It’s time for me to take a moment to reflect a bit on what I learned from my rather hectic but definitely fun and enlightening time at the TCM Fest. As previously reported here and everywhere else, it turned out to be a fairly roaring success and is promised to be repeated next year in Hollywood. Because of time constraints and because I wasn’t able to enjoy the truly titanic number of films seen by, say, a Dennis Cozzalio — currently working on a detailed and sure to be great summary of the event — I’m going to limit myself to a few random observations covering material I have not mentioned in prior TCM-centric posts. (Here, here, and here.) Naturally, it’ll still turn out to be much longer than I originally intended.
Borgnine, Donen, Rainer
As someone with parents in their eighties and nineties, I’ve become especially interested lately in the way things work for people of a certain age. So it was with some some special interest that I listened to the words of 100 year-old thirties star Luise Rainer, 93 year-old star character actor Ernest Borgnine (“Marty,” “The Wild Bunch”), and 86 year-old directing great and one-time boy genius, Stanley Donen — best known for co-directing “Singin’ in the Rain” and other MGM musical classics with Gene Kelly but also an outstanding director in his own right of both musicals and “straight” films.
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It TCM Fest‘s closing day and I’m determined to see “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “The Good Earth” (with an appearance by centenarian film legend Luise Rainer), and the new, new, new “Metropolis” but today’s box office estimates are bit too interesting to ignore completely.
The short version is that, as per the mighty Box Office Mojo chart, “How to Train Your Dragon” won the weekend box office with just over $15 million. “The Back-Up Plan,” a comedy vehicle for Jennifer Lopez, opened with a rather lame $12.25 million which should please our own David Medsker, who hated, hated, hated it. Graphic-novel based action fest “The Losers” made only $9.6 million, but seeing as it’s budget was $30 million less than the J-Lo film, it’s actually doing a lot bettter despite grossing less.
“Date Night” is hanging in there very nicely in its third week. Like, “Dragon” it defeated both newcomers and came in at the #2 spot, earning $10.6 million for an accumulation nearing $65 million, $10 million more than its budget. Familiar and reliable comedy faces still mean something at the box office if the movie makes people laugh. Expect to see more family films and wide-audience PG-13 comedies and a bit less ultra-violence.
And that leads us to Matthew Vaughn, a director who has a lot less luck than talent and smarts, is no doubt thanking his reasonably lucky stars for keeping the budget on “Kick-Ass” reasonable. The controversial black-comedy action flick dropped by 52%, roughly average for genre films that aren’t setting the world on fire. Still, the total gross is actually already $4 million above the $30 million budget. Assuming the budget number is correct and what I can only imagine will be a long and healthy life on home video, he’s actually done rather well even as a something of a disappointment. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Oh, and I guess I should see “Kick-Ass” myself before it leaves theaters. I always seem to catch Vaughn’s films after they’re declared failures and find myself really liking them. I guess I like underdogs.