June 2019 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

June 7, 2019

Sorry, sir. We're going with the real #1.

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May had just so many, many films, most of which made very little money, but June goes right for the jugular: just eight wide releases, neatly divvied up in matching pairs to more easily memorize if you must (and you must). Two particularly inevitable CGI animated sequels, ostensibly for children (Toy Story and those Pets); a pair of science fiction entries in franchises that have "men" in the title and also refuse under any circumstances to just end (X-Men and Men in Black); two action films that will come in as the month's #7 and #8 grossers (Anna and Shaft); and then, in an odd though masterful scheduling decision, back-to-back horror films about killer evil dolls, Chucky and Annabelle (so those are the two I will be watching, it's almost needless to say).

Judged by the shallow metric of box office, the animated films would be #1 and #2. But I have nothing of interest or value to say about either, so I begin with another film.

1. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (June 7th)
The write-up for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, like most of this month, is going to be very very long (TLDR!).

I viewed the last X-Men film to feature the whole team, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), with a friend who considers Apocalypse the very best of the X-Men villains. So underwhelmed was he by the character's portrayal in the film, so disappointed by his machinations, and so measly and blasé a threat he seemed to him on the big screen, that I made Apocalypse the subject of too many running jokes. For example:

Kitty Pryde: "Professor X! There's a dangerous threat on the loose!"
Professor: "Oh no! What is it?"
Kitty: "Apocalypse is on the rampage again!"
Professor: "That's kind of interesting, Kitty, but let's get back on topic. What's the dangerous threat that's on the loose?"

I also theorized that the film could have quite plausibly ended as, during the big final battle scene between Apocalypse and the X-Men, a 1970s van containing four teenagers and a dog pulls up, and the van's leader, Fred Jones, proceeds to walk up to Apocalypse and pull off the bad guy's mask, revealing a disgruntled out-of-work farmer involved in a complex real estate fraud.

"And I would have gotten away with it, too...!" screams the unmasked man as he's dragged away in handcuffs, while the embarrassed X-Men retreat quickly from the scene.

Was it Apocalypse as portrayed in the last film who popularized the line "Respect my authoritah!", while standing with his hands on his hips? ("I am an ancient. all-powerful. supernatural. being. and you will respect my authoritah!")

That's enough. I promise some day there'll be more. But now, as with most of the franchises we have to watch these days (seven of the movies on this forecast are sequels or remakes), the X-Men films have and a long convoluted history, in a manner consistent with so much of 21st century film continuity.

They began like a normal blockbuster trilogy (2000, 2003, 2006) that seemed crazily enough like it had reached its end. I enjoyed each entry a little better than the previous, but I'm weird, and a great many people really, really, really disliked that third film, The Last Stand. In fact, it seems to have offended some fans, perhaps because it so flippantly (and masterfully) killed off very many leading characters - Scott Summers, Professor X, Jean Grey - and de-mutantified several others, in the increasingly naive belief that they did not need to be alive and superheroing on the big screen forever.

The public consensus on that matter was in stark disagreement, and it seems filmmakers have learned their lessons about taking casualties among the comic book population. For example, Avengers: Endgame: other than that one dude who gave his life to snap humanity back, how is it possible that something like 40 prominent superhero/superhero-adjacent characters enter into battle with Thanos' army, and not a single one of them is killed or even slightly, notably injured? That's just nuts! No one with even one speaking line seared off a hair off their head, in case they are necessary for further Marvel films for the next thirty years. Thanos' army is papier-mâché.

Fortunately for the future of the X-Men films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in October 2003, thus demonstrating to film studios that there's no particular reason not to remake or reboot or retool a popular brand name any time you want to, no matter how much of a continuity nightmare the franchise is stuck in or quite how everybody hated that last sequel, which had come out just a few years ago. Previously dissuaders from making more, these factors became persuaders.

Then Batman Begins (2005) got more specific: you can reboot your series under the guise of an origin story of sorts. And Star Trek (2009) one-upped even that idea: if your franchise happens to be in the science fiction genre, why not have a character journey from the future back to the past of these films' early days, and through their actions change the entire timeline, allowing for the existence of a fresh series of films completely unencumbered by any continuity?

