There can never be enough filmed adventures about bearded mutants with retractable adamantium claws, and James Mangold might be game to keep helping the cause. 20th Century Fox is looking to strike a deal with the director following this summer's The Wolverine, Mangold's first comic book movie, which grossed an impressive $413 million worldwide, $132 million of that domestically. That makes it the second-highest-earning X-Men project, falling just behind 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Before taking Darren Aronofsky's spot at The Wolverine’s helm, Mangold was a stylistic dabbler, ranging from Walk the Line to Kate & Leopold to Cop Land to Girl, Interrupted. So while it's easy to imagine Mangold yearning to cut loose and make a small drama or a non-superhero actioner, it's harder to imagine someone not wanting to reteam with Australia's most effervescent gentleman-badass.
By now you might have heard the big news out of Toronto yesterday. A blogger called 9-1-1 to report someone using a phone during a new Ti West horror movie. That was not big news in Toronto. It never came up in any conversation. But there's time. (For the record, when a moviegoer uses a phone near me, I lean over and put my hand over the screen.) The big movie news was supposed to be the unveiling of an adaptation of Tracy Letts's play August: Osage County. But the press and industry queue had started to fill up two hours before the film's screening time. So Meryl Streep vs. Julia Roberts will have to wait until Christmas Day.
I don't have any science to support this, but at some megaplexes the trip from the entrance to the seat of your movie has got to be a quarter of a mile. In some cases, it's easer to find the car you parked than it is the film you drove there to see. Families are allotting walk time in their seat-procurement strategy — walk time!
There is an upside to the megaplex odyssey, and don't think the studios don't know it: the stuff clogging the lobby and corridors that promotes other movies. Yes, those posters, mobiles, and cardboard stand-alones still work. We all know that the golden age of the movie advertisement has passed. These are pyrite times, people. If we're lucky, a movie studio delivers maybe a dozen works of art a year. So far 2013 isn't even one of those years. Nonetheless, I've been in a few movie theaters recently. With fall and winter nearly upon us, this is some of what I saw.
Simon Cowell Knocks Up His Best Friend's Wife: Cowell, 53, once said "God, no, I couldn't have children. With kids, you've got a routine you can't escape from." Looks like he had an accidental change of heart/affair with his best friend's wife! Cowell is unexpectedly "expecting a baby with NYC socialite Lauren Silverman! She's 10 weeks along." Trickily enough, the 36-year-old mom-to-be is "still married to Cowell's close friend, NYC real estate mogul Andrew Silverman — but plans to leave him to be with the Brit." Good luck with that.
From lone rangers to dead cops to postapocalyptic nepotism, Hollywood has experienced a somewhat brutal streak of high-profile misfires this summer. But now here comes Hugh Jackman's latest turn as the man with the adamantium claws, The Wolverine, to quasi beat back the trend?
As THR reports, with $55 million domestically, Wolvy actually underperformed expectations in the U.S. by about $10 million. That's about the same as last year's star-studded X-Men: First Class, but about $30 million short of 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But that also doesn't matter all that much, as the flick has already managed $86 million internationally — and that's good for "a worldwide total of $141.1 million easily covering the film's $120 million production budget." Congrats, Hugh Jackman! You are not, as of this moment, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, or, god forbid, Ryan Reynolds.
But you're also no Woody Allen! As the L.A. Times points out, Blue Jasmine, the latest product to pop off the unstoppable Woody assembly line, has managed the best opening of his career: "Playing in six theaters, the movie starring Cate Blanchett grossed $612,767 That amounts to a per-theater average of $102,128 — not only the highest such figure of the year for a film opening in limited release, but also the highest for any of Allen's films." Which means it has a chance to outdo Midnight in Paris, Woody's biggest draw to date. That movie dropped with a $99,834-per-theater average before pulling almost $57 million. Now Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker is all excited: "We don’t like to put the cart before the horse but not unlike Midnight in Paris, when we first saw the film, we thought this was the kind of film that really has the opportunity to get some recognition. Not only for best actress, but the supporting players, Woody's screenplay and the direction — even the picture." Nope, not putting the cart before the horse at all, Michael Barker, future Oscar-winning producer of Blue Jasmine!
