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Could Infinity War Be The First $300 Million Opening Weekend Movie?

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The week is finally here. The Friday, Avengers: Infinity War will hit theaters is the United States and other countries around the world. Fans of the franchise will get a chance to see the climactic closure to ten years of cinema that has changed the way Hollywood tells stories. Say what you will about properties such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, or James Bond but I believe that there is not a property that has garnished such a wide admiration amongst moviegoers than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the hype surrounding the franchise growing with promotional material and now the raving impressions from critics who have gone to the premiere of the film, the hype leads me to wonder if Infinity War could be the first film to break $300 million domestically?

Tons of box-office numbers have been starting to pour out in the news with Variety reporting that the film could net half a billion dollars worldwide opening weekend. Half a billion seems like an insane number but I believe that this film could even hit $600 million opening weekend worldwide. If Fate of the Furious can pull $541, Infinity War should have no problem. While these numbers are great to hear if you're a fan of either the property or genre, I do not believe that these projections understand how important this film is to pop culture.

Marvel is a film property that has invested nearly twenty films and ten years of many people's lives for this cinematic moment. While some people might not be completely entrenched in the knowledge of every character in the MCU, everyone has had their different entry point into the universe. Tons of fans might have caught on to the property later down the line and have revisited the older films after seeing something more recent like Guardians or Black Panther with the latter being my main point with these box-office numbers. In February, Black Panther killed it at the box office by blowing away all expectations and dropping over $370 million worldwide and $202 million domestically. In fact, half of the top ten weekend box offices belong to Marvel properties. Say what you will about the money-making machine of Star Wars but they cannot compare to what Marvel Studios is doing. 

So why are more people not discussing the $300 million number with Infinity War? Do people seriously believe that this film cannot do it? My guess as to why this is not being discussed more is the fact that the only film to come close to that number is Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $247 million. Many believe that Star Wars is the most popular franchise worldwide in terms of pop cultural relevance and age. The fact is that these Marvel films mean much more to people that many realize. With all of these properties coming together for a climactic outing, you're going to get every person that has watched these films into theaters. Plenty of people understand the cultural impact that this film will have, and you'll have many people pay the extra to see this film in IMAX or 3D. You're going to have people going to see this film Friday night only to find out that every showing up until Sunday morning is sold out. Theaters are going to be running overnight screenings to help keep up with audience demands. 

Will Infinity War break $300 million? I believe that it can. You are talking about a franchise that has collected nearly $6 billion domestically and almost $15 billion worldwide (not accounting for inflation). To put that in comparison, Star Wars has made $4.3 billion domestically and Harry Potter only brought home $2.3 billion domestically. Marvel is a different animal when it comes to making money, so you can't let history determine what this film could make this weekend. The one thing I know about this weekend is a lot of fans will be happy and Disney is going to need a bigger bank.

Is Hollywood Trying To Blacklist Streaming Films?

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Very recently, I put together my list of the Top Ten films for 2017. Two of the films that made my list were Crown Heights and Mudbound, both were streaming-first films. I was sitting there after putting my list together around the time of the Academy Awards and I wondered "Why did these two films not get more widespread recognition?". I don't think that either film was deserving of Best Picture for many awards this year but they were definitely deserving for more than they were given. Even a film such as The Big Sick I believed got royally screwed this year. While The Big Sick was primarily released in theaters, the film was funded by Amazon and has primarily stayed on Amazon Prime since leaving theaters. I thought to myself if maybe the major players in Hollywood were beginning to draw a line between them and streaming content. With Hollywood continuing to struggle at the box office and theater chains losing money left and right, maybe they see streaming services as a threat to their existence. Maybe it's just a conspiracy that I'm conjuring in my head to make sense for why films I enjoyed did not get recognized.

Then the news came out that Cannes will ban Netflix films from competition and then my theory started getting some validity. Shortly after that rule chance, one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, Steven Spielberg, is now coming out and saying that Netflix films should not qualify for Oscars. Two major players in the filmmaking industry have now came out and declared war on streaming films. Spielberg goes on to say that he believes Netflix films are "TV movies" and that them gaining award accolades could be considered "cheating". I understand that Hollywood has failed to end their downward spiral in theatrical attendance but do you seriously believe that going to war with streaming service is going to bring people back? 

Do you want to know why people do not go to the theaters that much anymore? Maybe it's because tickets for a standard screening of a Hollywood film is $15-18 per person. If you decide you want to treat yourself to 3D or IMAX, tickets can get neat $24-$26. That is absolutely insane, especially when you consider a date night can run you around $40-50 and a family night can get you near $100. When did the movies turn into costing nearly as much as a theme park? The movies just cost too much and if you're not someone who enjoy the experience, You'll skip out on the experience and wait to pay nearly the same price of admission to own the film on home release. MoviePass is one of the best things to come to the movie business and yet theaters are still trying to ban the subscription service. Yes, I understand that the $10 monthly fee for that company is not "sustainable" but you have to know that this $10 fee is definitely an introductory fee to get people interested in the service. It is because of subscriptions like MoviePass that have made me go to the movies more and invest more in theaters especially having the extra money to pay for concessions, the one thing that theaters make nearly all of their money off of.

Don't even get me started on the actual films in theaters. Half of the films in theaters are complete shit. A lack of originality in the theater along with studios lack of care for the quality it puts out has made moviegoers more cautious than ever. Now with rating sites such as Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, studios are having an extremely hard time hiding terrible movies from audiences anymore. Instead of funding big-budget shit shows, how about you cut back on spectacle and focus more on acting talent and their material. Get OutEx Machina, and The Big Sick are all low-budget films that were highly successful in theaters. Get with the times.

Hollywood big wigs and their failure to adjust to the times is going to be the death of them. Streaming and on-demand content is the way of the future and trying to fight change is only going to leave you behind. You know, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote an article about Martin Scorsese and modern film. I find it very ironic that nearly a year later, he's producing a feature-length film for Netflix, the studio that Hollywood is now trying to fight. I highly doubt that Martin Scorsese thinks The Irishman is a "TV movie". Stop complaint about the competition and give audience members a better option. They're staying at home because your films cost too much and streaming content has a higher entertainment value than half the shit you have filling the screens in your cinemas. Stop whining, start adapting, and make better decisions. 

The MCU Countdown #7: Guardians of the Galaxy

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To this day, Guardians of the Galaxy is the biggest gamble Marvel Studios has ever pulled off. While the studio has continued taking risks with other properties such as Ant-ManDoctor Strange, and Black Panther, none of those films were as risky as Guardians. The fact that Marvel found a way to introduce five new heroes nobody except die-hard comic fans knew and still managed to make the film a success is impressive.

