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Box Office Recap: New releases beat out ‘Hunger Games’

It was widely predicted that this would be the weekend The Hunger Games would slip from the number one spot after four weeks at the top of the box office charts. The question was which movie would beat it out. Would it be ensemble romantic comedy Think Like a Man or The Lucky One, which stars Zac Efron as a Marine/internet stalker?

If you guessed Think Like a Man based on the above picture, you’d be correct. The adaptation of Steve Harvey’s relationship advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man grossed a surprising $33 million in its opening weekend, a great success considering its $12 million budget. The rom-com captured its target demographics, 62 percent of its audience was 30 or older and 63 percent was female.

I think this is the part where I’m supposed to compare Think Like a Man to the work of Tyler Perry and other “African-American themed films” or “urban comedies.” Let’s skip that noise.

The Lucky One, which is the seventh (that’s right, seventh) film adapted from a Nicolas Sparks novel came in second place with $22.8 million. Dear John is the only Sparks adaptation to make more in its opening weekend, grossing $30.5 million in February 2010. Now for this week’s edition of statistics that surprise no one: 76 percent of The Lucky One’s audience was female and 52 percent was less than 25 years old.

What’s interesting here is The Lucky One was released in 3,155 theaters while Think Like a Man saw only 2,015 screens. Furthermore, while the latter’s weekend earnings nearly tripled its budget, the former didn’t quite grab back the $25 million it cost to produce.

The Hunger Games toppled back to Earth, coming in third after 4 straight weeks at the top, the longest streak since Avatar’s seven weeks at #1. The adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2008 novel reigned in $14.5 million, bringing its cumulative domestic earnings to $357 million. It’s now in the top 20 domestic grossing films of all time.

Three top movies, three book adaptations. You might think your high school English teacher would be happy about this news. Trust me, he’s dying a little inside.

In fourth place was Disney’s latest nature documentary, Chimpanzee. Its $10 million gross is the largest opening weekend for a Disneynature film so far, beating out the $8.8 million Earth made in 2009. Disneynature will donate 20 cents per ticket sold during the film’s opening week (4/20-4/26) to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Also of note is the relative success of Magnolia Pictures’ Marley. The documentary about legendary musician Bob Marley has been “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 93 percent. Marley saw limited release, opening in just 42 theaters, yet earned more than a quarter million dollars.

In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said Marley was #1 “in all but a handful of complexes and usually by multiples over the next highest film.”

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

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

1. Think Like a Man, 1/2,015, Sony, $33 million
2. The Lucky One, 1/3,155, Warner Bros., $22.8 million
3. The Hunger Games, 5/3,752, Lionsgate, $14.5 million, $357 million.
4. Chimpanzee, 1/1,563, Disney, $10.2 million.
5. The Three Stooges, 2/3,482, $9.2 million, $29.4 million.
6. The Cabin in the Woods, 2/2,811, Lionsgate/MGM, $7.8 million, $27 million.
7. American Reunion, 3/3,003, Universal, $5.2 million, $48.3 million.
8. Titanic 3D, 3/2,505, Paramount/Fox, $5 million, $42.8 million.
9. 21 Jump Street, 6/2,427, Sony/MGM, $4.6 million, $127.1 million.
10. Mirror Mirror, 4/2,930, Relativity, $4.1 million, $55.2 million.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Box Office Preview: Two kinds of romance, chimps and Bob Marley

What’s new this week? Well, not much. In terms of wide releases we’ve got a romantic drama starring Zac Efron, a rom-com based on a Steve Harvey book, and a nature documentary from Disney. A critically acclaimed documentary about Bob Marley could break up the monotony. It won’t be in a huge number of theaters but it will be available through on demand television services. For you glass half-full types, at least we won’t be subjected to any sequels or 3D re-releases.


The Lucky One
This movie is exactly what you think it is. It’s an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel (you know, that guy who wrote “The Notebook”) starring Zac Efron. Reviews have been mixed, but tilt towards the not so good side. Even the nicer critics are quick to point out that there’s a formula at work here.

It’s rarely a good sign when you can figure out the entire plot of a movie from a trailer.

While serving in Iraq, U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a picture of a woman he has never met and decides it’s lucky. So lucky in fact that he credits it with keeping him alive. Sound familiar? Didn’t Channing Tatum star in this movie like two years ago?

Logan comes home determined to find the woman, Beth, and succeeds after just a bit of internet stalking. Right when things start to get romancey, boom, conflict. Beth discovers the picture and is understandably creeped out before things inevitably work out in the end. Moral of the story: stalking is OK as long as you look like Zac Efron.


