Tops at the Box: Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon’s new comedy, Identity Thief took the No. 1 spot at the U.S. box office last weekend, selling $36.5 million over its first three days of release. The film stars the always funny Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”) as an everyman who crosses the country in order to confront a seemingly harmless woman, played by Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly”), who has stolen his identity. Reviews aren’t so hot but the buzz is that the movie – despite coming out during dump season and not having a real movie star – is a pretty good laff. I’ll check it out, maybe, possibly, eventually, if only for Bateman’s winks and mannered outbursts of frustration.
Also at the Box: Jonathan Levine’s probably decent Warm Bodies held strong over its second weekend, taking the No. 2 spot at the box office, selling another $11.5 million, upping the film’s 10-day total to $36.6. million. Steven Soderbergh’s new, and supposedly final, contribution to big cinema as a director, an ensemble dramatic thriller called Side Effects, stumbled in its first week of release, selling just $10 million over its first weekend. Bummer. I was really hoping Sodey would go out big with Side Effects – or at least do better than No. 3 during its opening weekend. The film, which looks to be another perfectly crafted style-fest, stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Rounding out last weekend’s Top 5 were Silver Linings Playbook ($6.9 million at No. 4) and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters ($5.8 million at No. 5). After a slow start, Silver Linings Playbook has now made almost $100 million in the U.S. and still appears to be going strong. Between this film and The Hunger Games franchise, I get the feeling that actress Jennifer Lawrence is an Oscar and another big opening weekend away from being the biggest actor around. Also of note: Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey continues to roll overseas, recently topping the $950 million mark worldwide, making it the No. 2 all-time grossing LOTR film. Boom, Hollywood, boom. Ya did it.
New this Week: This week will see four wide releases from four different studios, starting with the fifth Die Hard film, titled A Good Day to Die Hard. As a longtime Die Hard enthusiast, I can’t help but be panicked about this one. Everything about it – the director, the writer, the trailer, the spring release date, the apathetic look on Bruce Willis face in the trailer, the terrible posters, etc. – all seem so off base. Surely it’s better than 2007′s A Good Day to Die Hard, right? Mostly, I’m just sad that Willis is totally looking like an actual old man for the first time in his screen life. Also, the film is equally about Willis’ John McClane and his son, a CIA agent named Jack McClane. Word is that they’re hoping people like Jack enough that the series get a second life in Jacksville. Blah, I say. These movies used to be special. The standards for well-made action films, even. Also out: a new Nicholas Sparks romance flick called Safe Haven starring babes Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel; a Weinstein-produced animated film called Escape From Planet Earth; and a Richard LaGravenese-directed ensemble drama called Beautiful Creatures. So nothing much, really. Nothing much for a very long time – aside from maybe Sam Raimi’s upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful, if we’re being honest.
ScreenRant: Any regular ScreenTime reader already knows how much I like what The Criterion Collection does. If you’re unfamiliar, the CC is a home video distribution company that specializes in the high end restoration of classic films from around the world. They offer the best packaging for their titles you’ll find, as well as the best picture and sound quality and, always, the best special features (they almost single-handedly popularized the commentary track and letterbox restoration). Any aspiring cinephile can go to the Criterion section at the video store or library and pick out just about any title if they simply want to see something beautiful and/or important. Needless to say, Criterion has released several of my favorite films and has certainly helped me along my way as I’ve dug in on the filmographies of the great filmmakers. So, whether you’re a longtime CC loyalist or a total newb, we hope you’ll get out and peruse the CC aisle soon. To help you in your ventures, here’s a complete list of their upcoming releases: On the Waterfront (February 19; Elia Kazan); Chronicle of a Summer (February 26; dir. Jean Rouch / Edgar Morin); Ministry of Fear (March 12; dir. Fritz Lang); Badlands (March 19; dir. Terrence Malick); The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (March 19; Powell and Pressburger); Monsieur Verdoux (March 26; dir. Charlie Chaplin); A Man Escaped (March 26; dir. Robert Bresson); Richard III (April 9; dir. Laurence Olivier); Gate of Hell (April 9; dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa); Repo Man (April 16; dir. Alex Cox).