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Eric Skywalker

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About Eric Skywalker

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    LONG LIVE THE FIGHTERS
  • Birthday 11/24/1997

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  1. Okay. Then delay Tenet, and all other movies, to September and October. Problem solved.
  2. Apple 1. The Outpost 2. Trolls World Tour 3. 1917 4. Relic 5. Force of Nature 6. Archive 7. The Invisible Man 8. Saving Private Ryan 9. Impractical Jokers: The Movie 10. Irresistible Amazon 1. Trolls World Tour 2. The Greatest Showman 3. The King of Staten Island 4. Sonic the Hedgehog 5. Jumanji: The Next Level 6. Game Night 7. Bad Boys for Life 8. The Gentlemen 9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 10. The Addams Family
  3. Inside, reputable sources indicate that Disney is on the verge of losing all their money with no income coming in. Disney World's reopening was a last resort. Better getting some highly-anticipated releases out there to make some money, even if you won't make as much as you did in normal times, than have blood on their hands with their theme parks. And really, every movie should just accept they're going to be at a loss and open without domestic theaters and open PVOD in domestic markets. If studios really think OS theaters can put up with playing nothing for months, if not years, then they're in for a rude awakening. Put this shit out in theaters in October, have it for $20 or $25 in America on PVOD in November.
  4. Keep the release date. PVOD US, theatrical OS. Maybe even push it up a month to be safe. Do it Disney. We know you want to
  5. I really only like to do three non-top 10 movies, because I have enough to look at as is. And honestly I felt Virgin, Brokeback, and March were more compelling stories and were movies that deserved more attention. Of course, you are more than willing to request movies for me to talk about in the upcoming years
  6. Apple 1. The Outpost 2. Trolls World Tour 3. 1917 4. Relic 5. Force of Nature 6. The Invisible Man 7. Saving Private Ryan 8. Irresistible 9. Impractical Jokers: The Movie 10. Timothee Chalamet's Little Women Amazon 1. Trolls World Tour 2. The King of Staten Island 3. The Greatest Showman 4. Sonci the Hedgehog 5. Jumanji: The Next Level 6. Game Night 7. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 8. Bad Boys for Life 9. The Gentlemen 10. The Addams Family
  7. The Willenium continued in eleventh place (tenth worldwide) with the romantic comedy Hitch. Big Willie stars as Alex Hitchens, a dating consultant, making a living by teaching men how to woo and impress women. While working with his latest client, played by Kevin James, he becomes smitten with a gossip columnist played by Eva Mendes. It’s there he soon realizes his usual methods and tricks don’t work on her, and perhaps might need to learn some new tricks. One of the more interesting (and very racist) aspects of the film was its casting. Will Smith was designed as the star from the get-go, but Eva Mendes’ casting was crucial, apparently to the producers. The concern from the producers was that if Will Smith was paired up with a white actress, there was fear of a potential interracial taboo. If it was a Black actress, there was fear white audiences would feel alienated and not want to see it. So might as well get a Latina actress I guess. In actuality, I sincerely doubt anybody with a brain would care about who Will Smith hooked up with, but I’m not a rich Hollywood executive, so what do I know? Anyways, this was Will Smith’s first major branching out from his usual role. People know that Will Smith can be funny, what with his first major work being on a sitcom, and he typically played the comic relief in his roles. But his biggest hits were action and sci-fi movies. A lighthearted romcom might not be his fanbase’s cup of tea. But sure enough, Smith’s audience ate this up. On February 11, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hitch opened to $43.1 million, becoming the biggest opening ever for a romantic comedy, and the third biggest February opening at that time. Sure enough, people will watch Will Smith in just about everything. The film would go on to gross $177.8 million domestic and $371.6 million worldwide. Hitch would go on to become Will Smith’s fifth $100 million hit in a row, starting with 2002’s Men in Black II. This kind of consistency is unheard of, both in 2005 and especially today. Sure, back then starpower was able to make actors like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Adam Sandler, and more get $100 million just by their face. But the fact that Will Smith was able to do this consistently, from genre to genre, with not one miss in a three-year period has never been done. All these actors had their duds. And sure, DiCaprio and The Rock can sell a movie on their names, but those guys have a very specific niche and audiences like to see them in a very specific movie type. Will Smith was able to do action, comedy, animation, etc., and people will line up to watch him. And as we look at future films, it’s just further proof at how Will Smith’s aura was able to make a movie an automatic hit in a way that’s unheard of in our IP-driven society. 