Friday, March 29, 2013

Forecast: 'G.I. Joe' Sequel Set to Rock Easter Weekend

Billed as "the first blockbuster of the year," G.I. Joe: Retaliation should deliver one of the highest Easter openings ever this weekend. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation hit The Croods will likely take second place ahead of other newcomers The Host and Tyler Perry's Temptation.

Opening at 3,719 locations—and with $2.2 million in the bank already from Wednesday night showings—G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the follow-up to 2009 hit G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. After Paramount/Hasbro scored with the first Transformers movie in 2007, they decided to move forward with bringing the popular G.I. Joe toys to the big screen as well; while Cobra didn't come close to matching Transformers, it still earned a solid $150.2 million domestically and another $152 million overseas. Unfortunately, it was largely reviled by audiences, and currently has an atrocious 5.7 rating on IMDb (really, really low for a genre movie like this).

In a tacit acknowledgement of how disappointing the first movie was, producers did a major revamp for the sequel. Stars from that movie like Dennis Quaid, Marlon Wayans and Sienna Miller weren't brought back, while Channing Tatum took on a much smaller role. Meanwhile, big name action stars The Rock and Bruce Willis were brought on board, and director Jon Chu was hired to replace Stephen Sommers.

Retaliation was originally scheduled for June 2012, and Paramount even went so far as to buy a pricey commercial spot during the 2012 Super Bowl. However, around five weeks ahead of release—and right after Hasbro's Battleship bombed—Paramount abruptly decided to push Retaliation back to March 2013 in order to post-convert the movie to 3D and to add in more scenes with Channing Tatum, whose star power had increased coming off The Vow and 21 Jump Street.

If the delay might suggest a lack of confidence in the product, Paramount sure isn't showing it with their marketing effort: as alluded to earlier, they've gone all out to position Retaliation as the first major event movie of the year (I guess they forgot Oz opened to nearly $80 million a few weeks ago?). The ubiquitous advertisements pack a lot of story in: they raise the stakes with the destruction of London, and give the movie an appealing renegade attitude with the disavowing of the Joes. Commercials have also emphasized the presence of The Rock and Channing Tatum, though surprisingly some of them ignore Bruce Willis.

The first G.I. Joe movie opened to $54.7 million; combine that movie's poor reputation with unexpectedly strong competition from Olympus Has Fallen and it could be tough for Retaliation to match that figure in its first four days. Paramount is expecting a modest $40 million, which would be slightly disappointment. Retaliation is also opening in 75 percent of foreign markets this weekend—including major territories Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Spain, and the U.K.—and Paramount is anticipating around $40 million there as well.

While G.I. Joe is the obvious front-runner, two other interesting movies are also opening nationwide this weekend. The first of those is The Host, a sci-fi romance that Open Road Films is releasing at 3,202 locations this weekend.

After wrapping up with the Twilight series, author Stephanie Meyer tried her hand at sci-fi with The Host, which was published in 2008. The book sold tons of copies, but the reactions were generally lukewarm, and sequels have yet to be released.

As Beautiful Creatures proved last month, it's increasingly difficult to replicate the success of Twilight or The Hunger Games (or even modest young-adult hits like Percy Jackson & The Olympians). Obviously, there is an established fan base for these works, but reaching outside of that base is difficult, and The Host's campaign hasn't really addressed the uninitiated in any significant way. Distributor Open Road is hoping to open to at least $11 to $12 million; that's a very reasonable level, though cracking $20 million looks unreachable.

Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
marks the fourth time that distributor Lionsgate has released a Tyler Perry movie at Easter. The first three—Madea's Big Happy Family, Why Did I Get Married Too? and Meet the Browns—all opened between $20 and $30 million, which is a fairly standard level for Perry movies.

Temptation is at a slight disadvantage, though, because of its heavy infidelity subject matter: Perry's most successful outings have been light comedies, and more dramatic work like For Colored Girls and Good Deeds opened below $20 million. That's likely going to be the case with Temptation as well; Lionsgate is expecting mid-teen-millions.

Focus Features is releasing Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines in to four theaters in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. With good reviews and an impressive cast that includes Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, the movie should earn at least $50,000 per-theater this weekend, and Focus Features will likely push the movie towards nationwide release through April.

Forecast (March 29-31)
1. G.I. Joe: Retaliation - $37.3 million ($48.4 million four-day)
2. The Croods - $27.1 million (-38%)
3. Temptation - $18.1 million
4. Olympus Has Fallen - $17.9 million (-41%)
5. The Host - $14.4 million
6. Oz - $11.9 million (-45%)

Bar for Success
The first G.I. Joe grossed $54.7 million in three days, and with an improved cast the sequel really ought to be grossing $50 million through its first four days. With a huge release and an established fanbase, The Host should be getting to high-teen-millions at least, while Temptation is fine if it starts over $15 million.

Christian Movie Connect Episode 65 - Bill Muir

Best-selling author, director and producer, Bill Muir, is the President and CEO of Methinx Entertainment, a studio, production, distribution and publishing company with the vision of creating family-oriented films that are especially attractive to children and teens while positively influencing the entire culture. In addition to being an international award-winning film maker, Bill is a popular speaker and a sought-after consultant. For 30 years, one of Bill’s greatest passions has been working with children and as a foster parent along with his wife, he has greatly enjoyed creating an environment of warmth and love for children to grow in. His novels, “The Lost Medallion” and “A Hidden Treasure” particularly appeal to children and teens to help them find their true identity and purpose in life.

In this interview, Muir talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about his new film, The Lost Medallion and its influence to help children find their identity in God.

“The Lost Medallion” is the story of a man who stops into a foster home to drop off some donations then soon tells the kids a story about two teenage friends who uncover a long-lost medallion that transports them back in time

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not Today - Official Trailer [HD]

“Not Today” Digs Deeper on India’s Human Trafficking, Sex


From Friends Media, a ministry of Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California, comes a film that aims to open the eyes of millions of viewers on the plight of the outcast Dalit people in India and the country’s thriving sex trade. “Not Today,” a faith-based film that will zero in on human trafficking and sex slavery, will hit U.S. theaters on April 12.

Cody Longo of the “Hollywood Heights,” “Fame,” and “Make It or Break It” leads the film’s cast. Other members of the cast include John Schneider (October Baby, Smallville, The Dukes of Hazzard), Shari Rigby (October Baby, The Bold and the Beautiful) and Cassie Scerbo (Make It or Break It, Hot in Cleveland). The film also stars Walid Amini and Persis Karen.

In “Not Today,” Caden Welles (Longo) is a happy-go-lucky son who exploits the wealth of his father by living an extravagant life. The film’s twist starts when Caden, who is on a party spree at India’s Hyderabad, refused to help Kiran (Amini) and his little girl Annika (Karen). Bothered by his conscience, Caden attempted to right his wrong only to discover that Kiran has been forced to sell his own daughter. Realizing the thriving human trafficking trade as he draws into the world of the outcast Dalits in India, Caden, spurred by his life’s new purpose, chooses to help Kiran to find his daughter and save her from the world of sex slavery.

