Category Archives: Old Hollywood

The Expectations of Fools

Wonder Woman Poster 2

Wonder Woman, with its pure moral core, true heroism, and non-victim female lead, only “exceeded the expectations” of perpetually sexist, infinitely immoral, hero-trashing Far Left Hollywood…

Not the rest of America. You know, “fly over country” where 300 million Human Beings live.

On the very best subject we see this divide clearly: Conservatives focus on resurrection, Liberals on crucifixion. We side with the Apostles, they with the Pharisees. We expect courage and sacrifice, while they deny courage as an accident and only strive to satisfy their lusts. We adore heroes, but they flog them and hang them on trees. To the Right, heroism is a virtue everyone should seek, but to the Left (and those who will be left) it is a neurosis suffered only by a tortured few.

Tells you what they think of heroes.

Wonder Woman is the very script I prefer and produce. This is a movie after my own heart and soul.

Like Captain America, Wonder Woman embraces the heroic instead of trying to psychologically deconstruct or shame it (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad).

Congratulations to director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot for this most welcomed breath of fresh air.

Wonder Woman exceeded all expectations this weekend, delivering an impressive $100 million opening, the largest opening for a female-directed feature, vastly out-performing the previous record holder Fifty Shades of Grey, which debuted with $85.1 million back in 2015. Meanwhile, Fox’s release of the DreamWorks Animation feature Captain Underpants came up a little short of Mojo’s forecast while mildly outperforming the studio’s modest expectations. Overall, the weekend dramatically outperformed the post-holiday weekend from 2016 by a massive 38% as the top twelve delivered a combined $176 million.

At the top, Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot in the title role, went into the weekend boasting the best reviews out of the four films that have been released in the DC Extended Universe so far and the critical opinion definitely aided the film’s awareness as the buzz only continued to grow throughout the week. Following an impressive $38.76 million Friday that buzz was no longer due to critics as audiences gave the film an “A” CinemaScore, pushing the film over $100 million for its opening weekend, the first female directed feature to achieve such an opening. And as far as female-led comic book adaptations are concerned, it’s by far the largest opening as the second closest is Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, which debuted with $18.6 million earlier this year.

In fact, Wonder Woman delivered the 16th largest opening weekend for a comic book adaptation all-time. It’s the sixth largest opening among that group if you don’t count sequels and, based on estimates, the sixth largest June opening all-time. Looking ahead, given the strong word of mouth, it would be no shock to see it deliver $300 million domestically or at least very close to that figure.

Beyond the CinemaScore, the film played to an audience that was 52% female vs. 48% male, 14% of the audience was under the age of 18 and 47% was over the age of 35.

Internationally, the performance was equally strong, as Wonder Woman brought in an estimated $122.5 million from 55 markets, which includes a $38 million debut in China, bettering the openings for the likes of Man of Steel, Thor, The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Additional openings include the UK ($7.5m), Mexico ($8.4m), South Korea ($8.5m), Brazil ($8.3m), Australia ($4.9m), Russia ($4.8m) and Indonesia ($4.7m). Still to come are openings in France next week, Germany on June 15, Spain on June 23 and the film opens in Japan in August.

In second, Fox’s release of DreamWorks Animation’s Captain Underpants delivered a bit of a ho-hum opening with an estimated $23.5 million. While enough for a second place finish it’s one of the smallest opening weekends for a DreamWorks Animated title, in fact it ranks 26th among 35 total films. Fortunately, the studio made the film for a fraction of what it cost to make previous DWA titles, such as Rise of the Guardians, which was made for $145 million and only opened to $23.7 million before just barely topping $103.4 million domestically. So, should Captain Underpants holdover well things might not look so dissatisfying, but with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 just around the corner it’s going to need to hustle.

Captain Underpants received a “B+” CinemaScore from opening day audiences and played to an overall audience that was 54% male vs. 46% female, of which 65% where under the age of 25 and of the younger audience, 60% were boys and 91% of the audience ranged from the ages of 7-12.

Internationally, Captain Underpants debuted in just eight markets where it brought in an estimated $740k led by a nearly $300k debut in Portugal.

Moving along, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales appears to be sinking fast domestically as it dropped 65.7% in its second weekend, bringing in an estimated $21.6 million. The film’s domestic cume now stands at $114.6 million. Internationally things look a bit brighter as it brought in another $73.8 million pushing its global cume over $500 million after 12 days in global release with the film still yet to open in Japan.