The X-Men 2010s edition films were perhaps once intended strictly as prequels, with a young or younger cast enacting scenarios before the clock turned 2000 and the original X-Men film was to take over. The first prequel First Class (2011) obeyed the rules, and tried to play things in line with the existing X-Mens (although Professor X's assistant Moira MacTaggert seems to have aged very generously from 1963 to 2006). But they liked the new cast so much that X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) took the Star Trek road home, sending Wolverine back to the early 1970s and having him "accidentally" alter the timeline so that the glorious destruction racked up by The Last Stand was wiped off the memory logs.

I believe the script's exact words were:

"F*k you, X-Men: The Last Stand! Get off my planet!"

First Class was in the 1960s, Days of Future Past did the '70s, the third "prequel" Apocalypse went into the 1980s, I think (lord knows), and that perhaps brings us to the 1990s, even though Nicholas Hoult still doesn't look a day over twelve (he was playing a high schooler in Tolkien just yesterday) and Michael Fassbender seems in no hurry to age into Ian McKellen. They are joined by James McAvoy and the usual gaggle of young actors - Tye Sheridan as the persistently two-eyed Cyclops, Jennifer Lawrence as the blue Mystique, Kodi Smit-McPhee as the bluer Nightcrawler, Evan Peters as Quicksilver, Sophie Turner as the Angry Phoenix, and so on.

The new film is a play on the story previously on display in The Last Stand, where the preternaturally confused most powerful mutant on earth, Jean Grey/Phoenix is coerced into a life of petty crime, this time with the more canonical fanboy-approved help of the film's cosmic angle: an Evil Space Alien lady, played with chilly determination by Jessica Chastain, in about the same script role as Milla Jovovich in the recent Hellboy film (haven't the puny Earthlings suffered enough? Is it always the same answer?).

Jean becomes the Angry Phoenix, though no one is quite sure what she has to be mad about, as she rages and shoots lightning bolts at will, incinerating the innocent. In The Last Stand, her madness was calmed by perennial love interest Wolverine, who will not appear this time around (the character is immortal and does not age; oddly, neither is true for Hugh Jackman).

Fans seem once again excited, though film critics are... not. As of today, my favourite films in the franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand ($234m) and Days of Future Past ($233m), coincidentally and fortuitously remain the series' biggest earners (including Wolverine films) [not including Deadpool films]. Dark Phoenix has an [increasingly less of an] outside chance to become the lowest, perhaps shooting under First Class' $146m and The Wolverine's $132m. Such is life for a weary old mutant.

But fear not!

"Reboot" was a neat animated television show about the inside of a computer that I watched in the late 1990s (remember Hexadecimal?). But the genius of this new cultural Reboot is that it never quite has to end: now that Disney owns Fox, a brand new team of recast and continuity-free X-Men could find themselves in the general proximity of the Avengers, where at least they won't have to exchange inhumorous banter with Iron Man anymore (oops). And so this particular incarnation of the X-Men may too be landed in the dustbin of the never-been. As Bob Dylan sang: ...don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin, and there's no telling who that it's naming.

Opening weekend: $67 million / Total gross: $142 million

2. Toy Story 4 (June 21st)
As one can surmise by even a vague glance at this forecast page, in June there are two big CGI-animated monstrosities rearing their heads up from the bottom of the ocean, and making their way to crush a movie theatre near you. These films will so thoroughly rule the month as to leave little doubt that nothing else could rank any higher than third.

The original Toy Story was the first full-length Pixar release and a movie benchmark for millennial children (yup, me too, guilty as charged; saw it in theatres when I was nine). Perhaps unbeknownst to myself and my peers then, the film also united in vocal harmony Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, two prototypical baby boomer movie stars of the 1990s, with the former as the beloved cowboy doll Woody (do children still play with cowboys? Did they in the 1990s?), and the latter interloper space tourist Buzz Lightyear, who must by now realize he may never actually get to space, even if he has an eternity to try.

Toy Story was the first CGI animation of any importance and a film that transformed permanently cartoons at the movies. By 2002, traditional animation was all but finished as a big cineplex event, relegated mostly to television and video and anime devotees. I guess neither Hanks nor Allen imagined the history they'd be making as they united on their misadventures to get home to the child that so enjoyed playing with them. That child was Andy, who in 1995 was about my age, but who unlike the South Park boys or Ash Ketchum has grown out of the decade and into his twenties, thirties, and beyond. (As for me? That's more debatable).