“Not Today” is the directorial and writing debut of Jon Van Dyke, who has been in the film and television industry for over two decades. Mathew Cork, the Executive Producer of "Not Today," is the lead pastor of Friends Church of Yorba Linda. The 100-year-old congregation, in partnership with the Dalit Freedom Network, has committed to build 200 schools, worth about $20 million, to educate the Dalit children in India.

"Not Today" has been a recipient of various awards in 2012 including Best Picture in the Dixie Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature in the Pan Pacific Film Festival, Redemptive Storyteller in the Redemptive Film Festival while Persis Karen, the child who plays the role of Annika, was adjudged Best Performance by an Actress at the Monaco Charity Film Festival.

Aside from being prone to human trafficking and sex slavery, Cork says the outcast Dalits in India has been used and abused and gets neither education nor protection from law enforcement and justice. “For centuries Dalits, the ‘lowest of the low,’ have grown up believing they are less than animals,” says Cork.

"Gripping," "Informative," "Heartbreaking," and "Informative" were just among the typical audience responses to "Not Today" during the film’s advance screening held at the 2012 Urbana Student Missions Conference in St. Louis. The movie is expected to conquer the hearts of moviegoers and inspire them to do their share to shun sex slavery. “Not Today” will be shown in 20 major cities across United States such as in Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, San Francisco, among many others


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

What I’m going to write about in today’s blog will come as no surprise to any of you. No great insight or revelations. And I’m sure most of you will agree with the overall concept.

Today, we no longer live in a word-based society. We have transformed into an image-based society over the last few decades, and this has enormous implications for all of us. The world we live in today focuses on the headlines, the sound bite, and, at best, perhaps a paragraph. You remember the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words?, Perhaps today a picture is worth 10,000, 20,000 or 100,000 words. This new reality that we all must deal with is, in part, due to a rapid development in technology that has led to an explosion of Internet usage, which is primarily an image-based medium.

Images projected on video screens can be found in every aspect of life. The end result is we now have much shorter attention spans thanks to the expansion to an image-based society. We cannot concentrate on any one thing for any length of time. Today’s news and sports channels are crowded with multiple layers of information. Why? Because that’s what’s required to keep our attention.

I have witnessed this firsthand. Working with high school and college age students for the past 25 years, I have seen a significant decrease in the ability to focus and pay attention. I can’t count the times I have talked to students while at the same time they were playing around with their mobile media devices. It’s as if an entire generation has been infected with some sort of virus.

Another casualty and perhaps the greatest tragedy is that reading is rapidly declining. Newspapers are practically dead thanks to the Internet. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 read only 7 minutes a day. Seventy percent of 13 year olds do not read daily. Their conclusion is the obvious that young people are reading less.

Focusing on images or pictures and reading a headline or two means you will only skim the surface of any issue or current affairs. We live in an increasingly complex society. Without reading and thinking, we will not be able to have the perspective, insight or knowledge to make informed decisions.

Where does all of this ultimately lead to? We are putting ourselves into a position where we can be more easily controlled and manipulated by today’s mass media culture. Believe me when I tell you this. If you are not willing to think for yourself and do your own research, someone is more than willing to tell you what to think. And that someone is today’s media.

The funny thing about images, which are nothing more than pictures, is that they are easily manipulated by skilled media makers. Advertisers for years have used these persuasive techniques to get us to buy their products. Most images, such as the flag (patriotism), family, home, nature, and wealth are buried deep within our subconscious and carry powerful symbolism and meaning to us. By rearranging various images on multiple media platforms, it’s possible to assign new meaning and feeling and create new mythologies (belief systems) around those images, which may or may not be true.

I have written several articles and blog entries concerning these issues in greater detail if you would like to know more. They are also contained in my new book, The Red Pill, a Cure for Today’s Mass Media Culture. The bottom line is I hope for this new year you make a decision to be more aware of the negative side of living in an image-based world.

I don’t set myself apart or try to pretend that I’m not susceptible to this manipulation and control. I have to make a decision every day to be aware of it and to stay focused. Make this a year that you decide to read more and make your own decisions. Yes, I encourage you to read my blog and website, but the point is just start reading, and especially the Word of God. It will help you to increase your attention span and focus and will also help you decipher what is true, what is not true and what is manipulation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Report: 'Croods' Crushes, 'Olympus' Surprises

The Croods easily took the top spot on a busy weekend at the box office, though the real surprise was the impressive performance of Olympus Has Fallen. Meanwhile, Spring Breakers did decent business in its nationwide expansion, though it still fell behind Tina Fey-Paul Rudd disappointment Admission.

The Top 12 earned an estimated $131.9 million, which is unfortunately off 35 percent from last year when The Hunger Games alone made over $152 million.

The Croods
grossed an estimated $44.7 million from 4,046 locations. Among recent original DreamWorks Animation movies, it's about even with 2010's How to Train Your Dragon ($43.7 million) and Megamind ($46 million), and a vast improvement over November's Rise of the Guardians (which took 11 days to get to $44 million).

This is without a doubt a good start for The Croods, though it was hard to imagine it going much lower. The movie had a competent marketing effort, and benefited from the fact that the only other 2013 animated movie so far was February's modest Escape From Planet Earth. With an "A" CinemaScore and no serious competition until May, The Croods is in a very good position, though it would be shocking if it came close to matching How to Train Your Dragon's $217.6 million.

The audience was 57 percent female, and surprisingly skewed older (55 percent were 25 years of age and up). 3D ticket sales only accounted for 38 percent of the gross, which is an incredibly low number for the format.

In second place, Olympus Has Fallen exceeded even the most generous expectations with an impressive $30.5 million debut. That's the top action movie opening so far in 2013 ahead of A Good Day to Die Hard ($24.8 million); it's also more than the combined debuts of Parker, The Last Stand, Dead Man Down and Bullet to the Head. Finally, Olympus Has Fallen is now director Antoine Fuqua's highest opener ahead of Training Day ($22.6 million), a past hit that was a major selling point in the marketing.

Confident that they had a potential hit on their hands, distributor FilmDistrict went all-in with a strong, aggressive marketing effort. It conveyed the movie's exciting premise (terrorists take over the White House), and highlighted the presence of well-liked actor Morgan Freeman. It also had Gerard Butler back in butt-kicking mode, which is clearly how audiences prefer their Butler.

Olympus Has Fallen
is the first White House invasion movie of 2013, but it's not the last: Sony currently has White House Down on the schedule for the end of June. With director Roland Emmerich and stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, that movie has a solid blockbuster pedigree, and in the past movie's with similar concepts have both performed well in the same year (Deep Impact and Armageddon is a classic example).

Olympus Has Fallen
's audience skewed older (73 percent above 25) and male (53 percent), though its impressive performance is likely due to some extent on the fact that it managed to appeal to women. It received a very good "A-" CinemaScore, though it remains to be seen if it can hold up against G.I. Joe: Retaliation next weekend.

After holding the top spot for the past two weeks, Oz The Great and Powerful slipped to third place with an estimated $22 million (off 47 percent). Through 17 days, the movie has earned a strong $177.6 million, though it remains on pace to close with over $100 million less than Alice in Wonderland.