19th place was The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Steve Carell stars as Andy, a clerk working at the local electronic store, and never had sex before. After his friends, played by Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, and Gerry Bednob, learn Andy never had sex, they decide to help in his exploits and lose his virginity. The idea came from Carell on a sketch he created with the improv comedy troupe Second City. Carell’s sketch saw several variations, but all focused on a 40-year-old man with a “big secret”. Judd Apatow was director, and immediately decided the casting early in development, allowing him to tailor the characters and script to the strength of its actors. And what a cast this movie had. Not only the aforementioned actors, but Catherine Keener was the leading lady, and the supporting cast featured familiar and burgeoning talent, like Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, Jonah Hill, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, David Koechner, Jenna Fischer, and more. Even Stormy Daniels, yes that Stormy Daniels, had a cameo. One of the funniest scenes from 40-Year-Old Virgin was when Steve Carell gets his chest waxed. This was done for real, as Carell actually waxed his hair off for maximum comedy. Five cameras were used to capture the moment. But unlike Steve Carell’s skin, production wasn’t always smooth. The first week saw production halted, both because the film wasn’t very funny at first, but also because Universal felt Carell’s appearance made Andy look like a serial killer. Paul Rudd also saw criticism for being overweight, while Apatow saw criticism for “lighting [the film] like an indie.” Regardless, when the film opened on August 19, it became a critical hit. Critics loved its comedy, premise, and blend of raunch and heart. This resulted in a solid $21.4 million. With great word of mouth, 40-Year-Old Virgin dropped only 24% on its second weekend, for a $16.3 million weekend haul. Labor Day weekend would see $16.5 million over the four-day, and with continued success into September, this resulted in $109.5 million domestically and $177.4 million. This was a milestone release for both Steve Carell and Judd Apatow. While Carell was starting to find a fanbase with films like Bruce Almighty and Anchorman, this was his first leading role, and this success immediately made him a comedy superstar. A month after Virgin’s release, Carell’s The Office second season was set to debut. Surprising to say, but The Office’s first season was considered a rough one. Reviews were positive, but ratings were poor. But Virgin’s success turned people’s heads and made them want to check out Carell’s sitcom. Sure enough, The Office’s season 2 would see a 40% jump in total viewers and 60% in the coveted 18-49 demographic. It would of course go on to have nine seasons, 201 episodes, several Emmys, and be considered one of the most iconic NBC shows in history, one of the most loved comedies ever, and the one show everybody has seen the entirety of on Netflix at least twice. Judd Apatow also saw breakout success. Initially a writer on The Larry Sanders Show, Apatow first saw film success as a producer of 2004’s Anchorman. That success would lead to Virgin, and that film’s popularity made Apatow into one of the biggest directors in comedy, with films like Knocked Up, Trainwreck, and most recently The King of Staten Island. Comedy hits he would go on to produce include Talladega Nights, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bridesmaids, The Big Sick, and more. 22nd place was the Ang Lee western Brokeback Mountain, based on the 1997 short story. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star as Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two cowboys from Wyoming who work together as sheep herders in 1963. The film then follows their 20 year relationship, which turns into an intense romantic and sexual relationship. This is one of those films that hopped from director to director. Gus van Sant was set to adapt Annie Proulx’s short story with Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix as stars. But Damon felt he already did a gay movie with Mr. Ripley and a cowboy movie with All the Pretty Horses, so he didn’t want to do a “gay cowboy movie,” so Van Sant’s idea was scrapped. Joel Schumacher was also linked, but he also dropped out. Ang Lee heard about the film, and decided he wanted to get the film made as an independent producer. He couldn’t get the plans through, but he did get into