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Computer Generated Imagery, or CGI, is not a new development in the movie industry. In 1973 the first 2D CGI was used in the Yul Brynner movie Westworld.

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May 26

Box Office Meltdown: 'Garfield' Claims Victory Over 'Furiosa' With Worst No. 1 Memorial Day Opening in Three Decades

The Box Office might be making Garfield glum (image courtesy Sony)

by Pamela McClintock

The Memorial Day box office is no picnic this year.

Alcon and Sony's The Garfield Movie is claiming victory ahead of George Miller's Furiosa with an estimated four-holiday gross of $31.9 million, the worst Memorial Day No. 1 opener since Casper debuted to $22.5 million nearly 30 years ago in 1995 (and that's not adjusted for inflation). This stat excludes 2020, when theaters were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the race isn't over just yet. Furiosa made more than Garfield for the three-weekend with an estimated $25.6 million versus $24.8 million, but the four day number is the key stat. Rival studios either show Furiosa slightly ahead for the long weekend or have the two movies tied. Warners has taken the unusual position of not reporting a four-day estimate until Monday (with the race so close, and the headlines so bad, it's easy to understand why the studio is deviating from tradition).

Neither film aced it with audiences, with each receiving a B+ CinemaScore.

With no holdovers to contribute in a massive way to the Memorial Day picnic, overall revenue for the four days plummeted to an estimated $127 million to $130 million, also a 29-year low. That excludes 2020 and 2021, when the pandemic was still raging, though Paramount's A Quiet Place sequel was able to open to $57.1 million over the holiday in 2021.

Furiosa, a prequel that sees Anya Taylor-Joy play a younger version of Charlize Theron's character in the last film, had been expected to open to $40 million to $45 million for the four-day holiday but instead is the latest summer event pic to underperform in its launch (an exception was The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes).

Garfield, in which the title character is voiced by Chris Pratt, was financed entirely by Alcon. It cost a relatively modest $60 million to produce and opened in line with expectations. Overseas, where it began rolling out earlier this month, the kids pic earned another $14 million from 51 markets this weekend for a global cume of $91.1 million through Sunday. The movie's performance has successfully relaunched the franchise, insiders say.

Elsewhere, Angel Studios continues to try to emulate the stunning success of last summer's Sound of Freedom but so far hasn't come close to doing so. This weekend, it is opening the faith-adjacent film Sight, which is on course to gross an estimated $3 million to $3.5 million for the four days for a seventh-place finish.

Back in the top five, IF is holding firmly at No. 3 in its sophomore outing with an estimated four-day gross of $21 million from 4,068 locations for a domestic total of $63.6 million. The family pic's estimated three-day gross of $16.1 million represents a 52 percent decline, a decent hold considering it is competing with Garfield for families. That's needed good news for Paramount, director John Krasinski and star Ryan Reynolds after IF's soft opening. Moreover, 74 percent of kids say the film exceeds their expectations.

The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes placed No. 4 in its third outing as it nears the $300 million mark in worldwide ticket sales. The 20th Century/Disney tentpole is reporting an estimated four-day gross of $17.1 million for a domestic total of $126.5 million and $298.5 million globally through Monday.

And despite now being available to rent on premium VOD, The Fall Guy's estimated three-tally of $5.9 million marks a drop of just 29 percent. For the four days, the Ryan Gosling-Emily Blunt starrer is expected to round out the top five with $7.6 million for a domestic tally of $73.9 million and $145.5 million globally through Monday.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

May 25

Morgan Spurlock, 'Super Size Me' Director, Dies at 53

Morgan Spurlock, documentary maker, has died at 53 (image courtesy Wireimage)

by Addie Morfoot

Morgan Spurlock, a documentary filmmaker who captured his own psychological and physical symptoms from eating McDonald's every day for a month in the Oscar-nominated 2004 feature "Super Size Me," died Thursday in upstate New York due to complications of cancer. He was 53.

Spurlock's family confirmed his death.

"It was a sad day, as we said goodbye to my brother Morgan," says Craig Spurlock, who worked with his brother on several projects. "Morgan gave so much through his art, ideas and generosity. Today the world has lost a true creative genius and a special man. I am so proud to have worked together with him."

Spurlock rose to prominence for "Super Size Me," in which he conducted an experiment involving consuming only food from McDonald's for a 30-day stretch. The rules also included the stipulation that Spurlock could not refuse the "super-size" option if prompted during the transaction. The filmmaker also exercised less to match the average American's physical activity. By the end of the experiment, Spurlock claimed that he gained 25 pounds and suffered from depression and liver dysfunction.

