Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Summer 2013 Forecast

It's that time of year again—on May 3rd, the Summer movie season officially begins with the domestic release of Iron Man 3.

Last Summer was very top-heavy with comic book blockbusters The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises; this year's slate is much more diverse, which should be beneficial to the overall health of the box office. Guaranteed blockbusters include Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, while more original fare like White House Down, The Heat and Pacific Rim should do strong business as well.

Summer 2011 holds the current record with $4.4 billion—with around 20 movies likely to earn over $100 million, it's almost a foregone conclusion that Summer 2013 will wind up exceeding that figure.

Ahead of the beginning of the season, here are predictions for the Top 20 domestic titles (with foreign forecast included as well), along with some thoughts on other major titles coming up in the next four months.

1. Iron Man 3
(May 3): When the second entry in a franchise is poorly received—as was the case with Iron Man 2—that typically indicates that the third movie will see a decline in domestic box office. Iron Man 3 should be able to buck this trend, though, since it's technically a follow-up to last May's universally loved (and incredibly successful) superhero team-up The Avengers. While Iron Man 3 won't match The Avengers's $623.4 million, it should be the highest-grossing entry in the Iron Man franchise thanks to its great release date, strong early word-of-mouth, and goodwill from The Avengers. (Domestic: $400 million, Foreign: $600 million)

2. Despicable Me 2 (July 3): The first Despicable Me surprised many and put Illumination Entertainment on the map when it earned $261.5 million in Summer 2010. The movie was also very well-liked—the Minions in particular are already iconic—and the sequel ups the ante story-wise with supervillain Gru recruited by a government agency to stop another supervillain. Still, with the exception of Shrek 2, most animated sequels tend to wind up at about the same level as their predecessor. Despicable Me 2 will be one of the highest-grossing movies of the Summer—just don't expect it to join the ranks of $400 million animated movies Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2. (Domestic: $300 million; Foreign: $410 million)

3. Man of Steel (June 14): With his superhuman strength and somewhat bland personality, it's been tough to get Superman to stand out against Batman, Spider-Man and the like in the past few decades: 2006's Superman Returns did decent business ($200 million domestic) but was widely considered a creative disappointment. With Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan providing guidance to director Zack Snyder, though, it appears Man of Steel has found a way to make the invincible superhero seem accessible to general audiences. The movie's previews have received tons of praise so far, and if it's as good as rumors suggest, then Warner Bros. should have a pretty big hit on their hands. (Domestic: $290 million, Foreign: $360 million)

4. Monsters University
(June 21): Almost 12 years after Monsters, Inc. grossed $255.9 million (at the time, an all-time high for Pixar), prequel Monsters University reaches theaters. Pixar has had mixed success with franchise fare: Toy Story 3 became their highest-grossing movie ever in 2010 with $415 million, though Cars 2 wound up noticeably lower than its predecessor ($191.5 million vs. $244.1 million). Monsters, Inc. is more popular than Cars was, and there's more ticket price inflation kicking in here. Still, prequels are inherently unnecessary—we already know Mike and Sully become best friends and elite scarers—so a Toy Story 3 bump appears out of the question as well. (Domestic: $280 million; Foreign: $470 million)

5. Star Trek Into Darkness
(May 17): The 2009 Star Trek reboot was a surprise hit with $257.7 million, and maintains a very strong reputation four years later (it has a spot in IMDb's Top 250). Usually this would mean that the sequel would noticeably outperform its predecessor: unfortunately, the movie seems to be having a tough time standing out amidst the crowded May schedule, and early word indicates that it isn't a leap forward in quality. Even if it does wind up around the same level domestically as the first movie, though, four years of strong word-of-mouth and the addition of 3D will at least translate in to significantly higher foreign grosses. (Domestic: $250 million, Foreign: $400 million)

6. Fast & Furious 6
(May 24): Most franchises hit their peak around the second or third outing: for the Fast and Furious series, though, its highest-grossing entry is the fifth one, which earned $209.8 million in 2011. With the return of all major cast members, an interesting new location (London) and previews that feature some fantastic vehicular action, all signs point to the sixth movie being at least equally successful. Still, it's competing with the second weekend of Star Trek Into Darkness and the opening of The Hangover Part III, and that should keep it from improving drastically on Fast Five. (Domestic Forecast: $215 million, Foreign Forecast: $500 million)

7. The Heat
(June 28): Hollywood often neglects women, though rarely has it been as obvious as it is in Summer 2013: it will be nearly two months in to the season before the first live-action nationwide release with a female lead arrives. That movie is The Heat, which finds two funny and likeable ladies—Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy—teaming up as mismatched cops. If The Heat turns out to be really funny—and with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig at the helm, there's a good chance it is—it will easily be a major mid-Summer comedy hit. (Domestic: $155 million, Foreign: $125 million)

8. The Hangover Part III
(May 24): The first two Hangover movies are two of the most successful comedies ever with $277.3 million and $254.5 million, respectively. Unfortunately, the second one is largely reviled, and the third movie's previews are surprisingly low on laughs. A good comparison for The Hangover Part III is Little Fockers, which was the follow-up to a disappointing sequel. It dropped 47 percent from its predecessor; with tough competition in late May, a similar fall wouldn't be surprising for The Hangover Part III. (Domestic: $150 million, Foreign: $300 million)

9. Pacific Rim
(July 12): Previews for director Guillermo Del Toro's monsters vs. robots movie have received overwhelmingly positive reactions from the geek community, and the movie has a great spot on the July release schedule (distributor Warner Bros. has scored in mid-July in each of the past four Summers). Unfortunately, this is a case where the online buzz is likely to outweigh the movie's actual box office haul—it's going to score with younger males, but it probably won't break out beyond that group too much. It does, at least, have huge overseas potential, which should make this a worldwide hit. (Domestic: $145 million, Foreign: $330 million)

10. White House Down
(June 28): The year's first White House invasion movie, Olympus Has Fallen, was a major hit for indie distributor FilmDistrict, and is on its way to a final total around $95 million. While that might sound like it would be a problem for White House Down, history suggests two closely-timed, nearly-identical movies can actually both succeed. In this case, the best example is the Deep Impact vs. Armageddon battle in 1998: Deep Impact earned $140.5 million in May, but two months later Armageddon outgrossed it with $201.6 million. With a noticeably bigger budget and big-time stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, it wouldn't be surprising if White House Down takes a similar leap over Olympus Has Fallen. (Domestic: $140 million, Foreign: $190 million)