contact with friend and Focus Features CEO James Schamus to make the film. Ang Lee mentioned in an interview with Out magazine that Brokeback rejuvenated his interest in directing after both Crouching Tiger and Hulk wore him out. Ledger and Gyllenhaal were cast in 2003. There was concern over whether Ledger and Gyllenhaal were concerned for their careers over playing such controversial characters (we’ll get to that). Gyllenhaal stated he was proud of the role and the film itself, and Ledger had no fear about the role, but whether he had the maturity and grace to do it proper. Released on December 9 in 5 theaters, Brokeback Mountain was riding an immense wave of hype, with several Golden Globe nominations and winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It opened to $547.4 thousand, with an average of $109.5 thousand per theater. This made it one of the biggest per-theater averages of all time. And thanks to its awards love (we’ll get to that), it would go on to earn an impressive $83 million domestic and $178.1 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film ever for Focus Features. This would result in one impressive legacy, both as a part of queer cinema, and for becoming one of the most controversial films of 2005. Earning the de facto label of “The Gay Cowboy Movie”, this led to immense backlash from several conservative thinkers and figures. Political pundits/horrible people like Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson, and Cal Thomas, as well as trash-on-a-stick groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women of America accused the film of promoting a gay agenda and that this film, as well as Capote and Transamerica, were instances of “the media elites proving that their pet projects are more important than profit”...okay. Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller also banned the film from his entertainment complex despite contracting the release and advertising the film for his complex. Learning the film features, gasp, gay sex, it was apparently dangerous and broke down traditional families...okay. There were even concerns the film was hiding its homosexual content in the advertising. Another major discussion point was whether Ennis and Jack were even gay in the first place. Because both characters have female love interests and wives, there was debate over whether Ennis and Jack were gay, bi, straight, or whether they should be classified under any sexual orientation. Critics, historians, and writers have argued their orientation for years. Gyllenhall thought Ennis and Jack were straight who developed a love between each other, while Ledger didn’t think his character could be labeled gay. LGBT non-fiction author Eric Marcus believed “talk of Ennis and Jack being anything but gay as box office-influenced political correctness intended to steer straight audiences to the film”, which does fit with how the marketing ignored the homosexual content of the film. Author Annie Proulx was a fan of the movie, but she also expressed frustration with the movie and how it affected her popularity. After the film’s release, she would be bombarded with fan fiction that “fixed” her story, often rewriting the conclusion into a happy ending. This frustration led to her regretting she even wrote her story in the first place. But nothing could prepare for the biggest controversy of all. Brokeback Mountain was the most honored film in history, earning more Best Picture and Director wins than Silence of the Lambs and Schindler’s List combined. No film that won the Writer’s Guild, Director’s Guild, and Producer’s Guild had ever failed to win Best Picture at the Oscars. However, Brokeback Mountain lost that trophy in favor of Crash, a film that didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes. This led to immense backlash, with many arguing homophobic Academy members blocked the film from its deserved Best Picture win. Since then, Crash has gone on to be considered one of the worst Best Picture winners, and one of the biggest mistakes the Academy has ever made, which says a lot. But on a more positive note, Brokeback Mountain’s success allowed queer cinema to soar. It wasn’t the first mainstream LGBT release, but its critical and commercial success gave rise to the idea that gay-themed movies can find success and be accepted by the mainstream. This would result in films like Milk, I Love You, Phillip Morris, Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, Love, Simon, The Favourite, and more. Finally, we find ourselves in the Arctic in 27th place with the documentary March of the Penguins. This follows the yearly journey of the emperor penguins. Every autumn, the penguins of breeding age leave the ocean and walk to their ancestral grounds. There, the penguins take part in a courtship that results in the hatching of a chick, and both parents taking part in several journeys between the ocean and