Guardians of the Galaxy stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper along with Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, and Benicio del Toro. In the first film, Peter Quill (Pratt) stumbles across a powerful artifact that attracts the attention of Ronan, a galactic terrorist, and the Ravagers, a group of thieves that Quill is a member of. After failing to find a buyer, Quill gets arrested along with Gamora (Saldana), Rocket (Cooper), and Groot (Diesel). Their arrest and bond over the treasure makes them form an unlikely alliance which leads them to being the last line of defense between the galaxy and its destructions.

While a majority of the Marvel films stay very interconnected in their stories since the events of The AvengersGuardians of the Galaxy took fans to a world that had very little connections to prior films. Not only was this a story to bring new life to the MCU but conveniently a new avenue for fans to enter the vastly dense property of Marvel. At the time of Guardians of the Galaxy's release, Marvel had released nine films. While not as daunting as trying to catch up on 18 films today, Marvel understand that many moviegoers are not going to watch 8+ films to catch up with the story. Instead of disregarding late fans to the franchise, they gave them a new avenue to jump into the property. I would not be shocked if the Marvel brand's expansive growth over the last few years is due in part to this film bringing them in to the world.

It would be a failure for me as a critic to not mention the amazing soundtrack in this film. Guardians of the Galaxy's use of music in the film makes almost every track memorable. Whenever a song such as "I Want You Back" or "O-o-h Child" comes on my Spotify, my mind immediately gravitates towards this film. How James Gunn produced a soundtrack that was so entertaining yet so memorable is just as impressive as the film he put on the screen. It is sad that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 could not live up to this soundtrack. 

The only problem and I know it sounds like a broken record at this point is the villain. I don't know how many times I have to sit here and write sections about Marvel's failure to create compelling villains. At this point, I'm absolutely shocked how a franchise so massive as Marvel spanning tons of films and billions of dollars can keep its success up with any gallery of villains. Marvel seems to be getting the picture as recent films have started to step up their game by creating relatable villains. 

Guardians of the Galaxy is still one of the most entertaining films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The fact that a ton of these jokes still land is impressive. It might also be the MCU film that I have re-watched the most. The film's accessibility and timeless nature help make it one of Marvel's most successful franchises in its universe. To this day, Guardians of the Galaxy has made $1.6 billion worldwide. That number is the fourth highest grossing franchise in the MCU with only Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor beating the property in money. Granted, each of those heroes I mentioned have three films compared to Guardians two. With the Guardians and Black Panther joining the Avengers in four weeks, one can only imagine what astronomical box office number might spawn on opening weekend. Could Infinity War be the first $300 million opening weekend?

TFT's Top Ten Films Of 2017

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It says something to my procrastination as a critic when I'm posting my "Best of 2017" in March. Better lake than never though. 2017 was a strong year in film. Last year saw the return of big-name directors such as Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Denis Villeneuve, and Edgar Wright. 2017 had plenty of hits as well as misses but one thing that made 2017 different than any year was the amount of good films that nobody saw. Audiences were completely unpredictable this year with what they wanted to see. The box offices reflected this radical nature between the bombing of Blade Runner 2049 and the insane box office run of Get Out. 2017 could go down as one of the most insane years in the film industry especially with the results of this season's Oscars. Now with the new year beginning, it is time to give you our Top 10 films of 2017.


10. Mudbound

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One of my top films of 2017 that I have still failed to finish my review of. To summarize the film without going into the full details of my thoughts, Mudbound was one of the most under appreciated films at this year's Academy Awards. While the film has a sluggish first half, the film has greta pace once it gets into the meat of the drama. Showcasing solid performances from top to bottom, Mudbound is one of those Oscar darlings that somehow was not able to get solid footing and also one of the most accessible films on this list and you should give it a shot.

9. Spider-Man: Homecoming

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The Spider-Man film that nobody wanted was the Spider-Man film that we all deserved. Being that this is the second time I've talked about this film (with a third time approaching in the MCU Countdown), it's safe to say how much I love this film. I was one of the few supporters of Sony's second interpretation of the Spider-Man character. While Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield did an incredible job with their characters, Sony's lack of solid villains and their focus on the future rather than the now lead to the downfall of their reboot. Thankfully Disney were able to get their hands on the character and now the future of the MCU looks very bright with Tom Holland.

8. The Post

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While The Post was not the Oscar-darling that everyone thought and hoped it could be, Speilberg's film on the Washington Post's publication of the Vietnam papers was a solid and definitely well-timed film. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep deliver what you expect from them at this point in their careers but none of them exceed expectations. The film has a handful of moments that help bring tension to the story but it's sluggish pace and abrupt ending lead to this film falling lower than it should on this list.

7. Crown Heights

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When I saw this film earlier this year, I thought that this film was Amazon's next Oscar-winning after last year's success with Manchester by the Sea. But as shown earlier in this list, the voters of the Oscars gave zero attention to films that were primarily released on streaming. The amount of pain that Keith Stanfield portrayed carries so much weight that I'm still feeling the impacts of this film months after seeing it. Crown Heights does a great job at telling this true story and the affects a corrupt and broken justice system can have on a struggling black community doing whatever they can to survive.

6. Wonder Woman

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Whether you like the DCEU or not, you have to respect what Patty Jenkins did with Wonder Woman. With a comic book franchise on the verge of collapse, Jenkins and Gadot teamed up to show the world that this franchise doesn't need Batman or Superman to stay afloat. While the third act of this film doesn't carry the momentum of the film as powerfully as it should, Wonder Woman is still a powerful film that showcases that Gal Gadot can be a star and how the demand for female heroes is out there. Sadly, Warner Brothers might struggle to get a sequel afloat with the DCEU on life support after the complete failure of Justice League. Hopefully Warner Brothers finds a way to get audiences interested in their properties again and bring DC back as a competitor in the comic book genre.

5. Blade Runner 2049

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Blade Runner 2049 was one of the biggest shockers of the year. First, nobody thought that the film was going to be good. Just like prior sequels of films from yesteryear, Blade Runner 2049 was going to leave a stain on a cult-film classic and weaken one of the strongest sci-fi films in modern cinema history. Instead, the film found a way to surpass the original and elaborate on everything we loved about the original and brought the story to a future generation. Too bad that nobody saw this film in theaters just like its predecessor. Let us all hope that Warner Brothers allows this group of storytellers to round out this franchise and cap off what could be one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history.

