Because WW II is getting a bit old now…

The new trend is to rewrite it. Deadline’s Tim Adler featured another trailer, presumably for English audiences, for “Jackboots Over Whitehalll,” but this one explains what’s going on so that even we dumb Americans can understand it.

So, I understand that this is being touted as “Team America” meets “Inglourious Basterds.” I’d throw in “Robot Chicken” as well. Except, of course that all of those were funny. And while “Team America” and “Robot Chicken” revel in their primitive technology which often makes the jokes all the funnier, here, the characters seem completely inert. I’m frankly surprised this is getting a theatrical in the U.K. or any first world nation. I know British humor doesn’t always translate, even for someone like me who adores Monty Python and British cinema in general. This just looks kind of weak.

One fun casting note. The voice of Winston Churchill is provided by one of my favorite British character actors, Timothy Spall, who is also playing Churchill in “The King’s Speech,” which I highlighted yesterday.

  

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“District 9” inspires some box office awe (updated)

Shout it from the rooftops. The trades have revealed that an essentially South African film with a previously unknown, first-time feature director, a cast of complete unknowns, and an R-rating is not only #1 at this week’s highly competitive box office, it significantly over-performed even the highest expectations I mentioned last time. Forget those more optimistic numbers of $25 million+, it has earned an extra-profitable estimated $37 million.

As Nikki Finke points out, the outstanding showing of “District 9” is especially mighty considering that the film’s budget was only an extremely modest by sci-fi action standards $30 million, not including its no doubt pricey viral and not-so-viral marketing campaign. Oh, and it got excellent reviews, too and that’s supposed to be box office poison because movie goers hate writers or something. Weird. I don’t think Peter Jackson’s name in the credits alone can do that alone, though I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

Meanwhile, wither “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra“? Stephen Sommers PG-13 sci-fi actioner with a budget of $170 million, not including its no doubt expensive damage-control oriented marketing campaign, met its expectations with an estimated $22.5 million, dropping 59% — fairly typical for this kind of Hollywood product. It should be noted, however that “Joe” was on 4,007 screens, while “District 9” was at 3,049. In terms of per screen averages, it amounts to a real trouncing with Blomkamp’s film netting a huge $12,135 per screen as compared to the unofficial “Team America” remake’s merely solid $5,615 average. (Okay, I admit it. It’s not right, but I haven’t even seen this movie and I really have it in for it; I was provoked.)

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One born every minute

Let’s face it, the movie business is all about roping in the suckers, but I mean that in the nicest possible way.

* Several Comic-Cons ago, a rumor was about that Marvel was going to stop publishing comic books entirely and concentrate strictly on making movies and generally just marketing the hell out of their characters. This struck me as patently absurd because, even if the tail is wagging the dog, you still need the dog. Nevertheless, fiscally speaking at least, Marvel’s waggable rear is definitely stronger than its canine according to Variety‘s Marc Graser:

….Licensing is expected to generate the most coin for the company during the year, with up to $215 million, followed by movies and TV shows at up to $150 million, and comic books with $120 million.

* “G.I Joe” is a chicken-hearted pantywaist when it comes to critics. It’s kind of funny because “Team America” got really good reviews overall and from all appearances this is pretty much exactly the same movie.

* Why is Anne Thompson so much cooler than other film journos? We’ll, she’ll go to see Bollywood movies in unfashionable Artesia, relatively close to my highly uncool zip code, for starters. She also has three great trailers, including one for the Coen Brother’s next film. “The rabbi is busy.”

* Apparently piggybacking somewhat on his Oscar night success, Hugh Jackman is going to star in “an original contemporary musical” for Fox based on the life of P.T. Barnum, the circus impresario perhaps most famous today for opining that a sucker is born every minute. (I’d go for each second, myself.) I’m not sure what they mean by “contemporary” given that Phineas T. Barnum died in 1891, but I take it that “original” is meant to differentiate the film from the 1980 Broadway musical which starred Jim Dale and Glenn Close. Apparently Anne Hathaway, who had also had a bit of success in the Oscar’s opening number, will be joining him as singer Jenny Lind (and there’s talk of a new version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel” also to pair Jackman with Hathaway).

The music will be by some guy named Mika, who I had never heard of until just now but whose opera background and overall approach reminds me of a more classic R&B/funk and T-Rex/Bowie influenced Rupert Wainwright. After watching the video below, I’m largely sold though I hope he tries to avoid anything too obviously anachronistic. (I’m not sure Barnum should be getting funky on us, though I love the funk.) The high quality of the music and Mika’s way around various types of retro sounds makes me think he might be just right for the project. Also, naming your song “Grace Kelly” won’t ever hurt your standing with me.


Mika – Grace Kelly
by SamFisher037
  

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When a Double-0 Does It, It is Not Illegal + “G.I. Joe,” F**k No!

A couple of items hot off the action film presses…

* As per Cinematical, writer Peter Morgan has been hired to work on the as-yet-untitled 23rd (!) James Bond film. If the name rings a bell, he’s the playwright and screenwriter best known for the slam-bang action fests “Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen.” (Yeah, I know, but they cut out the lengthy sequence where Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II dons a cat suit and tears a bunch of foreign agents limb from limb as she foils a plot to blow up Buckingham Palace before tea and crumpets with the French premier.)

It’s actually not a big change in strategy. Both “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” were written by the team of Robert Wade and Neal Purvis with a “polish” from Oscar-winning veteran scribe Paul Haggis (“Crash“, “Million Dollar Baby“). After what many perceived as a bit of a let down on “Quantum” both in terms of story and direction, apparently the idea was to get a fresh Oscar-nominated, if not actually Oscar-winning, writer on board. So, no need to worry that “Bond 23” will be an earnest examination of the legal and ethical issues created by giving random blokes a license to kill people — though I’d pay to see that. As usual, interesting choices are being bandied about for the Bondian director’s chair, but in 22 films, for better or worse, a director with a strong personal vision has yet to be hired, so no reason to think the Bond producers will break the pattern now.

* Rumors have been flying all over the place about a supposed disastrous screening of “G.I. Joe” — a movie that wasn’t exactly being awaited with baited breath at least in my corner of the geeksphere. Anyhow, the upshot is that helmer Stephen Sommers, best known as the writer-director behind the Mummy films, or other heads may or may not roll or be diminished creatively.

For insight, I hereby direct you to Anne Thompson‘s refreshingly FACT-ual approach to the matter. Looking at the trailer, I can’t help thinking that this movie has somehow already been made….


Team America Trailer
Uploaded by ijeannie.
  

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