Movie Forum: 'Oz,' 'Wonderstone,' & 'Breakers,' oh my!
05:00 AM, Mar 13, 2013
Every Wednesday, the Movie Forum convenes to discuss the latest news from the film world and answer questions submitted by you, the reader.
This week, USA TODAY movie reporters Brian Truitt and Scott Bowles discussed the year’s first big earner,Oz, and what it means for the box office year to come. We also shared our favorite Carell and Carrey flicks (as well as a few of their duds) ahead of the release of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and, took a look at the films making a splash at this year’s SXSW festival. Finally we answered readers’ questions about Jupiter Ascending, potential Oscar categories, and Oz sequels.
Brian Truitt: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
I’m Brian Truitt, USA TODAy entertainment writer and all-around nerd, and I will serve as your moderator and chatter. Joining me today is USA TODAY movie reporter Scott Bowles.
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week we’re talking about the year’s first big earner, Oz, and what it means for the box office year to come. And with the release of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, we’ll discuss our favorite Carell and Carrey flicks (as well as a few of their duds).
Scott and I will start by sharing our thoughts on this week’s topics, then we will move on to reader-submitted questions.
SO…let’s get the Forum started!
Scott, I think a lot of people predicted Oz would open numero uno, but maybe not $80 million worth. Is that what you were expecting?
Scott Bowles: Welcome moviegoers. Thanks for pulling yourself away from the papal election.
As for Oz, that’s about $10 million more than anyone expected, including myself. This is the first breakout hit of the year, and ample fodder for theater owners who say there aren’t enough blockbusters in spring. What did you think of it, Mr. Truitt?
Brian Truitt: I was expecting around the same, Scott. I figured around 70, but I think it spoke to how much families were just waiting for something to go to the movie for. Bullet to the Head probably didn’t do much for them. And I think it also speaks to how classic that Oz world still is. Plus, Sam Raimi doesn’t make too many bad flicks.
Scott Bowles: That’s a good point. Little was made of Sam directing it, and he pulled off something nearly as impressive as Spider-Man.
Of course, at a reported $325 million, it’s going to have to have long legs at the box office.
It’s made headway toward profitability overseas, where it did $70 million, the highest region being, of all places, Russia, where there’s nyet place like home.
You see long legs for this, Brian? Why do you think it worked so well?
Brian Truitt: I think it will have legs for a few weeks. Burt Wonderstone is opening this weekend, and I don’t think it has the same kid-friendliness that Oz does. Come on, flying monkeys? Witches? Kids live for that stuff. Plus I think folks are still looking for some escapism.
How long do you see this ruling the box office, Scott? And do you think we might have turned the corner in terms of a down box office this year?
Scott Bowles: I agree. I think we may have underestimated the collective love of the Emerald City.
As for the box office slate, this year has a loooong way to go. The sequels of summer are going to have to be big to set another record year.
And as for its legs, I think you’re right. Families are going to choose Oz, couples Wonderstone. It really doesn’t have competition until Nic Cage’s The Croods in a week and a half.
Brian Truitt: Ah, good point. I think The Croods will send it back to Kansas packing - or at least to No. 2. You can’t beat Nic Cage voicing a caveman. And then G.I. Joe Retaliation then begins the summer movie season somewhat early - and explodingly - come March 28.
Now, on to The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, the new comedy with Steve Carell in a mullet and Jim Carrey being weird. (A stretch, I know.) What do you think of its prospects for these two guys, and just for a magic movie in general?
Scott Bowles: This one looks like a winner, much like 40 year old Virgin. The title, the poster, all scream dork hit.
And this is a good time of the year for a comedy. Look at what Identity Thief did: $116 million and counting. I expect at least that much.
You a magic fan, Brian?
Brian Truitt:Magic Mike pretty much did nothing for me, but that’s not the kind of magic I am into. (I did want to escape from watching that, but that’s beside the point.) But I am a Carellaholic and I love his stuff. 40 Year Old Virgin is still one of my favorite movies, and his lines from Anchorman are classic. Do you have a favorite Steve Carell movie, Scott?
Scott Bowles:Anchorman remains my favorite Carell work, aside from The Office. As for Jim Carrey, who plays the rival magician, he’s the wildcard. I’m a fan of his serious stuff — The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — but this could be up his alley.
Here’s my question, as a (very) amateur magician: Why are there so few movies about magic? Is that too dorky for big screen renditions?
Brian Truitt:Ace Ventura will always, always be my favorite Jim Carrey movie. Though his turn in the upcoming Kick-Ass 2 as a superhero soldier looks kinda funny too.
I do not know why there aren’t many magician movies. I think it’s a very niche thing that’s really big in Vegas and the Magic Castle in LA, which is super popular. Then again superheroes are a niche thing, too, and they’re pretty much everywhere. I think magic to many is an analog art form of yesteryear that much of today’s generation doesn’t quite get. Not to say they shouldn’t learn a good card trick or two to impress the ladies. Do you have any insight on the lack of magic flicks, Scott?
Scott Bowles: Yeah. We are a slighted bunch.
Seriously, since you can make any image you want on screen, it takes away from the mystery of magic.
Still, there are a couple good ones. Houdini, The Prestige. I’m not sure Steve Carell can bring a comedy to those heights, but at least he’s trying a little sleight of hand.
Brian Truitt: Oh yeah, Prestige was awesome. All Chris Nolan fans should see that one.
And moving on … to Austin and the South by Southwest Festival. A few major movies premiered there over the weekend at the festival, namely Joss Whedon’s Bard-esque Much Ado About Nothing, the remake of Evil Dead and the James Franco vice vehicle Spring Breakers. Any of these you’re looking forward to when they hit the theaters, Scott?
