As you may have heard — if you have watched a television, been to a movie, visited a website, or looked at the side of a bus in the past two months — there’s a motion picture coming out tomorrow called The Avengers, and it is expected to be quite the big hit. What you might not be aware of this that there are two other movies hitting multiplexes this weekend: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a comedy/drama from Shakespeare in Love director John Madden (no, not that John Madden) featuring the Anglophile wet-dream cast of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy; and something called A Little Bit of Heaven, a romantic comedy in which Kate Hudson has cancer, Peter Dinklage is a male prostitute, and Whoopi Goldberg is God. No, seriously.
Those two films could be most diplomatically deemed “counter-programming,” that old Hollywood notion of putting out movies designed to appeal to audiences far different from those of the big blockbusters. The problem is, a movie like The Avengers defies counter-programming; it’s a movie that cuts across demos and marketing quadrants. Everybody wants to see that movie. (I, for one, know far more young women who are interested in seeing The Avengers than another goddamn Kate Hudson movie.) What you often end up with instead are kamikaze movies — films whose release opposite a major, hype-driven blockbuster indicates a competing studio is just giving up and burning off a movie that they have to release sometime (maybe even for contractual reasons), so this is as good a time as any.
There’s a long, strange history to be found in tracking the movies that opened against the sure things; we’ll take a look at a few prime examples after the jump.
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Though it was considered a possibly tough sell upon its original theatrical release last December (due to the, shall we say, tricky PR challenges presented by star Tom Cruise), we probably don’t have to do much at this point to sell you on Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, the fourth (and best) of the series, out today on DVD and Blu-ray. But if you’re still unconvinced, it is worth reiterating that not only is the picture a smooth, confident, masterfully executed spy thriller, but it contains one of the single finest action sequences we’ve ever seen (below). Contemplating the weight of that statement got us thinking about some of the other contenders; in the interest of brevity, we decided to confine ourselves to films released in the current century. After the jump, take a look at some of our favorite recent action sequences, and be sure to add your own in the comments.
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1. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol topped a holiday weekend box office that was slightly down compared to this time last year, pulling in an estimated $26.5 million. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows landed in second place with $17.8 million, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked finished in third with $13.3 million. [via … Read More
Come Christmas afternoon, your local multiplex will be as overstuffed as you and your family — not with ham and spiked eggnog and festering resentment, but with holiday movies. Crowd-pleasing blockbusters, arty Oscar hopefuls, squeaky-clean kids’ fare, and rom-coms will all compete for your Christmas afternoon dollars, leading to the inevitable family arguments over what movie we’re all going to see, because damnit, it’s Christmas and we’re going to spend it together so can we all just compromise a little? It’s Christmas, for Chrissakes!
Poppycock, we say. Save the arguments and cut your losses; this holiday’s movie-going menu is so specialized that there’s no way you’re all going to agree on any one movie, and all of these films have been created with specific target audiences in mind. To that end, we offer these humble suggestions for Christmas Day movie-going, with a little something specific for everyone in the family.
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Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, the fourth installment of the venerable action franchise, is in theaters now (well, sort of; they did this tiered release where it went to IMAX screens last Friday, but everywhere else on Wednesday, so if you’ve got an IMAX screen in your city, you can go see it there, but if not, later, and… yeah). When it was in pre-production last year, much ink was spilled over the casting of Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner in one of the supporting roles, with speculation running rampant that the young actor was being groomed to take over the series’ leading role from producer/star Tom Cruise, who is, at 49, perhaps getting a touch long-in-the-tooth for all this running/fighting/climbing 100+ story building nonsense.
There does seem to be something of a dearth of young actors equipped to take over the action-hero mantle from folks like Cruise, Will Smith (43), Jackie Chan (57), and the stars of The Expendables. So we got to thinking about some of the twentysomething actors who we’d like to see take a shot at action stardom. Check out our picks after the jump, and add your own in the comments.
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1. Susan Boyle’s now infamous TV audition — her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent — was auto-tuned. [via 9 News]
2. For reasons unknown Mission: Impossible 4 will not be called Mission: Impossible 4. And it won’t pick up where Mission: Impossible 3 ended. [via The… Read More