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Ten of the Weirdest, Most Distracting, and Accidentally Funny Movie Extras

31 Oct

The other day I caught a bit of The Dark Knight Rises on TV, trying to understand Bale’s weird voice, and wondering when Batman would lose his.  Then I spotted something in the background: an extra doing something accidentally hilarious and stealing the scene. I YouTubed it later to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, and yep, it happened – unintentional comedy at its finest. I know that every time I watch The Dark Knight Rises from now on I won’t be able to help spotting that extra.

It got me thinking about some other movies involving extras doing things that steal the scene, and next thing you know I had a blog post. Enjoy, but be warned: you’ll never watch these films again without being distracted by these extras.

The Dark Knight Rises

The movie that started this whole thing. The scene involves Batman and Catwoman on a rooftop, forced to fight side by side against a bunch of crims in order to get out alive. The job is made that much easier by the scene’s Star Extra, who gives the Dark Knight and his love interest a helping hand. Watch on the left of your screen above Batman’s shoulder and see if you can spot Star Extra doing something odd:

Yep: unless there was an unseen sniper somewhere, Anonymous Villain #3 just got floored by a ghost. Great stuff. Although in his defence, crumpling to the floor untouched is probably a better option than getting punched in the face by Batman.

Star Wars: A New Hope

Possibly the most famous example of an extra stealing a scene, in this passage from Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Extra is one of several storm troopers entering a room on the Deathstar in search of Skywalker, Solo and Leia. Unfortunately he was so focussed on searching for the rebels that he didn’t pay quite enough attention to his surroundings:

Someone had better report that to Darth Vader as an OH&S issue. The scene became so famous that when George Lucas made a number of changes to the film for his updated special edition, one of the few good ones (let’s not delve into Did Han Shoot First here) was to add a thud to emphasise Star Extra smacking his head. Nice touch.

Back to the Future: Part III 

Another famous scene involving an extra comes from the third instalment of the fantastic Back to the Future series. Watch the younger of the two boys on Doc’s time travelling train, as he’s going to do something a little weird.

WTF indeed. The prevailing theory is that the boy was trying to indicate that he had an urgent need to go to the bathroom, although another theory is that director Robert Zemeckis told the kid he could help direct the scene. Judging by the look on his face, I’m sticking with option one. He should’ve listened to Doc and gone before they left. After all, a journey from 1885 to 1985 is a heck of a trip.

Teen Wolf

Also starring Michael J Fox, this documentary about a 5’6” high school student turned werewolf winning a basketball championship is fantastic. During the climactic scene the crowd stand up and cheer their winning team. One Star Extra, however, wished they didn’t jump to their feet so quickly.

Yep, Star Extra just got caught with their pants down. I’m not sure if Star Extra is a man or a woman, but either way, I think they misunderstood what is meant by a movie’s climax.


Enthusiasm is a good thing. Over enthusiasm, not so much, especially when your role in a movie is Random Guy #47. Do your job, blend into the background, and let the stars do their thing. In other words, don’t do what this screaming lunatic does at about the 1.30 mark.

I know the Ghostbusters are awesome, but relax pal.

Million Dollar Baby 

Speaking of over enthusiasm, this Star Extra is worse than the Ghostbusters guy. See if you can spot him. Clue: he is really, really, excited about the boxing match.

He’s lucky Hilary Swank didn’t jump the rope and clock him.  I think that comically over-exaggerated high five was just funny enough to have saved him.

Everything Must Go

You know, you actually can do your job too well as an extra. Take these kids. Clearly the director told them to keep still in the background.

There’s still, and then there’s ‘are we sure they’re still breathing?’ still.

You Only Live Twice 

Sometimes, a Star Extra doesn’t even have to be human. They can be a very scared cat that really, really doesn’t want to be in the scene.

‘The roof just exploded!  Why are you just standing there?!?  Run!  RUUUUNNN!!!  MEEEOOOWWW!!!’

North by Northwest

Even though he pretty much ruins the suspense for any person who notices him in the iconic Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest, I kind of empathise with this Star Extra. Tensions are high when Eva Marie Saint’s character, Eve, draws a gun. But will she actually use it?  Will she be able to pull the trigger or is it an empty threat?  Ask the kid behind her in the blue top.

One glance at Star Extra and we all know what’s coming. Can’t blame him from protecting his ears though. Maybe if the victim had have seen him the scene would’ve ended up quite differently.

The Last Samurai

Finally, if I empathise somewhat with the last kid, I downright feel bad for this Star Extra who isn’t even responsible for stealing his scene. One of countless samurai waiting in formation for Tom Cruise to arrive, he happens to be standing in the wrong place when Cruise dismounts his horse.

I’m not sure if he badmouthed scientology or had the audacity to look Cruise directly in the eye, but he sure copped it. Kudos for returning into an upright position as soon as he did – that is no mean feat. Especially after colliding with Cruise’s mean feet.

Do you have any favourite scene stealing extras?  Let us know in the comments section below!

The 30 Best Movie Songs of the Last 40 Years – Part III

17 Aug

The 30 Best Movie Songs of the Last 40 Years – The Meryl Streep Tier (10 – 1)

Oh boy, we’ve made it to the ten best songs made for movies in the last 40 years. The anticipation is almost too much. It makes me want to express myself through song. Who will take the crown? Click below to find out… (Or click here to go back to see the start of the list.)

10. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, by Bryan Adams, from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Any time a song’s Wikipedia page starts with the descriptor “a soft rock power ballad by Canadian singer Bryan Adams”, you know you’re on to a winner. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack, was an absolute powerhouse, with Adams robbing chart position from the rich and giving it to himself. It was a mainstay in the number 1 position all over the globe, spending a Little John sized 16 consecutive weeks at the top in the UK and being the biggest US single of the year.