breeding grounds over the next few months. Directed by Luc Jacquet, and produced by the National Geographic Society, March was filmed in Antarctica at the French scientific base Dumont d’Urville for 13 months. Being in a subzero climate, the biggest issue the filmmakers dealt with was the temperature. In order for the cameras to operate under such freezing weather, they had to use film and load the film for the entire day, because it was impossible to reload it while outside. This also meant the crew had to put on six layers of clothing to survive the frigid cold, and oftentimes could only stay out for three hours out of the day. The original French release was distributed by Buena Vista International France, a division of Disney. And while Disney tried to bid for the US distribution rights, it would actually be distributed in America by National Geographic Films in collaboration with Warner Independent Pictures. But that’s not the only difference between French and the US. The French version had a first-person narrative, as if the penguins were telling the story. This resulted in the narration alternating between a woman, a man, and a child, all to fit the roles and storyline. However, the United States version opted for a third-person narration provided by Morgan Freeman. On its initial release, it didn’t crack anybody’s radar. It opened in 4 theaters to a solid $137.5 thousand opening weekend on June 24. But it seems those viewers really liked what they saw. It expanded to 20 theaters the following weekend, and saw a near 200% jump with $412 thousand. The following weekend saw it in 64 theaters and crack $1 million, increasing 147% from the previous weekend. And its growth kept on coming. It got to 695 theaters on its 5th weekend, earning $4 million and cracking into the top 10. On August 5, its 7th week of release, it hit #6 and earned $7.1 million. With slim holds through August and September, staying above $1 million throughout the months, March of the Penguins finished its haul with a very impressive $77.4 million domestic haul and $127.4 million worldwide. This made it the second-biggest documentary of all time, only behind Fahrenheit 9/11, and the biggest nature documentary of all time, both of which are still records March holds today. For whatever reason, people really loved seeing these penguins on the big screen, and alongside Madagascar, signaled a weird trend of penguin-themed movies. Animated movies Happy Feet and Surf’s Up would arrive in the next two years. In 2017, March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step was released by Disneynature in France, and was a Hulu exclusive in the US in 2018. Morgan Freeman reprises as the narrator. And so were the stories of 2005. But that was only just a sample of the many stories. The Longest Yard was another hit in Sandler’s repertoire. Fantastic Four was Fox’s attempt to adapt another Marvel property to less success. Chicken Little was Disney attempting to do CG features without Pixar to mixed success. Robots was Blue Sky’s big follow-up to Ice Age. Walk the Line was the biggest music biopic ever and gave Reese Witherspoon an Oscar. The Pacifier kickstarted the trend of “what if action star was babysitter?” Saw II allowed us to have one of the biggest horror franchises in history. Are We There Yet? was a dark time where Ice Cube forced himself into a kids movie. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Legend of Zorro, xXx: State of the Union and The Ring Two all failed to keep their franchises going. Constantine was another DC Comics adaptation with less success. Sin City became a cult classic. Sahara was directed by Michael Eisner’s son and became one of the biggest bombs in film history. Herbie Fully Loaded was the weakest Lindsay Lohan Disney remake. Amityville Horror was another Plat Dunes remake that put the studio on the map. Sky High was the first major film work for the creators of Disney Channel’s Kim Possible. Bewitched tried to adapt the 60s sitcom to disastrous results. Wallace & Gromit hit the big screen with Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Corpse Bride had Tim Burton returning to stop-motion. Be Cool was the far less successful sequel to Get Shorty. Memoirs of a Geisha had major casting controversy. Diary of a Mad Black Woman kickstarted Tyler Perry’s career. Sharkboy and Lavagirl was Robert Rodriguez’s ill-fated follow-up to Spy Kids. The Island was Michael Bay’s biggest flop ever. Doom was a disastrous video game adaptation. Aeon Flux was a disastrous animation adaptation. Elektra was a Daredevil spin-off nobody saw. Rent and The Producers failed to capitalize on their Broadway successes. Valiant was an ill-fated attempt of Disney finding a new non-Pixar animation studio. Serenity only appealed to Firefly fans. Son of the Mask was one of the worst sequels ever created. And lastly, Bad News Bears...came out I guess. This was 2005.
