Easter Bunny brings pagan box office bounty for “Clash of the Titans,” Tyler Perry, Dreamworks Animation, and Miley Cyrus

Liam Neeson looks disappointed at his share of the grosses for Performing completely as expected and discussed previously here, Warner Brothers’ “Clash of the Titans” earned a technically record-breaking estimated $61.4 million over this Easter holiday weekend as recorded by Box Office Mojo. I say “technically” of course because ticket prices have been skyrocketing for sometime now. So, while it says something that audiences are still willing to pay the increasing freight in the face of a not so great, but perhaps gradually improving, economy, I personally get a bit irritated with this constant trumpeting of broken records.

Still, as much as this reminds of me of ultra-geek baseball stats, I can’t ignore that the past Easter weekend record holder was, as per Anne Thompson’s resident box office guru, Anthony D’Alessandro, 2006’s “Scary Movie 4” at $40.2 million. I’m no math whiz, but I don’t think ticket prices have gone up by quite a third since then. So, it’s definitely a strong performance for the critic-proof, mythological monster-heavy sword & sandals fantasy remake. However, executives who will use the performance to bolster arguments for retrofitting yet more movies to 3-D might want to examine the trends a bit more closely.  D’Allesandro remarks:

In a last-minute post-production business move that paid off, Warner Bros. decided to 3D-ify Titans, stirring debate among critics and fans that retrofitted visual fare just doesn’t cut it.  No matter if you agree with Zeus or Hades on the dimensional debate, Titans played fine with all audiences, earning 52% of its B.O. from 1,800 3D huts.

Well, yes, but it appears to me that all that discussion about the relative quality of 3-D processes filtered out to the general public. 52% isn’t bad, of course, especially considering the brutal competition for screens. However, compare that to the numbers provided last week by the L.A. TimesBen Fritz.  80% of  the grosses for the technologically game-changing “Avatar” made using 3-D cameras, have come from 3-D and 70% for another 3-D film shot with conventional cameras, “Alice in Wonderland,” which got less criticism for its after-the-fact 3-D. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m guessing that Tim Burton‘s visuals are generally pretty stunning however you slice them and, though some have been certainly been critical, it probably helped that he at least knew the film would be presented that way while he was making the film, unlike “Titans” director Louis Leterrier.

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Why do you think they call them “Titans”?

There really doesn’t seem to be any way around it, “Clash of the Titans” will almost undoubtedly win the box office race this Easter and Good Friday weekend. Just anecdotally, I can see that interest is high for a remake of a swords-and-sandals fantasy flick that is a sentimental favorite for lots of guys, even if the original film is not really seen as the strongest movie in the cannon of the great stop-motion effects man, Ray Harryhausen, who turns 90 this summer. I’ve been hearing and seeing fairly enthusiastic chatter about this film from French-export action-guy director Louis Leterrier everywhere for months, including at my local Food 4 Less a couple of nights back.

Clash of the Titans

Critics like our own David Medsker may excoriate it for not even having impressive effects, and the Rotten Tomatoes crew as a whole may give it an unimpressive 34%, but you can’t really stop a titan, can you? Moreover, critics seem to agree that, especially in the post “Avatar” world, the retrofitted 3-D is not worth the extra money and audiences will get just as big a kick — if kick, there is, to be had — in cheaper 2-D. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, I suspect, will be the way of things and the roughly 2,170 3-D screens will be mighty crowded this weekend.

Indeed, a returning jolly Carl DiOrio over at THR informs us that the consensus among the box office guru types is that the film could well bring in over $60 million. He also mentions in his weekly video that Easter is traditionally a rather strong weekend at the box office. So, on the weekend that commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as told in the Bible, hundreds of thousands of theoretically Chrisitan people all over the country will be seeing a movie that celebrates ancient pagan deities. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — I don’t really have a dog (or a god) in that particular spiritual fight. Still, maybe I should get a bit more worked up because Warner Brothers’ distribution Dan Fellman told DiOrio that: “We own males over and under 25…” All I can say as someone who falls into one of those categories, neither Warners nor Mr. Fellman own me and I think that’s actually kind of illegal. But, yeah, his movie will make some money and most of it will come from guys.

There are two other new movies coming out, but they both most definitely qualify as counter-programming and are primarily aimed at woman. Adult woman who are also African-American and the men who love them are pretty much the target demo for “Why Did I Get Married, Too?” — a sequel from the Tyler Perry ethnically targeted juggernaut.

Black Dynamite shows his softer side.I will point out, however, that alongside start Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White is in the cast. As everyone who saw him in “Black Dynamite” knows, if the Man wasn’t busy working overtime keeping him down, he’d already be a superstar. So, maybe I hope this does the usual Tyler Perry business and makes between $25-$30 million on a relatively low budget. The film hasn’t been screened for critics it appears. Why bother?