Toy Story grossed 191 million dollars. We can talk about the sequels a little, presenting the most obvious facts: Toy Story 2 was intended for straight-to-video but was (apparently) so good that it was sent to theatres, where it chugged in a mere $245m. Toy Story 3 was the first of many 2010s Pixar sequels, and among the most admired: it was released 11 years after part 2, grossing $415m. As you can see, these numbers are heading in only one direction, even with a little help from inflation. But quality is still a factor: the reviews never waned. And they likely shan't wane now.

3 began the decade and part 4 will now close it out, as Hanks and Allen return. The toys had one last hurrah with their young human master Andy in 2010, but oh, lord, I hope this film isn't going to end with Andy's son adapting the gang, in a surprise and unexpected twist that makes a wise and poignant commentary on the cyclical nature of life and on the relentless expediency of sequel filmmaking?

While animation actors were once largely unknown, the voice casts assembled for these and so many other CGI films are so impressive you almost wish that someone would go live action with the whole thing. Aside from the Toms, 4's vocals number among them Wallace Shawn, Joan Cusack, Laurie Metcalfe, and even Betty White, for crying out loud. Keanu Reeves, who most recently fought an increasingly endless series of permanent battles, during which he can never be killed, in John Wick, voices something named Caboom (no relation to Louie Kaboom, Google him).

As for that stray live action comment: it wasn't a rando. Since we've seen so much of their traditional animation remade as live action, is the next big Disney trend live action remakes of Pixar films? Could it work? Disney, the idea is yours if you want it, with only modest royalty payments.

Opening weekend: $152 million / Total gross: $462 million

3. The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (June 7th)
A sequel to a wildly successful 2016 film, a year when every month seemed to have its own personal $300m allowance to give out to one select film (and The Secret Life Of Pets was in luck - it was July's pick! $368m!!!).

In the original film, pets of all shapes and sizes banded together under their owners' unaware eye to restore domestic normalcy and the loyal, tranquil ideal of their lives. Part 2 was greenlit, I don't know, probably in 2015? And was moved up from 2020 so we won't have to look thirstily at the calendar for quite as long.

The film moves from bustling adventures in the abyss of the big city to a countryside setting, at least at first. The creative team is back (director Chris Renaud, producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy). There are some new characters (Tiffany Haddish as a Shih Tzu, Harrison Ford as something that sounds like Harrison Ford), and much of the original cast has been located and sent back to the voicing booth: Eric Stonestreet as a Newfoundland mix, a monstrous giant cute breed, Jenny Slate, who's by now a veteran of these animations, as a Pomeranian, and Kevin Hart as an evil rabbit, who has grand designs that include whatever rabbits usually come up with (you probably ought not to worry about it). Various dogs, cats, bunnies, and antelopes abound.

There is one particular exception: original voice lead Louis C.K. has been replaced by Patton Oswalt, for reasons that shall remain unrepeated in this space (indeed, I could scarcely find the words even if I wanted to). Suffice it to say that wherever the man is occupying space now, it is not in the recording studio of a children's family entertainment.

The CGI genre, once seemingly bulletproof, impervious to pain or damage or hail, has taken a slight beating in recent days, with Wonder Park and Missing Link posting numbers that did not scream of enthusiasm. Pets 2 shouldn't fret, as an entry in a popular brand, and released in a month that has often been pregnant with these CGI animations, taking them to absurd box office (Incredibles 2, $600m? Was that one absolutely necessary?). No, this is not Pixar, and yes, they must contend with a Pixar film hot on its tail. But the days of summer are long and humid, and family audiences can probably juggle two of these in one month.

