Javier Bardem’s character hates Jack Sparrow, nor do I think for a moment that this is the film that will permanently kill Johnny Depp’s character off for good, but those plots points are secondary, the franchise’s equivalent of a ghost McGuffin (a McGhostin?). All I really care about is seeing charismatic actors like Bardem play campy villains.
As someone who loves Kurt Russell more than I love my own wife (don’t tell her), nothing could have made me more excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 than the addition of Russell. Not only is Russell’s love of dim-witted characters a perfect match for the universe that director James Gunn has created, the film will also hopefully — and I cannot believe I’m saying this — introduce the actor to a generation of movie fans who have never seen iconic films like Escape From New York and, more importantly, Big Trouble in Little China.
It might be a tale as old as time, but audiences have proven there’s still a few petals left on that old flower. Despite being projected to open at somewhere between $214–245 million worldwide, Beauty and the Beast knocked the pants off those projections, eclipsing $350 million at the international box office and setting a March record for domestic releases along the way. Let’s take a look at how things shook out this past weekend with some of the expected grosses.
While the giant ape in Kong: Skull Island may not climb any New York skyscrapers this time around, he certainly did climb the box office charts. The latest Warner Bros. monster movie shot all the way to the top spot in its opening weekend, with Logan and the surprising hit Get Out both shifting one spot down to accommodate him.
While I don’t typically pay attention to the box office tracking numbers for upcoming releases, I’ll admit, I’ve checked in a few times on Ghost in the Shell. The blend of intriguing trailers and negative publicity surrounding the film make it a tough cookie to crack; those who would normally be excited by the prospect of a blockbuster action movie starring a woman have good reason to stay at home, while the fans who might normally boost its box office numbers may be disappointed that Paramount is tinkering with a classic. As of right now, Ghost in the Shell is estimated to bring home about $105 million domestically, a very poor showing for a project of this size. I’m fascinated by the whole thing.
With all eyes on the next entry in the DC Cinematic Universe, it’s hard to say what is under more pressure: Wonder Woman, the World War II-era superhero and savior of the modern world, or Wonder Woman, the first female-directed movie in the modern blockbuster era and a stab at social relevance for the beleaguered executives at Warner Bros. The first Wonder Woman trailer that debuted at Comic-Con hit all the right notes for an exciting and female-driven superhero movie; would additional trailers walk back that promise or deliver more of the same?
As a teenager in the ’90s, no actor better represented blockbuster movies than Bill Paxton. Although Paxton wasn’t typically a leading man in those movies — he would often play the brother, the second-in-command, or the comic relief — he served as a kind of talisman of quality. If you saw Paxton’s name in the opening credits of a movie, you knew that the film was going to be better for it.
If I were a Marvel sales rep, I would get down on my knees every day and thank Thanos for the series of events that led to Baby Groot. Baby Groot might just be the pinnacle of Hollywood marketing; not only is his cute visage the perfect thing to slap on every action figure, lunch box, and stuffed animal from here to the moon, it’s also a character that sidesteps typical customer cynicism. If fans felt for one moment that Baby Groot was a thinly veiled attempt to sell them more junk, they would push back on James Gunn and Marvel with all their strength. But instead, we are treated to one of the baddest killing machines in the galaxy who happens to be totally adorable, too.
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