The PG-rated teen-centric weepy romance “The Last Song” starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, and guest hunk Liam Hemswroth and adapted from a novel by the ever-popular Nicholas Sparks, who also co-wrote the screenplay, has actually been in theaters since Wednesday — what, you didn’t know that? The film has already done decent business from Ms. Cyrus’s devoted young fans and their moms despite predictably miserable reviews. Still, especially when Disney’s early take is discounted, it will still probably be fairly low on the b.o. totem pole come the Sunday estimates.

There’s no theater count up for it over at Box Office Mojo, and only a handful of critics have eve seen it yet, it appears (of them, currently 58% are favorable at Rotten Tomatoes) but the R-rated “The Greatest” open this weekend in apparently very limited release. Reviewer Jason Newman sure makes it sound like a solid, if heart wrenching, drama. It’s certainly got an outstanding cast with the eternally underrated Pierce Brosnan, the impossible to overrate Susan Surandon, mega-up-and-comer Carey Mulligan, and another potential superstar to be, Aaron Johnson of, dare I say it, “Kick-Ass.” Isn’t it weird that the spill-over notoriety from that couldn’t-be-more-different sure-thing hit will probably help this one move a few DVDs, at least?

Carey Mulligan and Aaron Johnson in

  

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News flash from Hollywood — it’s raining!

We Southern Californian’s are easily freaked out by this occasional phenomenon where water inexplicably falls from the skies. It’s a good thing so many of us like to ski or snowboard up at Big Bear or Tahoe, or there’d be a vast wave of weather-related depression unsettling the entire area. Of course, those of us who live on hillsides have something to worry about, but since L.A.-area seasons are basically labeled as “fire” and “flood,” it’s not like this is a surprise. Still, a good chunk of the town is going off to Park City, Utah for Sundance and its sisters festivals, where you actually need boots and overcoats and stuff like that.

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And now, here’s the big movie news, assuming this half of the state doesn’t simply slide into the ocean or anything overnight.

* Jolly Carl DiOrio writes on THR’s Heat Vision blog that Warner Brothers is trying to decide whether or not to do a 3-D retrofit on Louis Leterrier’s upcoming version of “Clash of the Titans.” This 3-D madness for genre films has been spreading. Some months back, “The Cabin in the Woods,” a collaboration between TV cult king Joss Whedon and his one-time staff writer, Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield“), was delayed from February 2010 to January 2011 to three dimensionalize the meta-horror film — and perhaps help stabilize Universal’s depleted coffers by delaying the marketing costs for eleven months.

* Despite some of the setbacks the Weinstein Company has been suffering lately with a number of commercial disappointments and too few hits and some layoffs, they’re still bringing in new people for acquisitions prior to tomorrow’s Sundance kick-off, writes La Finke.

* Meanwhile, over at CinemaBlend, Josh Tyler contemplates the possible 3-D status of “Ghostbusters 3.”

Johnny Depp
* In case you haven’t heard it already, no, Johnny Depp will not be starring in Terry Gilliam’s upcoming second attempt at filming his “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”

* The Oscar’s announced their nine film short list for the foreign language film category today. It’s basically a bunch of movies you have almost no chance of having seen, or even heard all that much about, if you’re not a pretty serious film festival goer — and Michael Haneke’s Golden Globe winning dark period drama, “The White Ribbon.” Even the folks at The Playlist had only seen “Ribbon” and were only familiar with a total of three of the films.

If an outstanding foreign film you’ve seen recently is not on the list and you’re wondering why, you can likely blame the extremely byzantine and highly politicized rules in this category, which involves countries selecting official entries, which often exclude seemingly obvious choices. Romania’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” was an extraordinary work that recently made it to the top of many Best Of lists for the entire past decade. It was not nominated last year, — along with two other widely acclaimed non-English-speaking movies of 2007, “Volver” and “Persepolis.” At least the latter film was nominated in the animation category.

  

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“Clash of the Titans” trailers, compare and contrast

We have a new trailer for another long-awaited upcoming genre flick. This time, by way of Peter Hall at Cinematical, we have the remake of the 1981 Ray Harryhausen mythological effects showcase, “Clash of the Titans.” I’ve liked some of director Louis Leterrier’s work and disliked others. (“Unleashed” worked well for me; “Transporter II” drove me out of the theater even though the first film in the series, directed by Hong Kong stand-by Corey Yuen, was a fun guilty pleasure. I was okay with “The Incredible Hulk,” though I’m probably one of the few that actually preferred the Ang Lee attempt.) Overall, I’m not a fan of the kind of cutting and, even more so, the music, we have in the trailer, but otherwise this does look like fairly amusing. There’s a chance you’ll like it more.

And, for comparison, here’s the trailer of the first go-round, which I’ve never actually seen. I’d forgotten it’s such a star-studded affair, though in a budget-conscious kind of a way.

  

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