Category Archives: Box Office

Cultural News Bytes – January 26th

Television

Now, I’m not usually one to pay any attention to Soap Operas by my own volition, but it was impossible to not catch a few minutes of General Hospital during my childhood. I would come home from school and it would always be on the TV, my mother watching along. And, honestly, it was a nice little distraction. The melodrama, the hostage takings, the train crashes, the hotel fires, and just about everything in between; I can’t argue with this kind of insanity. Check out the Wikipedia link and have a good laugh as you delve into the sheer madness of it all.

However, within that link, there is an interesting little blurb that I want to highlight:

“In February 2007, General Hospital will embark on yet another ground-breaking storyline for Sweeps as the entire cast will once again find themselves in a central storyline as a hostage situation takes place at the Metro Court hotel. The storyline which is set to take place over the 16 episodes of Sweeps will be set in “real time” much like the Fox drama, 24. According to the scribes at GH, an explosion will be set off at the Metro Court hotel on Friday, January 26th and then the show will fade to black as viewers are taken 16 hours back in time. Each episode will then represent one hour of the events that lead up to the explosion at the Metro Court hotel.”

Now, when I read a story about this over at PopWatch, I was kind of intrigued by this crossover between my mother’s favourite soap opera and everyone’s favourite Jack Bauer Power Hour, but I’ve started to think about it a bit more. And, I think that it’s an interesting example of the further influence of “serialized” television and its quick demise earlier this season.

For, you see, this season alone has seen the deaths of Smith, Kidnapped, Vanished, Runaway, and even the yet to debut Traveler had its episode order cut from 13 to 8. And yet, here General Hospital is turning to a basic theme that 24 made famous. It was the rise of 24’s ratings, as well as the success of shows like Prison Break, that led networks to produce so many serial dramas, and they struggled to find an audience.

And yet, really, Soap Operas are a perfect example of how to make a serial drama work. They have a plot that strings throughout, but yet they have characters so typical, so defined, that you can figure things out quite quickly. If I have my TV turned onto CTV and General Hospital comes on, I might not have seen a second of it for weeks and yet I can pretty much figure out what’s going on because I know enough about the archetypes at play.

And really, that was what made the first season of Prison Break so watchable, not the bullshit conspiracy stuff. And that’s what made Desperate Housewives work, and not its dumb plots (Which dragged the 2nd season into the doldrums of television). Even 24’s plots can sometimes let it down, but we keep watching because we idolize Jack Bauer. Without a hook like this, no show survives.

As a result, as much as General Hospital claims they’re going into a “ground breaking” exercise, the plots will be just as thing and just as silly as before. And yet, really, that’s what the people want. Maybe networks should see this as an example for making compelling serialized television.

 

Cinema

Box Office Predictions

Movies Opening This Weekend

Epic Movie

Smokin’ Aces

Catch and Release

Blood & Chocolate

We’ve got a farcical comedy based on fantasy/adventure films ala “Date Movie,” a bounty hunter film starring Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”), Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck and…Alicia Keys? Okay. And then we have a Romantic comedy starring Jennifer Garner and…Kevin Smith? Sure thing. And then some crappy horror movie with one of the worst titles imaginable.

Holdovers from Last Week

Stomp the Yard

Night at the Museum

Each should drop a bit, and a few spots each with the new releases in play, but their holdovers have been solid recently.

Oscar Movers/Shakers

Dreamgirls

The Queen

Pan’s Labyrinth

The Departed

Despite a lack of a Best Picture nod, Dreamgirls is currently leading the American Box Office, and will perform well into the weekend. The Queen, sitting in 3rd, also continues to perform strongly with weekday audiences, and expands slightly further along with Babel (Which has a little less audience appeal). The Departed launches itself a 2nd time with a major influx of screens, and Pan’s Labyrinth continues to expand further in its initial run. I would hope that Children of Men would see an increase, but Editing/Cinematography nods only do so much for a film.

For my Box Office Predictions and Viewing Suggestions, Continue reading

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Cultural News Bytes

A Look at the news of Today in Short Form

Television

A little memo to the CW: I appreciate you renewing Veronica Mars, but I really wish you’d stop piling on the obstacles to the show getting a fourth season.

“Reality series Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, in which nine women compete for a spot on the hit singing group, will air for eight weeks starting March 6, Tuesdays at 9 ET/PT. Veronica Mars, which now airs in that spot, will take a breather then return for five non-serialized episodes — a first for that series — to finish out the season.”

Now, we knew the hiatus would be happening, but the “non-serialized” part scares me. I think the show can work without a serial plot, but I’m going to look in the direction of Alias on this one. Its fourth season was designed to be less serial, and it suffered greatly for it. I really hope that they at least apply enough personal drama to make the episodes work individually, and it should be an interesting challenge, but it’s clear that the network is not entirely behind the show. They already cut the episode order to 20 from 22, and now they’re testing out to see if it’s the serial nature of the show that’s the problem. Let’s hope, whatever happens, it survives.

(Also of note: Worst. Reality. Show. Ever. And I have no idea how they think it’s going to survive out of the Gilmore Girls lead-in,)

Box Office Update

Wooo! Man, my first weekend taking a stab at box office predictions and I don’t do half bad.

Friday Box Office Estimates (c/o BoxOfficeMojo.com)

  1. 1. Stomp the Yard – $3.75 Million
  2. 2. Night at the Museum – $3.050 Million
  3. 3. The Hitcher – $2.8 Million
  4. 4. Dreamgirls – $2.25 Million
  5. 5. The Pursuit of Happyness – $1.93 Million

None of the major box officer predictors were putting Stomp the Yard in the #1 spot, so go me! The Hitcher just wasn’t resonating with audiences in my mind, and I felt that Stomp the Yard would follow the lead of films like ‘Step Up’ and continue to perform well over multiple weekends. My predictions will likely be a tad bit too high for The Hitcher, but my placement should be fine.

As far as limited releases go, Pan’s Labyrinth performed extremely well in limited release with $1.3 Million. I really need to get out and see that, especially since Meryl Streep liked it.

Video Games

Quick note on Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (Wii) that just came out this week. I spent some time with Lucas’ copy on Wednesday, and “beat” the game in about 4 hours.

I’m glad I didn’t buy it, in the end. I think it’s a whole lot of fun, contains some moments of brilliant game design, but there just isn’t enough here. I am hideously disappointed in multiplayer, also. They killed Survival: One miss and you’re out? What the hell is that? It kills any chance of casuals getting into the game any further, and even the Lifeline mode that allows everyone to play never gets as hectic and the “winner” is quite random.

Speaking of which, where the frack are my stats? Does Nintendo have something against competition here, if they’re seriously not letting us keep our stats of how often we win in multiplayer?

The single player was solid, definitely quiet ingenious (The Dancing is every bit as amazing as YouTube promised), but nothing that got my overly excited. But really, compared to MegaParty Games, there isn’t enough depth to multiplayer (Although Bungie Buddies is a lot of fun). You have to have people of comparable skill level for Bomb/Balloon/Survival to work, and that just isn’t possible in a party game.

A little underwhelmed overall, but it’s definitely something I’ll go back to for multiplayer when people are around and Lucas is willing to part with it. It represents a solid step towards solid Wiimote functions, and I think it is therefore a solid addition to the Wii Lineup.

However, to get back to that dancing video, let’s head to YouTube to check it out. You play as the dancer in the back, and you have to follow all of the dance moves involved. Yes, all of them. It is insanely fun. And totally ridiculous.

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Filed under Box Office, Cinema, Television, Veronica Mars