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Category: The Avengers

'Battleship' debuts weakly at the box office [video]

May 21, 2012 |  5:00 am

BattleshipThe headline writers had fun.

The makers of “Battleship” didn’t.

In a dramatically weak opening, the alien invasion drama grossed just an estimated $25.3 million in its domestic premiere, as “Battleship” took in less than half the returns of “The Avengers” in its third weekend.

The Marvel superhero story continued its stunning run at the ticket window, becoming the highest grossing global release in the history of the Walt Disney Co., with total receipts of $1.18 billion.

“Battleship” has done moderately well overseas, grossing $226.8 million to date, but with a budget of $209 million and gloomy prospects domestically, Universal Pictures will struggle just to break even on the production. 

Two other new films in wide release opened softly. Paramount’s Sacha Baron Cohen comedy “The Dictator” grossed $17.4 million but did better in international markets, while Lionsgate and Alcon Entertainment’s pregnancy plot “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” was orphaned by ticket buyers, with sales of a paltry $10.5 million, well below expectations.

As for the “Battleship” headlines, here are a few of the cruelest:

‘Battleship’ Capsizes with $25 Million Launch

‘Battleship Sinks, ‘Dictator’ Drowns

‘Battleship’ Fires Blanks

‘The Avengers’ Torpedoes ‘Battleship’

‘Battleship’ Pulls Up Lame at Box Office


Box office: 'Avengers' helps sink 'Battleship'

'Avengers' final opening weekend tally: $207.4 million

'Battleship' keeps Taylor Kitsch afloat after 'John Carter' debacle

--John Horn

Photo of Rihanna in "Battleship." Credit: Universal Pictures.





Obama on 'The Avengers,' Kardashians, 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

May 15, 2012 |  1:06 pm

Obama on the view
Perhaps he is actually the first pop culture president. President Obama appeared on ABC's "The View" Tuesday for an interview in which he discussed Wall Street, gay marriage and the Hulk.

Co-host Joy Behar administered a zeitgeist quiz to the president during the show, taped Monday, asking him to name three characters from "The Avengers." "I just saw it, so this is easy," Obama said. "You've got the Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man."

Asked which Kardashian was married for 72 days, the president answered correctly, "That would be Kim." Obama quickly explained his knowledge of the reality star as accidental. "Because he was a ballplayer," he said, referring to Kardashian's ex-husband, NBA player Kris Humphries. "That’s how I know, from watching basketball." 

Obama has made entertainment programs an increasingly important venue for his public appearances. In 2010 he became the first sitting president to appear on a daytime talk show when he visited "The View," and last month he talked about student loans on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Such shows are a way to reach demographic groups key to the president's re-election campaign — women and young people.

A record-setting fundraiser at George Clooney's Studio City home last week also relied on the president's Hollywood ties: Organizers used the joint star power of Obama and Clooney to lure campaign donations from tens of thousands of participants in an online contest vying to attend.

On "The View" episode that aired Tuesday, the commander in chief seemed pretty pop culture savvy for a man with a country to run and a hotly contested campaign underway — he said he DVRs the shows "Mad Men" and "Homeland" for viewing on his long flights.

But the president did miss some questions. He didn't know that Jessica Simpson had recently had a baby, and he deflected a query on the hot-selling erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey." When asked "What’s the controversial sex book that’s on millions of women’s bedside tables?" the president said: "I don't know that. I’ll ask Michelle when I get home."




Obama's dinner guests at Clooney's: Details on lucky winners

George Clooney's Obama fundraiser uses star power with a twist

Steve Lopez: Clooney's Obama party full of 'Hollywood hypocrites'


— Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Barbara Walters, left, President Obama and Joy Behar on "The View." Credit: ABC.

Box Office: 'Avengers' flies past $1 billion worldwide [Video]

May 14, 2012 |  5:00 am


"The Avengers" joined the elite $1-billion club this weekend, passing the massive box office milestone in just 19 days of worldwide release.

After setting the record for the biggest domestic opening ever, the superhero adventure had a massive second weekend, raking in $103.2 million. That raised the film's total in the U.S. and Canada to $373.2 million, and combined with the movie's $628.9 million international haul, the picture joined the ranks of 11 other films that have sold over $1 billion worth of tickets.

