(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)
All Bruce Willis Movies Ranked
Where there’s a Willis, there’s a way. A way to make it from TV sitcom star to eternal everyman action movie hero (Die Hard). A way to make a talking baby movie work (Look Who’s Talking) to the tune of $300 million at the box office in the ’80s. And a way to throw it all away with misfires like Bonfire of the Vanities and Hudson Hawk. And a way to get it all back again by kickstarting the ’90s indie boom with Pulp Fiction.
Since then, Bruce has continued to have a wild career, with the occasional crucial movie released at the exact right time to freshen up his image, whether in epic blockbusters (Armageddon), muted horror (The Sixth Sense), twee comedy (Moonrise Kingdom), or sci-fi cult classics (Looper). Recent highlights include Glass, the surprise finale to M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy that started with Unbreakable and Glass, and Edward Norton passion project Motherless Brooklyn. And now we’re ranking all Bruce Willis movies by Tomatometer! —Alex Vo
Critics Consensus: It's solidly directed by Robert Benton and stacked with fine performances from an impressive cast, but above all, Nobody's Fool is a showcase for some of Paul Newman's best late-period work.
Synopsis: Donald "Sully" Sullivan (Paul Newman) is an expert at avoiding adult responsibilities. At 60, he divides all his time between... [More]
Critics Consensus:Live Free or Die Hard may be preposterous, but it's an efficient, action-packed summer popcorn flick with thrilling stunts and a commanding performance by Bruce Willis. Fans of the previous Die Hard films will not be disappointed.
Synopsis: As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, veteran cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) carries out another routine assignment: bringing... [More]
Critics Consensus: It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style.
Synopsis: After surviving an assault from a squad of hit men, retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old... [More]
Critics Consensus: With a weaker ending, Unbreakable is not as a good as The Sixth Sense. However, it is a quietly suspenseful film that intrigues and engages, taking the audience through unpredictable twists and turns along the way.
Synopsis: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the sole survivor of a devastating train wreck. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is a... [More]
Critics Consensus: It lacks the fresh thrills of its predecessor, but Die Hard 2 still works as an over-the-top -- and reasonably taut -- big-budget sequel, with plenty of set pieces to paper over the plot deficiencies.
Synopsis: A year after his heroics in L.A, detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is mixed up in another terrorist plot, this... [More]
Critics Consensus: Taut, violent, and suitably self-deprecating, The Expendables 2 gives classic action fans everything they can reasonably expect from a star-studded shoot-'em-up -- for better and for worse.
Synopsis: Mercenary leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the Expendables team reunite when Mr.... [More]
Critics Consensus:Die Hard with a Vengeance benefits from Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson's barbed interplay, but clatters to a bombastic finish in a vain effort to cover for an overall lack of fresh ideas.
Synopsis: Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is now divorced, alcoholic and jobless after getting fired for his reckless behavior and bad... [More]
Critics Consensus: Despite some fine performances and memorable scenes, Fast Food Nation is more effective as Eric Schlosser's eye-opening non-fiction book than as Richard Linklater's fictionalized, mostly punchless movie.
Synopsis: Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear), a marketing executive for a national burger chain must leave blissful ignorance behind when his boss... [More]
Critics Consensus: While it's still hard to argue with its impeccable cast or the fun they often seem to be having, Red 2 replaces much of the goofy fun of its predecessor with empty, over-the-top bombast.
Synopsis: Former CIA black-ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his old partner, Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), are caught in the... [More]
Critics Consensus: Lovely to look at but about as intelligent as the asteroid that serves as the movie's antagonist, Armageddon slickly sums up the cinematic legacies of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay.
Synopsis: When an asteroid threatens to collide with Earth, NASA honcho Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) determines the only way to... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Bonfire of the Vanities is a vapid adaptation of a thoughtful book, fatally miscast and shorn of the source material's crucial sense of irony. Add it to the pyre of Hollywood's ambitious failures.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the Tom Wolfe novel, powerful Wall Street executive Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is riding with his... [More]
Critics Consensus: Despite the presence of Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, Perfect Stranger is too convoluted to work, and features a twist ending that's irritating and superfluous. It's a techno-thriller without thrills.
Synopsis: Rowena Price (Halle Berry), a reporter, uses her investigative skills to solve the murder of a friend. Her search leads... [More]
(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection.)
All Dwayne Johnson Movies Ranked by Tomatometer
If we had known that The Rock was indeed cooking a biggest-star-in-the-world movie career, we would’ve stuck our noses up in there a lot sooner. Yes, we would have sniffed up those early stinkers Doom and Be Cool, because at least nestled somewhere in there was The Rundown, which featured peak Seann William Scott and a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger passing the action torch to this upstart, the man who would be Dwayne Johnson. And indeed Johnson was the action man of the mid-aughts, tacking on the likes of Walking Tall to his brawny resume. And like his action forebears, he made a curve into family comedy, releasing The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy, and Race to Witch Mountain to the delight, we assume, of some people. On a scale between Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot to Kindergarten Cop, we rate Johnson’s comedy career detour Top Dog.