Disney also claimed the fourth spot this weekend with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which delivered an estimated $9.7 million as its domestic cume now climbs over $355 million. Internationally it added another $4.4 million as its global gross now stands at $816.6 million, making it the fifth highest grossing worldwide release among the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rounding out the top five is Paramount’s Baywatch, which dipped 54.1% in its second weekend for a domestic cume of $41.7 million. The film did roll-out to 31 international markets this weekend where it brought in $23.8 million including openings in the UK ($5.8m), Germany ($3.9m), Australia ($2.7m), Russia ($1.8m), India ($1.6m), Italy ($729k) and Hong Kong ($701k). The film’s global cume now stands over $67 million with openings in Brazil, Mexico, Spain and France coming in the next few weeks.

Elsewhere, in moderate release Lionsgate released Pantelion’s 3 Idiotas into 349 theaters where it grossed an estimated $600k and Cohen Media’s release of Churchill starring Brian Cox opened with $426k from 215 theaters.

In limited release CBS Films’ Dean brought in an estimated $60,366 from 15 theaters ($4,024 PTA); IFC’s Band Aid brought in an estimated $31,500 from three theaters ($10,500 PTA); China Lion released Beautiful Accident into 15 theaters where it grossed an estimated $25,000 ($1,667 PTA); A24’s The Exception debuted in just two locations with an estimated $23,337 ($11,669 PTA); Vitagraph’s Letters from Baghdad debuted with $18,250 from two locations ($9,125 PTA); Samuel Goldwyn’s Past Life brought in an estimated $16,215 from four locations ($4,054 PTA); and finally, Matson’s Radio Dreams opened in one location with an estimated $2,053.

Next weekend Universal will kick off their Dark Universe with The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella in 4,000 theaters while Bleecker Street releases Megan Leavey starring Rooney Mara; A24 will debut the horror feature It Comes at Night; and Fox Searchlight will release My Cousin Rachel into ~500 theaters.

You can check out all of this weekend’s estimated results right here and we’ll be updating our charts with weekend actuals on Monday afternoon.

From Box Office Mojo: Wonder Woman Box Office Numbers

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Sir Roger Moore

Moore Obituary

Roger Moore, the handsome English actor who appeared in seven films as James Bond — the most of any Bond actor — and as Simon Templar on “The Saint” TV series, has died in Switzerland after a short battle with cancer. He was 89.

His family issued an announcement on Twitter: “It is with the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated.”

Moore appeared in more official Bond pics than his friend Sean Connery over a longer period of time, and while Connery’s fans were fiercely loyal, polls showed that many others favored Moore’s lighter, more humorous take on 007.

In 1972, Moore was asked to join Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He took on the mantle of 007 for 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” which would lead to six more turns as England’s top spy. In addition to reviving the franchise at the B.O. after waning prospects at the end of Connery’s run, the new James Bond relied on more humor in stories that cranked up the camp.

Moore as Bond began to shake off the Connery comparisons and pick up speed after 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me” launched the series into super-blockbuster status, raking in $185.4 million worldwide. Next up, the outer space-traveling “Moonraker” (1979) cumed $202 million and 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only” took $194 million.

His next roles were in “Octopussy” (1983) and 1985’s “A View to a Kill,” in which he surrendered his license to kill.

The young actor came to the U.S. in 1953. MGM signed him to a contract and he received supporting work on several pictures. He played a tennis pro in 1954’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” with Elizabeth Taylor. The role was one of several in the ’50s that hinged on his tall, athletic good looks. He would often play royalty or military characters.

Moore had his first taste of smallscreen stardom from 1956-58 as the lead, Sir Winfred, in ITV’s “Ivanhoe.” While still drawing film roles, he would continue to star in TV programs, following “Ivanhoe” with short-lived ABC Western “The Alaskans” and replacing James Garner in “Maverick” in 1960-61 (Moore played British cousin Beau Maverick). By the time he arrived on “Maverick,” its popularity was waning, but Moore won over the cast and crew with his good humor and charm, on-set qualities for which the actor would be known throughout his career.

In 1962, Moore began playing one of the roles that would define his celebrity, dashing thief Simon Templar, who would steal from rich villains each week on “The Saint.” The show ran 118 episodes, transitioning from B&W to color and finally wrapping in 1969. The British skein initially ran in syndication in the States but was part of NBC’s primetime schedule from 1967-69.

Stories would feature exotic locales, beautiful women and plenty of action, elements shared with the bigscreen tales about a certain British spy of the era. Ironically, it was the “Saint” contract that prevented Moore from competing for the role of 007 when Sean Connery was cast in 1962’s “Dr. No.”

