Tops at the Box: Director John Luessenhop’s Texas Chainsaw 3D, built about the brunette babe-ness of actresses Alexandra Daddario and Tania Raymonde, took the top spot at last weekend’s box office, selling $23 million in the U.S. over its first weekend. While I’m of course tempted to bash the continued phoned-in success of seemingly mediocre franchise flicks, Luessenhop seems like a technically-gifted director, Daddario is definitely a cool girl and, well, the stills and trailer looks pleasantly gritty and well composed. Probably not a great film, but maybe worth checking out. How the film took the No. 1 spot over such a strong batch of releases (see below for details on that) is beyond my understanding.
Also at the Box: Quentin Tarantino’s much celebrated eighth directorial effort, spaghetti Western Django Unchained, took the No. 2 spot at the box, selling just over $20 million over its second weekend, upping the movie’s 12-day domestic total to $106 million. Look for Django, which cost about $100 million to produce, to pass up QT’s Top 2 grossing U.S. releases (Pulp Fiction, $108 million; Inglourious Basterds, $120 million) before the end of the month. Peter Jackson’s seemingly Thomas Kinkade-inspired new cash grab, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, took the No. 3 spot at the box, selling just under $18 million in tickets over its third weekend of release. The film has so far sold $263 million in the U.S. and $825 million worldwide, making it one of the all-time highest grossing movies that almost no one seems to actually like. (Note to you Lord-Loving readers: I didn’t like the first three LotR films; I thought they were embarrassingly New Age-y in production style and poorly paced and acted. So take my opinions on this Hobbit fiasco with a grain of salt, sure, but please at least recognize the record-breaking amount of greed the studio put into the production of the film.) Rounding out the Top 5 were Les Miserables, with $16 million in ticket sales, and Parental Guidance, with just over $10 million in sales. Neither film seems a bit intriguing to me, but go get ‘em America. ScreenTime favorite Gus Van Sant’s new flick, Promised Land, had a lousy opening weekend despite starring Matt Damon, selling just $4.6 million while playing on 1,600 screens. Reviews are very mixed for this small town film about franking. Me? Can’t wait to see it. Love Van Sant, love Damon, love the film’s trailer.
New this Week: The long marinating new film from Ruben Fleischer (noted director of Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less), a period piece ensemble crime drama called Gangster Squad (TRAILER), will open everywhere this weekend. Starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie and Giovanni Ribisi, Gangster looks more Dick Tracy than Goodfellas. Looks very costume-y and stage-y, and maybe even plagued by some overly theatrical performances (hey, Sean Penn is involved). When I originally saw the cast for this film – Brolin! Gosling! Ribisi! Penn! – I was hoping for a gritty, authentic gangster flick; and so, needless to say, I’m not exactly running to the theater, even if I have enjoyed all of Fleischer’s other films. Something called A Haunted House (TRAILER) also opens this weekend. The very-obvious-looking spoof comedy, written by and starring Marlon Wayans, is aimed at the easily amused fans of the Scary Movie series. Most importantly, the best reviewed movie of 2012, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thiry, finally opens wide. It’ll be interesting to see how well this very procedural, dry, academic film – about the hunting and killing of Osama bin Laden – does. I will tell you this: the new teaser trailer for the film might lead you to believe that Zero is a kick-ass action flick where Andy from “Parks and Recreation” goes out killing terrorists. It’s not. Zero Dark Thirty is an incredibly slow, careful film about torture, paper trails and the ugly world. Only in the final 20 minutes of this 157-minute film do we see any action at all.
ScreenRant: Look guys, it’s Dump Season. The wide releases are about to get really spotty for a long while. In fact, not until Steven Soderberg’s Side Effects (pictured above; trailer HERE) is released on February 8 is there really a movie that I’d urge you to go see in the theater. That said, a lot of the very good, much smaller Oscar-chasing films from the past two months should be playing here and, of course, there are still quite a few great films currently playing. But don’t let 2013′s slow start fool you – this is going to be one hell of a year for new films. A lot of critics and film writers have been talking about how great of a year 2012 was at the movies. And sure, it was. But dang, 2013 is going to be tremendous. Here are just a handful of the top tier directors who have films slated for a 2013 release: The Coen Brothers; Spike Jonze; Derek Cianfrance; Pedro Almodovar; Richard Linklater; Sofia Coppola; Ridley Scott; Alfonso Cuaron; Jim Jarmusch; Michel Gondry; Wong Kar-Wai; Terrence Malick; Steve McQueen; Soderbergh; Jean-Pierre Jeunet; Martin Scorsese; J.J. Abrams; Sam Raimi; Guillermo del Toro; Nicolas Winding Refn; Jason Reitman; Alexander Payne; Spike Lee; Danny Boyle; Paul Feig; Terry Gilliam; and another 30 or so of the best living filmmakers. And here’s the thing: most of the projects these folks are finishing up sound great. Maybe I’m just excitable, but I think 2013 will be the best year for films of the new millennium. For now, check out the below trailer for Derek Cianfrance’s incredible looking new drama, The Place Beyond the Pines …