‘Aquaman’ Is King With $67m As Christmas Delivers A Mixed Bag Of Presents: Box Office Report

Written by Dapo Olowu

Father Christmas was in a giving mood in the penultimate Box Office weekend of the year, gifting our seven new releases a combined gross of $125.7m between Friday and Sunday.

Half went to ‘Aquaman’, the film which sees Warner Bros swim further into the shores of the DCEU. Its first 3 days earned them $67.4m – by far the lowest in the franchise so far, but simultaneously the 9th biggest December opening of all time.

It’s a start both unspectacular but impressive; while ‘Aquaman’ may have been expected to open bigger without the looming figure of a ‘Star Wars’ movie in December (it’s the first time since 2014 that we haven’t had one at Christmas), the DCEU suffered a near-fatal blow last year with critical and commercial flop ‘Justice League’. Audiences, it seems, were being cautious.

Those who took the risk liked what they saw from the James Wan blockbuster. It’s A- on Cinemascore is only bettered by ‘Wonder Woman’ in the DCEU, whose 4x opening weekend multiplier (achievable over the winter break) would land ‘Aquaman’ with a commanding $270m domestic total. Coupled with an ever-impressive overseas total – which is currently on $410.7m after a $91.3m weekend – and its okay start this weekend will be long forgotten in the next few weeks.

It was a closer-than-expected affair between Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ ($23.5m) and Paramount’s ‘Bumblebee’ ($21.6m), as both remained rooted in ‘Aquaman’s shadow. Both studios will be a little disappointed by the performances thus far, as heavy competition from ‘Aquaman’, and a slew of family-friendly releases (‘The Nutcracker’, for one) caused either one or the other to deliver under forecasts.

All isn’t lost, however. Nothing stops both films from really breaking out in the upcoming weeks and months and having special Box Office performances to wipe away any doubts, especially as both benefit from an A- on Cinemascore – a mark of strong praise.

Last Christmas saw ‘Jumanji’ open to just $36.2m, only to end on a whopping $404.5m, and ‘The Greatest Showman’ start at a poor $8.8m on its way to earning $174.3m. Even ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ opened to $19.9m, only to finish on $104.9m, meaning the festive period and beyond provides perfect fodder for highly-rated movies with low-ish openings.  Only ‘Vice’ and ‘Holmes and Watson’ provide any real competition until ‘Glass’ on January 18th, so both films can look to stretch their legs in the coming weeks.

Internationally, ‘Bumblebee’ will be pleased to have earned $31.1m from 38 markets (not including China) for a $52.7m opening, while ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ made $20.3m from 17 countries, including $9.4m from the U.K.

The less said about both ‘Second Act’ and ‘Welcome to Marwen’ the better. The former, fronted by Jennifer Lopez and produced by STX, floundered at the Box Office, earning $6.5m off of a $16m budget. Perhaps a case of a poor release date, the film will now struggle to claw back its budget in coming weeks. Still, it’s nothing compared to ‘Welcome to Marwen’, who somehow did worse than our pessimistic expectations of $4.3m with just $2.4m for 9th place.

Finally, it was a close-call between ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ and ‘The Favourite’ for 10th spot. Both award-hopeful royalty-focused period-dramas were practically tied coming into Sunday night, with ‘Mary’ just edging the fight with $2.3m, versus ‘The Favourite’s $2.1m.

The Christmas competition didn’t disappoint, and the big day itself sees ‘Vice’ and ‘Holmes and Watson’ enter wide to add more fun to the mix. How will the two fair against the competition? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

Untitled

 *includes gross from Amazon previews

**includes gross from Wednesday onwards

 

 

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REVIEW: Bumblebee (2018)

Directed by: Travis Knight
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux, John Cena, Angela Bassett

Written by Dave Curtis

Let’s be honest, Transformer fans haven’t had an easy ride with movie adaptions. Back in 1986 during Transformers: The Animated Movieevery child’s favourite Autobot Optimus Prime was unexpectedly killed off. In 2007 Michael Bay unleashed the first (and best) of the live action films. What came next were 4 sequels all declining in quality. All were filled with giant explosions and very loud noises, but what they all lacked were any real cohesive storylines.  Frankly, they made no sense, it was all just crash, bang wallop. It was Paramount’s cash cow. Eventually, the cow ran dry and it was announced that the next film in the series would be a prequel/reboot of sorts centred around Bumblebee; the once little VW beetle but now a flashy Camaro getting his own spinoff movie. The fan reaction was mixed at best, but when it was announced that the film wouldn’t be directed by Michael Bay but by the exciting talent of Travis Knight (director of ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’), it gave new hope to a stagnating franchise.

