Posts Tagged ‘animated films’

Top 10 Grossing Films of 2011

January 12, 2012

Now that 2011 is history, it is time to consider how movies fared in the past year. The top ten grossing films in the U.S. were:

1.)  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381 Million
While it was sad to see the films end, they ended very well. God bless J.K. Rowling for her imagination and for being brave enough not to drag out the Harry Potter story. The books and films ran their course and the characters all lived happily ever after, except for Dumbledore, Voldemore and Professor Snape.

2.)  Transformers: Dark of the Moon        $352.3 Million

3 .)  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1     $276.1 Million
I can’t wait for Part II so that these Twilight films will end. Once. And. For. ALL!

4.) The Hangover Part II        $254.4 Million
Low-brow humor brings in the dough.

5.) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides   $241 Million

6.)  Fast Five        $209.8 Million

7.)  Cars 2           $191.4 Million
Since sequels worked for Toy Story, the folks at Pixar felt it would work for Cars and it did.

8.)   Thor         $181 Million
Stan Lee must be a very happy camper since his creations have finally made it to the silver screen.

9.)   Rise of the Planet of the Apes        $176.7 Million

10.)  Captain America: The First Avenger   $176.6 Million
See number 8.

Well, what about Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol? You must be asking. After all, this was the film that heralded Tom Cruise’s return to being a box office draw. Well that film was 18th on the Box Office Mojo list for 2011 with a total U.S. gross of $141.1 Million as of January 3, 2012.

Still, what do these films say about the movie industry. Well, they don’t just say, they shout that sequels still sell. Eight out of the 10 films on the list were sequels. I’ve written quite a lot about how sequels, redos and reboots have littered the movie landscape, so a word to the wise is sufficient. (i.e. The suits haven’t gotten the message so, gentle moviegoer, seek out something original and ignore the sequels, redos and reboots.)

I don’t mind movies based on comic books, because comic books lend themselves to being on the silver screen, especially with the technology now available.  With today’s technology, a good special effect team can make it very easy to suspend disbelief and buy into the illusion that someone can leap tall buildings in a single bound, swing from skyscraper to skyscraper or design an exoskeleton suit that makes him impervious to injury and have incredible strength. Of course, a good special effects team can’t help if someone is a bad actor. Remember, there are limits as to what special effects can do.

Of course, I must admit that I am still on the fence regarding the upcoming Spider-Man reboot. The three Spider-Man films directed by Sam Rami and staring Toby Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man did well at the box office, with audiences and critics. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to have ended it at the third film and let other characters in the Marvel universe get their chance in the spotlight. Yet, I’ve seen some of the images from the film and they have piqued my curiosity. Stay tuned for further developments.

You know, when I ended a similar blog entry in January 2011, I predicted that 2011 would bring more blockbusters, sequels and animated films. I was right and the above list proves it. Just goes to show you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Sources:
http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2011&p=.htm

http://www.hollywood.com/news/The_Box_Office_Year_in_Review_2011/12394979

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Female Directors

September 15, 2011

Do you know who Jennifer Yuh Nelson is? Well, if you love animated films you should because she is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2. She recently hit a milestone where she became the highest grossing female director when Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $645 Million. She beat Phyllida Lloyd, the director of Mamma Mia, whose film grossed $609 Million.

I’m very happy when anyone, male or female, is successful. Still, the milestone Yuh Nelson hit is extra special because Kung Fu Panda 2 is an animated film and not only are there not many female directors, there aren’t many females in animation period. So, kudos to her and may this encourage others to try their hand at either animation or film directing.

Of course, that got me thinking. (Here we go again.) Yuh Nelson and Lloyd aren’t the only female directors out there. There have been others who have made their mark behind the camera. Who are they? Well, gentle reader, read on to learn about some notable female directors.

Kathryn Bigelow
While winning the Oscar for The Hurt Locker put Bigelow on the movie making map, she directed other films such as Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker. What they all have in common is they are very much guy flicks. The Hurt Locker deals with defusing bombs in the Iraq War. Point Break is an action film about an FBI agent infiltrating bank robbing gang. K-19: The Widowmaker is about a Soviet nuclear submarine that malfunctions and how the crew must work against the clock to save themselves from disaster. So, the stereotype of women directors making rom-coms or period pieces doesn’t fit Bigelow.

Sofia Coppola
Yes, she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Still, her work stands on its own. With films such as The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s on her way to becoming the type of director that university film professors will lecture about and show films to their students 20 years from now, if they aren’t already doing it now. Trust me, that’s a good thing, since Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg spent their university days watching films of the French New Wave.

Amy Heckerling
What films did she direct? How about Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Sean Penn (which was his breakout role), Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton (before he went through his dark stage with Batman) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation, with Chevy Chase. Those are some real sensitive films, aren’t they?

Madonna
Madonna!? You must be saying now. Yes, her. Believe it or not Madge directed two films. Filth and Wisdom and her latest opus W.E. which deals with the relationship between Wallis Simspon, American divorcee and Edward Windsor, aka King Edward VIII who left the throne for her. My guess is that being married to director Guy Ritchie must have rubbed off on her and she decided to try making a movie. Movie critics felt she should stick to singing. Still, I wouldn’t count Madonna out yet. After all, sometimes it takes a few tries to get something right.