11. Lone Ranger (July 3): A decade ago, star Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer bucked the trend of unsuccessful pirates movies with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which spawned one of the most successful franchises ever. That crew is looking to do the same thing for Westerns with The Lone Ranger, though that's easier said than done. Depp's schtick is struggling a bit lately—the fourth Pirates movie was the lowest-grossing one yet, and last Summer's Dark Shadows couldn't even get to $80 million. Additionally, previews for The Lone Ranger still aren't really gelling, despite what seems like a valiant effort from Disney. Expect slightly higher grosses than other big-budget Westerns like Cowboys & Aliens ($100.2 million) and Wild Wild West ($113.8 million), but not by much. (Domestic: $135 million, Foreign: $270 million)

12. World War Z (June 21): With the success of AMC's The Walking Dead and February's Warm Bodies ($66.2 million), it's safe to say that zombies are very popular right now. World War Z is the first big-budget aspiring blockbuster featuring the creatures, though casual audiences may have a tough time associating the movie's fast-moving swarms of CGI zombies with the slow-moving ones they are used to. With star Brad Pitt and what's sure to be a hefty marketing effort from Paramount, World War Z will likely do fine, but opening right after Man of Steel is going to keep this down. (Domestic: $135 million, Foreign: $285 million)

13. Epic (May 24): Action-oriented animated movies (as opposed to comedic ones) aren't historically all that successful, and Epic's story calls to mind notorious animated bomb The Ant Bully ($28.1 million). Still, from a scheduling perspective, Epic is in great shape: Memorial Day weekend is typically a good time to release an animated movie, and its closest competition (Monsters University) comes out four weeks later. (Domestic: $130 million, Foreign: $245 million)

14. The Wolverine
(July 26): The most popular character from the X-Men franchise makes his second solo appearance this Summer; the first outing, X-Men Origin: Wolverine earned a very good $179.9 million in 2009 but was for the most part met with tepid reactions. In an effort to win back some people, The Wolverine takes him to Japan in the big-screen adaptation of one of the character's most-popular comic book arcs. While that's going to go a long way with intense fanboys, general audiences aren't likely to care much, and lower domestic grosses seem inevitable. (Domestic: $125 million, Foreign: $250 million)

15. Elysium
(Aug. 9): In 2009, District 9 was a surprise hit both commercially and critically: the low-budget sci-fi flick earned $115.6 million at the domestic box office and snagged a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Director Neil Blomkamp's follow-up Elysium looks like a similarly strong outing, and has the added benefit of Matt Damon in his tough-guy wheelhouse. There is some risk that following Oblivion, After Earth and Pacific Rim, audiences will be burnt out on futuristic sci-fi by August, but Elysium should be able to do solid business regardless. (Domestic: $120 million, Foreign: $155 million)

16 (tie). The Smurfs 2 (July 31): The first Smurfs movie earned a very good $142.6 million at the domestic box office in 2011—the sequel was greenlit mainly because of the foreign grosses, though, which wound up a staggering $421 million. Domestically, at least, the movie benefited from incredibly weak competition for family audiences that Summer: Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 both underperformed a bit, and were basically gone from theaters by the time The Smurfs opened at the end of July. The competition is much more intense this year, though, and as a result The Smurfs 2 is likely in line for a noticeabledecline. (Domestic: $115 million, Foreign: $460 million)

16 (tie). Turbo
(July 19): Even though Rise of the Guardians barely made it, DreamWorks Animation has now had 13-straight movies earn over $100 million at the domestic box office. Turbo won't reverse that trend, though coming on the heels of three other major animated movies this Summer, it's likely that family audiences are going to be exhausted by this point. It also doesn't help that the movie feels a bit derivative of Pixar's Cars; all in, this is likely going to be a lesser outing from DreamWorks Animation. (Domestic: $115 million, Foreign: $205 million)

18. Grown Ups 2
(July 12): The first Grown Ups is one of Adam Sandler's biggest hits ever with $162 million. Since then, though, Sandler's brand appears to have taken a bit of a hit: Jack and Jill underwhelmed with $74.2 million, while That's My Boy flopped last Summer with $36.9 million. Also, as is inherent with many sequels, Grown Ups 2 just doesn't look as fresh or original as the first movie, and a lower gross should follow. (Domestic: $110 million, Foreign: $125 million)

19. After Earth
(May 31): Based on star power alone, After Earth ought to be a hit: Will and Jaden Smith's first movie together, The Pursuit of Happyness, earned $163.6 million, and their last two individual movies (MIB 3 and The Karate Kid) each grossed over $175 million. Unfortunately, it's opening in the shadow of what should be the biggest Memorial Day weekend ever, and it looks like it could be too intense for children and too cartoonish for adults. The big money for this one is overseas, where the elder Smith's movies consistently gross over $300 million. (Domestic: $105 million, Foreign: $310 million)

20 (tie). The Great Gatsby
(May 10): Opening in between Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness, it could be tough for The Great Gatsby to get much attention. However, its eye-catching previews and fantastic cast—including Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that he seems born to play—do appear to be drawing some buzz recently, and it's likely that this is a modest early Summer hit with adults. (Domestic Forecast: $100 million, Foreign: $150 million)

20 (tie). 2 Guns
(August 2): Late Summer is a good time to release an adult-oriented action movie, and Universal seems to have a great option in 2 Guns. The movie finds Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as undercover federal agents forced to team up, and the previews suggest the two have an easy, appealing chemistry. It won't be a huge hit, but a $100 million finish wouldn't be surprising at all, especially considering Washington's recent track record. (Domestic: $100 million, Foreign: $95 million)

Other Noteworthy Titles


There are a handful of major releases that didn't make this list. Here's a breakdown of those titles, with a quick explanation for why they were left off.

The Internship
(June 6): A reteaming of Wedding Crashers duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson should be a slam-dunk, but The Internship's odd trailers give off the impression this movie should have come out in 2007, not 2013.

This is the End
(June 13): Previews for This is the End deliver a lot of laughs, but the notion of stars playing themselves is something that probably won't connect outside of major cities.

R.I.P.D.
(July 19): If there's one Summer 2013 movie that's likely to take the Jonah Hex awards (ill-advised, low-grossing comic book adaptation), it has to be R.I.P.D.

Red 2
(July 19): 2010's Red was a surprise hit with $90.4 million; while the sequel does add a few interesting cast members (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins), it feels like the premise itself has already worn out its welcome.

300: Rise of An Empire
(Aug. 2): The original 300 earned an incredible $210.6 million in 2007, which made a follow-up seem very logical. However, that movie had a very definitive ending, and without director Zack Snyder or star Gerard Butler, audiences are likely going to treat this as nothing but a knock-off.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
(Aug. 7): The first Percy movie was a solid performer with $88.8 million at the domestic box office—the sequel, though, appears designed specifically to build on the $138 million foreign haul, and the best-case scenario is that domestic winds up about even.