Think Like a Man
Again, nothing new to see here. “Think Like a Man” has gotten mixed reviews and looks like any other romantic comedy with an ensemble cast. Although to its credit, the movie seems like it could be appealing regardless of gender. Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter sums it up nicely:

As executed by an appealing ensemble of smooth operators, this adaptation of the Steve Harvey advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man often hits its amusing marks, but with a weighty running time of two hours, it often feels more like a lecture than an intended romp.

My fellow TV junkies will see some familiar faces. Most prominent is Jerry Ferrara, also known as Turtle from “Entourage.” Also appearing are Michael Ealy and Meagan Good, who’ve had recurring roles in “Californication,” as Ben and Kali, respectively.

Hopefully Kevin Hart and Romany Malco, who had a hilarious exchange in “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” will get to interact again.

Last and least, R&B singer/Rihanna-beater Chris Brown has a role as well. Because nobody belongs in a romantic comedy more than a man convicted of felony assault. Hilarious!


Chimpanzee
Jane Goodall’s appearance on “The Daily Show” on Monday certainly made “Chimpanzee” sound intriguing. The nature-doc has received more good reviews than bad ones.The consensus seems to be that the spectacular raw footage outweighs the sometimes forced, cutesy narration. Above all this is a Disney movie, so even its primate stars can probably count to the average age of its target audience.


Marley
It’s probably just a coincidence that a documentary about Bob Marley is being released on 4/20, also known as the stoner’s Fourth of July. When I say “coincidence,” I mean brilliant marketing. I’m going to stop right there, I don’t want my discussion of a critically acclaimed film directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald to descend into pot jokes. But believe me, they’re up my sleeve.

The film’s official site describes it as “the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom.” “Marley” celebrates its subject’s life, the good parts and the bad. Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice called it “a rousing tribute to a mesmerizing performer that forgoes blind hero worship.”

Despite its Oscar-winning director and overwhelmingly positive reviews, “Marley” will see only limited release. The good news is the film will be available through various on-demand television services. VOD is the future of film. You won’t have to “get up, stand up” and go to the theater, you pay $10 total instead of $10 a piece, and you can pause the movie for bathroom breaks.

Happy holidays.

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Midweek movie news

It’s quite late, or quite early, here on the west coast, so this edition will be swift.

* Captain America has got his girlfriend, and I’ve never heard of her! However, those of you who keep up with your TV may know Hayley Atwell, who’ll be playing Peggy Carter, Cap’s WWII era love interest. Among other shows, she was featured on the not-so well received AMC redo of “The Prisoner.”

* The folks over at Dreamworks have been busy beavers. First, they began the roll out of their “Kung Fu Panda” “virtual theme park” — basically a collection of Panda-based games for kids. Also, their gearing up for the May release “Shrek Forever After.” Today, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) confab about, naturally, 3-D conversions on the first three “Shrek” productions and how they won’t suck like certain live-action 3-D conversions.

Still, there was a fly in the family-friendly ointment, and that was a photo spread that’s coming out in the glossy Vman Magazine that apparently caused some unhappiness at Dreamworks Animation. I could explain why, and you may definitely read the Paul Bond’s THR article about it. On the other hand, I don’t have to tell you how many words a picture is worth.

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While I was out…

If anyone out there has noticed my absence over the last few few days, suffice it to say I’ve been dealing with a family emergency and posting by me may remain a bit sporadic over the next several days. However, I’m hoping to keep things close to normal as, fortunately, things seem to be stabilizing somewhat.

Of course, it just so happens that I’ve been pretty seriously distracted just as Sundance was underway and there’s undoubtedly much I’ve missed. Here are just a few items that have caught my attention.

* Our very own Will Harris has been very much on top of story behind an upcoming television adaptation of work by highly regarded comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis. Now, add to that this revelation from Mike Fleming that another Bendis piece will be one of two vehicles that Zac Efron hopes will help him in his quest to perform a Johnny Depp-like -transition from Tiger Beat-style teen fave to respected A-list actor.

* There’s nothing like a bit of controversy to liven things up at a film festival, and this year Sundance is getting a shot of that from, of all things, an adaptation of a classic fifty-eight year old pulp novel. Michael Winterbottom’s reportedly very faithful version of grimness specialist Jim Thompson’s “The Killer Inside Me” was reportedly all too faithful for some. The film apparently features some very brutal beatings of the women in the life of the sociopathic title character played by Casey Affleck. It probably adds to the shock factor that the victims are played by Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. The Auteurs and Anne Thompson summarize the issues.

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* On a much lighter note, I take a personal interest in the film “Cyrus” because — back before it even had a name — co-director Mark Duplass discussed it with me right here, when I interviewed him behind his co-starring role in the very funny “Humpday.” The film stars Jonah Hill in what is being touted as something of a breakthrough performance, alongside Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly. Once again, Anne Thompson is on top of things and has an interview with Mark and his brother Jay, which I promise to watch when I get a moment. (Hey, I haven’t even watched the State of the Union speech yet.)