The Call
fell 49 percent to an estimated $8.7 million. Through its second weekend, the Halle Berry thriller has grossed $30.9 million.

rounded out the Top Five with an awful $6.45 million from 2,160 locations. That's the worst live-action start for Tina Fey, and also worse than recent Paul Rudd disappointments Our Idiot Brother ($7 million) and Wanderlust ($6.53 million).

The marketing for Admission focused entirely on Fey and Rudd, with some commercials going as far as having the actors directly pitch the movie to audiences. While both actors are likeable, focusing on them took away from selling the story, which is what really gets people to head to the theaters. The audience that did turn out was overwhelmingly female (68 percent), older (a whopping 47 percent were at least 50 years old) and Caucasian (81 percent). They awarded the movie an unimpressive "B-" CinemaScore, which suggests the movie won't last very long in theaters.

After a great start in three theaters last weekend, Spring Breakers expanded to 1,104 theaters and earned an estimated $5 million. That's a good figure for upstart distributor A24, who utilized word-of-mouth while avoiding traditional (read: expensive) marketing techniques. Still, the movie dropped from Friday to Saturday, which suggests that it's going to be fairly front-loaded, and it would be surprising if it ultimately made it above the mid-teen-millions.

In seventh place, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone plummeted 58 percent to an estimated $4.28 million. The Steve Carell-Jim Carrey magician comedy has made an atrocious $17.4 million so far, and will likely vanish from theaters in the next week or two.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

10 Best Faith Movies Of Modern Era

By Phil Boatwright

Faith on film connects with the audience on both emotional and intellectual levels. Indeed, the most powerful expression of visual arts today is that of the cinema. Why? Because moving pictures evoke illusions of reality more convincingly than any other artistic form. True, it is a medium more often used as a voyeuristic tool than one meant to feed us spiritually. There are, however, movies that lift the spirit of man to a devotional level. For my list of "Top 10 faith films of the modern era," I have chosen 10 movies that contain religious metaphor designed to help us confirm and explore our spiritual nature.

Keep in mind that while motion pictures can be catalysts for raising provocative questions, to find true answers, more time must be given to reading God's Word than to viewing man's movies.

-- "Courageous" was the fourth release of Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Ga. "Courageous" joined "Fireproof," "Facing the Giants" and "Flywheel" in touching lives through heartfelt stories of faith and hope. The story concerns Christian cops wanting to be better fathers. There's drama, comedy, action and even a bit of suspense, plus it sends the message of the need for good fathering -- and teaches how to achieve this honorable goal.

-- "October Baby" is a powerful parable about healing, one that tenderly reveals the psychological aftermath created by abortion. It doesn't preach, nor does it accuse, but it merely makes a valid point that should be considered. Maybe the most effective aspect of the production is how gently Christian philosophy is intertwined within the narrative, spotlighting the need for forgiveness and faith.

-- "A Greater Yes" has a low budget, a few clunky performances, and not the best of technical aspects (the recording of dialogue for the outdoor sequences seems like it was dubbed in someone's basement), but soon these inadequacies are dwarfed by the filmmaker's storytelling abilities and Anne Underwood's perceptive performance as a high school student devout in her Christian faith -- even after she hears the tragic news that she has cancer.

What truly holds us to the story is the treatment of its theme -- God's ways are not our own. What seems logical to us is not always the manifesto for God's will. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says to His Father, "Thy will be done." That should indicate that a "yes" to our most desired requests may not always be our Creator's answer. That said, we can always be assured that He has a larger good, a greater yes in store.

The film reminds us of the need for faith. And like we're taught in that perennial Christmas classic "It's A Wonderful Life," each life affects many others. The things we say and do out of faith can impact others. The film is a good reminder that trusting God in the darkest moments is pleasing to Him and ultimately best for us.

-- "Faith Like Potatoes" tells the story of Angus Buchan, a South African farmer who suffers a series of seemingly insurmountable losses. Through an unlikely friendship with his Zulu farmhand and God making Himself known through miraculous events, Angus discovers that the key to healing and learning to accept others lies in his unwavering belief in Jesus Christ.

-- "Have a Little Faith" is based on the latest best-selling book by Mitch Albom ("Tuesdays with Morrie"). Henry Covington was a Detroit preacher who overcame a life mired in drugs and crime. Mitch Albom, portrayed in the movie by Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing"), met the Covington when he wrote newspaper columns about homeless people and homeless shelters. Covington's I Am My Brother's Keeper Church provided food and a place -- on the church floor -- where homeless people could sleep.

The other central character in Albom's book and movie is New Jersey Rabbi Albert Lewis, played by Academy Award winner Martin Landau ("Ed Wood"). "The Reb," as Albom calls him, asks Albom -- who had briefly attended the rabbi's synagogue as a child -- to write his eulogy.

On the surface, these two larger-than-life characters -- the charismatic African-American preacher and the feisty, funny rabbi -- could hardly be more different. But they each in their own way profoundly affect the writer. It's a story about losing belief and finding it again. The producers tackle the subjects of faith and God and caring for your fellow man, giving viewers an involving, spiritually rewarding made-for-TV film (now on DVD).

-- "The Nativity Story" was a blessed film event. Screenwriter and Christian Mike Rich ("The Rookie," "Radio") began writing a script concerning the faith journey of Mary and Joseph. Rich's agent, Marty Bowen, became increasingly drawn to the project. New Line Cinema's production executive Cale Boyter was open to the idea of a story that hadn't received major studio attention in over 40 years. And Bowen's producer friend Wyck Godfrey was compelled to leave a comfortable position at Davis Entertainment in order to make The Nativity Story a reality. Like the Magi and the shepherds, each was being guided toward a life-changing event.

Though missing some of the grandeur we would love to have seen when the angels proclaimed the birth of the baby Jesus, the film's team successfully fleshed out Mary and Joseph, making them real people and clarifying their love and devotion to God and to one another. It's a love story in so many ways.

-- "Amish Grace" is a true story taken from the aftermath of the 2006 schoolhouse shooting in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa. Kimberly Williams-Paisley ("According to Jim," "Father of the Bride") stars as Ida Graber, an Amish woman dealing with the tragic loss of her daughter when a crazed outsider who swore vengeance on God after his own baby girl died kills several school children.

The objective of the film isn't to promote the Amish, but rather to give a penetrating examination of the concepts of true forgiveness and healing faith. One of the greatest mysteries of the Christian walk is this ability to forgive those who wrong us. I have come to the conclusion, after dealing with this inability in my own life, that we are unable to truly forgive on our own. It takes a healing, which can only come from the great physician Himself.

Because this is an account of such horrific proportions, and because of Kimberly Williams-Paisley's nuanced performance, we are forced to examine the concept of forgiveness. The film is haunting.

-- "Luther." Joseph Fiennes gives a compelling performance playing Martin Luther in this fascinating, well-mounted enactment of the 16th century Christian reformer. The filmmakers have interwoven a clear presentation of the Gospel in this suspense-filled epic, and while it is a movie, therefore subject to dramatizing, "Luther" reminds viewers of the importance of the Reformation.

-- "The Gospel." A semi-autobiographical film about the transformative power of faith and forgiveness, "The Gospel" is a contemporary drama packed with the soaring, soulful sounds of gospel music. Set in the impassioned world of the African-American church, "The Gospel" tells the story of David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a dynamic young R&B star torn between his successful new life and the one he used to know.

