Moviegoers weren't interested in shelling out their hard-earned money to see Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in "Larry Crowne" at the box office over the summer.
But judging by today's People's Choice Awards nominations, the two are still some of the most popular stars in the country. Both Roberts and Hanks secured nods for the 2012 ceremony, whose winners will be voted upon by the public. Also among the actors and actresses selected as fan favorites were Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston, Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson.
There was, predictably, much love for both the "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" franchises: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2" was nominated as movie of the year, favorite action movie, favorite book adaptation and favorite ensemble movie cast; Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Tom Felton were all deemed some of the most popular stars younger than 25; Taylor Lautner, meanwhile, earned a nod for favorite action star.
This year’s flop “Larry Crowne” notwithstanding, Julia Roberts has been one of Hollywood’s most bankable movie stars. But her costarring role in the independently financed “Fireflies in the Garden” didn’t prevent the movie from being earmarked for a direct-to-video release. Now, four years after “Fireflies” was shot, the drama about a dictatorial father will finally reach theaters.
The first feature from writer-director Dennis Lee, “Fireflies” was produced by Senator Entertainment, which went under soon after the movie premiered to caustic reviews at 2008’s Berlin International Film Festival. As Senator’s assets were divided, the film landed at Sony, which planned to skip a theatrical release. But Lee, Roberts and some of the film’s makers labored to get the film back, and cobbled up enough money to support a limited “Fireflies” release this weekend.
In this week’s Word of Mouth column, John Horn writes about the film’s journey to the screen, and talks about the article in this video.
Inasmuch as it’s ever hard being a Hollywood pinup, Ryan Reynolds is having a tough summer. He took a step up in the superhero leagues with “Green Lantern,” where he played a lead in a comic-book movie for the first time — only to have the movie snubbed by critics and dismissed by a wider moviegoing public.
Next up is this weekend’s body-switching comedy “The Change-Up,” which hasn’t garnered strong early reviews and isn’t tracking especially well, particularly among the young male audience that typically makes up an R-rated comedy’s core audience.
It all adds up to a setback for the 34-year-old Canadian, who just two summers ago was being hailed as an A-list leading man when “The Proposal” reached a level of surprise blockbuster success. Reynolds booked several gigs off that turn, including the “Green Lantern” role, after proving that he can bring in a much-coveted female demographic. But when the curtain comes down on the box office this summer, his stock won’t be nearly as high, and it remains to be seen whether producers will be as quick to book him as leading man in a big-budget bet.
On the red carpet of "The Change-Up” premiere, Reynolds acknowledged paying "some attention" to ticket sales, but said he doesn't "place a tremendous amount of focus on it. It doesn't mean as much to me as it does studio heads." (Video interviews with the film's stars can be found below.)
Reynolds is not the only “Change-Up” star to have a rough go of it this summer. Olivia Wilde got her first significant spot in a major Hollywood tent pole with Jon Favreau’s genre mash-up “Cowboys & Aliens.” But the film isn’t off to a great start — it collected only $36.4 million on its first weekend in theaters, and in an embarrassing turn, was nearly beaten at the box office by the lower-profile "The Smurfs."
Wilde, who went to Comic-Con International in San Diego last month to promote the movie, said that she too doesn’t pay much attention to a film’s performance, saying she "purposefully scheduled" time to direct a short film last weekend so she could be distracted from the "box-office extravaganza."
"I'm really happy, because I have no idea how we did, so it's OK," she said. "I don't know the numbers. I don't need to know."
About the only star of “The Change-Up” who seems to be having a good summer is Jason Bateman. The actor, again playing one of his likably even-keeled roles, found success at the box office with “Horrible Bosses,” a raunchy comedy about a trio of men who make a pact to murder one another’s employers. The modestly budgeted film came in to the summer with few expectations but has already raked in more than $110 million worldwide since it opened in July.
For Reynolds, the stakes get higher in the months to come. He’s set to star in two big releases, the undead thriller “R.I.P.D.” and as the titular wisecracking Marvel mercenary in "Deadpool." For his sake, one hopes things pick up, or he could end up with a lot more box office news on which he won’t put a tremendous focus.
In the new comedy “The Change-Up,” Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds play two childhood friends who’ve grown into very different adults — one’s a successful lawyer and father, the other is a devil-may-care, struggling actor who enjoys playing the field. After a night of drinking they experience a freak accident at a fountain in a park and end up switching bodies.
Such swaps are a time-honored trope in Hollywood, with the ’80s seeing a particular surge. Can you name these four films from that era in which characters ended up in each other’s skin? (Answers appear below each photo)
1. In this 1984 film directed by Carl Reiner and starring Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin and Victoria Tennant, the wealthy spinster Edwina Cutwater (Tomlin) has arranged to have her soul migrate into the body of a young beauty (Tennant) but a mishap sends it instead into that of unhappy attorney Roger Cobb (Martin). Martin and Tennant married two years after the film came out.
Answer: “All of Me”
2. In this 1987 movie, Dudley Moore plays Dr. Jack Hammond, a heart surgeon, who swaps brains with his likable but not super-smart teenage son, Chris (Kirk Cameron).
