Russell Crowe is coming out with a new movie in 2014 called Noah. It's about the biblical story of the flooding of the Earth and the man who shepherded every type of animal onto a giant ark that was able to weather the waters. (Sorry, spoiler alert to anyone who hasn't seen or read a Bible in their lives.) Is it going to be a great movie or will this be one of those overwrought big budget films that ultimately wind up in the cheap DVD bins in a year or so?
People who point to the Charlton Heston portrayal as Moses seem to miss the point: he at least carried some biblical gravitas. When I look at Crowe, I tend to think of an action-movie type. (Yes, I know he was fantastic in The Insider and A Beautiful Mind.) But when I see him in an ancient time setting with his flowing beard, I think of him as Maximus from Gladiator. For some reason, I could imagine a scene in Noah where he stands at the bow of the ark, with all these animals (CGI, of course) surrounding him and he bellows, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!"
The thing that may present a REALLY big problem is that they embellished on this story and that may anger a LOT of Christians, who tend to view that as ... I'm trying to think of the word. It's right on the tip of my tongue. Oh yes. Blasphemous. That's it. There's a human nemesis for Noah to contend with as well ... as if the original huge waves, tons of animals in a cramped space and wicked angels wasn't enough of a challenge for one man, they had to add this extra thing that wasn't in the original source material. Hollywood sure loves to change stuff around, even with classics. Hey, you can ask Nathaniel Hawthorne. There might not be a hugely receptive audience and depending how this is presented, there might even be protests.
One thing that gives some hope is that the movie is directed by Darren Aronofsky, he of Black Swan fame. He's an excellent director. Add Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson and the movie is suddenly in good shape acting-wise. It depends which Crowe shows up. When he puts his mind to it, he's one of the best actors on the planet.
My prediction: It may start off well in the box office due to the curiosity factor, but then word-of-mouth will be the determining factor. It may continue raking in big dollars or it might tail off horribly like Godzilla did in the late '90s. Then we'll be monitoring the DVD racks.
You're thrilled that will be a movie adaptation of your favorite book. You can't wait to see if what you imagined as you turned the pages translates onto the big screen. Then as you're viewing the film, your joy turns first to horror then to utter disgust as you realize that the entire book has been butchered worse than someone stuck in a room with Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. You leave the theater with steam coming out of your ears.
Translating a book into a movie is tough, yes, because no one visualizes things the same way. That doesn't let Hollywood off the hook. since these following movies were ones where the creative decisions were truly terrible.
The Scarlet Letter
This movie took a classic novel and pretty much spat all over it. Demi Moore turns in a dull performance and not even the great Gary Oldman could save it. They took a situation that was supposed to be about the shame of adulturous sex and made it even more tawdry.What made matters worse was the fact that they changed the ending to a happier one. Moore even defended the movie by saying that not many people had read the book (I think every English teacher in the nation tore up the newspaper when they read that quote). Nathaniel Hawthorne was probably spinning fast enough in his grave to power Manhattan for 10,000 years.
Bonfire of the Vanities
If you want to look up the term 'surefire hit', this movie should have been in there. It had Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. Admittedly, it was before they became TOM HANKS and BRUCE WILLIS, but they should have had the charisma to pull off this adaptation of the satirical Tom Wolfe novel. The problem was, they went with a comedy instead of making it a dramedy. Melanie Griffith was wasted, too. There were no Masters of The Universe here.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Nicolas Cage can act in a drama. Watch Leaving Las Vegas. He can do it. This was not a good drama for him. He especially can't convincingly play an Italian. There was no real chemistry between Penelope Cruz and Cage. It also deviated a lot from the book and the movie just seemed to set the stage for Cage to start taking weirder and weirder roles (with a couple of National Treasures sandwiched in between).
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp version)
I like how the Gene Wilder version did with the childhood classic book. Wilder played Willy Wonka as a whimsical sort who enjoyed confounding the people who entered his domain. Depp, an actor who has really embraced eccentric roles of late, made a high-strung pale ghoul who probably was nightmare fuel for every kid that saw the movie in the theater. It just changed the whole overall tone from the book and was a bad choice. I wonder if Depp's own children were like, "Um... Dad?" when they saw this.