Stats: Number 1 in the US, UK, and Australia; Grammy win; Academy Award nomination; Golden Globe nomination.

Penalty Points: It doesn’t feature a Morgan Freeman spoken interlude.

Bonus Points: It doesn’t feature a Kevin Costner chorus.

9. Lose Yourself, by Eminem, from 8 Mile (2002)

If you had one shot, one opportunity, to release a lead single from your debut film, would you capture it? Eminem certainly did with the release of Lose Yourself, a record breaking song argued by many as Eminem’s best ever. After being number 1 in 24 countries, including 12 week stints atop the US and Australian charts, Lose Yourself became the first rap song to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It might also have been the first rap song to use the phrase “mom’s spaghetti”.

Stats: Number 1 in the US, UK, and Australia; Grammy win; Academy Award nomination; Golden Globe nomination.

Penalty Points: Eminem will need a new sweater.

Bonus Points: Sung the song and starred in the film; Eminem wrote the song during breaks on set, and you can see his actual notes as his character, B-Rabbit, is writing raps in the film. Pretty cool.  (The name B-Rabbit?  Not so much.)

8. End of the Road, by Boyz II Men, from Boomerang (1991)

Boyz II Men’s mega hit spent so much time at number one on charts around the world that one could be forgiven for thinking that the end of the road was never going to come for the song. Incredibly, End of the Road became Motown’s biggest hit ever, overtaking song 22 on this list, after setting a record for the most weeks at number 1 on the US charts with 13, breaking Elvis Presley’s 36 year record. (Spoiler alert: this record would be broken by the song that would reach number one only 2 weeks later. A song that may or may not make a forthcoming appearance on this list…) A heart wrenching, emotional journey, End of the Road remains a favourite of karaoke singers, anybody doing a musical salute to the end of an era, and people who love performing rumbling, deep bass spoken interludes.

Stats: Number 1 in the US, UK, and Australia.

Penalty Points: Ten bucks says you didn’t know what film End of the Road came from.

Bonus Points: The spoken interlude by band member Michael McCary; The music video is magic!  It should be called, ‘Four Guys With Flattops, in Various Matching Outfits, Getting Insanely Emotional.’  What the hell are they wearing at the 2.20 mark?!?!

7.  Flashdance…What a Feeling, by Irene Cara, from Flashdance (1983)

Irene Cara only ever had a single number one track, but what a barnstormer it was. The soundtrack to Flashdance, the film about a female welder/stripper named Alex who wants to dance for a living (we’ve all been there), was hugely successful and produced several hits, including Maniac, but Flashdance…What a Feeling was the enduring success. It’s played at the beginning of the film, but it will always be remembered for its use at the movie’s climax, where Alex auditions for dance school. When she totally nails it? What a feeling!

Stats: Number 1 in the US and Australia, number 2 in the UK; Academy Award win; Golden Globe win.

Penalty Points: Did we really need the word ‘Flashdance’ in the title when it’s not even a lyric in the song? We know what movie it’s from. (Maybe Boyz II Men should have named their track ‘Boomerang…End of the Road’?)

Bonus Points: Phenomenal spoofability; phenomenal leg warmers.

6.  Don’t You Forget About Me, by Simple Minds, from The Breakfast Club (1985)

Don’t You Forget About Me and The Breakfast Club are as synonymous as a movie and its signature song can be, to the point where some call the track ‘The Breakfast Club Theme Song’. One of legendary ‘80s writer/director John Hughes’ most loved works, The Breakfast Club is a comedy drama about a bunch of teens from different walks of life stuck in detention together and slowly realising that they have more in common than they would have thought. (A film that, were it made today, would just be 90 minutes of kids on their smartphones not talking to each other.) Billy Idol was asked to record the song but declined, and eventually the gig was given to Simple Minds, who took some convincing to accept the job. In fact, even after the song became their biggest hit they distanced themselves from it, not even featuring it on their album (they finally put in on their greatest hits album Glittering Prize 81/92 in 1992). No matter what the band does, however, Don’t You Forget About Me and The Breakfast Club will forever be intertwined. We won’t forget about Simple Minds for sure.

Stats: Number 1 in the US, number 6 in Australia, number 7 in the UK (although it remained on the UK charts from 1985 to 1987).

Penalty Points: Come on Simple Minds, just accept the fact that your best song was one written for you for a teen movie.

Bonus Points: Being on a John Hughes film soundtrack is always an honour; that climactic image of Judd Nelson on the football field, fist up.

The 30 Best Movie Songs of the Last 40 Years

29 Jun

It’s no secret that a movie can become that much better when the images on screen are coupled by the right song at the right time. Whether a swooning ballad when the love interests finally kiss, a thunderous anthem as the hero triumphs, or a heart-breaking song of despair when the protagonist’s dreams are dashed, a truly great movie song can enhance any moment.

Although sadly, no song can enhance a Twilight film. Nor can any film be enhanced by a Nickelback song.

This made me ask myself the question: what are the best ever movie songs? This question led me down a rabbit hole that I almost didn’t return from – an idea for a top ten list ballooned into a top thirty list. Even that was only possible by restricting myself to the last forty years of film music and savagely excluding some of my personal favourite songs for a more rational list. (Trust me, if there was any way of justifying the inclusion of Partners in Kryme’s Turtle Power I would have done it.)