4. Dunkirk

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Dunkirk is a personal favorite of mine this year mainly on the fact that Christopher Nolan is my favorite director working in the business today. While Dunkirk is not anything near the story-telling genius of Memento and InceptionDunkirk is a step in the right direction after somewhat of a letdown with Interstellar. I thankfully got an opportunity to watch a 70mm IMAX print of this film and that experience is one of the most intense moments I've ever had in a theater. Christopher Nolan is still a master of pacing and tension but his stories are starting to lack the intrigue that his former work possessed. I am hoping that Nolan scales back for his next film and focuses on characters instead of spectical. 

3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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The Oscar darling of 2017, Three Billboards was one of the most talked about films during the award season and there are many reasons why. This film probably showcases one of the best top-to-bottom performances from a cast in 2017 and it showed this award season. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell went on a tear winning award after award for their performances in this film. I personally believed that Three Billboards was going to win this year's Oscars. Between the performances and material that the film presented, I thought it could take home the award. I still don't know how The Shape of Water did as well as it did. Hopefully you set aside some time and see this film if you missed out on Three Billboards in theaters.

2. The Big Sick

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How did everyone forget about this movie? Seriously, The Big Sick is one of the most inventive romantic comedies in recent memory while also being one of most heart-wrenching stories released on the big screen. Known for his quirkiness in Portlandia and Silicon Valley, Kumail Nanjiani shows his range as a performer in this true story about his life and meeting his wife Emily V. Gordon. Both him and his wife wrote one of the most original romantic comedies in in recent memory and injected a fresh take into a genre that has been dying for great content for twenty years. Hopefully The Big Sick can show that romantic comedies can be a powerful genre in cinema sooner rather than later.

1. Get Out

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I seriously cannot talk about this film enough. Back in February of 2017, I left my New York screening of this film and automatically went "This is the best film of 2017 and I do not know how any films this year will top it". I was hoping that I would be wrong and that Get Out was just the start of an amazing year in movies but not many films came close to dethroning the champion. Jordan Peele's debut is one of the strongest debuts of a first-time filmmaker I've ever seen and I hope that Peele has more up his sleeve. While The Shape of Water might have won Best Picture, Get Out will be the film on this list that truly stands the test of time.

Watch The Best Trailers From Super Bowl LII

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Super Bowl Sunday is an unofficial holiday in the United States of America. Millions gather around friends and family around the TV as they watch the finale of the NFL's best. While most people watching are interested in the the game itself, others are excited for all of the ad campaigns airing during the big game, including a plethora of movie trailers for the upcoming year in films. Here are the trailers that aired during the Super Bowl broadcast:


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom


SOLO: A Star Wars Story

Skyscraper

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The Cloverfield Paradox

Avengers: Infinity War


The Takeaway from the 90th Academy Award Nominees

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Earlier today, the nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced to the public. Many of the major players that were predicted to be contenders this year were nominated but some films including Dunkirk and The Shape of Water have brought home more nominations than predicted. Here are the nominees for this years Academy Awards:

Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Lead Actress:

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Director:

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

Animated Feature:

“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Animated Short:

“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Adapted Screenplay:

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Original Screenplay:

“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Cinematography:

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Film Editing:

“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

Sound Editing:

“Baby Driver,” Julian Slater
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
“Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King
“The Shape of Water,” Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Sound Mixing:

“Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
“Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
“The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Production Design:

“Beauty and the Beast,” Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
“Darkest Hour,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
“Dunkirk,” Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
“The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

Original Score:

“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell

Original Song:

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Makeup and Hair:

“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten

Costume Design:

“Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
“Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
“Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle

Visual Effects:

“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,”  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlon
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist


The Takeaway

The Top Three Nominated Films

1) The Shape of Water (13 Nominations)

2) Dunkirk (8 Nominations)

3) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (7 Nominations)

The Snubs

This might be a year in film where many look back and won't remember what films were released but what happened in the industry itself. One after another, sexual assault allegations have flooded the news feeds of countless sites and broadcasts and just when you think it's over, another allegation comes to light. One of the snubs that many will talk about is the removal of James Franco from the Best Actor category. For an actor to win a Golden Globe for a performance and then shortly after be removed from the Academy ballot means one thing and one thing only, time is truly up. For an award show that has been blasted for prioritizing white men, I'm happy for the academy that they took a stand and did not make James Franco a part of this year's awards. 

Wonder Woman getting completely shut out in every category is something to scratch your head at. For a super hero film that some consider to be an important step-forward in cinema, the fact that the academy couldn't give the film a visual effects nomination or costume design award seems weird. Keeping the topic on comic book films, the lone nomination for Logan is going to aggravate many fans of the film. Logan was a film that many believed to be a contender for Best Picture with Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman being long shots in the acting category. While fans will be disappointed, I saw this coming from a mile away. 

The snub that still surprises me the most is how much The Big Sick is being snubbed this entire award season. For a film that is considered the best comedy of the year, you would think that you would have heard more about it by now. The film showcases powerful performances from Kumail Nanjiani who is coming from a place of pain, sadness, and love telling his personal story of how him and his wife met. The Big Sick does take home a nomination for Original Screenplay but not filling the final slot for Best Picture must be a painful loss. Holly Hunter and Ray Ramano joined Kumail with stellar performances bringing a solid balance of laughs and grit to their roles. 

Who Is The New Favorite?

After the Golden Globes, many believed that Lady Bird could be in for one hell of an award season landing major awards that night. Now the film faces a true test now that its competition isn't split up into two categories (Drama and Comedy). Lady Bird also is nowhere near the top in terms of award nominations being tied at 6th with Blade Runner 2049 at five nominations. While the film's five nominations are in the major categories including Best Picture, its lack of nominations will make people second guess how much this film will win on Oscar Night.

The new favorite is hands down The Shape of Water cleaning house with 13 nominations. While the film isn't close to breaking any records with the amount of nominations it has, having a five-nomination gap between first and second is something to take into consideration. The Shape of Water won for Best Director at the Golden Globes and is quite possibly the favorite to win that category again at this year's Oscars. The film still has a tough road to climb if it wants to take home the most awards but the nominations give it the ammunition to do so.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Countdown

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2018 marks the ten year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Over the span of these ten years, Marvel Studios have collectively grossed over $13 billion in box office revenue with four films crossing the billion dollar mark. Since the release of Iron Man, Marvel has released 17 films with nearly all of them becoming financial and critical successes. The films have dominated top rankings of Rotten Tomatoes with all entries earning a fresh rating and receiving an average rating of 83%. After these ten years, the Marvel universe as we know it seems to be coming towards an end with part one of the climactic entry coming this May in Avengers: Infinity War.  