-- "The Case for Faith." Journalist Lee Strobel investigates two of the most searing objections to Christianity, accusations which have become barriers to faith and are confronted by believers and skeptics alike: Why is Jesus the only way to God? And how could a loving God exist if there is evil and suffering in the world?

The DVD from Lionsgate features a host of extras, including "Dealing with Doubt" and "The Least of These: The Christian's Response to Evil and Suffering" featurettes

Forecast: 'Croods' Woos Families, 'Spring Breakers' Expands Nationwide

The box office should pick up a bit this weekend thanks to the arrival of three new nationwide releases and the expansion of an arthouse hit. Opening at 4,046 locations (over 3,000 in 3D) DreamWorks Animation's The Croods should be a big enough draw among family audiences to take the top spot away from two-time winner Oz The Great and Powerful.

Unfortunately, this is the one-year anniversary of The Hunger Games's incredible $152.5 million debut, so it will be the latest weekend in which there's a noticeable year-over-year decrease.

The Croods
arrives at a critical time for DreamWorks Animation, which since 1998 has produced 25 movies that have earned over $10 billion worldwide. From 2006 to 2012, DreamWorks had an exclusive output deal with Paramount Pictures; that was not renewed, though, and beginning with The Croods all DreamWorks movies will be handled by 20th Century Fox. Also, DreamWorks is coming off one of their biggest disappointments ever in November's Rise of the Guardians, which will likely end its run with less than $104 million at the domestic box office.

Ahead of opening weekend, The Croods at least looks to be in better shape than Guardians. The marketing campaign has successfully introduced the titular prehistoric family, while also showcasing the vibrant, colorful animation. It has also extensively promoted the movie's association with 2010's How to Train Your Dragon, which feels more relevant here than it was for Guardians.

The Croods
isn't the first animated movie of the year—that title technically belongs to Escape From Planet Earth—and it's also not the first March movie targeted at family audiences. However, Oz The Great and Powerful's audience skewed a bit more towards adults than originally expected, which is a positive sign for The Croods.

In 2010, DreamWorks Animation movies How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind opened to $43.7 million and $46 million, respectively. The Croods will likely wind up slightly below that, but could definitely top $40 million (which is what Fox is hoping for at this point).

The Croods
is also opening in over 45 foreign markets this weekend, including Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the U.K. International distribution is Fox's specialty, and it wouldn't be surprising if The Croods winds up earning around $300 million overseas.

While it won't be able to match The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen should also be in line for a good debut at 3,098 locations this weekend. The movie is the first of two 2013 releases that revolve around the White House being taken siege by terrorists; at this point, though, awareness is basically non-existent for June's White House Down, so that redundancy isn't likely to deter moviegoers in any significant way this weekend.

Distributor FilmDistrict, who acquired the movie from Millennium Films, has executed a heavy, comprehensive marketing effort over the past few months that's been nicely targeted at adult male audiences (in particular, they've carpet-bombed sports programming with ads in the past few weeks). Commercials clearly articulate the movie's premise, highlight some decent action, and make it known that widely-liked star Morgan Freeman has a significant role.

Based on all of these factors, an opening north of $20 million would normally seem like a lock. Unfortunately, movies aimed specifically at adult males have been getting crushed so far in 2013, and even with Gerard Butler in the lead it doesn't look like Olympus Has Fallen has a ton of appeal for women. FilmDistrict is currently expecting high-teen-millions this weekend, which seems fair given the tough climate for action movies.

The weekend's third nationwide release is Tina Fey-Paul Rudd comedy Admission, which Focus Features is releasing in to a modest 2,160 theaters. The marketing has focused entirely on the two leads, and has even gone so far as to show the two of them talking to a camera about why audiences should go see the movie. Otherwise, though, the movie's previews are extremely generic (the movie's about college admissions, after all), and it is unlikely Fey and Rudd are likeable enough to help the movie overcome this problem. As a result, Admission will probably open under $10 million.

After averaging a fantastic $87,667 at three theaters last weekend, Spring Breakers expands to 1,104 locations to take advantage of the very tail end of Spring Break season. The movie hasn't really had any TV promotion at all—instead, distributor A24 is relying almost exclusively on reviews (a fine 73 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and on social media. That buzz is through the roof, and Spring Breakers's performance this weekend could be viewed as a referendum on the value of social chatter.

Even with James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, though, Spring Breakers is still likely to be too violent and controversial to really draw major crowds. There are plenty of examples of movies putting up fantastic numbers at premium theaters in Los Angeles and New York, but struggling a bit in nationwide release. The most recent one is last September's The Master (also produced by Annapurna Pictures), which averaged an incredible $147,262 at five theaters ahead of a mildly disappointing $5,572 average at 788 theaters the following weekend. That movie had plenty of social buzz, great reviews, and even had a television campaign, but was ultimately not accessible to the majority of moviegoers.

If Spring Breakers can match The Master's per-theater average, it will earn over $6 million this weekend, which would be a good start.

Forecast (March 22-24)

1. The Croods - $38.6 million
2. Oz - $21 million (-49%)
3. Olympus Has Fallen - $19.2 million
4. The Call - $10.2 million (-40%)
5. Admission - $7.7 million
-. Spring Breakers - $5.5 million

Bar for Success

With the Easter holiday coming up and no competition whatsoever through the month of April, The Croods is in really good shape if it opens north of $40 million this weekend. FilmDistrict's highest three-day opening belongs to November's Red Dawn with $14.3 million; Olympus Has Fallen is okay with anything above that, though it would obviously be nice to hit $20 million. Admission gets a pass at $10 million, while Spring Breakers ought to be earning at least $4 million.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 64 - Isaac Hernandez

Isaac Hernandez is the Vice President of Programming and Syndication for Parables TV, the world’s first-ever Christian 24/7 HD movie network. Prior to his work with Parables, Isaac was a Programming Executive for the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the world’s largest broadcast group. For over 25 years, Isaac directed many of the programs produced by The Trinity Broadcasting Network including their live flagship show, “Praise The Lord.” Isaac was also the director for PAXtv’s live flagship program, “Great Day America”, when PAXtv first launched. Isaac has had a phenomenal career with over 30 years of experience in the Christian broadcasting industry.

In this interview, Hernandez talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about the official launching of

Parables TV and its impact as the first ever Christian entertainment network.

Parables TV is a unique, groundbreaking network that feature movies, documentaries, series and original faith-based content. Their mission is to provide the best Christian entertainment and movies with inspired, thought-provoking stories of faith that share God’s message of hope and love, one story at a time. For more information on Parables TV, visit

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Christian Film Festival Set For October 11 - 13

Churches Making Movies is a Christian Film Festival devoted to exhibiting films produced by churches and Christian non-profits.  The festival evolved from the contemporary church film movement fueled by pastors and media/producing ministries devoted to using motion pictures as an evangelical tool.  The mission of the Churches Making Movies Christian Film Festival is to educate, energize, and empower churches to incorporate filmmaking into their ministries and to give exposure to the best church-based films. To learn how you can empower the church-based film movement, visit us on the Web

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Report: 'Oz' Leads, 'Call' Exceeds, 'Burt' Bombs

Coming off an excellent opening, Oz The Great and Powerful easily hung on to first place this weekend. Among the newcomers, The Call exceeded expectations, while The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was far from incredible.