Moore returned to the big screen with a pair of forgettable thrillers in ’69 and ’70. Despite having sworn off TV, he was subsequently lured back for “The Persuaders.” The show, which featured Moore and Tony Curtis as millionaire playboy crime-fighters, ran only one season; it was successful in Europe but failed in its run on ABC in the U.S.

During his 13 years as 007, Moore landed feature roles in other action films, but none that would compete with the Bond franchise. Movies from that period include 1978’s “The Wild Geese,” with Richard Burton and Richard Harris, and 1980’s “ffolkes” with James Mason and David Hedison, who played CIA agent Felix Leiter in “Live and Let Die.”

The actor took great fun in skewering his slick image offscreen and on-, including appearances in “Cannonball Run” and TV’s “The Muppet Show,” in which he struck out with Miss Piggy; in the 2002 comedy “Boat Trip,” he played a flamboyant homosexual with some Bond-like elements, and in 2004 he lent his voice to animated short “The Fly Who Loved Me.”

He also occasionally appeared both on the big and small screen. He appeared in the Spice Girls feature “Spice World,” provided a voice for “The Saint” feature in 1997, appeared in an episode of “Alias” in 2003 and had a role in the 2013 telepic version of “The Saint” starring Eliza Dushku.

Moore did quite a bit of voice work in the 2000s in pics including “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” “Agent Crush,” “Gnomes and Trolls: The Forest Trial,” “De vilde svaner” and 2010’s “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” whose title was an allusion to Bond girl Pussy Galore of “Goldfinger”; his “Cats and Dogs” character was Tab Lazenby.

He became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1991 and had been an active advocate for children’s causes. In 1999, he was honored by the British government with the title Commander of the British Empire.

Moore was born in Stockwell, South London. Despite health problems, Moore excelled at school and took an early interest in art and drawing. His grammar school education was interrupted by the start of WWII; he and his mother spent most of the war in Amersham, 25 miles outside of London.

In 1943, Moore decided to leave school and pursue work in animation at Publicity Pictures Prods., where he was a junior trainee in cartooning. But mishandling of some celluloid brought a swift conclusion to that career path.

Moore began his long acting career during the summer of 1944, when a friend recommended that he seek work as an extra on the film “Caesar and Cleopatra,” which brought Moore a walk-on role and the attention of co-director Brian Desmond Hurst, who was impressed with the looks of the tall, thin young man and secured him extra parts in two subsequent pics. With the support of Hurst, Moore auditioned for and was admitted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In 1945, Moore was called up for national service and, after basic training, was recommended for the Intelligence Corps. “The only reason they commissioned me was I looked good in a uniform,” Moore joked of his military career.

The actor’s autobiography, “My Word Is My Bond,” was published in 2008; his other books include memoir “One Lucky Bastard” and “Bond on Bond.” In recent years he toured with a popular one-man show, “An Evening With Roger Moore.”

Moore was married to skater Doorn Van Steyn, singer Dorothy Squires, Italian actress Luisa Mattioli and finally to Danish-Swedish multimillionaire Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup. He is survived by Tholstrup; a daughter, actress Deborah Moore; and two sons, Geoffrey Moore, an actor, and Christian Moore, a film producer.

From Variety: Roger Moore

Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017)

Shaken Not Stirred

Roger Moore passed away today.

After Captain Kirk, which I saw a child in Star Trek reruns in the early 70’s, Roger Moore’s James Bond was my first cinema hero. By that I mean, the first hero I actually saw in the theaters. The great classics with Charlton Heston where long passed, showing up every Easter and Christmas, but James Bond was a hero I saw along with everyone else.

Devilishly handsome, suave, supremely confident, Moore’s turn as Bond was, for me, iconic as Sean Connery had stepped away from the role by the time I was born.

To this day, my favorite James Bond movie in the entire Bond catalog remains The Man with the Golden Gun. It is also my favorite Roger Moore movie.

Roger Moore will always be the definitive James Bond to me.

Like the song says…

Nobody does it better!

Major Movie Studios Face Lean 2017

Movie studios should prepare themselves for “another round of punishment” this year with “several big-budget bombs and disappointing performances from mid-budget pictures,” Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz warns this morning in his annual analysis of film industry trends.

Although last year’s domestic box office improved 2.2%, the long-time critic of Hollywood’s business models says that when adjusted for inflation 2016 was “the fourth worst year at the domestic box office since 2000.”

What’s more, operating profits dropped by 14.6% in 2016 to $4.18 billion, and Disney accounted for 60.5% of the total. Four studios –Universal/DreamWorks Animation, Lionsgate, Sony, and Paramount — declined more than 40%, with Sony and Paramount ending the calendar year in the red.

