Comic Trumps Cartoon

captain-america-2-teaser-trailer-featMost weeks, a $39 million opening would be enough to dominate the box office. But Rio 2 had the misfortune to arrive while Captain America: The Winter Soldier was in peak form, and the Marvel sequel’s $41.4 million was enough to edge out the Blue Sky sequel to maintain the top spot on the charts.

In fairness, the positions were flipped internationally, with Rio 2 opening to $62.3 million and The Winter Soldier earning $60.6 million in its third week of release.  Which is also really impressive in itself: Marvel movies are doing very, very well these days — by the time you read this, The Winter Soldier will have made half a billion dollars worldwide — and this has been one of the best-received of the franchise. So, hooray for Cap and his pals.

The more intriguing box-office action, to my mind, was the triumph of Oculus over Draft Day; Mike Flanagan’s clever little horror movie opened wide with an aggressive nerd-targeted marketing campaign, earning $12 million to finish well ahead of the Kevin Costner sports comedy, which came in fourth with $9.8 million.

I mean, not that I’m rooting against Costner these days, but it’s good to see a scrappy little indie come out on top once in a while.

Okay, maybe not on top, but you know what I mean.

Friday! Reviews!

the-raid-2-iko-uwais-sliceTight deadline! No time! Six words!

Algonquin: This week’s Canadian entry is disappointing. [Susan]

Dom Hemingway: No Sexy Beast, but not bad. [Glenn]

Draft Day: Kevin Costner returns to sports. Um. [Rad]

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden: Well, not Satan. Affair happened, though. [Jose]

Oculus: Karen Gillan. Scary mirror.  Strap in.

The Raid 2: Kick, slash, punch, repeat, Kinda draining.

Rio 2 : Well, the first one wasn’t bad.

There you go. More tomorrow. Sorry.

Projected, Dissected and Eerily Reflected

Karen-GillanApril’s film-festival flooding continues with Images and TIFF Kids, and I’m on top of both of them in this week’s NOW — even while I’m also wading through a whole bunch of Hot Docs stuff. (Did the cover interviews yesterday, so technically I’m ahead of schedule. So there.)

I must admit, though, of all the things in this week’s paper — including Warner’s long-awaited restoration of William Friedkin’s Sorcerer – I was most excited to talk to Karen Gillan about her role in Oculus. Not only is she an all-around terrific person and a fun, engaging performer who’s logged time on The Thrilling Adventure Hour and the very clever Adult Swim show NTSF: SD: SUV, but she’s the first person I’ve interviewed who’s worn one of Kate’s designs — specifically, the Bigger on the Inside TARDIS scarf, as seen here.

I also did a web Q&A with Oculus director Mike Flanagan, who was just as happy to nerd out over Gillan as I was. So there you go.

And finally, Mistaken for Strangers opens at the Bloor today. It’s a really good documentary about The National, and one that’s even more interesting when you realize it started out as something that wasn’t. The band will be in attendance to kick off the commercial run tonight, if that’s an incentive.

Life in the Expanded Universe

Cap and WidowSurprising no one except possibly the forces of HYDRA, Captain America: The Winter Soldier did spectacular business over the weekend, enjoying a domestic opening of $96.2 million — which, combined with its robust overseas performance, brings its worldwide gross to $371 million in just ten days. There’s a possibility of Avengers money here.

So, having piled hit upon hit upon hit, Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a rousing success, and the Russo brothers — previously best known as “those comedy guys who directed the Community pilot” —  are its latest benefactors. Good for them; they do fine work. Here’s hoping things go as well for James Gunn and Edgar Wright.

Noah and Divergent dropped down to second and third place with $17 million and $13 million, respectively; Darren Aronofsky’s brawny Biblical epic has now pulled $70 million in North America, and Shailene Woodley’s young-adult franchise launcher has topped $114 million. So nobody’s hurting too badly.

In fourth place was the Christian-targeted God’s Not Dead, which is apparently opening in Canada this week because we’ve been bad. Pretty sure I’ll get someone else to review that one.

Strength, Power, Sandworms

imagesOh, sure, everyone’s going to go see the new Marvel movie this weekend — and why not? It’s pretty great — but there’s plenty of other good stuff to see once you’ve caught that. Shall we do the tour?

Afflicted: I haven’t yet caught up to Derek Lee and Clif Prowse’s found-footage horror thingie — which may or may not be about vampires — but John was a big fan at TIFF.

Bethlehem: After several rescheduled release dates, Yuval Adler’s Israeli-Palestinian thriller — a mirror image of Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar – finally opens this weekend. It’s good. You should see it.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “What if we slotted Cap into a ’70s conspiracy thriller that was also a direct sequel to The Avengers?” Chris Evans continues to be great, the action stuff is terrific and there’s a delightful cameo appearance by … oh, you’ll see.