With so many moviegoers still interested in the likes of Thor and Captain America, there wasn't much attention paid to Johnny Depp and his "Dark Shadows." The Tim Burton-directed vampire comedy grossed a disappointing $28.8 million upon its debut, less than industry estimates had predicted heading into the weekend.

Why didn't more fans turn up to see Depp's latest flick? Check out this week's box office video report for more.


Exclusive: The only ‘Dark Shadows’ set visit

'Dark Shadows' premiere: Johnny Depp and crew keep it creepy

Box Office: 'Avengers' crosses $1B worldwide; Depp has soft debut

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Chris Hemsworth, left, stars with Scarlett Johansson in "The Avengers." Credit: Walt Disney Studios

'The Avengers': Seven lessons of Marvel's box-office success

May 7, 2012 |  6:00 am

'The Avengers': Seven lessons of Marvel's box-office success

With a huge opening overseas, Joss Whedon's "The Avengers" was poised for a smashing weekend in the U.S. But no one knew just how big the Marvel film would be. Distributor Disney's estimate of $200.3 million (even taking into account potential slight revisions when official figures hit Monday) shatters the previous opening-weekend record of $169.2 million, held by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" last summer.

What are some inferences to be made from the massive haul of the film starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth? Here's our handy rundown.

The branding/superhero era isn’t ending anytime soon. In the last year or two, a drumbeat has slowly started that maybe moviedom's comic book era was winding down. Look at the critical and even commercial sag of several of last summer's movies, said skeptics. "The Avengers" may be sui generis, but expect a reversal of that trend now. Every studio with a superhero license is, as of Monday morning, doubtless checking into how they can wring more out of it--or, if they have several such licenses, perhaps even rolling several characters into one movie.

Television creators can rock too. Coming into this weekend, Whedon had hardly been a force in the movie world, having helmed just one tepidly received  film (“Serenity”), spun off a canceled television series. In fact, as a breed, few TV creators have made a quick, successful leap to the big screen. But "Avengers" changes that. If you have the fan base (Whedon was of course a geek god after cultural events like “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” and the Internet sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along”) you can have a massive blockbuster at the multiplex too.

PHOTOS: 'The Avengers' Hollywood premiere

Geek-speak isn't a turn-off. "The Avengers" didn't shy away from the geek. In fact, the movie embraced it, filling the screen with in-references and dense language about comic book items like the Tesseract. And the Marvel movie was directed by Whedon, the ultimate insider.  Yet that didn't put a cap on its numbers—in fact, it only seemed to inflate them. Which may be connected to...

Critics do matter. Fan sites often like to say that the critics don't have much to say about whether a film will succeed. That may be true for a certain kind of generic action movie. But the strong critical support for "The Avengers" (there were some voices of dissent, like the New York Times' A.O. Scott and this eloquent protest, but they were few and far between) helped extend the movie far beyond the  base.  Telling stat: The two superhero movies with the biggest opening weekends, “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight,” are also, with Rotten Tomatoes scores hovering around 93%, also far and away the best-reviewed.

The villain isn't necessarily the thing. Every great movies needs a memorable villain, a bravura performance by a known actor, like Jack Nicholson’s Joker--or Heath Ledger’s Joker, for that matter. Except perhaps to his most ardent supporters, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki won’t, it's safe to say, go down as one of the iconic villain performances of all time. Yet that was hardly a hindrance to the movie's runaway success.

Art house stars can cross over. Just two years ago, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner were collecting Oscar nominations for small, independently-made movies (“The Kids Are All Right” and “The Hurt Locker,” respectively). Cut to 2012, where the actors were linchpins of "The Avengers" (as the Hulk and Hawkeye, respectively).

Sometimes Hollywood logic is actually logical. It's easy to laugh at the unwritten rules of Hollywood, which say things like 'an unlikable character never works' or 'pre-awareness works every time." But sometimes the saws are saws for a reason. Like, say, "The Avengers," which is based on the supposition that if you combine more than six known characters from a  bundle of previous comics and films, you'll get pretty much six times the box office.