Here are the ground rules:

  1. To qualify a song must be written for the film in which it appeared and for which it was made famous (although in some cases I’ve allowed remakes made especially for a film if they were so good their omission would be criminal). In other words, if a movie used an existing song – even iconically – it could not be considered for this list. Sorry Bohemian Rhapsody and Wayne’s World. Also, even though the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody was written for a film (Unchained) it would not qualify because everyone associates it with the movie Ghost. And kinky pottery.
  2. All Disney cartoon films are out. In fact, all animated films are out, period. Nothing personal, it just seems like an unfair advantage as there are so many. Perhaps enough for a separate list one day…
  3. Instrumental songs and motifs do not count. That will definitely make a list one day.
  4. Songs must have been released in the last forty years. Yes, sadly that needed to be pointed out.
  5. Bonus points given to songs whose popularity has endured over time, and songs inexorably linked to the films in which they appeared.

Note: references to Academy Awards, Grammies and Golden Globes are references to the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Grammy for Best Song Written for a Visual Media (or its predecessor), and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Other Grammy awards have not been taken into account, and it should be noted that the Grammy was not awarded prior to 1988.

So buckle up, slide on your Beats by Dres, practice your Grammy acceptance speech, and see which songs ultimately made the list.  Click on the next page below to kick things off.

(Disagree? Leave your comments and tell the world what should and should not have made the list.)

So You Think You Know the X-Men Films? A Quiz.

12 Jun


Movie Predictions: The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part II (Cont.)

13 Apr



As we discussed in part one of this post, there are few safer strategies for profitable movie making than to release a sequel to a successful film, which is why studios green light so many of them (for example, I think we’re up to Fast & Furious 19). The main reason for this is that you can leverage an already existing audience, and expand from there. It’s a similar theory behind rebooting franchises: studios hope that there is a readymade audience upon which to build, and therefore a higher chance of a strong return on investment. There are a couple of reboots coming out this year for just that reason, one of which is Godzilla.

The last iteration of the story of this beloved building-destroying giant lizard was a much maligned and quickly forgotten effort in 1998. Nonetheless, that film earned $379 million (the third biggest worldwide earner of the year), meaning that this year’s Godzilla has every chance to break the bank. The Godzilla character is well known worldwide, and international markets are a lot bigger than they were in the 90s. The floor for this reboot has to be above the last remake, and the ceiling could be anywhere if they get it right. As long as Godzilla doesn’t destroy it first in a fit of rage.

Prognosis: Godzilla will smash skyscrapers and box office receipts alike. $500 – $600 million.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

In 2007, Michael Bay took a popular ‘80s cartoon called Transformers and adapted it for the big screen. He made a ton of money and three sequels, the most recent coming out this year, and so he’s decided to do it again with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Even though Bay is only producing and not directing, TMNT looks like it’s going to follow a similar format to Transformers with lots of action and lots of special effects. Heck, it’s even got Megan Fox starring as April O’Neil.

How will it do? Like Transformers, TMNT will hope to get viewers from multiple markets, namely fans of the original series and movie, as well as current youngsters who have enjoyed a resurgence of the radical reptiles in their most recent cartoon incarnation. However there has already been negative backlash from a vocal number of fanboys, particularly when Bay announced that the ‘mutant’ turtles would in fact be ‘aliens’. Can’t you read the name of your own movie?!? Bay quickly changed his mind with that, but criticism still followed, most notably about the look of the turtles. Nonetheless, I’m sure the film will do well, if not Transformers well.

Prognosis: With two big films out, it’s going to be a totally tubular year for Michael Bay. Cowabunga! $400 – $500 million.

Teen Fiction Adaptations

Some of the biggest movies in recent years have been adaptations of young adult novels, and studios are searching ever more keenly for a successful book series to alchemise into a film franchise. And why not? The five Twilight films brought in almost $3.5 billion, and the Harry Potter franchise a whopping $7.7 billion.  Yowsers.

The problem is, for every booming success, there are dozens of others that rank between middling efforts and abject bombs.

Will there be a new Hunger Games this year, or just a series of fizzling projects that fail to take flight? I think there will be two films that could, if things go right, approach the half billion dollar benchmark.


This film is based on the first in a trilogy of dystopian young adult novels centred on a world that divides people into five different factions. The protagonist, Tris, is secretly a Divergent: she doesn’t fit properly into any faction. This means, of course, that the bad guys will want her dead. Oh dear.

There are some similarities between Divergent and The Hunger Games, which is no doubt why the producers took interest, and what they hope to emulate in terms of box office takings. Both have a young heroine, both are set in a futuristic dystopia, and both are based on trilogies that were recently published and successful almost immediately (Divergent was published in 2011).

And if any young adult novel adaptation is going to catch fire as much as The Hunger Games, this will be it (the studios are banking on it – the remaining two films in the trilogy are set to hit screens over the next two years). However that is a very high standard, one I don’t think it will reach.  I wouldn’t worry too much though, it will still make plenty of money.

Prognosis: The future may look grim for Tris, but not for the studios. $500 – $600 million.

The Fault in Our Stars

This could be a big year for Shailene Woodley. Not only does she star as Tris in Divergent, she is also starring in the adaptation of the John Green novel, The Fault in Our Stars. The films couldn’t be more different, however, The Fault in Our Stars following two teens who fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group.

The book debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in January 2012, and the film rights were sold in the same month, so needless to say, the fan base is there. However, generally speaking studios will have a tougher time making money out of a straight romance novel than an action thriller. Still, if the film is executed well, and receives positive reviews and word of mouth praise, it could build a strong audience that sustains over a long screening period. That’s a lot of ifs though.

Prognosis:  $200 – $300 million.


A Million Ways to Die in the West

If superhero sequels are the luxury items of movies, then comedies are the generic brands: they are cheap to finance and quick to make meaning that while they usually produce a good return on investment, they rarely bring in huge box office totals. Every now and then, however, a comedy resonates with the public in a big way, and joins the action blockbusters at the box office big boys’ table.