Bumblebee begins right in the middle of a brutal battle in the last days of Cybertron. The Autobots are on the back foot. Optimus Prime (still voiced by Peter Cullen) sends Bumblebee to earth to escape and maybe set up base for the future survival of the alien race. On arriving at Earth he quickly runs into trouble with the army (John Cena) and he is also being pursued by two Decepticons, Dropkick and Shatter (Justin Theroux and Angela Bassett). Badly damaged, he goes into hiding where Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finds the damaged beetle in a junkyard and takes him home.

Whereas Michael Bay thought bigger was better, the Travis Knight approach is a much more refined affair. The focus is not so much on the set pieces but on Charlie’s relationship with her new car. His decision to scale back on the number of the Transformers works wonders. It is not stuffed full of mindless action which might have been fun the first time around but quickly got tedious five movies in. Bumblebee very much uses its executive producer’s Steven Spielberg blueprint of movie making. Imagine E.T but with a giant transforming car and you are halfway there. It is full of Spielberg troupes like being set in a small rural town and a missing father figure. This kind of treatment may sound like a less of a spectacular but it helps drive the plot forward to a more grounded and enjoyable film.

The cast are all excellent in their own way. Hailee Steinfeld carries on from her fine performance from Edge of Seventeen. Her performance doesn’t get overshadowed by her CGI counterpart. This is her film. John Cena as Agent Burns chews up every line for fun. He knows what kind of movie this is and he doesn’t pull back from it.

Setting the film in 1987 lends itself well to the film, the era which the original cartoon first appeared helps capture the spirit. The 80’s soundtrack helps create a bridge between the character and the script and the history and era Transformers first came popular in. Knight’s decision to return Bumblebee to his original form (Bay wasn’t a fan) will please the fans.

Christina Hodson’s smartly written script doesn’t get bogged down in any mythical madness. It is pretty simple that it doesn’t try and squeeze too much out of a wafer-thin idea. It also benefits from a reasonable runtime. Where Bay’s films were over two and a half hours (sometimes pushing 3) Bumblebee is just under 2 and it zips along nicely. The action scenes don’t over stay their welcome and the characters are actually more than just eye candy (sorry Megan Fox).

Bumblebee is a vast improvement compared to its predecessors. It’s not all about giant fight scenes with loud noises. Gone are the muddled storylines and useless MacGuffins. This is a story with real heart and it actually makes sense. The central relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee are key and the main focus of the movie, and Travis Knight doesn’t let that get away from you. As Bernie Mac says in the first Transformers film “A driver don’t pick the car. Cars pick the driver. It’s a mystical bond between man and machine.” In this case, the car picked the right driver. Finally, Transformers fans have reasons to be happy and look to the future. Autobots roll out!

 

DAVE’S VERDICT:

3-5

It’s Time To Fight Back In The Brand New ‘Bumblebee’ Trailer

“On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.”

Directed by: Travis Knight

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Martin Short, Peter Cullen

Release Date: December 26th, 2018

First Teaser Trailer For ‘Transformers’ Spin-Off ‘Bumblebee’ Has Arrived!

“On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.”

Directed by: Travis Knight

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Martin Short, Peter Cullen,

Release Date: December 26th, 2018

The Odysseys 2017: 2017 Retrospective

As we begin to get things underway for our annual awards event, The Odysseys, we’ve created a little something to remind you of just some of the films to grace our cinema screens this year, and also a possible look at films you’ll likely see mentioned in this year’s awards show.

Please feel free to share, leave feedback, and enjoy our 2017 retrospective!

More details about The Odysseys, including public nominations and upload date, will be available soon… 

John Cena Joins ‘Bumblebee’ Spin-Off Which Arrives December 2018

Production on the first spin-off from the ‘Transformers’ franchise, ‘Bumblebee’, began today and THR have exclusively revealed that John Cena will play the lead role, alongside Hailee Steinfeld. Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) is directing this spin-off, with Michael Bay attached as a producer and Steven Spielberg signed on as an executive producer.

The only details we know of the film so far are as follows:

“‘Bumblebee’ will be set in 1987, where we find Bumblebee refuged in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.  When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.”

Other confirmed members of the cast include Pamela Adlon, Gracie Dzienny, Abby Quinn, Ricardo Hoys, and Jason Drucker.

We now also know that Bumblebee will go toe-to-toe with ‘Aquaman’ in cinemas, as both release on the 21st December 2018.

