Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Tops With $64.4 Million, ‘Mortdecai’ Flops

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Hits Stunning $200M; Johnny Depp Fizzles.

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” continued its box office dominance this weekend, picking up $64.4 million and steamrolling over everything in sight, including Johnny Depp. But, luckily Ellen DeGeneres has hit upon a winning formula for getting to the heart of what we viewers want to know about our Hollywood heroes: the party game Never Have I Ever, favourite of teenagers and drunk students alike.The film stars Johnny Depp as suave art dealer and rogue Charlie Mortdecai, and his moustache features heavily, with director David saying that there was a pressure to get it perfect.

Depp’s latest exercise in cinematic oddities, “Mortdecai,” left audiences cold, earning a paltry $4.1 million across 2,648 locations and coming in ninth on box office charts. Johnny Depp’s latest starring vehicle, in which he plays a daffy British bon-vivant jetting around the world to find a stolen masterpiece, aimed to be a kind of Pink Panther-esque caper, but American audiences stayed away in droves, and the critics unloaded. “In the end, we must lay the badness of Mortdecai at the feet of its star,” wrote New York‘s David Edelstein. “I envy Depp’s capacity for self-amusement, but it’s a pity he’s so rich and enbubbled that no one dares say to say to him, ‘Er, Johnny… this is, er, really very bad.’” Mortdecai is expected to barely crack $4 million this weekend, making it Depp’s worst wide debut since 1999’s The Astronaut’s Wife. Armed with placards stating “I have” and “I have never” Paul Bettany, Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow admitted to a series of surprising things. He said: “It was critical, that was like casting another actor. [Johnny and I] traded photos back and forth for a long time and then I found a photo of some Austrian duke from 1906 which seemed right to me, so I showed it to him and he said, ‘Oh my god, look,’ and showed me a picture he had drawn of almost that same moustache.

It’s an embarrassing performance for a star of his caliber and comes on the heels of box office disasters such as “The Lone Ranger” and “Transcendence.” “Mortdecai” cost $60 million to make and was backed by OddLot Entertainment and released by Lionsgate. In only 10 days in release, American Sniper has eclipsed the $198.5 million earned all in by Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, and it will soon overtake the $216.5 million grossed by Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in 1998.

But most everyone saw this debacle coming: the comedy opened in less than 2,700 theaters—indicating a startling amount of indifference from the exhibitors towards a major Hollywood superstar—and many of the nation’s leading film critics couldn’t be bothered to review it. (Those who did chime in pilloried the film with a 12 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) Though Depp currently has a hit in theaters, with a supporting role as the Wolf in Into the Woods, Mortdecai is his fifth consecutive stinker as the film’s star, following in the wake of Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows, and The Rum Diary. Questions included whether they’d been arrested (Bettany and Depp had), joined the Mile High club (Depp and Paltrow said yes) and if they’d pretended a baby was cute when it was ugly (all three were guilty of the latter). Maybe because parodying a self-parody doesn’t take much finesse, something Johnny Depp hasn’t shown since “Rango” (2011), and that was animation.

Taking inflation into account, Private Ryan would earned more than $300 million by today’s terms; Sniper is sure to eclipse that number when all is said and done. With barely a word passing their lips (bar Bettany’s exclamation of “Oh, come on!”) the trio nodded their admissions with red faces and shrugs of embarrassment. I think it’s hilarious and I know how to play this guy.’ I read about three pages and said, ‘Not only do I see why you want to play it, I see that you’re probably the only person who can play it.’ I was hooked immediately. “It never happens, but I got my first choice on every actor. The film’s ongoing strength underscores its appeal in Middle America and the boost it’s getting elsewhere from scoring six Oscar nominations, including best picture and best actor (Bradley Cooper).

Recall that Depp spent the bulk of his 30s thrashing against Hollywood’s square-peg efforts to make him the billon-dollar star he looked like on the poster, and that it eventually happened only after his cockeyed portrayal of Capt. From the time we were working on the scripts, I pictured Gwyneth and happily she said yes.” Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The extra-plummy accent gives him a bit of trouble — at times he lapses into Foghorn Leghorn, and between the dumb dialogue and voiceover narrative it becomes maddening. The animated film was produced by Lucasfilm, centers on goblins and elves and was inherited by the Mouse House as part of its 2012 purchase of George Lucas’ company. The weekend’s other major new release, Universal’s “The Boy Next Door,” fared better earning a solid $15 million from 2,602 locations and second place status.

At the other end of the spectrum, Johnny Depp’s newest film, Mortdecai, tanked in its domestic launch, earning an estimated $4.1 million, the actor’s worst opening in the post-Pirates era. But Depp used the success of the Pirates franchise as an endorsement of a tic—his “aria of weirdness” that requires him to hide behind characters rather than disappear into them.

