I hope that all of our readers, no matter how you celebrate it, had a very Merry Christmas this year. Considering how many big movie releases the holiday gave us, we sure know that Hollywood had a good one.
Last Friday brought a slew of wide releases, but that didn’t stop the studios from giving us five more on Christmas day. The widest opener was the remake of ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘. Ben Stiller, who also directed, stars as the title character, the manager of the photograph negatives at Life magazine. His life may seem mundane and routine, but in his daydreams, it’s a wild adventure. When he learns that his company has been acquired and that a layoff is eminent, he makes the thrills of his fantasy life come true as he embarks on a real-life adventure. Expect a lot of beautiful cinematography, sentiment and a great big heart.
The second-widest release was ‘Grudge Match‘, starring Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin. Sly and De Niro play two geriatric retired boxers who get tricked into facing off in the ring once again. The trailers don’t look horrible, but the movie currently sits at a nasty 20% at Rotten Tomatoes. The only Tomatometer rating worse than that is…
‘47 Ronin‘ was originally slated to open in November 2012. It’s rumored that Universal took the $200 million movie away from its first-time director during the editing process. Keanu Reeves leads this fantasy samurai tale about 47 warriors who go to battle against an evil shape-shifting villain. While the imagery looks great, the 11% Tomatometer score tells me that the story is probably awful.
‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ was almost bumped back to 2014 when Martin Scorsese couldn’t get his cut below three hours. Ultimately, Paramount granted him the three-hour runtime and gave the film a Christmas Day slot – delaying ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ to January in the process – so that it could qualify for Oscar consideration. Leonardo DiCaprio leads the cast in this cinematic retelling of the shenanigans Jordan Belfort pulled on Wall Street in the 1990s. Since this was independently financed, you can expect a lot more gritty sexual and drug content than you’re used to seeing in major studio releases.
The final Christmas Day release was John Chu’s second documentary about pop star Justin Bieber: ‘Believe‘. The Christmas box office grosses were far from great, presumably because the 19-year-old Bieber has (like many child stars) gone and made himself look like a complete toolbag. While the first doc may have scored some critical acclaim, what I believe is that people simply don’t care about Bieber anymore.
Debuting on five screens this weekend is awards hopeful ‘August: Osage County‘. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are definitely gunning for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominations, respectively. Based on the stage play, this ensemble drama follows a highly dysfunctional family. Expect lots of yelling and bickering in this mean-spirited melodrama.
Meanwhile, Universal is expanding ‘Lone Survivor‘ to a whopping two screens this week (prior to going wide in January), and the Weinstein Company expands ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom‘ to 975 screens.
It stinks to read such negative reviews of 47 Ronin. I had high hopes for it. It’s one thing for a movie of this style to have bad acting, or a poor story…but to be called boring is very bad. At least we know it’s not Keanu’s fault, as his hand at directing ‘Man of Tai Chi’ was surprisingly good, and far from boring.