Planes
(Aug. 9): This Cars spin-off was originally supposed to be direct-to-video, but early this year Disney decided on a theatrical release. Unfortunately, August is historically a dead zone for animated movies, and it doesn't help that so many major animated releases are coming before it this Summer.

We're the Millers
(Aug. 9): Without a ton of comedy competition and with Horrible Bosses stars Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, this could wind up a surprise hit—unfortunately, there's almost no material available for this title right now, so it's going to stay off the main list.

Kick-Ass 2
(Aug. 16): Riding a wave of hype, the first movie only wound up with $48.1 million; even coming off strong home video business, it's unlikely that this sequel drastically outgrosses its predecessor.

One Direction: This is Us
(Aug. 30): The One Direction 3D concert movie could be a minor late Summer hit, but it's unlikely it matches Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($73 million).

Weekend Report: 'Pain' Gains First, 'Iron Man 3' Scores $198.4M Overseas

At the domestic box office this weekend, Pain and Gain claimed the top spot with a decent $20.2 million, while The Big Wedding was a big flop.

The real story, though, was the overseas box office, where Iron Man 3 opened a week early. Playing in 79 percent of foreign markets, the Marvel three-quel grossed $198.4 million, which is up on The Avengers's $185 million start at the same time last year. For a full by-territory breakdown and thoughts on the movie's long-term prospects, check out the Around-the-World Roundup at the bottom of this article.

With Iron Man 3 still a week away in the U.S., Pain and Gain was able to narrowly beat Oblivion to take first place at the domestic box office. Playing at 3,277 locations, the movie's $20.2 million debut is one of the lower starts in director Michael Bay's career, though all of his movies (with the exception of 1995's Bad Boys) have been much more expensive. For Mark Wahlberg and The Rock, it's a pretty average start: it's up on The Rock's Snitch ($13.2 million), but off from Wahlberg's 2012 crime flick Contraband ($24.3 million).

Pain and Gain had plenty of star power and a lively, colorful marketing effort from Paramount, but ultimately the premise itself was a bit limiting. It's tough to get general audiences on board for a movie in which the lead characters are violent, sociopathic criminals, and the mix of comedy and violence created weird tonal issues that were a bit off-putting. Those who did show up to the movie weren't thrilled with the final product, either—they awarded it a "C+" CinemaScore, which suggests it won't hold up well against intense competition from Summer movies.

Surprisingly, the audience was 49 percent female—odd for such a violent outing, and likely a result of the Wahlberg/Rock team-up—and 63 percent were 25 years of age or older.

In second place, Oblivion fell 52 percent to $17.4 million. Through 10 days the movie has earned $65.1 million, and with another steep drop likely against Iron Man 3 next weekend it's going to be a tough road to $100 million for this Tom Cruise sci-fi adventure.

In its third weekend, Jackie Robinson biopic 42 dipped 40 percent to $10.7 million. To date, the movie has earned $69 million.

At 2,633 theaters, star-studded romantic comedy The Big Wedding opened to an awful $7.6 million. Among wedding movies, that ranks lower than disappointing entries like The Five-Year Engagement ($10.6 million), License to Wed ($10.4 million) and You Again ($8.4 million). It's also a small fraction of the opening of star Katherine Heigl's 27 Dresses ($23 million).

Female audiences tend to be neglected around this time of year, and in theory The Big Wedding should have served as great counterprogramming. Unfortunately, the movie just didn't look all that appealing: the jokes never really landed, and aside from a trite bit about divorced parents (Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton) pretending to still be married, there wasn't much of a story to latch on to.

As expected, the audience skewed overwhelmingly female (77 percent) and older (66 percent over 30 years old). With a "C+" CinemaScore and tough general competition from Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby coming up, The Big Wedding is poised to disappear quickly from theaters.

Rounding out the Top Five, The Croods eased 27 percent to an estimated $6.7 million. The DreamWorks Animation hit has now earned over $163.1 million.

In 11th place, Mud opened to $2.22 million from 363 locations. That's distributor Roadside Attractions' second-highest debut ever behind 2011's The Conspirator ($3.5 million). With strong reviews (98 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and no real high-profile arthouse fare coming out in the next few weeks, the movie could be on pace for nearly $10 million.

Robert Redford's The Company You Keep expanded nationwide to 807 theaters this weekend but only earned a disappointing $1.15 million. Including its grosses in limited release, the political thriller has so-far grossed $2.25 million.

Around-the-World Roundup

Iron Man 3's $198.4 million overseas debut ranks ninth all-time, and second among Marvel movies behind Spider-Man 3 ($230.5 million). Its top territory was the U.K. with $21.1 million, followed by South Korea ($19.5 million), Australia ($18 million), Mexico ($17.1 million), France ($15.8 million), Brazil ($12.9 million) and Italy ($11.5 million). According to Disney, it also had the biggest opening weekend ever in the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions.

The movie still has openings in China, Russia and Germany to look forward to in the next week or two. While matching The Avengers's $888 million is probably out of reach, it is now guaranteed to wind up with at least $600 million by the end of its run. Add in what should be a very strong domestic performance as well, and Iron Man 3 will likely be the first 2013 movie to reach $1 billion worldwide.

Iron Man 3 expands in to China and Germany on May 1st, and then in to Russia and a handful of smaller markets on May 2.

Foreign hit The Croods added $13.1 million from 67 markets for a new total of $305.6 million. Worldwide, The Croods has now earned over $468 million, and should wind up over $500 million by the end of its run.

After opening strong a few weeks ago, Oblivion has been falling very quickly overseas. This weekend, the movie dropped 62 percent to an estimated $12.8 million. To date, the Tom Cruise sci-fi adventure has earned $134.1 million, and should get past $200 million with the addition of China on May 10th and Japan on May 31st.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
added $8.1 million in China this weekend, and has so far banked over $50 million there. Overall, the sequel has grossed $232.7 million overseas, and still has an opening in Japan (June 8th) to look forward to.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

From The Zone TV Archives

Zone TV from Straight Shooter Productions on Vimeo.

Joe Boyd – Pastor, Actor, Director, Producer

Joe Boyd is a pastor turned actor turned filmmaker. He grew up in the midwest, went to Cincinnati Christian University to become a pastor and started a church in Las Vegas, He now works full time as the President of Rebel Pilgrim Productions and part-time as the Teaching Pastor at Vineyard Cincinnati. His upcoming romantic comedy, “A Strange Brand of Happy” releases in theaters this fall.

So, Joe, what led to you as a pastor getting involved as a film actor?