Movie review: 'The Avengers'

PHOTOS: All-time box-office leaders

''The Avengers' as top U.S. debut ever with $200.3 million

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Chris Hemsworth, left, and Chris Evans in "The Avengers." Credit: Disney

'Avengers' explained: Who's that mystery villain?

May 7, 2012 |  5:01 am

The Avengers
Presuming you're among the record-breaking throngs who turned up at the multiplex this weekend to check out "The Avengers" and made sure to stick around for the end credits -- and if you're not, you should stop reading this right now -- you might have a particular question bedeviling you. And, no, it's not "What's shawarma?"

Plenty of moviegoers not schooled in Marvel Comics lore were left wondering -- who exactly is that lizard-looking fellow who turns up in the first bonus scene during the film's credits and why does he seem to be positively gleeful about the idea of winning dominion over Earth?

His name is Thanos, and he's a Marvel villain introduced in the totally cosmic storylines of the 1970s. He desires to win the affections of Death, who in the Marvel Universe is personified as a hooded, skeletal female. He wants to give her every living thing as a token of his affection instead of just going with, you know, a See's Candies variety box. Which is why the "courting death" line makes him chuckle.

In the comics, Thanos coveted objects of power such as the Cosmic Cube (which prominently popped up in "Captain America: The First Avenger") and his appetites set him directly on a collision course with the Avengers.

So, does that mean we'll soon be hearing casting rumors about who will play Thanos in "Avengers Part 2"? Let's meet at Zankou Chicken a little later to discuss. 

-- Geoff Boucher and Gina McIntyre


'Avengers' clip: Scarlett Johansson breaks out Joss Whedon's wit

'The Avengers': Superhero fun for many critics, and Fury for one

'The Avengers': Joss Whedon fills the screen with heroes and humor

Photo: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) in "The Avengers" Credit: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel


Box Office: 'The Avengers' has No. 1 domestic opening ever [Video]

May 7, 2012 |  4:00 am

The Avengers was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend
"The Avengers" made history at the box office this weekend, as the superhero epic had the biggest domestic debut ever -- not adjusting for inflation -- with its massive $200.3-million take.

The film appealed to both young and old, as 50% of the crowd was over the age of 25. Those who saw the movie, which features beloved characters like Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk, loved it -- assigning it a perfect average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

The movie starring A-listers like Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson didn't disappoint overseas, either, where the picture has already collected $441.5 million in just 12 days of release.

So how did "The Avengers" become a worldwide event at the box office? Check out this week's box office video report for details.


"Avengers" conquer world, then turn to U.S.

Review: In "The Avengers," a Marvel-ous team

Box Office: 'Avengers' has top U.S. debut ever with $200.3 million

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Robert Downey Jr. stars as Iron Man in "The Avengers." Credit: Walt Disney Studios

'The Avengers': Superhero fun for many critics, and Fury for one

May 3, 2012 |  6:18 pm

The Avengers
You'd think a tough guy like super-spy Nick Fury, the ringleader of the titular all-star superhero team in "The Avengers," would have pretty thick skin. But it turns out Fury, or at least the actor who plays him, Samuel L. Jackson, took exception to the New York Times' mixed review of the Marvel comic adaptation, in which A.O. Scott wrote that the film's "failures are significant and dispiriting." Scott added that the film is dragged down by "grinding, hectic emptiness" and "bloated cynicism."

In response, Jackson wrote the following tweet: "#Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let's help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!"

Jackson needn't get too worked up, as many critics are finding "The Avengers" to be an entertaining comic book romp. The Times' own Kenneth Turan writes that "this film just might make a believer of you" — even if you've been frustrated by previous Marvel adaptations or generally uninterested in them. Turan says writer-director Joss Whedon "is the key reason why this $220-million behemoth of a movie is smartly thought out and executed with verve and precision. It may be overly long at two hours, 23 minutes, but so much is going on you might not even notice." The action scenes are "crisply done," the dialogue is often "genuinely funny," and the chemistry is "pleasantly convincing."