But things turned around in 2010. That’s the year he jumped face first off a building into the pavement. And thus was born a new action/comedy classic: The Other Guys. Meanwhile, ’70s-style throwback Faster showed a leaner, meaner Johnson back in a hard-hitting groove. He was invited into the Fast & Furious family, helping turn Fast Five into the franchise’s first Certified Fresh entry and a global phenomenon. San Andreas, Rampage, and Skyscraper turned him into the master of disaster, while Moana and Fighting With My Family, which he also produced, are among his highest-rated movies.
Central Intelligence was the first collaboration Johnson had with Kevin Hart, which was merely the opening for the main course: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the unlikely reboot-sequel that connected with audiences and critics worldwide. He, Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan all came back for Jumanji: The Next Level, and we’re taking a look back on all of Dwayne Johnson’s movies ranked by Tomatometer! —Alex Vo
Critics Consensus: With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.
Synopsis: An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty... [More]
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it features one of Dwayne Johnson's more thoughtful performances, the presentation of Snitch's underlying message is muddled by lackluster storytelling and some tonal inconsistencies.
Synopsis: At 18 years old, Jason receives a mandatory 10-year prison sentence after being caught with a package that contained illegal... [More]
Critics Consensus: The role of probation officer Sean Porter fits Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson like a glove; however, the execution is so cliched, the youths' stories (based on real events), fail to inspire.
Synopsis: A counselor (The Rock) at a juvenile detention facility decides to turn the young inmates in his charge into a... [More]
Critics Consensus: Dwayne Johnson brings the full force of his charm (and his appropriately pale chompers) to the title role, but flat direction and a committee-written script render The Tooth Fairy unacceptably dull.
Synopsis: Rough-and-tumble hockey player Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) is a terror on the ice, earning the nickname "Tooth Fairy" by separating... [More]
Hey, kids! Ya like superheroes? Toys? Then has Hollywood got your taste quadrant covered with this week’s release of Max Steel, based on the action figure line first introduced by Mattel in 1997. Youth-focused cross-media filmmaking has been a thing since the early 1980s, and in this week’s gallery we cover every theatrical movie based on toys, cards, and board games that got a Tomatometer!
It’s time for another comic book convention, and we at RT are hitting WonderCon in Los Angeles the whole weekend to take photos of the most creative and dedicated cosplayers at the convention. Scroll down for our selection.
It would be perfectly appropriate for you to take kids of all ages to this blue-tinted, live-action extravaganza. Beyond the random fart joke, not much happens that seems terribly deserving of a PG rating. But if you truly love them, why would you take them to see this? It’s flat, humorless, repetitive and jam-packed with cringe-inducing Smurf puns. The plot briefly places a few of the Smurfs in peril, as the villainous Gargamel (a straining Hank Azaria) kidnaps Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) to extract her essence and use it to turn unsuspecting fools into his disciples. The humor is slapsticky and sometimes gross but without much inspiration or finesse. My 3 ½-year-old son, who’s been to a lot of movies in his young life, said this is the worst one he’s seen yet. And he’s seen The Oogieloves.
This stripped-down mash-up of found-footage faux documentary and quiet, sci-fi meditation has the traditional structure of a horror flick, with characters being picked off one by one by the dangers that lurk out in the dark, vast beyond. It’s a fictional story inspired by a real-life breakthrough finding, with six of the world’s brightest astronauts traveling to Jupiter’s moon Europa to confirm the existence of water and — more importantly — ocean life. About nine months into their journey, they lose contact with Earth — and that’s when things start getting scary. But the perilous situations they find themselves in are tense without being graphic, and the way people perish is never gory. Europa Report is totally suitable — and very much recommended — for older kids with a curiosity about science.
Rating: PG-13, for combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language.
It’s a big, dumb action movie that knows it’s a big, dumb action movie — which, in theory, makes this sequel preferable in some ways to big, dumb action movies that are under that delusion that they’re serious art. This is an astonishingly violent PG-13 movie. There’s an insane amount of gunfire, much of which comes courtesy of Bruce Willis as a retired Joe who cheerily shares the arsenal he’s hidden in his quiet, suburban home. But none of the casualties from all this sophisticated weaponry results in any blood. This being a big-studio blockbuster based on a toy, nothing really matters — even he obliteration of a major world city with the touch of a button.
There really isn’t a lot to talk about this week, as far as home releases are concerned. There is the big, explodey blockbuster franchise sequel, of course, and an indie thriller, plus a few very small films and a handful of reissues, but not a whole lot to get excited about (unless you’re a Guillermo del Toro fan). See below for the full list:
Originally slated to open last June, Paramount delayed the release of G.I.Joe: Retaliation until this March, converting the film to 3D and hoping to drum up some buzz in the meantime; while Retaliation was about as poorly reviewed as its predecessor, it actually made a little more money. The film stars Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock, who, after a successful mission by the Joes, is ambushed with his team (including a returning — but short-lived — Channing Tatum) on direct orders from the president. Of course, this president is actually the Cobra master of disguise Zartan, and the handful of surviving Joes know this, so they go after Cobra Commander, the faux POTUS, and their cohorts in order to save the world from domination by terrorist forces. Like the first film, Retaliation is packed with balls-to-the-wall action, and some of it is downright silly, but you sort of know what you’re getting into when you watch it. At 28%, this is an over-the-top actioner with a nonsensical story, but at least it doesn’t pretend to be anything else, if that means anything.
Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass co-star together on the FX comedy series The League, but they’ve both done significant work on the big screen as well. Most recently, the husband and wife team collaborated (with Aselton directing a script written by Duplass) on Black Rock, a psychological thriller about three women on the run in the wild from dangerous men. Abby (Aselton), Sarah (Kate Bosworth), and Lou (Lake Bell) are three childhood friends who decide to reunite for a weekend at an island they used to visit in their youth. They meet a trio of former soldiers who seem friendly at first, but when one of them tries to force himself on Abby, she panics and fights to escape, accidentally killing him and setting into motion a deadly pursuit by his two partners. While the film initially makes use of a few smart ideas, it ultimately lapses into familiar chase thriller territory. At 49% on the Tomatometer, Black Rock features some decent performances and interestingly written moments, but it probably won’t blow you away.
Also available this week:
Filly Brown (45%), a drama about a young hip hop artist trying to save her family and keep her integrity as an artist at the same time.
Under the Bed (43%), a horror movie about a couple of brothers battling a monstrous menace.
Between Us (40%), starring Julia Stiles and Taye Diggs in a dark comedy about two couples coming to grips with their marital problems.
Rushlights (18%), starring Aidan Quinn and Beau Bridges about a couple of teenagers who become wrapped up in a small town’s dark underworld when they show up to claim an inheritance that isn’t theirs.
Criterion’s release of Guillermo del Toro’s Certified Fresh 2000 horror thriller The Devil’s Backbone (91%), about a young boy who encounters an apparition at the Spanish Civil War-era orphanage where he lives. The release features a new 2K digital transfer, new and archival interviews, storyboard comparisons, deleted scenes, and more.
The original 1980 version of horror film The Fog (69%) is available in a new Blu-ray Collector’s Edition with new audio commentary, vintage featurettes, and other extras.
For those who are fans, Elvis Presley’s big screen debut Love Me Tender (50%) is available in Blu-ray.
The biggest movie we have on tap this week in streaming video is a big action sequel to a relatively poorly received film. After that, Netflix has got some worthy new choices added to their lineup, including the first installment of a major Swedish crime thriller franchise, another big action sequel, and a few compelling documentaries, to name a few. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.
Cobra shape-shifter Zartan has occupied the White House, and Cobra Commander has escaped from prison, so it’s up to Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and the rest of the Joes to save the world from chaos.
Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) has a seemingly straightforward task for the Expendables, whose ranks include Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and, this time out, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But when the plan goes awry, our heroes seek revenge against a certain Belgian baddie.
This week’s Ketchup includes movies development news stories that include new roles for Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey, and news about the sequels Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
This Week’s Top Story
TOY ADAPTATION G.I. JOE TO GET A THIRD MOVIE, WHICH IS GOOD NEWS FOR TOY MOVIES (AND PROBABLY BAD NEWS FOR EVERYONE ELSE)
Just when it seemed like maybe the drive in Hollywood to produce a new wave of movies based on toys might have been prevented, G.I. Joe: Retaliation had a huge weekend, and it looks like those plans are probably right back on again. Retaliation opened to $132 million globally, and enough domestically to make it the second best Easter weekend opening ever. And so, Paramount has unsurprisingly started development on a third G.I. Joe movie. The spin that we can eventually expect from the studio or the involved producers is that this was all part of a plan for a G.I. Joe trilogy, but the lack of such talk when people expected G.I. Joe: Retaliation to be a huge bomb (like when it was bumped back from June, 2012) might suggest otherwise.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 TWELVE YEARS LATER, FINDING NEMO GETS A SEQUEL IN FINDING DORY
Pixar Films and Walt Disney Pictures have officially announced that the Finding Nemo sequel will be called ( http://collider.com/finding-nemo-2-finding-dory-release-date/ ) Finding Dory, and will be released on November 25, 2015, over twelve years after the release of the original film (oh how, tempus fugit). Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres (as the title character) are both confirmed to return in this new CGI animated adventure which is set one year after the events of the first film, which effectively makes it a period piece (though it’s unlikely we’ll be getting much circa-2004-nostalgia). Finding Dory will also be director Andrew Stanton’s next film after the experiment with live action that the world more commonly knows as last year’s John Carter.
