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Five ways to avoid making a box office bomb

1 Sep

Five ways to avoid making a box office bomb
Johnny Depp and Arnie Hammer try to hide from bad reviews for The Lone Ranger (Picture: Disney Enterprises)

With news that The Lone Ranger is on course to become the biggest box office flop of all time, it’s a small wonder that the Hollywood money men haven’t come up with some ingenious formula to ensure that they won’t have to forego their next power lunch at The Polo Lounge.

Well, Mssrs Weinstein et al can rest easy, because I’ve cracked it for them.

Here follows the five hard and fast rules that will ensure those less than savvy execs avoid costing their studio yet another hundred million dollars.  Pay attention, because here comes the science.

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Tony Scott: The Last Boy Scout

20 Aug


Tony Scott was a maverick.  His films were frenetic and full of bristling kinetic energy and unbridled action.  Critical acclaim often eluded him despite directing genre defining classics such as Top Gun (one of my favourite films and the inspiration for this blog), True Romance and the brilliant The Last Boy Scout.

He blazed a trail for the action thriller and collaborated with some of the greatest names in cinematic history: brother Ridley, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman and famously five-time collaborator/muse Denzel Washington.  His films were raw, hectic, relentless and yes sometimes flawed, but they were undeniably Tony Scott films.

His influence is far reaching, he’s been oft imitated but rarely matched and it’s unlikely we’ll see his likes again.

For Maverick, Goose, Joe Hallenbeck & Jimmy Dix, Alabama Whitman and Drexel Spivey I salute you…


26 Jul

Now TV

No sooner has US movie giant Netflix arrived in the UK and pissed all over Amazon’s LoveFilm scented bonfire than veritable broadcasting behemoth Sky enters the fray with the launch of the much vaunted NOW TV.

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15 May

Dark Shadows

Retreating into dark shadows and having a private but very audible sob was my reaction to watching the trailer for Tim Burton’s latest catastrophe. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter have shown Burton unrivalled loyalty in recent years (one senses they’re in on some sort of terribly unfunny joke) as he slowly undoes any of the good will that his early work may have garnered with clangers following swiftly on from stinkers. The fact that Dark Shadows shows little sign of breaking that run means that save for Corpse Bride, Burton hasn’t made a good film since Mars Attacks in 1996 and even that was iffy at times.

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1 May


UK film fans Assemble! Despite sporting the worst film title in recent memory, Avengers Assemble hits our screens this weekend and will do phenomenal business. Genre geeks will fuel the numbers given that both 3D and 2D versions are on offer, but Joss Whedon also lends the pic crossover appeal that will draw filmgoers regardless of whether they’ve seen Thor, Iron Man et al. Whedon’s pic pits our heroic troupe against intergalactic mischief-maker Loki who is seemingly intent on taking over the world (now where have I heard that one before?) and as expected explosive havoc reigns. Yet pithy bickering and a razor-sharp script ensure that this is superior to much of what has come before.

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9 Apr

titanic 1997 1

Going up against James Cameron’s seemingly indestructible Titanic (in 3D no less) at the box office this Easter weekend is an eclectic selection of foreign fare. Jo Nesbo’s deliciously dark thriller Headhunters leads the way, ably supported by French classic and the first foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture La Grande Illusion and fellow gallic offering Le Havre. If three dimensions or reading subtitles sounds like too much of a stretch, then fairy tale fluff Mirror Mirror offers respite (and ridiculous eyebrows).

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2 Apr

IntoTheAbyss poster

Documentaries are now the most powerful form of investigative journalism according to Robert Redford. Musing on the decline in moral standards of the newspaper industry, Redford maintained that the documentary had come to the fore and taken the lead in delivering hard-hitting, agenda setting change. Fortuitously perhaps, Redford’s comments came in the same week as three very different documentaries received their bows at the UK box office. Iran’s This is Not a Film, Werner Herzog’s death row opus Into the Abyss and Jon Shenk’s The Island President are an eclectic credit to the genre and a timely reminder that the documentary has never been more important. Away from real life we’re treated to a claymation piratic Hugh Grant, a 3D dance off and titans wrathing it to the max.

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23 Mar

Hunger Poster

With The Hunger Games set to devour all comers at the box office this weekend, alternatives are few and far between. However, the post awards season malaise seems to have subsided and fare is of a markedly higher quality, albeit thin on the ground. If the child murder premise of said hunger games isn’t your bag, then Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut Wild Bill, US Navy Seal propaganda pic Act of Valour and intimate Belgian fable The Kid with a Bike round out an eclectic line up.

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12 Mar


Last week’s dire double-header of This Means War and Project X had critics sharpening their literary knives in preparation for this week’s headliner John Carter. Certain to prove as divisive as a very hot knife through incredibly soft butter, this Mars (ahem, I meant Barsoom) set sci-fi epic, takes top billing in what is once again a week of questionable quality. Elsewhere, Sean Bean kidney punches hookers and murders terrorists, a hirsute John Cusack tracks a serial killer, R Patz shags his way around Paris and Michael Winterbottom transports Thomas Hardy to Rajasthan.

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Robert Redford’s Sundance Festival lands in London

9 Mar

Sundance London logo

Erstwhile reserve of Robert Redford and his Park City, Utah chums, the Sundance Film Festival broadens its horizons by landing at the cultural vacuum that is the O2 arena for four heady days at the end of April.

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