* I’ve got a solution to this whole question of whether or not we should forgive Mel Gibson. I say everyone who is offended by Mel Gibson’s past statements, etc., should see his movies if they want to, but they should refer to him only as “Sugar Tits.” Indeed, For long as I remember to do it, in these posts, from this point forward, he’ll be Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson or MSTG, for short. Seems fair to me.

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Entourage 6.9 – Security Briefs

Talk about wasted opportunities. Just when it looked like the writers were cooking up an interesting storyline for Vince involving a potentially dangerous stalker, it turns out to be a rush week prank by a bunch of sorority girls. Turtle is a little surprised that it’s his underwear they were after, but considering he’s dating Jamie-Lynn Sigler, he was bound to start getting more attention from ladies. Unfortunately, that’s only going to spell trouble for Turtle, who will likely find a way to screw up a good thing as Ms. I Only Wear Thongs continues to flaunt herself in front of him.

Getting back to the whole stalker subplot, it really did feel like a big fat waste of time. It might have been different had the storyline been contained to a single show, but the fact that it was drawn out over three episodes really made it seem like they were trying to turn it into something bigger. Perhaps that was the point, and the punch line is supposed to make light of how serious everyone has been reacting to it (namely Drama, who decides to interrogate Vince’s stalker himself), but it just didn’t have as much of an impact as it would have if the stalker really was a threat.

In fact, the only good thing that came of it was a funny little inside joke involving the caller ID on Eric and Drama’s phones. Instead of coming up “Vincent Chase” when he calls, it reads “Rupert Pupkin,” in reference to the lead character of Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film, “The King of Comedy.” For those of you who’ve never seen it, the movie is about an aspiring stand-up comic played by Robert De Niro (and named Rupert Pupkin) who begins stalking his idol (a late-night talk show host played by Jerry Lee Lewis) in an attempt to get his foot in the door. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a sick joke considering Vince could have really been in serious danger, and it’s ultimately going to prove even more troublesome for Eric. Ever since lying to her about Sloan, Ashley has been obsessing about every little thing Eric does. This isn’t going to help matters, as she now thinks Eric was speaking to someone named Rupert Pupkin when he told her he was talking to Turtle and Drama. Oh well, they weren’t going to last anyway.

While the stalker subplot ate up everybody else’s time, some progress was finally made between Ari and Lloyd involving the latter’s impending promotion. After Ari steals Zac Efron away from Adam Davies right in front of his face (well, technically, it was over the phone), Davies decides to fire back by offering Lloyd a job at his agency. Lloyd remains loyal at first, but after Ari goes all Principal Gleason on his ass by tacking on an additional 60 days to his original 100 Days of Hell, Lloyd decides that he’s had enough mistreatment and crosses over to the dark side. Ari can’t blame anyone but himself – he’s been a jerk in the past, but tonight he was a straight-up douche – and he’s already second-guessing his behavior. Can Ari even operate without Lloyd by his side? That’s what he was worried about when Lloyd first brought up the idea of becoming an agent, and it looks like we’ll finally get to see how he handles it.

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What Else Ya Got? “17 Again”

It’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these here on Premium Hollywood (recently, they’ve been combined into my sometimes-weekly Blu-ray column), but with the DVD version of “17 Again” disappointing fans with, as Edwin Starr would say, absolutely nothing, it seemed like a good idea to break down just what exactly HD fanatics will be getting for the seven dollar upcharge.

“Zac Goes Back”

Your standard EPK-style production featurette, this 12-minute collection of interviews features the cast and crew talking about what it was like to work with one another on set. Along with explaining how Zac Efron became attached to the project to begin with, the interviews also expose Efron’s attempts at mimicking Matthew Perry’s various acting habits in order to properly portray him as a youngster.

Going Back to 17

Cut from the same set of interviews, this brief collection of footage asks the cast and crew about their own high school memories (complete with childhood photos), as well as whether or not they would accept the chance to experience it all over again. You can probably guess what the unanimous answer is.

Way Cool Tell-All Trivia Track

Certainly not as way cool as its title suggests, this pop-up track features trivia from the making of the film and general facts about the 80s. It’s probably the most interesting extra on the disc, but it’s only something that diehard fans will want to sit through the whole thing. Thankfully, the pop-ups aren’t at all distracting, so you can actually enjoy the movie while learning a few things along the way.

Breakin’ Character Outtakes

No surprise here, as Thomas Lennon steals the show with a series of funny adlibs and cast crack-ups – especially Zac Efron, who can’t seem to keep a straight face when working opposite the improv veteran.

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