To celebrate this monumental franchise and it's massive success, Three-Fifty-Two will begin a huge retrospective project starting in January 2018 and ending with the release of Avengers: Infinity War.  In this project, we will look back at every film that took place in the MCU, ranking them from worst to best, and their relevance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the comic book genre as a whole. We hope that you join us for these weekly entries into this discussion as we look forward to taking a trip down memory lane as we prepare you for one of the most cinematic events of our lives.

Tarantino Is What Paramount Needs For Star Trek

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In all of the cinematic news that I have read and covered, an article like I am writing right now would be an idea that only someone would cook up in some fever dream after watching a double feature of Star Trek and Inglorious Basterds. Yet here I am and here we are and if Deadline is reporting facts, the likelihood of Quentin Tarantino directing a Star Trek film is more of a reality than a fever dream.

According to Deadline, Quentin Tarantino has pitched the idea of a Star Trek film to J.J. Abrams and Paramount. The two parties have reportedly liked what they heard so much that they have now put together a writing room at Paramount to flesh out the plot for this Star Trek film that Tarantino has in mind. Many are believing that with this being Quentin's idea, that he would take the reins and helm the fourth film in the franchise. While it's still early to tell, there are many reasons for him to helm the fourth installment and other reasons why he might not.

First off, is this a good idea for Quentin Tarantino to take over a Star Trek film? This is a director who has famously written and directed most of his work.  Not only has Tarantino had that much influence in the production, almost all of his films up to this point have been original works that have not been involved in a larger franchise. Tarantino has never had to worry about an overlapping continuity from films prior to the one he's making. Sure, you can say that he's apparently developed a Tarantino Cinematic Universe, but that isn't anything that has overlapping consequences as a franchise like Star Trek.

While he hasn't dipped his toes into a large franchise before, Star Trek could definitely be a franchise that could benefit from adding another auteur director to its rebooted universe. Quentin's vision and style can help inject more energy into a franchise that's struggling to keep up with the mega-blockbusters that Disney has competing against them next door. Tarantino is a mind in Hollywood that understands what makes a film stand the test of time while also paying tribute to what has come before. Adding Quentin Tarantino next to the name J.J. Abrams already gets people into the seats and maybe some of those members will be newcomers to the series.

What about J.J. Abrams' already existing plans for a fourth film in the franchise? Shortly after the release of Star Trek Beyond, Abrams discussed that the fourth film was already in the middle of preproduction and would involve Kirk meeting his dad who was played by Chris Hemsworth before he became a huge success in the Marvel films as Thor. So, if Tarantino has come in and his' pitch is taking president, does that mean the original plans for the fourth film are canned? Maybe, but the idea that Tarantino has for his version of Star Trek is already out on the internet and you just don't know it. Not that long ago, Tarantino was asked about working on a franchise property and he discusses his interest in producing something in the Trek universe.  Maybe his idea might mirror what he discussed in this interview below:

With Abrams' discussion of the fourth installment involving Kirk and his father, maybe Tarantino came in and pitched the idea of combining that interaction with the plot elements of "Yesterday's Enterprise"? Having that be the plot elements of a fourth Star Trek film could be something that I would go see in theaters both as a fan of the franchise and as a fan of Tarantino. As of now, this news is still fresh and nothing has been green-lit or officially announced. Personally, I do believe that with two powerful names in J.J. Abrams and Quentin Tarantino pushing for this to be done, odds are that this film will be made. Whether Tarantino actually comes on and take the helm of this film remains to be seen. Personally, I do not believe that Tarantino will come on and direct this film, his language alone might prevent him or prevent the studio from allowing him to take that much control over the film. I would be interested to see who would take the lead on this film but this is definitely news that gets me excited as a Star Trek fan. My excitement is tempered with the fact that this seems like a match made from a game of Cards Against Humanity but the collaboration is something that could definitely work.

Regal is going to try (and fail) with changing their ticket prices

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I was sitting here recently thinking to myself "I haven't written an article in a long time". Then I wake up this morning and read that Regal Entertainment Group is about to do the dumbest thing a theater chain has done since bringing 3D back to the theaters.  Now I have something to write about. 

Regal Entertainment Group, one of the largest theater chains in the United States, has decided that they are going to start experimenting with a new model of ticket pricing.  The basics of this idea is that "high-demand" movies such as summer blockbusters and oscar season films (you know, the films that people actually believe are worth going to see in theaters) are going to have inflation on their prices due to demand.  While those prices will be increased, unsuccessful films (the dog trash in theaters that make us question if Hollywood is experimenting with a new form of torture) will have their ticket prices lowered. Let's say that the newest Star Wars movie opens up along side Fifty Shades of Grey 3: Even More Shade. Instead of both movies having ticket prices between $12-15 ($17 if you're in a bigger city), Star Wars will have it's ticket prices increased by $3-4 while Fifty Shades will have it's price dropped $3-4.  

Is this idea stupid?  Yes, it is very stupid. Is it going to work? No, this idea is dead on arrival.  Doing this will just open up pandora's box for movie chains.  What's stopping movie theaters to hike up ticket prices even if the film has bad reviews?  What about theaters who have special deals with film distributors? If the theater has a special deal with Fox or Universal, what keeps their ticket prices fair instead of raising the price of their competitor's movies?

That's just the start of this problem. What about the methodology and the analytical models theaters will use for ticket pricing?  Is this model going to be based on first week attendance?  Well it can't be based on attendance because 70% of a movie's box office comes from opening weekend.  Theaters know that and will want to inflate the price before the film opens.  So does that mean ticket inflations will be based on Rotten Tomatoes or critical responses?  Maybe but there are a ton of blockbuster films with poor critical responces.  A 14% rating is not going to lower the ticket price to the next Michael Bay spectacle. A 56% rating is not going to lower the ticket price to the next Will Farrell comedy.  So if box office attendance and critical reviews won't be affecting the prices of these films, then what will?

John Campea talks about in his video that the argument behind the model is that multiple entertainment industries have switched to this ticket model over time.  Sporting events have this model as well as live theater, concerts, and comedy acts. So if the model has worked for those mediums, why can't it work for film? Can a model of demand-base ticket pricing work? Yes, it can work but the theory will work if it mimics the demand pricing of video games instead of live entertainment.  Good games that have positive critical reviews and high sales stay at the default $59.99 price for months after their release.  For games that do not sell well, developers will cut the price of the game to make it more accessibility to gamers. This price cut helps get the game in more players hands. Some of these players are people who wanted the game but say the reviews and didn't want to risk their money.  Other players might be gamers that wanted to play the game opening day but just don't have the money.