Anyway, congrats again, Woody and Hugh: In a summer of failure, you made us re-believe in American/Australian exceptionalism.
In The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman takes the live-action superhero body to a disturbing new place. And, no, it's not the gym. Well, it's not only the gym. Most of the movie is him in and out of a white tank top, his arms and shoulders abubble and athrob, the veins flowing with god knows what. His body is beyond fitness, beyond fat, beyond muscles, beyond ready comprehension. It is beyond the human body as the movies have previously depicted it. I've never seen anything like this, and I've seen John Travolta in Staying Alive, Demi Moore in G.I. Jane, and Sylvester Stallone in everything. Jackman surpasses what they've done. Yes, he seems performance-enhanced and computer-generated. But his body appears to be … acting.
The film, taken from the Marvel Comics X-Men universe, opens minutes before the U.S. drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945 and flambés Jackman's character, a clawed, indestructible loner with one name (Logan) and one mood ("argh"). He stands at the bottom of a well, rendered a tower of bloody tissue by the bomb. For an audience, watching him in that state is not unlike being a toddler who falls and needs 35 seconds to figure out whether to cry. I found the sight of him funny. The whites of his eyes are the only solid color on his face, and when he blinks, I laughed. But in the seconds before his hair and skin regenerate, the actual horror of the image sets in.
As you may already know, unfairly handsome Hollywood actors are disgustingly, insanely, dirty-stinking-filthy rich. Still, though, you have questions: Which unfairly handsome Hollywood actors? And how disgustingly, insanely, dirty-stinking-filthy rich? Thanks to the good people at Forbes, we've got answers!
The magazine went ahead and crunched the numbers, putting together a top 10 of dudes — and, yes, troublingly, they are all men — who've collected the most American currency over the last 12 months. And your top dog is … Robert Downey Jr.! Tony Stark continues his amazing career-arc reversal, from über-talented what-could-have-been-a-cautionary-tale to dude-with-enough-money-to-fund-the-building-of-skyscrapers-that-look-like-spaceships-in-Dubai. That he's done it all while maintaining that baseline rakish charm is all the more commendable. When a guy makes $75 million — $75 million — in one year, there's supposed to be backlash. But in 2013, we're all just grateful RDJ is around to make our blockbusters watchable. Bless you, Robert. And for your efforts, I will now PayPal you an additional $17. In the words of Mr. Ciara, you deserve it.
On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild gathered its members at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium for its annual celebration of their shared craft, a delightful ceremony free of the annoying focus-pulling that plagues awards shows that insist on handing out statuettes to the unwashed masses who scratch out a living on the wrong side of the camera. Unfortunately, not every SAG Awards nominee gets to take home the coveted Actor, the highest honor thespians can receive from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms; for every five stars receiving the validation of a nomination, four will find themselves confronted with the challenge of making gritted teeth seem like a smile, and white-hot jealousy like warm magnanimity as the cameras mercilessly probe their reactions for any sign of disappointment. And so here we are, the morning after the Saggies (they don't call them the Saggies, but they should), to relive last night's victories through the faces of the defeated. When you're this good at your job, you can make misery look a lot like triumph. Well, most of the time.
On Christmas Day, in the year of our Lord 2012, Tom Hooper's film adaptation of the Broadway musical Les MisÚrables arrives in cinemas across the nation. Grantland staffers Rembert Browne and Emily Yoshida chose to open their presents early this year, and have already seen it in special Hollywood-type screenings. You may think that is unfair, but they love Les MisÚrables more than you do. Here's what they thought of the movie:
Rembert Browne: The only appropriate way for both of us to start our discussion of Les MisÚrables the film, is to begin with disclaimers. Mine: I have seen many musicals, am a fan of musicals, participated in musicals, and Les Mis is my favorite of all time. By a landslide. Another disclaimer: After performing the musical in 10th grade, not a single word has left this surprisingly not-steel-trap of a brain I am host to. Final disclaimer: Emotion is a thing I feel. A lot.
