While I haven't seen Bret Ratner's movie about a group of small-time crooks and hotel employees planning a major heist (and have no particular plans to), the idiotic Tower Heist theme song gets stuck in my head a minimum of once a day. It's a tower heist!
It's Friday and Hollywood has disgorged another batch of movies into multiplexes. Which will reign supreme and why? Below, our predictions for the Top 5 films at this weekend's box office.
5. J. Edgar
Leonardo DiCaprio puts on a rubbery old-guy mask and even less plausible accent to play the titular FBI director in Clint Eastwood's latest biopic, which expands nationally today. Eastwood's movies usually do better when the director is in front of the camera, but Edgar has made an impressive $53,000 in limited release since Wednesday, plus what else do your parents have to do this weekend?
The failure of Brett Ratner's $75 million Tower Heist last weekend was overshadowed by the director's bigger failures as a human. Still, it must be asked: What went wrong? Heist had plenty going for it, including a timely premise, a release date light on competition, the usually bankable Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy in his most promising role in years, and some of the least-awful reviews of Ratner's career. Predicted to top the box office with at least $35 million, Heist made off with a mere $24 million, landing in second place behind the week-old Puss in Boots. So as Ratner embarks on an apology tour, Murphy sulks back to movie jail, and Stiller calls his agent to see if there are any Fockers we haven't yet been introduced to, we asked a pair of Hollywood professionals (a prominent agent and producer) for insight into why Tower Heist bombed — and what the fallout might be for its makers.
“Look, we saw some amazing people. _________ was great. It was a great audition, I’m telling you. But the thing with ________ is, you can’t wait for her to take her clothes off.” — A.
“I used to date ________ when she was Lisa. That was the problem. She wasn’t Asian back then. She was hanging out on my set, I banged her a few times but I forgot her. Because she changed her name I didn’t know it was the same person." — B.
"It's so nice when I think about the beginning of the movie, with the scene in the parking lot, in the car, up into the room. She was just sitting there. Before I put the ball gag around her mouth. Her glow was unbelievable. Her smile was like — wow. There was a presence there that was very unique." — C.
Guess which of these quotes are Brett Ratner on Olivia Munn (B), David Fincher on Scarlett Johansson's failed audition for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (A), and the late John Leslie — director of films such as Anything That Moves, Big Tit Crackers 2, the Fresh Meat series, Slut Tracker, the Ass Trap trilogy, and some whose titles I can't legally say here on Grantland — discussing porn star Naomi (C). Is it just me or does John Leslie (RIP) sound the most respectful of the woman he is talking about?
Earlier today, New York magazine’s entertainment site Vulture reported that at a Los Angeles Q&A after a screening of Tower Heist, the film’s director Brett Ratner dismissed a question about his process by saying, “Rehearsing is for fags.” Since Ratner has been signed to produce this year’s Oscars, I would say he has a problem. There are many public responses that can follow an incident like this: The Sincere Apology, The 12-Step Apology (“My intemperate remarks have led me to understand that I need to seek treatment for ”), the Non-Apology Apology (“I’m sorry if my choice of words offended ”), the Can’t-You-Take-A-Joke Apology (“All my gay friends know that I don’t use PC language ”) or the Sidestep Apology (“I didn’t mean anything homophobic, I was just using ‘fags’ to mean, you know, losers!”).
It wasn't just new releases Tower Heist and Harold & Kumar 3 that disappointed this weekend — it was everything: total box-office receipts were down 30 percent from the same three-day period a year ago. "The fear is that our total business is in the toilet,” a studio exec tells Nikki Finke. Before we flush, though, a look at what happened. Here are your Top 5 movies.
1. Puss in Boots (weekend: $33 million; $75.5 million total)
In PiB's second weekend at No. 1, grosses for the Shrek spin-off fell just three percent, which is the smallest-ever box-office drop for a non-Holiday release. For which the industry credits last week's snow on the East Coast, which depressed Boots' opening, and the fact that parents were no less desperate this weekend to make their kids shut up for 90 minutes.
2. Tower Heist (weekend: $25.1 million)
Despite good reviews (for a Brett Ratner movie), the film in which Eddie Murphy gives his funniest performance since Bowfinger debuted below expectations, probably because most of the people who still remember Murphy's performance in Bowfinger took their grandchildren to see Puss in Boots (62 percent of Heist's audience was 30 or older).
Another weekend, another slew of Hollywood movies dumped into theaters to do battle. Who’ll reign supreme — and why? Below, our predictions for the Top 5 movies at the box office.
5. In Time
As previouslydiscussed, In Time face-planted in its first week out, managing a meager $12 million and a third-place finish. This week, with new movies opening, In Time will slide further down. Word-of-mouth can’t save this thing, because the vast majority of the word-of-mouth for this Justin Timberlake stinker involves people sticking a finger into their mouths and making a vomiting noise.
The artwork for ML's new single is Don Draper outfitted for a futuristic guerilla anime war, but the track — another massive Major Lazer monstrosity, cobbled together from battering-ram bass drums, spare yelps, and good intentions — doesn’t actually have anything to do with Mad Men. Except for that part where Vincent Kartheiser raps in character as Pete Cambell ahhhhhhhh….
You know, awards seasons are difficult. Sometimes a movie comes down the pike that seems, for one reason or another, like Razzie bait. Maybe its premise is so stupid that one can only assume the movie was made as part of an elaborate Producers-type scheme. Maybe it’s a remake of a fondly remembered film from our youths. Maybe it was so beset with post-production problems that it seemed snakebit — and Razzie-bit — long before it ever saw a theater.
The point is, it’s the kind of movie that clearly exists for one reason: to win Razzies. Maybe it’ll be a hit; maybe it’ll lose some money. But everyone involved is mostly onboard for purposes of prestige. Directors know that winning a Razzie ups their rate instantly on the straight-to-video market. Actors and actresses have been dreaming of the day their names would join the roster of stars honored by the Golden Raspberries.
But you know what? It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes that movie you barely phoned it in for — the movie your agent promised you was a Razzie contender — turns out to be (gasp!) pretty good. Audiences aren’t repulsed as you hoped they would be. The reviews range from mediocre to mildly enthusiastic. What have you got on your hands? A Razzie disappointment.
Here’s a look at five 2011 movies whose Razzie hopes have been knocked out faster than a robot boxer facing Hugh Jackman (or whatever).
Earlier in the month it was announced that Hollywood fauxteur/stubble enthusiast Brett Ratner would take on producing duties for the upcoming Academy Awards. This week came word that schticky Yankees fan Billy Crystal was interested in returning to the hosting job he abandoned eight years ago. For anyone who confidently assumed the Oscars could get no worse than this past year’s Franco-phile disaster, the following text messages — hacked using British ingenuity from Ratner’s iPhone — should lower your expectations well below sea level.