Robin Williams earned his big-screen debut as Popeye in 1980 on the the growing popularity of his frenzied, freewheeling stand-up routine, and his literally out-of-this-world role on TV’s Mork & Mindy. Williams’ follow-up, The World According to Garp, was quick to reveal the sensitive artist, the melancholic side to the actor that sought fulfillment in dramatic characters and movies. Of course, it was the ’80s, and the market demanded awful comedies, which Williams was obliged to make until that special breakthrough role that would propel him out of yuppie slapstick. That moment arrived in 1987 with Barry Levinson’s Good Morning, Vietnam, a box office smash that nabbed Williams his first Oscar nomination and was part and parcel of Reagan-era movies like First Blood and Platoon that re-defined the American perception of the War.
Vietnam kicked off a strong run of critical praise and Academy recognition, as William appeared in Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, and The Fisher King one after the other. If comedy was beginning to look like something in the rear view mirror, Williams abruptly shifted gears into family fare, starting with 1991’s Hook, and then Aladdin (a turning point for celebrity voice actors as animated marketing draws), Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Flubber. Williams was everywhere in the ’90s, and it all culminated with the multiple career-launching Good Will Hunting, which got him his final Oscar nomination (he was previously recognized for Fisher King and Dead Poets) and only win.
After flops Bicentennial Man and Jakob the Liar saw him veer hard into sentimentality, Williams re-invented himself as a dark angel in 2002 with Death to Smoochy, Insomnia, and One Hour Photo. Broad comedies (like Old Dogs, Man of the Year, RV, or License to Wed) would still remind audiences of the old eager-to-please Williams, even as they repelled critics. And he could use his pre-conceived image as a genial figure in his favor in ensemble pieces like the Night at the Museum series, Happy Feet, or Lee Daniels’ The Butler. But it was obvious Williams was increasingly drawn to pitch-black comedies and dramas, which ramped up in menace over the course of The Night Listener, World’s Greatest Dad, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, and A Merry Friggin’ Christmas.
Williams’ final on-screen performance was 2015’s Boulevard, and his last voice role featured in 2017 for Absolutely Anything. A Certified Fresh 2018 documentary, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, remains to illuminate more of his life, as we rank all Robin Williams movies by Tomatometer.
Critics Consensus: Given the impressive array of talent involved in Absolutely Anything -- and the near-total lack of laughs it provokes -- this Monty Python reunion can only be regarded as a disappointment.
Synopsis: Eccentric aliens give a man (Simon Pegg) the power to do anything he wants to determine if Earth is worth... [More]
Critics Consensus:Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian is busy enough to keep the kids interested but the slapstick goes overboard and the special effects (however well executed) throw the production into mania.
Synopsis: Once the night guard at the Museum of Natural History, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now a successful purveyor of... [More]
Critics Consensus: An odd but affecting mixture of drama, comedy and fantasy, The Fisher King manages to balance moving performances from Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges with director Terry Gilliam's typically askew universe.
Synopsis: After shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) inadvertently provokes a caller into murdering a group of innocent people in a... [More]
Critics Consensus: Kenneth Branagh's sprawling, finely textured adaptation of Shakespeare's masterpiece lives up to its source material, using strong performances and a sharp cinematic focus to create a powerfully resonant film that wastes none of its 246 minutes.
Synopsis: In the only unabridged film version of the classic play, here updated to the 19th century, Prince Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh)... [More]
Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey -- and is loaded with enough powerful performances -- that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves... [More]
They’ve been a long time coming, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are reaching the climax with Fifty Shades Freed, opening wide this Friday. And if history is any indication (Grey and Darker are 25% and 10% respectively on the Tomatometer), Freed won’t be hitting the spot with critics, prompting this week’s gallery of the most Rotten movie trilogies ever.
Ep. 072 – Holiday Movie Preview
Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes podcast with Editor in Chief Matt Atchity and Senior Editor Grae Drake. This week they are joined by Senior Editor Tim Ryan and Editor Ryan Fujitani aka The Velvet Smog to talk about the most important movies coming in the Fall and Winter season all the way from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.
