Mad Max and Our Need for Speed

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: 5 Lessons From Its Box Office Win.

Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t top the weekend box office in its debut frame, but it’s still a winner. The Elizabeth Banks-directed sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit and video-on-demand phenomenon cost Universal Pictures only $29 million to produce and was expected to open in the $50 million range. The first film, for comparison, grossed only $65 million domestically across its entire run. “It’s aca-awesome,” said Universal Pictures’ President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou, using one of the catchphrases of the film about a cappella singing. “We knew that the film would be a success, but there’s something that happens when movies grow in their success beyond a range that’s easily predictable. Hollywood sages predicted the girl-power a capella comedy would run neck-and-neck with the post-apocalyptic action flick “Mad Max: Fury Road.” But it wasn’t even close. It’s one of those odd situations where a film debuts right in line with realistic expectations and/or tracking guestimates, and yet finds itself on the defense because the film turned out to be better than expected.

When that happens, the sky’s the limit.” Audiences for the musical comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson were 75 percent female and 62 percent under the age of 25, according to Universal. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and company blew away the competition with more than $70 million. “Max,” with stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, brought in a mere $44 million.

An issue focusing on Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and how she met the Immortan’s brides, women chosen to bear a worthy male heir for the ruler, arrives June 17, and two chapters focusing on Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) and a hazardous trip to Gastown — and Thunderdome Plus — come out July 8 and August 5. (A special hardcover edition collecting all the stories is in stores Aug. 26.) Nicholas Hoult’s Nux and Charlize Theron’s Furiosa get backstories in three “Mad Max” comic-book prequels. (Photo: Jasin Boland, Warner Bros. And although the fact that this still needs to be stated — again and again and again — is frankly a mystery, let’s just go ahead and put this past weekend’s box office numbers in the evidence file. Pictures) It’s an important project for the director, who worked on the comics with Mad Max screenwriter Nico Lathouris and storyboard artist Mark Sexton. “They’re a huge influence on modern culture,” Miller says, “and this is the first opportunity of taking something I’ve worked on and having them rendered in comics. In the final weekend before summer blockbuster season official starts, a movie directed by, cowritten by, coproduced by and starring ladies, ladies, ladies (Elizabeth Banks, you are a boss among bosses) managed to earn $70.3 million – and to leave even “Mad Max” far behind in the dust (which, yes, is also full of women kicking butt!). That’s a big deal for me.” The Fury Road movie begins in the middle of a lot of characters’ lives, so to present a cohesive and authentic post-apocalyptic world, Miller worked out various backstories for his actors and their roles.

Obviously that was not the case, although we shouldn’t assume that the rave reviews didn’t merely assure a strong $40m+ even in the shadow of Pitch Perfect 2‘s peak-level bow. The key takeaways are that 72 percent of the audience was female and 57 percent was younger than 25, so what Hollywood should conclude is that women make money too, and they’re willing to spend it on a movie that’s worth their time. (“PP2″ got an A- CinemaScore.) Maybe it’s time to stop catering almost exclusively to the supposed gravy-train demographic of young male movie-goers. If it has a small drop next weekend, which it very well may with the Memorial Day weekend as a buffer, then we can talk about the reviews and the word-of-mouth.

Women’s HeForShe campaign for the Cannes Film Festival, Oscar nominated actress, director and producer Salma Hayek spoke of the industry’s deeply rooted blind side, saying, “They don’t see us as a powerful economic force, which is an incredible ignorance…. Joe Moore, the militant leader of a private army and motorcycle gang when “The Fall” happens, and through oil and water wars, how the man who would be the Immortan built an armada and ultimately finds his place as ruler of the Citadel. The only kind of movie where women make more than men is the porno industry.” And Hayek — a beautiful, smart classic leading lady — admitted she’s been passed over for roles because, as Variety reports, “A-list actors have approval over her casting, whereas top actresses in Hollywood don’t get similar deals.” Hayek is just the latest in a growing and vocal group of female power players who are speaking up about the entertainment industry’s insanely backwards relationship to women.

The Immortan’s “the last fascist, feudal moron,” says production designer Colin Gibson. “For me, he was the last white man on Earth, and partly the reason for why we were screwed.” While grand stories and comics are just now coming together in a project for Miller, 70, they’ve been major aspects of the filmmaker’s life since he was a kid growing up in a rural, remote part of Queensland, Australia. “Comics are part of my lifeblood,” Miller says. Fellman said that many of the showings ended with applause, only adding to the hope that word of mouth will contribute to a lengthy and successful run. “Each film absolutely found its target audience,” Dergarabedian said. “They were running on parallel tracks, and both exceeded expectations by not cannibalizing each other. Earlier this year, the Ask Her More campaign lobbied for reporters to do a little better than straight up ogling during red carpet awards season — and, relatedly, the dumb, infantilizing “manicam” nail parade died a rightful death. The film opened in 68 overseas markets this weekend and earned an additional $65m overseas for a robust $109.4m worldwide in its first weekend.Warner basically did everything they could short of giving away all the good parts in order to sell the film. It was the perfect release strategy for two very different, high-profile films … it really paid off handsomely.” After opening in China six days ago, the “Avengers” sequel brought in $185 million internationally in its fourth weekend.

Last month, the Make It Fair project debuted with a witty PSA on the creeping crisis of “only 93 percent of popular films directed by males,” while Meryl Streep launched a screenwriters lab for women writers over 40, and the revelatory, make you want to laugh and cry Tumblr S__t People Say to Women Directors & Other Women in Film took off. They had the film of course, and they cut some eye-popping trailers that truly made this film feel one-of-a-kind, and they screened it early enough to build critical buzz. The two films weren’t explicitly competing against each other and both films absolutely “won” their opening weekends at the box office this weekend. Heck, they even let the embargo drop a day earlier than intended when they saw the writing on the wall and noticed critics like me desperate to tell the world how wonderful this film was.

