Bad Teacher and Walk Hard, well... most of those were put aside in favor of this more audience-friendly PG-13 rated effort. Of course... if the budget's large enough, PG-13 has been known to drift into R territory. And, for audiences, maybe that's part of the fun. Maybe they feel like they're getting away with something... oh my God. He's trying to look like J. J. Abrams, isn't he? Well, more power to him. He can do that this weekend, but God help him if he starts a production company that's either a) not good, or b) has anything to do with mechanical contraptions attempting to do the things that humans do much more quickly and fluidly. True, they haven't unionized yet, but they don't need to, frankly. People need weekends and vacations, and time to spend that wonderful money they work for. Speaking of which... I don't know exactly why Mark Wahlberg has to donate his salary to charity for his work on that Ridley Scott film called All the Money in the World. Alas, it's not in the Top 10 this week, and I can't seem to find on Variety's website where exactly it fits in the Top 100, or the global Top 1000. Wahlberg is apparently only donating the money he made off the Spacey-free reshoots of said pic, but frankly everyone's probably going to have to declare this a loss on their taxes. I mean, God bless Ridley Scott and all that. But I think the Variety reviewer is giving Scott and his latest pic faint praise when he compares this to other Marky Mark pics like Patriots Day, which Peter Debruge referred to as "a modestly budgeted movie " that "needs to attach a star like Wahlberg in order to get made." First of all... any collaboration between ultra-manly movie star Mark Wahlberg, and ultra-manly movie director Peter Berg is nothing but a labor of love. Sure, Wahlberg gets millions for it, but it's all about the love. The love of movies in a strictly heterosexual way. And second, this is a Ridley Scott picture we're talking about. It's like a Martin Scorsese picture, post Gangs of New York. Sure, Ridley's picture may have a modest budget, but the prestige is through the roof. Scott's the star here, not Wahlberg. Scorsese's pictures, post Gangs of New York, are not modestly budgeted. Didn't Hugo cost, like, 170 million? Well, we don't know... because the IMDb DOESN'T HAVE BUDGET INFORMATION ANYMORE!!!!!! I have to go to Wikipedia like a shnook to find it! WIKIPEDIA... which reminds me. I need to donate to them, don't I? I believe I said I would, and they did fix that bug they were talking about... nah, not now.
But, then again, this is a writer for Variety we're talking about, and I am just a shnook on the fringes of showbiz, so what do I know? I'll tell you one thing I know. Spielberg's The Post came in second this week. It's been out four weeks and it's only made 23 million dollars domestic... I mean, what can we do about this guy? Doesn't this guy need to have a hit at some point? How have his last five or six pictures done? Have they done well? I mean, let's leave aside his monstrous hits for a second... and Jurassic World. That did pretty well. Any producer would be happy with that one. But isn't that how the industry used to work? Don't you have to have a hit again at some point? I mean, I was browsing around the internets here not too long ago, and I came across this sad anecdote. Submitted for your approval: the biography of one Rob Cohen. Now, normally you'd read that and be hatin' on a guy who went to an Ivy League school, at least until you get to what happened to him in 1973. It says, and I quote, "In 1973, Cohen became Fox's Vice President of TV Movies..." No one knows what happened to him after that, but before it became your favorite news station, Fox was a movie studio, believe it or not.
Anyway, it's all wine and roses... until you get to the part about a movie called Stealth. Apparently, he bet the farm on Stealth, and, well... it didn't work out well for him. He ended up in something called "Hollywood jail." Now, I've been reading about Hollywood on and off for a long time, and I'm pretty sure they're like any other municipality, with public utilities and roads and yes, some sort of law enforcement facilities. But Hollywood jail? Oh well, shows you what I know. But apparently he got some cool tats out of the deal. Maybe he'll try playing for the NBA. If you want to do that these days, you gotta have tats on both arms, minimum. Basically, you need to look like you've got an ink spider on your naked body these days, if you want to be at all cool. You need to be ready to either a) go to jail, or b) join the circus with the tats you get. Sorry... I'm using that construct way too much lately. Anyway, here's some more hyperbole, and this is on the Stealth IMDb Trivia page. I'll copy and paste this one: "The film made $76.9 million, against a budget of $135 million.The $58.1 million loss made it one of the biggest box office bombs of all time." (Fun fact: I copied it from the web site, then pasted it into Notepad, before copying and pasting it into my blog entry! This way, I lose all the messy formatting that can typically come from copying and pasting web text.) Now... first of all, I didn't realize that these trivia sections could be so hyperbolic. Just the facts, please. I mean, don't talk to me about the biggest box office bombs. I know my bombs. Last Action Hero... okay, maybe not a huge bomb, but when it opened in the shadow of the first Jurassic Park, it maybe underperformed a bit. How about The Adventures of Pluto Nash? Huge bomb! 100 million budget, opened in ninth place, something like that. And again, Wikipedia's got the numbers! So, Rob, do the math on this one. 100 million budget, 7.1 million box office. Who's biggest now, b'atch? Or, take Heaven's Gate, for a more classical example. Again, Wikipedia for the numbers. Budget: 44 million. Box Office: 3.5.... million, that is. And this was 1980, when a dollar was actually worth something. Sure, Bezos is worth 105 billion now... but how much of that is stock? And does he do that douche-y thing where he makes only one dollar a year as the CEO of Amazon? Well, DOES he?