This week, The Rotten Tomatoes Show will be looking at the movies that opened
over the weekend, with help from you (the Rotten Tomatoes community), the
Current TV community, and the viewers of the show. The cutoff for webcam reviews
has already passed (midnight on Sunday), but the good news is that you can still
contribute your Three-Word Reviews for this past weekend’s box office Top 5
(including the new openers Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Terminator: Salvation, and Dance Flick) or your Haiku Reviews of the last movie you saw. In order to submit 3-Word reviews, click here, and to offer your beautiful Haikus, click here.
Otherwise, be sure to tune in to our show this Thursday (10:30pm on Current TV), and if you missed the last episode, you can either download the podcast on iTunes or watch it here:
Fox won the holiday battle of the sequels as the adventure comedy Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian debuted at number one over the long Memorial Day frame easily outgunning its rival, the Warner Bros. sci-fi actioner Terminator Salvation, which opened in second place. Holdovers fared well as the Top 20 films pulled in $220M from 30 million tickets sold virtually matching last year’s holiday weekend.
Moviegoers lined up for Ben Stiller who enjoyed the best live-action opening of his career with his second Night at the Museum film which collected a hefty $70M, according to estimates, over the Friday-to-Monday holiday session. The Fox sequel averaged a muscular $17,090 over four days from an ultrawide 4,096 locations including Imax venues with higher-priced tickets. The PG-rated film banked an impressive $53.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday period for a stellar $13,062 average.
Unlike Salvation, Smithsonian built upon the opening of its predecessor. In December 2006, the first Museum bowed to $42.2M over its four-day Christmas holiday debut on its way to a $250.9M domestic haul and sensational $574M global gross. Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and director Shawn Levy all returned for the new Washington DC-set installment while new faces included Amy Adams and Hank Azaria.
Fox is riding high this year as both of its summer sequels, Smithsonian and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, debuted at number one and are each likely to cross $175M. Add in the $140M+ grosses of the sleeper hit Taken, Christmas holdover Marley & Me, and Oscar champ Slumdog Millionaire from indie unit Fox Searchlight and the studio has delivered fantastic results at the box office over the past six months and hopes to keep the momentum going in 2009 with its third Ice Age toon over Independence Day weekend plus James Cameron’s Avatar in mid-December and Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel on Christmas Day.
Internationally, the new Night at the Museum invaded most major territories and grossed $50M over the weekend for a $120M global launch.
Coming in second for the long weekend was Terminator Salvation which grossed an estimated $53.8M over four days and $67.2M since its early launch on Thursday. Directed by McG, the Warner Bros. release averaged $15,248 from 3,530 locations. Over the Friday-to-Sunday span, Salvation grossed $43M averaging $12,184.
The debut was slightly disappointing considering the expanded holiday box office and the large fan base of the popular sci-fi franchise. The new installment’s gross came in below the opening of the last film in the series, 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which launched over the Fourth of July holiday weekend with an extended tally of $72.4M over its five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday opening. That take was boosted by Tuesday night previews starting at 8pm, but Friday sales were hampered by the Independence Day holiday which always cuts into moviegoing because of outdoor activities. The T3 figure would be about $88M at today’s higher ticket prices putting Salvation a troubling 23% behind in admissions when comparing the extended holiday openings. Machines starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, was rated R, and set in present day while Salvation is headlined by Christian Bale, carries a PG-13, and is set in the year 2018.
For 2009, the Friday-to-Sunday figure does not measure up to many of the year’s top grossers. Salvation only made it to number eight on the list of the year’s biggest openers. In fact, the street racing sequel Fast & Furious grossed more in its first three days over a normal weekend ($71M) than Terminator Salvation did in its entire five-day extended holiday launch.
Reviews were mixed for the expensive new sci-fi sequel. The production budget is reported to be in the neighborhood of $200M with Warners paying $50M for domestic rights and Sony kicking in $75M for most foreign territories. The studios are also responsible for the enormous marketing costs.
