24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Immortals

Box office: 'Immortals' destroys rivals Sandler, DiCaprio [video]

November 14, 2011 | 12:32 pm

Immortals was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend
For the first time in months, young males showed up to the multiplex in drove this weekend, lured in by the 3-D sword-and-sandals epic "Immortals."

Relativity Media's big-budget bet collected a solid $32 million at the box office this weekend, driven largely by the male audience interested in seeing the action flick. The Tarsem Singh-directed picture delivered the biggest-ever opening for the independent studio -- welcome news, since the movie cost the company about $80 million to produce and roughly $50 million more to market.

Meanwhile, Adam Sandler saw one of his lowest openings ever for a broad commercial comedy with the $26 million start for his cross-dressing  "Jack and Jill." The Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "J. Edgar," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, collected a decent $11.5 million on its first weekend in theaters.

For more on the weekend's hits and misses, check out this week's box office video report.


Relativity Media is at a crossroads

Box-office gods smile on 'Immortals'

Do we like Adam Sandler more when his movies are bad?

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Henry Cavill stars in "Immortals." Credit: Relativity Media

'Immortals:' How much is it like '300'?

November 14, 2011 |  7:30 am

Similarities and difference between "Immortals" and "300"
The millions of people this weekend who paid to see "Immortals," the mythology-laden story of Theseus and the cruel King Hyperion, turned out for plenty of reasons. But doubtless high on the list was the movie's underlying similarities to "300," the Gerard Butler-starring story of dueling Persians and Spartans.

Like the 2006 hit, Tarsem Singh's movie, which stars Henry Cavill and Mickey Rourke, is a swords-and-sandals swashbuckler heavy on the visuals (and the ketchup packets). "Immortals" also came from the same producers, a fact that the film's distributor, Relativity Media, was not shy about emphasizing in its television ads.

But those producers were not entirely keen to compare the two movies. "We don't really see them as that similar," Mark Canton, one of the producers who made both films, told 24 Frames last week. "This ['Immortals'] is about the journey of a man finding his faith, and '300'...is a great action movie."

He added that "300," based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, centered on a war between two human civilizations whereas "Immortals" mixed in legends of the gods. (Canton did allow for a superficial similarity: "'Immortals' is the most visually compelling movie that we've seen in a long time, and '300' before that was the most visually arresting movie we've seen in a long time.")

A Relativity executive heavily involved in "Immortals" was similarly inclined toward distinctions.

"We looked at the Greek mythology as a fantasy world more than a Greek world," said Tucker Tooley, the Relativity No. 2 who oversaw "Immortals" production. "We didn't approach this as a typical swords-and-sandals film."

He added that there were differences in the visuals department too: "As Tarsem has said on many occasions, he views '300' as a comic strip coming to life, and this is a painting coming to life."

There's a reason to put some distance between the two films -- apart from producers not wanting to feel like they're repeating themselves, a "300" sequel has long been in the works, and what's the sense of doing one if "Immortals" already fits the bill? (Of course, with Relativity's $32-million domestic opening for "Immortals," we wouldn't rule out a sequel for that film either.)

In at least one regard, though, "Immortals" has a long way to go before it can be uttered in the same breath as "300" -- the Butler pic grossed more than $200 million in the U.S.


Relativity Media is at a crossroads

Box Office: Sandler, DiCaprio can't beat No. 1 "Immortals"

"Immortals"' stuns visually, stumbles narratively, critics say

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Mickey Rourke in "Immortals." Credit: Relativity Media


'Immortals' stuns visually, stumbles narratively, critics say

November 11, 2011 |  2:28 pm

The critics on 'Immortals'

Without a big-name star to bank on, the new sword-and-sandals action movie "Immortals," directed by Tarsem Singh, has been ceaselessly touted in ads as being "from the producers of '300.' " Like that film, "Immortals" is chock-full of striking visuals, muscle-bound warriors and bloody battles. What's missing, critics are saying, is a coherent narrative.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey asks, "Where are the gods of Olympus when you need them?" and laments that "mere mortals were apparently not able to create a movie that actually made sense." It's not all bad — Tarsem (who prefers to go by his first name) is "a visual visionary," and star Henry Cavill is "magnetic as Theseus" — but the script, by Greek American brothers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, is overstuffed and illogical.

Continue reading »

From ‘I’m.mortal’ to ‘In Time,’ from ‘War of Gods’ to ‘Immortals’

October 31, 2011 | 10:06 am

Henry Cavill in

Picking a movie title is often a fraught affair. Just ask sci-fi alum Andrew Niccol, whose latest journey into the future, “In Time,” hit theaters Friday.

That wasn’t always the title 20th Century Fox had penciled in for the movie. The Justin Timberlake-starrer was previously titled “Now” and, before that, “I’m.mortal." 

As Fox was working on Niccol's film back in spring 2010, Relativity Media was preparing its own fall 2011 film, a Greek epic by Tarsem Singh (“The Fall,” “The Cell”). It was initially dubbed "War of Gods."

The “I’m.mortal” title hadn’t been registered with the Motion Picture Assn. of America yet when “Immortals” switched its title from “War of Gods” in April 2010.  Relativity, Niccol said, demanded Fox give his sci-fi flick a new name to avoid confusion with their Nov. 11, 2011, release. 

Niccol recalled his aha moment when he came up with "I'm.mortal." “I was so happy when I finally saw that ‘I’m mortal’ is inside the word ‘immortal,” the writer-director told 24 Frames. “And then someone goes and steals it from you,” he added with a laugh. (Not everyone, though, was as enthusiastic as Niccol was about "I'm.mortal" — online opinions about it ranged from “sure-to-be-tweaked” and “dumb” to “cute, quirky.” )

Re-titled “Now” last fall, the movie became "In Time" in May.

“[‘Now’] was just more difficult for people to grasp. So we made it something even more accessible,” Niccol said.

As for that title revision for Singh's movie, Relativity and the filmmakers decided "Immortals" was a more original-sounding title that better spoke to the novel take on Greek mythology than "War of Gods."

“We love ‘Immortals.’ It’s a strong title. It sounds like an event movie and very epic,” a spokesperson for Relativity Media said.

Niccol is no stranger to having to think up new titles. His 1997 cult favorite, “Gattaca,” was filmed under the name “The Eighth Day,” a reference to Genesis and the genetic engineering that defines the film’s “not-so-distant future.” When a Belgian film with the same name, “Le huitième jour,” made it to theaters before Niccol’s movie, he was forced to come up with a new title. He decided on the name of the spaceflight corporation in the story, Gattaca, derived from the four letters of DNA bases.

“That [title] actually got better, I think. It was just so unique,” Niccol said. “It’s sort of lasted the test of time.”

Whether “In Time” and “Immortals” stand that test of time remains to be seen, but their test at the box office comes first. "In Time" opened Friday to challenge "Puss in Boots" and "Paranormal Activity 3," finishing in third. Starring the new Superman, Henry Cavill, "Immortals" opens Nov. 11 against Leonardo DiCaprio's "J. Edgar" and Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill."


‘In Time’: Time is money in the Justin Timberlake sci-fi film

‘In Time’: Young actors on the secrets to playing old characters

Comic-Con 2011: ‘Immortals’ brings young Greek gods to the screen

— Emily Rome

Left photo: Henry Cavill and Joseph Morgan in "Immortals." Credit: Jan Thijs

Right photo: Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in "In Time." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox.


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