One such movie was Ted, the first feature film by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. That potty-mouthed teddy bear turned a $50 million budget into $549.4 million of box office receipts. That’s extremely impressive, and MacFarlane hopes to do it again with his follow up project, A Million Ways to Die in the West.

This time, MacFarlane is putting himself on camera as Albert, a cowardly farmer in the wild west who develops a crush on the new woman and town, only for her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, to arrive on the scene.

One thing this movie has going for it is the cast. Joining MacFarlane is Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick-Harris, and several other big names. Will that translate into Ted level success? I’m going to guess no, and put Ted down as lightning in a bottle.

Prognosis: This town ain’t big enough for the both us. $250 – $350 million.

22 Jump Street

The only other comedy that has any chance of making significant money is 22 Jump Street. The original movie, 21 Jump Street, was a surprise hit (although it was a reboot of sorts, so maybe that should have tipped us off). Somehow, turning a TV crime drama from the ‘80s into a modern action comedy film – starring a guy who basically hadn’t done a comedy before – actually worked. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had undeniable chemistry, and they’re back for the follow up.

Unlike action sequels, comedy sequels are hard to get right. Even if 22 Jump Street does manage it, which it well could, it will need to more than double the earnings of the original, which took in $201.6 million. I don’t see that happening.

Prognosis: The sequel’s earnings will jump from the original, but not by enough. $250 – $350 million.

The Scoreboard

We’ve looked at exactly 20 films to see how they’ll fare this year, and if I’m right three will join the billion dollar club, eight will make half a billion, and another four could gross half a billion if things go right. Only time will tell whether my predictions will be close to being correct, but one thing’s for sure: with the amount of money flying being spent at the box office I should quit my day job and become a movie producer.

Do you agree or disagree with the predictions? Any films you think should have made the list? Comment below!

Movie Predictions: The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part II

10 Apr

In Part I of this post we looked at some films almost certain to top this year’s worldwide box office rankings, and possibly join the billion dollar club. We also looked at some big sequels which should earn half a billion and beyond.

In Part II of this post, we turn our attention to a few other movies that are hoping to give the half billion dollar mark a nudge, including some fresh blockbusters from big name actors and directors, some reboots, some young adult novel adaptations, and a pair of comedies.


Edge of Tomorrow

Here’s a figure that might make your head explode quicker than the bad guys’ hideout at the end of an action blockbuster: $3,213,000,000. That’s how much money Tom Cruise’s films have grossed over the course of his career.   Just in America. I would do the maths on his worldwide numbers but my calculator doesn’t go that high.

Needless to say, whatever your opinion of the man might be, Cruise is as big a box office lock as any actor of the last 40 years. He’s hoping to do it again with this year’s Edge of Tomorrow.

Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi pic centring on Cruise repeatedly reliving the same day of a war against alien forces. Think Groundhog Day except if Bill Murray was blasting extra-terrestrials with plasma rays (I’d totally watch that movie by the way). 2012’s Oblivion managed a decent $286.2 million worldwide, and it wasn’t long ago when Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol raked in almost $700 million, so Cruise can still bring people into the cinemas. He’s also surrounded by a solid cast, including Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Jeremy Piven, so this film should work.

That said, I think there are too many must see blockbusters this year for Edge of Tomorrow to make a huge impact. It should top Oblivion, but not by much.  Although there might be a huge demand to see Tom Cruise die over and over and over…

Prognosis: This film will be on the edge of blockbuster successes. $300 – $350 million.


Someone else who has been box office gold in recent years is Christopher Nolan. The writer/director’s last three films (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, The Dark Knight) grossed almost $3 billion between them. Will his latest project, Interstellar, be just as successful?

The odds are on his side. As is usual with his films, the cast is stellar (or should that be interstellar?). Some of the usual suspects are there – Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine – and they are joined by the likes of Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, and reigning Academy Award Best Actor Matthew McConaughey. That’s pulling power.

The trailer doesn’t give much away, but that’s how Nolan likes it.  Based on resume only, you’d have to assume this will be a hit.

Prognosis: The movie will be astronomical in name and earnings. $500 – $600 million.

Jupiter Ascending

Another sci-fi blockbuster, Jupiter Ascending is the latest effort of the Wachowski siblings. Unlike Nolan, the Wachowskis’ stock has stagnated since an extremely promising start; although 2012’s Cloud Atlas did respectfully in foreign markets, it bombed in the US, barely scraping in $27 million at the box office. Will Jupiter Ascending capture audience’s imaginations, like bullet time in The Matrix? Or will it simply confuse audiences, like the Architect’s speech in The Matrix Reloaded?

It’s not easy to tell. Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis should attract viewers, and the trailers look beautiful, but they also show that the plot is likely to be as unconventional as Cloud Atlas. That might be a problem, given that audiences shunned that film for more familiar and easily digestible superhero movies and sequels. If I had to guess, I’d say the returns will be an improvement on Cloud Atlas, but not in the same class as others on this list. However ultimately I wouldn’t be surprised with any figure.

Prognosis: It could go any way, but in all likelihood, Jupiter won’t ascend all that far. $200 – $400 million.


This one will be interesting. In a vacuum, an action/disaster movie starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Nick Nolte and Anthony Hopkins, with a budget of $125 million, and written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, would seem like a sure fire candidate to make half a billion dollars. However Noah, of course, has an added element: it is a tale lifted from the Bible.

And by lifted I mean ‘the basic premise of the story of Noah has been taken and adapted into an action film’, if the trailers are anything to go by. How will audiences react? Will Christians shun it as blasphemy? Will non-Christians ignore it as a religious film?

