Have We Seen the Last of the Jack Black Era?

Here’s to hoping Santa was good to everyone, you got through Christmas without throwing a snowman plate at your stepmother and your drive in to work today was accident-free. That last one is asking a lot.

If you’re on the mountain today, I’d advise not even going outside if you don’t have to. I stopped at the rest area on 80 East, and was absolutely waylaid by the wind and blowing snow. It’s gotta feel like about 10 below. So if you don’t have to go anywhere, don’t. That wind is making the roads pretty scary.

Off and running with the links:

stop smiling.

stop smiling.

A moment of silence for the end of the Jack Black era, please … there, that seems long enough. That’s four flops in his last four top-lining features (Gulliver’s Travels, Year One, Be Kind Rewind and Tenacious D). He can still hold on to Tropic Thunder, but if you walked out of the theater after that movie and someone asked you to name the actors in that movie, he’d be at least fifth. And there are probably people that don’t even realize he’s the voice of Kung Fu Panda. The days of Nacho Libre and School of Rock seem like a long, long time ago. It wasn’t a terrible idea to make Gulliver’s Travels for a Christmas release, the idea seems like it’s in line with Night at the Museum, Bedtime Stories or other crazy fantasy movies with a successful comedic actor in a kids’ movie. So it’s not like it’s without precedent. The blame looks like it’s falling on Black’s shoulders.

the coens finally may be able to claim their first $100 million movie

the coens finally may be able to claim their first $100 million movie

Actually, for as slow as the business was this weekend — and you’re about to hear the spin of Sunday’s eastern storm, despite the studio estimates coming out early Sunday afternoon — we can all enjoy the fact that this box office weekend was a solid win for good movies. OK, so Little Fockers came out on top when it’s sitting on a dismal 11 at Rotten Tomatoes, but it “only” made $48.3 million over the five-day weekend when the studio was looking for around $60 million and Meet the Fockers came out with more than $70 million over the same time span in 2004. The big winner was True Grit, which beat its own studio estimates and hit almost $37 million since Wednesday. That’s the biggest opening for a Coen Brothers movie ever, and is about to the the duo’s first $100 million flick. Just think about that for a second. The pair with one of the best filmographies of any writer/director since the 80s — including still-hold-up classics like Raising Arizona, Fargo, Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou and No Country For Old Men — do not have a $100 million movie. This year, 23 movies so far have made $100 million, including The Expendables, The Last Airbender, Grown Ups and Clash of the Titans. The 32-movie list in 2009 included junk like G.I. Joe, Fast and Furious and G-Force. In 2007, when No Country for Old Men won freakin’ best picture, 35 movies made more money than it did, including Wild Hogs, Ghost Rider and Norbit. The two of them are so weird and eclectic as people that they probably don’t give two craps how much money their movies make. Studios just keep giving them money to make whatever movie they want, as evidenced by the nearly unintelligible and thoroughly uninteresting A Serious Man last year. That’s probably all they care about. But geez, if they don’t find it insulting, I certainly do. At least it looks like that injustice will be righted this time around. Too bad it took a retelling of one of the most revered westerns ever made to make it happen.

not a fan of new, blonde emma stone

not a fan of new, blonde emma stone

We’re still 18 months away from what could be the biggest summer movie season ever, but now we’re starting to get news about what’s going on with The Avengers production, and how the principal shooting of the Spider-Man reboot is going — even though it’s going on in Los Angeles. That’s, umm, that’s not fair. There are very few characters that are part of a city the way Spider-Man is part of NYC. I don’t know how much of the first trilogy was shot outside of NYC, but it sure didn’t seem like much. At least the outdoor scenes all had, at the very least, an NYC vibe. If they were disguising LA or someplace else as New York, then they did a bang-up job. Hopefully it isn’t noticeable in the next Spider-Man. Avengers somehow seems like it’s flying under the radar. Maybe people are a little skeptical, waiting to see how Thor and Captain America do this year. Iron Man 2 was a little bit of a disappointment, and it seems like anything with Hulk fails to impress. Could the key be Hawkeye? No one has seen the character to have any kind of impression of him, and Jeremy Renner just blew away his second movie in a row, with The Town following up Hurt Locker.

Finally some good news for the new year! Actually, it probably depends on which side you’re on. If you’re on the side of the millions of concert fans, it’s good news. If you’re on the industry side, you’re probably looking at a pay cut or a pink slip, so it just depends. But for fans like us, it’s good news. The price of concert tickets is completely outrageous, and it has been for years. I remember I did a story back in like 2004 (scroll about halfway down the page) comparing concert ticket prices at the Toyota Pavilion with other entertainment events on Montage Mountain and there was no contest, concert ticket prices were by far the biggest jump. There was no way the public could keep supporting that kind of jump, especially when it’s basically the same acts that tour every summer. How many times can you see Aerosmith before you realize they haven’t had a hit in a decade? It’s taken more than six years since I wrote that, but it seems like the industry is finally correcting itself.

hot, but not hot enough

hot, but not hot enough

The only explanation is that all of Hugh Hefner’s best friends are dead. Otherwise, any guy who saw his buddy on this kind of path would either 1. Make fun of him until he gets so embarrassed he stops getting married or 2. Physically restrain him from showing up at whatever ceremony there was going to be. No guy friend would sign off on this kind of behavior, no matter how hot the girl is. He’s either got the best lawyer on the planet that makes the most iron-clad prenups in history or he just doesn’t mind giving away half of his fortune. It’s one or the other.

The long and the short of it is that it’s a bad time to be a TV executive. Talk about an industry that hasn’t corrected itself it. It’s still got way too many employees churning out things people just don’t want to see. It has no idea where it’s headed and is grasping at the last of its straws, clinging to a formula that hasn’t changed much since the 60s. Sooner or later, someone will do something so revolutionary it will mean the complete reinvention of the medium and the industry. But until then, you’ll probably see three or four major, high-level TV execs getting fired every year, just like this year.

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