#2 ZOE SALDANA’S FRANCHISE COLLECTION EXPANDS WITH GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
It’s more common with elderly British actors (like Sirs Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen), but Zoe Saldana is another actor that is starting to pile up appearances in genre franchises that would be really handy if people still played Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It all started with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and continued with major roles in Avatar and Star Trek. Now, Saldana is expanding her franchise domination by engaging in talks with Marvel Studios to play the green-skinned alien assassin Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. With Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista already cast as Star-Lord and Drax the Destroyer, the only remaining team members left to be announced are Rocket Raccoon and Groot, both of whom are likely to be mostly voice cast (since they are, respectively, a genetically manipulated animal and a talking tree). There was also an online story that (if true) lets us know that one of the villains in Guardians of the Galaxymight be frequent Iron Man enemy The Controller, acting as an agent of Thanos (who’s expected to be the main villain of The Avengers 2). Finally, ComingSoon.net scored this week a photo gallery of over a dozen concept art images from Marvel’s Phase 2 films, which includes our first glimpses at Falcon and the Winter Soldier from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and a pretty good look at what Rocket Raccoon might look like.
#3 TIM BURTON RETEAMS WITH THE WRITERS OF ED WOOD FOR THE BIOPIC BIG EYES
Tim Burton has been making “big movies” for so long that it might be easy to forget that little biopic he directed back in 1994 about the life of filmmaker Ed Wood. Just in time for that movie’s 20th anniversary next year, Tim Burton has signed with The Weinstein Company to direct another biopic written by Ed Wood cowriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The movie in question is called Big Eyes, which will tell the true story of Margaret and Walter Keane, the married couple responsible for a distinct type of kitschy paintings easily recognized for the size of the eyes of the subjects. The couple’s story includes the twist that it was Walter Keane who took the credit at the time for the paintings, despite his wife Margaret being the one that actually painted them (sometimes locked in a room until she finished). Big Eyes has been in development for a while now, with the two roles previously being discussed as going first to Kate Hudson and Thomas Haden Church, and then to Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds. Well, if all negotiations go well, the final pairing will instead be Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. Filming of Big Eyes will start this summer, after which, Tim Burton will probably move onto making a movie with Johnny Depp.
#4 JESSICA CHASTAIN AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH JOIN GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S GHOST STORY CRIMSON PEAK
This week, Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness) joined already announced cast members Emma Stone (Easy A) and Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim) as the stars of Guillermo Del Toro’s next film, Crimson Peak. Although specifics aren’t yet known, Crimson Peak is described as a ghost story set during the turn of the 20th Century (from the 19th) which plays around a bit with some of the conventions of the subgenre. Filming is expected to start on Crimson Peak in January, 2014.
#5 CHLOE MORETZ AND NICHOLAS HOULT JOIN CHARLIZE THERON FOR DARK PLACES
Dark Places is the title of an adaptation of a mystery novel by Gillian Flynn about a woman who has to revisit the massacre of her family 20 years later when a group called the Kill Club questions whether the right person was convicted for the murders. Charlize Theron has already been cast as the main character (replacing the previously reported Amy Adams). This week, <Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, About a Boy) were also cast as members of the Kill Club. Dark Places was adapted and will be directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (2011’s Sarah’s Key).
#6 WILLIAM H. MACY ATTRACTS AN ALL-STAR CAST FOR HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT RUDDERLESS
Actor William H. Macy will be making his directorial debut with a musical drama called Rudderless about a father who forms a band to perform the original music that he discovers was written by his dead son (in other words, the feel good movie of 2014). In addition to starring with his wife Felicity Huffman, Macy has recruited several established actors to join him in the cast. That list will include Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers), and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek Into Darkness). There’s a very solid chance that Rudderless will make its premiere at a festival like Sundance next year.
#7 LIAM HEMSWORTH TO STAR IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MOVIE CALLED THE RAVEN
Liam Hemsworth inevitably still gets confused with his brother Chris (the one who is Thor), who is not the one who was in The Hunger Games. Well, now, he’s going to star in a movie that itself will be confused with a movie last year starring John Cusack. Liam Hemsworth is in advanced talks to star in The Raven, which has zero to do with Edgar Allen Poe, and is instead based upon a 2010 short film by director Ricardo de Montreuil. The Raven is described as a sci-fi conspiracy thriller set in a future version of Los Angeles. Universal Pictures is producing and distributing. Consider this a borderline Fresh/Rotten toss up, because we really don’t have much to go on besides what we can gather from watching the original short film on YouTube.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 AFTER SERVING IN WORLD WAR Z, BRAD PITT ENLISTS FOR THE WORLD WAR II TANK MOVIE FURY
Nobody knows anything in Hollywood, so “everybody” could be wrong, but the common perception is that World War Z has a strong chance at being one of the summer’s biggest flops. As such, Brad Pitt is understandably looking to do something completely different next, even if it’s really easy to draw comparisons, just based on his next film’s title. Brad Pitt is in talks to star in Fury, a World War II drama about a five man tank team that finds itself facing a massive German army in the final days of the war in 1945. Fury will be directed by David Ayer (Harsh Times, Street Kings, End of Watch), and it’s the amount of green splotches on his RT Tomatometer page that make Fury a Rotten Idea this week. Filming of Fury is expected to start in September, 2013.
