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Box Office Recap: “The Dark Knight Rises” Continues to Dominate

While it made just shy of $100 million less than its opening weekend figures, “The Dark Knight Rises” continued to demolish the competition. After all, a $100 million drop from the third best opening of all time still left the film with over $62 million by the time things were said and done. I mean, last week “The Dark Knight Rises” grossed $100 million more than the second through tenth place films combined. It couldn’t hope to top that, but in its second week Batman’s $62 million was identical to the combined grosses of the rest of the top 10.

Despite “The Dark Knight Rises” falling a hefty but expected 61.4 percent, the weeks two new wide releases, “The Watch” and “Step Up Revolution,” came in third and fourth place with $13 and $11.8 million respectively. Frankly, that’s embarrassing, especially for “The Watch” given its counter-programming angle and star power. The film was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the team that brought you “Superbad,” and stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade.

It might not have made “Avengers” money, but “The Dark Knight” is here to stay. We’ll see if “Total Recall,” the new “Bourne” film, or “The Campaign,” which stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis will be able to top it, but I don’t see it happening. No one messes with the Bat.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. The Dark Knight Rises, 2/4,404, Warner Bros., $62.84 million, $287.851 million.
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 3/3,886, Fox, $13.3 million, $114.847 million.
3. The Watch, 1/3,168, Fox, $13 million.
4. Step Up Revolution, 1/2,567, Summit, $11.8 million.
5. Ted, 5/3,129 Universal, $7.353 million, $193.619 million.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man, 4/3,160, Sony, $6.8 million, $242.053 million.
7. Brave, 6/2,551, Buena Vista, $4.237 million, $217.261 million.
8. Magic Mike, 5/2,075, Warner Bros., $2.58 million, $107.587 million.
9. Savages, 4/1,414, Universal, $1.753 million, $43.899 million.
10. Moonrise Kingdom, 10/853, Focus, $1.387 million, $38.396 million.

 

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Hidden Netflix Gems – Sleeping Dogs Lie

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

Bobcat Goldthwait’s second theatrical feature covers territory considered taboo even in pornography (and for good reason), but it does so with amazing tastefulness and sincerity. Let’s get this out the way right off the bat, just as the film does: Sleeping Dogs Lie is about a woman, Amy (Melinda Page Hamilton), who experimented in sexual relations with her dog while in college. This is not to say she regularly had sex with the animal – it was simply one act, on one occasion – and, as the title suggests, the film is really about the repercussions of her decision to share this information with her loved ones.

Amy is very seriously considering marrying her longtime boyfriend, John (Bryce Johnson), who believes that the couple should be completely honest and share all their secrets with one another. After initially hedging with a made-up story about sleeping with her friend Linda (Morgan Murphy), Amy finally decides to tell John her most mortifying secret. The timing couldn’t be worse, as they are at her parents’ home where John is meeting her family for the first time, but is there ever really a good time to hear something like that? Even more unfortunate for everyone involved, however, is that Amy’s troubled, meth-smoking brother, Dougie (Jack Plotnick), overhears the confession, and soon the truth is out to her parents (Geoff Pierson and Bonita Friedericy) as well.

The truly remarkable thing about this film is how tastefully and relatably such repugnant subject matter is handled. Though Amy has done an undeniably disgusting thing in her past, the film’s humor (which is every bit as good as its drama) is never truly at her expense, and there is never any question that we are meant to empathize with her every step of the way. Because of Hamilton’s exceptional, heartbreaking performance and Goldthwait’s intelligent, insightful screenplay, it is never difficult to do so, either. Like the inferior (but still interesting) Lars and the Real Girl, which sensitively explored a lonely man’s love affair with a realistic-looking sex doll, Sleeping Dogs Lie takes a subject that could easily have been mined for nothing but cheap laughs and, instead, uses it to express a profound truth about the human condition: sometimes it is better to lie to the ones you love.

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Box Office Preview: ‘The Watch.’ That’s All, Because You don’t Mess with the Bat.

The Watch

Studios were afraid to release much in the way of blockbusters this week, what with competition from “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” That hasn’t changed. Not a lot of big name movies (or movies with big names) are being released around now, save as counter-programming. That is, films that have star power but are decidedly different from those two blockbusters. For a case in point, look to  ”The Watch,” the newest picture written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the team who brought “Superbad” into the world. You can almost see the gears churning in the studio exec’s head: the demographic who saw Batman last week might like a nice splash of comedy right about now.

From afar, it looks like “The Watch” could slide perfectly into that hole, given its writers and cast, which includes comedic heavyweights Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill in leading roles. Then there’s the fact that it was directed by Akiva Schaffer of The Lonely Island and “smaller names” like Will Forte and Richard Ayoade in the cast. For those of you wondering who the fourth guy in the above picture is, it’s Ayoade. He’s not very well known stateside, but he’s massively funny and a big deal across the pond. Watch “The IT Crowd” if you don’t believe me, it’ll be a Hidden Netflix Gem one of these days.

Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving. Despite all that potential, “The Watch” currently sits at a 14 percent on the Tomatometer. Bullz-eye’s Ezra Stead had this to say:

Much of the humor comes from screaming, dick jokes and colorful profanity, and the film overall is pretty loud and dumb. Hill and Forte give the funniest performances, and Stiller and Vaughn deliver exactly what is expected of them at this point (I’m pretty sure Vaughn is just playing himself in most of his comedies), but Ayoade and DeWitt have very little to do until the third act. Delivering exactly what is expected is this film’s modus operandi, though, and it’s entertaining and intermittently very funny. It’s only when the audience is asked to care about the idiotic Evan and Bob as characters – particularly in subplots involving Abby or Bob’s teenage daughter (Erin Moriarty) – that “The Watch” falls short of its relatively modest ambitions.