The Great Gatsby (both versions)
I read "The Great Gatsby" a long time ago, but I had a fixed image of Jay Gatsby. It sure as heck wasn't Robert Redford, who played the titular character in the '70s version and I never saw Leo DiCaprio. For some reason, I also didn't have the music of Jay-Z blaring in my mind when I read the book either. The modern version actually did fairly well in the theater, but I didn't see it as a good adaptation, since it was too glittery.
Any live-action Dr. Seuss movie
I don't think Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, had Jim Carrey and Mike Myers (the SNL actor, not the homicidal slasher I mentioned in the introductory paragraph) in mind when he wrote "The Grinch Whole Stole Christmas" and "The Cat In The Hat" respectively. He might have had issues casting someone who thought high comedy was talking with his butt cheeks and another who devised a character who was morbidly obese and would scream things like, "GET..IN...MY...BELLY!!!!" I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.
The dumbest decision in this movie was to remove the presence of the Greek Gods. You know, the ones that were a huge impetus behind the scenes for many of the events that took place during this epic? I think Zeus would have at least thrown a thunderbolt in the direction of Brad Pitt for making Achilles such a whiny, pouty prettyboy baby. There was such a big chance to make an epic movie and the creators punted on it; Such a shame.
I like Jack Black. I do. I loved School of Rock and found his turn in Tropic Thunder to be hilarious. When I saw that he was going to be doing a version of this classic tale, with several key points changed, my first, second and third instincts were, "Uh... no". Sure enough, it relied on kiddie humor and failed to carry anything from its original source.
Running With Scissors
This was a movie that I was actually looking forward to seeing, since I'm a big fan of Augusten Burroughs. Sadly, the movie took mental illness and had its characters act like cartoon characters. Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening and Joseph Fiennes all had their talent wasted in this movie. It was from a memoir too, which just made it worse. I found it a good opportunity vastly squandered.
I don't care that the Asimov estate approved of this movie, one that took only a couple of names from the book and made it a COMPLETELY different film. I think Isaac, if he were still alive, would have taken one look at the script and sneered at the writers, "You're kidding, right?" I don't think he pictured Will Smith sliding down a huge tower screaming at a sentient computer.
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This is just the beginning for Sony’s “The Social Network” as the David Fincher film earned a solid $23 million in its opening weekend and will now build upon solid word-of-mouth and Oscar buzz to eventually reach the $100 million mark in domestic revenue. It is rare for a film to earn a four or five times multiple of its opening weekend, but the themes, performances and expected ongoing positive buzz will keep this one in the box office fight for many weeks to come.
Check out this "The Social Network" themed comic strip from Francesco Marciuliano. Francesco writes the internationally-syndicated comic strip “Sally Forth” and the webcomic “Medium Large.” He was the head writer for the PBS series “SeeMore’s Playhouse,” for which one of his episodes won two 2007 Daytime Emmys. He currently writes for the Onion News Network.
The owls showed amazing strength this weekend with a very “Town”-like 33% second weekend drop for “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” earned $10.85 million and thus brings its domestic total to just over $30 million. It certainly pays to be one of the few family films in this marketplace and with the IMAX and 3D presentations to put it over the top; this is a solid fall performer.
Last weekend’s number one film “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” dropped 47% to land in third with $10.1 million and a total domestic gross to date of $35.9 million. Oscar buzz could build for star Michael Douglas who gave his newly re-booted Gordon Gekko a healthy infusion of pathos and introspection.
Number four belongs to Warner Bros.’ “The Town” starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner as the film realizes yet another buzz-worthy 36% third weekend drop and $10 million in the money bag. The film has earned over $64 million to date and will continue to draw audiences looking for a taut, intelligent action movie boosted by stellar performances.
Another strong hold for Sony’s “Easy A” keeps it in the top five curriculum in its third week against a freshman-sized 34% drop and an even $7 million for the weekend and $42.4 million for this profit-making teen comedy. Great word-of-mouth continues to bolster the long term prospects for the Emma Stone starring vehicle. Nathaniel Hawthorne would be proud.