So for all intents and purpose, and what those might be defy comprehension, Depp has brought back to the screen the star of such films as “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” (1965) and “Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies” (1969). Adapted by David Koepp from a 1972 novel by cult favorite Kyril Bonfiglioli, the film features Depp/Thomas as Mortdecai, a roguish, effete aristo who maintains his estate and his spoiled but resourceful wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow, whose British accent is at least a relief from Depp’s) as a sleazy art dealer.

Much of the Sunday afternoon box office quarterbacking will center on Depp’s deflating career, but “American Sniper’s” endurance was the true stunner. Someone is murdered and a Goya is stolen and Mi5 agent Martland (Ewan McGregor — what has happened to the careers of these people?) extorts Mortdecai into tracking the painting down.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum and Paul Bettany also star in the film adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s novel Don’t Point That Thing at Me. Some of these characters were pretty fabulous concoctions, but together, they mask something else: For an actor who can literally make any movie he chooses, Depp has fallen into the type of creative rut that would’ve made 1995 Johnny Depp roll his eyes.

Luckily Mortdecai can rely on his manservant, Jock (Paul Bettany doing Jason Statham), to bail him out of sticky situations even as he delights audiences with his shtick of sustaining serious injuries or having sex in every other scene. As Forbes points out, before “American Sniper” just did it, only “Avatar” and “The Incredibles” have dropped less than 30% off of opening weekends of over $70 million. Depp’s film lost handily to an unlikely competitor — Jennifer Lopez, whose The Boy Next Door, a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman. Brando set the standard for ambivalence towards his own creative profession, and Depp seems to have picked up the master’s baton. “What is really satisfying is, like Marlon, getting to that place where he just didn’t give a f-ck,” Depp recently told Details magazine. “First, I reached a point where I cared so much and was so diligent in terms of approaching the work. And to save you the trouble of seeing the film yourself, here are some of the more clever lines: “Every man should have a Jock, don’t you think?” “It was fat and well-used, like a Welsh barmaid” and “I swallowed it.”

The Weinstein Company’s “The Imitation Game” officially became the top-grossing indie release, passing “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It earned $7.1 million pushing its total to over $60 million. Also opening this weekend is the George Lucas-produced Strange Magic, an animated family film that’s looking at a disappointing $5.5 million launch for a seventh-place finish. The film about a woman with chronic pain had been expected to snag star Jennifer Aniston an Oscar nomination, but was shut out by Academy Awards voters. From a story by Lucas, Strange Magic is an animated romp set in a whimsical land of potions, goblins and fairies that’s loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Being game to try anything.” Who am I interpret what both men really mean by this, but I will posit that Brando’s best work didn’t necessarily happen when he attained that acting nirvana.

The movie was already in the works when Disney swooped in and bought Lucasfilm in 2012, but Strange Magic was kept on the QT until last fall, when Disney announced a Jan. 23 release. The voice cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredith Anne Bull, Alfred Molina and Elijah Kelley, who sing new versions of pop and classic rock songs.

Not to diss David Koepp, Wally Pfister, Gore Verbinski, or Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Tourist), but they’re not exactly Coppola or Bertolucci or Kazan. Back in the top 10, British family film Paddington remained the family offering of choice ahead of Strange Magic and placed No. 3 with $12.4 million, falling only 35 percent. It’s the first Depp role to really be excited about since Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, in part because Depp isn’t playing a cartoon character and also because Cooper (Crazy Heart) is the kind of director who might just be brave and dumb enough to tell Depp when he sucks. Depp, like Brando and other actors who can afford to own their own island, needs a director who’s at least two of the following: visionary, obsessive, tyrannical, and insane. Quentin Tarantino—This is a no-brainer, and apparently, the two men agree. “We would love to work together,” Tarantino told Charlie Rose in 2012. “We’ve talked about it for years … I just need to write the right character that I think Johnny would be the guy to do it with.

He famously crafted a role around the very essence of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, and he’s worked wonders with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio as well. He has a way of locating the original allure of an actor before it was lacquered in fame—while simultaneously using that accumulated celebrity to the character and story’s advantage. The Coen brothers—The Coens also have a soft spot for the eccentric types that Depp worships, so it’s not difficult to imagine Depp as the George Clooney character in some version of O Brother, Where Art Thou? or the Brad Pitt character in Burn After Reading. Johnny Depp in a Gus Van Sant joint sounds and feels like such a more promising proposition to me than Depp trying to be something he’s not for a more adrenalized director like David Fincher or Paul Greengrass.

Iñárritu—One can’t help but listen to Michael Keaton and his co-stars marvel at the experience of making Birdman, which was high-wire, no-net acting that required extremely long takes, and not think how Depp might be invigorated by such a process. Of course, Iñárritu isn’t structuring all his movies like Birdman, but he’s the perfect filmmaker to help an actor fall back in love with his craft. But after seeing Budapest and Mortdecai—and Depp’s recent string of overly eccentric characters—I fear that if and when this duo does pair up, the screen might implode with twee and fastidiousness, coating the audience with fancy facial hair and brilliant primary colors.

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