Monday Morning Quarterback Part Four

By BOP Staff

November 18, 2005

Raisin' the roof!

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Kanye West only goes so far

Kim Hollis: Jarhead fell 56% in its second frame, earning $12.3 million. Its ten-day total stands at $47.1 million. How would you grade its performance thus far and what expectations do you have from here on?

Reagen Sulewski: I think its opening weekend was a great performance, especially with a group of largely unproven young actors. The drop-off has to unsettling for a film with Oscar aspirations, though.

David Mumpower: Reagen has drilled it and in point of fact, it's difficult to make any argument to the contrary. The magnificent marketing got people out in droves on opening weekend. Those who showed up either comprised the body of the potential audience or they were disappointed enough in the movie to not recommend it.

Joel Corcoran: I agree, Reagen. But I think it might be poised for a more gentle tapering off during the holiday season. Maybe. Or that might be wishful thinking, I'm not sure.

Kim Hollis: The second weekend got hit by the average reviews and word-of-mouth. A lot of folks were unhappy that the film wasn't so much *about* war as it was about *waiting* for war.

David Mumpower: That's a great point, Kim. I've seen the film and to this moment, I'm still conflicted by aspects of it. That open-ended nature of it is troubling to most movie-goers.

Kim Hollis: I do think that much of the issue for Jarhead is that it is polarizing in a Blue State/Red State sort of way. For Red State sorts who went in expecting a lot of chest pounding and such, they were bound to be disappointed. It's not a film that I can imagine a lot of actual military types enjoying (though I would say the same thing about Apocalypse now and it sure looked like it was a big favorite to the troops in Jarhead).

David Mumpower: That's right. It's almost too accurate as an example of military service during times of war. In the immortal words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part.

Mr. Darcy is hot!

Kim Hollis: Pride and Prejudice earned $2.8 million with a per-venue average of $13,043 from 215 exhibitions. This is a major surprise, correct?

Reagen Sulewski: I predicted about $2 million, so I'm not that surprised. That said, this broke into the top ten a lot faster than I thought it would.

Joel Corcoran: That's a huge surprise, I think. If I'm doing the math correctly, that's over 50% higher than the per-venue average for Chicken Little.

Kim Hollis: I think that Focus Features did a marvelous job of marketing it to the target audience. They really took care to be certain that fans of Austen would have an awareness of the movie. Given the strong reviews, it should have a very nice holiday season.

David Mumpower: The lasting appeal of Pride and Prejudice remains a mystery to me. Maybe I can get Helen Fielding to explain it to me some day, but until then, every time one of these projects makes a dime, I'm surprised. Seventeen remakes this decade is enough for a while, people.

Kim Hollis: Jane Austen fans are a fervent group, David.

David Mumpower: I want Bride and Prejudice to meet Pride and Prejudice in Thunderdome with Bridget Jones as the special guest referee...complete with Tina Turner hair.

Reagen Sulewski: They're the Star Trek fans of the literary world.

Kim Hollis: Let's not say anything we can't take back, Reagen.

David Mumpower: We don't need another hero. The women who are transfixed by Mark Darcy are only marginally more sane than the ones who still wear Kobe Bryant jerseys, anyway.

Joel Corcoran: Is this the first film version of Pride and Prejudice that sticks to the actual novel? Every other version I can think of is a "modern retelling" or some such nonsense.

Kim Hollis: Well, there is (of course) the BBC mini-series that really is the gold standard.

Reagen Sulewski: Also, there was one back in the 1940s.

Joel Corcoran: Oh ... right, Kim. I'd forgotten about that version, but I was thinking of movies.

David Mumpower: Where does Clueless factor in?

Kim Hollis: That's Emma.

David Mumpower: Same difference.

Kim Hollis: Curses.

David Mumpower: In poker terminology, that's called trapping.

Joel Corcoran: For a movie based on a piece of classic literature that didn't involve Kenneth Branagh, I think Pride and Prejudice did very well and has a brilliant future ahead of it.

Director vs. Composer cage match!

Kim Hollis: Peter Jackson ditched the standing music score for King Kong, hiring a last minute substitute in James Newton Howard. The man he fired, Howard Shore, handled the entire Lord of the Rings soundtrack, winning two Academy Awards in the process. Should we read anything into this business relationship's dissolution?

David Mumpower: Break-ups are always hardest on the children. Poor lil' Elijah Wood must be so sad right now.

Joel Corcoran: Words cannot express the fear I have in my very heart and soul right now, not only for King Kong, but for any last shred of hope I have that Peter Jackson will ever film The Hobbit. I definitely fall into the category of King Kong fan boys, and I'm really beginning to wonder about the film.

Kim Hollis: Supposedly, the decision was made amicably and at the agreement of both parties. Honestly, I'm far more concerned about the Danny Elfman/Sam Raimi breakup, which appears to have been quite unpleasant. I love Raimi and I love Elfman, so this is hugely disappointing to me. Even worse is the fact that Elfman says that Raimi appears to have been replaced with a pod person who is nothing like the friend he had for the past ten years.