 

 

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

Year: 2017
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael

Written by Corey Hughes

Whether you love it or hate it, franchising has become a fundamental influence on Hollywood’s success in film today. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the Fast and Furious series, movie franchises come in many shapes and sizes. Yet despite an overwhelming consensus of negative reviews from critics, the Transformers franchise is one that refuses to die down.

And why should it? With Michael Bay’s retail-toy adaptations being as lucrative as they are, Bay wipes the tears of negative criticism with $100 dollar bills. But with ‘The Last Knight’ reputedly being the final one to be directed by Bay, (fingers crossed), is there a possibility that the fifth film will defy all odds?

Nope.

Summarising a synopsis for ‘The Last Knight’ is as useful as a eunuch in a brothel. As the film begins, we are thrown back into the ‘dark ages’ of England, where King Arthur and the Vikings are at war. With the battle against Arthur and his men, the king seeks out the magic of Merlin (Stanley Tucci’s second outing in the franchise) to tip the balance of war in his favour. 1600 years later, the fate of the human race relies entirely on the discovery of Merlin’s magical staff. Blah, blah, blah; if you’re really into the plot at this point, then all credit to you.

This boils down to what I believe is Michael Bay’s biggest flaw as a filmmaker. Barring his over reliance on slow-motioned, explosive and debris-propelling action, he is entirely incompetent at telling a coherent and engaging story. His films, especially his treasured Transformers flicks, are told exclusively through these grand, spectacular action set pieces. Narrative, for Bay, seems secondary; a grout to fill in the gaps. The action, nonetheless, does look spectacularly convincing. The use of CGI, especially for the appearance and movement of the Transformers, is unparalleled in its presentation.

With the story being as convoluted as it is here, with multiple sub-plots in play, the film is desperately calling out for strong performances, but there’s none to be seen here. Although new arrival Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the crude, but whimsical old Brit is amusing, it’s Wahlberg’s ‘The Happening’-esque wooden performance that will have you shaking your head in disbelief. Yet that’s the least of the film’s problems. ‘The Last Knight’ establishes no sense of continuity from its predecessor and with the onslaught of new characters being vomited onto the screen, Bay and co. are discouraging their viewers to invest in the characters and the conflict that they find themselves in. Even the on-screen relationship between Wahlberg’s Cade and Laura Haddock’s highly-educated and snobby Vivian Wembley seems forced, with no eye for attention being invested in their developing attraction. It’s sloppy, unconvincing, and if we didn’t care about the film before, we surely don’t now.

In the end, this fifth outing for the Transformers franchise regrettably ticks all the boxes for a totally unforgettable Michael Bay action flick. Hot girl? Check. Unforgivable product placement? Check. Flat-lined humour with a paper-thin story? Check. Resisting the urge to pluck your eyes out from their sockets? Check.

On a more light-hearted note, I’ve created a new drinking game for ‘The Last Knight’: take a shot every time Optimus Prime declares, “I am Optimus Prime!” That way, by the time the final credits roll, you’ll be absolutely shit-faced. It’s by far the only way you’re going to enjoy this one.

Corey’s rating: 3.5 out of 10

 

Take A Look At The Brand New Transformers The Last Knight Motion Posters

Love them or hate them, the Transformers are back this year in what Michael Bay assures fans is his last ‘Transformers’ film (Like we haven’t heard that one before!).

Bay took to Twitter earlier today to share these brand new motion posters of the Transformers, which includes Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Barricade,, Hound, , Hot Rod, and of course Megatron! New additions to the franchise are Sqweeks and Cogman, who we get our first good look at in their motion posters. 

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The Transformers: The Last Knight Extended Super Bowl TV Spot Is Very Michael Bay

Transformers, possibly the most critic proof franchise in film history, returns in 2017 with its fifth instalment – The Last Knight. I could spend my time musing over how that happened, but I have to confess to being, in my own tiny way, responsible having seen the last two in the cinema. In my defence, I was being a good friend & accompanying someone who loves Transformers (though not these films). We keep going in the hope that one day one of these films will turn out to be amazing.

What we get in this brief trailer is essentially a checklist of things you’d expect to see in a Michael Bay film – explosions, helicopters flying in formation, super slow motion, a glimpse of the US flag, soldiers. It all looks good – all of these films look good – but films need to do more than look good and that is where the Transformers films fall down. This trailer isn’t giving much away in terms of the plot – in fact it doesn’t really give us anything more than the last trailer, which seems a bit pointless to me.

Being a good friend I will probably end up seeing this at the cinema, so blame me when the inevitable sixth film arrives!

Written by Emma Ditchburn