And 2017 will be “at least as difficult,” he says. Some 30 releases, one more than in 2016, will have budgets of more than $100 million, including 20 that are either sequels or “part of ongoing meta-franchises such as Marvel.”

The problem? Non-Disney blockbusters generated an average of $128 million at domestic box offices in 2016, down from $176 million in 2015 and $162 million in 2014.

“Overcrowding, and the outsized dominance of Disney, very clearly significantly suppressed big-budget movie performance across the rest of the industry,” Creutz says.

On top of that, the international box office for the 100 top grossing U.S. films dropped 1.7% last year to $15.1 billion.

Although sales in China continue to grow, Western Europe and other “mature film markets” appear to be oversaturated with blockbusters. As a result, he says, “Hollywood can no longer count on international markets to be a growth driver.”

At some point studios will adjust by veering away from action, animation, and young adult-skewing franchises. But by then, he says, “we worry that attempts to re-diversify into other genres may fall on deaf ears.”

Looking at individual studios, Creutz predicts that Disney will be safe this year with “more than its share of outsized hits” including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Beauty and the Beast.

Warner Bros.”will be largely successful” with DC films Wonder Woman and Justice League and high-profile releases including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Dunkirk. But the analyst warns that the studio “may not reach the heights of last year” which included Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad.

Fox is “in a bit of a tough spot with summer sequels Alien:Covenant and War for the Planet of the Apes competing with “larger competitors with potentially broader audience appeal.”

Paramount will probably face “continued losses” but not as bad as last year, Creutz says. Its summer release Transformers: The Last Knight “is looking pretty long-in-the-tooth.”

The analyst says he’s “cautious” about Lionsgate in light of “increasing concentration of success in the market, and the squeezing of box office out of counterprogramming genres.” The release this month of Power Rangers “remains a key event as the company seeks to prove it can create new hit franchises.”

Original article: Hollywood Lean in 2017

Camille Paglia: How to Age Disgracefully in Hollywood (Guest Column)

The social critic and academic blames 1960s disruptions of gender roles (and not the entertainment industry) for Madonna’s and J. Lo’s difficulty letting go of their youth as she chastises them to “stop cannibalizing the young.”

In December, at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in New York City, Madonna was given the trophy for Woman of the Year. In a rambling, tearful acceptance speech that ran more than 16 minutes, she claimed to be a victim of “blatant misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse.”

It was a startling appropriation of stereotypical feminist rhetoric by a superstar whose major achievement in cultural history was to overthrow the puritanical old guard of second-wave feminism and to liberate the long-silenced pro-sex, pro-beauty wing of feminism, which (thanks to her) swept to victory in the 1990s.

Madonna’s opening line at the awards gala was edited out of the shortened official video: “I stand before you as a doormat — oh, I mean a female entertainer.” Merciful Minerva! Can there be any woman on Earth less like a doormat than Madonna Louise Ciccone? Madonna sped on with shaky assertions (“There are no rules if you’re a boy”) and bafflingly portrayed the huge commercial success of her 1992 book, Sex, as a chapter of the Spanish Inquisition, in which she was persecuted as “a whore and a witch.”

I was singled out by name as having accused her of “objectifying” herself sexually (prudish feminist jargon that I always have rejected), when in fact I was Madonna’s first major defender, celebrating her revival of pagan eroticism and prophesying in a highly controversial 1990 New York Times op-ed that she was “the future of feminism.”

But I want to focus here on the charge of ageism that Madonna, now 58, leveled against the entertainment industry and that received heavy, sympathetic coverage in the mainstream media. Her grievances about the treatment of women performers climaxed with this: “And finally, do not age, because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”

First of all, lack of radio airplay may indeed hamper new or indie groups, but in this digital age, when songs go viral in a flash, rich and famous performers of Madonna’s level fail to get airplay not because of their age, but because their current music no longer is attracting a broad audience. When was the last time Madonna released hit songs of the brilliant quality of her golden era of the 1980s and ’90s? Lavish, lucrative touring rather than sustained creative work in the studio has been her priority for decades.

The truth, if Madonna can dare face it, is that she is having a prolonged midlife crisis like that of many great stars of the past. It is particularly painful for her as a dancer whose disciplined body always was her primary expressive instrument. The agony of the aging star has been an archetypal theme of Hollywood since Dinner at Eight (1933) and the first A Star Is Born (1937), in which John Barrymore and Fredric March played celebrated actors in suicidal decline. But it was Billy Wilder’s film noir masterpiece Sunset Boulevard (1950) that first highlighted the special sufferings of the female sex symbol, whose glamorous aura was created and then cruelly withdrawn by a ruthless industry. The aging Norma Desmond, powerfully played by Gloria Swanson, is surrounded by photos and souvenirs from Swanson’s own dazzling stardom in the 1920s, when she was an international symbol of high fashion and chic.

