Next year will see the 75th anniversary of one of the all-time great films, The Wizard of Oz. Few films have had the impact or importance. When Dorothy opened up her Kansas farmhouse door to the world of Oz, she might have well have opened up the world of cinema to color films in a big way. The Wizard of Oz also told a fantasy story, even a children’s story, in a darker and much more intricate way than almost any film prior.
There have been several follow-ups or spin-offs to L. Frank Baum’s world, most notably Sidney Lumet’s musical The Wiz and the incredibly dark unofficial sequel, Disney’s Return to Oz. No film yet has had quite the spectacle, cast, or pedigree behind a Wizard of Oz follow-up as Oz: The Great and Powerful has. Not only is Disney basically banking on this being their next Alice in Wonderland, but the film is by Evil Dead and Spider-Man franchise director Sam Raimi, and features a huge cast that includes Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, and former Oscar nominees James Franco, Michelle Williams and former winner Rachel Weisz.
After a rough few years for Disney, with both animation projects and live-action films not going as planned, Disney has quite a lot riding on Oz: The Great and Powerful, their first live-action film since John Carter bombed. Before checking out Disney’s latest attempt at live-action greatness, and the prequel to one of cinema’s most famous stories, maybe check out some of these under-ranked films from the stars of Oz: The Great and Powerful.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has become the 15th film to cross $1 billion (not adjusted for inflation) in worldwide ticket sales.
The first chapter of Peter Jackson‘s new trilogy based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien crossed this threshold thanks to a 10-day, $37.3 million opening in China. It is the second of Jackson’s films to do so, after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King grossed over $1 billion after its release in 2003. This makes Jackson the third director to have helmed two billion-dollar movies, after James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
Of the 15 billion-dollar films, only three – the top two, Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic, and Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland - were not part of pre-existing franchises. The Hobbit is the fourth film released in 2012 to hit the milestone, after The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall.
It is interesting to note that The Hobbit‘s domestic take of $301.4 million is well below that of the three Lord of the Rings films, despite having the additional boost of IMAX and 3D ticket sales. It has done far better overseas; by contrast, Return of the King grossed only $10.4 million in China. No doubt controversy over the film’s 48 frames-per-second technology diluted ticket sales, but it has still certainly proven popular enough.
Word of The Hobbit‘s success is good news for New Line and Warner Bros. after the underwhelming and potentially disastrous $28 million opening of Jack the Giant Slayer, a film that reportedly cost north of $200 million, and might prove to be an even bigger train wreck than last year’s box office bomb, John Carter (which also opened in March).
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is currently ranked #8 among 2012 films on Flickchart.
“Why is he splitting them up?”
“Why are they so long?”
“Why must he take something we love and ruin it?”
No these are not reviews for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. They were the assumed reaction of the tens of people who read Part 1 of my 2012 wrap up; where I dissected the year of Channing Tatum, had two Lincolns square off, and looked at one of the two live action Snow White adaptations. Part 2 will start with…
2 Films, 20 Dwarfs
Snow White and the Huntsman featured Chris Hemsworth as a hunter whose prey is apparently trees since his weapon of choice is an axe, and Kristen Stewart as a Snow White who went to the distinguished school of parted lip acting. There’s a love triangle that nobody cares about – and I’m not talking about director Rupert Sanders, K. Stew, and R. Patt – and Charlize Theron acting with as much subtly as a nuclear explosion. The dwarfs were entertaining but tragically underused.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was what I expected. It’s similar to The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a lot of ways but is not as good as any of them. Where we came to know and love every character in that series we only really get to know Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin in this. Meanwhile there are a mess of other dwarfs that are only distinguishable by variations of hair above the neck, and sometimes that doesn’t even do enough to make them stand out. Did it need to be a trilogy? No. Is the book being dragged through the mud? More like dropped in a puddle before quickly being grabbed and dried off quickly. As long as fans of The Lord of the Rings series don’t go into it expecting it to be world shattering they should enjoy themselves. I should mention I didn’t see it in 48fps but I heard mostly negative things about it.
And the Winner Is: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - even though Peter Jackson obviously thinks “dues ex machina” is Latin for giant eagles.
Following last week’s announcement that the Walt Disney Company has purchased Lucasfilm for over 4 billion dollars and scheduled Star Wars Episode VII for release in 2015, the Internet has been in a flurry of speculation over the future of the saga. Far be it from us not to jump on the bandwagon.
Even more than questioning where the story is supposed to go in the future, everybody seems to be talking about who will direct the next episode of the franchise, given that George Lucas himself is reportedly leaving Star Wars behind (to serve merely as a consultant on Episode VII). Rather than offer any actual suggestions here, let’s take a look at some possible contenders in true Flickchart fashion: two at a time.
Disney’s John Carter has a lot going for it. Which makes it unfortunate that the film has such a big handicap: All John Carter wants to be is an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s A Princess of Mars, and on that front (though I’m not personally familiar with Burrough’s work), I think it succeeds. But despite the fact that the source material this film is based on is nearly 100 years old, many average film-goers are likely to experience the feeling that they’ve seen it all before. Read the rest of this entry »