OK, your turn, Yoshida. Feel free to make me look less like a freak.
Emily Yoshida: OK, here goes. My lifelong love affair with Les MisÚrables started in 1995 when PBS aired the 10th Anniversary Concert on Great Performances during a pledge drive. Now, this may shock you, Rem, but I was kind of a big musical theater fan around that time. Still, my love of Les Mis is the only part of that I will openly, publicly admit to, if only because it feels actually really important and relevant to who I am now as a person. I wish that were a hyperbolic statement, but I don't think it is.
Kate Middleton Is Pregnant: "Royal-watchers all around the globe had been on tenterhooks for months." THAT SOUNDS UNCOMFORTABLE. "At long last, Will and Kate are expecting a little prince or princess!" While they were hoping to keep the story under wraps until Kate was 12 weeks along, and release the news on Christmas Day, it came out early when Middleton was admitted to a hospital for morning sickness. Nevertheless, "William and Kate are elated." They started trying in September, "once their Malaria medication has run its course" after their "royal tour of Southeast Asia." The holy "VIP baby leapfrogs Harry to become third in line for the throne behind William and his father." A nursery "is in the early stages" as the couple continue with their move into Kensington Palace. Get ready to hear all about the future royal baby for months from weirdo superfans.
A few years back, when Channing Tatum's early days as a stripper in a Florida male revue were first revealed, snickers abounded. "It's nothing I'm ashamed of, and I'm not proud of it, either," Tatum explained about his days booty-popping and thong-dropping; a nation responded with a dismissive hand pat and a smug, "Sure thing, Channing. Sure thing." This week, though, sees the unlikely triumph at the end of Tatum's stripper saga. Magic Mike, the movie he developed with director Steven Soderbergh about his nudie-bar days, is landing in theaters today with love both from the critics (Rotten Tomatoes: 82 percent) and the masses, who are projected to push the $7 million production to an opening in the $25 million range.
So here's the question: Knowing that Hollywood is nothing but a lover of the tried-and-true, wouldn't it now make sense to repeat the Magic Mike formula? A bankable, likable star + their unlikely, sort-of-crappy pre-fame job + an effectively dramatic script about striving to make it out = Hollywood gold. Wouldn't you like to see Hugh Jackman revisit his days as a children’s birthday party clown? Or Jon Hamm return to his past as a Skinemax set dresser? In hopes of getting this Magic Mike mini-genre jump-started, Grantland has taken the liberty of visualizing the plots for five possible iterations. Ayo, big-time Hollywood producers? These are on the house.
Following the lead of his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner, Eddie Murphy has dropped out of his gig as host of next February's Oscars, leaving the Academy with just over three months to find a replacement. Who should they go with? We polled the Grantland staff and have a few suggestions.
In theaters today: Real Steel, the world's first-ever robot boxing movie. Just when he thought he was fresh out of chances, Hugh Jackman reconciles with his estranged son and together they take Atom, the little robot that could, all the way to the World Robot Boxing championship. It's ... it's kind of the best? Ridiculous, but fully self-aware, and full-on heart-warming. Amos Barshad and Vulture's Logan Hill were so moved, they had to talk it out.
It's a blight on Hollywood's good name that they've taken this long to provide us with a movie about boxing robots. Arriving in theaters on Friday is Shawn Levy's Real Steel, in which Hugh Jackman stars as an absentee dad who bonds with his young son (Dakota Goyo) as they train an eight-foot automaton to compete for a championship belt. Two Sundays ago, we spoke with Jackman at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills about dropping weight for the role and the most important thing Sugar Ray Leonard taught him about robots.