Answer: “Like Father, Like Son”
3. In this 1988 film, George Burns ends up in the body of his 18-year-old grandson (Charlie Schlatter).
Answer: “18 Again!”
4. In this 1989 movie, Jason Robards plays Coleman Ettinger, who’s hoping to enter a dream state so that he and his wife, Gena (Piper Laurie), can live forever. They embark on some “transcendental” exercises on their front lawn, and just then 16-year-old Bobby (Corey Feldman) happens by, colliding with the bike-riding Lainie (Meredith Salenger), the most gorgeous girl in his school. Both are knocked momentarily unconscious; when they come to, the spirits of Coleman and Gena have entered their bodies.
Photos, from top: Jason Bateman, left, and Ryan Reynolds in "The Change-Up"; Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin in "All of Me"; Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron in "Like Father, Like Son"; George Burns and Anita Morris in "18 Again"; Meredith Salenger and Corey Feldman in "Dream a Little Dream." Credits: Richard Cartwright / Universal Pictures; Los Angeles Library; file; New World Pictures; Vestron Pictures
DC Comics can count a surprisingly diverse group of characters among its roster: a Western bounty hunter, a hero afforded strength by a ring and willpower, a group of renegade special-forces agents, an ordinary-looking man who's faster than a speeding bullet.
All these characters do, however, have a few things in common. They've all been given the silver-screen treatment within the last five years. And they've all been turned into movies that have disappointed in one way or another.
Two of the four, the western "Jonah Hex"and the military-themed "The Losers," were outright flops. A third, "Superman Returns," performed reasonably well at the box office but cost a pretty penny, didn't inspire a sequel and prompted DC and parent company Warner Bros. to start again.
The fourth property, of course, became the basis of this weekend's Ryan Reynolds-starring "Green Lantern," a 3-D film that opened to just $52. 7 million, a number my colleague Amy Kaufman noted was "below even Warner Bros.' modest expectations."
These four films represent a striking contrast to another DC-Warner Bros. creation: the Christopher Nolan-led Batman franchise. The two movies in that series thus far, "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," have taken in $1.3 billion around the world -- nearly three times as much as the under-performing quartet (with "Green Lantern," of course, still going). Throw in its two tepidly received Alan Moore adaptations, "V for Vendetta" and "Watchmen" (sui generis properties but DC titles just the same) and its troubles getting a "Wonder Woman" movie off the ground, and you're left with persuasive evidence for an argument the skeptics have been making for a while now: Unless Nolan is involved, a DC-Warner Bros. production has a hard time on the big screen.
In some ways, of course, the numbers show how hard it is to create superhero blockbusters; even rich mythologies don't mean much when it comes to creating a film franchise. And there's an innate challenge here: As Hollywood expands its pool of characters beyond the A-list, it's invariably going to find it trickier to produce a hit.
But the middling performance of DC's "Green Lantern" also highlights a particular struggle for the comic-book unit. Marvel, after all, has managed to take lesser-known properties such as Iron Man and create a blockbuster franchise. It also just made a tidy $420-million global hit out of the previous also-ran title "Thor." (Later this year it will try once again with a new "Captain America" movie.)
And it's not like Warner Bros. didn't spend on "Green Lantern" -- the movie cost an estimated $200 million to produce, one of the highest price tags of the year.
So is it marketing? The challenge of including both geek moments for hardcore fans and general scenes for everyone else? Longtime comic-book fans like to talk about the differences between Marvel and DC. One oft-quoted distinction (and a frequently debated one) has DC as the darker brand and Marvel the more pop-oriented one. That could potentially explain the box-office gap...except Nolan's movies are perhaps the darkest of the superhero lot.
Fortunately for DC and Warner Bros., the director remains involved with its two most vaunted properties, Batman (with his upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises") and Superman (via the "Man of Steel" reboot he is stewarding). But after a number of superhero movies haven't lit up the box office this year, there may well be a shakeout to come in comic-book cinema. And with this weekend's "Green Lantern" numbers, DC titles will end up right in the middle of that conversation.
The summer of the superhero continues with this weekend's release of "Green Lantern." But if the mostly tepid reviews are any indication, this may be the first major superhero misstep of the summer.
After a double shot of Marvel heroes -- Thor and the X-Men -- it's the DC universe's turn with "Green Lantern." Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, the cocky fighter pilot-turned-emerald savior of the universe. Blake Lively plays his love interest. There's lots of CGI and intergalactic bad guys, and for the most part, the critics seem tired of all of it.
Times critic Kenneth Turan is actually kinder to the film than most of his peers, but though he does grant that the film is "watchable in a comic book kind of way," he ultimately lays the blame at the feet of star Reynolds. He writes, " 'Green Lantern's' biggest problem, never completely overcome, is that there is a serious tonal shift between the devil-may-care Hal Jordan of the opening sections and the dead serious savior of the universe of the finale."
Downtown Los Angeles better get ready to roll out the red carpet.