  8. Sixth place would see the comedy Wedding Crashers. This starred Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two divorce mediators who crash weddings so they can hook up with bridesmaids and women. Boy that’s...interesting. The two hit the jackpot when they crash the wedding of the daughter of the United States Secretary of Treasury, and it’s there the two find themselves hooking up with the Secretary’s other daughters. Owen Wilson falls in love with Rachel McAdams, while Vince Vaughn gets forced into a relationship by Isla Fisher. Hi-jinx ensue! This comedy came from the personal experience of co-producer Andrew Panay. Panay was a wedding crasher in his youth and thought the idea had potential for a movie. And so Panay brought the idea over to writers Steve Faber and Bob Fisher. While the team were unsure about stretching the idea to feature-length, the one thing that helped them with the project was the idea of having Vaughn and Wilson hook up with women born from a political family. Faber and Fisher dreamed about marrying one of the Kennedy girls when they were kids, so the idea was perfect, and the film was made. Being a movie that features a politician character, a couple interesting cameos emerged. CNN contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville was one, but the late Senator and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain of all people popped up. This saw a lot of criticism, as McCain was very adamantly against films like Wedding Crashers: R-rated movies that marketed themselves to teenagers. Go figure! Will Ferrell got a cameo too. Speaking of the R rating, that was a contentious part of production. Director David Dobkin felt an R would have made the film limit its box office potential. American Pie aside, PG-13 was the way to go if you wanted to make good money. However, after a consultant gave him a long list of the R-rated elements in the film, Dobkin realized the two funniest scenes would have to be cut. So an R rating it is. And wouldn’t you know it, it panned out beautifully. Opening on July 15, the film debuted at #2 to $33.9 million. It not only became New Line’s biggest original opening ever, but it actually opened ahead of previous Wilson and Vaughn vehicles like Starsky & Hutch and Dodgeball. So much for that R rating killing its numbers. People loved the concept and its two leads, and the film stood out in a marketplace dominated by action movies and family fare. Thanks to positive reviews, summer weekdays, and strong word-of-mouth, the hits just kept on coming for the movie. The following weekend only saw the movie drop 19%, generating a $26.2 million second weekend. Weekend 3 was only 22%, with $20.5 million. Next was only a 20% drop, with $16.5 million. Basically, it wasn’t until mid-September there was an above-average drop. All told, the film finished with about 6.17 times its opening weekend for a grand total of $209.2 million domestically. Worldwide amounted to $288.5 million. The film’s success was a game changer. Not only did it continue the hot streak Wilson and Vaughn were on, but it also reinvigorated interest in R-rated comedies. As it turns out, people like laughs with more raunch, more edge, and more language. This, alongside The 40-Year Old Virgin, would give us future hits like Knocked Up, The Hangover, Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street, Ted, Neighbors, and more, before inevitably the capitalist hellscapes of all tentpoles all the time sealed their fate and killed R-rated comedies forever.. Regardless, it was a hit, and it’s fair to say the risks paid off. In 2013, Vaughn and Wilson teamed up again in a pseudo sequel The Internship, which saw the pair as interns at Google, though it didn’t come anywhere close to Crashers’ success. In 2016, negotiations were reportedly made for a Wedding Crashers sequel, but nothing else seems to have come out of it. Seventh domestic, eighth worldwide was Tim Burton’s attempt at adapting Roald Dahl with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Coincidentally, this came out the same day as Wedding Crashers. It follows a dirt poor boy named Charlie Bucket who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he finds a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar, the most famous chocolate brand in the world. Along with four other children, Charlie meets the isolated and eccentric owner Willy Wonka, and soon takes a tour of Wonka’s magical chocolate factory. Most people are familiar with this story with the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, produced by Quaker Oats. Yes really. Despite its cult following and consideration as a family classic, one man who hated the film was Roald Dahl, the author of the 1964 children’s novel. Despite writing the film’s screenplay, it would soon see uncredited rewrites by David Seltzer, who completely reworked the script against Dahl’s wishes, changing the ending and adding musical numbers. Dahl was furious with these changes and disowned