#1 HERCULES 3D CONFIRMS WHAT THE LATEST PAIR OF DUELING MOVIES WILL BE ABOUT
In the same way that a gas station on a corner means there will be another one across the street within a year, Hollywood loves the concept of “dueling movies,” in which two movies from competing studios have the same basic premise. Volcanos, manned missions to blow up asteroids, attacks on the White House, Snow White, and Steve Prefontaine biopics are among the subjects this has happened to in the past. To that list, you can now officially add 2014 movies about the Greek mythological hero Hercules. Director Renny Harlinexpects to start filming in Bulgaria in May on a movie called Hercules 3D which will be directly competing with a movie called Hercules, which will be directed by Brett Ratner and star Dwayne Johnson. In Renny Harlin’s movie, the Greek hero will be played Kellan Lutz of The Twilight Saga. Harlin’s movie is budgeted at $70 million, and is expected to be released in March, 2014, several months before MGM and Paramount are releasing Ratner’s movie on August 8, 2014. While Ratner’s film is expected to be more “fantastic,” Renny Harlin’s film is being compared (by Harlin) to Gladiator, saying that, “It’s not a comic book, cartoony fantasy thing.” Renny Harlin apparently didn’t get the memo that many people don’t necessarily use “comic book” as an insult anymore.
Testosterone ruled the Easter frame as the 3D action sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened at number one, but Tyler Perry’s latest offering Temptation also scored a strong debut of its own in third place. The animated holdover The Croods held up well in its second weekend pulling in families over the school holiday helping the box office beat Easter business from the past two years.
Paramount topped the charts with the franchise hit G.I. Joe which debuted to an estimated $41.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $51.7M since its launch on Wednesday night with 7:00pm shows. The PG-13 flick averaged a muscular $11,078 from 3,719 locations over the three-day weekend period with 45% of the business coming from 3D screens including 303 IMAX sites which kicked in $4.8M.
Though definitely a strong opening, the 4.5-day figure still came in below the $54.7M three-day non-holiday opening of its 2009 predecessor G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The first pic was released over the busier summer period in 4,000+ locations but the sequel had higher 3D prices and added starpower from Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. Channing Tatum, who played a central role in the first film, had a more supporting role in the followup which was delayed from its original June 29, 2012 date.
But Retaliation should still be a big moneymaker thanks to a smaller production budget ($130M vs $175M) and substantial growth from international markets which should more than make up for domestic shortfalls allowing the new film to finish higher than Cobra’s $302M global final.
Domestically, the bullet-filled action pic skewed heavily male as expected. Studio research showed that males made up 68% of the crowd while 59% were 25 or older. Reviews were weak – standard for these types of sequels – but audiences liked what they paid for as the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A-.
Joe kicked off its run with $10.5M on Thursday, including $2.2M from Wednesday night shows. The Good Friday holiday saw sales climb 48% to $15.5M, Saturday was flat with $15.6M, and Easter Sunday is estimated to dip by 35% to $10.1M. Action sequels like these tend to be front-loaded but the domestic final should be able to break $100M and possibly end near the $110M mark. Cobra grossed $150.2M.
Retaliation really saw its good fortune from overseas markets which generated an estimated $80.3M debut resulting in a spectacular global opening of $132M this weekend. Compared to the same markets for Cobra, Retaliation’s opening was nearly twice as big thanks in part to 3D prices and key markets becoming more lucrative since 2009. Russia led the way with $11M, Korea banked $6M, and Mexico scored $6M. The new Joe still has 25% of the world to come including China on April 15 and Japan on June 8 so a worldwide haul of $400M is possible.
Families flocked to the animated comedy The Croods over the Easter school holidays as the DreamWorks pic grossed an estimated $26.5M, sliding 39% in its second weekend. Compared to other spring toons with the bunny holiday helping the sophomore frame, the pre-historic family dropped a little harder than 2011’s Rio (33%) and 2010’s How To Train Your Dragon (34%), but fell a little less than 2008’s Horton Hears a Who (45%).
With a sturdy $88.6M in ten days, Croods should be able to keep its momentum going for weeks to come since there are absolutely no kidpics with G or PG ratings opening for nearly two months. A final domestic tally of about $160M could result making it the best performance for a DreamWorks Animation non-sequel since Dragon. Overseas, Croods used the holiday to bank a sizable $52.5M from 59 markets shooting the international total to $230M. Global is $296.6M and will smash $300M on Monday.
The Tyler Perry brand showed off its strength and durability with the impressive debut of the infidelity drama Temptation which opened to an estimated $22.3M from 2,047 theaters for a stellar $10,894 average. That was almost identical to G.I. Joe’s average. Rated PG-13, Temptation delivered the best opening ever for a Perry film that wasn’t a sequel or featured his signature Madea character. Plus it was the tenth Tyler Perry film (ninth as director) over eight years to debut north of $20M. Despite having so much content, the filmmaker’s fans continue to come out and spend on his new offerings.