After announcing the bulk of its lineup last week, the Los Angeles Film Festival on Wednesday revealed its slate of more glamorous screenings and events. The annual festival, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, will welcome Guillermo del Toro as its guest director, and his film "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" will close the festival. That means star Katie Holmes and maybe even husband Tom Cruise should be on hand to lend some star power to the movie gathering, which runs from June 16 to 26 at L.A. Live. It's taken a long time for the movie to get a premiere date: The horror film was produced by Disney's Miramax film unit, but its release was held up when the parent company was shuttering and selling off the specialty film division. Although Del Toro is credited as the film's producer and co-writer, he was a very active participant in the film's making.
The festival's special screening will be "Green Lantern," the highly anticipated film based on the popular DC comic and starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. That likely means the crowd will be comprised of more fanboys than last year, when "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" played in that slot and hundreds of teen girls camped out in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Robert Pattinson.
Meanwhile, two smaller but also buzzworthy films will be shown in the gala screenings program. One is "Drive," which stars Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan and is about to have its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The other, Chris Weitz's "A Better Life," is about an illegal immigrant's quest to start over in Los Angeles. It will have its world debut at the festival.
Continuing his quest to make an appearance at every significant cultural event, James Franco will sit down for a conversation about "film, poetry and pushing the creative envelope," according to the festival's release. He will also present a film he wrote, directed and stars in, "The Broken Tower," about gay poet Hart Crane.
LAFF will also welcome Julie Taymor, who recently came under creative fire for her involvement in the highly criticized and troubled "Spider-Man" musical on Broadway. She will be discussing how one takes source material and makes it work in theater or film.
But now the Fox comic-book film appears to have found its director. According to two people who were briefed on the project but not authorized to talk about it publicly, visual-effects savant Tim Miller is set to come on and make his directorial debut with the movie. Fox could not immediately be reached for comment.
Miller knows superheroes, and Fox knows him: The filmmaker worked on effects for the studio's comic-book films such as "X-Men" and "Daredevil." More recently, he worked on effects for the visuals-heavy "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."
Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, is the at times mentally unstable Marvel character who cracked snarky while perpetrating gruesome acts of violence.
Reynolds has a packed schedule, but the film has been a priority for him. The project could also become more of a priority at Fox as another of its superhero hopefuls, "Wolverine," sits without a director in the wake of Darren Aronofsky's departure.
A new four minutes of footage from the Martin Campbell-directed "Lantern" may have turned it around for one group -- and confused the other even further.
Hardcore fanboys will find much to scrutinize about the new material, which you can check out below. There are lots of Oans in heavy makeup in the Hal Jordan tale, and lights and weapons flashing on distant planets; indeed, but for a few shots, most of the trailer takes place somewhere other than Earth. The "Green Lantern" oath is recited not once but twice, and lines like "I am Tomar-Re, Protector of Sector 2813" are intoned with deep significance.
There's a moment of Reynolds humor/skepticism, but it's quickly dispensed with. There isn't a single woman in the entire four minutes. And there are just a couple of lines that someone without knowledge of the mythology would fully comprehend (e.g., "the ring turns thought into reality").
You know pretty much right away where you stand when the footage opens with an account of what happens when, as one fan blog put it, "Abin-Sur is attacked by the Parallax."
Perhaps the biggest shift is away from the early trailer's focus on the odyssey of one man from slacker to superhero and toward the galactic, the-world-could-soon-end stakes.
The material originated at this last weekend's WonderCon, a fanboy gathering. But the fact that the scenes, which Warner Bros. knew would go viral, lean so heavily this way suggests that the studio is trying a different tack at this stage of the marketing campaign. Unlike an "Iron Man" or a "Green Hornet," which in the months before release used humor and a human story to reel in a broad demographic, "Green Lantern" is playing straight to the core audience, even though it is, in the end, a big-budget summer tent pole that needs to cut a broad swath.
Toward the end of the material, Mark Strong's Sinestro addresses a group of Oans and says: "I don't need to tell you who we are." It's a fitting line -- this is footage for people who don't need to be told much of anything.
The actor, who burst onto the film scene as a slack-jawed oddball in "The Hangover," played a mental patient in the dramedy "It's Kind of a Funny Story" this fall. Now he could be seen in an even grittier role: opposite Ryan Reynolds in the stylized crime drama "R.I.P.D."
Galifianakis is in talks to play the co-lead in the film, according to two people with knowledge of the project who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. The movie is based on a popular Dark Horse comic about dead police officers patrolling the underworld.
Peter Lenkov created the comic -- the acronym stands for Rest In Peace Department -- which centers on the revenge sought by the recently murdered policeman Nick Cruz (Reynolds). Galifianakis would play another dead police officer.
Robert Schwentke ("Red") is directing the movie, and one person who was briefed on the plans for the Universal Pictures production said that the company aims to shoot in the summer, when Reynolds has an open slot in his packed schedule. Universal Pictures declined to comment on pending development projects.
Galifianakis is about to get unleashed on the big screen: He reprises his Alan Garner role in "The Hangover 2" this May and follows it up with the role of Hobo Joe in the new "Muppets" movie in November.