Opening weekend: $112 million / Total gross: $315 million

4. Men In Black: International (June 14th)
Gender says: it's really "People" in Black now.

Aliens who bear a comically grotesque appearance and manner must once more be blown to microscopic bits by earnest human agents who exchange well-written banter meant to elicit laughter (though those dead extra-terrestials surely don't find it very funny). Released two years after the upstart Bad Boys and a summer after the decade-defining Independence Day, Men in Black was the film that turned the smooth, short, memorable name Will Smith into one of the biggest icons of blockbuster cinema making, up there with Steven Spielberg and Shrek. Highlights of previous MiB films have included Johnny Knoxville with an extra tiny little Johnny Knoxville head attached somewhere onto his person (by popular demand), Jermaine Clement as an alien who insisted his name was "just Boris," and an extra-terrestial that claims it's Michael Jackson, because it is (...).

The Men In Black franchise occupies an odd spot in recent film history, having produced three unquestionable box office successes but not, as far as I can detect, an identifiable swath of fans who glean the films religiously. MiB fanatics don't crowd internet message boards with posts and theories late into the night. They don't wear black and white MiB hats or descend upon ComicCon in full regalia (too often). And they don't raise their hands and place them on their hips and growl: "how dare you recast!"

As best as I can deduce, most blockbuster audiences remember the first film, have forgotten the second, and carry a general positive outlook on the first, and therefore are probably open to this new venture, if it delivers.

Men In Black: International, which is indeed film number four, switches series icons Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones for new agents played by Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, with some Liam Neeson on the sidelines carrying an even more special skillset.

If Hemsworth and Thompson standing side by side looks familiar, it's because they were previously teamed together as Thor (he) and Valkyrie/a valkyrie? (her) in Thor: Ragnarok, a film that carried both Bulk & Skull-level cheesy humour and starling, raving, enthusiastic, ecstatic critic reviews, two factors that do not often co-exist, not should have in this case (and I love Bulk & Skull! Though I do not love raving reviews). Merit aside, Thor: Ragnarok was a $315m grosser, and the actors, who are both indeed charismatic and funny, were regarded as such a potent comic team that the film's producers cried out: "We'll take them!," recruiting them to take over the roles of the uncommitted Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith for this new sequel (if you notice, the two pairs of actors bear a striking physical resemblance to the other).

The action is moved to London for some local flavour, the agent in charge of the operation is once more Emma Thompson (the biggest reprise from a previous film, she from part 3), and humans in dark suits shoot at often nubile aliens once more.

The Men in Black films have grossed $250m, $190m, and $179m, respectively and in order of release, and though this film may come in at fourth place on this ranking, I think there's room for growth here. Ignoring for a second the hastily dumped-in-late-April Avengers 7 (they hid it so well!), the summer has so far produced just one film that's a decisive $200m earner (it's Aladdin).

So be warned: if you see this movie, there's a good chance they're going to make three more. "Each longer and better reviewed than its predecessor."

Opening weekend: $61 million / Total gross: $161 million


5. Annabelle Comes Home (June 26th)

The Annabelle series is most renowned in the popular imagination for an act of intransigence committed by Annabelle 2: it was the only film released in August 2017 to have grossed one hundred million dollars at the domestic box office, thus totally screwing my almost life-long quest for the first August since 2000 not to feature a $100m film. The exact, crushing number here was 102.

So I hate you, Annabelle. You suck. When the trailers and posters for your films advertise you as pure evil, they're right, and are they ever. Honestly, little doll, I know you take your marching orders from the Devil, but what were you thinking?

Now I have to take my chances with Hobbs and Shaw in August 2019.

Annabelle returns home this June, this time opening on a Wednesday for some discernible reason not known to me (I know, late June Wednesday openings are a pre-Fourth of July tradition, enshrined by the Pilgrims on Plymouth rock). As the decade winds down, so does her franchise.

The Conjuring debuted in 2013 and took in $137m, unique among movies about spirits and human-possessive demons in that was rated R, an eschewing of the trademark PG-13 appendix so beloved among ghost movies since The Others in 2001 and especially The Ring 2002. All of these titles revived the ghost movie tradition, which had sat somewhat dormant by the wayside of the more flesh-and-blood killers of the 1980s and 1990s.

Horror films usually inspire sequels. Numerous, gorgeous, gregarious, gruesome sequels, streaming down the pike for generations. Remakes, too. But perhaps more than any other horror film in history, The Conjuring series has given rise to spin-offs, with any number of ghostly forms or shiny objects that crossed our eyeline during these films inspiring their own film. Annabelle the evil-tempered doll was first and The Nun was next, with a few others in development, while the recent The Curse of La Llorona having wedded itself to these films through the inclusion of a supporting actor. The total number of Conjuring universe films now becomes eight, with a Conjuring 3 allegedly slated for 2020. Now it's clearer than ever that The Conjuring universe must be seen as the definitive horror franchise of the 2010s.