Well the initial box office returns have been strong, and the last time we saw a controversial religious film on the big screen The Passion of the Christ ended up being the a huge hit, particularly in the US, where $370.8 of its $611.9 million were earned.

Noah could have bombed badly, and it’s clear that it won’t, but I’m not convinced it will be a story for the ages.

Prognosis: Aronofsky’s prayers will be answered, and Noah won’t drown. $400 – $500 million.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel has been meticulous with their film planning over the last decade and getting the most out of their cache of characters. As we’ve seen, the results speak for themselves, with any recent movie associated with their name coming with a blank cheque from the box office. So it’s nice to see them take a bit of a risk, which is exactly what Guardians of the Galaxy is.

Guardians does not have any of Marvel’s big name characters, and it’s adapted from a comic that not many people have heard of. It is also a little more out there than most of Marvel’s films to date, with aliens that look like trees and talking racoons. So will audiences be interested?

Guessing the ceiling on this one is tough, but I’m well and truly in the camp that wants and expects this to be a hit. If anyone can afford to throw some money into marketing, it’s Marvel, and the trailer looks extremely fun. Chris Pratt is perfect to play wise guy Peter Quill, and the likes of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voice some of the other characters. I’m saying that Guardians hits the mark as a fun space romp and gives Marvel another hit.

Prognosis: Marvel at this money making machine. $400 – $600 million.

Check back in soon for the next page of this post

Movie Predictions – The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part I (Cont.)

27 Mar

Captain America: Winter Soldier

Speaking of cash cows, how smart do Marvel look for the way they approached the Avengers franchise? Everything Avengers related has turned to gold, highlighted by the first Avengers film taking in a staggering $1.52 billion worldwide, making it the third highest earner of all time.

It’s worked for the solo films too. The most recent Thor and Iron Man films earned $644.6 and $1,215.4 million respectively, Iron Man 3 ranking fifth all time.

However Captain America: The First Avenger didn’t do quite so well. It earned $370.6 million, which isn’t shabby by any stretch, but not quite as strong as its franchise friends. Can Captain America: Winter Soldier improve?

One thing going against the Captain as a character is that outside of the US, he isn’t very popular. The pro-American elements of the first film’s storyline didn’t help, and this was reflected at the box office. Perhaps the best comparison is with Thor. Both films were released in 2011, and both earned virtually identical amounts in the US. However Thor earned almost 40% more than Captain America: The First Avenger in overseas markets.

It’s possible that overseas markets will continue to overlook Captain America, but I don’t think so. For one thing, The Avengers was released after CA:TFA, and now audiences are more familiar and accepting of the character. Also, Marvel is marketing the movie as a thriller, seemingly dialling down the ‘America rules!’ cheerleading a notch. I think this film will be another huge success.

Prognosis: There’s nothing more American than chasing the dollar. $500 – $700 million.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a surprise hit of 2011, pleasing critics and audiences alike with its unexpectedly touching tale of Caesar the ape, expertly played by Andy Serkis using motion caption technology. The sequel is being released this year, and could well be even more successful.

Caesar’s first tale took in $481.8 million, and there’s no reason to believe the sequel can’t exceed that. No doubt it will also rekindle the debate as to whether or not motion capture performances should be recognised in acting awards. Why not I say – they’re more realistic than some actors’ performances. *Cough cough* Kristen Stewart *Cough cough*.

Prognosis: Caesar’s empire grows richer. $500 – $600 million.

300: Rise of an Empire

The producers made a mistake by not calling this film 301, but otherwise they appear to be on a winner. The original 300 earned $456.1 million, which would suggest that a sequel would break half a billion easily. However given the seven year gap between films, the less than deafening cries for a sequel in that time, and the amount of more anticipated blockbusters this year, I’m a little sceptical about the financial success of 300: Rise of an Empire. It won’t flop by any stretch – especially if the 3D ticket returns are strong – but I see it falling just short of the magic half billion dollar mark.

Prognosis: This will not be Rise of the Box Office Grossings, but it will still earn a dollar for every chiselled ab seen on screen. $400 – $500 million.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The X-Men franchise has spawned six films in the fourteen years since that very first mutation. Whilst there have been some disappointments (X3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), generally this is a well-liked franchise full of iconic characters and unusually strong casts for the genre. It is a surprise, then, that while other superhero films routinely break the half billion and even billion dollar mark, not a single X-Men film has earned more than $459.4 million.

That drought will end with X-Men: Days of Future Past. With a plot that crosses multiple timelines, virtually all of the important characters from present day X-Men films will join the characters from X-Men: First Class, creating an ensemble cast of characters and actors that puts The Avengers to shame. I doubt it will earn The Avengers type money, but it will easily be the most successful X-Men film to date.

Prognosis: This film will mutate into a money earning machine. $500 – $750 million.

Log in soon for Part II of this post.

Movie Predictions – The Biggest Films of 2014 – Part I

25 Mar

The Lego Movie was released barely a month ago (it hasn’t been released in Australia yet) and it has already grossed US$391 million worldwide, the highest grossing film of 2014 so far. Clearly it is on its way to smashing past the half billion dollar mark, which got me wondering, what other films this year will reach that financial benchmark?  Will any break the fabled one billion dollar barrier? Of the eighteen films to have grossed over a billion dollars, eleven have come in this decade, so it’s not only possible, but probable.

In part one of this post, we look at the films that will definitely be successful at the box office and threaten to join those eighteen movies in the elite billion dollar club, as well as some big sequels and how much they might earn. Later we’ll look at other films that could be box office juggernauts, including a few dark horses to reach half a billion and beyond.

And just to clarify: this is not a commentary on what will be the best films of the year, just the biggest earners. Although no doubt there will be some overlap.

(All figures are in $US and taken from at the time of posting.)