Temptation was positioned a bit more as an erotic thriller which made it look like something a bit different. The audience breakdown was similar to past films from the mogul – 70% female and 79% 25 and older. Easter has been used successfully many times in the past to launch new Perry films and it worked for Lionsgate yet again as the fan base came out in better than expected numbers. The gross even doubled the opening of last fall’s Alex Cross which featured Perry as just an actor and in the title role. The CinemaScore was an A- and Perry’s fourteen films over the past eight years have now grossed a stunning $696M domestically with all carrying modest budgets.
The White House kidnapping thriller Olympus Has Fallen dropped a large 54% thanks in part to a new action tentpole hitting the marketplace. Gerard Butler’s hit film grossed an estimated $14M raising the ten-day total to a sturdy $54.7M for FilmDistrct heading to an impressive final in the $85M vicinity. Flirting with the double century mark, Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful took in an estimated $11.6M on Easter weekend, down 46%, for a $198.3M domestic total. Thanks to a new opening in China (official figures not yet released, but estimated to be near $10M over three days), the franchise flick grossed an estimated $22.2M from overseas markets boosting the international cume to $214M and the worldwide haul to $412.3M on its way to the $500M mark.
The critically-panned sci-fi romance The Host failed to pull in business from Twilight fans and finished outside the top five in sixth place with an estimated $11M. Averaging a dull $3,436 from an aggressive release in 3,202 locations, the PG-13 pic was based on the best-selling book by author Stephenie Meyer which followed her mega-successful vampire saga. Critics trashed the Open Road release and fans decided to skip this one. The target audience consisted of young females and its B- CinemaScore indicated not much satisfaction from those ticket buyers that did come out.
The Halle Berry hit The Call dropped 46% to an estimated $4.8M giving Sony $39.5M to date. Tina Fey followed with a similar 47% decline for her new comedy Admission which grossed an estimated $3.3M putting Focus at a disappointing $11.8M.
The bikini-girls-with-guns pic Spring Breakers ranked ninth with an estimated $2.8M, off 43%, and a modest $10.1M overall for A24. Tumbling 70% in its third round was the all-star comedy flop The Incredible Burt Wonderstone which collected an estimated $1.3M. Warner Bros. has taken in a weak $20.6M and won’t finish with much more.
After being MIA for a year and a half, red hot actor Ryan Gosling returned to the big screen in the platform release The Place Beyond The Pines along with co-star Bradley Cooper and found sensational results with an estimated $270,000 opening from just four theaters for a scorching $67,546 average. Focus will expand beyond New York and Los Angeles next weekend with 13 additional markets and will go nationwide on April 12. The R-rated drama earned good reviews from critics.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $138.7M which was up 20% from last year’s Easter frame when The Hunger Games stayed at number one for a third time with $33.1M; and up 21% from 2011’s holiday when Rio remained in the top spot with $26.3M in its sophomore session.
The Joes are back, but not necessarily better than ever, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which critics say boasts a couple strong action set pieces but mostly traffics in frenetic, logic-free plotting and mayhem. This time out, Cobra shape-shifter Zartan has occupied the White House, and Cobra Commander has escaped from prison, so it’s up to Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and the rest of the Joes to save the world from chaos. The pundits say G.I. Joe: Retaliation is essentially a loud, over-the-top cartoon that might get your adrenaline pumping but is unlikely to stimulate your intellect. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down memorable movies based on toys and games.)
Tyler Perry‘s films are rarely screened prior to their release in theaters, and Temptation is no exception. Jurnee Smollett-Bell stars as a marriage counselor whose dissatisfaction with her own marriage pushes her into an affair with a tech mogul; ethical and emotional complications ensue. Time to guess the Tomatometer!
Ready or not, a Real American Hero is invading the box office this weekend, and to help herald G.I. Joe: Retaliation‘s arrival in theaters, we decided to dedicate this week’s list to other toys and/or games that made the jump from store shelves to the big screen. It would be wise not to expect any Best Picture winners in here, obviously, but you might be surprised by the amount of good old-fashioned nostalgic fun that can come from reliving memories of movies from an often rather cynically motivated genre. (Word to the wise: This is also one of the most 1980s-centric lists we’ve done in quite some time.) Get ready to beg your parents for more action figures and stuffed animals — it’s time for Total Recall!
Insofar as any movie that was inspired by a game entering its eighth decade of existence can be called a “sure thing,” 2012’s Battleship really seemed to fit the description — directed by action vet Peter Berg and rounded out with a cast that was loaded with what the studio execs like to call “multi-platform synergy,” it launched with a $209 million budget and a prime May release date. Sadly, Battleship was met with some choppy critical waters as it embarked upon its box office voyage — and although it eventually earned more than $300 million worldwide, it ended up going down as one of the year’s costlier flops. “This,” groaned Slate’s Dana Stevens, “is the kind of summer movie that softens your brain tissue without even providing the endocrine burst of pleasure that would make it all worthwhile.”
