Saturday, 24 March 2012

One Million Presales? (Out this week - 23/03/12)

There are few things more difficult to understand than the forces of collective anticipation. It invariably feeds on itself but it can’t be reconciled to any particular factor, nor can a project be pre-selected as a potential lucrative goldmine. You probably need to hit the zeitgeist first, that intractable will ’o’ the wisp that raises a subject into public consciousness, witness the ground-breaking special effects of Avatar, the out of nowhere Jack Sparrow performance or the untimely passing of Heath Ledger for recent examples that dragged a film into the billion dollar club. This week we’re witnessing something akin to that with the release of The Hunger Games, the RLAG film of the week, and whilst I wouldn’t want to predict that large a haul from the partial indie I think few can doubt it will be in the top ten biggest international grosses of the year.

It’s easy to argue the film will do well purely because the book is doing well, or even because of the extreme stage-management of it’s publicity, for some time last year barely a week went by without a casting announcement or the release of an image plus the post-Twilight feminism that guarantees a young adult audience driven by the girls as well as the boys; and whilst these have had an impact I would argue they only partly explain it’s likely profitability. I would like to posit that the 99% are understanding and accepting the social satire and political message of the movie even whilst cheering on the 12a violence. It’s occupy Panem and the corrupt self-serving ultra capitalist state it represents. The revolution won’t be starting here, but I expect it adds some fuel to the fire.

I’m still hanging my head in shame after last weekend’s post. Not only did I miss out on a British indie release (not that it stood any chance of picking up a sizeable audience anyway given it’s one screen pre-DVD strategy) but I also fluffed the box office predictions, even whilst making clear in the post I originally had other predictions. Yes, it was the critically ravaged Devil Inside that hit first and hit hard on the publicity circuit and beat off the action comedy 21 Jump Street by nearly 30%. This weeks is insanely easy to predict so I guess if Katniss isn’t standing astride her competitors with bow and arrow in hand I guess I’ll eat my Caesar Flickerman latex mask.

The Hunger Games

I may be reading too much into the plot synopsis of Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed series of books in the comments above but it’s certainly safe to say the Battle Royale meets The Grapes of Wrath in a dystopian alternative future treads the fine line between kiddie entertainment and brutal black comedy. Even though I personally won’t be going to see it (the trailer didn’t wow me as much as it should, it does seem a touch packaged in it’s approach to marketing) I do hope it does well, as I hope all new ideas do well, as Andrew Stanton recently pronounced in John Carter interviews “[The film industry]... isn’t a zero-sum game.” Increased sales for one film generally improve the likelihood of other films succeeding. Backing up Jennifer Lawrence as out heroine Katniss are the ever-reliable Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci in key supporting roles.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●●○○○○

It isn’t all about the YA’s this weekend, read on the brave counterprogramming form overseas and gangster Britflicks as well as a bizarre movie to compare HG with from the States.

Still not personally drawn in but when it beats all opening weekend records I'll be prepared to shut up.

Kid with a Bike

The arthouse crowd don't have too much to fear from the multiplexes, being catered for as they are by the redoubtable Dardennes. What's more the simplicity of the plot (it's literally about a kid with a bike, albeit a kid in foster care goign for rides witha local hairdresser) is an interesting way to get into the Belgian's oeuvre.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●●○○○○○

Wild Bill

The British Gangster movie, a sub-genre that blossomed with Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock back in the late 90's has seemed like it was about to collapse in on itself ever since, but occasionally between the sub-par dreck a little gem can appear like paternal crisis spin by first time director Dexter Fletcher. Charlie Creed-Miles stars as the eponymous Bill trying to go straight and bring up his lads, left behind after an 8 year stretch.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●●○○○○○○

Agent Vinod

We're might be sick to death of remakes in the West, not that it stops Hollywood from trundling on, but at least it's not a purely Anglo problem as this Bollywood release is a remake of a 1977 hit. Saying that it's looks hardly more than a Bourne rip-off anyway.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Bu Son Olsun

I have no idea whether the somewhat difficult subject matter of this Turkish movie will work - it's a comedy about five homeless guys sent to prison following the military coup in the 1980's and witnessing the results of the corrupt politics and gang violence. It could be biting and surreal, although my money is on it being crass and disrespectful. Feel free to contradict in the comments.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Sümela'nin sifresi: Temel

Screwball comedy set in North Eastern Turkey which in essence follows a man desperately in love but unable to tell her. A football mad Iman and Russian hooker are among the supporting characters dragged into his "wacky adventures".

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●●○○○○○○○

Act of Valour

I promised you some odd counterprogramming this weekend and here you go. Facing off against Katniss and the neo-fascist society she lives in is this unashamed US military propaganda, the type of movie you didn't think they made anymore. Needless to say no civilians are killed in this SEALS recruitment video. I'm shocked it's done so well in the States and rather hope it won't start a trend of large indies co-operating with governments at the expense of subtlety and good story-writing.

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●○○○○○○○○○

Oh, and one more thing:

Booked Out

Last week I missed the release of this low key British comedy about the misadventures of a photographic artist/novelist, the boy she falls for and her dementia ridden neighbour. Oddly I did see the Guardian review, which was reasonable positive, but I didn't see any listing that included the movie. I wasn't the only one to miss it as it took a paltry £223 in one site. Looking at the trailer it probably deserved more than that, but I have to ask why didn't they try harder to sell it?

Runs like a Gay Excitometer: ●●○○○○○○○○

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