The Sure Fire Mega-Hits

The Hobbit: There and Back Again


Let’s see.  The worldwide grossing for the three Lord of the Rings films were, in order, $871.5 million, $926 million, and $1,119.9 million.

The first two Hobbit films grossed $1,017 million and $944.4 million (and counting).

Given that pedigree, there is little doubt that The Hobbit: There and Back Again will join its predecessors in earning its producers more loot than all the gold in the Lonely Mountain.  The real question is whether this final tale of Middle Earth can outdo The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, currently the seventh highest grossing film of all time.  Given that There and Back Again will not only offer closure on this story arc, but will be the last opportunity for film goers to enjoy Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth, my prediction is that it will comfortably break the one billion dollar mark. However given that the Hobbit series is slightly less epic than the LOTRs series, I don’t think it will quite overtake The Return of the King. Still, I don’t think the film’s backers will be complaining.

Prognosis: Not even Smaug can prevent The Hobbit: There and Back Again from bringing home the loot. $1 billion +

The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay, Part 1


Following the trend of recent young adult fiction series adaptations, the final book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is being split into two parts. (And like other recent young adult adaptation finales, will include all kinds of punctuation in the title.) Is this for artistic reasons? Um, right – and the Capitol has the Districts’ best interests at heart.  No, by splitting the film in two the makers of this franchise hope to also follow the trend of those films other young adult films (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1) and earn their way to box office glory.

And it will.

The first movie in the series, The Hunger Games, was a success, earning $691.2 million worldwide.  The sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was superior to its predecessor in every way, and it showed in its box office receipts: a cool $864.3 million.  The upward trend should continue, especially given Jennifer Lawrence’s current status as Hollywood’s ‘It’ girl, and with Philip Seymour-Hoffman’s tragic death.  Expect Mocking Jay, Part 1 to give the billion dollar mark a good nudge.

Prognosis: When it comes to this film breaking the bank, the odds are ever in their favour.  $1 billion.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Unlike the Hunger Games franchise, the Transformers franchise hasn’t received as much critical acclaim. In fact, the second instalment, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was heavily criticised, for everything from its ludicrous plot to its inane humour (because racist robots are funny!)  But that didn’t stop the film – or the others in the franchise – enjoying massive box office success.

So far the films have earned $709.7, $836.3, and $1,123.8 million, the most recent, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, being the sixth highest earning film of all time.  Whilst there will be a few changes with the latest instalment – out goes Shia LaBouf and in comes Mark Wahlberg – it will no doubt follow the same formula of lots of action, explosions and amazing special effects.  And Dinobots! It will also no doubt have the same level of success.

Say what you want about Michael Bay, but the man knows how to deliver action blockbusters that appeal to the masses. Transformers: Age of Extinction could be another billion dollar earner.

Prognosis: Autobots, roll out…your bank notes! $1 billion.

The (Other) Big Sequels

Did you notice anything in common with the sure fire mega-hits?  Yep, they are all sequels to successful movies.  Film studios love nothing more than backing franchises that have already provided them with good returns.  With a readymade fan base, and often bigger budgets to produce and market the films, sequels can often outperform their forerunners financially.  That is, if they get them right.

The following sequels will be hoping to break the bank in a big way.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Animated films are huge business. The second and third highest grossing films of 2013 were animated (Frozen and Despicable Me 2 respectively), and we’ve already seen what The Lego Movie is doing this year.  Earning $494.9 million, How to Train Your Dragon was the tenth highest grossing film in 2010, a year where half of the top ten movies were animated, with Toy Story 3 ranking number 1.  Four years later and How to Train Your Dragon 2 could well break the half billion dollar mark.

With enough time to digest what made the original film so successful, as well as to render the amazing graphics, the sequel (and the planned third movie) should capture audiences’ imaginations just as strongly as the first time around, if not more so.  If DreamWorks get it right, especially given the relatively light animated competition this year, this chapter of the tale of Hiccup and Toothless could even approach the three-quarter billion level.

Prognosis: You’d better train your dragon to fly you to the bank.  $500 – $750 million.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This one is slightly harder to pick. The 2002 Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire was a huge hit, reviving the superhero genre after years of lacklustre productions (I’m looking at you, Batman and Robin).  However it was downhill from there, the nadir being the bizarre evil/goth evil Peter jazz sequence in Spider-Man 3 (I still don’t know what they were thinking).  And so the franchise got rebooted a mere seven years later.

The reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, raked in $752.2 million worldwide. Why then isn’t the sequel in the sure fire mega-hit category?  Believe it or not, the box office receipts for The Amazing Spider-Man was actually lower than all three of the original films, and wasn’t quite as successful as the studio might have hoped for. The cast was solid and it looked great, but the reception from audiences and critics was somewhat lukewarm. Will the sequel trend upwards? Or will movie goers be more wary?

I’m giving The Amazing Spider-Man 2 the benefit of the doubt, at least financially. The trailers look good, so hopefully the movie will be an improvement on the first.  If not, the strength of the trailer and Spider-Man’s inherent popularity should result in a windfall irrespective.

Prognosis: Spidey is your friendly neighbourhood cash cow.  $700 – $800 million.

Log back in soon for the rest of this post.

Zombeavers: The New Sharknado?

11 Feb

As regular Hesaidwhatnow? readers will be well aware, Sharknado is one of the greatest movies of all time.  Any time you see former Beverly Hills 90210 supporting star Ian Ziering flying through the mouth of a flying shark with a chainsaw and coming out the other end, you know you are watching cinema greatness.  These are moments that shape our lives.

Well grab your chainsaw and get ready to suspend your belief in a huge way again, as we might be in for some more greatness.

