Tag: The Princess and the Frog (Page 2 of 3)

“Princess and the Frog” leaps as expected; “Invictus” is a bit short of the goal line

The Princess and the FrogIf you compare tonight’s post to what I said on Thursday, you’ll see there were no gigantic surprises this week. Disney’s return to traditional cell animation with “”The Princess and the Frog” performed pretty much completely in line with expectations and earned a very nice, though not gigantic, $25 million over its opening weekend. So says ever jolly Carl DiOrio and also the handy dandy Box Office Mojo chart.

Clint Eastwood‘s “Invictus,” on  the other hand, came in third behind the $15.4 million performance of the mega-sleeper “The Blind Side,” to earn a slightly short-of-the-mark $9.1 million. It’s worth noting that the politically-tinged Eastwood film was in a smaller number of theaters and had a very respectable average of $4,275 per screen. That is just a wee bit short of the more commercially successful Sandra Bullock vehicle, which is also a racially themed, fact-based, inspirational sports tale.

Otherwise, recent releases held on in more or less typical ways and there really wasn’t anything too exciting happening. In particular, there where no big break-outs among limited release films. The latest new entry into the late-year Oscar sweepstakes, the festival hit, “A Single Man,” did fine on its opening week in nine theaters earning $216,000, but the directorial debut of clothes designer Tom Ford, based on a book by Christopher Isherwood, will probably need some bigger awards buzz than its currently getting if it’s going to break out of the arthouse ghetto even a little bit.

The Lovely Bones,” however, managed the week’s biggest per-screen average of $38,000. However, that was only at three theaters. Considering the film’s very disappointing critical performance and its dark subject matter, its commercial prospects still seem even dimmer than it’s awards prospects. Indeed, it looks to be eclipsed in every way by the violent little sci-fi flick film co-writer-director Peter Jackson produced earlier this year for award-winning first-timer Neil Blomkamp, “District 9.” Still, a technical nomination or two might help “Bones” to be a less gigantic come down for Peter Jackson.

Saoirse Ronan in

Princess movie moment #2

Another clip inspired by “The Princess and the Frog.” This comes from a relatively little known early Hiyao Miyazaki classic.The following scene shows just what some guys will go through to rescue an endangered princess.

The funny part is, I became a fan of 1979’s “Castle Cagliostro” when I was a mere baby cinephile, and it took me decades to figure out that it was from the same guy who brought us “Princess Mononoke” and more recently “Ponyo.”

Princess movie moment #1

In honor of this weekend’s beyond certain box office victor, I thought I’d go with two or three scenes from non-Disney movies about younger female monarchs to be.

Below, from Roman Holiday,” Gregory Peck shows how you should treat a drugged princess (Audrey Hepburn, of course) you happen upon randomly — and who you don’t know is a princess.

“The Princess and the Frog” to top Clint, Mandela, and that rugby guy

We technically have only major new release this week.  Clint Eastwood‘s “Invictus” is already scoring with critics and will no doubt do well enough initially based largely on the fact that Eastwood is one of the few directorial names that actually means something to the mass audience some of whom may believe he’s actually in it. The appeal of stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and the now nearly saintly status of Nelson Mandela won’t hurt either, though the name might throw some off the scent. In any case, not even Mandela, movie stars, or the mighty Clint can compete against a Disney princess.

The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog” has been doing dynamite business playing extremely small and special engagements and will be going out to some 3,434 theaters this weekend as opposed to a relatively modest 2,125 for “Invictus.” It’s probably the final rub that “Princess” actually edges out “Invictus” slightly on the Tomatometer, though both films are well short of the Pixar-plus 90% stratosphere in any case.

Anyhow, it’s an interesting pairing and very much in the zeitgeist of Obama’s America. As Roger Ebert points out, this is the first Disney animated film to feature African-American characters since the Disney-banned “Song of the South.” It even features a once unthinkable more or less interracial romance.

Morgan Freeman in “Invictus” is also interesting racially and politically because it deals with the dismantling of apartheid, a system of injustice that many of Clint Eastwood’s fellow Republicans downplayed or minimized during the Reagan and Bush years, while characterizing Nelson Mandela as  a dangerous terrorist, or at least someone who palled around with Yassir Arafat and assorted communists. (That second part was true; what was also true was that those particular communists were mostly anti-apartheid heroes like Joe Slovo.) To his credit, Eastwood has always marched to his own drummer and few avowedly liberal filmmakers have been as thoughtful or sensitive on ethnic matters, so  he may just be the perfect director to bring the topic to the mainstream.

Reviewers seem to agree that “Invictus” is perhaps as much a political drama along the lines of, say, “The Queen,” as it is an inspirational sports film. On the other hand, it is the very model of the kind of film that gets nominated for, and wins, Academy Awards. Seeing as once promising potential awards-contenders — like ex-critical darling Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones,” which got a somewhat conflicted nod from our own David Medsker but  is getting overall mediocre-to-bad reviews as it stumbles into a very limited release this week — are falling by the wayside, Oscar is once again likely to be Clint Eastwood’s best friend at the box office.

As discussed by jolly Carl DiOrio, who dispensed with his video segment this week, “The Princess and the Frog” is thought likely to make roughly $25 million, it’s first weekend as its grosses will be somewhat moderated by the fact that winter vacation hasn’t started yet for most elementary students, while “Invictus” will likely earn in the $12-14 million range. A surprise is possible, but I see not reason to argue with the gods of tracking this weekend.

An action-packed movie Monday

Lots going on…

* Via Merrick at THR.

New Line has picked up a pitch from Darren Lemke, the writer behind the studio’s Bryan Singer project “Jack the Giant Killer,” that reimagines the classic tale of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” as an action-adventure movie.

I’m thinking Steven Seagall for the lead, with Jet Li as Kato, though I’m not sure how either of them are at dancing to the music of Tchaikovsky. Okay, actually, this version won’t be a ballet  (obviously) and they’re going for more of a “Chronicles of Narnia” vibe.

* Brad Pitt will be producing, but not playing the lead, in an action-oriented flick about the young Vlad Dracul (his buddies call him “the Impaler”). I’d prefer if they would be honest and call this “Dracula Begins,” but the actual title is “Vlad.” The studio will be the “Twilight” driven Summit. How much you wanna bet this vampire-to-be has a tortured love-life?

* Hand drawn animation appears to be coming back to Disney in a big way. Yay. Film-maker Brendon Connolly has some interesting hints.

93211_first-look-princess-and-the-frog

* And one more item from THR/Heat Vision that I can’t really ignore. Cowriter-producer Peter Jackson has announced that auditions for “The Hobbit” have begun and the only role that’s precast is Ian McKellan as Gandalf. So, actors, if you’ve got a snub nose, a pasty complexion, are never chosen first for basketball, and have hairy feet, I suggest you get into gear. They are denying rumors that James McAvoy could be in the running for Bilbo, though he does have an overall Baggins thing going on, I think. Another actor who screams “hobbit!” to me is writer Peter Morgan’s favorite star, Michael Sheen of “Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen,” and “The Damned United.” Of course, whoever it is, I guess it will have to believable that he’ll look like Ian Holm when he gets on in years.

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