A few years after planting my church in Las Vegas, I was depressed. Something wasn’t working. My wife saw this and gave me a Christmas gift that changed my life forever – improv classes at the Second City training center. Within two years of that first class I was working six nights/week on the Las Vegas Strip as a comedic actor.

Image

What are some of the film acting roles you’ve played?

I’ve had a pretty typical acting journey. Lots of small parts in big things and big parts in small things. I had a small recurring role on General Hospital. I starred in the poker-themed comedy “Hitting The Nuts”. Currently I am the lead in “A Strange Brand of Happy”, which I also produced.

What has been your favorite film role?

I wrote, directed and acted in “Hitting The Nuts”. It is an improvised mockumentary similar to a Chris Guest film. By far, the most fun I have ever had in my life. I hired my friends and I think we created a very funny movie. It is coming out this summer through Cinetic Media. It’s not a Christian movie…kind of a PG-13 comedy with a heart.

Read more at  http://faithflixfilms.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/joe-boyd-pastor-actor-director-producer/

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Rise of the Anti-Hero

A lot of TV is dark these days. Some of television’s most celebrated shows over the past 10 years have taken us deep into the shadiest, seediest—and sometimes scariest—areas of our world, fantasies, and the human psyche. And you know what? Apparently, we love it.

We are hooked on shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Dexter, Game of Thrones, Weeds, American Horror Story, The Sopranos, True Blood and House of Cards, just to name a few.
Network and Cable TV is entering a mini golden era in which solid writing, high production value and A-list actors have combined to produce top-quality shows that we can’t seem to devour fast enough. 

Unlike the traditional hero who is morally upright and steadfast, the anti-hero usually has a flawed moral character.

Of course, for some people, these shows are just a bit too dark. But for the rest of us who tune in to these series weekly (or binge watch them via Netflix), what draws us to these stories? And what keeps us coming back? Is it that we have a sick fascination with watching the underbelly of society live out our own secret desires? Or is it that we waiting for redemptive resolution that affirms our understanding of right and wrong?

To answer that question, we must first consider the anti-hero.

The “anti-hero” (also known as the flawed hero) is a common character archetype for the antagonist that has been around since the comedies and tragedies of Greek theater. Unlike the traditional hero who is morally upright and steadfast, the anti-hero usually has a flawed moral character. The moral compromises he or she makes can often be seen as the unpleasant means to an appropriately desired end—such as breaking a finger to get answers—whatever it takes for the protagonist to come to justice. Other times, however, the moral flaws are simply moral flaws, like alcoholism, infidelity, or an uncontrollable and violent temper.

READ MORE AT http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/tv/rise-anti-hero

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 69 - Papa Joe Bradford



Joe Bradford is the CEO and co-founder (along with his wife Denise) of Elijah’s Heart, a non-profit charitable and educational organization that serves children and families. As one of the nation’s most respected leaders and advocates for at-risk and fatherless children, Joe serves with his unique ability to unite teams for active service and love to the least fortunate through teaching, speaking and program development.

In all circles of influence Joe touches, he is known as “Papa Joe.” Joe seeks to impact people and cities with an unstoppable move of love in action through the National Walk of Love Program and other powerful methods. He also holds the rare honor of having his triumphant life story inspire a major motion picture, “Unconditional,” which was released on DVD in March of 2013.


In this interview, Bradford talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about how the art of film can depict life change and personal transformation.

“Unconditional” is the true story of transformation where a life-saving encounter with two children leads a young woman named Sam to a reunion with her oldest friend Joe, which begins her journey back toward God’s unconditional love.

Transmedia—Is It the Last Great Idea?

We love our buzz words. In fact, every industry from business, science, manufacturing, to marketing all have their own unique set of buzz words. You probably use them in everyday language—out of the box, forward thinking, face time, core competency, boilerplate, and monetize.

Now comes along a new one from the world of marketing and media. The new buzzword that is sweeping Hollywood and the entertainment industry is transmedia. Just like all other buzz words, sometimes its meaning gets lost in the translation. Some people within the entertainment industry, especially at the studio level, are calling transmedia the last great idea. It would seem that the industry is betting the future on this new and emerging concept.

So what exactly is transmedia? It starts with a big idea or concept, which is developed into a story. The question is how do you deliver it in a form of a movie or television show that can maximize its life expectancy and profits? In other words, how do you turn it into something besides a movie or television show?

Transmedia storytelling is about creating multiple platforms and formats. The goal is to use mass media to develop a media franchise. It’s more than just merchandise. That’s been around since the days of Star Wars. The goal is to create an open source where the fans actually take ownership and help create content. You become the artist, and you add content to the original story. Or you enhance the original story.

A perfect example is the hit television series, Lost. Followers created countless websites that catered to fans of the series. The users of the sites created their own mythology, storylines and explanations of Lost. The writers of the show were amazed at the depth and the analysis that the fans brought to the discussion. In reality, the fans had gone beyond the show and created their own world, which was more entertaining than the actual television series.

Transmedia storytelling involves the concept of creating multiple platforms such as video games, books, websites, and spinoffs. But it goes beyond that to include social apps, messaging, phone apps, media plug-ins, and social networks which help create a sense of community. These days, the average Hollywood film costs about $103 million to produce and market. For that kind of money, the industry expects big returns. Although there is a danger in promoting an open source concept, such as transmedia, Hollywood believes it’s a necessity in our current business environment. They are convinced they can create an overreaching narrative structure by implementing the principles of multimedia storytelling.

Today’s “tent Pole” movies are an example of where Hollywood and the entertainment industry is headed. It’s clear that the end game is all about creating the next media franchise, whether that’s Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, or Twilight. Hollywood is interested in creating the next media sensation. Who will step up and fill the shoes of Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, or Star Wars?

For better or for worse, transmedia storytelling is not only today’s reality but the future. The days of stand-alone movies without the prospects of a sequel or franchise may very well be a fading memory or a distant view in our rear view mirror

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Christian Publicist and Film Producer Cheryl Ariaz Wicker to Speak at 2013 CWIMA National Conference

Christian publicist, film producer and media personality Cheryl Ariaz Wicker will join top women in media as a speaker at the 8th Annual Christian Women in Media Association (CWIMA) National Conference on April 25-27, in Dallas, Texas. She will co-present the workshop “Putting the Media to Work for You,” which will take place on Friday, April 26, from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. Joining Wicker, will be Carol Doyel of LivingBetterat50.com, who will talk about how to build a blogger base and content using Twitter.

Wicker will share her techniques for building a unique brand through social media. She will also help participants set social media objectives, create effective content as well as learn proper social media etiquette and more.

