I’m going to be brief tonight, but don’t confuse my brevity with lack of interest. The results this weekend will be modest but may be surprising. What’s intriguing this time around is that, at least according to Ben Fritz, there’s a small chance that the chart topper will be that top-nomination gathering Oscar contender from award-meister Harvey Weinstein’s house, “The King’s Speech.” Along with fellow awards contender “127 Hours,” it is expanding into hundreds of new theaters and will be in enough locations for a box office coup. However, the more likely cash champion is the very non-acclaimed new supernatural horror thriller from Warner Brothers and starring Mr. Scary Face Anthony Hopkins, “The Rite.” The religious themed, PG-13 thriller is expected to earn something in between the “mid-teens” to $20 million according to both Fritz and THR’s Pamela McClintock, with Fritz being slightly more bullish.
The other major new release, “The Mechanic” from CBS Films, is expected to do less well despite actually getting significantly better reviews than “The Rite.” I’ve been covering it here and had fun at its junket, but I have to say I find the R-rated action-heavy hitman thriller a pale reflection of the 1971 original. It wasn’t precisely a great film, exactly, but its honesty about the evil of its protagonists makes for oddly hypnotic viewing. The new version, however, has got two strong leads in Jason Statham and Ben Foster and that, plus some heavy-duty action, will apparently be enough to earn it as much as $10 million, say the gurus. It really looks like this is one weekend where blockbusters really aren’t dominating at the box office.
Another clip celebrating the groundbreaking quasi-indie studio that Disney is selling and, many believe, destroying. The scene below isn’t quite as funny now as I remember it being the first time I saw it, but when you think of Miramax and Harvey Weinstein, you can’t help but think of Kevin Smith’s ultimate DIY film-making breakthrough, “Clerks.”
And now a bonus clip, the introduction of Jay and Silent Bob. It’s not quite the first shot of John Wayne in “Stagecoach,” but it’s something. And so absurdly NSFW, it’s guaranteed to lower your net worth — in a good way.
It’s always a tricky business to declare the death of any company before all the deals are really done, but if it’s final enough for Anne Thompson, I’m loathe to disagree that the studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and named after their parents, Mira and Max, is winding up on a financial ash-heap.
The Weinsteins are not just any producers and Miramax was not just any company. For good and for ill — not all their movies were great by any means, a few I even hated (don’t get me started on “Chocolate”) — they were and are throwbacks to the moguls of the past. They make decisions in a mercurial, seat of the pants way that always seems to generally produce better material than the cool logic of an MBA, which may be safer but rarely produces the kind of movie that really blows anyone’s mind. You don’t produce a “Pulp Fiction” by thinking like a marketing major, you produce it by thinking like a showman.
As I understand it, Disney wanted a certain amount of cash for the 700 or so titles in the company’s library, and they got it from a construction magnate with apparent close ties to the least trusted and most widely disliked person in an industry with a high quotient of untrustworthy and unlikable people. Disney has done a lot of things right over the years and they’ve done a lot of things wrong, I make no claims to being able to really look inside this as a business decision, but this certainly feels wrong. The film studio that launched some of the greatest behind-the camera talents around, including Quentin Tarantino, Alexander Payne, Jane Campion, Anthony Minghella, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh and even (in the U.S. market) Hiyao Miyazaki, among many others, deserves better.
For more, I definitely suggest you read the Anne Thompson piece I linked to above, and check out her links as well. Wikipedia has a partial and awe-inspiring list of films made and released by the company.
“Our puppy Bramble won last night’s puppy training course. This gives us the momentum we need going into the Oscars.”
* Movie bloggers seem to agree that Ian McShane of “Deadwood” fame can only help the next “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” while playing the legendary real-life pirate Blackbeard. Insert c-cks-cker joke here.
* An English Jihadi comedy to screen at SXSW. Here’s hoping the documentary “American Grindhouse” covers its (huge) subject well, because I’ll want to see that one.
* Nikki Finke informs us Harvey Weinstein signed a DVD deal with Sony. I know, your world will never be the same. Just be grateful I don’t pass along all her news about whose at which agency now.
* Whilst promoting Kevin Smith’s “Cop Out,” Bruce Willis is telling people that there’ll be a “Die Hard 5” and that it’ll should go “worldwide.”
* What do you do when you find out your best friend’s wife is cheating on him? That’s the knotty question that’ll be examined in an upcoming Ron Howard comedy starring Vince Vaughn that just attracted Kevin James, as per Screencrave’s Krystal Clark. Intriguingly, the script is by a writer more associated with dramas.
* Speaking of Mr. Smith, AICN’s Merrick reveals that it appears that Seann William Scott will star in his upcoming hockey comedy. Merrick also has the Warren Zevon/Mitch Albom song it’s based on, “Hit Somebody.”
* Glenn Kenny on people who don’t know the man personally referring to a certain director as “Marty”:
My general policy with movie people is to address them as “Mr.” or “Ms.” until explicitly instructed otherwise. I’m not trying to lord it over anybody with this etiquette tip. I’m just saying that my mother raised me with some fucking manners…I’ve always loved the phrase “fucking manners,” haven’t you?