That is what theaters need to go if they want more people to come back to the movies. Cut the part out where you raising ticket prices for good movies just to make a quick buck. Raising the price of the newest Batman movie to $20 will keep me away from a theater. Keep the ticket prices model for bad movies.If I'm going to see Batman for $15  and another movie I've been wanting to see has had it's price lowered to $7-10 due to attendance, I might sit myself down for a double-feature. That is the model that will work for theaters and for studios.  The studio might not want to lower their prices for tickets but hey, $10 is better than no money.

The Terminator Franchise: Why Wont You Die!?

Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop... ever, until you are dead!
— Kyle Reese - The Terminator (1984)

The above quote is one of the most famous quotes from the original Terminator film created by James Cameron in 1984.  That quote struck fear into audience members as they began to imagine the never-ending hunt a Terminator could bring if one was after your life.  Now I find that quote as an ironic metaphor for what the franchise has become. The Terminator franchise is out here.  It cannot be bargained with.  It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse that you sat through the last three films.  You want the franchise to stop but it absolutely will not stop...ever, until we are dead.

News came out recently that James Cameron, the originator behind the first two and the only good films, could be getting the rights back.  Empire Magazine and other outlets believe that if/when the rights to the Terminator franchise revert back to James Cameron, that he's planning on creating a new trilogy of Terminator films that will help reset the franchise and bring it back to the forefront of pop culture. That's right! James Cameron is going to make a 6th, 7th, and 8th Terminator film while also trying to make a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Avatar film.  Get ready to go to a cinema near you and watch six sequels that nobody I think wants or cares about.

Now would I love a new Terminator that's good? Sure I would want that but the fact now is how the hell do you clean up this convoluted timeline? Terminator 1-4 in a way work in a weird way.  While the third and fourth film are not the best films, they still work in the timeline those films are in.  Terminator Genisys is where everything gets crazy and begins confusing the common-movie-goer and there lies the problem.  Today's audience just doesn't care about this franchise anymore.

Today's youth were not even alive for the original two films.  The only Terminator films they know about are these awful sequels and reboots.  For them, it's a franchise that's aging and becoming as irrelevant to pop culture as its lead actor.  That's another problem that this franchise has no answer to, how do you replace Arnold Schwarzenegger?  Unlike characters like James Bond, Batman, or The Doctor, The Terminator is Schwarzenegger and only him. While other franchises have found different ways to make the characters more than just the actors, Terminator has struggled to move on past Schwarzenegger.  Not that he's almost 70, the likelihood of him being able to carry this new incarnation of the franchise is slim.

James Cameron and whichever studio decides to become the new home to this property just need to do the smart and logical thing and put it to bed. Bury it deep somewhere and let it collect dust, a lot of dust.  If you want to create content with the brand, then do it with books, comics, and animation.  Those mediums can keep Schwarzenegger as young as you want him. Just please do not make me or anyone else suffer through another reboot or retelling of any Terminator story.  Just shove that idea in the dark corner of your mind and say "Hasta la vista, Baby".

Is IMAX 3D nearing an end?

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IMAX is one of the premiere formats you can watch a movie on right now.  The massive size of the screen and bombastic sound from their state-of-the-art systems are top of the line. IMAX is the closest thing moviegoers have to the feeling of being in a movie theater in the past before we had large televisions at home. While IMAX is doing well and the front-runner in terms of premium formats, it seems like one of it's options might be coming to an end.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, IMAX is going to transition to cutting down on IMAX 3D releases.  While the change seems to be happening only in America currently, this decision could spread more if even more people go to IMAX now that there are more 2D showings.  IMAX CEO Greg Foster said the decision to transition to 2D more than 3D is because of simple demand.  "The demand for 2D films is starting to exceed 3D in North America." Foster said.

While I have been a huge opponent to 3D in cinemas, I have always felt like if you had to see a movie in 3D, that IMAX 3D was the way to go.  IMAX 3D with its higher resolution, brighter image, and bigger canvas, helps make up for the lack of immersion a standard 3D movie brings. IMAX 3D was the only format that made 3D worth seeing.  Then again, there were other times where I wanted to see a film in IMAX but theaters were only screening IMAX 3D.  

While I see both sides of wanting to remove this format from mainstream cinemas, it makes me beg the question "Is this the beginning of the end for 3D films"?  I find it interesting that studios and theaters are choosing now to end 3D support.  Why is the end coming now when 3D technology is almost there?  With all the craze around VR and headsets with monitors, those devices help make 3D movies more immersive.  The glasses that darken the image are gone.  Like the answer to many questions involving films and the industry itself, it harkens back to the same answer, the audience.  Foster said there is a "clear preference" of what moviegoers want.  If they want to spend the extra money for a premium format, they want to feel like they're getting what they paid for.  The wallets have spoken and IMAX is the first one to listen.

Bumblebee and the Two Autobots: Knight Takes On The Transformers

Paramount is at a crossroad with one of their most profitable franchise.  When Transformers: The Last Knight later this year, the car-robot franchise will be losing Michael Bay as its director.  While Michael Bay has commented on giving the director chair up and has returned, this hopefully will be the end of Michael Bay's run with the Transformers franchise.  Not only has the franchise been in a downward spiral since the Revenge of the Fallen but the box office returns have also been shrinking in size.  With the franchise in need of fresh ideas as well as a new direction, Paramount might have found that spark they've been needing. 

Just last week, Deadline reported that Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight has been selected to helm the first spinoff film for the franchise.  The new spinoff film is supposed to center around the fan-favorite autobot Bumblebee although no specifics are set as to where this film sets inside the Transformers timeline.  There is also no discussion if this film might help start a reboot for the franchise as well.  

While Michael Bay made a pretty good origin film in the Transformers series, he's been awful at moving the story forward with a lack of character depth, cohesive plots, and thematic tone with his latest four films.  Are these Transformers films supposed to be marketed to children or are they aimed towards an older audience?  Maybe that direction will now become clear with Knight taking the mantle. 

Knight is coming off the success of Kubo and the Two Strings but lacks much experience outside of that film; in-fact Kubo is his only film directed by Travis Knight.  Knight has been involved with many other animated films including producing The Boxtrolls and ParaNorman.  Many fans of the original cartoons from the 80s have complained about the films not carrying over many characteristics from the cartoon.  Perhaps Knight's animation experience could help blend the charm of the original cartoons with the action set-pieces of the feature films.  While this is still very early with writers and cast-members still needing to join the production.  Fans of the franchise should at least breathe a sigh of relief.  Hopefully sooner rather than later, you'll be receiving the Transformers films you've been wishing for.