Wicker—whose 17-year media career as a publicist, faith-based film and television producer, casting director, and Christian celebrity interviewer, has raised her reputation in Christian media—runs her own agency, Premier 1 Studios, an entertainment public relations agency that provides public relations, branding, social media and production services. Premier 1 Studios specializes in Christian, family-friendly and redemptive entertainment in the areas of film, publishing and music. In addition, Wicker hosts her own video interview podcast, Christian Movie Connect which features interviews with actors, filmmakers and nationally known leaders in faith-based and redemptive films.

Each year since 2006, the Christian Women in Media Association (CWIMA), a group of women in all facets of media, gather together with their friends and colleagues to connect with leading media personalities, gain inspiration and knowledge, invest in their career and refresh their faith.

This year, the association holds their 8th National CWIMA Conference with the theme “Inspire, Influence, Impact…Engaging Our Culture Through Media” on April 25 to 27, 2013 at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The conference promises to be a refreshing occasion, as CWIMA prepares a rich program of workshops, keynote sessions, and events, topped with a Gala Awards Dinner.

CWIMA President and Founder Suellen Roberts is dedicated to carefully selecting topics and speakers who educate and inspire to honestly engage the culture with truth. Among the top keynote speakers in the conference are Sheila Walsh, Carol Cymbala, Ruth Graham, Lois Evans, Thelma Wells, as well as Karen Covell, June Hunt, Karol Ladd and Kathleen Cooke.

More information about the event may be found on CWIMA’s official website, cwima.org. For more information on Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, check out her website at: cherylariazwicker.com.

ABOUT CHERYL ARIAZ WICKER

Cheryl Ariaz Wicker is a Christian publicist, an award-winning film producer and celebrity interviewer with more than a decade of experience interviewing celebrities, including recording artists, authors, speakers, political leaders, filmmakers and actors. As an entertainment publicist, Cheryl is also the owner of Premier1Studios, an entertainment media and public relations agency based in Monroe, Louisiana which provides public relations, branding, social media and production services. She specializes in promoting and producing redeeming movies, having most recently co-produced the film “Finding Normal” by Pure Flix Entertainment, starring Candace Cameron Bure, which will air on GMC

A Strange Brand Of Happy (Official Trailer)



A Strange Brand of Happy - Join The Team



SYNOPSIS:

After losing his job David is pushed by his roommate to hire a life coach named Joyce. A decision aided in part by how pretty David finds this life coach, but also a desire to get unstuck in life. When Joyce invites him to join the volunteer group she takes to a retirement home David discovers his manipulative ex-boss, William, is part of the group and interested in Joyce as well.

The motley crew of retirees instantly recognize the potential for drama with this love triangle. A wily old man goads the boys to battle for Joyce. As a result, David begrudgingly agrees to go to an open mic night Joyce holds for people to ponder the existence of God. It’s there that a poet says a few things that cause David’s head to tilt and move him a little further down the path of finding himself. The problem is the ungentlemanly competition he’s still in with William. When that turns extreme, David makes a decision that nearly ruins his dual-level progress with Joyce. He’s then forced to turn to the only community he has left, the ragtag band of retirees who point him in the direction of true north.

A uniquely faith-friendly romantic comedy starring Grammy Award winner Rebecca St. James and Academy Award winner Shirley Jones.  

The Red Pill

The Red Pill from Media Missionary School on Vimeo.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Report: Tom Cruise Back on Top with 'Oblivion'

As the only brand-new movie in nationwide release, sci-fi adventure Oblivion easily took first place with an estimated $38.2 million. Unfortunately, overall box office was down around 19 percent from the same frame last year, and it now appears that April 2013 will wind up about even with April 2012.

Oblivion's $38.2 million start ($5.5 million in IMAX) is the highest non-sequel debut for star Tom Cruise since 2005's War of the Worlds, and it's his fifth-best ever behind that movie and the first three Mission: Impossible outings. It was a bit higher than 2002's Minority Report ($35.7 million), though with ticket price inflation it likely had noticeably lower attendance.

Oblivion's solid (but not spectacular) opening can be attributed at least in part to smart scheduling. Bracing for the Summer box office season, studios typically avoid releasing big-budget fare during the month of April; Universal Pictures, however, successfully stretched the calendar in April 2009 and 2011 with Fast and Furious and Fast Five (both of which opened over $70 million). While Oblivion didn't come anywhere close to matching those movies, it is likely that the less-competitive April landscape helped considerably.

A good date isn't enough, though, if the movie itself doesn't have anything to offer, which wasn't the case with Oblivion. While previews were light on story, they did show off fantastic sci-fi imagery, and showed star Tom Cruise in his action movie wheelhouse. Cruise's image has taken a bit of a hit in the last decade, though he does still remain quite popular, and according to Universal he was the top reason that audiences sought out Oblivion this weekend.

Universal's exit polling also indicated that the audience was 57 percent male and 74 percent were 25 years of age and older. They awarded the movie a weak "B-" CinemaScore, which suggests it's going to have a very tough time holding up against Iron Man 3 in two weeks. Still, it's likely that Oblivion winds up over $100 million at the domestic box office, and with at least twice as much overseas this will be a solid early-year performer.

After setting the opening weekend record for baseball movies last weekend, 42 eased 34 percent to an estimated $18.23 million. While that's a very good hold, it's not quite on par with past "A+" CinemaScore recipients like Argo (16 percent) or The Help (23 percent). Still, through 10 days the movie has earned $54 million, and could still reach $100 million by the end of its run.

The Croods
held on to third place with an estimated $9.5 million this weekend (a light 28 percent decline). Through five weekends, the DreamWorks Animation hit has grossed $154.9 million.

In fourth place, Scary Movie 5 plummeted 56 percent to an estimated $6.3 million. The movie has so far earned a paltry $22.9 million, and it will ultimately fall short of matching Scary Movie 4's $40.2 million opening weekend.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
rounded out the Top Five with an estimated $5.8 million. With $111.2 million so far, it's on pace to fall way short of its predecessor, but it's going to more than make up the difference overseas.

The Place Beyond the Pines
tripled its theater count to 1,542 this weekend but was only up 23 percent to $4.75 million. With $11.4 million in the bank, Pines has already out-grossed director Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine ($9.7 million).

While Oblivion was the only new nationwide release, there were a handful of new movies in moderate release this weekend. At 381 theaters, Christian baseball movie Home Run wound up in 12th place with an estimated $1.62 million. At half as many theaters, Lionsgate/Pantelion's Filly Brown was close behind with $1.36 million, while Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem disappointed with $622,000 from 354 locations.

