Is everyone feeling rested up and refreshed from the long holiday weekend? Were you able to avoid arguing politics with your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner? That may have been tough this year. Anyway, we’re back to work today, and the new week brings us some Blu-rays of family films that didn’t do too well at the box office this year.
‘Pete’s Dragon‘ – Disney had high hopes for this remake, but I’m not convinced that the original 1977 movie is particularly beloved or even well remembered. I suppose the old one had a certain amount of charm to its innocence in letting a goofy cartoon dragon interact with live actors. The update substitutes a furry green CGI thing that, frankly, looks kind of weird and creepy. At least, that’s the vibe I got from the trailers, which left me baffled at how Robert Redford could have gotten roped into something that appeared to be insanely terrible on every level. To my surprise, the movie actually got pretty good reviews from critics. Nevertheless, audiences didn’t bother to turn out. They must have felt the same way about the trailers that I did.
‘The BFG‘ – Back in the day, Steven Spielberg directing a kids’ movie was a guaranteed home run. Not so much today. Perhaps modern kids aren’t familiar with the classic Roald Dahl story it’s based on (the title stands for “Big Friendly Giant”), or perhaps the awkward Uncanny Valley motion-capture CGI stuff turned them off. Either way, this is another case where even generally positive reviews from critics couldn’t convince anyone to see the movie. In fact, with a budget of $140 million and a worldwide gross of only $116 million, it was a straight-up flop. For a man who used to rule the box office, that has to sting.
‘The Wild Life‘ – I can’t imagine that anyone was surprised that this CG-animated family flick that loosely adapts ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as told from the point-of-view of a parrot would bomb. It looked awful. Everyone who saw it said it was awful. This never had any chance to succeed.
‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie‘ – Back in the day, I bought my wife a VHS collection that was labeled as “Ab Fab: The Complete Series.” I believe it had three seasons. Even then, the joke felt stretched very thin by the end. Somehow, the show just kept going and going and going even after that with an endless string of specials and extra seasons, all repeating the same situations and gags. I can’t fathom what the point of a feature film extension nearly 25 years later would be.
‘Don’t Breathe‘ – The new thriller from the director of the ‘Evil Dead’ remake attempts to flip the tables on the home invasion genre. In the one, the idiot teens who break into a house to loot the joint become the victims when the old blind man who lives there (‘Avatar’ baddie Stephen Lang) stalks and kills them. It’s a reasonably clever premise, and word-of-mouth on it was strong. With a modest budget of just $9.9 million and worldwide grosses of $152 million, it’s not just the only box office hit among this week’s day-and-date releases, the movie was a huge success story.
If you’re a fan of the ‘Back to the Future‘ trilogy, odds are you probably already own all three movies on Blu-ray. They’ve been available in various configurations (box sets, individual standalone copies, SteelBooks, etc.) starting in 2010. Last year’s Complete Adventures collection bundled the three movies on Blu-ray with the short-lived spinoff cartoon series on DVD, inside a gimmicky Flux Capacitor package. The latest permutation has a somewhat streamlined package size and a reduced price.
Disney’s ‘Avengers: 2-Movie Collection‘ is a simple double-bill of ‘The Avengers’ with ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. I’d be very surprised if any Marvel fans didn’t already buy both movies when they were released individually.
This is a pretty slim week. I might catch ‘Don’t Breathe’ or ‘The BFG’ when they eventually hit cable. In terms of purchases, I’m giving my wallet a rest this week. After all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I don’t have much spare cash left right now anyway.
Do you feel differently?