Now I'm curious about what they say about Ishtar. Wikipedia says: budget: $51 million, box office $14 million. Apparently, it was #1 the week it opened. Different time. Oh, the things Dustin got away with back then. But you know what? Ishtar was fun to make. Warren was going out with Isabelle Adjani, life was sweet, and it certainly helped them out on their next projects: an Oscar for Dustin for Rain Man, and Warren ended up making Dick Tracy soon after, with Ishtar's lighting cameraman Vittorio Storaro, no less! I think what I'm trying to say to Rob is: whatever lessons you were supposed to learn from your experiences on the movie Stealth, well... you didn't learn them. Just take any royalty checks you get from any and all future installments of Fast and the Furious and BE HAPPY. The people who actually buy tickets to your movies seem to be!
But now it's time to take some time and bemoan my station in life. Oh why oh why can't I be blogging for Huffington Post about the opening bit for this weekend's "Saturday Night Live"? If I were, I'd get to type something like "Bill Murray Appeared as Steve Bannon, And I Was Happy. Click Link to Read." But I will admit that some of the old anger bubbled up a bit! But only briefly, and then I sat back to just soak it all in. I will say this, however: whoever gets credit for starting the whole Rosie O'Donnell as Steve Bannon movement must not have been happy! And if they were, well... THEY DON'T DESERVE TO BE! That's my big complaint about the movie Julie & Julia, because Julie was watching that SNL bit where Dan Aykroyd does an impression of Julia Child... AND SHE WAS LAUGHING!!!! No. You don't get to laugh at that. Contrast that with that scene from Billy Crystal's Mr. Saturday Night that I believe I've referenced at least once already. Again, well on my way to becoming a dottering old fool. But we see Buddy Young's brother and wife watching TV. They're watching Sid Caesar, and they're laughing. I mean, that's Sid Caesar for you. He was the man back then! He was on TV and he was actually funny... not like Milton Berle, who was just on TV because he knew it was important. No, Sid was and still is a comic genius, and Buddy Young's brother and wife are watching and laughing... and then we pan over to Buddy Young himself (Billy Crystal) NOT laughing. A lot. Quite the opposite. If there's a more honest scene about showbiz rivalries, I don't want to know about it... actually, I do, because I'm still pretty sure that one doesn't exist.
...man, something's going on with me! I must feel like typing again! No, I know what it is. Well, we're going through some changes here in the household, and I'm finally out of my mother's basement and I've got a desktop computer in my room now! With internet access! However... and this is a big however... the modem is in the other room, a bedroom, and it's apparently on 24 hours a day. Now one of these is going to get tired at some point: either a) the modem, or b) the resident who has to look at those blinking lights all night. One of them is going to file a complaint soon, and I hope it's not the modem. Fortunately, it seems to be well ventilated. When you're addicted to the internet, you need it as uncut as possible.
Anyway, back to the movies. I actually did want to say something about Liam Neeson. I don't get to watch all his stuff... frankly, there's too much of it. But he did drop a bombshell recently on Colbert: he's going to be in "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"! In a bowler hat, no less! The IMDb ain't got it yet, tee hee hee... Of course, through the first Darkman he was already tangentially connected to the Coens, and they were probably thinking about a project for him. They always say that about certain actors, that they had a project in mind for them. Not Marlon Brando, though. Too temperamental, to put it kindly. Hence their corner of the sandbox, with its rigidly defined borders. Did anyone else notice this? Take a look at the poster for Liam's latest and greatest, The Commuter. Now look at the poster for the first Taken movie. Similar much? I'm telling you, for those two posters alone he ought to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But I will say this about this new movie called The Commuter, which I believe reunites Liam with director Jaume Collet-Serra on a little movie called Unknown... hmm! Now look at the poster for that! Third one's a spanking, if memory serves. But I will still try to say this about that Commuter movie, and it's about the part where the train's going around a corner and almost comes off the track. CGI much? Bear in mind, National Imagemakers, I live near where that train recently plummeted to Earth in Olympia, Washington. I can still see the bridge graffiti in my mind even now... what did it say? Lab rat, maybe? Memory's not serving now. Better get to bed. But before I do, there's a gentle rapping at my door. Probably the cat.
The only other debuts this week are Paddington 2 and something called Proud Mary, which is about Taraji P. Henson doing a project in between seasons of "Empire." I mean... she's still on that show, right? Keep on boinin', grrlfriend! Stay ahead of that big wheel.