Early fan buzz does not put the film in the same league as Star Trek or last summer’s Iron Man and The Dark Knight so audience erosion in the weeks ahead should be quick as is often the case with action sequels. Last year’s Memorial Day winner Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull debuted with a gargantuan $152M over a similar Thursday-to-Monday five-day period which ended up accounting for 48% of its $317.1M final. A year earlier, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End bowed to $153M over 4.5 days repping 49% of its eventual total. Salvation could follow a similar path to a domestic tally of $130-140M. T3 banked more with $150.4M in North America, or $182M at today’s prices. A fifth Terminator pic with Bale starring once again is in development.
Posting another strong performance was the sci-fi smash Star Trek which took in an estimated $29.4M over the Friday-to-Monday span lifting the cume to a robust $191M after 18 days of release. The three-day portion stood at $22.8M for a 47% drop which was encouraging given the arrival of competing sci-fi franchise flick Terminator. Trek now looks set to finish its domestic run in the neighborhood of $250M making it the seventh biggest blockbuster in company history for Paramount. Unless Smithsonian has incredible legs, Kirk and company will remain the most popular summer smash for the time being. By Tuesday it will surpass studio stablemate Monsters vs. Aliens to become the top-grossing film of 2009. Trek‘s overseas tally to date has climbed to $87.5M putting the global gross at $278.5M.
The Vatican thriller Angels & Demons dropped from first to fourth place grossing an estimated $27.7M over four days boosting the domestic take to $87.8M after 11 days. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard took in $21.8M over the three-day span representing a steep 53% fall from the opening weekend. By comparison, 2006’s The Da Vinci Code opened at the exact same time and fell by 56% in its sophomore session (also the Memorial Day holiday frame) for an 11-day cume of $144.9M. Angels is now running 39% behind the pace of Code. A final gross of $130-140M seems likely for North America. Overseas, the Robert Langdon pic was the top draw once again with $60.4M in ticket sales boosting the international haul to $198.3M and the worldwide total to $286M. Sony expects Angels to fly past the $300M global mark on Wednesday.
Paramount’s spoof comedy Dance Flick bowed in fifth with an estimated $13.1M over four days. Debuting in 2,450 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a respectable $5,347 per site. Dance was the first film from a new generation of Wayans with Damon Wayans Jr. in the lead and Damien Dante Wayans directing. Over the Friday-to-Sunday period the gross was $10.7M with a mild $4,381 average. The numbers did not match up to those delivered by family leader Keenan Ivory Wayans whose last two directorial efforts Little Man and White Chicks opened to $21.6M and $19.7M, respectively.
Dropping down to sixth place in its fourth weekend was the super hero prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine with an estimated $10.1M. The three-day tally accounted for $8M, off 46% from last weekend, and Fox has collected $165.4M domestically to date. Add in the $156.7M from overseas markets and the mutant flick has banked a commendable $322M worldwide.
The romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past settled into seventh place with an estimated $4.7M boosting the total to $46.8M for Warner Bros. Sony’s hit thriller Obsessed followed with an estimated $2.4M which raised the total to $66.3M.
In its ninth weekend of collecting extra surcharges for its 3D presentation, the DreamWorks toon Monsters vs. Aliens remained in the top ten once again grossing an estimated $1.7M boosting the cume to $193.3M. The Paramount release is now the highest-grossing film released since last summer’s colossal smash The Dark Knight surpassing the $191.5M of Twilight. Rounding out the top ten was the teen comedy 17 Again with an estimated $1.2M over the long weekend giving Warner Bros. $60.5M to date.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $214.6M over four days which was up 1% from last year when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened in the top spot with $126.9M; but down 12% from 2007 when Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End debuted at number one with $139.8M.