On Friday, the 2012 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture inched past $1 billion combined at the domestic box office. This is the third time that's ever happened—the first two were 2009 and 2010—and is due in large part to six out of the nine movies grossing over $120 million (easily a new record). Overall, the highest-grossing nominee is Lincoln with $182.2 million. However, it was Silver Linings Playbook that pushed the nominees past the $1 billion finish line: since the awards ceremony, Silver Linings has added $23.9 million for an excellent $131 million total.

Around-the-World Roundup


G.I. Joe: Retaliation
took first place at the overseas box office this weekend with an estimated $40 million. Most of that came from China, where the movie opened to an incredible $33 million. That's four times higher than its predecessor's debut, and also higher than that movie's final tally. Retaliation has now earned $211.7 million overseas for a worldwide total of $322.9 million, which is ahead of Rise of Cobra's $302 million total.

After opening a week ahead of the U.S. in most foreign markets, this weekend's domestic champion Oblivion added $33.7 million from 60 territories for an early total of $112 million. Its top market so far is Russia with $14.8 million, and it still has debuts in China and Japan coming up in May.

Already a hit overseas, The Croods added another $23.4 million this weekend for a total of $272.3 million. It's now only a few days away from passing How to Train Your Dragon (around $277 million), and it could wind up as high as $350 million by the end of its run.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Christian Movie Connect Episode 68 - Jason Jones

Forecast: 'Oblivion' Gets Jump on Summer Season This Weekend

As the Summer movie season quickly approaches, the studios are only releasing one brand-new movie—Tom Cruise sci-fi adventure Oblivion—in to theaters nationwide this weekend. While strong word-of-mouth will keep 42 in play, Oblivion has enough going for it that it should open on top with at least $30 million, which will be the highest opening weekend in April 2013.

At the beginning of the new century, Tom Cruise was arguably the biggest movie star in the U.S.: from Mission: Impossible II in 2000 to Mission: Impossible III in 2006, Cruise starred in seven-straight movies that earned at least $100 million at the domestic box office.

Towards the end of that run, though, Cruise's public image took a hit due to some of his more eccentric behavior and his strong association with the controversial Church of Scientology. Since 2006, Cruise has only had a single $100 million domestic earner, which was the fourth Mission: Impossible movie in 2011. Excluding Rock of Ages and Lions for Lambs—both of which are way outside of Cruise's wheelhouse—his non-sequels have essentially settled in to a $75-$85 million range.

Oblivion does appear to have more going for it than Jack Reacher, Valkyrie and Knight & Day, though. First, this is Cruise's third sci-fi movie, and his first two—Minority Report and War of the Worlds—are some of his more popular outings. Oblivion's aggressive marketing has also been solid, if not spectacular. The campaign has emphasized the impressive post-apocalyptic imagery (which many have compared to Pixar's Wall-E), though the vagaries surrounding the actual story itself isn't helpful. It has also promoted filmmaker associations with Tron Legacy and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (both of which earned over $170 million), and has given Morgan Freeman almost equal billing with Tom Cruise (which should help attract with urban audiences).

Similar to Cruise's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Oblivion was supposed to open a week early in IMAX to build word-of-mouth. That plan was cancelled recently, likely because the final product wasn't exactly stellar—it's currently below 60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—and instead Universal opted for a more traditional launch in to 3,782 locations this weekend. While there's not a ton of competition in the marketplace right now, there is Iron Man 3 on the horizon, which is a big-enough event that it could slightly mute Oblivion grosses. Still, Universal is expecting at least $30 million this weekend, which should be an easy number to reach for Oblivion.

It's worth noting that regardless of how Oblivion fares in the U.S., it's already a solid earner overseas: the movie opened to $61 million from most foreign markets this past weekend, and it appears on track for at least $200 million before the end of its run.

After three weeks in limited and moderate release, Ryan Gosling/Bradley Cooper crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines expands nationwide to 1,542 locations this weekend. To date, the movie has grossed $6.4 million, and it's possible that it earns about that much this weekend (which should be good for a spot in the Top 5).

There are also three noteworthy limited releases this weekend. Rob Zombie horror flick The Lords of Salem reaches 354 locations, while Christian baseball movie Home Run is opening at 348 theaters. Finally, Lionsgate/Pantelion's Filly Brown debuts in 188 venues. While none of these are likely to be big hits, they should all make it in to the Top 20 this weekend.

Forecast (April 19-21)
1.Oblivion - $36.9 million
2. 42 - $20.4 million (-26%)
3. The Croods - $9 million (-31%)
4. G.I. Joe 2 - $6.4 million (-41%)
5. Place Beyond the Pines - $6.1 million
-. Scary Movie 5 - $5.4 million (-62%)
-. Evil Dead - $4.5 million (-53%)

Bar for Success
Tom Cruise's Minority Report opened to $35.7 million over a decade ago, and there's really no reason Oblivion should be opening below that level. Meanwhile, The Place Beyond the Pines ought to be earning at least $5 million (it did $3.9 million at 514 theaters last weekend).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

BEKKA PREWITT - MUSIC & FASHION HOST DEMO REEL




Christian Movie Connect Episode 67 – Brent Martz



Producer, Brent Martz, is the creative ministries pastor at Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California, and is no stranger to large-scale entertainment with purpose. With years of production experience, Brent’s work covers both short and feature films, including “Lucky Day” and “Ordinary World”. Brent has also received multiple awards for his films at various festivals including Best Director, Best Production Design and Best Cinematography for, “Day of Reckoning”, and the Audience Choice Award for his documentary, “Deletes”. His most recent film, “Not Today” is due for theatrical release in the spring of 2013.

In addition to film, Brent co-wrote, directed and produced an innovative, interactive musical-drama based on the last week in the life of Jesus, entitled “Jerusalem A.D” with a cast and crew of more than 200 members which ran for 3 years drawing more than 10,000 viewers.

In this interview, Martz talks with CMC host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, about the reality of human trafficking and how he hopes to raise awareness through the genre of faith-based films.

“Not Today” is the story of a young man from a wealthy American family who travels to India with the
desire of experiencing the life of a partying jet setter. However, little does he know his life will change
forever when he’s confronted with the reality of the thriving human-trafficking trade

Weekend Report: '42' Called Up to Box Office Big Leagues

Jackie Robinson biopic 42 got off to a very strong start this weekend, while Scary Movie 5 wound up opening even lower than already-low expectations. The Top 12 earned $108.8 million, which was slightly up from the same weekend last year.

42
took first place with $27.5 million from 3,003 locations. That's easily the best opening ever for a baseball movie ahead of The Benchwarmers ($19.7 million) and Moneyball ($19.5 million). It's also the second-highest opening for a sports drama behind 2009's The Blind Side ($34.1 million).