From Joan Crawford — the first major studio-era star to hit the humiliating wall of aging — to Marilyn Monroe, who died at age 36 of a barbiturate overdose in 1962, aging has been a curse for Hollywood megastars. Dynamically verbal performers such as Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, who won fame for bold roles as abrasive individualists rather than beauty queens, were able to shift into a richly varied, late-phase career as weathered character actresses — although Davis’ signature role would remain the temperamental actress Margo Channing, who is obsessed with aging in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1950 film All About Eve.

Hollywood, from its birth a century ago, has glorified beauty because sex appeal is big box office, attuned to the dreams and desires of the mass audience, both male and female. That the cult of beauty is not based on misogyny is proved by the centrality of beauty to the cultural code of sophisticated gay men from ancient Athens and Renaissance Florence to Oscar Wilde’s London and Andy Warhol’s New York.

The main problem facing today’s aging women is not sexism but the lingering youth cult of the 1960s. Traditional mating patterns have been disrupted: Marriage is postponed by extended education and early career demands. Because of easy divorce, middle-aged women are now competing with younger women for both men and jobs — and thus are resorting to costly interventions to look 20 years younger than they are.

If aging stars want to be taken seriously, they must find or recover a mature persona. Stop cannibalizing the young! Scrambling to stay relevant, Madonna is addicted to pointless provocations like her juvenile Instagrams or her trashy outfit with strapped-up bare buttocks and duct-taped nipples at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in May. She has forgotten the legacy of her great precursor, Marlene Dietrich, who retained her class and style to the end of her public life.

In her Billboard Awards speech, Madonna oddly cited David Bowie as her “real muse.” But Bowie did not cling to his revolutionary, gender-bending Ziggy Stardust in the way that Madonna doggedly regresses to the sassy street urchin of her 1980s debut. Bowie retired Ziggy after a single sensational year and evolved into other personae, such as the suave, enigmatic Thin White Duke. Neither Dietrich nor Bowie would have begun an event as Madonna did after Anderson Cooper handed her the Billboard trophy: “We already had sex with a banana” and (about her microphone) “I always feel better with something hard between my legs.”

Two years ago, Jennifer Lopez (then 45) made a similar misstep with her crudely repetitious, faux-porn “Booty” video with Iggy Azalea. At ABC’s recent New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show, Mariah Carey bungled more than her singing: In her needlessly risque nude bodysuit, she looked like a splitting sack of over-ripe cantaloupes.

All women performers should study the magnificent precedent of Lena Horne, a fiercely outspoken civil rights activist who maintained total dignity and gorgeous elegance over her 60-plus-year singing career. Today, graceful aging by veteran stars is wonderfully modeled by Jane Fonda, Sharon Stone and Tippi Hedren, as well as the British actresses Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling. Lucy Liu, at 48, displays luminous self-possession and impeccable taste.

If any performer can provide a future blueprint for Hollywood aging, it may be that master of social media, Rihanna. No young star since the early Madonna years has such a gift for the camera — via intimate moody Instagrams or paparazzi shots in midnight streets. With her Chris Brown fiasco long receded, Rihanna has become her own studio, designing a profusion of cutting-edge fashions and adroitly shaping her public image as an irresistible combination of affability and mysterious reserve.

Most disappointing about Madonna’s speech was her collapse into rote male-bashing, which has escalated in Hollywood and surely will increase its cultural isolation from the national audience. The young Madonna was refreshingly sane in her teasing affection for men. Top movie actresses once projected an emotional depth, composure and adult authority that can only be called womanliness. Ingrid Bergman, Susan Hayward, Elizabeth Taylor, Deborah Kerr and Sophia Loren were no victims: They’re strong-willed personalities — onscreen and off. But all of them liked men, and it showed.

Women in or out of Hollywood who dress like girls and erase all signs of aging are disempowering themselves and aggressing into territory that belongs to the young. They are surrendering their right of self-definition to others. Men are not the enemy: They, too, are subject to nature’s iron laws. For the sake of its own art, Hollywood needs less sex war, not more.

Original article: How to Age Disgracefully in Hollywood

I am pretty sure Camille Paglia and I could not agree on the color of snow (it’s white by the way), but I find her articles refreshingly lucid for someone as far afield from me as she is.