Did you miss last night’s episode of the Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current TV? Watch it online here for slam-bang reviews of last weekend’s Angels & Demons, The Brothers Bloom, and Management, an in-studio visit by adult film star Sasha Grey, and host Brett Erlich’s impassioned defense of all robotkind; are those Terminators really so bad after all? If you’d like to submit your own webcam reviews, three-word reviews, and haikus for next week’s show (Terminator Salvation, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and Dance Flick), see how you can be a part of the show. After all, if your webcam review makes it on the show, you get a cool, crisp $100!
Head over to the Current website to see how you can offer your Webcam or three-word reviews for the movies they’ll be tackling in next week’s episode: Terminator: Salvation, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and Dance Flick. What’s more, if Current uses your review on the show, you’ll get a crisp Benjamin in your wallet. That’s right, $100 just for telling us what you thought about the movie you saw! The submission form itself can be found on the right hand side of the Current page linked above.
IMPORTANT: All webcam reviews must be submitted by midnight on MONDAY 5/25–it’s a four day weekend after all!
If you missed the last episode, which featured reviews of Angels & Demons, Brothers Bloom, and Management — as well as an in-studio visit by The Girlfriend Experience star Sasha Grey, you can see it here:
If you’ve never submitted a webcam review to The Rotten Tomatoes Show before, we have just the thing to help you out. Below, you’ll find two instructional videos featuring Brett Erlich from RTS and our Editor in Chief, Matt Atchity, that will help guide you through the process of creating and submitting your reviews. Give them a look, and prepare to stun the masses with your filmic knowledge!
In the first video, Brett and Matt explain exactly how you go about submitting your video review, offering tips on different cameras you can use, lighting, and setting. You can see it here:
Submission Tutorial Video #1:
The second video goes into more detail about the actual content and execution of your video, including what to talk about, how to say it, and how you can tailor your sound bites to fit nicely with the pace of the show. Check it out, and then click the link below the article when you’re ready to submit yours!
With Terminator Salvation, director McG has brought the venerable sci-fi/action series back to the screen, with plenty of chases, explosions, and yes, machines. But critics say he’s forgotten the key ingredient that made the originals so compelling (besides Arnold, of course) — the human factor. Christian Bale is John Connor, leading the human resistance against Skynet, which has conquered our dystopian planet with its armies of Terminators. The pundits say the action sequences are well handled, but the performances are middling, and the story inspires little emotional investment. Salvation is the worst-reviewed entry in the Terminator franchise. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Bale’s best-reviewed films, and Jen Gets Terminated, in which RT editor Jen Yamato provides her take on every film in the franchise.)
Night at the Museum was a big hit with audiences (if not with reviewers), so a sequel was inevitable. And the result, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, is bigger and better than the first, while still overdosing on comic mayhem. Ben Stiller returns as hapless night watchman Larry Daley, whose pals at the Museum of Natural History have been inadvertently shipped to the Smithsonian in Washington, where they’re threatened by such baddies as Al Capone and Napoleon; fortunately, Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) is on hand to help. The pundits say this Night is funnier and more madcap than its predecessor, but it’s essentially a series of loosely connected gags, with precious little discipline to make it work as a whole, and it squanders a veritable all-star team of comedic talent.
Dance Flick is yet another spoof of contemporary cinematic tropes, a subgenre that has been critically ravaged in recent years. However, the critics find Dance Flick to be one of the better recent entries – which is hardly a glowing recommendation. Featuring a veritable army of Wayans in front of and behind the camera, Dance Flick aims to score laughs by mining the rich comic vein of such deathless classics as Save the Last Dance, Step Up, and High School Musical. And the pundits say the Wayans’ relentless energy is good for a few chuckles, but overall, Dance Flick is essentially a scattershot collection of gags that only occasionally hit their targets.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Burma VJ, which compiles footage from video journalists’ chronicles of living conditions in dictatorial Myanmar, is at 92 percent.
Kabei: Our Mother, a delicate drama about a woman’s efforts to keep her family together in the midst of World War II, is at 88 percent.
O’Horten, an absurdist Norwegian comedy about a retired train engineer, is at 84 percent.