Let’s hit it, post-vacation style:
Finally! Some good box office news to talk about from two of the best-marketed movies of the summer so far:
Good box office results come from a good movie with a built-in following. Seth MacFarlane has one of the most loyal followings in Hollywood. There’s just no other way to explain how or why American Dad is still on the air. So when he makes a movie that is basically Family Guy with a talking bear, it’s already guaranteed a $30 million opening weekend and a profit. Know how almost double it? By reaching the somewhat less-dedicated Family Guy fans to make them think they’re going to see something completely different than what’s on every Sunday night. They took care of that with one of the most addictive trailers I’ve ever seen (the red band one that I can’t link to). I should have known it would be a megahit when I found myself at the gym, or driving, or sitting around my house at night and singing the Thunder Buddy song. As little as three weeks ago, one of my brothers had barely heard of the movie. I told him he had to check out the red band trailer. He did, and he saw it this weekend. And that’s how you market a movie. And let’s not forget that people actually like to laugh. We just don’t get the chance to anymore because Hollywood comedies suck these days. I just went back and looked at my top 20 movie lists for the last five years and found exactly three comedies that consistently hold up on repeat viewings, which is the first qualification for any classic comedy — Step Brothers, The Hangover (the original), and, very surprisingly, The Other Guys. Comedy is DYING for a movie star to come in and pull off a Sandler-Ferrell-Murphy decade-long domination. Right now, there isn’t one. Maybe it’s someone like McFarlane.
Magic Mike is probably even a crazier success story. Here’s the pitch when the producers are shopping it around with just an outline: ”It’s a somewhat biographical look at Channing Tatum’s early days in Hollywood, and we’ve got Steven Soderbergh interested in directing, even though he hasn’t had a non-Ocean’s hit since 2000. And it’s about male strippers, so the bulk of the movie-going audience — men 17-28 — won’t be caught dead in the theater. Wanna cut us a check now or later? Here, use my pen!” But someone was brilliant enough to see past the artsy aspect of the movie and the obvious good reviews it was going to get to turn into one big bachelorette party. When the trailer debuted over the winter, Facebook started blowing up with women saying things like, “Channing Tatum in a movie about make strippers … sign me up!” and it only got more hectic over the last week. Last night, my wife finally said, “What the hell is Magic Mike and why have all my friends gone to see it this weekend?” Because the marketing for the movie was impeccable, that’s why. When Sex and the City came out in 2008, you couldn’t swing a dead cat in a Ruby Tuesday’s anywhere near a movie theater without finding a group of four women (not girls, mind you, but women) who weren’t drinking cosmos and either going in to or coming out of the movie. There hasn’t been a movie like that since then, even though it made more than six times its budget. The sequel tried and failed in 2010, so apparently since then, if you were a woman, you had a choice between Twilight and The Vow since then. That’s not exactly the best option if you were a woman, say, over 35. Although I’m fully aware that no woman is ever, ever over the age of 35. But let’s just say for the sake of argument that there is one out there. Now, after four years, you finally had a movie you could get you and your friends excited about going to see. Who’s going to be the first copycat?
‘Round here we don’t bother getting into the gossipy stuff too often because it’s just not that interesting to me. But when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes break up, and I was on vacation and couldn’t make some kind of snide comment … well, then I just feel like I let everyone down. So here goes. The first thing I think about when I think of Cruise and Holmes divorcing is Andy freakin’ Dick. That’s right. Right after they got engaged, I vividly remember him ranting while possibly high or drunk somewhere, probably on Stern, that the marriage will last exactly five years, because Cruise had been shopping that offer to more than one young starlet around Hollywood. Five years, one kid and money to make the rumors of his preference to, umm, play for his own team, go away. That was the offer. After that five years, he said, they’d be divorced. Unless Andy Dick is moonlighting as a carnival fortune teller or something, it seems like he should now be credited with the outing of Tom Cruise. Isn’t that kinda like Jose Canseco exposing the whole steroids thing? And how has no one called him at the rehab center to get his thoughts on this???
Pretty good catch-up on the best movies of 2012 so far, seeing as we’re at the halfway point. There’s a good chance that at least 80 percent of the movies released after this date will be the ones that we put on our top movie lists of the year in December, but I know two for sure released already that will be on mine: The Avengers (which I finally saw over vacation and would consider marrying the movie) and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Up to the point, I have been able to take or leave Jason Segel. I had no opinion on him one way or the other. But after Jeff, I’m now a fan. FYI, Bullhead (#15), The Grey (#14), 21 Jump Street (#8) and Chronicle (#7) are out on DVD while Friends with Kids (#16) comes out July 17 and Hunger Games (#5) comes out, I believe, on Aug. 14. We’re still waiting on DVD release dates for everything else.
I tried, for an unprecedented sixth or seventh time, to get in to Louie over vacation and came to a realization. I don’t think I’d hate it quite as much if it wasn’t called a “comedy.” Go ahead, check right on your screen toggle, FX calls it a comedy. But it’s a comedy in the way brain surgery is funny. I’m sure during the course of a brain surgery, there are doctors who have done it so much they can crack jokes during it. And at some point, someone says something funny, and the people in the room don’t know whether to laugh or not. I’d imagine hanging out for a brain surgery for a half-hour is pretty close to the experience of watching Louie. It’s an interesting character piece that isn’t like anything else on TV. But it’s also startlingly boring and, unfortunately, not funny. And yes, I was able to avoid Anger Management, not like the rest of the world. I’m pretty sure this will get its own Sunday column at some point since I’m pretty sure I’m the only TV comedy snob in the world who can’t get into Louie. But if you find this mind-blowingly funny, then maybe you should check it out:
Haitch-B-O is going back to its early 90s days, and will be renewing anything with any kind of buzz since it’s got a stable of hits to rebuild since Sopranos, Entourage and everything else left. Hence, True Blood and The Newsroom will be back next year for more seasons. Nothing shocking there.
I like to poke my fair share of fun at CBS since, you know, it sucks and all. But give it credit — the network isn’t against being creative. Instead of just dumping Unforgettable as planned, it decided to un-cancel it and bring the show back for a summer season in 2013. It’s the same network that un-canceled Jericho, so at the very least, it’s totally cool with saying “my bad” as long as it thinks there is money to be made.