"Super Size Me" captured the zeitgeist when it released in 2004, grossing $22 million at the global box office and sparking a conversation about how the fast food industry encourage poor nutrition among the general public. McDonald's discontinued its "super-size" option in the time following its release. Though the doc is still utilized as an educational aide in some school health classes, it has also sparked debate over its accuracy in the years since, with some criticism citing Spurlock refusing to publicly share his diet log from filming. Spurlock later disclosed that he struggled with alcohol abuse - a factor that some consider would've been a likely influence on the doc's conclusions regarding liver dysfunction.

Born Nov. 7, 1970, in Parkersburg, W. Va., Spurlock was raised under the Methodist faith, though he identified as agnostic later in life. He graduated with a BFA in film from New York University in 1993.

In the 13 years following 'Super Size Me," Spurlock gained additional success under his production company Warrior Poets, producing and directing nearly 70 documentary films and television series. Spurlock's wide-ranging works were fueled by addressing controversial and topical subjects. His projects covered issues including the U.S. war in Afghanistan ("Where In the the World Is Osama Bin Laden"), minimum wage and immigrant labor ("30 Days"); consumer susceptibility to marketing ("The Greatest Movie Ever Sold"); trophy hunting and body modification ("7 Deadly Sins"); elder care and gambling ("Morgan Spurlock Inside Man") and corporate pressure on family farms ("Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!").

Continue Reading at: Variety

May 24

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice New Trailer Shows Off More of the Sequel's Plot and Practical Effects

by Michael Cripe

The aptly titled Beetlejuice Beetlejuice has a new trailer, featuring more antics from Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and Jenna Ortega.

This closer look into Beetlejuice Beetlejuice's world comes in at just over two minutes long and picks up where the first trailer left off, showing some of the ghoulish set pieces director Tim Burton has in store. That means another trip back to the land of the dead as Ryder's returning character, Lydia Deetz, deals with the revival of the franchise's titular striped-clothes-wearing demon. Keaton is back and just as mischievous as ever, as are references to several iconic creatures and lines from the original 1988 film.

It's a decades-in-the-making follow-up dripping with practical effects thanks to Burton's touch. You can see it in action in the video below.

Along with other returning faces, such as Catherine O'Hara's Delia Deetz, Beetlejuice Beetlejuice summons notable actors for their first appearances in the series, including Willem Dafoe, Monica Bellucci, Justin Theroux, Burn Gorman, and Ortega, who plays Lydia's daughter, Astrid. They each play into a new story that picks up long after the events of Burton's original horror comedy.

"Beetlejuice is back! After an unexpected family tragedy, three generations of the Deetz family return home to Winter River," an official synopsis from Warner Bros. says. "Still haunted by Beetlejuice, Lydia's life is turned upside down when her rebellious teenage daughter, Astrid, discovers the mysterious model of the town in the attic and the portal to the Afterlife is accidentally opened. With trouble brewing in both realms, it's only a matter of time until someone says Beetlejuice's name three times and the mischievous demon returns to unleash his very own brand of mayhem."

See the new trailer here:

Continue Reading at: IGN

May 22

Major Pixar Layoffs, Long-Expected, Now Underway In Restructuring

by Pamela McClintock

The long-expected layoffs at Pixar Animation Studios have begun.

Today, leadership at the storied company that traces it origins to the late Steve Jobs and was bought by Disney in 2006 will notify employees of the reductions, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. It is the biggest restructuring in Pixar's history, although top leadership isn’t impacted.

Approximately 14 percent of Pixar's workforce, or around 175 employees, will be let go. Before the reductions, approximately 1,300 people worked at the animation studio.

The layoffs are part of Disney chief Bob Iger's overarching mandate to return to a focus on quality, versus churning out content for streaming which was a priority for his sort-lived successor, Bob Chapek. Disney execs have talked about returning to a focus on quality during numerous earnings calls this year, saying creative teams across the company were stretched too thin in the arms race to feed streamers.

Pixar employees have known since January that layoffs were coming. If there's some solace to be had, it's that reductions are less than the 20 percent reported in January by some news outlets. Nor is Pixar being singled out.

There were layoffs across all of Disney last year but cuts at Pixar were delayed because of production schedules, sources say. Pixar - led by Pete Docter - will no longer be focusing on direct-to-streaming series, but on its feature films. That excludes Win or Lose, which is set to debut later this year.