Warner Bros. is reporting that the audience was 52 percent female and 59 percent over the age of 35, and all demographic groups awarded the movie a rare "A+" CinemaScore. Combine the older crowds with the great word-of-mouth and it's entirely possible that 42 winds up earning close to $100 million by the end of its run, which will make this a huge success for Warner Bros. and producer Legendary Pictures.

At 3,402 locations, Scary Movie 5 opened in second place with $14.2 million. That's the lowest start for the Scary Movie franchise, and is less than half of Scary Movie 4's $40.2 million debut on the same weekend in 2006. It's also off from January horror spoof A Haunted House ($18.1 million), which didn't have a strong brand working in its favor.

For in-depth analysis on 42 and Scary Movie 5, check out last Thursday's Weekend Forecast.

In third place, DreamWorks Animation's The Croods dipped 37 percent to $13.1 million. To date, the animated hit has earned $142.5 million, and it now looks like it will fall short of reaching $200 million by the end of its run.

In its third outing, G.I. Joe: Retaliation fell 48 percent to $10.9 million. On Sunday, the action sequel passed $100 million.

Last weekend's winner Evil Dead plummeted 63 percent to $9.5 million, which meant it fell from first to fifth place. Through 10 days, Evil Dead has grossed $41.5 million, and it still looks poised to close just above $50 million.

Jurassic Park 3D
was off 52 percent to $8.9 million; that drop is closer to Phantom Menace 3D (65 percent) than Titanic 3D (31 percent). Jurassic Park 3D has now earned $32 million, which is a bit behind Phantom Menace through the same point.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Church gets more drama than it bargained for in film


Los Angeles (CNN) - When a film's credits list "prayer coordinator" before the hair/makeup and wardrobe teams, you might guess it is a faith-based production.

"Not Today," which premieres on 50 screens in 20 U.S. cities this weekend, was not funded by Hollywood investors, but with $1.6 million from the collection plate at Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California.

Still, the church couldn't avoid the controversies that seem routine in Hollywood productions — including a lawsuit over pay.

The idea for the film began during a trip to India where the church began building schools for the Dalit class - considered the lowest in India's caste system - in 2002. It's a project that fits Friends Church's Quaker tradition, said Creative Arts Pastor Brent Martz. President Richard Nixon's parents worshiped at the church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.

"Our hearts were totally ripped open for the Dalit people," Martz said. Social rules and poverty make their children vulnerable to human-trafficking in labor and sex.

Instead of a typical church fundraiser - perhaps a bake sale - Friends Church's leadership proposed a feature film shot on location on two sides of the globe and with a powerful message about the $32 billion world slave trade. Film profits will go toward the $20 million needed to build 200 schools for Dalit children.

Why a church would make a movie

"Media is the language of our culture, so what better way to communicate a story of a huge global tragedy like human trafficking than with a film," Martz said. "What better way to motivate a church audience that can sometimes be sheltered and not want to walk into situations or topics like human trafficking but with a story, a story that they can hear, that they would understand, that would compel them to get involved."

The story is also about the power of faith and prayer in changing lives. More than coincidentally, making the movie changed the lives of those involved.

The cast includes veteran Hollywood actors John Schneider (TV's "Dukes of Hazard"), Cody Longo (Nickelodeon's "Hollywood Heights") and Cassie Scerbo (ABC Family's "Make It or Break It").

The 7-year-old sex slave

But the most memorable performance comes from Persis Karen, who played Annika, a 7-year-old girl sold into slavery in Hyderabad, India.

Like her character, Persis is in the Dalit class. But unlike Annika, she attends one oReadf the 40 Friends Church schools. Until she was chosen for the role, Persis had never seen a movie or left her village, Martz said. "She grew from day to day during the shoot."

Persis, whose big brown eyes proved to be a powerful cinematic force, won the award for best breakout performance by an actress at the Monaco Charity Film Festival in 2012. She now aspires to be an actress.
Longo called her "my little angel."

Annika's story is not unusual. She and her father live on the streets of Hyderabad trying to survive by entertaining tourists with a ragged puppet and her songs. Her survival seems uncertain when they cross paths with Cade Welles, the 20-year-old played by Longo. He drives an orange Lamborghini back in Southern California but travels with friends to party in India.

Read more at http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/13/church-gets-more-drama-than-it-bargained-for-in-film/

The Defining Principles of the Media Missionary

The media missionary is not concerned with genre, ratings, marketability, or the level of Christian content contained with any media or film project. Their work becomes an act of worship with no division between the sacred or secular. The media missionary approaches each project with no defined agenda other than to recognize God at work and their willingness to join him in that work.

Calling

A media missionary has a distinct calling from God to serve him in the area of media and entertainment. For the most part, it is a calling to reach a broader or comprehensive audience. His or her purpose is to reflect God’s glory and truth in the media he or she creates. In order for a media missionary to complete or fulfill his or her calling, he or she must be willing to submit and be under the control of the Holy Spirit. The journey to become a media missionary starts first with recognizing the calling. If you choose to assign a title or not to assign one is not important as long as you recognize you have a purpose and a calling to fulfill. In fact, calling yourself a media missionary in front of your peers may be more of a hindrance or obstacle to your calling.

A Love for the Industry

Without a respect and love for the people that work in the entertainment industry, it is impossible to fulfill your calling as a media missionary. A media missionary will live his or her life in a way that will reflect God’s love and grace for those in the industry.

A Student of the Filmmaking Process

We have a responsibility to be proficient in all aspects of filmmaking and media making. Our work should excel in the areas of production values and artistic expression. There is no excuse for not being a student of the filmmaking process. A media missionary must study and learn the art of filmmaking and media making.

Redeem and Reform

A media missionary desires to redeem and reform the industry from within. In other words, we must go, work and function in the mainstream media and entertainment industry. It requires us to live out our faith on a daily basis. The only way that we can redeem or reform the industry is through the power of God’s presence in our lives. If we approach our work in this manner, it becomes more than just a vocation or job. It becomes an act of worship to God.

Sees Hollywood as a Partner

A media missionary understands that Hollywood is not the enemy. We do not go to this industry to subvert it. Our agenda is not a Trojan Horse approach. We seek a partnership with Hollywood. God can help us to make films and media that speak of Jesus the least but that has him most in mind. This concept is the heart of a media missionary and the relationship that we seek with the media and entertainment industry. Adopting this approach will put us in a position to make media that is more Christian in nature than Christian films or media have been in content. We should never use media as a form of propaganda.