Continue reading »

Around Town: Marvel legend Stan Lee hosts 'Avengers' screening

May 3, 2012 |  6:00 am


Marvel Comics' guru Stan Lee will be honored with the Ronald Reagan Foundation's "Great Communicator" award and will host a screening of "The Avengers," which is opening theatrically this weekend, at the Catalina Film Festival. The festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the venerable Avalon Theatre, will feature more than 75 films.

The opening night program is the North American premiere of Rob Reiner's "The Magic of Belle Isle" with Morgan Freeman. Other films include the North American premiere of "Bel Ami" with Robert Pattinson. http://www.catalinafilm.org

The South East European Film Festival kicks off Thursday at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles with the Romanian romantic comedy "Hello! How Are You?" and the animated short "Five Minutes Each." The festival, which continues through Monday, will feature 33 films including "Balkan Melodie" and "Do Not Forget Me Istanbul." The closing evening feature, "Future Lasts Forever," screens at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA.  http://www.seefilmla.org

The L.A. Harbor International Film Festival at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro kicks off Thursday evening and continues through Sunday. The non-competitive festival highlights films that deal with harbor life, including shipping, fishing, water sports and sailing. http://www.laharborfilmfest.com

Three years before she became a sensation in Josef von Sternberg's 1930 German blockbuster "The Blue Angel," Marlene Dietrich played a wealthy party girl named Emi in the silent film "Cafe Electric," directed by Gustav Ucicky. The film will be screening Thursday at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre with Gehard Gruber performing musical accompaniment on the piano.

Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg will discuss his late mother, actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, at the screening of two of her film noirs from 1946, "Three Strangers" and "Nobody Lives Forever," Saturday at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre.

Veteran director Arthur Hiller will be on hand Tuesday at the Aero Theatre for a talk after the screening of his popular 1979 comedy "The In-Laws," which starred Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. After the discussion, there will be a screening of Paul Mazurksy's 1988 comedy "Moon Over Parador" with Richard Dreyfuss. http://www.americancinematheque.com

In conjunction with its current exhibition, "Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States," the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents "Female Surreal Cinema: Animation," followed by "Female Surrealist Cinema: Performance and Montage," Thursday evening at the Leo S. Bing Theater.

LACMA's Tuesday matinee is Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 dark comedy "The Trouble With Harry," which marked the feature film debut of Shirley MacLaine. http://www.lacma.org

The New Beverly Cinema presents John Frankenheimer's nightmarish 1966 thriller "Seconds," with Rock Hudson in one of his most well-received performances, on Friday evening. James Wong Howe did the black-and-white cinematography. The second bill is John Woo's 1997 "Face/Off" with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Screenwriters Mike Werb and Michael Colleary are scheduled to appear in person. http://www.newbevcinema.com

The Autry presents two films Saturday afternoon starring the museum's namesake-singing cowboy,  Gene Autry: 1941's "Down Mexico Way" and 1949's "The Big Sombrero."  http://theautry.org

UCLA Film & Television Archive is collaborating with the California State Parks Foundation and Environmental Media Assn. to present The ParkFilm Fest, a daylong festival of movies Saturday at the Paramount Theatre on the Paramount lot in Hollywood.  The festival, which celebrates the use of California state parks as locales in films, will present a marathon screening of the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films directed by Gore Verbinski. http://www.calparks.org/filmfest.

The archive's current celebration of Universal's centenary at the Billy Wilder Theatre features two of the studio's silent film classics Sunday evening: 1919's "Blind Husbands," starring Erich von Stroheim, who also made his directorial debut with the hit, followed by the 1925 version of "The Phantom of the Opera" starring Lon Chaney in his seminal role.

The archive's Wednesday night programming at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown L.A. presents Billy Wilder's classic 1959 gender-bender comedy "Some Like It Hot," with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. http://www.cinema.ucla.edu

Hollywood Heritage Museum's Evening @ the Barn presents a look at "Homes of the Stars in Hollywood and Beverly Hills" Wednesday evening. Author Mike Oldham will show his vintage postcards in a video presentation.  http://www.hollywoodheritage.org

The Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre's Wednesday evening vintage flick is an early one from William Wyler -- the 1929 romantic comedy "The Love Trap" -- plus Vitaphone shorts. http://www.cinefamily.org


Stan Lee to host 'Avengers' screening at the Catalina Film Festival

-- Susan King

Photo: Stan Lee will be receiving an award at the Catalina Film Festival this weekend. Photo: Matt Sayles/Associated Press

'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' vs. 'Avengers': A risky Hollywood move

May 1, 2012 |  5:18 pm

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
In Hollywood, it’s counterprogramming. In the real world, it’s borderline suicide.

