Another Weekend, Another Bomb

Chat time! Well, soon, at least. Here’s the reminder that there will be another live PopRox chat Friday at noon, the first of a monthly series of live chats. From now on, we’ll be doing a live chat on the first Friday of every month at noon. 

Bad news — I’ll be the one doing it. Good news — maybe my stalkers will be back from the last chat! I’ll try not to concentrate too much on the Phillies this time too, promise.

This Friday, noon. You will be there or kindly be square.

oops.

oops.

I spent most of last week gloating about correctly picking Jonah Hex as the biggest bomb of the summer. So now it’s time to take my medicine for touting Knight and Day as what looked like a can’t hit blockbuster. It tanked to $20.5 million over the weekend, and I still can’t put my finger on why. I’ve said it about 500 times, but the trailer was brilliant. It got decent — not great — reviews, especially compared to Grown Ups, which scored a blistering 9 on Rotten Tomatoes. It has two of the most beloved stars of the last 20 years.

It should have killed — it just didn’t. What happened?

We’re still not ready to forgive Tom Cruise. For a two-month span in the summer of 2005, Cruise went completely nuts. Bonkers. Maybe he still is nuts, he probably is. But what we saw — the couch jumping, the Today Show Scientology preaching, the Katie Holmes stuff — jarred us so much that his reputation may never be repaired. This was the perfect comeback role for Cruise, it should have put him back on the map. It’s him at his most charming, most action-ready. Going back to 1996 when the first Mission: Impossible came out, every one of his pure action movies have been huge hits. HUGE. Even Mission: Impossible III, which made a somewhat disappointing $134 million here, still opened at $47 million in the midst of his major controversies. The rumor was that Mission: Impossible IV may be scaled back or even scrapped if Knight and Day didn’t do well. Now we’ll see how much confidence Hollywood really has in an aging lunatic whose movie star clock may be ticking. That reminds me …

We’re sick of seeing Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Cruise’s movies have made $2.8 billion, Diaz has made $2.5 billion. That’s a lot of times that we’ve seen them. They’re so big and in the public conscious, they’ve both already been spoofed. Cruise has been spoofed repeatedly — on South Park, by Ben Stiller …

… and by anyone who thinks they can do his voice. Anna Faris spoofed Diaz in Lost in Translation to the point where I have trouble seeing Diaz in anything anymore without thinking of Faris acting like a complete moron. Sooner or later in Hollywood, your shelf life is up. It’s not fair, it’s just a fact. Maybe this is it for these two and their overall bankability.

You can’t hodgepodge a movie together. When movies are completely unrecognizable from their original ideas — as this one apparently is — it’s not a good thing. It happens all the time, with varying degrees of success, because Hollywood just buys scripts and “massages” them to churn something out. Studios even buy scripts and take certain pieces of them, put them together and call it a coherent movie. I remember hearing  Jim Breuer once claim he sold a script, but the movie never got made. This movie script contained a scene where he and his friends were driving around recklessly in a beat-up van with stockings over their head picking people up while Metallica’s Master of Puppets was supposed to be playing. Sound familiar? It’s the initiation scene from Old School.

So studios actively practice taking elements from other scripts and just copy and paste them together. Apparently it happens more time than anyone realizes. If it works, fine, but in the case of Knight and Day, it obviously didn’t.

We’re tried of these kinds of cookie-cutter movies. It took a while, but maybe America finally is starting to realize that every movie looks exactly like the one they saw last week, or last month, or last year. Summer movies are there for one reason — to make a bazillion dollars. So when one is successful at that, it’s going to get copied. The formula is pretty fool-proof: Guaranteed stars + explosions + one-liners + happy ending = action movie success. That formula has been stringently followed since the 70s, and now it’s pretty much made one Hollywood movie indistinguishable from the other. Box office totals have been down this summer, and some people are blaming Jaws and Star Wars for that. That’s a stretch, though you can say they’re indirectly responsible for it. Hollywood itself is responsible for stifling originality and deciding instead that same-old, same-old is acceptable. Maybe after this summer, it won’t be anymore. 

i have no idea what this means.

i have no idea what this means.

More bomb potential this weekend when The Last Airbender comes out. It’s a huge gamble for Paramount and for M. Night Shyamalan, who has officially and completely lost the luster he had as one of the biggest directors in Hollywood just a couple years ago when Signs made $227 million in 2002. Now he’s got two consecutive major bombs on his record and is in the midst of adapting a star-less little-known cable TV cartoon. Wasn’t that one of the things we said Jonah Hex effed up, turning a cult character into a movie? the only thing I know about Last Airbender is that it was on Nickelodeon when I passed it by scanning through channels. That’s it. I couldn’t tell you anything else. Never seen it, never heard a peep about it until the movie. Now here’s what I know about the movie — it’s trailer is OK and it changed its name. It used to go by the full Nickelodeon title — Avatar: the Last Airbender. In an obvious attempt to make sure it doesn’t get confused with some other Avatar movie, it shortened the name. Those are the kinds of things that confuse the audience and keep people from seeing a movie.

Who would have thought Guillermo del Toro leaving the two Hobbit films could have been the best thing for the franchise? It looks like Peter Jackson could be in line to direct them after del Toro jumped ship. And why not? Jackson hand-picked del Toro to direct the franchise he made one of the most profitable and critically acclaimed of all time, a franchise he is still a producer for and still obviously cares about. So when his anointed successor decided not to stay on, he probably toyed withother directors until finally saying, “Eff it, no one else is going to do this as well as I can, I’ll do it myself.” Jackson originally didn’t want to do it because he had a busy schedule already and couldn’t meet the release date deadline. Now that both movies have been pushed back at least a year — with the possibility of longer delays — Jackson will have the time he needs to revisit Middle Earth.

I think I’m just going to have to stop reading stories about anniversaries since they make me feel like I should start getting brochures from nursing homes. The latest is Airplane!, which is turning 30. This one isn’t as bad because I didn’t really get into Airplane! until I was in high school in the 90s, but still. I watched Just Friends again yesterday, and poor Julie Haggerty looks like she’s going to die tomorrow in Just Friends compared to Airplane!.

back from the dead, apparently.

back from the dead, apparently.

Watching FX’s version of Superbad — surprisingly still really, really funny — over the weekend, it hit me when I saw the 80th commercial for the new comedy Louie premiering Tuesday. “Holy s—, that means Rescue Me comes back Tuesday too!” Maybe it’s because I thought the end of last season kinda fell apart, or maybe it’s because I’ve been avoiding that effing Tommy Gavin-Derek Jeter promo that I won’t even link to like the plague, but that snuck up on me. I’m sure I’ll review the season premiere for Wednesday’s PopRox.

And with the release of the next Twilight movie this week, I’m again going to push all you Twilight people in what I hope will be the right direction, toward Vampire Diaries. It was one of the three best freshman shows last year (with Glee and Community) and must be better than Twilight. Right? I have no proof because I’ll never see any of these Twilight movies for fear that I would immediately turn into a 15-year-old girl. Though the latest movie is getting decent reviews.

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