The good folks at top tier studios Armory Films and BenderSpink have conspired to bring us a new film, Zombeavers.  What is a ‘zombeaver’ you might ask?  Well, it is the stuff of nightmares: zombie beavers.

You'd better believe that's a bad movie poster pun!

You’d better believe that’s a bad movie poster pun!

I know what you’re thinking: “A movie about zombie beavers?  Well it’s about time.”  Yes it is, and if the trailer is any indication, the wait has been worth it.

As you might expect with a budget horror film, the usual rules are adhered to.  A bunch of college students go away on a trip together in a cabin in a small town, spooky enough that something bad is bound to happen, and secluded enough that no one can rescue them – except maybe the random (and in this case, extremely creepy) local that they bump into.  Said college students are hot, meaning plenty of excuses for nudity and innuendo.

And with that standard template an extraordinary vision is realised.

"Wait - that's not my shoe."

“Wait – that’s not my shoe.”

Here are some highlights from the trailer:

–        Three hot girls in two and a half bikinis have no problem making chit chat with a creepy stranger who is carrying a massive gun.  No surprise that Creepy Guy makes the first of what no doubt will be many of the film’s very unsubtle beaver puns.  In fact, they manage to squeeze two of them into the 90 second trailer.

–        After killing a vicious beaver, the guy pulls a classic horror movie error and leaves it out on the porch instead of disposing of it properly.  Yep, that won’t come back to bite you.  Literally.  Although in fairness, it’s probably not anyone’s fault that they didn’t anticipate a beaver coming back to life as a bloodthirsty zombeaver.

–        Apparently a beaver dam on one road is enough to prevent a car of students from leaving town.

–        There are some cracking lines, but the best is easily, “We cannot turn against each other right now.  That is exactly what the beavers would want.”  Yes, yes it is.  I guarantee you no one graduates from acting college dreaming of delivering that line on film.

–        The trailer ends on an absolute high.  I will leave it to you all to watch instead of spoiling it, although I will say that I think we have 2014’s marquee Halloween costume idea already.

The trailer claims that zombeavers are the “next level of zombies”.  Based on what we’ve seen, it’s hard to argue with that.

Hesaidwhatnow? will definitely keep you posted of any zombeaver news.  In the meantime, if you come across any creepy dudes with guns, make sure you befriend him just in case.  And brace yourself for some double entendres.

Movie Doppelgangers: The Most Implausibly Identical Movies of All Time – Part II

18 Sep

As we’ve seen in Part I of this post, it’s not unusual to see two movies being made and released at the same time with essentially the same plot.  Whether it’s a case of Hollywood executives being lazy, unimaginative, or flat out stealing the ideas of their competitors, it happens more often than you think.  Here are five more Implausibly Identical Movies of All Time.

The Truman Show v EDtv

He's smiling cos he just saw EDtv's box office takings.

He’s smiling cos he just saw EDtv’s box office takings.

A reality show following Matthew McConaughey?  Spoiler alert: it features a lot of shirtless torsos.

A reality show following Matthew McConaughey? Spoiler alert: it features a lot of shirtless torsos.

The Truman Show   EDtv
5 June 1998 Release Date 26 March 1999
8.0/10 IMDb Score 6.0/10
90/100 Meta Critic Score 48/100
94% Rotten Tomatoes Score 64%
$60 million Budget $80 million
$125.6 million Box Office Gross (US) $22.4 million
$239.0 million Box Office Gross (World) $30.7 million

It’s hard to imagine, but once upon a time there was no such thing as people willingly and enthusiastically stripping themselves of their dignity on camera, but then the late ‘90s came and with it a real surge of reality TV as a viable genre.  Fifteen years later and it seems as though that’s all there is.

It’s no surprise, then, that at the end of that decade, two movies came out exploring the world of reality TV: The Truman Show and EDtv.

Both films are centred on TV shows that follow the lives of an ordinary person, Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) and Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey) respectively.  The movies take a look at the ‘behind the scenes’ goings on of making the shows, but focus more on the impact the shows have on their ‘stars’.

Of course the big difference between the films is that the Ed Pekurny signed up to being on a reality TV show voluntarily, whereas Truman was born into one and remains oblivious until a mid life crisis causes him to start questioning his life.

Actually, there’s another big difference.  The Truman Show was almost universally acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, whereas EDtv’s critical reception was lukewarm and its box office takings were atrocious.

Winner: This one’s easy.  It’s a case of good afternoon, good evening and goodnight to EDtv, as The Truman Show is the clear winner.

Saving Private Ryan v The Thin Red Line

Not as good a poster as the one for 'Shaving Ryan's Privates'.

Not as good a poster as the one for ‘Shaving Ryan’s Privates’.

The best damn army of one-eyed soldiers ever.

The best damn army of one-eyed soldiers ever.

Saving Private Ryan   The Thin Red Line
24 July 1998 Release Date 23 September 1998
8.6/10 IMDb Score 7.6/10
90/100 Meta Critic Score 78/100
92% Rotten Tomatoes Score 78%
$70 million Budget $52 million
$216.5 million Box Office Gross (US) $36.4 million
$481.8 million Box Office Gross (World) $98.1 million

In a slight change of pace, 1998 also saw two of the grittiest and most realistic World War II movies to hit the screen, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.  Boasting great ensemble casts lead by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, and Sean Penn and Adrien Brody, the films were bloody, dirty, and painted an intense picture of war.

Both films were critically acclaimed, being nominated for (and winning) a swag of awards, and receiving positive reviews.  However, even though some would argue it was more powerful and pulled less punches, The Thin Red Line received less attention than its counterpart and underachieved at the box office, whereas Saving Private Ryan treated the box office like an enemy soldier and blew it up, raking in almost half a billion dollars world wide.  Perhaps not having a big name director like Spielberg at the helm hurt, or maybe audiences had World War II fatigue by the time it was released.  Either way, when listing the greatest war movies of all time today, Saving Private Ryan is almost mentioned, whereas The Thin Red Line is often overlooked.