 

The Aftermath: 89th Academy Awards

If you turned the TV off after La La Land's best picture was announced, you just missed the most memorable moment in Oscar history.  After members of the La La Land production team began their acceptance speeches, the Oscar's crew began shuffling the crew off and began informing the cast and crew of Moonlight that they were the true winners of the night.  Amidst all the cringe, drama, and craziness during the ending of the Academy Awards, there was something beautiful that happened.  Pretentiousness and hype took a backseat and allowed something memorable to be front and center.

Before that moment happened, I was putting together a segment on "The Oscars are Still White" for this site.  I already had the imbalanced award numbers ready and a statement about how the Oscars yet again awarded a film Best Picture even though it was nothing more than hype and style over substance.  People soon would begin scratching their heads trying to remember "Who won the academy award for Best Picture in 2017?"  The academy has done this before and many times over.  Has anyone ever sat down and re-watched The Hurt Locker after 2009?  What about the year after with The King's Speech?  While those films are not bad in any way, they don't have that it-factor that makes them timeless like Up, Inception, or The Social Network.  Then the unthinkable happened and everyone was shocked.  

As people were shown off stage and awards taken away, the moment went from forgettable to infamous.  While the situation could have been staged to help bring attention back to the oscars, the fact remains that Moonlight is the 2017 winner for Best Picture and you cannot take that back from them; unless there is a third envelope.  I'm so proud of Barry Jenkins and his crew for having the spotlight showcased on them and their original story that needed to be told.  Moonlight was one of my favorite films of the year and is miles ahead of its time.  It's sad that the spotlight of their achievement is being overshadowed by the blunder that happened, but if you asked the crew of La La Land, I believe that they would not mind being involved in this blunder if it meant they had the award at the end.

While the 89th Academy Awards showed progress having African Americans winning multiple awards including Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture, they still were many awards and nominations left omitted.  Heavy Oscar favorites like Hidden Figures and Lion took home no awards on the night.  Films with a minority-centered stories only received five awards on the night and that is including Hidden Figures, Fences, Moonlight, Lion, and OJ: Made In AmericaLa La Land received six awards on their own.  Has progress been made?  I can say that yes progress has been made but the fact remains that diversity is still a problem with this show.  Many Asians and Indians are still being underrepresented at award season and hopefully the future holds more to come for them.  Progress is being made but a lot of the Oscar's ugly scars showed up last night as well and hopefully more progress will be made sooner rather than later.

The 89th Academy Awards: The Nominations

Recently the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts announced the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards.  With that, let the speculations and predictions begin to flood your social life for the next month.  This was an important award season coming off the last few years of controversy.  Many have complained about the white-washing and lack of minorities in the running for Oscars and the criticism led to the academy reworking its vetting process.  After one year, the changes have already been felt in this year’s nominations.  Almost half of the nominations for Best Picture involve films with minority-led casts.  Barry Jenkins is the first African American to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay in the same year.  Supporting actress has three of its five nomination spots filled by African American women, a first in the history of the Oscars.  While there still is room for improvement, progress has been made.  After viewing the nominations, this is one of the strongest list of nominees that have been put together in a long time.  Very few awards have clear-cut favorites and leaves many categories up for grabs.  With that, here are my thoughts on this year's nominations. 

What was left off this year?

Deadpool

I'm going to anger some people with this comment but thank god this was not nominated for a major award this year.  I'm a fan of this film and I enjoyed this in theaters and consider it one of the best films of this year but this film is more hype than excellence.  The fact remains that this film isn't even the best comic book film of the year.  Deadpool is not as strong as The Dark Knight which transcended the genre by becoming more than just a comic book film.

Silence

Scorsese's newest film was crowned as a Best Picture front-runner before a trailer was even showcased this year.  The fact that Scorsese spent 25 years into this film and could not receive a single nomination for this film must be heartbreaking.  Silence isn't a bad film and is in the mid-80s on Rotten Tomatoes but this film somehow did not resonate with the academy at all.  Maybe they didn't take kindly to his recent comments.

Live By Night

Four years separated from a Best Picture win, Affleck was back this year with his newest crime drama.  This film was another favorite to bring gold home this award season but the only difference between this, Silence, and Deadpool is that those films did well critically and at the box office. Sitting at a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes and a pitiful $15 million worldwide, this film is a huge disappointment for Affleck and Warner Brothers.  Hopefully this film can at least make its budget back.

Amy Adams

I would not be as bothered by Amy Adams not being nominated for Best Actress until I saw the list of who they decided were worthy instead.  The academy dropped the ball this year by nominating the wrong people and creating a two-headed race.  While I agree with the nominations of Portman and Stone, the fact that Stone is the front-runner right now is comical.  Adam's performance in Arrival is much stronger than Stone's in La La Land.  The academy should have nominated Taraji P. Henson and Amy Adams over Ruth Negga and Isabelle Huppert.  I don't think Amy Adams would win with that line up but Amy Adams would win if she was in the current list of nominations.

The Favorites for this year's Oscars

Best Supporting Actor - Mahershala Ali

Ali has been on a tear since showing up in House of Cards a few years back.  Now he's having the strongest year of his career with performances in House of Cards, Luke Cage, Hidden Figures, and Moonlight.  While he has some stiff competition in Jeff Bridges and Michael Shannon, Ali has already snagged the Critics Choice and the SAG award for his roll.  This is one of the safest bets of the night.

Best Supporting Actress - Viola Davis

All you need to do is watch the trailer for Fences and know that Davis was going to be nominated for Best Actress in some form.  I believe her performance will win simply because of her competition.  Michelle Williams lacks the screen time in Manchester to win an Oscar and Octavia Spencer will have a difficulty winning because many believe like I do that she's not even the best part of Hidden Figures.  Naomi Harris will be her main competition given the rising buzz with Moonlight.  If Viola Davis was going up against Taraji P. Henson or Janelle Monáe, this would be a different post.

Best Actor - Casey Affleck

Who would have thought that in January we would be talking about Casey Affleck as the talk of the Oscars and not Ben Affleck.  Casey Affleck was amazing in Manchester by the Sea and one of the main reason this film is receiving so much award season honors.  Casey Affleck shows plenty of depth in his role and carries tons of emotional weight throughout the film.  While many thought Andrew Garfield was his only competition, Denzel just came out of nowhere and won Best Actor at the SAG Awards.  Garfield's performance in Hacksaw Ridge is not enough to beat out Affleck but some could choose Garfield over Affleck due to Garfield's combined performances in Hacksaw Ridge and Silence.  While I still believe Affleck is the front runner, Denzel could steal the spotlight on this one.