Perhaps chiefly notable for being the movie that jettisoned executive producer/choreographer/wardrobe designer Paula Abdul before a single frame of film was shot, Bratz: The Movie brought its titular line of dolls/cartoon characters to big-screen life via a storyline involving high school cliques, rapper/Tom Hanks offspring Chet Haze, Jon Voight, and a prosthetic nose. Given all that, its $26 million box office gross has to seem like something of a triumph, but critics proved stubbornly unmoved by the Bratz gals’ charms; as Ruthe Stein observed for the San Francisco Chronicle, “The proud owners of Bratz dolls almost surely have had more imaginative fantasies about them than anything onscreen.”
In his biggest film role since playing a grumpy retired jockey in 1979’s The Black Stallion, Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney lent his voice to the crucial dual role of “Mr. Nicholas Cherrywood” and “Narrator” in The Care Bears Movie, a 75-minute animated feature that doubled as a thinly disguised commercial for the cuddly stuffed feelings ambassadors created by the American Greetings Corporation. Clearly, the toys made an impact — the Care Bears franchise endures today — and the movie proved a solid hit at the box office, saving the Nelvana studio from bankruptcy on its way to spawning a pair of sequels. For critics, it proved more of a mixed bag, but Richard Grenier of the New York Times appreciated its gentle message, writing that “This endearing movie’s mottoes are: never stop caring. And: the best way to make friends is to be a friend yourself.”
Base a movie on a board game, and you’re really setting yourself up for a pretty tough time at the box office — just ask Peter Berg. But of all the board-game-to-film adaptations that have tanked during their initial theatrical runs (um, all two of them), the 1985 ensemble murder mystery farce Clue has fared most respectably by far, steadily building a cult audience after limping into the home video market with a piddling $14.6 million gross. Its 62 percent Tomatometer doesn’t accurately reflect the bewilderment felt by filmgoers who felt cheated by its “three different endings” gimmick, which required the truly hardcore fan to visit multiple theaters in order to see them all, but it’s reflective of the affection currently felt by critics like Gregory Weinkauf of New Times, who said it “deserves its own little niche in camp cinema history.”
If there had to be a movie based on the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, the smart money would have been on it making its way to the screen during D&D‘s first flush with mainstream success in the early 1980s — back when, for instance, the game had its own TV series. But the smart money, along with every other kind of money, lost against 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons, a long-overdue live-action adaptation that found Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch, and Marlon Wayans trying in vain to replicate some semblance of the home version’s magic. Scoffed Susan Stark of the Detroit News, “This movie may be the clumsiest, most inept cinematic exploitation of an item with kid appeal that we have yet seen.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for G.I. Joe. His true debut, 1987’s G.I. Joe: The Movie, saw its cinematic destiny thwarted when a pair of other Hasbro-sanctioned animated toy adaptations — Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie — were met with failure so ignominious that direct-to-video seemed like the only sensible option. More than two decades later (and with a live-action cast that included Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra finally brought our Real American hero to theaters. Sadly, 22 years wasn’t enough for most critics, who dismissed Cobra as just one more silly, middlingly acted action flick; as Christopher Orr put it for the New Republic, “Sometimes, a film defies conventional narrative and artistic standards so utterly that it seems unfair to judge it by them…. Consider this a tone poem in 40 scraps of dialogue.”
The only movie on this (or any) list to feature the combined voice-acting might of Telly Savalas, Margot Kidder, and Roddy McDowall, GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords brought everyone’s second-favorite shape-shifting sentient robots to the big screen in 1986, besting Transformers: The Movie in every way that didn’t count. Optimistically billed as “The First GoBots Movie Ever!,” it would also be the last — which was just fine with critics like Stephen Holden of the New York Times, who dismissed this toy tie-in as “A jerky, semi-coherent series of chases, laser-gun battles and explosions, with an allegorical plot about how no one can handle too much power.”
Between charming the socks off critics in Little Miss Sunshine and being tied up in a trunk for The Call, Abigail Breslin landed the starring role in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. A rare theatrical excursion for the burgeoning multimedia American Girl empire, Kit follows the adventures of its plucky Depression-era title character while she pursues her dreams of being a reporter — and her parents (Chris O’Donnell and Julia Ormond) try to stave off foreclosure by turning their home into a boarding house. Sweetly charming — and stacked with a Who’s Who of character actors, including Stanley Tucci, Wallace Shawn, Jane Krakowski, and Joan Cusack — Kit Kittredge won over the hearts of critics like Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, who called it “A gently thoughtful, audience-appropriate entertainment that assembles swell actors to play colorful characters who don’t shy away from depicting serious hard times.”
Somehow only the sixth lowest-rated film of Frank “Skeletor” Langella’s career, Masters of the Universe arrived far too late to take advantage of its attendant toy line’s popularity, which had long since waned by the time the adaptation lumbered onto screens in 1987 — and far too clumsily to have any hope of crossing over into the broader filmgoing demographic, or escaping the withering scorn of critics who demanded something more from a movie than the sight of a loincloth-rocking Dolph Lundgren. While it did boast committed work from Langella as He-Man’s nemesis, as well as work from a young Courteney Cox (and one of the stranger entries in Billy Barty’s filmography), Masters really has very little to recommend it; as Rita Kempley noted for the Washington Post, “Little kids at play have come up with craftier plots, better characterization and conceivably more spectacular effects — provided their mothers let them play with matches.”