The public may not buy into her kicking butt in battle the way, say, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow does, but Hollywood decision makers probably wouldn’t mind injecting some of her singular energy into the same-old, same-old superhero template. Yet we are still gripped by the notion that the various new (and slightly less new) films are locked in a game of box office mortal combat whereby the top film reigns supreme and the second or third-place finisher weeps in defeat. It’s so offensive it’s crazy,” while Carey Mulligan told Time Out, “In terms of the amount of interesting roles there are for women it’s obviously massively sexist. As a result you have hardcore Mad Max fans whining about the movie that “beat” it, while others are gleefully describing Pitch Perfect 2’s victory not in how much it made but rather that it topped the other big movie opening on the same weekend.

Emma Stone, Natalie Portman and Amy Adams, the Oscar nominees lately stuck doing time as love interests in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Thor” and the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” According to Deadline, Banks had the highest opening weekend ever for a first-time director. A lack of great stories for women.” It’s progress that some companies are starting to realize that women consume their products and are now reconsidering their traditionally sexist ad campaigns. This also applies to holdover coverage, as writers discuss a film’s long-term success in terms of what ranking it achieved in its second or third weekend as opposed to how much money it made or how much or little it dropped in gross compared to the prior weekend.

It’s encouraging that female-led hits like “Frozen,” “Hunger Games” and “Pitch Perfect” are sending a clear signal that appealing to female audiences pays off, hugely. Instead, Hollywood producers, who have been under fire recently for giving jobs only to men, will probably try to sign her up for a blockbuster about a super-heroine (because women are apparently unable to direct movies about male superheroes). And it sure would be nice if Hollywood began listening to the women who are going public with their stories of the deeply entrenched biases that have kept the industry in such a dumb desert of innovative ideas.

I don’t particularly need to see a new trilogy of Mad Max movies and it’s hard for me to root too much for a film whose success will mostly inspire Hollywood to further raid their franchise vaults for decades-old properties to revive. If the $150 million picture ends up grossing enough worldwide to justify its expenses, then it is a hit no matter where it ends up on the weekend-to-weekend rankings. Promising directors who make interesting and unique movies are rewarded by getting signed to a big franchise deal, which takes them away from ground-breaking original work. That men’s rights activists — the saddest demographic of all — are offended that “feminism has infiltrated and co-opted Hollywood” is pathetic.

But it’s not like its theoretical underperformance down the line will have any bad lessons since it’s such a unique cocktail of elements unlikely to be replicated in the future. And now Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the guys behind “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie,” will direct “The Flash”; Rian Johnson, of the mind-bending “Looper,” is on for “Star Wars: Episode VIII”; and Patty Jenkins, who directed “Monster,” is currently on board to helm “Wonder Woman.” If a movie works well, why not make more movies just like it? And even if Hollywood doesn’t necessarily learn the best lessons from its surprise triumphs, filmmakers certainly do and I can be optimistic and presume that 70-year old George Miller just challenged an entire generation of genre filmmakers on everything from quality of action to practical effects and realism-enhancing CGI to gender parity. There is a scene in the first season finale of The Newsroom where Olivia Munn’s character is despondent because a poll has revealed that the number of people who believe erroneous things about the Debt Ceiling has not decreased since she joined the staff of News Night and began lecturing about the subject. The payoff comes when she is assured that she did make a difference because without her hammering home the truth over the course of her tenure that number may well have been even higher.

The film pulled out a surprisingly leggy (for a geek-friendly action sequel) 2.73x weekend multiplier, and the “revised estimate” was higher than the Sunday morning number. However, it is just as possible that the reviews spurred would-be casual fans and barely curious to race to the theaters on opening night and spread word-of-mouth accordingly. And if audiences liked watching Beca (Kendrick) and Jesse (Skylar Astin) fall in love against the backdrop of the cutthroat world of a capella competitions, maybe they’d also like to watch Beca and Jesse move to Los Angeles together, where they both pursue music careers, but are torn apart by jealousy (because Beca obviously makes it, while Jesse founders), only to be brought back together during a rainstorm.

But the reviews helped in that I imagine quite a few one-the-fence ticket buyers made the call after the raves poured in.And of course not a single moviegoer, beyond the Men’s’ Rights Activists types, was scared off by the superlatives unleashed in the week leading up to release. And then, a few years down the road, when audiences get sick of watching the same people doing the same things, producers can just reboot the franchise or remake the first movie with fresh new faces. Without entirely endorsing the notion of giving $150 million to a veteran director to basically do as he pleases for years-on end, Miller seemingly had almost total freedom to make the film he wanted to make on his relative timetable, and the release date got moved several times over the last few years. However, nor should we forget the likes of Gravity and Titanic, which got delayed and had the time necessary to perfect what worked and not rush what needed tinkering. That’s encouraging news for would-be fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, which moved from one high profile release date to another presumably because they didn’t want to rush.

There are female characters in the film who are clearly victims, there are female characters who are bad-ass action heroes, and there are female characters who are everything in between. The best part of having multiple female characters is that each one does not have to represent the gender as a whole, which means they can be every bit as complex and flawed as the male characters. To wit, its success is the success of another example of Hollywood revamping a decades-old property, giving it to the original director who hasn’t been all-that-relevant in ages, casting a hot young flavor of the month actor, and presuming that said franchise’s original popularity would translate into 2015 moviegoing demographics.

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