Two other wide releases had a tough go this weekend and debuted outside of the Top Five with Paramount Vantage’s “Case 39” starring Bradley Cooper at number seven earning $5.35 million, and Overture Films’ brilliant horror re-make “Let Me In” in eighth place with $5.3 million.
The Fall Movie Season is in full swing and while the overall weekend was down about 5%, the individual movies in the marketplace are holding well and generating solid buzz. Clearly kids need movies too in the fall and this has benefitted “The Owls of Ga’Hoole” and at the same time, the adult drama is making a major comeback with “The American,” “The Town,” “Wall Street 2” and “The Social Network” all performing well and finding favor with a broad audience looking for a quality-filled experience at the movie theatre.
Top 10 Movies - Weekend of October 1, 2010 (Estimates)
The Social Network (PG-13)
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole (PG)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG-13)
The Town (R)
Easy A (PG-13)
You Again (PG)
Case 39 (R)
Let Me In (R)
Alpha and Omega (PG)
Affleck goes to town and Emma Stone proves she has A-list star power at this weekend’s box office.
Ben Affleck proves that he is a threat both behind and in front of the camera as Warner Bros.’ brilliant “The Town” topped the weekend with $23.8 million. The ensemble heist drama co-stars the Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker”), “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm and “Frost/Nixon’s” Rebecca Hall and uses both action and pathos in equal measure to maximum effect. The film certainly has Oscar potential and also had obvious appeal to sophisticated audiences looking for a beautifully-acted, thought-provoking drama. Affleck is looking to take a page from the Clint Eastwood handbook by becoming a world class director while still maintaining his star status. Long term prospects for “The Town” look solid with strong word-of-mouth likely to propel the film well into the fall movie and awards season.
Sony’s “Easy A” was a very profitable student with a second place debut at $18.2 million against a very modest $8 million production budget. This innovative, quirky and fun riff on the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne tale of “The Scarlett Letter” found favor with female audiences who made up 67% of the film’s audience. Emma Stone, who first stole hearts as the object of Jonah Hill’s teen desire in “Superbad,” plays a modern day Hester Prynne, but with a major twist and to great effect. Director Will Gluck and screenwriter Bert V. Royal clearly have affection for the classic John Hughes 80’s era teen comedies and they wear that affection on their cinematic sleeves; much to the delight and benefit of the audience. Edgy dialogue ripped straight from the “Juno” playbook combined with an offbeat visual style, appealing performances and direct references to the films of the aforementioned Hughes make this unadulterated catnip for the high school crowd.
In third place with $12.58 million is “Devil” from Universal Pictures. Advertised as coming from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan this film may do for the elevator what “Jaws” did for the beach. Clocking in at a taut 80 minutes the film provides a very quick fox for the horror movie junkie.
Fourth place belongs to Milla Jovovich in Sony's "Resident Evil: Afterlife" with $10.1 million against a 62% second weekend drop and a cumulative domestic gross to date of $44 million. The film also grossed an estimated $103.2 million overseas in 10 days for a worldwide total of more than $147 million. The film effectively packed theaters in its debut last weekend and has been backed up by solid 3-D and IMAX powered grosses.
Rounding out the top with $9.2 million is Lionsgate’s animated 3-D wolf tale "Alpha and Omega.” The film saw a massive 80% uptick on Saturday and boasts a modest budget that will make it profitable for the distributor. Essentially the only game in town for kids since “Despicable Me,” “Alpha and Omega” had a perfect release date and thus was able to capitalize on that fact with kids and families. In other Lionsgate news, “The Expendables” crossed the $100 million mark on Friday.
An “up” weekend vs. last year by the smallest of margins, keeps us ahead on revenues with a nearly 4% lead, but we are still lagging behind on attendance by almost 2%. Help is on the way with “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole” from Warner Bros., “You Again” from Disney and the expected strong debut of Fox’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” starring Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf.
Top 10 Movies - Weekend of September 17, 2010 (Estimates)
The Town (R)
Easy A (PG-13)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (R)
Alpha and Omega (PG)
The American (R)
The Other Guys (PG-13)
Sony’s Easy A to get an Easy A (and close to $30 million) from audiences this weekend as tweens, teens and John Hughes fans everywhere have much to rejoice about in this innovative, quirky and fun riff on the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne tale of “The Scarlett Letter.” Emma Stone, who first stole hearts as the object of Jonah Hill’s teen desire in “Superbad,” plays a modern day Hester Prynne, but with a major twist and to great effect.
