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POSTED: Monday, March 26, 2012, 11:33 AM

"The Hunger Games" record-breaking haul has Hollywood congratulating itself for a job well done.

While no doubt deserved, there is one name that's missing amid today's back-slapping -- Suzanne Collins, who wrote the books, and who created the dystopian sci-fi world that's captured the imagination of millions on it's way to selling 24 million books.

In fact, Collins seems to be regarded as a handicap in Hollywood. The WSJ reports that Lion's Gate had to overcome the "challenge" of the series' disturbing content, with a campaign that kept the title games off-screen, and kept using fresh, non-violent footage in trailers and ads.

POSTED: Thursday, March 15, 2012, 1:59 PM

There are a bunch of specialty releases in theaters the next few weeks, starting with tonight's 7:30 screening (and Q&A with Eve Marie Saint!) of "North By Northwest" at the Prince Music Theater.

There is a 3-D one-night-only showing of Matthew Bourne's London production of  "Swan Lake" Tuesday, March 20, 7:30 pm at area theaters.

"Casablanca," celebrating it's 70th anniversary, screens at area theaters Wednesday evening March 20 (including King of Prussia, Oaks, Ritz Certer in Voorhees, Riverview here in town, the University Six over at Penn, and Warrington Crossing).

POSTED: Monday, March 12, 2012, 12:52 PM

Disney's $300 million "John Carter" made ten percent of that at the box office this past weekend, and may end up as a financial flop. It opened at No. 2, behind the heldover "Lorax." It needs to make $600 million to break even (after paying off exhibitors), and seems sunlikely to get close.

The NYT compares it to legendary failure "Ishtar," and cites the hubris of director and Pixar bigshot Andrew Stanton. 

Probably deserved, but do you sense some piling on here? Yes, the movie is an incoherent, expensive F/X mess, but its great sin appears to be that it's slightly more expensive than the run-of-mill incoherent expensive F/X mess Hollywood churns out every week/month (enjoying "Immortals" on DVD? No?) Check the rottentomatoes top ten box office list this week -- EVERY SINGLE MOVIE IS RATED ROTTEN. 

POSTED: Thursday, March 1, 2012, 11:57 AM

Lionsgate has commenced a twitter-linked promotion for advanced "Hunger Games" screenings. Here's the link, supposedly. The page isn't opening properly, but that may be a volume thing.

The press releases says "fans can show their support by tweeting a unique hashtag assigned to their closest city to unliock Advance Screening locations. Starting March 1, the top four cities with the most Twitter volume will be announced each day and fans will then be able to enter to win tickets to those locations."

That sounds like the most complicated promo ever, but if your a Katniss nut, you might want to check it out.

POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2012, 11:17 AM

Meryl Streep's upset of Viola Davis ruined my otherwise perfect Oscar scorecard, and apparently many others as well.

An overnight Fandango poll showed fans thought the Davis snub was by far the night's biggest -- 51 percent chose it over the George Clooney loss to Dujardin (17 percent) and "Bridesmaids" best original screenplay loss to Woody Allen (10 percent).

Davis backers may have an argument. I don't think Davis had a great deal of help in "The Help." Director Tate Taylor stepped on her performance with some of his  camera moves (here comes a big speech, I'm zooming in!), and gilded the lily with too much music.

POSTED: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 8:23 PM

Denzel Washington's "Safe House" held strongly in its second week to claim the top box office spot, edging another holdover, "The Vow," and leaving Washington on the way to his fourth $100 million movie (also "American Gangster," "Remember the TItans" and "Pelican Brief.")

Nic Cage's "Ghost Rider 2" opened in third. The BO MOJO summary contains the phrase "disappointing 'Ghost Rider' sequel," and I can't decide whether that is redundant, or an oxymoron.

"This Means War" opened weakly in fourth with $17 million. I guess prospective audiences weren't dazzled by the TV ad featuring Reese Witherspoon shooting Tom Hardy in the nads with a paintball gun.

POSTED: Monday, February 13, 2012, 9:18 AM

Looking at the box office numbers, you wonder if facebook went dark this past weekend. 

For only the second time in history, four movies debuted at more than $20 million. "The Vow" won the weekend with $41 million, followed by "Safe House" at $39 m, "Journey 2" at $27 m and the 32 release of "Phantom Menace at $23 m.

BOJO notes that "Vow" is more evidence that woman are emerging as major drivers of the box office, and the trades indicate that the Channing Tatum/Rachel McAdams two-hander is also playing well overseas -- the stock in those two actors just went way up. 

POSTED: Sunday, February 12, 2012, 8:16 PM

Sony Pictures told Variety it will stick with it's Aug. 17 release date for "Sparkle," Whitney Houston's last movie.

The movie is a remake of the 1970s Irene Cara picture (loosely based on The Supremes) about three singing sisters and their rise to fame, their disintegration, and one star's struggle with substance abuse. Houston plays the mother of the three young women. The cast includes Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Cee-Lo and Mike Epps.

Houston has reportedly recorded several songs for the movie, which boasts several tracks from R. Kelly. Houston sings one of them, "Celebration," over the closing credits. She also covers the gospel classic "His Eye Is On The Sparrow."  

About this blog
Gary Thompson is the Daily News film critic. Reach Gary at

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