Overall, the Top 12 earned an estimated $97.3 million this weekend, which is about even with the same period last year.

added $42.2 million in its second outing for a 10-day total of $145 million. That's a 47 percent drop from last weekend, which is about on par with Alice in Wonderland's 46 percent decline at the same point. If Oz plays out at the same pace as Alice, it could be in line for a final tally over $230 million.

The Call
took second place with an estimated $17.1 million. That's way above 2007 Halle Berry thriller Perfect Stranger ($11.2 million), and also higher than similar titles Untraceable ($11.4 million) and Lakeview Terrace ($15 million). It was a bit off from Berry's 2003 thriller Gothika ($19.3 million), though that had a more intense marketing effort and came at the peak of Berry's popularity.

The Call
was a recent acquisition for Sony—they didn't put it on their release schedule until the beginning of 2013—but the studio invested in an aggressive marketing effort nonetheless. After the trailer and early commercials established the premise and built awareness, recent marketing took Berry's character out of the call center and in to the action, proving the movie had the kind of thrills audiences are looking for.

Unsurprisingly, the audience skewed female (61 percent) and older (53 percent over the age of 30). They gave the movie a "B+" CinemaScore, suggesting that anecdotal reports of a baffling third act aren't really affecting overall sentiment. Based on these statistics, there's a legitimate chance that The Call winds up with over $45 million, which would be a solid success for Sony.

In third place, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone tanked with just $10.3 million from 3,160 locations. That's one of the worst debuts ever for stars Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, and it's less than one-third of Blades of Glory's $33 million start around the same time in 2007. It's even noticeably lower than Will Ferrell bomb Semi-Pro ($15.1 million), which is a fairly damning statistic.

Star power will only go so far for comedies: generally speaking, for a comedy to open well its previews need to present a unique premise and deliver some solid laughs. Wonderstone did okay with the premise, though the conflict between Carell and Carrey's dueling magicians wasn't always completely clear. More importantly, the advertisements were overly reliant on shrill gags like Carrey on a bed of coals and Carell trapped in a glass box, and as a result the laughs were few and far between.

Comedies often hold well, though that might not be the case for Wonderstone: with a "C+" CinemaScore and a 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's likely the movie disappears at a comparatively rapid rate.

After plummeting in its second outing, Jack the Giant Slayer eased 37 percent to $6.2 million in its third weekend. To date, the movie has earned $53.9 million.

Identity Thief
rounded out the Top Five with an estimated $4.5 million this weekend (a light 29 percent drop). The movie has now earned a stellar $123.7 million.

At three locations—two in New York and one in Los Angeles—Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers scored an impressive $270,000 this weekend. That's a $90,000 per-theater average, which ranks 22nd all-time. Among recent movies, that's above Lincoln ($85,846) and Zero Dark Thirty ($83,430), though both were playing in more theaters. Starring James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, Spring Breakers is expected to expand nationwide in to over 1,000 venues next weekend.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Forecast: 'Oz' to Easily Repeat Against 'Wonderstone,' 'The Call'

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and The Call arrive in theaters this weekend, though neither will come close to taking first place away from reigning champion Oz The Great and Powerful.

Nearly a decade after they starred together in Bruce Almighty—one of the highest-grossing comedies ever at $242.8 million—Jim Carrey and Steve Carell are once again on screen together in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which is opening in 3,160 locations this weekend. This time around, though, Carell is the title character, while Carrey is relegated to the scene-stealing supporting role.

This switch makes sense, given the actors current career trajectories. While Carrey has contributed to 12 $100 million movies, his only nationwide live-action release of the past four years was the slightly disappointing Mr. Popper's Penguins ($68.2 million). Carell, on the other hand, has been fairly consistent since breaking out in 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, though even he has the occasional slip-up (last Summer's Seeking a Friend for the End of the World being the primary example).

Previews for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone emphasize the conflict between Carell and Carrey's rival magicians with a focus on stunt set-pieces like Carrey sleeping on hot coals or Carell being suspended over Las Vegas in a glass box. While these gags are decent enough, they've been overplayed a bit, and don't give a clear sense for the kind of fast-paced humor audiences have come to expect from comedies.

When it was initially scheduled for March, it's likely Warner Bros. was targeting grosses similar to 2007's Blades of Glory, which also featured two male comedians with funny wigs skewering a popular but easily-mocked form of performance entertainment. Blades opened to $33 million on its way to $118.6 million; with a marketing campaign that's not as amusing or original, don't be surprised if Burt Wonderstone earns about half as much.

Opening at 2,507 locations, The Call was a very late addition to the March 2013 schedule: in fact, Sony didn't even announce a release date until just over two months ago. Since then, though, the marketing for this Halle Berry abduction thriller has been hard to miss. Initial previews focused mainly on Berry's 911 operator interacting with a kidnapped girl (played by Abigail Breslin) via telephone, though recent commercials have added some thrills by taking Berry out of the call center and in to the action. While it's still a modest release, it should do decent business with older women who may not be interested in Oz, and a debut north of $10 million seems like a lock.

Forecast (March 15-17)

1. Oz The Great and Powerful - $44.1 million (-44%)
2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone - $18 million
3. The Call - $12.7 million
4. Jack the Giant Slayer - $4.8 million (-51%)

Bar for Success

With Carell, Carrey, over 3,100 theaters and the marketing campaign that goes along with that, Burt Wonderstone ought to be opening over $20 million. The Call, on the other hand, is in fine shape if it debuts higher than 2007 Halle Berry/Bruce Willis disappointment Perfect Stranger ($11.2 million

Friday, March 15, 2013

The System - part 2

I wish I can tell you that if you went to film school, you would learn all of the inside information about how the Hollywood system works. Chances are you’ll get a good education on cinematic theory but not on practical business knowledge. There are two primary systems, the studio system and the independent model. More than likely, in the beginning you will work in the independent model. As time goes on, you will work in both the independent and studio systems.

So how do you prepare now and learn about the system? First, you need some training. Whether that’s film school or some type of film academy, it’s essential that you get some professional, competent training. I suggest further that you get some practical work experience in your home town. If you want to direct, start directing now. If you want to produce, start producing now. If you want to be a cinematographer start doing it now. Odds are you will have to put in a lot of hours with little or no pay to learn the business. Eventually, if you are serious about learning the system and working in the industry, you will have to go to Los Angeles. That’s what everyone inside the industry has told me if you want to work full-time in the business. Contrary to what other’s may tell you, the industry still takes place in Los Angeles.

But, don’t ever think about going to Hollywood without the right preparation Otherwise, no one is going to take you seriously. I’m assuming that most of you who read my blog are Christians and perhaps consider yourselves media missionaries. I suggest you follow Hollywoodconnect.comThey provide good intelligence and resources about job prospects, where to live, support groups, and further training in Hollywood. They also conduct quarterly orientation sessions for newcomers to the industry. This is a great opportunity for you to connect with working professionals in the industry. They suggest that before you think about coming to Los Angeles to live and work, you first should plan a vision tour. In other words, go out to Los Angeles for a week, attend the orientation session and meet some people. I recommend that you meet with several of the ministry leaders which you will find on the Hollywood Connect website. I am convinced that within a week you will have more than enough information to decide if you have been called to Hollywood. You will also have a better understanding of how the system works.