One of the two towering pillars of animated box office failure that forced Hasbro’s toy-to-film ambitions into temporary deep freeze — and sent 1987’s G.I. Joe: The Movie direct to video — My Little Pony: The Movie is notable chiefly for having a showy voice cast that included Tony Randall, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Khan, as well as its role in the founding of AKOM, the Korean animation studio called into action to help beat a last-minute emergency rush. Otherwise, it’s a mostly forgettable footnote in the toy flick canon; although My Little Pony would go on to enjoy a fresh wave of success with the Friendship Is Magic TV series in 2010, its feature-length forebear earned little more than disdain from critics like Nina Darnton of the New York Times, who wrote, “The little ponies are like those pastel heart candies that have little messages on them such as ”I luv you.’ You can eat a few, but too many make you sick.”
Kids are notoriously fickle, so if you want to make a movie based on your popular toy line, you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot (see: Universe, Masters of the). Of course, this tends to be complicated with animated features, seeing as how they tend to take years to develop — but when it came time to release Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, Carolco came up with a unique solution: Get the whole thing finished in less than six months. We probably don’t need to go into the sordid details of what happened next; suffice it to say that the movie ended up grossing less than $600,000 during its box office run, and pretty much put the final nail in the coffin for the 1980s toy-to-film phenomenon. Sighed Charles Solomon of the Los Angeles Times, “Pound Puppies lends new vehemence to the expression ‘going to the dogs.'”
A children’s favorite since the late 19th century, Raggedy Ann & Andy made their big-screen debut during the 1940s via a series of animated shorts, but they didn’t get their own full-length feature until 1977’s Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure, starring Didi Conn and Mark Baker as the voices of the magical dolls. Fittingly for a movie about sentient toys, this Adventure is memorably bizarre, including a plot about a lecherous pirate who kidnaps the nursery’s new doll and forces our heroic duo to pursue him by camel. Rather dismissively calling it “A nice effort,” TV Guide couldn’t help pointing out that “the film suffers from tedious musical numbers by Joe Raposo that seem to last forever.”
Modern children don’t know how good they have it. In a television landscape where several 24-hour channels dedicated to their entertainment exist, they’ll never have to experience the dire circumstances that combined to allow for the ascension of Rainbow Brite. Created by the Hallmark greeting card company in a transparently cynical bid to break into the kiddie tie-in market, she swept through toy shelves and television screens before riding her magical unicorn (voiced by Peter Cullen of Transformers fame) onto the big screen. The results, alas, were far from resplendent; the Boston Globe’s Michael Blowen spoke for the majority of his peers when he called the movie “So incompetently crafted that it makes the Saturday-morning cartoons seem like Disney classics.”
Long before Michael Bay surrounded Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox with a few hundred million dollars’ worth of CGI, Hasbro made a generation of sensitive, Optimus Prime-loving children cry with 1986’s Transformers: The Movie, a full-length feature adaptation of the hit cartoon/toy/comic book property about two warring clans of sentient alien robots who are more than meets the eye. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in Transformers sales and an eye-poppingly eclectic voice cast that included Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, and Eric Idle, the movie didn’t do much of anything at the box office, petering out with a final gross under $6 million. Despite largely negative reviews, it’s gone on to become something of a cult favorite among children of the 1980s, as well as critics like Scott Weinberg, who wrote, “It’s good mindless fun, and a flick that no doubt holds a lot of nostalgia value for several members of my generation’s sci-fi geeks.”
This week in family films, there’s a little something for everyone, from action (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) to historical drama (Lincoln) to domestic comedy (Parental Guidance). Read on to find out what’s appropriate for family viewing.
What’s it about? Cobra shape-shifter Zartan has occupied the White House, and Cobra Commander has escaped from prison, so it’s up to the Joes to save the world from chaos.
Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language.” As with the old Joe cartoons, there isn’t a whole lot of actual blood, but there are plenty of explosions and even the assassination of a world leader. It’s probably ok for young teens.
Is it any good? Critics say G.I. Joe: Retaliation is better than its predecessor (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), but it’s still essentially a loud, over-the-top cartoon.
What’s it about?Lincoln is an up-close-and-personal look at Honest Abe’s political maneuvering over the course of the Civil War, during which time he attempted to end the conflict and abolish slavery.
Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 “for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language.” It’s also likely to bore the wee ones to tears. However, for history buffs middle school-age and up, Lincoln is sure to embody the “history lesson come to life” concept in the best way possible.
Is it any good? Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his portrayal of the Great Emancipator, and the critics say Steven Speilberg’s direction is typically fine; the result is a compelling, nuanced recreation of a pivotal moment in American history.