When the big studios release their most anticipated blockbusters, any number of distributors dare to open their smaller movies on the very same weekend. The idea is to offer moviegoers — usually more upscale, grown-up patrons — a clear alternative to the big popcorn titles, which typically cater to teenagers and young adults. 

This weekend, for example, Fox Searchlight will introduce its $12-million comedy “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a look at seven British retirees embarking to India, directly opposite Disney and Marvel’s $220-million “The Avengers,” an action-packed spectacle with Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk.

In theory, the counterprogramming idea makes sense and can work for smaller films. In recent history, however, the results have been mixed to terrible — with one exception — especially in the cases of  wide releases pitched against the three biggest weekend premieres of all time.

Last summer, on the same weekend that Warner Bros. unveiled “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” to a record opening of $169.2 million, Disney tried to grab little kids who cower at the sight of Lord Voldemort with “Winnie the Pooh.” But the animated bear yarn unraveled fast, grossing just $26.7 million in limited release. In limited release that same weekend, Eros International’s Indian film “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” opened to respectable business, ultimately selling $3.1 million in tickets.

On the second biggest opening weekend of all time — Warners Bros.’ debut of “The Dark Knight” in 2008, which took in $158.4 million — Universal scored one of the biggest counterprogramming successes ever. Its ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!” ultimately grossed $144.1 million. “Space Chimps,” an animated release from 20th Century Fox, never took flight, grossing just $30.1 million. In limited release that same weekend, First Look’s “Transsiberian” performed reasonably well, netting $2.2 million.

Earlier this year, opposite Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games,” which grossed a third-best opening of $152.5 million, no movie dared open in wide release. In a limited national release, Samuel Goldwyn’s “October Baby” ultimately grossed $5 million, Sony Pictures Classics' “The Raid: Redemption” grossed $3.9 million and Music Box’s “The Deep Blue Sea” grossed $874,000.

Fox Searchlight, which co-financed “Marigold Hotel” with Participant Media, doesn’t really need the film to cripple “The Avengers” in local theaters. Having opened in Europe several weeks ago, “Marigold Hotel” already has grossed more than $70 million overseas.


India is key part of cast for 'Marigold Hotel'

'The Hunger Games' banned, animation style [Video]

Boot up like Katniss in 'The Hunger Games' with Frye Co.

— John Horn

Photo: Judi Dench, left, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Credit: Ishika Mohan/Fox Searchlight.



Joss Whedon's 'The Avengers' will close Tribeca Film Festival

March 28, 2012 |  9:44 am

'The Avengers'

The Tribeca Film Festival is assembling a band of superheroes, announcing Wednesday that it will close its festival April 28 with Joss Whedon's "The Avengers."

The move marks a return to superhero territory for the New York film confab, which in past years has showcased studio tent poles such as "Spider-Man 3" in addition to its lineup of independent films. The festival said it will use this year's event as an opportunity to "celebrate everyday heroes from police agencies, fire departments, first responders and various branches of the U.S. military," who will be invited to the premiere.

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Samuel Jackson, "Avengers" will open May 4. The Tribeca event will serve as its New York premiere; it is scheduled to premiere in Los Angeles on April 11.

PHOTOS: 'The Avengers'

Disney is distributing the Marvel Studios film, which collects a range of superheroes from previous films as well as comic books and assembles them into a super-group of crimefighters. It co-stars Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth.

Tribeca, which will mark its 11th edition this year, kicks off on April 18 with the Jason Segel-Nicholas Stoller comedic collaboration "The Five-Year Engagement."


Tribeca names Cannes' Frederic Boyer artistic director

Jason Segel's 'Engagement' will open Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival unveils narrrative and documentary selections

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Chris Evans, left, and Robert Downey Jr. in "The Avengers." Credit: Marvel Studios


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