We’ve reached one of my favorite times of the year: the annual announcement by the Social Security Administration of the most popular baby names from the previous year. Why is that such a big deal, you might ask? Because each year we get to shake our heads at the number of parents who jump on the pop culture hype train and name their children after movie and television characters. While this year’s list showed that old-fashioned names such as Liam, Mason, and Olivia are back in style, it also featured a predictable handful of names from popular 2015 franchises. Sorry, kids.
It might be a tale as old as time, but audiences have proven there’s still a few petals left on that old flower. Despite being projected to open at somewhere between $214–245 million worldwide, Beauty and the Beast knocked the pants off those projections, eclipsing $350 million at the international box office and setting a March record for domestic releases along the way. Let’s take a look at how things shook out this past weekend with some of the expected grosses.
While the giant ape in Kong: Skull Island may not climb any New York skyscrapers this time around, he certainly did climb the box office charts. The latest Warner Bros. monster movie shot all the way to the top spot in its opening weekend, with Logan and the surprising hit Get Out both shifting one spot down to accommodate him.
As a teenager in the ’90s, no actor better represented blockbuster movies than Bill Paxton. Although Paxton wasn’t typically a leading man in those movies — he would often play the brother, the second-in-command, or the comic relief — he served as a kind of talisman of quality. If you saw Paxton’s name in the opening credits of a movie, you knew that the film was going to be better for it.
The Razzies are a tough award show to love. Oh, I’m sure plenty of people probably read the headline to this article and — depending on their opinion of both Dinesh D’Souza and the DC Cinematic Universe — found great comfort in the public mockery of Hillary’s America and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But while awards shows in general might serve the noble purpose of raising awareness about powerful films, the annual Razzies Awards often feel like you’re kicking someone when they’re already down. They’ve already flopped with audiences and critics; throwing a Razzie award at them is the Hollywood equivalent of kicking them when they’re down.
With everyone’s feeds full of horrible news stories these days, you’ve probably already forgotten about the video of alleged animal abuse on the set of A Dog’s Purpose. Back in January, TMZ shared leaked footage of animal handlers aggressively dragging their canine star into a tank of water. The clear signs of the dog’s panic caused an internet firestorm, with star Josh Gad distancing himself from the project and PETA calling for an immediate boycott of the film. A Dog’s Purpose still performed well enough in its opening weekend, but the scandal no doubt cost it ticket sales at the box office.
Cyberattacks — or, as newly elected President Trump would say, “the Cyber” — are an increasingly common part of the world we live in. With most private information and secure data now available online, one tech-savvy computer user can do more damage to an institution than hundreds of lawyers or corporate spies. And while we might think of cyberattacks as being reserved for the Big Evil Corporations of the world, it turns out that not even film festivals are immune from being targeted.
As times change, standards change, and we occasionally find ourselves bumping up against old traditions that need to retire. Even some of our most beloved childhood movies feature behavior and activities — smoking, strong language, casual misogyny — that went unnoticed and unappreciated by our older selves. Given the well-established health risks that smoking poses, one person recently took it upon himself to sue Hollywood in an attempt to get onscreen smoking banned. I’ll give a moment to guess who won.
Do you prefer pie or strudel? It’s a valid question. If you ask the faceless horde over at Yahoo! Answers, the correct response is pie (and it isn’t really even that close). But if you ask Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them character — and noted muggle — Jacob Kowalski, there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a piping hot strudel for dinner. The secret ingredient? Why, magic, of course.
How are your plans for Halloween shaping up? For me, the hardest part of throwing a Halloween party is choosing a soundtrack. We can probably all agree that those sound effect CDs — the ones with creaking doors and thunder and maniacal laughter — have no business outside of an elementary school haunted house, but then what? Do you put together a playlist of all the obvious soundtrack selections? Do you choose pop songs that have some vague tie-in to the season? Who really wants to hear Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” on Halloween for the umpteenth time, anyways?
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