Oh, yes, I’m sure you’re wondering about the plot. Four bored suburban guys come together to form a neighborhood watch after after a friend of Stiller’s character, who works as a night shift security guard, is brutally murdered. But guess who’s actually responsible for the crime? Aliens. No, seriously.

If you do fit “The Watch’s” target demographic: you need to see a movie this weekend and don’t care to see “The Dark Knight Rises” twice, then it could be for you. Just don’t expect the film to be anything but the phoned-in counter program that it is.

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Box Office Recap: The Dark Knight Rises… to Number One

Studios released box office figures a day late this week out of respect for the victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Many writers who should be talking about movies have been talking about the tragedy instead. I won’t do that, because the last thing that event needs is more punditry, and the deaths of 12 people should not be made into a political issue. So let’s talk about movies.

Top on the list of things nobody has ever said, ever: “‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the last entry in Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman reboot trilogy, will not be the weekend’s number one movie.” Seriously, that was a foregone conclusion as soon as the Joker completed his bank heist in “The Dark Knight.” Rather the question was how much exactly the movie would make, and whether or not it would top the competition for the best opening of the year and the best ever opening by a superhero film. In this instance, of course, the two are one and the same. “The Avengers,” and its $207 million opening weekend, hold both honors, and in fact, the highest opening of all time as well, forget about costumed heroes.

After this weekend, that’s still the case. But come on folks, not beating out the best opening weekend of all time isn’t exactly a slight. “The Dark Knight Rises” held its own with just under $161 million in its first three days. That might not be enough to beat out “The Avengers” but it is third best opening of all time. The only other film (besides “The Avengers”) to gross more domestically in in its opening weekend was “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two,” which raked in $169 million last summer.

Things were tough for the films living in the shadow of “The Dark Knight Rises” this weekend. The weekend’s top ten films had dropoffs ranging from 46 percent (“Brave“) to 68.6 percent (“The Amazing Spider-Man“). Clearly, Spidey had a hard time keeping up with a new (and better) superhero flick entering the arena. “The Dark Knight Rises” alone actually grossed $100 million more than the second through tenth place films combined ($60.5 million).

As a result of Nolan and co. sucking up all that revenue, the charts were once again extraordinarily static. Last week’s first through fourth place films (“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Ted,” “Brave”) each took a step back but remained in the same order. “Magic Mike” scooted past “Savages” (which fell from fifth to seventh) to  remain in sixth place, while “Katy Perry: Part of Me’s” drop out of the Top 10 allowed “To Rome with Love” to come back into tenth, “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection” to take just one step back into eighth, and “Moonrise Kingdom” to stay entrenched in the ninth position.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. The Dark Knight Rises, 1/4,404, Warner Bros., $160.887 million.
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 2/3,886, Fox, $20.416 million, $88.84 million.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man, 3/3,753, Sony, $10.887 million, $228.611 million.
4. Ted, 4/3,214 Universal, $10.011 million, $180.431 million.
5. Brave, 5/2,899, Buena Vista, $6.024 million, $208.774 million.
6. Magic Mike, 4/2,606, Warner Bros., $4.291 million, $101.966 million.
7. Savages, 3/2,336, Universal, $3.398 million, $40.055 million.
8. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection, 4/1,540, LGF, $2.253 million, $55.611 million.
9. Moonrise Kingdom, 9/895, Focus, $1.831 million, $36.087 million.
10. To Rome with Love, 5/552, SPC, $1.42 million, $11.107 million.

 

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Hidden Netflix Gems – House

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

This is a film for hardcore fans of things like Tales from the Crypt, Stephen King novels, and the more horror-heavy pages of the classic Heavy Metal magazine. In fact, in many ways it is very much like a feature-length Tales from the Crypt episode, one that is especially heavy on the comic relief. Produced by Friday the 13th director Sean S. Cunningham and directed by Steve Miner, who helmed the first two sequels to that film, this is decidedly campy, deliciously cheesy and immensely satisfying B-movie fun.

Not to be confused with the 1977 Japanese cult movie of the same name, the 1986 film House (aka Ding Dong, You’re Dead, its original video release subtitle) stars William Katt as best-selling horror novelist Roger Cobb, a Vietnam vet who has been struggling with writing about his experiences in the war. One of his problems is that no one else seems particularly interested in this story, preferring he write another horror story instead, but more importantly, he is also dealing with the fact that his wife, popular TV actress Sandy Sinclair (Kay Lenz), has recently left him. Even more recently, his beloved Aunt Elizabeth (Susan French), committed suicide by hanging herself in her creepy old Victorian mansion, where Roger and Sandy’s young son Jimmy (played alternately by twins Erik and Mark Silver) disappeared some time ago. Roger inherits the house and decides to try and finish his new book there, in solitude, while also dealing with the demons of his past.

Of course, he doesn’t exactly find the solitude he’s looking for, due to a bumbling but well-intentioned neighbor named Harold Gorton (George Wendt), who provides much of the films comedy, and a series of strange monsters that seem to come from another dimension within the house, who provide the rest. Saying the monsters are more funny than scary is not a criticism of the film, however, as this is clearly intentional most of the time. Though the effects will look dated to viewers in the modern CGI era, they are quite well-done; they are not the nightmare creations of other films of the time like John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly, but they stand up nicely alongside more silly films like Ghostbusters or Gremlins.

As it turns out, Roger’s preoccupation with his Vietnam memories is especially relevant to the literal demons he faces in the strange old house, and though the film takes some rather dead-end narrative turns along the way, its central story is pure pulp horror in the most classic sense. House is not a good horror film to watch if you want something genuinely frightening, but if you’re in the mood for tongue-in-cheek fun that only takes itself seriously enough to deliver a few cheap scares, it’s well worth a look.

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