David Mumpower: I realize it's blasphemous to say this, but King Kong has the makings of being the disappointment of the holiday season. Do we really want to see three hours of an ape climbing the Empire State Building?

Kim Hollis: I don't think a new composer means much one way or the other for King Kong. Bringing in a new guy to re-theme Spider-Man (using Elfman's music) matters to me more for some reason.

David Mumpower: The moral of the story: if your films make billions of dollars, you fire the music guy.

Kim Hollis: King Kong has potential bust written all over it. I totally want to be wrong, though.

Joel Corcoran: I think James Newton Howard is a very capable composer and will do quite well with the film score. That's not really a concern. I'm far more concerned about such a significant change at such a late date, given Jackson's reputation for thorough planning and execution. It makes me wonder what else is going on with King Kong that we don't yet know about.

Kim Hollis: Eh, it's not the first time it's happened. Pirates of the Caribbean is another significant example.

Hobbits and a giant ape in a steel cage match!

Joel Corcoran: David, I would pay good money to see a three-hour movie of nothing but King Kong rampaging around New York, if it was done well. But ... I may be agreeing with you about the potential for King Kong to be the biggest disappointment of the holiday season. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm a lot closer than I was just a week ago.

David Mumpower: I'm sure it will do historically well on opening weekend. I just don't cede it the $300 million everyone seems to feel is a given. It gives me a Hulk vibe. Jackson seems to think he can re-tell the story as he sees fit, not realizing that audiences feel they have a sort of ownership of the story.

Joel Corcoran: I don't agree with that aspect at all, David. After all, what audience has more of a sense of ownership over the story than J.R.R. Tolkien fans? I think Jackson fully realizes the audience he is dealing with.

David Mumpower: There are many, many more people who knew King Kong before this movie than LOTR. Also, I hate to eschew a portion of the filmmaking process that I realize is important to a lot of people, but I'm one of -those- people. I could care less about the music. Dialogue is what matters.

What's a score?

Joel Corcoran: Music is an important aspect, but not nearly as important as plot, story, dialogue, filmography, etc. I don't think the quality of the music will suffer at all under Howard. He might even do a better job. I'm just wondering if this last-minute change is a symptom of a deeper problem.

Kim Hollis: I find that music can matter in the sense that if it's really, really awful (i.e. Lalo Schifrin in Rush Hour 2) it can be really distracting to a negative point. And a great score can contribute to an overall outstanding movie experience. Though an average score won't make a difference to me if all other factors are equal.

You forgot to pick that nit

Joel Corcoran: LOTR fans are far, FAR more dedicated than fans of King Kong would be. And organized. And, well, nit-picky. I mean, even the slightest rumor of any minor deviation from the true LOTR text set up a firestorm of criticism on the Internet. Jackson learned very quickly how to care for the core audience. And I think he's demonstrating that education quite well with all the production diaries and behind-the-scenes material he's released for King Kong. I'll believe King Kong fans are more passionate and dedicated than LOTR fans whenever I see more science fiction convention attendees dressed up in ape suits than with hairy feet.

David Mumpower: You LOTR zealots are a passionate, delusional bunch.

Joel Corcoran: Yes ... yes, we are.

Kim Hollis: I really think your casual movie-goer will have only a passing familiarity with the 1933 classic. And will be more than happy to see it updated into a big CGI fest. Though I'm not sure who wants to see it for three hours.

David Mumpower: Weren't the same comments applicable to Godzilla, Kim?
Joel Corcoran: But to be honest, I have a greater sense of anticipation over King Kong than I did for LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Kim Hollis: Really? I think it feels like... I don't know. Super Congo.

Joel Corcoran: Anyone who sat through Titanic can sit through King Kong, I'm sure.

Reagen Sulewski: Don't we trust Peter Jackson infinitely more as a storyteller than Roland Emmerich?

David Mumpower: I don't. Emmerich made two films I enjoyed in Stargate and Independence Day. The next Peter Jackson film I really like will be the first. For that matter, Universal Soldier was quite good.

Kim Hollis: I'm just speculating. Frankly, I haven't heard one single person outside of other movie buffs who are anticipating Kong. I'm not convinced that it's so iconic that people are either hugely anticipating it or ready to heavily scrutinize it.

Reagen Sulewski: Even setting aside The Lord of the Rings films, Heavenly Creatures is a fantastic film that should have won Oscars, The Frighteners is a highly underrated genre film and Dead Alive is a gore splatter classic.

David Mumpower: Out of those, The Frighteners is the only one I don't actively despise. For whatever reason, Jackson's decisions as a filmmaker rub me the wrong way. The umpteen endings on Return of the King is the best example of his self-indulgence.

Reagen Sulewski: To me, that's an example of how he's a director willing to accomodate. Those endings were gifts to the hardcore fans.

Kim Hollis: What he should have done is made Donkey Kong. He would have needed a lot of bananas. Do you think Bob Hoskins is ready to reprise his Mario role yet?


     


 
 

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