And, finally, industry insiders say that there are three primary ways that you can break into Hollywood and the entertainment industry. First, become an entrepreneur and make your own movies. If you can raise your own money, write your story, direct your film and produce it as well, you are on your way. Many well-known filmmakers who work in Hollywood have followed this pattern. One example is the Jay and Mark Duplass, who have made a number of successful low-budget independent films including Baghead, which helped their career. They have gone from a $15,000 budget to their current movie Cyrus, which has a budget of $7 million. Of course, not everybody can write, direct and produce their own material. So the following next two options may be your best choice.

Second is through the internship program. If you are in the right school or program with the right connections, you can very well be at the front of the class. It takes about three internships to get your first real job in the industry. The Los Angeles Film Study Center has over a 70% placement of its graduates within the industry. They are obviously connected. They have a relationship with practically every major studio and production company in Los Angeles. Before you decide which program or college to enroll in, take a hard look at the internship program and the connections that your school or program offers.

The third way to break into Hollywood and the entertainment industry is through the role of the production assistant. Find out who hires the crews, which are the production managers, unit managers, and the director of production. Get to know these people and build relationships. Obviously, this means you are starting at the bottom, but that’s the way the system works. If you can be the best production assistant possible, then chances are you will be rehired for the next project. Go beyond the call of duty and become a problem solver. Then the next time you might actually move up to being the assistant to the production manager. And then you may become the second assistant director on the next project.

Not everybody who works in Hollywood or the entertainment industry fits conveniently into the above categories. You’ll find that many people have a somewhat unconventional story on how they broke into the business. One example is Ralph Winter, a well-known producer for films such as Star Trek, X-men and Wolverine. Winter did not go to college to pursue a career in film. He has a degree in history. Winter worked for a department store producing educational and training videos. With that type of background, it would seem that he would be an unlikely candidate to become a major Hollywood producer. So how did he do it?

There are three concepts that Winter followed. First is the rule of proximity, which is being in the right place at right time. You can’t learn this in a textbook. Some people just have a knack for seeing opportunities. In Winter’s case, he worked in Los Angeles near the industry. That’s a huge advantage. Second, as they say in this business, it’s not what you know but who you know. Ralph Winter had a friend who worked at Paramount Studios. When a job opened in the editing department, he recommended that Ralph pursue the opportunity. With his help, Winter got the job. The truth is people like to work with people they know and trust.

Third is the rule of leverage. It’s a long way from the editing department to being a producer who makes movies with over a $100 million budget. I’ve heard Winter talk often about leverage. When you have something that somebody needs, and they have something that can help you, you work together to achieve the results that both parties want. Doing so helps you to move forward. By using leverage, Winter eventually made his move and became a producer on the Paramount lot. It’s a very unorthodox story.

The bottom line is Winter applied all three principles to turn his story into a success story. He worked in industrial video making training videos. There are thousands of people across the country who do that job every day. Many of those people could be in Ralph Winter’s shoes today. Sure, Ralph’s talented, but there are talented people everywhere. But in Winter’s case, he was in the right place at the right time, which gave him an incredible opportunity. This is how the system works. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t. The best advice is to give yourself the best opportunity you can. Have a plan and be in a position that when the opportunity arises you can step into it. Don’t make the fatal error of being complacent or just trying to slide by. You need to be proactive and seize the moment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 63 - Steve Taylor

Singer, songwriter, and film director, Steve Taylor, has had an amazing, diverse career in the entertainment industry. His accomplishments have not only garnered him two Grammy-nominations, but he has also made history as the only recording artist to win the Billboard Music Video Award twice for self-directed music videos. Among Steve’s many credits as a music video director, his best-known is the Francois Truffaut homage he shot in Paris for the Sixpence None The Richer’s hit, “Kiss Me.” Steve’s film, “The Second Chance,” marked his debut as a film director/co-screenwriter which was released by Sony Pictures in 2006. His follow-up feature, “Blue Like Jazz,” is an adaptation of the New York Times bestselling memoir by Donald Miller. Steve is also a key workshop contributor to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention.

In this interview, Taylor talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about his transition from musician to
film director through the making of music videos.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Bridge at NRB

The Bridge at NRB from The Bridge Church on Vimeo.

The System - part 1

Recently, someone asked me how the system works. What they were referring to is how Hollywood and the entertainment industry functions. To narrow it down further, how do I get a job in the business? How do I get my movie made? And how do I get a distribution deal? Those are basic questions that everyone trying to break into Hollywood and the entertainment industry struggles with. Is there a system? If I know the system, will it lead to my success in the industry?

First of all, there is no one-stop place that can tell you how the system works or how the entertainment system functions. But, thanks to the internet, blogs and social networking, there is an abundance of information available. It just means that you might have to dig in order to find useful information that’s applicable to your situation. Here are five things that I have learned about the entertainment industry and Hollywood throughout the last few years.

First, Hollywood and filmmaking are businesses. Second, Hollywood is about marketing. Third, first make the film then make the deal. Fourth, you have to start at the bottom. Fifth, talent is not a guarantee of success.

Let’s start with filmmaking is a business. I’m sure this is not a revolutionary concept to most of you. That’s why they call it show business. There’s no show without the business. To understand the system is to understand how movies are made, financed and distributed. One of the best resources I have found for practical information is a book written by Dov S-S Simens, From Reel to Deal. Simens’ book is worth its weight in gold. It’s primarily written for anybody who is interested in learning what it takes to create a successful independent film. You won’t find a lot of creative, artistic or cinematic concepts in this book, but you will a find common sense approach to filmmaking. Simens is a Hollywood insider who understands how the system works.

Second, Hollywood is about marketing. For every dollar Hollywood spends on producing a movie, they will spend 51 to 57 cents to market the film. What that should tell you is that a significant amount of the people who work in the entertainment industry do not make movies, but they are involved in the business and marketing side of filmmaking and media making. So if you want to understand how the system works, you must first understand how films are marketed. That requires you to read the trades such as The Hollywood Reporter and Box-Office Mojo. These are good resources that analyze box-office results and trends that are occurring in the industry. Know what’s hot and what’s not. If you want to find out how the system works, you will have to do your homework. The more you do your research, the clearer the patterns become visible.

Third, first make the film then make the deal. I used to think that Hollywood worked like this: Make the deal or, in other words, get your distribution lined up. Find your money and then make the film. Guess what? The system does not work that way. Most want-to-be filmmakers never make their film because they are trying to make the deal first. Dov S-S Simens’ book goes into great detail about how to make the film first and what’s required for first-time filmmakers to make the deal.

