Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.

Somehow Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hasn’t Made As Much As Avatar

Star Wars: The Force Awakens–I’m starting to warm up to that subtitle, at last–is approaching the box office of Avatar and I don’t understand it.

What’s confused me is that I don’t understand how it is that Avatar was able to reach such box office heights in the first place.

Let’s be honest, it’s not a particularly innovative movie–besides how it was made, that is–and the story is essentially cowboys and indians (Cowboys & Aliens?) with an environmental twist.

(Though if I were honest, it lost me when they had an AMP–Amplified Mobility Platform–grab a knife).

It’s a battle suit.  Make the weapon part of it.  That way, it can’t drop it.

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Anyway, that’s not to say that the latest Star Wars movie is innovative either–it’s essentially Star Wars: A New Hope, which was mildly disappointing,  with some shiny new effects.

That being said, after Lucas’ machine-tooled prequels (which were as innovative as Avatar in their own way) Star Wars fans would have paid virtually anything to see a movie evocative of the original trilogy.

And if LucasFilm under Disney is capable of nothing else it’s creating audience-pleasing entertainment (if their Pixar, Marvel Studios and Disney Animation divisions are any indicator) for the greatest possible amount of people.

 

 

Valiant Movie Universe: Too Little, Too Late?

Bloodshot 1Based on a deal between Valiant Entertainment and DMG Entertainment, characters like Bloodshot, Harbinger and Archer & Armstrong will be coming to your local cinema, though there’s an important question which I don’t see being asked, which is if there’s an audience for them.

Currently, there’s a Big Two as far as movies based on comic books go, and that’s Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment, though that’s not to imply that there haven’t been other players.  For instance, Dark Horse Comics in the movies have been represented by Hellboy, The Mask, Virus and Timecop, Malibu Comics with Men In Black and Cowboys & Aliens and Image Comics with Spawn.

The Hellboy movies have been moderately successful, though the sequel to The Mask, 2005’s The Son of The Mask was a box office failure.  Malibu, which later evolved to the Ultraverse, was absorbed into Marvel Comics, and soon vanished.

Which was still more successful than the efforts of comic companies like Avatar Press (Faust) and Image Comics (Spawn, which  did reasonable well at the box office), though barely registered among many.

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3 Hurdles Marvel’s ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Overcame To Be One Of The Biggest Movies Of The Summer

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy opened in the United States last week, and looks to have a very bright future, seeing that based on advanced buzz along, Marvel has already locked in a sequel for 2017 while Thursday it earned $11.2 million, besting established franchises like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Captain America: The Winter Soldier for a Thursday debut.

Worldwide, its earned over $160 million; pretty impressive for a movie that’s based on a bunch of characters literally no one was familiar with before the movie.

Though what’s most interesting is how risky a venture it actually is, for I think three reasons:

  • First, there’s nothing like Guardians of the Galaxy.  Marvel Studios features, from Iron Man to The Avengers, have always featured a balance of action as well as humor.  That’s has always been a part of the Marvel formula, but Guardians is different.  Some have described it as a comedy, and while there’s plenty that funny, it’s more a case of viewers caring and being invested in the characters–particularly Groot and Rocket–that they come off as fully-realized characters that just happen to be a raccoon and an alien tree, as opposed to just a bunch of pixels.
  • Second, as many have stated prior, there are no recognizable characters in Guardians of the Galaxy (other than Thanos, and I think it’s reasonably same to assume that no one is seeing it for him–which is something that Sony should keep in mind before doing a movie based on The Sinister Six, most of whom are unknown to most viewers and whom are also villains) which goes without saying is a huge risk, made even more so when you take into account that it was directed by James Gunn, who prior directed two smaller films, Slither and Super, which cost 17.5 million to produce.

For both movies.  While Guardians cost $170 million.

And when you combine this fact with the fact that Gunn doesn’t particularly like making movies (around the 12: 58 mark) then the odds were more than even that Guardians could have potentially been Marvel’s weakest performer, if not a box office failure.

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Four Reasons Why ‘Green Lantern’ Is DC Comics Most Successful Superhero Movie

Wha!?  “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” you’re probably saying to yourself.  The Dark Knight Rises earned over a billion dollars!  Man of Steel took in almost $669 million!  What do you mean Green Lantern, which earned almost $220 million on a $200 million budget”

Ok, if you’re thinking short-term, then The Dark Knight and Man of Steel were significantly more successful that Green Lantern, but long term…

  • The Christopher Nolan Batman Films Were Never Intended To Be A Template For An Entire Cinematic Universe

How do I know that?  Have I been hanging out with Nolan, discussing what he would or wouldn’t have done with Batman?  No, but what I do know is that the universe that Nolan created with his Batman was a self-contained one, with virtually no connections between it to the greater DC Comics universe.  I believe that that’s the case because Nolan treated the character in a semi-realistic fashion, which the polar opposite to any other DC movie characters (and I include Arrow, who’s depiction was very much based upon that Batman’s).

In other words, Batman, as defined by Nolan began with Batman Begins, and ended with The Dark Knight Rises.

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To Post-Convert To 3D Or Not Post-Convert

Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” is being post-converted to 3D, which is interesting when you consider how terrible such conversions tend to be.

Remember “Wrath Of The Titans?”  If there’s another film that was converted to 3D to such seemingly universal disdain, I am unaware of it.

That being said tickets for 3D films tend to be significantly more expensive than those for traditional films, so I am sure that that figured into someone’s calculations.

And you cannot talk about 3D films without mentioning James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which actually had very good 3D, though I felt that it was too enthralled with its own technology (after all, did we really need to see what often felt like a documentary called “The Flora and Fauna of Pandora?”) to be as effective as it could have been.

I enjoyed “Tron: Legacy,” but to be honest I am so smitten with everything ‘Tron’ that I barely noticed the effect, more often than not.

The three dimensional version of “The Avengers” was also pretty mediocre because what I remember most from the effect was from the beginning of the film, where for some odd reason Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) was thrust so far forward it actually diminished the effect for everyone else in the scene.  The S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier scenes were cool, but it’s essentially a flying aircraft carrier, so there’s little you can to to frak that up.

The only saving grace I can see is that 3D technology, like any other technology, will advance, so perhaps my fears are unfounded.

And besides, this is Guillermo Del Toro film, and if anyone can shepherd some really good post-converted 3D, it’s him.

‘Final Destination’ Trailer

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“Final Destination 5,” the latest in the perhaps the most inaccurately named series of films ever, is being directed by Steve Quale, who’s worked with James Cameron on “Aliens of the Deep” and “Avatar.”

Luckily, it appears there’s more Tony Todd than in prior episodes.  This is good because his presence along is scarier that most of the horrific–and generally, extremely unlikely–deaths the characters experience.