the 1971 film entirely. And so, when it was time for a remake, Warner Bros. personally negotiated with the Dahl estate, specifically Dahl’s widow Felicity and daughter Lucy, to get a new film version made. In 1998, a deal was finalized, which gave the Dahl estate complete creative control on the project. Out of Sight writer Scott Frank was in charge of the screenplay in 1999, while Gary Ross was set to direct, but both men left the project in 2001. Nicolas Cage was also in consideration to play Willy Wonka, which would have been amazing, but he left due to lack of interest. The next screenwriter was Gwyn Lurie, who also wrote a treatment for The BFG at Paramount that never got made. The directors went in and out over the next couple years. Rob Minkoff and even Martin Scorsese were attached, but both opted for other projects. Warner Bros. president Alan Horn wanted Bruce Almighty director Tom Shadyac to direct with Jim Carrey as Wonka, but Felicity Dahl opposed it. Finally, Felicity found her match. Tim Burton was hired in May 2003, and was the only director the estate liked. Burton loved both Dahl and the original book, and was not a fan of the 1971 Wonka film for it straying too far away from the storyline, and his imaginative world and style made it seem like he was a good fit. During pre-production, Burton visited Dahl’s former home, and when he saw Dahl’s writing shed, Burton said “This is the Buckets’ house!” It was at that moment Felcitity Dahl knew this was in good hands. Lurie’s screenplay would later be scrapped with John August writing the film all over again. As for casting, the role of Willy Wonka was crucial, with negotiations or considerations from every A-lister in Hollywood. Nicolas Cage and Jim Carrey were already mentioned. There was also Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Mike Myers, Ben Stiller, Leslie Nielsen, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Patrick Stewart, Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, and Marilyn Manson. Yes, that Marilyn Manson. However, the role was actually given to Johnny Depp, though Dwayne Johnson was considered a runner-up if Depp was unavailable. Depp and Burton wanted their interpretation of Wonka to be unique and unlike what Gene Wilder created. While comparisons to Michael Jackson were commonly used, the duo mainly derived from children’s television hosts like Bob Keeshan, Fred Rogers, and Al Harris. Depp also noted similarities between Howard Hughes and Charles Foster Kane. Depp also based Wonka’s bob cut and sunglasses on Anna Wintour. Similar to Narnia, Burton knew there was a limitation when it came to child actors. So when it came to the visual effects, Burton wanted as little digital effects as possible. This meant that forced perspective, oversized props, and scale models were created, allowing the kids to feel as if they really were in a magical chocolate factory. Even the chocolate river Wonka’s boat sails across was 192,000 gallons of faux melted chocolate. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened on July 17. With the legacy of the 1971 film, as well as Johnny Depp fresh off of Pirates, Charlie opened to $56.2 million, becoming Depp’s biggest opening, as well as Burton’s second-biggest opening, only behind Planet of the Apes. That weekend also served as the fifth best for July and the fifth best for Warner Bros. The film would continue to play well in the weeks to come with about $206.5 million domestically and $475 million worldwide. But despite good reviews, not everybody was impressed. Johnny Depp’s performance garnered heavy criticism for being too weird and annoying, and it’s largely considered that Burton’s film was inferior, though it has its fans. Perhaps its biggest detractor comes in the hands of Gene Wilder. While Wilder is a huge fan of both Burton and Depp, he felt as if remaking Willy Wonka was a cash-grab, and chose not to see the film for years. He saw promotional material of Depp in the role and what he saw made him want to avoid the movie. That musta hurt. In 2013, Wilder mentioned, I’m assuming having seen the movie, he thought the film was an insult and criticized Burton’s direction. But hey, at least it’s better than when Tom and Jerry remade it (yes, really) Eighth domestic, ninth worldwide was the beginning of Papa Nolan’s future domination with Batman Begins. When it comes to the fifth Batman movie, it’s been a long time coming. Initially Joel Schumacher was set to direct another Batman film after Batman and Robin inevitably becomes a critical and commercial darling. Titled Batman Unchained, Clooney, O’Donnell and Silverstone were set to reprise their roles, and the villains would include Scarecrow (played by Coolio) and Harley Quinn. Then Batman and Robin came out. I’ll leave it at that. So in 2000, Warner Bros. was looking at two potential projects. One was a live-action adaptation of the animated series Batman Beyond, but another was Batman: Year One, based on the Frank Miller comic book arc. While