Fourth, you have to start at the bottom. Once in a while, you will hear about an incredible success story in which a recent film school graduate gets a three-picture development deal from a major studio. Sure, somebody does win the Lotto. But it’s usually a one in a billion shot. Nobody gets to make a $30 million film in their first outing. Here’s the truth about the system. Make a $20,000 digital feature, then make a $200,000 low-budget movie, and then make a $2 million art house film. And, if you have been successful in these projects, perhaps you will get the opportunity to make a studio feature. Start at the bottom and work your way up. In order to get to the next level, you must at least break even or return a profit to your investors. Otherwise, they will not continue to finance your next project. In reality, most filmmakers make their first film by raising money from their friends and family. But that can take you only so far. At some point, you have to be successful in returning an investment. That’s how the system works.

A few months back, I had a first-time filmmaker send me a script and perspective for an $800,000 budget feature. I seriously doubt they have any hope of ever raising that kind of money. It’s a simple formula. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

Recently, a friend completed a full-length feature with only a $2,000 budget. He shot his film in eight days with limited locations, actors and resources. He was able to get all of the equipment, crew and talent to donate their services. If he had to pay for everything out-of-pocket, his expenses would have been $50,000 to $75,000. But, thanks to his entrepreneur spirit and ingenuity, he found a way to get it done.

Here’s how it works. Most people write a script and then try to raise the money necessary to turn the screenplay into a movie. But the smart money is to start with what you have. If you have $2,000 or $5,000 or $100,000, write a story that fits your budget. That’s exactly what my friend did. I have a post on my blog about low-budget filmmaking concepts. You can find the formula that explains this concept and how it works. ://

Fifth, talent is not a guarantee of success. Most people in Hollywood are extremely talented. Likewise, most people in Hollywood are extremely unemployed. Talent can take you only so far. It might get you in the door, but it’s no guarantee it will keep you there. I have written an article on my blog on what it takes to work in this industry. The article will provide you with the insight and formula that can help guide you in your career development.

A Cry for Justice Movie - OFFICIAL Trailer

Revelation Road: Beginning of the End - Official Trailer

Revelation Road is now on sale on DVD & Blu-Ray. Share this life changing movie with everyone you know

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend Report: 'Oz' Has Magical Debut, 'Dead Man' Dies

Oz The Great and Powerful was positioned as the first major blockbuster of 2013, and its opening weekend didn't disappoint.

The fantasy prequel scored an estimated $80.28 million, which is by-far the highest debut so far in 2013. Meanwhile, Dead Man Down became the latest violent R-rated movie to die a quick death.

The Top 12 earned an estimated $129.7 million, which is up seven percent from the same frame last year when John Carter was the top opener at just over $30 million.

Oz's $80.28 million from 3,912 locations is over twice as high as Identity Thief's $34.6 million, and is the strongest debut since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey started off with $84.6 million in December. It's also the third-highest opening ever for March, and the fifth-highest ever during the pre-Summer months.

The movie's opening looks very strong against nearly all comparable titles aside from its most similar movie, Alice in Wonderland, whose overwhelming box office success clearly incentivized Disney to move forward with Oz. At the same in time in 2010, Alice opened to an incredible $116.1 million, which is 45 percent higher than Oz's debut. Alice ultimately went on to earn over $334 million at the domestic box office, and more than $1 billion worldwide.

Oz never had much of a chance of matching Alice, though, for a handful of reasons. First, Alice was the first major 3D release following Avatar, meaning the format was at its most-popular. Alice's 3D share wound up being 70 percent, whereas Oz's was only 53 percent (10 percent IMAX). Also, Alice's Johnny Depp/Tim Burton combination was a potent one, and Oz just couldn't bring the same amount of star power to the table. Finally, while Alice earned a ton of money, it turned some audiences off with its use of excessive CGI, and previews at least made it appear like Oz utilized an almost identical approach.

To get over $80 million, though, is huge accomplishment for Oz, and credit goes to Disney for doing a strong job leveraging the brand's iconic imagery while still presenting a unique story for moviegoers to latch on to. The audience wound up skewing slightly female (52 percent); surprisingly, families only made up 41 percent of attendance, while couples accounted for 43 percent.

Even though its "B+" CinemaScore is a tad underwhelming, it's still a foregone conclusion that Oz will make it to $200 million by the end of its run.

In second place, Jack the Giant Slayer plummeted 63 percent to an estimated $10.02 million. That drop is noticeably worse than John Carter's 55 percent dip at the same point last year. Jack has now earned $43.8 million, and if it plays out like John Carter from here it will wind up below $60 million.

In its fifth weekend, Identity Thief eased 35 percent to an estimated $6.3 million, which allowed the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy comedy hit to remain in the Top Three. To date, the movie has earned an excellent $116.5 million, and by this time next week it will have passed director Seth Gordon's previous comedies Horrible Bosses ($117.5 million) and Four Christmases ($120.1 million).

Dead Man Down
took fourth place this weekend with a terrible $5.35 million. Among 2013's awful action debuts, that's above Bullet to the Head ($4.55 million) but worse than The Last Stand ($6.3 million) and Parker ($7 million). It's also distributor FilmDistrict's second-lowest nationwide opening ever ahead of 2011's The Rum Diary ($5.1 million).

The movie was sold as a generic revenge thriller, and this is unfortunately the kind of opening that goes along with that distinction. Unsurprisingly, the audience was overwhelmingly male (60 percent) and older (75 percent were 25 years of age or above). They gave the movie a middling "B-" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth isn't going to help out much.

Dead Man Down
is the latest in a 2013 epidemic of nationwide releases opening below $10 million; out of the 30 nationwide debuts so far this year, 16 of them have debuted below that level. Only one of those titles—Side Effects—will wind up cracking $30 million, which helps explain why 2013 box office is in such a dour state.

Rounding out the Top Five, Snitch added an estimated $5.1 million. Through three weekends, the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson thriller has earned a decent $31.8 million.

21 and Over
fell 42 percent to an estimated $5.06 million this weekend, which is a decent second-weekend decline for a younger-skewing comedy like this. Unfortunately, it's still only gross $16.8 million so far, which is a pretty lousy 10-day tally.

The Last Exorcism Part II
dropped 60 percent to an estimated $3.12 million. Through 10 days, the horror sequel has earned $12.1 million, and by the end of its run it won't even be able to match its predecessor's $20.4 million debut.

Roadside Attractions released World War II drama Emperor in to 260 locations this weekend, and it managed to score a fine $1.04 million. That's twice as high as last weekend's Phantom, which had over four times as many locations.

Friday, March 8, 2013

PURE FLIX Entertainment Continues Growth as The Largest Producer And Distributor of Faith And Family Films

Pure Flix Entertainment (PFE), the largest producer, acquisition and distributor of faith and family films has announced their first quarter release schedule for 2013. With their mission statement as “transforming the human spirit through values -based entertainment,” Pure Flix Entertainment offers compelling, enlightening, life altering, and sometimes humorous film, television and DVD releases.

As a proven industry leader of high quality, inspiring movies, and television programs, Pure Flix Entertainment offers entertainment from several different genres including action/adventure, comedy, family, drama, and documentary. The central focus of these releases includes forgiveness, redemption, love, and faith that engage people in their pursuit of God.

In December 2012, Pure Flix Entertainment celebrated the ratings success of the telepic Christmas Angel, starring Teri, Polo, Kevin Sorbo, and Tamara Mowry-Housley, which they produced with GMC TV and became the highest rated GMC TV original movie, attracting 3.0 million viewers.