In Annabelle 3, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as persistent demon-exorcisers Ed and Lorraine Warren, in another story set in the pleasant simple reaches of the past (Ed Warren died in 2006, Lorraine about seven weeks ago). I'm not quite so sure they have a leading role, but they appear on screen just long enough to bring the Annabelle doll home to their suburban horror museum (what would the neighbors say!), place her in their putatively harmless collection, and then quietly make the right moves to set up the next sequel.

The Warrens' daughter takes over as the demon-hater here. All these Conjuring films are period pieces, and the Annabelle movies specifically have quietly been building back from Annabelle 2, set mostly in 1955, to the original Annabelle, placed around 1967, and then up to this film's year, about a decade after that (yes, the first Annabelle film takes place largely after the second and before the third. We all understand everything I'm saying).

The most recent Conjuring spin-off, The Nun, grossed $117m, and thus was the second biggest film in the whole Conjuring universe, just a little over a year after Annabelle 2 did her dirty deed on me. Some audience fall-off seems like it could be in order (especially since Annabelle will have to glare angrily, or perhaps lustily, across the hall at her murderous doll rival Chucky), and so perhaps Annabelle 3 will rack up one of the lower totals for these films. Especially since it's not out in August.

Opening weekend: $32 million / Total gross: $78 million

6. Child's Play (June 21st)
This is Chucky, and therefore an iconic horror franchise, so, yes, the forecast will be quite long:

The misadventures of Charles Lee "Chucky" Ray began with a simple horror film in 1988: a mother bought her son a new doll that was all the rage, and which in this particular sample was possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, who transferred his soul as he lay dying on the wrong aisle of a children's toy store.

Reviews were good, the box office was really quite solid ($33m, and ajusting to more than double that presently), and Brad Dourif memorably cackled with sadistic glee as Chucky: dressed in blue overalls, a striped shirt, and gangly hair, he was a new horror icon, enshrining Dourif as one of the great horror villain actors of the last few decades, alongside Freddy, Jigsaw, and Madea. No surprise, no one tends to believe the boy until right before Chucky is about to personally cream them, but the fiend's dastardly machinations were finally uncovered, and he was blown into little bits and out of commission, put back together just in time for Child's Play 2 ($28m in 1990) and 3 (1991; $14m). That third film came out just nine months after the second, in one of the fastest sequel turnarounds in film history.

The doll seemed dead, for good, until Bride of Chucky in 1998, part of the self-referential horror wave of the era, now long forgotten and bedraggled over. It was a delightful horror comedy, and added Jennifer Tilly to the franchise as the man's old girlfriend, a (very much) human woman who is transformed into another killer doll. The numbers punched back up, to $32m, and then down again for another weird sequel (Seed of Chucky, $17m, 2004) and two straight-to-video follow-ups that have received some good reviews.

While any number of franchises are mired in a continuity nightmare, such is not actually the case for Child's Play, all these years later: the story progresses from film one in 1988 to film 7 in 2017 in roughly as linear a fashion as one could possibly hope for from such an enterprise. Chucky's family history is a straight line still.

But this is a remake, known since about 2005 as a reboot (what is the difference?). And we get the original (...classic) story retold with some occasional variation. This time, Chucky's tones are courtesy of Mark Hamill, who is best known for playing C--kknocker in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), and whose sadistic animated glee made made for one of the best Jokers, in the 1990s Batman television series and film. If we can't have Dourif back, this is good casting. Approve.

There are other characters who are not killer dolls in the mix, lest Chucky would be lonely. Funnyperson Aubrey Plaza plays the helpless mother who brings terror home, Gabriel Bateman is her soon to be ungrateful-son (his sister Talitha has already made it through any number of horror films, by the way), and Brian Tyree Henry takes over for Chris Sarandon as the detective who just vaguely feels Chucky still lurking out there, somehow.