Schumacher was interested, Darren Aronofsky was handed over the project, directing and co-writing with Frank Miller. Christain Bale was approached for the role of Batman (hmm...), and Aronofsky really wanted Joaquin Phoenix for the part, though Warner Bros. was gunning for Freddie Prinze, Jr. for some reason. Ultimately, the plan was scrapped in favor of Batman vs. Superman, which did not come to be for...reasons we'll get to when we get to 2016. In December 2002, Joss Whedon pitched a reboot origin story for Batman, but it was rejected. However, the idea of an origin story lived on when Warner Bros. attached Memento director Christopher Nolan to their next Batman film. Nolan, with writer David S. Goyer, wanted to reinvent the franchise by going back to basics. Specifically, showcase how Bruce Wayne became the Bat we all know and love today, and give him more of a character. Nolan felt the previous Batman adaptations emphasized style over character and put too much attention on the villain than the hero, and wanted to make the Batman film he wanted as a kid. Nolan’s main inspiration was The Man Who Falls, a short story that saw Bruce Wayne’s travels throughout the world, and was the basis for Nolan’s journey into becoming Batman and training under Ra’s al Ghul. Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, and Batman: Year One were also influences. Another aspect of Nolan’s production was a more realistic take on the Batman myth. While previous interpretations of Gotham City did not exist in the real world, Nolan used exteriors of London, New York, and Chicago to help make the city seem recognizable. The Batmobile was also turned into a Tumbler, and the Batsuit became a lot more comfortable to move around in and fight. As for the casting of Bruce Wayne himself, actors like Henry Cavill, Billy Crudup, Hugh Dancy, David Boreanaz, Jake Gyllenhaal, Cillian Murphy, and Heath Ledger were considered, but the role was given to Christian Bale, then a relative unknown better known for indie releases. Bale agreed with Nolan that Batman was underutilized in previous adaptations compared to the villains, and both Nolan and Goyer felt Bale captured the perfect balance of darkness and light, as well as selling both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Before production started, Bale lost 62 pounds during the filming of The Machinist, which meant he had to bulk up fast. He hired a personal trainer to help him gain 100 pounds of muscle in the span of a couple months. Going from musclebound to skinny to fat would become a constant for Christain Bale in all future acting gigs. Batman Begins opened on June 15, with rave reviews citing it as the best Batman movie ever. But when it opened, it only did okay. Its $72.9 million 5-day gross was the biggest opening for a Batman movie ever at the time. But it was still far below all the other Batman releases apart from Batman and Robin in terms of ticket sales, and in a day and age where Spider-Man made over $114 million, X2 did over $85 million, and even Hulk got above $62 million, all of which were three-day releases, it was considered a bit of a disappointment since the last couple Batman movies all broke box office records. I blame Nickelback for this. However, it did see a record IMAX opening with $3.16 million over its first 5 days, and it was still good enough that there was room to grow. Sure enough, the movie went on to do rather well, racking up $205.3 million domestically and $371.8 million worldwide, which made it the second-biggest Batman film ever up to that point, only behind Burton’s 1989 film. DVD sales were also impressive, racking up $167 million in only a few months of release. While Batman Begins didn’t blow the house down in the same way Spider-Man or X2 did, it’s fair to say Batman Begins did its job as a relaunch of the franchise and rekindled interest in the property. And I’m sure when it comes to a sequel, there’s plenty of potential...I’ll just put a pin on that last part. Ninth domestic, sixth worldwide was the return of Dreamworks Animation with Madagascar. This animated film follows four zoo animals who lived their whole lives pampered by the employees at the Central Park Zoo. But through a series of wacky shenanigans, the animals find themselves trapped in the jungles of Madagascar, only home to a clan of lemurs and a group of fossa predators. The four zoo animals find themselves having to adjust into living in the wild, with tension and hilarious comedy along the way. One of the more unique elements of Madagascar is its animation style. At a time when Pixar and other studios were pushing for realism, Madagascar’s designs and direction is much more in line with Warner Bros. cartoons. The cartoonier look and emphasis on slapstick, squash and stretch, and fast-paced animation made it more reminiscent of the works of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, which helped it stand out from the other CGI works at the time. This laid the groundwork for other animated