This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
What exactly does the term “break the internet” mean? Web-surfers understand the definition as “causing a commotion of such great size and scale that the World Wide Web could shut down as a result of its enormity,” and yet the phrase only conjures one image to mind — that of Kim Kardashian on her notorious Paper Magazine cover, popping champagne directly onto a glass balanced atop her buttocks. So when Disney announced yesterday that their sequel to video game hodgepodge Wreck-It Ralph would bear the subtitle Ralph Breaks the Internet, we may interpret it one of two ways. Either Ralph’s going to go on an epic quest through the online wilds, or the 8-bit hero is about to blow our minds with the roundest ’donk in the history of animated cinema.
Though he looks like he eats cement and can crack dudes in half like Bane snapping Batman across his knee, John Cena’s just a big ol’ softie on the inside. The professional fighter has always been warm and cordial to his many fans, he loves posting dumb jokes online (the ultimate Celebrities! They‘re Just Like Us move), and he proved himself a game comic performer in 2015’s Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. In this respect, he’s the perfect choice to voice Ferdinand, a mighty bull with a kind and gentle heart. If the role was any more squarely in Cena’s wheelhouse, he’d be romancing an esteemed comedic actress.
The suit makes the man, and that’s seldom more true than for the superhero set. Batman would be another joe-schmo billionaire industrialist without the arsenal of weaponry built into his armor, Iron Man would literally die without his hardware, and now we can add Peter Parker to the list of superheroes whose own clothes act as unofficial sidekick. In the latest trailer for upcoming threeboot Spider-Man: Homecoming, we get a glimpse of some nifty new modifications (courtesy of Stark Industries) to Spidey’s trademark red-and-blue spandex. A new generation’s Spider-Man needs some modern upgrades, and the latest iteration of the suit includes a detachable mini-drone and what I can only describe as “skintight suction technology.”
Fans do so love their theories, whether they’re regarding Jar Jar Binks’ secret second life as a Sith lord or the nonexistent connection between new sci-fi thriller Life and a planned spin-off for Spider-Man’s extraterrestrial nemesis Venom. Not to mention my personal favorite, which supposes that all Nancy Meyers films take place in the same well-lit, immaculately decorated universe known colloquially as the NMCU. But not everyone gets the same delight from constructing elaborate yarn-pinned-to-corkboard-style conspiracies, and Mandy Moore (the former Entourage star, not the noted La La Land choreographer) did not find any amusement in a particularly morbid theory linking her animated vehicle Tangled to Disney’s follow-up Frozen.
One of last year’s finest films, and certainly the most challenging documentary, was Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine. The concept was ingenious: the film tracks actress Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to portray the late newswoman Christine Chubbuck and tease out what factors could have compelled a woman to shoot herself in the head on live television. It was a beguiling interrogation of authenticity and artifice, tracing the limits of performance as a means to locate truth, and now the world of documentary film has begun to follow Greene’s groundbreaking example. The new trailer for Casting JonBenet offers a glimpse at a film using Greene’s methods, and applying them to an equally disturbing footnote in history.
Almost exactly a year ago, tech entrepreneur Sean Parker (better known as the guy who correctly identified a billion dollars as cooler than a million dollars in The Social Network) fronted a proposed business venture called The Screening Room, a potentially game-changing set-top box through which Hollywood studios would offer their biggest new releases to stream at home the same day they premiered in brick-and-mortar theaters. (With an astronomical price tag, naturally.) Though it gained some traction and support from significant voices in the film community, it ultimately sputtered and spun out. But with the rebirth of spring, so comes a rebirth for this impractical, frightening, cineplex-annihilating idea. (Kinda.)
There’s no arguing that superheroes currently own the cineplex, but in a slight change of pace, one of this upcoming summer’s cape-clad defenders won’t hail from the pages of Marvel or DC. Kids (and nostalgia fetishists in their mid-to-late twenties) will get a colorful crimefighter of a different stripe with Captain Underpants, the computer-animated adaptation of Dav Pilkey’s long-running line of sophomoric chapter books about a delusional elementary school principal’s adventures in doo-doo derring-do. The first trailer hit the internet today, and if you were wondering if it contains the same Steve Aoki club banger as the War Dogs trailer, then have I got some good news for you!
The latest trailer for the upcoming DreamWorks film The Boss Baby — an animated comedy featuring Alec Baldwin voicing a baby who is, bear with me here, a boss — was specially cut together to be paired with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remake, which premiered this past Friday. The video, jocularly titled “A Tale NOT As Old As Time” in reference to the line from the 1991 film’s theme music, features the Baldwin-voiced infant making Cogsworth and Lumiere play with one another as playthings before he directly accosts the audience. For a movie that would appear to be marketed to children, it sure does contain a joke about sticking a candlestick in there somewhere.
Did you know that they apparently made another Terminator movie in 2015? Despite having seen it in theaters back during its original run, this still strikes me as new, hard-to-believe information. If there was really a new installment of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popular sci-fi/action franchise as recently as two years ago, wouldn’t someone remember that? Wikipedia claims that the film (subtitled Genisys, which sounds fake but okay) attempted to launch Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke’s big-screen phase of her career, included a clutch starring role from Ahnuld himself, and earned the second-most of any entry in the series. Call me crazy, but that seems like a pretty major occurrence to have entirely fled the public‘s collective pop-cultural memory. I’m skeptical — does this look like a real movie to you?
Pixar’s 2016 was something of a mixed bag, having landed a true-blue blockbuster with Finding Dory but then missing out on the coveted Oscar nomination. They’ll get back in the saddle in 2017 with Coco, a vibrant fantasy about the power of music, family, and remembrance of those lost to us. In the film, a lonely young boy finds a link to the past through an enchanted stringed instrument and sets off on an incredible journey with an animal companion, encountering all manner of dreamlike wonders (along with a monster or two) on the way. It bears mentioning at this point that this film is, in fact, not Kubo and the Two Strings.
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