2013 promises to be a productive and successful year for Pure Flix Entertainment. In February, Pure Flix Entertainment released the right to life parable film, Meant to Be to DVD starring Dean Cain (The Adventures of Lois and Clark), Erika Eleniak (Baywatch), Della Reese (Touched by an Angel), and Bradley Dorsey (A Greater Yes).

On March 12th, the thriller Revelation Road, starring former NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth, WCW Wrestler Steve “Sting” Borden, David A.R. White (Jerusalem Countdown), and Ray Wise(Robocop) will release to DVD. On April 16th, the coming-of-age drama This is Our Time, starring Shawn–Caulin Young (Thor), Erin Bethea (Fireproof), and Erik Estrada (Chips) will release to DVD.

Pure Flix Entertainment is currently producing several original projects including Silver Bells, starring Bruce Boxleitner (Tron, Scarecrow & Mrs. King) and Antonio Fargas (Everybody Hates Chris), and Finding Normal, starring Candace Cameron Bure (Full House), both will air later this year on GMC TV.

“We know that people love movies. Our vision at Pure Flix Entertainment is to impact lives for Christ through positive, encouraging and heart-impacting entertainment in a culture saturated with content often deemed inappropriate for families,” says founding partner David A.R. White. “Our film projects can be enjoyed with family and friends, or utilized as outreach tools for church and ministry organizations as an opportunity to invite people to church who might not usually attend a church service.”

Pure Flix Entertainment has offices in Los Angeles, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona, and currently produces eight to ten films per year, while acquiring another 15 films per year.  Pure Flix Entertainment originated in 2005 under the leadership of Russell Wolfe, CEO/Managing Partner, Michael Scott, Managing Partner/Producer, and David A.R. White, Managing Partner/Actor/Producer.

In addition to handling TV Network Sales, Pure Flix Entertainment sells to major ministries, (Christian Booksellers Association, Family Christian, Lifeway), the general market (Wal-Mart, Target, Blockbuster, Netflix, Redbox etc.), and churches, for the promotion of “Church Movie Night.”

Pure Flix Movie Ministry partners with churches and ministry organizations to provide powerful tools for outreach, church growth, fellowship, and fundraising.  Their primary goal is to provide affordable, safe-content and life-changing films with a clear gospel message. Churches and ministries utilize these films as witnessing and outreach tools in their community to transform and impact lives for Christ.

Pure Flix Entertainment’s best-selling releases include What If … (starring Kevin Sorbo, Debby Ryan, and Kristy Swanson), Jerusalem Countdown (starring David A.R. White and Anna Zielinski), Sarah’s Choice (starring Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James), Christmas with a Capital C (starring Daniel Baldwin and Ted McGinley) and Brother White (starring David A.R. White and Jack√©e Harry).  Their official web site is and on facebook at

For additional information, please contact Pure Publicity at 818.753.4056 or

Forecast: 'Oz' To Cast a Spell Over Lifeless Box Office

Midnight Update: Oz The Great and Powerful opened to an estimated $2 million from Thursday night and midnight shows. That's about half of Alice in Wonderland ($3.9 million), though it's above Snow White and the Huntsman ($1.55 million), which had more midnight appeal thanks to its older-skewing audience and Summer release date. That Snow White figure suggests Oz will earn at least $70 million, though it could definitely go higher.

Forecast: The first 2013 movie with legitimate blockbuster potential hits theaters this weekend, and it should be powerful enough to at least temporarily improve the dreary domestic box office.

Thanks to its strong brand, persistent marketing, and total lack of competition, Oz The Great and Powerful will easily have the strongest debut of the year so far when it opens at 3,912 locations this weekend. Revenge thriller Dead Man Down also opens nationwide this weekend, though it has received a very light marketing push and won't come close to cracking $10 million.

Oz The Great and Powerful
returns audiences to the land of Oz, which was most-memorably portrayed on the big-screen in 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. That remains one of the most beloved movies in American cinema history, and it's nearly impossible to find someone who hasn't seen it. Oz The Great and Powerful retains many of that movie's iconic elements including the black-and-white Kansas opening, a green Wicked Witch, an angelic Good Witch, the Munchkins, and the Emerald City.

Disney's omnipresent marketing effort—which included a pricey Super Bowl advertisement—has done a nice job highlighting these tie-ins while also hinting at a new, high-stakes adventure involving the title character of the Wizard. This should be enough to draw a diverse crowd, though it's likely that families (who have so far been neglected in 2013) make up the majority of moviegoers.

In March 2010, Disney's Alice in Wonderland—also a CGI-heavy, 3D re-imagination of a classic story—shocked everyone when it opened to an incredible $116.1 million. While Oz's brand is stronger than Alice's, there are a handful of reasons why Oz won't match that figure. First, Oz's appealing cast doesn't hold a candle to the one-two punch of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton circa 2010. Also, Alice was the first major 3D release after Avatar, and as a result 70 percent of its opening weekend gross came from 3D. Three years later, audiences have soured a bit on the technology, and a 3D share closer to 50 percent is likely for Oz. Finally, despite making a ton of money, Alice's reputation isn't all that great, and that could cause some people to take a wait-and-see approach with similar movie Oz.

Some may argue that Oz will also be negatively affected by the 2013 box office "slump." The reality is quite the opposite: the "slump" is a result of uninteresting titles, and therefore there's likely a lot of pent-up demand among moviegoers. Oz is a strong-enough option that it should finally get those audiences to turn out, and an opening north of $80 million seems like a foregone conclusion.

is also opening in most international markets (around 80 percent), where it could earn over $100 million this weekend.

At 2,188 locations, revenge thriller Dead Man Down is targeting the older male audience that isn't going to be as interested in Oz. Unfortunately, that strategy hasn't been working too well in 2013: for example, Dead Man Down distributor FilmDistrict could only get Parker to a $7 million opening, and that was with a bigger marketing push. In fact, FilmDistrict has gone very light on Dead Man Down's advertising, and instead seems to be focused on Olympus Has Fallen.

What marketing there is portrays Dead Man Down as pretty standard revenge fare, though it's hard even to tell who's getting revenge on who. Add in the fact that Colin Farrell has at-best a spotty box office track record—Seven Psychopaths could only muster $4.2 million last October—and it's a foregone conclusion that Dead Man Down will open below $10 million (FilmDistrict is expecting mid-to-high single digits).

Roadside Attractions is releasing World War II drama Emperor in to 260 locations. The Tommy Lee Jones/Matthew Fox movie has been getting a bit of a promotional push in the past week or two, though it would be lucky to earn over $1 million this weekend.

Forecast (March 8-10)

1. Oz - $92.4 million
2. Jack the Giant Slayer - $13 million (-52%)
3. Identity Thief - $6.3 million (-35%)
4. Dead Man Down - $5.5 million

Bar for Success

It's unreasonable to expect Oz to equal Alice in Wonderland's absurd $116.1 million debut. Instead, the movie ought to be matching past early March hits The Lorax and 300, which means it gets a pass at $70 million. Dead Man Down, on the other hand, is in good shape at $10 million, though that's looking really unlikely.