Movies and slot machines

Some say Hollywood is in itself a great game of roulette: producers bet their money on a script, set the wheel in motion (start making a movie) and wait for it to be a winning or losing bet. If the movie they bet on is a blockbuster, their money returns to them multiplied. If not, they lose, and can get ready for the next spin.

The movie and gaming industry have several points of touch.

First of all, there are several video games based on successful movies. Unfortunately, most of these are not made to be great, but as another way to promoting the movie itself, and when the buzz around the movie ends, the games themselves are forgotten – like Enter the Matrix, for example.

Then there are those successful video games that are turned into Hollywood movies. There are quite some examples: “Doom,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Hitman,” “Wing Commander” or “Resident Evil,” to mention just a few. “Resident Evil” has had a considerable success streak, but many others with potential have disappeared into oblivion, failing to live up to their fans’ expectations.

Then, there are the games inspired by movies – these are the ones that I consider the most successful. Especially the ones available in online casinos – and “more especially” the slot machines. These are the games that never go out of style, no matter how long ago the movie or TV show they are based on was released.

I have seen quite a few, and I must say these were the only ones that didn’t disappoint. I have played the Battlestar Galactica slot machine, and I felt like being part of an episode of the series, even if I was always aware of the fact that I am playing with a casino game for money. It was immersive, it had that specific atmosphere.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is also one of my favorite titles. It’s loosely based on the movie with the same title signed by Christopher Nolan, and several of the characters of the movie are featured as symbols on the slot machine’s reels. It features fight scenes between Bane and the Batman, cut scenes from the movie and it also has its unmistakable atmosphere.

I think the key to the success of these games – even though they are only a series of games of chance with themes inspired by the movies – is that fans of the movies that inspired them don’t expect to be overwhelmed, to be shown something new, when playing them – instead they pay a small tribute to the movie by playing the game based on it. And if the games proves to be good, that’s a plus.

The games I have mentioned above are available at the Royal Vegas online casino. You can see top movie themed slot games here.

  

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Box Office Recap: A Lot of New Releases, for the First Time in a While

After a few weeks in which there were never more than a few new releases at a time, mostly out of fear of “The Dark Knight Rises,” this weekend saw four new pictures enter theaters. As a result, there was major turnover in the domestic box office charts for the first time in what seems like a while.

The most successful new release was action sequel “The Expendables 2,” starring way too many people to name. The film brought in approximately $28.6 million after debuting in 3,316 theaters. Unsurprisingly, the film skewed to older males, 63 three percent of the audience was male and 65 percent was over 25. While the sequel fell off 18 percent from the debut of the original “Expendables” ($34.8 million), $28.6 million is a modest but acceptable opening mark.

The stop-motion animated feature “ParaNorman” took third place with $14.1 million. After production studio LAIKA received a great deal of critical acclaim for its first film, “Coraline,” many thought the studio might become a Pixar competitor. While LAIKA may arguably be putting out films of similar quality (each was certified fresh, with “ParaNorman” receiving an 88 percent and “Coraline” a 90 percent rating on the Tomatometer), they’re still lagging far behind in terms of box office success. Ten of the thirteen Pixar films have ended up with total domestic grosses over $200 million. LAIKA has a long way to go before they can compete with that.

As for the weekend’s other two new release, the musical “Sparkle” rounded out the top 5 with $11.6 million, while “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” came in seventh with $10.8 million.

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 Expendables 2, 1/3,316, LGF, $28.591 million.
2. The Bourne Legacy, 2/3,753, Universal, $17.057 million, $69.618 million.
3. ParaNorman, 1/3,429, Focus, $14.087 million.
4. The Campaign, 2/3,255, Warner Bros., $13.127 million, $51.435 million.
5. Sparkle, 1/2,244, TriStar Pictures, $11.643 million.
6. The Dark Knight Rises, 5/3,157, Warner Bros., $11.011 million, $409.787 million.
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green, 1/2,598, Buena Vista, $10.822 million.
8. Hope Springs, 2/2,361, Sony, $9.111 million, $35.063 million.
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, 3/2,737, Fox, $3.834 million, $38.747 million.
10. Total Recall, 3/2,434, Sony, $3.472 million, $51.755 million.

  

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Box Office Recap: New Releases Take Down ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

After three weeks at the top of the charts, “The Dark Knight Rises” fell to third place with just under $19 million after being beaten by two new releases this weekend. In its opening weekend, “The Bourne Legacy” grossed just over $38 million domestically. That figure is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Sure, “The Dark Knight Rises” made nearly that amount ($35.737 million) last week, but then we’re talking about the movie that had the third biggest opening weekend of all-time with nearly $161 million.