Winner: Saving Private Ryan.

Chasing Liberty v First Daughter

"Don't worry - my dad isn't George W."

“Don’t worry – my dad isn’t George W.”

My god.  Even the poster is boring.

My god. Even the poster is boring.

Chasing Liberty   First Daughter
9 January 2004 Release Date 24 September 2004
5.9/10 IMDb Score 4.7/10
46/100 Meta Critic Score 41/100
19% Rotten Tomatoes Score 8%
$23 million Budget $20 million
$12.2 million Box Office Gross (US) $9.1 million
$12.3 million Box Office Gross (World) $10.4 million

Neither gritty, nor realistic, and definitely not a box office success is this pair of flicks.

Chasing Liberty is a film starring Mandy Moore as the daughter of the President of the United States of America.  Sick of the fact that a swarm of secret service agents are constantly watching her, she sees a trip to Europe as a chance to break free and she rebels, falling in love with a handsome stranger.  In a twist I’m sure no one saw coming, it turns out the handsome stranger is in fact a secret service agent.  Who would have thought!

Chasing Liberty was well and truly a flop.  It barely recovered half of its meager $23 million budget, earning $12.2 million dollars in the US and an atrocious $117,697 in foreign revenue.  So what was Hollywood’s response to this epic failure?  To release an exact duplicate later that same year.

Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar.  First Daughter stars Katie Holmes as the daughter of the President of the United States of America.  Sick of the fact that a swarm of secret service agents are constantly watching her, she sees a trip to college as a chance to break free and she rebels, falling in love with a handsome classmate.  I bet you can’t guess the twist.  Yep!  It turns out the handsome classmate is in fact a secret service agent.  How did you know?!

The other thing that First Daughter has in common with Chasing Liberty (which, by the way, had the working title of ‘First Daughter’ until right before its release) is that it bombed in every way possible.  Its Rotten Tomatoes score was a putrid 8%, and it also barely managed to scrape in half its budget.  The people have spoken, and they want Mandy Moore and Katie Holmes out of the White House.  Immediately.  And preferably with extreme prejudice.

Winner: Terrorism.

Killers v Knight and Day

Most critics would've preferred the bullet.

Most critics would’ve preferred the bullet.

Why is this film even called Knight and Day?  The characters' names are Miller and Havens.  Don't they know how movie puns work?!?  Sheesh.

Why is this film even called Knight and Day? The characters’ names are Miller and Havens. Don’t they know how movie puns work?!? Sheesh.

Killers   Knight and Day
4 June 2010 Release Date 23 June 2010
5.2/10 IMDb Score 6.3/10
21/100 Meta Critic Score 46/100
11% Rotten Tomatoes Score 62%
$75 million Budget $117 million
$47.1 million Box Office Gross (US) $76.4 million
$98.2 million Box Office Gross (World) $261.9 million

Released within a couple of weeks of each other, Killers and Knight and Day are action-comedies revolving around a woman falling for a man, only to find that he kills people for a living, and then the couple subsequently having to rely on each other to survive enemy threats.

In fairness, there are some differences.  In Killers, the lead (Ashton Kutcher) is an assassin, while in Knight and Day, Tom Cruise is just a plain ol’ spy.  Also, Kutcher is married to Katherine Heigl for three years before the action really kicks in, whereas Cameron Diaz only just meets Cruise when hell breaks loose.  Still, no one needs to see two movies about a professional tough guy and his unsuspecting love interest traipsing around twice in one year, let alone one month.

Killers was killed by critics, and Knight and Day was seen as decidedly ordinary.  One thing is for sure though: Cruise and Diaz pull audiences a lot better than Kutcher and Heigl do, as evidenced by the stark difference in box office takings.

Winner: Knight and Day, with one shot to the head of Killers, and one to the heart.  That’s just being professional.

K9 v Turner & Hooch

"This guy is dog gone good."

“This guy is dog gone good.”

"I just had this jacket cleaned."

“I just had this jacket cleaned.”

K9   Turner & Hooch
28 April 1989 Release Date 28 July 1989
5.7/10 IMDb Score 5.8/10
-/100 Meta Critic Score -/100
22% Rotten Tomatoes Score 62%
$17 million Budget $20 million
$43.2 million Box Office Gross (US) $71.1 million
$78.2 million Box Office Gross (World) $- million

Released three months apart to the day, K9 and Turner & Hooch are your typical ‘80s buddy cop action comedies with one notable difference: in each film one of the buddy cops is a dog.  That notable difference is what makes these two films a clear example of movie doppelganging.  Two different people suddenly came up with that idea independently at the exact same time?  Puh-lease.

The main variance between the two is that the canine in K9, Jerry Lee, is a drug-sniffer police dog given to Jim Belushi to help him stop a drug warlord who plans on killing him, whereas Hooch is a dog taken in by Tom Hanks after its owner is murdered, Hanks hoping Hooch will help him find the killer.  Otherwise it’s pretty similar stuff: the dogs test their partners’ patience, spend more time getting up to hijinks than helping, but ultimately contribute to saving the day in an adorable manner.

Both films did fairly well at the box office, although K9 clearly had the poorer reviews.

Winner: Turner & Hooch.  When it comes to choosing between Hanks and a Dogue de Bordeaux, and Belushi and a German Shepard, I’m choosing the former.  Although I’d probably choose both over Kutcher and Heigl.  And definitely over the President’s daughter, no matter who was involved.