series that emphasize cartoony designs and humor, like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Translyvania. And like other Dreamworks Animation releases at the time, the celebrity voice cast was a major selling point. Ben Stiller, fresh off his banner 2004 played Alex the Lion, Chris Rock was the zebra Marty, David Schwimmer, fresh off the last season of Friends, played the giraffe Melman, and Jada Pinkett Smith was the hippo Gloria. The character of King Julien, the leader of the lemurs, was supposed to only have two lines in the movie. However, after comedian Sacha Baron Cohen improvised eight minutes of dialogue in an Indian accent during the audition, the filmmakers loved him so much they decided to expand King Julien’s role in the movie. But of course, the characters most people remember and would define the series were the penguins, a quartet of birds that act like commando units and break out of the zoo in an attempt to head to Antarctica. Their dynamics, characters, and comedy result in some of the best laughs and most entertaining moments. Long before Madagascar went into production, Dreamworks was developing an animated film titled Rockumentary, which was an animated Beatles parody with a penguin rock band. Despite the project being scrapped, director Eric Darnell brought the penguins over to Madagascar with a different theme. Released on May 27, Memorial Day weekend, Madagascar saw an impressive second place debut with $61 million over its first four days, and a three-day of $47.2 million, putting it just below Shark Tale. The film would then hit first place in weekend two, earning $28.1 million, and with little in the way of animated competition, Madagascar would go on to generate $193.6 million domestically and $542 million worldwide, making it Dreamworks’ biggest non-Shrek movie ever at that time. And that initial success would lead to one of the biggest animated film franchises ever. Sure enough, Madagascar would see two sequels, both of which we’ll definitely talk about in the future, a spin-off film of the penguins, two television series, with a third one set to debut on Hulu and Peacock this year, several short films and television specials, theme park rides, live shows, and more. Tenth domestic, seventh worldwide featured the Jolie-Pitt dream team in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. This stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as a bored married couple going through counseling. What they both don’t know about each other is that they are secret assassins belonging to competing agencies, and as luck would have it, they have been assigned to kill each other. Hi-jinx ensue! The idea came about from the personal experience of writer Simon Kinberg. Kinberg’s friends were going through marriage therapy and upon learning the descriptions his friends made felt there was potential in there for an action film...okay. And sure enough, this would lead to plenty of talent on board with the project. Doug Liman would direct, while Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, two of the biggest movie stars ever, both at the time and still today, would sign on. Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, and Michelle Monaghan (love you @Plain Old Tele) would fill out the supporting cast. Released on June 10, Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a perfect example of the good ol’ days when all you needed was a clever hook and some major starpower. It debuted to $50.3 million, becoming the biggest opening in both Pitt and Jolie’s careers. And with the film standing out in the marketplace between all the franchise offerings, Mr. & Mrs. Smith legged itself out to $186.3 million domestically and $487.3 million worldwide. This would be the biggest films ever for both Pitt and Jolie, until World War Z and Maleficent respectively. But despite that success, not everybody was fans, especially the Colombian government. The film’s depiction of the country and the city of Bogota was criticized by the government, especially for showcasing Bogota as a tiny village in the middle of the jungle. Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon and President Alvaro Uribe Velez invited Pitt, Jolie and the producers to Bogota to make them realize their mistake and learn the city is in fact a bustling metropolis. But of course, the movie’s biggest claim to fame is how it kick started Brangelina. Rumors circulated that Pitt was romantically involved with Jolie despite being married to Jennifer Aniston, with gossip sites arguing their time on set led to Pitt and Aniston’s messy divorce, though Jolie denies such a thing. Yet sure enough, the two actors would become an item together, becoming media darlings and growing their family together, both through adoption and through pregnancy. They would become the Hollywood supercouple for about a decade, before filing for divorce in 2016, which is something I’m still not over by the way.
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