As I predicted in my Box Office Preview, “The Bourne Legacy” did break the pattern of each “Bourne” film being more successful than the last. But that’s to be expected in a third sequel, or is it a spin-off/reboot? I really don’t know what to call this thing. What I do know is that despite sticking Jeremy Renner in Matt Damon’s place, “Legacy’s” $38.1 million debut fell in between the series’ first film, “The Bourne Identity” ($27.1 million), and the second, “Supremacy” ($52.5 million), and dropped 45 percent off “Ultimatum” ($69.2 million), the last entry with Damon in the lead.

In second place with $26.588 million was the new political comedy “The Campaign,” which starred Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Although it’s not exactly a terrifically common genre, that is the highest opening mark for a movie centered around a political campaign according to Box Office Mojo.

The weekend’s final new release, “Hope Springs,” opened in fourth place with $14.65 million. The film, which stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, is definitely targeting an older audience than most, so while it won’t have any flashy single weekend numbers, I expect it to slowly chug along in much the same way “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” did.

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 Bourne Legacy, 1/3,745, Universal, $38.142 million.
2. The Campaign, 1/3,205, Warner Bros., $26.588 million.
3. The Dark Knight Rises, 4/3,690, Warner Bros., $18.979 million, $389.588 million.
4. Hope Springs, 1/2,361, Sony, $14.65 million.
5. Total Recall, 2/3,601, Sony, $8.013 million, $44.101 million.
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, 2/3,398, Fox, $8.002 million, $30.356 million.
7. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 5/3,102, Fox, $6.38 million, $143.694 million.
8. Ted, 7/2,208, Universal, $3.223 million, $209.848 million.
9. Step Up Revolution, 3/1,898, Summit, $2.941 million, $30.256 million.
10. The Watch, 3/2,461, Fox, $2.221 million, $31.396 million.

  

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Box Office Preview: ‘Bourne’ (sans Damon), ‘The Campaign,’ and ‘Hope Springs’

The Bourne Legacy

After the first three “Bourne” movies grossed a combined $945 million worldwide, Universal Studios wasn’t going to let something as “petty” as the series’ star, Matt Damon, walking away stop the cash from flowing in. Even though “The Bourne Legacy” will likely break an impressive pattern—that each of the trilogy’s installments was more successful than the last in terms of both opening and cumulative grosses (“The Bourne Identity” debuted to $27.1 million and had a domestic total gross of nearly $122 million, “Supremacy” made $52.5 million in its opening weekend, winding up with $176 million, while “Ultimatum” opened to $69.3 million and had $227 million to its name when things were all said and done)—the studio can still expect to make a pretty penny. Plus, given that “The Dark Knight Rises” was last week’s top earner with just shy of $36 million in its third week, Universal can expect to own the nation’s number one movie, as “Legacy” will have no problem clearing $30 million over its first three days at the box office.

Anyway, let’s talk about the film itself, shall we? With Damon gone, writer/director Tony Gilroy, who also wrote the screenplays for the first three “Bourne” movies, had to come up with some way to introduce a new main character. As we find out from the trailer, “There was never just one… Jason Bourne was the tip of the iceberg.” Enter Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker,” “The Avengers“) as Aaron Cross, who’s essentially another Jason Bourne.

Overlapping with the ending of the last film, the story has broken that the CIA has been conducting top-secret experiments involving genetically enhanced spies. As a result, they’re putting an end to all such programs, which means killing all of the various programs’ agents. With the exception of the new leading man, “Legacy” has everything we’ve come to expect from the series: a super spy on the run from the government with a damsel in distress in tow. Only this time, Renner’s playing the hero, the damsel has a doctorate, and newcomer Edward Norton steps in as Colonel Eric Byer, who’s in charge of hunting Renner’s character down. It seems he’s escaped the government’s attempt on his life and needs to find Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) so he can get a hold of the medications that help him function at superhuman levels.

The film has split critics right down the middle, it currently sits at a 50 percent on the Tomatometer. It’s sure to be entertaining, but like so many of the reboot/sequel/spin-offs coming along these days, it leaves something to be desired because you can’t escape the feeling that you’ve seen this film before. I think Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker put it best:

“The Bourne Legacy” shares a sentiment with a couple of other movies released this year (“American Reunion,” “Men in Black 3” [and I’ll add “The Amazing Spider-Man” to the list]) in that it was not at all necessary, yet still enjoyable. That might be damning the movie with faint praise, but considering the lengths that Universal is going to in order to keep the Bourne cash cow mooing – really, everything about the movie’s existence is pretty damn cynical – they would be wise to take any praise people are willing to give them. They get a pass this time, but they’re going to need to raise the stakes for the next one.