The once-invincible animation studio suffered a major setback during the pandemic era when the Chapek regime decided to send Luca, Soul and Turning Red straight to Disney+ even though cinemas had begun to reopen or were in full recovery mode. And then its first post-COVID theatrical release, Lightyear was mostly dismissed by critics and audiences, exposing Pixar to ongoing scrutiny.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

May 21

Donald Trump biopic causes a stir in Cannes

Jeremy Strong (left) plays lawyer Roy Cohn to Sebastian Stan's Donald Trump (image courtesy Tailored Films)

by Steven McIntosh

A new film about Donald Trump has had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, attracting mostly good reviews from critics but a legal threat from the former president.

Titled The Apprentice, the biopic traces Mr Trump's origin story as an ambitious young property developer in 1970s and 80s New York.

His spokesman described the film, which features a scene where he is seen raping his first wife Ivana, as "garbage", "pure fiction" and "election interference by Hollywood elites".

The movie begins with a disclaimer that many of its events are fictionalised.

It debuted as Mr Trump's hush-money trial continues in New York, while he gears up for another presidential election in November.

The title is partly a reference to the TV series Mr Trump fronted for more than a decade from 2004.

However, the film takes place several decades earlier, as Mr Trump is making his name as a real estate developer.

Sebastian Stan, who has appeared in Pam & Tommy, Dumb Money and several MCU films as Winter Soldier, portrays the former president.

Succession star Jeremy Strong plays his ruthless mentor and lawyer Roy Cohn.

According to news agency AFP, the film "paints an unflinching but nuanced portrait of the former US president".

The film, said to feature "rape, erectile dysfunction, baldness and betrayal", starts out with a sympathetic potrayal of a headstrong but naive social climber.

As it progresses, however, the movie charts Mr Trump's "decency being eroded as he learns the dark arts of dealmaking and tastes power".

Continue Reading at: BBC

May 19

Box Office: John Krasinski's Ryan Reynolds 'IF' Improves to $35M Opening for No. 1 Finish

Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming star in John Krasinski directed "IF" (image courtesy Paramount Pictures)

by Pamela McClintock

Paramount and writer-director John Krasinski are breathing a sigh of relief after IF's domestic opening improved to an estimated $35 million thanks to a strong family turnout on Saturday.

Still, the live-action/CGI hybrid film - starring Ryan Reynolds and featuring an A-list voice cast - came in behind tracking's projected $40 domestic opening amid an overall tough early summer at the box office. But it could have been worse. Based on Friday's traffic, the forecast was a bleak $30 million to $31 million.

Paramount insiders say IF's performance is a victory for original fare, noting it is one of the top openings ever for an original live-action PG title. Critics dissed the film, but audiences awarded it with an A CinemaScore and strong exits, which are key ingredients needed for word-of-mouth and a long run as kids begin their summer break. IF is also drawing an ethnically diverse audience, which is another plus. Families made up 56 percent of the audience, while it skewed female (54 percent).

Outside of Pixar titles - which are animated - it's hard to find original live-action PG fare that's done gangbusters. Even if many reviewers found flaws with IF, they still commended Krasinski for trying to crack the code, much as he did with horror when creating The Quiet Place movie franchise.

The fantasy pic explores the world of discarded imaginary friends and what happens when a young girl (Cailey Fleming) and her neighbor (Reynolds) try to reunite the IFs with their previous human pals.

The impressive voice cast features Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Louis Gossett Jr., Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Sebastian Maniscalco, Christopher Meloni, Awkwafina, Blake Lively, George Clooney, Matthew Rhys, Bradley Cooper, Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key. The live-action cast is rounded out by Krasinski, Fiona Shaw, Alan Kim, Liza Colón-Zayas and Bobby Moynihan.

Disney and 20th Century Studio's male-fueled Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the only summer event pic so far to exceed expectations, placed a strong No. 2 with $26 million as it crossed the $100 million mark domestically in its first 10 days. Overseas, it earned another $40.6 million from 52 markets for a foreign total of $136.3 million and $237.5 million globally.

Lionsgate's latest horror offering, The Strangers: Chapter 1, placed third with a notably better-than-expected $12 million. That's a promising start for a small-budgeted movie that had been tracking to open in the $7 million to $9 million range.

Universal's The Fall Guy - which kicked off the summer box office in muted fashion despite good reviews and a cast led by Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt - came in fourth with $8.1 million for a domestic total of $63 million through its third Sunday. Its foreign weekend haul was $7.2 million for an overseas cume of $64.6 million and a muted $127.6 million globally.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

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