Scott Bowles:Spring Breakers may be a party flick with an edge. On first glance, it looks like a Girls Gone Wild with semi-automatics. But this is supposed to take a darker look at characters with canyons for hearts.
What about you, Brian. This seems like a fanboys feast coming up…
Brian Truitt: It does. I dig me some Whedon so I think him getting his crew back together for a modern take on Shakespeare sounds fun. Plus, I will see anything with Nathan Fillion in it. And I am hearing some crazy good things about Evil Dead. I do love the old one with Bruce Campbell, but this one sounds like it ups the gore and turns down the camp a smidge.
Alrighty, now on to some reader questions!
Maryann Orlando in Flemington, New Jersey asks:
What do you know (so far) about the film JUPITER ASCENDING; writers/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski; cast member Eddie Redmayne?
Scott Bowles: Ah, the Wachowski siblings. They’re an interesting pair that’s been hard to read since The Matrix trilogy ended with a whimper or bang, depending on your take.
Since then, though, it’s hard to argue they’ve been in need of a hit. Their sprawling opus, Cloud Atlas, was expected to be a box office hit and an awards contender. Instead it went down as the flop of the most expensive independent film ever made ($100 million).
As for Jupiter, there’s little out about it. But it’s got hot actors including Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis.
What think, Truitt? Is this the Neo of 2014?
Brian Truitt: I would not go that far, although C-Tates in black leather and sunglasses would probably help their bottom line.
Scott Bowles: For the uninitiated, the synopsis goes as follows:In a universe where humans are near the bottom of the evolutionary ladder, a young destitute human woman is targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe because her very existence threatens to end the Queen’s reign.
Brian Truitt: I think Cloud Atlas might have been doomed a bit by having four different time lines and actors playing all sorts of characters. I didn’t think that would play to a really broad audience. However, I think people can wrap their heads better around this plot, where humans are the lower-class of the galaxy and the fact that there is a Queen of the Universe. I bet she’s not very nice.
I have known a few women who thought they were Queen of the Universe. Not so much.
Scott Bowles: What do you think about the Wachowskis since Matrix, Brian? They’ve found limited success in V for Vendetta, but seem to have lost their edge, at least with moviegoers.
Brian Truitt:V for Vendetta is one of those movies that people will look back on and see how awesome it was in retrospect down the line. The plot is much better than the Matrix as a whole. And really, holding them up to the Matrix trilogy is not doing them any favors. The first movie was good, but the other two were iffy. The third was the sci-fi action storytelling equivalent of a faceplant.
Scott Bowles: I worry that the original Matrix was lightning in a bottle.
Brian Truitt:Speed Racer was interesting though and I think they should do more stuff like that.
Yeah, I do not think they have another Matrix in them, but they may surprise. They do have the power of C-Tates on their side.
Luke from the Southwest asks:
Now that the Oscars are over, I have thought of some good awards that should totally be in future Oscar ceremonies
Best Voice Actor
Best Supporting Voice Actor
Best Voice Actress
Best Supporting Voice Actress
Best Action Picture
Best Comedy Picture
Best Drama Picture
Best Animated Foreign Language
Innovation (this could be a Special Achievement Award)
Best Made-for-television Picture
Best Animation (for the best way of animating an animated film)
So what do you guys think?
Scott Bowles: Hi Luke. You clearly used The Force to come up with these categories.
And I like every one of them. The problem, though, is that the Academy Awards already seem too splintered in its individual races, which tends to bloat the telecast.
If I were the Oscar producers, I’d rip off The Golden Globes, which stick to big stars, big categories. And, technically, Best Producing is the Best Picture race, which goes to producer.
But I like the list, especially comedy. What categories do you want to see, Brian?
And what about best car chase? (A Good Day to Die Hard). Best brain splatter (Bullet to the Head). Biggest flop? Last year might have been Battleship.
Brian Truitt: I think sticking to the one best pic is still the best option - i would seriously end up in a fetal position if somehow Adam Sandler came away with an Oscar. Made for TV movies are over in the Globes and Emmys. Best action pic I wouldn’t mind just being a fanboy. But I think you do have a point with voice talent. While I would just do a best voice actor and actress, and no supporting, I think that would lend some respect to animation on the whole and what they do.
I am still waiting for Most Awesome Movie Oscar. So Highlander can win every year.
Jakeem from Atlanta asks:
Now that “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a box-office success, is it safe to assume we’ll be seeing more film versions of L. Frank Baum’s stories?
Scott Bowles: Great question, Jakeem, though I’d have to say no. While studios like to mine hits from similar genres, they tend not to be loyal to writers.
Which is a shame, because Oz has worked in just about every format: Musical, play, summer blockbuster. Why not explore Baum’s world more?
Scott Bowles: But I don’t know that’s he’s considered as box office friendly as, say, Dr. Seuss.
Brian Truitt: It’d be great to see more stuff of his just to show what else he did other than the Ozian world, which is pretty classic. But it’s the same thing as JM Barrie and Peter Pan - they’re known for these worlds and people will always keep coming back to them. Heck, we still have Dorothy of Oz still coming later this year.
However, I do like what Gregory Maguire and others have done though and taken what Baum created and expanded upon and given it a richer mythology. It might be sacrilege to some, but much like with Star Wars, sometimes a world is better the more builders it has.
That should be about it for us today, folks. Thanks for submitting questions and hanging out with us today, and thanks to Scott for giving his insight.
Scott Bowles: Thank you, guys!
Brian Truitt: Remember: you can submit your burning movie questions all week long, right here.
Brian Truitt: Thank you all for joining us for the USA TODAY Movie Forum! Please join us again next Wednesday at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST for another edition of Movie Forum.