Best Actress - Amy Adams

I really could not write a realistic winner for this category other than someone who isn't nominated.  While I personally did not thing Emma Stone's performance was the best of the year, she keeps receiving praise and racking up awards.  I have not seen Jackie so I cannot give my opinion on Portman's performance.  While some might consider her the best performance of the year, La La Land did not receive 14 nominations for no reason.  Emma Stone has already won the Golden Globe and the SAG award for her performance in La La Land and she'll probably land the academy award as well.  If only Amy Adams were in the running for Arrival.

Best Director - Damien Chazelle - La La Land

For the last few years, Best Director has almost turned into a runner-up award for Best Picture. Best Director also has been going towards the most stylized film of the pack.  Just look at the last few years, Alejandro G. Iñárritu won for The Revenant in 2016 but was runner-up to Spotlight for Best Picture. Alfonso Cuarón won for Gravity in 2014 but was runner-up to 12 Years A Slave.  While I do not think La La Land is a great film, I can give the film the credit it deserves on the style and approach Chazelle took with the production.  The film isn't the best film of the year but the film is well made.

Best Picture - Moonlight

While La La Land is the front-runner with it's record-tying fourteen award nominations, it will not take home the biggest award of the night.  I also do not believe Moonlight is the best film of the year either but it has the right stuff to win.  There have been many musicals and many love-stories to Hollywood that have won Best Picture before.  There have been many true stories or films based on the lives of amazing people.  I also believe that more of those films will come down the road.  What we haven't seen before is a film like Moonlight that raises questions we've never thought about asking.  I've never seen a film like Moonlight before in my life.  In a film industry that is full of horrible, non-original ideas, the Oscars need to show that originality is still out there.  A film does not need to follow the likes of a white-savior or a super-human creature; it can follow the life of a troubled African American struggling to find out who he is.  That's why we need this film right now and that's why it will win on February 26th. 

Ben Affleck, The Batman, and The DC Cinematic Universe

For the last month, The DC Cinematic universe has been releasing news that can be compared to a fire sale of red flags.  If you have not read the Variety report, Ben Affleck has dropped out as director of the upcoming stand-alone Batman film.  Around a month ago, there was turmoil between Affleck and the writer's room of The Batman.  Many fans were worried about what this news meant for the film as well as Ben Affleck's time as Batman.  Affleck later squashed those rumors by appearing on Jimmy Kimmel stating that everything was fine and he would still be directing Batman.  Then came the news that the production team behind The Flash was going farther back into pre-production with a "page 1" rewrite of The Flash.  Shortly after that horrible news, even worse news came last night with Affleck officially stepping out of the director's chair.

This is some of the worst news coming out of Warner Brothers in recent memory.  I feel exactly how John Campea feels right now.  I originally thought the DC Cinematic Universe were going through growing pains trying to catch up with Marvel.  While Batman V Superman felt too congested and Suicide Squad a completely rushed messed, I still had high hopes for DC movies.  Man of Steel is a film that has many die-hard fans out there with me being one of them.  There still is a lot of positive buzz surrounding Wonder Woman and everything looked great with Justice League.  Things were beginning to turn in the right direction until the past week of news dropped.  Now I'm left wondering, "Is this the end of the DC Universe"?  

While the universe is not dead yet, it's on life support and possibly brain dead.  Say what you will about Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad but the fact of the matter is many have already given up on this film franchise.  Fans have already checked out of this franchise and another bomb will take the die-hard fans out as well.  At this point, fans should begin preparing for the inevitable reboot of DC films.  The amount of negatives outweigh the few positives now.  Maybe this will be a lesson learned for the executives at Warner Brothers and DC.  Rushing something, especially something as complex as a DC film universe, is not a good thing.  All we can do now is watch the final days of DC films.  Let them have their final moments and then kindly pull the plug.  

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The Spinoffs: Why Fantastic Beast sputtered and Rogue One prevailed.

This fall we saw the release of two spinoff films hoping to expand on two of Hollywood's most successful franchises of all time.  The Harry Potter and Star Wars film series are two of the highest grossing stand-alone film franchises in the history of cinema, combining for a mind-boggling $14.9 billion dollars.  With studios always looking for easier ways to make money, it was only a matter of time before we received more films from these franchises.  Both films allow its fans to explore new stories and characters, while also staying in the worlds that they fell in love with.  The only problem right now is that one film is doing well while the other is not.

Fantastic Beast currently has a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes compared to Rogue One's 85% rating.  While Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them made a decent profit of $200 million in five weeks, Rogue One beat that with $318 million in just eight days.  Rogue One just also surpassed Fantastic Beasts overseas with a total of $817 million compared to $777 million.  While there is still some time for these films to perform in the box office, it is safe to say that Rogue One is going to surpass Fantastic Beasts, both critically and financially.  

Fantastic Beasts did not feel any different than a typical Harry Potter film.  The characters, along with the tone, are consistent with expectations of J.K. Rowling’s world.  That's not a bad reaction to have given that Warner Brothers made billions of dollars through the Harry Potter franchise.  However, Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One, and Disney took a greater risk and created a war film that carried a darker tone than the previous Star Wars films.  The line between good and evil is not clear anymore; the gritty imagery complemented the tone of the film.  Disney created a film that is captivating for hardcore Star Wars fans, as well as those who only recognized Darth Vader as Luke’s father 

Additionally, there is no doubt that Rogue One maintains its strengths in its diverse cast, including multiple people of color in key roles, contrary to previous Star Wars films. On the other hand, Fantastic Beasts casted very few non-white actors and actresses to play major characters in the film.  Some critics might note that diversity is not a significant concern, but representation matters, especially in garnering viewers’ interest and connection with the world they enter in a film.  Just look at this article from Time and see for yourself.

It will be interesting to see where these studios go from here.  Disney must be incredibly pleased with the positive reaction that Rogue One has received.  Warner Brothers should be proud to have found a new avenue to produce stories inside the Harry Potter universe, but there is definitely room for improvement.  While Lucasfilm might have produced the better film, Warner Brothers will not have to reinvest in their characters for their next stand-alone Potter film.  Having characters that people know and love is the easiest way to bring audiences back to the theater.  Only time will tell if Lucasfilm has the stories to keep up with the world of wizards and wands.

Where the hell is Steve McQueen?

Oscar season is approaches and we're beginning to hear about frontrunner films and performances to watch out for.  As I began looking at what to keep an eye on, I scrolled through the list of films and caught myself wondering if Steve McQueen had another film coming this year.  After seeing his name not on the list for this year, I went to take a peek at his IMDB page if I missed any news on upcoming work only to find out that McQueen has worked on nothing since winning Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave.  This revelation lead me to wonder...what the hell has Steve McQueen been doing?