As I mentioned elsewhere, it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that provided the template for the modern reboot back in 2003, taking an established brand-name that most everybody has heard of, freeing it from a lengthy line-up of sequels, and making a new film with all the basics and that big, bold, title up there that everyone remembers. This attracted both original fans, and new teenagers and teenager-adjacent who didn't think they'd had a Texas Chainsaw film of their own. It opened with $28m, and grossed $80m.

Child's Play is mostly on the same course. Everyone knows Chucky, and if many of this film's potential ticketbuyers have never seen a Chucky film, they like to go in fresh here, while ardent Chucky sympathizers such as myself will attend anyway, out of well-placed loyalty. Such is the beauty of these reboots, if you must find beauty in them.

I don't know how I feel about that process of rebootification, but I do know it's always appreciated when a film harps up at Toy Story 4 on the same release date: here is a good opportunity for a double-bill, or a more charming alternative.

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $52 million

7. Shaft Comes Home (June 14th)
Other than Luc Besson's simple one-word original Anna, every single film released widely this month requires several and probably very many paragraphs of expository dialogue, outlining original films, sequels, reboots, and then finally getting to the June 2019 entry, in order to properly contextualize their franchise's very specific spot in film history.

The advertising made a point of calling him a Private Dick, and indeed Richard Roundtree's private detective John Shaft was an icon of the early 1970s, having headlined Shaft (1971), Shaft's Big Score! (1972), and the inevitable if still clever Shaft in Africa (1973), before taking off the next two decades as the neat blaxploitation subgenre declined.

Shaft returned in a 2000 remake by the late John Singleton, and re-imagined as a Samuel L. Jackson hero who is the original detective's same-named nephew, taking on Christian Bale as a psychotic 20something unaware of his future as the Batman. Roundtree reprised.

The tradition of the day is nostalgia, fan service, and tribute to the past, in an era of franchises overusing one single identical title, all the better to confuse non-cinephiles with (has anyone figured out yet why are there two big movies released 11 years apart named simply "Halloween"? That's crazy!). And so in another film just called "Shaft," Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson return, with new generation Jessie T. Usher as Jackson's Shaft's son and Regina King as Shaft, Jr.'s mother to offset the gender imbalance.

Shaft happens to have been slotted for the same weekend as the 2000 film, and also last year's blaxploitation remake Superfly, starring the charismatic Trevor Jackson. The timing is probably coincidence - do people crave 1970s remakes in the middle of June? Shaft 2000 opened with $21m and finished with a quite princely $70m, and it's possible that its 2019 follow-up balances under those numbers.

I kind of hope not: the persistently underrated Regina King remains my favourite thing about the Scary Movie films (one through four...), which she spent fighting off unsurprisingly harmless skeletons and made sexual advances on members of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. Filmmakers would be wise to let her go for broke here too.

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $55 million

8. Anna (June 21st)
The only film this month that is not part of a pre-established franchise name brand, and thus obviously and unavoidably is destined to be the lowest-grossing of the eight titles listed here. And I don't think it's going to be close.

Russian model Sasha Luss plays director Luc Besson's favourite ever screen trope, the beautiful, agile, bodacious female assassin in her 20s, who must take out a whole shooting gallery of very bad men, plus or minus the occasional older bad lady. The man's vision has previously taken the form of Anne Parillaud as La Femme Nikita, a very young Natalie Portman as Mathilda in Léon: The Professional, Milla Jovovich as none other than a body count-heavy Joan of Arc in The Messenger, and Scarlett Johansson as Lucy, which to be fair went quite above and beyond the metaphysical. That's a lot of dead dudes in their wake.

Besson most recently spearheaded Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which had a great title and starred the very pleasant Dane DeHaan, though its agreeable box office haul ($225m+) was required to offset a rather costly budget ($200m or thereabouts), and that's a gross that was made almost entirely outside of North America. Valerian had Luss playing one of a race of tall white-skinned aliens (little make-up was required), and the director now gives her her own film where her preternaturalness can further be exuded.

As always, Besson can command an all-star orchestra of a supporting cast: Helen Mirren is Anna's superior, and Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy are men tangled to some degree in her web. I would bet at least two out of three don't make it to the closing credits. Perhaps I'm short of one.

Opening weekend: $4 million / Total gross: $11 million



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