UP LIKELY TO REMAIN UP -- WAY UP
Disney/Pixar's Up is likely to remain well above three new contending films when ticket sales are tallied this weekend, according to box-office analysts. All three films are receiving mostly negative reviews. Today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times said that Universal's Land of the Lost, based on the 1970s TV series, will likely earn $30-35 million, a dismal prospect given the film's reported budget of $100 million. Warner Bros.' low-budget The Hangover may not do much better, but it cost far less to make. And Fox Searchlight's My Life in Ruins, starring Nia Vardalos, may end up far behind with less than $10 million. In the meantime, Up is tracking to take in about $35-40 million in its second week.
MOVIE REVIEWS: LAND OF THE LOST
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times is standing up for Land of the Lost. "Amid Widespread disdain," he writes, "I raise my voice in a bleat of lonely, if moderate, admiration." He bestows three stars on it and suggests that all the cheesy stuff that other critics complain about in the movie really amounted to "a deliberate choice, and I say I enjoyed it." It's hard to find another critic who did. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times comments that "a lot of money has been spent on yet another cultural throwaway." Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal appropriately invokes a financial metaphor to describe it. "This dramatically, thematically and artistically bankrupt comic fantasy cost something in the neighborhood of $100 million to make and isn't worth the celluloid it's printed on." "This Land exists at the bottom of the pop-cultural barrel," writes Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. Many of the critics lay into Will Ferrell's performance. "It's summer and Will Ferrell is once more upon us, braying the laugh of the wealthy entertainer who plays idiots for a living," writes Ty Burr in the Boston Globe. Peter Howell in the Toronto Star says that "there's a certain numbness to his dumbness," and adds: "He's not quite phoning it in, but he's maybe tweeting it in." Indeed the only one getting good notices for the movie is NBC Today show host Matt Lauer, who plays himself.
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE HANGOVER
The Chicago-Sun Times's Roger Ebert is also being especially kind to another comedy that several other critics are lampooning. "The Hangover is a funny movie," he writes, "flat out, all the way through. Its setup is funny. Every situation is funny. Most of the dialogue is funny almost line by line." That's not the way many other critics see it. Writes Lisa Kennedy in the Denver Post: "Consider it the movie equivalent of saying, 'It's not the heat, it's the humidity.' When it comes to The Hangover, it's not the filth, it's the unrelenting stupidity that makes this comedy oppressive." Clearly Michael Sragow in the Baltimore Sun is of two minds about the movie, writing, "The Hangover is like an infernal comedy machine. Surrender your soul to its foul mesh of cheap cleverness and vulgarity. and you howl like a delighted demon. Resist, and you feel all sense and sensibility being crushed in its cogs." Nevertheless, many critics, like Ebert, find much to like about the movie. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle is one of them. He writes: "This comedy, though hysterically funny for over an hour, loses some steam in its last act. But it never comes close to derailing and never does the fatal thing of becoming dishonest and sappy, as so many comedies (and all sitcoms) do." Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe & Mail writes similarly: "Outrageousness proves hard to sustain, and after a stomach-lurchingly quick start, The Hangover slows down and, by the third act, fizzes out like Alka-Seltzer in a highball glass." And Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning News predicts: "More than any other movie this summer, this may be the one people keep talking about. That includes maybe the best closing-credits sequence ever."
NOTE: A summary of reviews for My Life in Ruins will appear here on Monday.
IPORN SITE TO HOST "UNOFFICIAL" PARTY AT APPLE CONFERENCE
Claiming that it is second only to Apple's iTunes in providing entertainment on mobile receivers, iPorn.com announced Thursday that it plans to host an "unofficial" party at the Apple iPhone World Wide Developer Conference on Monday. "We thought sponsoring a party would be a really nice way of showing our appreciation to Apple and to all the iPhone developers who have contributed to the iPhone's tremendous success," iPorn said in a statement. The company said that it plans to unveil a new mobile site "offering near-perfect resolution playback" on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
YOU'VE HEARD OF 3D -- HOW ABOUT 6D?
Light Cinema, a British-based company that aims to establish high-end digital theaters in Europe, has launched what it calls the world's first "6D Cinema" in Bucharest, Romania. The 40-seat theater combines 3D movies with environmental elements (rain, wind, odor) as well as chair movement. The 8-screen cineplex combines popular Hollywood fare with "alternative content." It also features a café/bar in a stylish foyer. A second Light Cinema is scheduled to open in Oradea, Romania in the fall.
DISNEY PROVIDING CONTENT TO VUDU
The video-on-demand website Vudu, which offers some 16,000 movies for rent and sale -- a $149 settop player is necessary to view them on TV sets -- announced Thursday that it will host Disney's online offering of 69 titles in true 1080p high-definition. Titles include such films as the three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Oscar winner No Country for Old Men but do not include any of Disney's classic animated features like Snow White and Bambi. Analysts pointed out, however, that few people have purchased devices for showing downloaded content on their TV sets. Russ Crupnick, an analyst for The NPD Group, said data indicates that the number of people who have done so make up less than 1 percent of the total movie-watching population. "The audience is beyond tiny," he said, "and we're still not seeing an uptake in the settop download market."