Before I go more into my findings, let me say that I am a huge fan of Steve McQueen's work and consider him one of the best filmmakers in the business now.  I was first introduced to his work when I saw his second directorial picture Shame.  That film is a personal favorite of mine although it's not for everyone as the image in the film is very graphic.  His directorial debut, Hunger, was also a powerful film but confusing to follow the political backdrop behind the narrative.  After those two solid outings, he directed 12 Years A Slave and won Best Picture at the 2014 Academy Awards.  You would think that he would have a pretty easy time getting a production off the ground after those films right?

Well that does not seem the case now with McQueen.  Apparently in 2014, McQueen signed on to write, direct, and executive produce a 6-episode miniseries for HBO but after filming the pilot, HBO declined to pick up the option for the series.  In 2015, his only production that he was a part of was directing Kanye West's music video for his single "All Day".  After those two things, that's pretty much all that Steve McQueen has done so far but we could finally see a new production from him sometime soon.  There are rumors that McQueen will direct two pictures and a possible BBC series.  The BBC series would follow the lives of black Britons and their families over the course of 40+ years.  Since 2014, McQueen has been attached to direct a biopic about Paul Robinson though not much more information about that film has since been announcement.  That's not to say that McQueen has no interest on the project anymore but might want to keep the idea on the back burner until the time is right.  

The production that we will most likely see soon is a film Collider reported back in September.  The film titled Widows would pair the academy award-winning director with Viola Davis as lead actress and Gillian Flynn (known for her novel Gone Girl) as lead writer.  The film sounds like a great idea on paper but we will have to wait and see on this project.  The jury is now out on the filmmaker that seemed to one of the hottest in the industry just three years ago.  I wish nothing but the best for McQueen on this project.  All it takes to get back in good grace is one great film.

Trailer Reaction: The Emoji Movie

I know...I cannot believe what I am writing now.  Earlier today, humanity was greeted with a trailer that it never asked for yet we received; the trailer for The Emoji Movie.  You read the headline right, I am in the process of writing my reactions to a brand new movie based off mobile device communications.  Whenever there is a moment that I believe that Hollywood has hit rock bottom with their ideas and the only direction they as an organization can go is up, they drop a trailer like this.  How and the hell are we even here discussing a trailer for this film?  How did this even get past a first draft?  How did this film even get green-lit after a pitch meeting?  These are questions that I do not have an answer for and possibly never will.  

As I sat down and watched this trailer in its horrific vertical aspect ratio, I felt parts of my body and soul die as the trailer progressed.  I will say the emoji they use to describe the film is very fitting and symbolic (pun intended) for how I believe everyone around this project feels.  I'm still left speechless about how horrible of an idea this is and how the trailer somehow found a way to come across even worse.  I would go into more details about how I hate this film already but to e honest, this film doesn't even deserve anymore time out of my life.  Can the year of 2016 please hurry up and end?  I am starting to see why everyone believes that this is the worst year in recent memory.

Trailer Reaction: Blade Runner 2049

Today the movie world was greeted with our first glimpse into the highly anticipated (yet not really asked for) sequel to the cult sci-fi classic Blade Runner.  Blade Runner 2049 brings back Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott (assuming the role of an executive producer instead of directing) and adds newcomers Ryan Gosling and Denis Villeneuve as director.  Villeneuve resume speaks for itself with critical hits like Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival under his belt while bringing needed confidence to the project.  So how does the trailer look?  I thought it looked pretty good.

One of the major things that I worried about with this project was CGI becoming a huge part of the film over practical effects.  While CGI has its place in cinema, Blade Runner's beauty came from its real sets and practical effects that made their dystopian world feel lived in.  While we only saw brief moments of the film in the trailer, CGI didn't even seem to exist in the trailer. I thought that they have gone a great job so far at keeping the look and feel of Ridley Scott's original film.  The color palate is there along with the look and feel of the world surrounding the characters.  The teaser did what it needed to do, transport us back to 1982. 

While Harrison Ford's voice over did give me bad flashbacks to the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, I felt like trailer needed to add some sort of narrative to the story and give the audience a tease about where this film takes place.  I could go into more details about the teaser but there is a lot of time between now and when this film releases.  As a fan of Blade Runner, I will at least give the studios a pat on the back for not "Ghostbustering" this trailer.  While many might see this film as something that we did not need, it gives me hope that this film might have a good story to tell us.

Scorsese vs. New Cinema

I recently read an article on IndieWire on how Martin Scorsese hasn't watched a new movie in two or three years.  Before I want to get on my thoughts on his comments, I wanted to share what IndieWire quoted him saying so you have some context.

“We’re just completely saturated with images that don’t mean anything. Words certainly don’t mean anything anymore, they’re twisted and turned,” adds Scorsese. “So where’s the meaning? Where’s the truth? So we have to strip away everything. It goes back to that question I had in ‘Means Streets’, how do you live a good life? A life which is good, meaning compassion, and respect for others, in a world like today or in a world where I grew up, quite honestly.”  

Scorsese here is not talking about film vs. digital; he's talking about all modern filmmaking .  While I can agree with some of what he's saying, I wouldn't go out and say that all the images we are viewing are meaningless.  I think there have been a lot of meaningful films that have released in the past few years.  Films that come to my mind that I consider great are Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Ex Machina, Spotlight, and Whiplash.  The one key question that he brings up is how can you live a good life while mutually respecting each other in our current world; a world that today spares no privacy and fueled with hate.  The truth is you have to keep fighting for that good life and to not give up on it.  Sitting around and not conforming to progress is the reason we're in this situation now.  

I also believe that as a filmmaker, if you dwell on the past and don't view what your peers are doing, there is no way to grow and progress as a filmmaker.  Without progress, we would still have film playing in silence and black in white.  Now does Martin Scorsese need to become a better filmmaker?  I don't think so since he's an academy award winner director and I just write on a film blog.  I will say that nobody needed to witness a 3-hour cut of The Wolf of Wall Street either let alone a 4-hour cut that he originally made.  

That's another gripe I have with this comment.  How can you sit here and gripe about modern-day filmmaking when you are contributing to the modern film industry?  What are you doing that Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Christopher Nolan or Steve McQueen are not doing?  The answer is the fact that I do not know.  In a week, we will find out what Scorsese means by images with meaning when he debuts Silence in the United States.  While I don't doubt that it will be great, it just leaves me to wonder about if he deserves the respect of his peers when he doesn't respect them.