The Campaign

From director Jay Roach (best known for directing the “Austin Powers” films as well as “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers”) comes “The Campaign,” a satirical political comedy boasting big name stars like Will Ferrell, Zach Galfianakis, Jason Sudeikis, John Lithgow, and Dan Akroyd. With actors like that and a premise as easily mockable as American politics, this one’s sure to be a slam dunk, right?

Not this time. Although it’s got a 65 percent rating on the Tomatometer, the general consensus seems to be that the film is one big missed opportunity. In an election year, the filmmakers could’ve gotten a bit edgier, really putting our political system on trial while still generating big laughs from Ferrell and Galifianakis. In fact, one might wonder why this wasn’t the case, given that Roach has pushed some boundaries in his HBO election dramas “The Recount” and “Game Change.” To quote Bullz-Eye’s Jason Zingale:

Though the film is actually much better than expected, it never fully takes advantage of its satirical premise, especially with the 2012 elections only months away. There are a number of good laughs sprinkled throughout, but it’s not nearly enough to warrant sitting through all the dry spells. And try as director Jay Roach might to make his characters more absurd than our real-life politicians, that’s a lot easier said than done.

Oh yes, you’re probably wondering about the plot. Here it is: Incumbent North Carolina Congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) is essentially running on auto-pilot until a sex scandal puts his campaign under a microscope. As a result, two corrupt businessmen played by Lithgow and Akroyd, the Motch brothers (whose similarities with the real-life Koch brothers are no coincidence) decide to back country bumpkin Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) who will turn a blind eye to their plan to use import Chinese factory workers on the cheap.

Hope Springs

Last but not least this week is “Hope Springs,” a dramedy that is sure to skew older than the previous two films. It stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple who despite being loving and devoted have watched as their relationship gets somewhat stale over the decades. Streep’s character, Kay, hears of Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), a widely renowned relationship specialist and tries to persuade her husband, Arnold, to embark on a trip to the small town of Hope Springs to meet him.

The film has been certified fresh with a 77 percent rating on the Tomatometer. The site had this to say about the film: “Led by a pair of mesmerizing performances from Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs offers filmgoers some grown-up laughs — and a thoughtful look at mature relationships.” Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker offers a different perspective: “How much you enjoy ‘Hope Springs’ will depend largely on how much you enjoy watching older people have sex.” It’s pretty easy to figure out whether you’re part of “Hope Springs” target audience, and as a result, whether or not you’ll enjoy the film.

  

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Box Office Recap: In its Third Week, New Releases Still Can’t Top ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

In its third week in release, “The Dark Knight Rises” is once again the nation’s number one movie after grossing nearly $36 million. On Sunday, its 17th day at the box office, the film’s total domestic gross passed the $350 million mark, making it the third fastest movie to reach that plateau, behind only “The Avengers” (10 days) and “The Dark Knight” (14 days).

The weekend’s two new releases, “Total Recall” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” struggled, grossing only $25.5 and $14.6 million, respectively. The two films’ audiences skewed in opposite directions, with “Total Recall” tracking 58 percent male and 53 percent 30 years of age or older. Moviegoers gave the film a woeful “C+” CinemaScore. On the other hand, “Wimpy Kid” skewed 58 percent female and 62 percent 25 or younger, while receiving an “A-” CinemaScore. However, the movie’s $14.6 million debut was far behind the series previous installments, which grossed $22.1 million and $23.8 million, respectively.

The box office charts remained remarkably static behind the new releases and “The Dark Knight.” Last week’s second through eighth place films each moved back two spots to make room for “Total Recall” and “Wimpy Kid,” but remained in the same order to fill out this week’s fourth through tenth place positions.

“The Dark Knight Rises” faces a new challenger in “The Bourne Legacy” next week. We’ll just have to see if it can sustain its dominance against another big name franchise in its fourth week.

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, 2/4,242, Warner Bros., $35.737 million, $359.935 million.
2. Total Recall, 1/3,601, Sony, $25.577 million.
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, 1/3,391, Fox, $14.623 million.
4. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 4/3,542, Fox, $8.609 million, $132.071 million.
5. The Watch, 2/3,168, Fox, $6.527 million, $25.541 million.
6. Step Up Revolution, 2/2,606, Summit, $5.927 million, $23.724 million.
7. Ted, 6/2,767 Universal, $5.644 million, $203.579 million.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man, 5/2,425, Sony, $4.4 million, $250.74 million.
9. Brave, 7/2,110, Buena Vista, $2.986 million, $223.42 million.
10. Magic Mike, 6/1,202, Warner Bros., $1.414 million, $110.928 million.

 

  

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