Penny Marshall
Here’s another female director that doesn’t do period pieces. She directed Big with Tom Hanks, Awakenings with Robin Williams and A League of Their Own with Madonna. In case you are wondering, yes, she was Laverne in the ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

Barbra Streisand
Yes, not only does she sing and act, but she also directs films, as well. Her first take at directing was with the film Yentl, in which she also starred in. wrote the screenplay and produced. She also did The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Okay, those two are chick flicks. Still, somebody has to please that demographic. Yet, Babs isn’t finished yet because, reports are that she will produce, direct and star in an adaptation of the Broadway play Gypsy. She is expected to play Momma Rose and she has experience with that since her own mother was something of a Backstage Mom.

Of course, there are more female directors, but I decided to focus on some notable ones who have been working since the 1980’s to the current time. So, I will end with Streisand and to all a good night or day, depending on what time of the day you are reading this.

Sources:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/archives/2011/09/07/jennifer_yuh_nelson_becomes_the_top_grossing_female_director/

http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Life/Entertainment/10-Surprising-Movies-Directed-by-Women.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267626/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102685/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001508/#Director

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001068/#Director

http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/did-barbra-streisand-direct-any-films-108003.html

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/01/05/barbra-streisand-to-produce-direct-and-star-in-movie-version-of-gypsy/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111185918AAOUDtp

http://www.dose.ca/celebrity/5346132/story.html

Summer of the Comic Book Movie

June 2, 2011

Yes, summer means longer days, school being out, vacations and blockbuster movies. Yet, this summer the studios will be putting out six, count’em six, movies based on comic books/graphic novels. What gives? There was a time when comic books were considered a sign of the downfall of civilization and were blamed for corrupting young minds. Even Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, Thor and other superheroes of the Marvel Comics universe, didn’t think too highly of comic books when he first started out. He became a comic book writer because he needed the money and Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, paid him very well for his work. Yet, many years later both he and movie studio executives realized that there’s storytelling gold in comic books. They have action, drama and a love story for when there’s a lull in the action.

Still, if there is going to be a superhero movie during the summer blockbuster season, there is usually one maybe two, not six. Well, here are my theories on the increase, at least for the summer of 2011, of superhero movies:

It’s still the economy, stupid.
Last summer people wanted to escape the recession with animated films, this year the escape “vehicle” is the superhero movie. While last year moviegoers wanted reminders of childhood, this year they want a hero to save them from unemployment and home foreclosure. Unfortunately, superheroes can’t do much about those things, but it is fun to imagine that they could. After all, the U.S. is still in the grips of a recession and escapist films have traditionally done well during difficult times. Last year’s summer blockbuster movie season saw $4.05 billion worth of ticket sales, so the studios must be doing something right.

They get the job done.
Why do people want a superhero? Because a superhero gets the job done. Superheroes get the bad guy without so much of a grumble and they do it with style. Just look at Superman, Batman Spiderman, Ironman and the like. They either have gadgets, strength or a little of both and they get the villain. Crime will not pay if a superhero is on the case.

The story of the superhero goes waaay back.
If you think the superhero story is a 20th century invention, think again. Stories such as Hercules and Samson show how far back the idea of a superhero goes—and those are just from the Western culture. Other cultures have their stories of someone who can perform amazing feats of strength for the good of a community. People all around the world and in all times have had to deal with evil and injustice, so it is no wonder that stories of a person with both amazing physical strength and the will to fight the good fight were told. They were and still are exercises in fantasy and an inspiration for others to fight the good fight, as well.

As for which superhero movies will be very successful and which ones will just bomb, I’ll most likely write about that in a future blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 52

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023577.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1

 

Highest Grossing Films of 2010

January 6, 2011

Here are the top ten domestic grossing films, as reported in the December 24, 2010 issue of The Hollywood Reporter

1.     Toy Story 3 $415 million  (The folks at Pixar and Disney must be very happy.)

2.     Alice in Wonderland $334.2 million

3.     Inception $292.5 million (Christopher Nolan has proven that he doesn’t need Batman to boil his pot.)

4.     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 $265.7 million

5.     Shrek Forever After $238.5 million

6.     The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $300.5 million (Team Jacob or Team Edward? Who cares! Vampires AND Werewolves aren’t sexy.)

7.     Iron Man 2 $312.1 million

8.     Despicable Me $250.5 million

9.     How to Train Your Dragon $217.6 million  (Or How to Train Your Dragon and Make Millions in the Process)

10.  Clash of the Titans $163.2 million

Joking aside, four out of the ten films in the 2010 list are animated. It is not hard to figure out why, since the ongoing recession has people yearning not just for an escape but a reminder of childhood and animated films do both.  (I explored this idea further in my blog entry of July 21, 2010 and you can read it here: https://justmovieposters09.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/animated-movies%E2%80%94they%E2%80%99re-not-just-for-kids-anymore/). Also, half of the films in the list are sequels. Love’em or hate’em, sequels make the cash register go cha-ching million of times over. From Harry Potter to Twilight and loads of movies in between, people like to see how characters progress over time. I admit, I like sequels for that very reason. Because people want to see the next chapter, they go the see the sequel and the film makes lots of money. It’s not rocket science, folks. It’s what the engineers call “If it works, it works” principle.

So, what will 2011 bring in movies? While I could wax poetic about the art of film, the reality is that the studios aren’t going to mess with a good formula. So, there will be more blockbusters, sequels and animated films in 2011. Of course, there is a chance that I’m wrong and there will be less films that are just formulaic plots with different characters and more films that explore the human condition.

Naaaaa.

Source:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/top-10-grossing-films-2010-65349