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Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

With Marvel, Pixar, Disney Animation and Star Wars in their canon, Disney is making a joke of the studio system. There’s Disney, perched high above the clouds in a magical kingdom of riches, and somewhere down below are all the other studios.

It’s not even a contest anymore.  The only surprise is that Scrooge McDuck isn’t earmarked as Disney’s official mascot instead of Mickey Mouse, because they’re positively swimming in it. Buck tales. Woo-ooh! Literally billions of bucks.

This weekend marks another cash cow for the Mouse House, as the live-action version of their classic toon, “Cinderella,” will become their latest belle of the box office, which will be taking in an estimated bow upwards of $70M.

And with new live-action adaptation like Tim Burton’s “Dumbo,” Jon Favreau’s “Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast” on the fast track, this fairy tale is far from over, in fact it’s just beginning. Might as well call these adaptations tentpoles with tons of upside.

In 2010 when Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” cast its spell on audiences with $1 billion worldwide, a plan took shape, and that continued with last summer’s “Maleficent” which saw magical grosses of $758M globally.

Even the “101 Dalmations” adaptation, starring Glenn Close, scored $320M worldwide nearly twenty years ago, and spawned a sequel, so no doubt these cartoon adaptations were just a sleeping giant in Disney’s vast vault.

And while other studios have tried their luck with children’s classics like “Mirror Mirror,” “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “Red Riding Hood,” without the Disney seal-of-approval, they just aren’t cutting it.  Disney may not have written these tales, but they certainly have rewritten the rules on how to make them sing at the box office.

“Cinderella” rolls out in over 3,800+ theaters this weekend and while tracking is at about $60M, remember even Disney’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful” debuted with $79M and it certainly didn’t get the glowing reviews that Cindy has—currently 84% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Bippetty-boppitty booya.

“Taken 3” proved Liam Neeson still has some serious fight in him as Fox’s trilogy-capper has scored nearly $300M worldwide, however his action-jackson shtick is being cannibalized by…Neeson himself.  Damn you, Neeson!

His latest, WB’s “Run All Night” opens just two months after his last action flick, and while it certainly looks no worse than any of his previous efforts, some might say: too soon. Audiences, that is. The R-rated pic from Neeson’s frequent collaborator, director Jaume Collett-Serra (“Non-Stop,” “Unknown”), is expected to collect just $16M in its debut.

File the limited release for “The Cobbler” under, films that look like fake films but are somehow real. I can’t imagine Adam Sandler chose this over “Happy Gilmore 2” but Netflix better hope the quality of their future collaborations with the funny man lead to better payoffs than this.

The film is being released in theaters and simultaneously on VOD this weekend, but as someone who is in the loop about release dates and movie updates, I have just about zero info on this flick. That should tell you something. Yes, that either I’m out of the loop or this film is gonna tank hard.

Funny thing is, I love director Thomas McCarthy’s previous efforts—“Win Win,” “The Visitor” and especially “The Station Agent”—and sort of find it hard to believe this is his film. Oh well, those that swing at a change up, often strike out.

Casting Sandler was an odd choice (and probably hinged on the film’s financing), but I can’t help but wonder if having someone like frequent collaborator Bobby Cannavale as the lead would have make this a bit more palatable.

A film I have even less information on is Weinstein’s “Eva.” The 2011 Spanish film, starring Daniel Bruhl, is finally being released in the States, and I gotta say, it looks intriguing.  The PG-13 sci-fi drama plugs into just 50 theaters this weekend.

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. Cinderella – $68M

2. Run All Night – $16M

3. Chappie – $7M

4. Focus – $6.5M

5. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – $6M

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ZOOLANDER SEQUEL FINALLY STRUTS INTO THEATERS

Are you ready for some more Zoolander? 2-lander? Toolander? Twolander? Whatever title Paramount decides on, “Zoolander 2” will rock the box office runway February 12, 2016.

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson highjacked the Paris Fashion Show this week to make the announcement, as Blue Steel will finally melt the comedy blue balls that had this filmed rumored about for years since the original’s debut way back in 2001. Yes folks, that’ll be 15 years that has gone by when the sequel finally drops. Ouch. That calls for some major Botox, el pronto.

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STAR WARS EPISODE VII SETS DATE, UNTITLED STAR WARS GOES ROGUE

The Star Wars universe unveiled itself a bit more on Thursday morning with the announcement that Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) previously untitled Star Wars spinoff would be titled “Rogue One.” Yes, that’s probably code for the rumored Rogue Squadron one-off that as of now features Felicity Huffman.

Also announced is the release date for “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” which is now May 27, 2017. Director Rian Johnson (“Looper,” “Brick”) has been confirmed and as of this printing, is slated to go toe to toe with WB’s “Untitled Lego Movie”—which may or may not be the Batman Lego film. Funny, Marvel vs. DC rises again…or in this case Disney vs. WB…same thing these days.

We’ll see what the grosses for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are, but I have no doubt Lego will construct another date very soon, unless, of course, the title of their film is actually “Lego: Star Wars.” The ultimate Star Wars day!

Disney’s 2017 summer schedule now looks like this:

– Guardians of the Galaxy 2

– Star Wars: Episode VIII

– Toy Story 4

– Pirates of the Caribbean 5

Uh, best of luck everyone else.

Actually, that summer is already shaping up to be the biggest Hollywood has ever seen. And by biggest, of course, I mean most sequels and superheroes of all-time.

And until audiences stop buying tickets to these, this is exactly what every summer from here on out will look like. Welcome to Franchise City. You know what, those old time serials they used to show in theaters were onto something, weren’t they?

Also on the docket for summer 2017: Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man, Despicable Me 3, Untitled DC Film, Terminator 2, Untitled Lego Movie, Untitled Fox Animated and Fantastic Four 2. For those keeping track, ten of the twelve films slated for release are sequels. Just so you know…

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: The Unauthorized Power Ranger Short

Go Go Power Rangers. For Realsies. Hopefully the makers of the official reboot watch this one closely. And someone please hire James Van Der Beek.

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SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW: COMING SOON! 

Can’t wait for summer’s latest crop of blockbusters? Neither can Phil Collins. He’s been waiting for this moment his whole life. Hold on…our summer movie preview will be here in the next couple weeks. Get some!

Phil Collins not your thing? Ok, MMMBop, perhaps? MMMBlockbusters. Time to get our summer groove on.

Feel it! “Oh, yeah, doo-wop, dop, dop, doo…oh yeah.”

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“Cinderella” Poster Image Courtesy of Disney Movies; Poster Design by BLT Communications; Photography by Annie Leibovitz