Box Office Brasserie: Movie News for Movie Lovers

Not even a lava-spewing volcano nor Kevin Costner in beast-mode will get in the way of “The Lego Movie” scoring a rare three-peat atop the box office this weekend.  Sorry “Pompeii”  and “3 Days to Kill” but you both ran into an expertly constructed box office buzz saw.

The top-grossing movie of 2014 has $150+M going into the weekend, with Warner’s hit toon expected to pick up another $30+M this go-round, and is well on its way to also becoming one of the Top 10 grossing films of the year.

Is Sony sacrificing a virgin in “Pompeii?” Possibly. It’s quite the head-scratcher when you consider  the PG-13 drama is the studio’s fourth film released in just over two weeks. And while “The Monuments Men,” “About Last Night,” and “Robocop” are performing well enough, it’s a tall order to go 4-for-4 over that confined span even with films targeting predominantly unique demographics.

Yes, but “Pompeii” has gladiators and romance centering around a real-life tragedy, much like “Titanic.” Well, that’s a great pitch and all, but Paul W.S. Anderson is far from James Cameron and the only thing that “Pompeii” has in common with the highest-grossing movie of all time is that it will sink…fast. Yes, destined to become a box office bottom-feeder.

Hollywood has already witnessed two big bombs this year in “I, Frankenstein” and “Legend of Hercules,” both which cost around $70M. Sony’s flick, like those, were annihilated by critics and as an afterthought offered up in 3D, which is almost a requirement for a major disaster these days–go big or go home.  What it really is though, is a last-ditch effort to recoup cash in foreign sectors.

“Pompeii,” while not being marketed with any pomp or circumstance like, say, “Robocop” was, is also estimated to cost just as much as the robo-reboot: $100+M. When you’re expecting a weekend debut of under $15M, that kind of roll out is enough to make anyone’s head explode.

That’s probably why it’s no surprise that Anderson is already in production on a sixth Resident Evil film, a franchise where he makes his bread & butter (or is it blood & splatter?), having grossed nearly a billion dollars for the studio.

Kit Harrington (“Game of Throne’s” Jon Snow) will certainly survive this hot-mess disaster, as his best days are still ahead of him, but Anderson will definitely live in the darkened world of monsters and mayhem for some time, where, quite honestly, he does his best work. “AVP” and “Event Horizon”–FTW, classics!

Despite my very real Kevin Costner man-crush, I still don’t see Relativity’s “3 Days to Kill” doing much business this weekend as everything about McG’s action/crime/drama looks pretty much by-the-numbers, especially the poster which features Costner split down the middle, half in the light and half cloaked in darkness.

It’s like the advertising department purchased it directly out of an action/crime/drama vending machine. You know, I bet they have those machines in Japan, a country that really appreciates (i.e. worships) vending machines that offer everything from fresh eggs to bananas, Asahi beer and Pringles, to a hot bowl of ramen, or even slightly-used underwear.

Yes, “3 Days to Kill” definitely has that been-there, done-that feel, which is something we’ve all come to expect when Luc Besson writes an action picture. This is more or less an updated offshoot of probably his best film, “Leon: The Professional.” But, on the other hand, as Johnny Depp knows all too well, Costner’s costar, Amber Heard, is pretty easy on the old eyeballs for a couple hours. So there’s that.

In over 2,800+ theaters, don’t expect much more than $8M, which will likely place it outside the Top 5.  Luckily, it cost an estimated $28M, which will help stop the bleeding much quicker, however probably won’t get us any nearer to “Waterworld 2.” And for some of us (i.e. myself), it’s a lifelong dream.

In limited release, Roadside Attractions will drop “In Secret” into 266 theaters in an attempt to cash in on rising star Isaac Oscar, who made a splashy showing in the Coen Bros. “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The R-rated dramatic thriller will quickly disappear, but Oscar will likely be a force for some time.

Disney releases something this weekend that is becoming more-and-more rare: a traditional animated movie.  “The Wind Rises” launches in 21 theaters and expands into moderate wide release in 450+ theaters next Friday.

The PG-13 toon from Hayao Miyazaki–nicknamed the Japanese Walt Disney– who won Best Animated feature  in 2002 for his dreamy “Spirited Away,” is a national treasure and has amazed audiences around the world with films like “Princess Mononoke,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Castle in the Sky,” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” Miyazaki previously said this would be his swan song as a feature director, but you never know, especially considering that “The Wind Rises” was the highest-grossing film in Japan in 2013.



2. ROBOCOP – $13.5M
4. POMPEII – $11M




Warner Bros. has finally set a date–Jan 16, 2015–for their big-screen adaptation of the spy-fi series that ran on NBC back in the 60s. Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes”) is at the helm, so you know the action will be the main distraction here, but with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in the leads, one has to wonder if the casting will derail this potential franchise as neither really wowed in their previous starring roles, “Man of Steel” and “The Lone Ranger,” respectively.

Sure, MLK weekend has become a big deal lately, any extended weekend really (outside Labor Day weekend), but with Kevin Hart’s “The Wedding Ringer,” “Untitled Michael Mann” and Fox’s “Frankenstein” already set for that holiday, it seems a rather odd fit. It’s certainly not a place you would position a film that desperately needs all the attention it can get.  Still, a great trailer can always change that. Let’s hope there’s a great trailer in that footage somewhere.

That said, it’s hard to beat this one…



Fox has cast its heroes for their rebooted Marvel franchise with Miles Teller as Mister Fantastic, Michael B. Jordan as The Human Torch, Kate Mara (“House of Cards”) as The Invisible Woman and Jamie Bell as The Thing. Let that last one sink in.

Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm? Last I checked Bell was still a pencil-necked geek, right? No offense, but he’s 5′ 7″?!?! He’s that kid from “Billy Elliot!” A fine actor to be sure, but this is a big stretch.  Sure, radiation can do some strange things to a person, I suppose, but are you telling me Dwayne Johnson wasn’t available? I get it, you’re going young, but how about WWE wrestlers Brock Lesnar or Bray Wyatt?

In the previous two “Fantastic Four” flicks, Michael Chiklis portrayed the big, bad brickwall of a beast and it really goes against casting for type as the original comic book always featured The Thing as a hulking mass. Will be interesting to see what they do to make him not look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.





CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug 1, 2014)

Marvel is going for the gusto. And by gusto, I obviously mean gonzo. Although not really known outside fanboy fallout shelters, “Guardians of the Galaxy” looks to change that in a big way this summer, as Disney is hoping it has another massive hit on their hands. You know what? They just might.

The trailer promises the new Marvel flick to be everything a comic book adaptation should be: wildly entertaining, funny, and chock-full of surprises. This could turn out to be a cross between “The Avengers” and “Star Wars”–which would be a merchandising dream.

If that happens, we’ll see a sequel light up the boards faster than you can say “What a bunch of A-holes.” The best one-liner of the year in my opinion and one that makes the Disney trailer seem pretty damn grown-up and tragically hip.  First Walt Disney smokes and drinks in “Saving Mr. Banks,” and now this? Welcome to the new Disney, folks.  Gonna be a wild ride.



CLASSIC CUT OF THE WEEK: Kevin Costner’s “The Postman” (1997)

C’mon, we can’t always feature the “Waterworld” trailer, you know. Besides, it’s not like I’m asking you to sit through the 3 hour movie again…just 3 minutes.  Forget “3 Days to Kill,” just give Costner 3 minutes today.

“You have a gift postman. You give out hope like it’s candy in your pocket.”

Wow. I really hope someone says that about me one day….



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


“Pompeii” Poster Courtesy of Sony Pictures; Poster Design by BLT Communications