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. Times‘ Ben 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.
Once upon a time, the third Monday in February was designated as a day to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. These days, however, although it varies from state to state, it tends to be known less specifically as Presidents Day, which means that we can ostensibly celebrate everyone who’s ever been the President of the United States. Here at Premium Hollywood, we’d also like to extend that to those who’ve served as our nation’s commander-in-chief on television and the silver screen.
Now, granted, that’s a lot of people…more, in fact, than we could possibly give shout-outs to in a single piece. As such, we decided to pare it down to the same number of individuals as have held the highest office in our land since its inception. Forty-four folks is still nothing to sneeze at, but we’re betting that we’ll still end up having left out someone’s favorite son (or daughter). To paraphrase one of our real presidents, you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. With that said, however, we still think we did a pretty solid job of picking the best candidates for the piece.
1. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews), “Idiocracy”: Why are we leading off with President Camacho? Because, really, when you’ve got a fake President on your list who’s also a porn superstar and a five-time ultimate smackdown wrestling champion, why in God’s name would you wait any longer than necessary to trumpet his inclusion? Clearly, this man is the fake President to end all fake Presidents, and he’s #1 with a bullet. It’s all going to be downhill from here.
2. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), “The American President”: President Shepherd is a widower who pursues a relationship with an attractive lobbyist — Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Bening — while at the same time attempting to win passage of a crime control bill. Although the film was mostly ignored by the Oscars, it racked up several Golden Globe nominations and has since found its way into the #75 spot on the American Film Institute’s list of America’s Greatest Love Stories. Plus, its screenwriter managed to find a good use for the excess material that he didn’t have room to fit into the script…but we’ll get to that in our next entry.
3. President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen), “The West Wing”: Yes, if you hadn’t figured it out already, “The American President” was written by Aaron Sorkin, which is why you may notice a resemblance between the mannerisms of Presidents Shepherd and Bartlet. Ironically, though, Sorkin had originally envisioned the series as revolving so much around the White House senior staff that viewers would rarely, if ever, see the president. Instead, what the nation got was an idealized leader, one who – in A Novel Approach to Politics, by Douglas A. Van Belle and Kenneth M. Mash – is referred to as the “most popular Democratic president in recent memory.” The book was written pre-Obama, mind you, but we’re pretty sure the title still stands.
4. President William Harrison Mitchell (Kevin Kline), “Dave”: Given the vaguely “The Prince and the Pauper”-esque premise of the film, which involes a guy who makes a few bucks on the side as a Presidential impersonator being asked to play the part for real when the actual President suffers an incapacitating stroke, there was every reason to believe that “Dave” would’ve been a trifle at best, but between Kline’s imminent likability and a fantastic supporting cast (Sigourney Weaver as the First Lady, Ben Kingsley as the Vice President, Frank Langella as Chief of Staff, and Charles Grodin as Dave’s accountant buddy, Murray), it often comes close to – even though it doesn’t quite reach – the heights of “The American President.”
5 – 8. President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), “Independence Day” / President Blake (Perry King) and President Becker (Kenneth Welsh), “The Day After Tomorrow” / President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover), “2012”: As soon as you see the credit “directed by Roland Emmerich” on a disaster flick, you just know things are going to reach a point where the President of the United States is going to be brought into the discussion about whatever imminent danger may be about to thrust itself onto our planet.
There’s also a very good possibility that the ol’ rite of succession may come into play during the course of the film, such as it did in “The Day After Tomorrow,” when we lost President Blake after the blades of his helicopter froze. Say hello, President Becker! The same thing happened in “2012,” too, but we were so in awe of President Wilson’s selfless sacrifice – he stayed behind to help survivors in need, only to meet his death when the tidal wave struck the White House – that we’ve made an executive decision not to include Wilson’s successor, President Anheuser (Oliver Platt) in the list. Why? Because he’s a dick.
The definitive Emmerich-flick president, of course, is President Whitmore. During the course of “Independence Day,” he sees the White House blown up, loses his wife, fights off a psychic attack from an alien, and flies a goddamned jet fighter into battle to help save the day. Plus, he gives the most stirring speech this side of “Patton.” Hell, I’d vote for him.