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POSTED: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 11:04 AM

"Twilight" won again at the box office, but's its numbers are dropping fast -- "The Muppets" is also plummeting. Both lost about 60 percent of their holiday weekend audience.

The best holdovers are Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," which dropped only 33 percent, and Alexander Payne's 'The Descendants," which dropped only 34 percent. Both movies gained theaters. We're also seeing expanded, late-season runs for "Moneyball," "Midnight In Paris," and "The Ides of March," in case you missed them the first time around.

New this week: Jonah Hill's "The Sitter," and Garry Marshall's ensemble comedy "New Year's Eve," sequel of sorts to "Valentine's Day." At the Ritz complex -- "Shame," the sex addiction drama starring Michael Fassbender, also "Tomboy," "A Warrior's Heart," and "Young Goethe in Love."

POSTED: Monday, November 7, 2011, 9:26 AM

This weeks DVD pile includes "Cars 2," which Pixar has been aggressively spinning as an underrated classic. A recent NYT story appeared to trade access to John Lasseter for a company-line story about how critics treated the movie unfairly.

Forget critics. The movie's audience share dropped 60 PERCENT from week one to week, a catastrophic decline by Pixar standards. That's pure word of mouth. I think audiences saw the same thing that some critics did: a company taking a disappointing step toward blockbuster-minded story-telling -- a sequel with a globe-hopping scenario ready made for international sale, a spy-spoof framework that was less a work of imagination that a forum for gag-writers to make movie references.

What does a real animated hit look like? "Puss N Boots," which made another $30 million in week two and saw it's audience drop a mere 3 percent.

POSTED: Sunday, October 30, 2011, 5:55 PM

Still to early to say what the best movie of the year will be, but my personal favorite, in terms of pure fun, will probably be "Attack the Block."

You may not have heard of it, because it was barely released here in the states, but it's pedigree includes some of the same guys who made "Sean of the Dead." It features newcomer John Boyega (terrific) as leader of a teen gang that repels an alien invasion of an apartment complex in the UK (where Nick Frost has a penthouse pot farm).

A great time at the movies -- clever, inventive, funny, and scary, despite the low-grade special effects. Impressive work from writer-director Joe Cornish, working for producer Edgar Wright. Both Wright and Cornish, by the way, contributed mightily to Steven Spielberg's adaptation of "Tin Tin," which has gotten some early raves, including this one in "The Hollywood Reporter."    

POSTED: Monday, October 24, 2011, 11:24 AM

"Mighty Macs," the locally made, shot story of Immaculata's '72 womens college basketball championship run, starring Carla Gugino as coach Cathy Rush, opened weakly over the weekend.

It made just $1 million at 975 locations, posted a per-screen average of about $1,000. BO MOJO reports the "Macs" missed its target number, without saying what it was. "Macs"  obviously failed, in a big way, to reach its G-rated target audience of family viewers. The movie's marketing push may pay off as a way to help the profile of a  DVD release.

"Macs" wasn't the only new release to be crushed by "Paranormal Activity 3," which opened at better than $50 milllion. "The Three Musketeers" ($8m), "Johnny English Reborn" ($3.8) million also put up skimpy numbers.

POSTED: Friday, October 21, 2011, 9:40 AM

Looking at my Genuardi's circular this week, I see this offer for club card holders: For $24, you can get a "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" DVD or Blu Ray combo PLUS an 8-pack of Coke PLUS a box of Rice Krispie Treats PLUS a box of Keebler Town House crackers PLUS a bag of white chedder Pirate Booty.

Never has the link between empty calorie entertainment and empty calorie food been so transparent. Since the movie is 130 minutes long, it's possible you eat all of that stuff during "Stranger Tides," and what's that add up to -- 12 billion carbs, formed by sugar and flour?  That's the bad news. The good news is if you eat it you'll be too fat to leave your house by the time "Pirates 5," comes out. And it looks like there will be a 5. Johnny Depp has apparently withdrawn his threat to drop out of the franchise.

I found "P4" to be deadly dull, but don't take my word for it -- it  drew a 33 percent on rottentomatoes.com, and suffered a 55 percent week-to-week drop when it opened in May, indicating auds didn't really dig it either.

POSTED: Sunday, October 16, 2011, 8:15 PM

Prediction: "The Big Year" will be the last bird-watching movie Hollywood ever makes. 

The birding bomb made only $3.3 million over the weekend, averaging a paltry $1,500 per location. Somehow, the combined talents of Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson turned into a sort dark energy that yielded career troughs for all three -- it's Martin's worst wide release since "Mixed Nuts," Black's worst since "Tenacious D In The Pick of Destiny" and Wilson's worst since "The Big Bounce," says BO MOJO. WHich raises a question: what the hell was "Mixed Nuts?"

"The Big Year" rolled out against some pretty weak competition -- remakes of "Footloose" and "The Thing," neither of which could unseat "Real Steel," still number one with $16 million.

POSTED: Friday, October 14, 2011, 9:14 AM

"Horrible Bosses" is one of the true sleeper hits of '11 -- Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day headlining a comedy that went on to top $100 million. They play put-upon workers who form a pact to kill each others supervisors -- Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston -- a black comedy riff on "Strangers on a Train," or, for you youngsters, "Bad Influence." The movie became notorious for Aniston's r-rated vamping as a sexual predator, but the funniest thing in it is Jame Foxx, sought by the men as a murder consultant. Not for all tastes, but there are a fair amount of twisted laughs.

On the subject of not for all tastes -- Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life," his autobiographical, visual tone poem about a Texas family in the 60s, headed by a tough-love father (Brad Pitt). It's classic Malick -- long on lyrical images, short on exposition, full of biblical allusions and meditations on God, man, life, the universe. I found it the most engaging of Malick's recent work -- "The Thin Red Line," or "The New World" -- but it will frustrate anybody looking for conventional movie storytelling. And this is one movie you want to see in a theater, if you're into Malick. 

There's also "The Green Lantern," starring Ryan Reynolds, the least successful of this year's superhero movies. I doubt it will play any better on video. 

POSTED: Thursday, October 13, 2011, 10:43 AM

Here's some fairly amazing video featuring former corporate raider Asher Adelman, telling a perplexed CNBC reporter that the Occupy Wall Street folks have a point.

 Back in the 1970s and 80s, Adelman was the LBO specialist who used "The Art of War" to guide his business deals, and was one of the people Oliver Stone used as his model for Gordon Gekko.

Adelman's now in a financier in the art world, and in sympathy with the anti-Wall Street protests. He's spent a couple days walking among the activists, giving them pointers on how to articulate their grievances. He's particularly incisive on the TARP loans -- arguing that TBTF banks paid back money we lent them by using money we gave them. Big banks, he notes, borrowed from FED for free, bought Treasuries at 2 or 3 percent, pocketed the difference, booked huge profits, and used them to make good on their TARP loans. He further argues that the FED's QE1 and QE2 were also thinly veiled TBTF handouts.

About this blog
Gary Thompson is the Daily News film critic. Reach Gary at thompsg@phillynews.com.

Gary Thompson Daily News Film Critic
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