Weekly Roundup: Batfleck lives on, ‘The Jungle Book’ lands, CinemaCon turns heads.

Welcome to the Weekly Movie Roundup, something I’ll post every Wednesday that looks at the week in movie news/rumors and previews the weekend at the box office, with some fun stuff mixed in.

April 13th

News/Buzz

Ben Affleck officially doing a solo Batman film, and other superhero rumblings.

Warner Bros boss Kevin Tusjihara confirmed at CinemaCon this week what has long been rumored/prayed for by fans. Ben Affleck will star in and direct a solo Batman movie. This seems like an easy decision for the studio, as recent tentpole Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a moderate disaster (critics AND fans are killing it, while its second week drop-off implies it’s unlikely to hit a billion worldwide, which would be quite a disappointment based on early tracking and how much Warners sunk into it). While many harsh words have been said about the film, most fans did at least seem to react positively to Affleck as Batman. Warners also put together a clip that teased images from Wonder Woman and the upcoming Justice League movie. It’s clear that the studio is still going all in with this DC Extended Universe.

In other superhero news:

The upcoming Spider-Man movie, joint produced by Marvel Studios and Sony, officially has a title with Spider-Man: Homecoming. That title, the word art, and the looks of Spidey’s costume in Captain America: Civil War have most fans expecting a more old-school (but still youthful) vibe from the film. While nothing has officially been announced there are SUBSTANSIAL rumors that the villain in the film will be Vulture.

Elsewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directors Joe and Anthony Russo said that Star-Lord (Chris Pratt’s Guardians of the Galaxy character) will be in the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. The studio also said to look for more casting announcements in regards to Black Panther and Captain Marvel in the near future.

Studios tease big things at CinemaCon in Vegas.

This year’s CinemaCon went down/is currently going down this week in Vegas. Studios use this event to show off upcoming releases and celebrate the idea of going to the movies. On top of its DC Comics stuff, Warner Bros made early waves by giving an extended look at Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Harry Potter “spinoff”. Other highly anticipated films from the studio slated for 2016 that got extended previews include the horror sequel The Conjuring 2, Emilia Clarke’s Me Before You, and Kevin Hart/Dwayne Johnson’s Central Intelligence. The studio also introduced its new animation division WAG (Warners Animation Group), which is working on a sequel to The LEGO Movie.

While Paramount previewed a few big(ish) movies (Ben-Hur, Baywatch, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows), the studio sparked discussion based on what it DIDN’T mention. There was nothing on Star Trek Beyond, which comes out this summer. Weird. The studio did ignite some buzz though by teasing Vin Diesel’s xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and giving an extended look at acclaimed director Dennis Villeneuve’s The Story of Your Life, the latter of which could emerge as an awards contender this year. The studio also showed off some major star power by talking about Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher sequel and Denzel Washington’s Fences.

STX Entertainment, a newish Hollywood power, isn’t showing any hesitation. The company has dedicated itself to producing mid-budget films that often get left on the backburner by major studios that prefer gigantic tentpoles or cheap-to-make comedies/horror movies from a profit perspective. The company announced a yet-to-be-titled Sylvester Stallone movie, while also previewing some of its 2016 releases. Matthew McConaughey’s Civil War drama Free State of Jones, Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner, raunchy comedy Bad Moms, to name a few.

Sony Pictures previewed Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a satirical war film that’s already being called an innovative achievement based on the SUPER high frame rate Lee used to shoot it. Sony hopes it becomes an awards favorite. Bringing out both stars (Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt), the studio previewed Passengers, a sci-fi romance epic they hope will become a gigantic hit AND an awards favorite. It’s slated for December 21st, which is only one week after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Ghostbusters team came out to preview the film in more detail; and Sony gave a quick look at The Magnificent Seven, a Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt starring remake of the classic western.

Disney, Universal, Fox, and Lionsgate are all slated to give presentations at CinemaCon Wednesday and Thursday so they did not make into this week’s report.

Other Quick Bullet-Point News

  • The Tribeca Film Festival is underway, I think.
  • The MTV Awards happened, I think.
  • It’s been confirmed that Harrison Ford will be the ONLY actor to play Indiana Jones from this point on.
  • Tessa Thompson (Creed) has joined Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Sticking with Marvel (as is life), the first trailer for Doctor Strange just premiered on Jimmy Kimmel.
  • Mark Rylance, who won as Oscar for working with Spielberg on Bridge of Spies and who stars in Spielberg’s The BFG this year, will re-team with the legendary director for The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in 2017. Rylance is also going to be in Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
  • Disney is already moving forward with plans for The Jungle Book 2, with director Jon Favreau slated to return.

What I hate this week.

I hate everyone, really. The MINUTE we got the first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story there was an influx of speculation as to who is who and how/if they’re related to Rey. I understand that fanboys are gonna fanboy. Star Wars in specific brings with it a ton of speculation due to both its popularity and reliance on genetic secrets with tis characters. But c’mon. It’s gotten to the point where JJ Abrams, Daisy Ridley, and Rian Johnson (Episode VIII director) have to comment on it every single time they speak. To make matters worse, major internet outlets like HitFix (ewwwww) are buying into it (clickbait, yo).

I love everything about Star Wars, probably more than you do. Am I weird because I just want to enjoy movies without knowing everything about every character in advance? And here’s the thing, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is its own entity and for the movies moving forward nothing that happened in any of the countless books and other mediums matters. So whatever info you think you have to fuel your fan theory, it’s not real info.

Opening This Week

It looks to be a decent April weekend as Disney’s The Jungle Book will open. The film, which is receiving FANTASTIC reviews, opened overseas last week to exciting results and should beat $70M in the states. Given its overseas appeal and word-of-mouth buzz, this could be a film that eventually ends up crossing a billion. It will certainly eat into the takes of Batman v Superman and Melissa McCarthy’s The Boss, both of which are obviously making some money but have disappointed given expectations.

Barbershop: The Next Cut will open and it has a chance to surprise some folks, methinks. Internet buzz is significant and it’s selling itself as both a reboot and sequel of sorts (which has helped recent movies). Early reviews are solid and Ice Cube has been promoting the movie hard. $30M is a real possibility. Warner Bros appears to have a nice little hit on their hands. There’s very little global appeal for this film, but we’ve seen Barbershop entries go on to total over $70M in the states alone.

Summit Entrainment looks poised to take a loss with the Kevin Costner/Gary Oldman thriller Criminal. Reviews are dreadful, the company has basically given up promoting it, and it’s hard to identify a clear audience for this movie. It’ll be lucky to do $10M, though Kevin Costner generally can get anything into double digits.

A24 Films will give the critically acclaimed thriller Green Room a limited release this week before opening it up wider at the end of the month. Could be a surprise hit.

Domestic Weekend Predictions (The Seven):

  1. The Jungle Book (opening) – $74M
  2. Barbershop: The Next Cut (opening) – $31M
  3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3rd week) – $13M
  4. The Boss (2nd week) – $11M
  5. Zootopia (6th week) – $9.8M
  6. Criminal (opening) – $8.1M
  7. Hardcore Henry (2nd week) – $2.6M

Opening next week: Elvis & Nixon, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Meddler (limited), Nina (limited)

Arbitrary Ranking of the Week

Leonardo DiCaprio performances, ranked:

  1. The Departed
  2. Django Unchained
  3. Revolutionary Road
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Shutter Island
  6. The Aviator
  7. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Parting Quote

“I don’t mind that I’m fat. You still get the same money.” – Marlon Brando.

 

 

 

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