Cas & Dylan: Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany do the odd-couple road-movie thing in Jason Priestley’s feature debut, which ain’t great but sure has its moments. (Also, Maslany’s comedy face in the first three minutes is priceless.)

The Great Flood: Decasia cinema-poet Bill Morrison makes an American disaster documentary like no other, setting archival footage against an elegaic Bill Frisell score. Strange, beautiful, nifty.

Jodorowsky’s DuneJohn was all over Frank Pavich’s delightful what-if documentary about the abandoned sci-fi project that might have changed the world (and sort of did) at TIFF last year. Basically, I agree with everything he says.

The Unknown Known: Errol Morris’ feature-length interview with unrepentant war criminal Donald Rumsfeld fails to fully satisfy, but that might be because no one can crack Rumsfeld’s veneer of self-satisfied smugness.  It’s a fascinating misfire, though.

And there we are. Now I’m off to see a Hot Docs title over which I have been salivating for the better part of a year. It better be good, is all I’m saying.

 

Top. Men.

Errol-MorrisI have interviewed both Richard Dreyfuss and Errol Morris before; Morris four or five times now, I think. They’re two of the best, really, and I’m glad to be chatting with them again in this week’s NOW.

Morris discusses his Donald Rumsfeld project The Unknown Known, which asks the musical question “How do you damn a man with his own words when those words refuse to mean anything?”, and Dreyfuss discusses working with Tatiana Maslany in the new road movie Cas & Dylan and living down his rather remarkable body of early work.

It’s all good, really.

The Wages of Sinners

russell-crowe-stars-as-noahNice weather, rock monsters, shouty fundamentalists, a nervous studio — nope, nothing could keep Noah from a $44 million opening weekend, as Darren Aronofsky’s balls-out Bible story blew past Divergent to take the top spot.

Don’t feel too bad for Shailene Woodley’s post-apocalyptic parkour picture, though; it made $26.5 million in its second week of release while Muppets Most Wanted pulled a surprising $11.4 million to finish third  – surprising because it represents a smaller-than-expected drop from last weekend’s $16.5 million opening. Maybe it’ll have legs after all.

But for all this, the real action was overseas: Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened internationally to $75.2 million, putting Noah‘s $33.6 million foreign opening in the rear-view mirror. Expect that to happen all over again on the domestic front this Friday.

Not Exactly a Deluge

noah-crowe-729-620x349We get a reasonably calm slate this weekend, with everyone getting out of Noah‘s way like a crowd of wicked men trying to outrun a flood. Will it make a dime? God only knows …

Bad Words: Jason Bateman’s promising directorial debut finds him acting out as a dickish spelling-bee contestant. The script’s first two acts are a lot stronger than its third, but Bateman and his actors manage to sell the ending anyway.

Finding Vivan Maier: Rad fell for John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s documentary about an unknown photographic artist at TIFF; now, it’s getting a theatrical run at the Bloor. You should see it.

Noah: Darren Aronofsky’s ballsy new interpretation of the Biblical tale is likely to be one of the year’s most divisive films — at least based on the reaction at my screening. And for what it’s worth, I thought it was pretty great.

The Returned: Emily Hampshire and Kris Holden-Ried are frankly terrific as a couple dealing with one partner’s incipient zombieism — sort of — but the movie around them doesn’t do them any justice. Which is a shame, because this could have been terrific.

3 Days in Havana: From the minds of actors Gil Bellows and Tony Pantages comes this odd … thing … about a guy who meets another guy and gets into some stuff. Whatever it is, Rad ain’t buying it.

And that’s everything, because Mongrel bumped Bethlehem another week down the line. That’s too bad; it’s pretty good and deserves a shot at the same audience that saw Omar. Cross your fingers that they actually put it into theatres.

Hungry for Games

rs_1024x759-130719130320-1024.divergent2.mh.071913As expected, Divergent topped this weekend box-office with a $56 million debut; Veronica Roth ‘s loyal readership showed up in droves and gave this franchise the launch that the Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments and Vampire Academy pictures couldn’t achieve.

What wasn’t expected was the really soft opening for Muppets Most Wanted, which placed second with a disappointing $16.5 million. Given that their 2011 vehicle opened with nearly twice that, this means Disney might flinch at the thought of future Muppet movies … though the property itself is really strong, so maybe we’ll just get another run of the show. (Which is what Jason Segel was hoping for all along.)

Maybe sorta expected: The Veronica Mars movie slipped out of sight, as fans holed up with their digital downloads. But it was a limited release, so Warner’s expectations couldn’t have been too high. And it’s not like it has to make back its cost.

My other other gig.