Director Will Gluck and screenwriter Bert V. Royal clearly have affection for the classic John Hughes 80’s era teen comedies and they wear that affection on their cinematic sleeves; much to the delight and benefit of the audience. Edgy dialogue ripped straight from the “Juno” playbook combined with an offbeat visual style, appealing performances and direct references to the films of the aforementioned Hughes make this unadulterated catnip for the high school crowd.
There is certainly a whole bunch of evil going on in theatres of late. First we had The Last Exorcism, then we got Resident Evil and now we have Devil from Universal Pictures. Advertised as coming from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan and likely causing much consternation over at the Otis Elevator company, this film may do for the elevator what Jaws did for the beach. Clocking in at a taut 80 minutes and Boasting a terrifically creepy ad campaign, Devil will likely scare up grosses around $20 million while simultaneously increasing the use of stairwells everywhere.
Ben Affleck shows off major directing chops and that his Gone Baby Gone was no fluke in Warner Bros.’ brilliant The Town which co-stars the Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Frost/Nixon’s Rebecca Hall in a story of friendship, brotherhood and the consequences of the criminal life. The film has Oscar written all over it and should appeal to sophisticated audiences looking for a beautifully-acted, thought-provoking drama that does not skimp on the action and should thus wind up near the top the chart with about $18 million. Long term prospects look solid with strong word-of-mouth likely to propel the film well into the fall movie season.
Milla Jovovich, who so effectively packed theaters last weekend in Sony's Resident Evil: Afterlife, has been backed up by solid 3-D and IMAX powered grosses all week long and will likely remain in the fight at No. 4 with a gross in the $10 to $12 million range.
Rounding out the top five should be the animated 3-D wolf tale Alpha and Omega from Lionsgate, with a likely take of just under $10 million.
Easy A a teen sex comedy with no actual sex aims rather conspicuously to plumb the best bits of Diablo Cody and Alexander Payne in its upside-down self-consciously campy take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In the role of its high-school Hester Prynne is Emma Stone the sly husky heroine of last year’s surprise hit Zombieland. Tested by a film that is far less clever than its director Will Gluck or screenwriter Bert Royal would have us believe (and they desperately want us to believe) she passes with flying colors delivering a performance that should elevate her into the upper echelon of actresses possessing brains and beauty in equal measure.
Stone plays Olive the kind of quick-witted hyper-literate teen that our educational system produces in ever-diminishing numbers. (If it ever produced them to begin with.) More knowing and sophisticated than others her age she is nonetheless not immune to the pressure of peers and the dread of being labeled a loser. Under duress by a prying friend (Aly Michalka) to dish the details of her birthday weekend a rather mundane affair mainly spent jumping on her bed to the tune of Natasha Bedingfield’s pop monstrosity “Pocket Full of Sunshine ” she feels compelled to embellish a bit and concocts an entirely fictional account of losing her virginity (dubbed the “V-Card” by Royal trying too hard) to a boy from a junior college across town.
Word of Olive’s deflowering spreads with startling speed aided by the incessant rumor-mongering of a catty Evangelical eavesdropper (Amanda Bynes). Suddenly branded a tramp on account of a seemingly harmless little lie Olive opts to embrace her newly tarnished reputation and put it to good use. In a viciously stratified social environment where even the most awkward acne-plagued pariah can earn respect and even admiration from members of the upper castes for having gone All the Way Olive anoints herself the Mother Theresa of (fake) sluts bestowing her blessing upon downtrodden gents in need of a reputation boost. And she resolves to look the part too traipsing around in scandalous bustiers and affixing the letter “A” to her chest.
There are limits to Easy A’s Scarlet Letter conceit overly Glee-ful tone forced repartee and pop-culture references (John Hughes is invoked so many times he should get a producer credit). Which is why director Gluck must be grateful to have found Stone who handles the verbal calisthenics of Royal’s script with charm and verve and a certain effortless appeal that keeps us engaged even as the film wallows in contrived irony and heavy-handedness. Keep your eye on her.