The Parables of Jesus

Media missionaries must be culturally relevant and learn to communicate to a broad audience. Our inspiration comes from the parables of Jesus. He taught us how to tell stories that are engaging, thought-provoking, honest and truthful. He used symbolism and metaphors to communicate complex truths in order to make them understandable. His stories always had a point and were never boring. As with Jesus’ stories, our stories need to be Biblically based and contain truth that lead people to the Father.

Find Point of Entry

Filmmaking is not about giving all of the answers, but it offers a venue in which we can ask questions. The media missionary’s role is to find a point of entry where we can link some aspect of our culture back to the Gospel message. We have the opportunity to ask questions — Where is God when I hurt? Does he care about me? Is he still present? Why is nothing in my life working? These are often questions our film characters are asking, if not externally at least internally. Often the audience will identify with these characters because they want the same answers to these questions.

We often spend too much time giving contrived answers and overlook what our audiences’ real questions are. What are their situations? Crisis pregnancy? Divorce? Sickness? Job loss? What circumstances and struggles are they facing? Poverty? Single parenthood? Addiction? Low self esteem? Situations and struggles provide the media missionary a point of entry to speak to a broader, more comprehensive audience.

The Mentor

A media missionary is a mentor to the next generation of filmmakers and media makers. Future media missionaries require a mentor, based on the Paul/Timothy relationship model (mentor/ disciple). This relationship involves a lot of work that is often inconvenient and requires dedication, tenacity and commitment. But it is necessary if we are to create disciples who understand how to use media to communicate God’s love, grace, glory and truth. Media missionaries are often developed through on-the-job training with the help of a seasoned, veteran media missionary to help guide and direct them.

Motivation

Do you love your audience more than what you are saying to them? The media missionary must build trust with his or her audience. We build trust when we respect our audience. If they are willing to give us two hours of their time, it is our duty to create a product that is entertaining. The media missionary must put art first and the message second. We rely on God to reveal his truth through the art. We don’t have the power to change anybody’s mind unless the Holy Spirit is involved in the process.

Our responsibility as a media missionary is to get out of the way and allow God to do what he is going to do. It’s not our job to tell the audience what to think. All we are required to do is to develop a relationship with our audience. God will do the rest. Speaking with mercy, compassion, and kindness in our work will be more powerful than the words we use in our art. Media missionaries are motivated not by outrage but by outreach. Where, in the past, Christians have branded Hollywood in a negative light, our mission is to view Hollywood in a positive light so that we may enter into a discussion and dialogue with them.

Our mission is to restore the image of God. We are motivated to express truth and then allow our audience to respond on a deep, profound emotional level. We recognize that our current culture is motivated by postmodern philosophy. We must express art in such a way that they can experience truth in a relevant fashion that speaks to the heart.
 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Forecast: '42' Goes to Bat Against 'Scary Movie 5'

This weekend, Jackie Robinson biopic 42 faces off against the fifth installment in the long-dormant Scary Movie franchise, with both titles targeting around $20 million. The winner will take first place on what should be another good overall weekend.

Sports drama 42, produced by Legendary Pictures, tells the true story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson's challenging first season for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The story is inherently compelling—Robinson was the first African-American to play on a Major League Baseball team, and remains an important figure in American civil rights history—and Warner Bros.' marketing has done a very good job highlighting the drama while also making the movie look exciting. One key component has been the use of Jay-Z song "Brooklyn (We Go Hard)," which seems like it was written specifically for the movie.

From an opening weekend perspective, the biggest drawback for the movie is its genre: the top openings for baseball movies belong to 2006 comedy The Benchwarmers ($19.7 million) and 2011 drama Moneyball ($19.5 million), meaning no movie centered around "America's pastime" has ever debuted north of $20 million. Based on the compelling story and strong marketing, it looks like 42 could set a new record, though only barely.

The first four entries in the Scary Movie spoof franchise ran from 2000-2006, and grossed an average of over $100 million each. The first movie primarily lampooned the Scream franchise, and remains the most successful with $157 million. As the franchise went on, the movies became a more general way to parody recent theatrical releases across all genres, though the focus did remain on horror movies. The final chapter, Scary Movie 4, opened to $40.2 million in April 2006 and went on to earn a very good $90.7 million. Around this time, though, the Friedman/Seltzer team began rolling out their spoof movies (Date Movie, Epic Movie, etc.), which became the genre norm for the latter half of the last decade.

Opening at 3,402 locations exactly seven years after the last entry, Scary Movie 5 is attempting to revive some of the franchise's former glory. This isn't the first time The Weinstein Company has attempted to do this: in 2011, they brought back the Spy Kids and Scream franchises after an eight and 11 year hiatus, respectively. Unfortunately, Scream 4 only opened to 54 percent of its predecessor's gross, while Spy Kids: All the Time in the World only retained 35 percent.

Scary Movie 5 could theoretically have avoided this decline, though the marketing just hasn't been all that convincing. Much of the focus has been around mocking the Paranormal Activity franchise: unfortunately, that series is on its way out, and it's already been skewered this year in A Haunted House (from original Scary Movie contributor Marlon Wayans). In a tacit acknowledgement of this, much of its material has transitioned to lampooning January horror hit Mama, though without a DVD release it's hard to imagine the movie is that broadly recognizable.

Finally, a major component of the marketing has been the gimmick casting of tabloid favorites Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Sheen and Lohan are overexposed, though—Sheen's FX show Anger Management has new episodes regularly, while nary a day goes by without another Lohan legal incident making the rounds—which means paying to see these two on the big-screen isn't a great value proposition.

All in, Scary Movie 5 will be lucky to open to half as much as the last Scary Movie, meaning an opening in the high-teen-millions is likely.

The Place Beyond the Pines and Trance also expand to moderate release this weekend, and both should be able to crack the Top 12. Starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, Pines reaches 514 locations after earning a strong $1.3 million in two weeks of very limited release. Meanwhile, director Danny Boyle's psychological thriller Trance expands to 438 theaters after averaging $32,786 at four locations in its opening last weekend.

In limited release, Terrence Malick movie To the Wonder opens at 18 locations, while drama Disconnect reaches 15 theaters.

Forecast (April 12-14)
1. 42 - $21.1 million
2. Scary Movie 5 - $17.6 million
3. The Croods - $14.9 million (-28%)
4. G.I. Joe 2 - $11.4 million (-45%)
5. Evil Dead - $10.7 million (-59%)
6. Jurassic Park 3D - $10.5 million (-44%)

Bar for Success
Based on the history of baseball movies, 42 is in fine shape if it opens over $15 million. Meanwhile, Scary Movie 5 really ought to open higher than January's A Haunted House ($18.1 million).