The film Tombstone has one of the most insane cast lists of any modern film. Just chocked full of talent. I miss Bill Paxton on the big screen. But you can’t knock steady work.


Roger Ebert is becoming cinema’s biggest fuddy-duddy. Between video games and 3-D, he gets his chocolate in a lot of people’s peanut butter. But other than being a charmingly obnoxious over-retweeter, I will always love Roger, and have to agree with both of those points. I don’t think video games are art in one sense of the word, and I can’t say I’m a fan of 3-D at all. Perhaps this is because I wear corrective lenses, and the process of wearing glasses on glasses isn’t my cup. But ultimately, I don’t really think the art form gains much from it in feature length narratives. My favorite 3-D of the new run has been My Bloody Valentine, I didn’t bother watching Up in 3-D, and Avatar… is out on DVD and Blu-ray now, and I’ll just say this: it did not convert me into being a 3-D believer.

Nothing 3-D comes out this week, but today it broke that The Green Hornet moved from December to January and is going to be in 3-D, while M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film The Last Airbender is currently being converted to 3-D. Both films have been tainted by bad buzz, with The Green Hornet getting some anonymous negativity and The Last Airbender earning a number of mixed test screening reports.

Though there are reasons to remain optimistic when it comes to The Green Hornet, these announcements don’t read as good signs for the films. In the case of The Last Airbender – it’s Clash of the Titans redux as Paramount has a little over two months to convert. There are essentially two reason to convert a film to 3-D. One is to make more money. The other is to try to make more money. Though this may be applied to a number of different films, if a film was not conceived to be shot that way, then the third dimension is meant to distract, to goose a film so people pay more to experience it.

With Green Hornet they are still in post, so the 3-D can be more organically applied. But adding 3-D after principle photography has commenced still seems like a cash grab, and the problem with the move from December to January – even if it is just because they’re going 3-D – is that The Green Hornet had a tent-pole release date. January – which recently has produced some $100 plus films – is usually considered dumping grounds. January is usually considered the weakest month next to September. But in it and February there’s been some successful low budget horror, and then you have films like Paul Blart and Taken. By February you start getting warmer, and between pictures like Bringing Down the House and 300, March has become a hot spot for A- pictures. These are films that are maybe not tent-poles, but films that could do $200 plus, with Alice in Wonderland cracking $300 Million. April is usually a weaker month, but then May is for A+ films, the franchises, tentpoles, etc. June is for A’s and A-‘s, generally picking up at the end of the month, and the July is back to the A’s and A+’s, which may taper by the end of the month. August may start with a barn burner, but as the summer winds down, so – often – do the pictures. These might be A’s, but they aren’t going to be of the franchise quality of the rest of the summer. September’s usually a dump month, with October offering some Oscar hopefuls and horror. November and December it’s back to the A season.

What 300 and numbers of other films have taught us is that there is no such thing as a a dead season, and dead weekends can just as quickly become hot spots. There’s a lot of superstitions when it comes to this stuff, but The Strangers did just as strong business as a January horror film in May. If people like stuff, they go because word of mouth still works. The problem is what buzz does to a film. When it comes to release date moves, that’s usually what’s being judged. Star Trek‘s move from December to May may have seemed awkward, but the move didn’t suggests that Paramount had given up on it because it was still in period of A pictures, even if they were moving into a crowded summer. But when Disney moved The Alamo from December to April, it suggested they didn’t have their picture. This feels similar. Valkyrie moved from October to February, and then back to December. Though the picture did $83 Million, that seems like a win for a troubled production, and part of the success seemed to come from looking like an Oscar picture. Being delayed is rarely seen as a good thing, but for every Lovely Bones – that sat around for nearly a year – there’s a film like The Age of Innocence. And of course the most famous delay of the modern era is Titanic, which was supposed to come out in the summer. The problem is that studios like having off seasons so they can release slightly smaller pictures and do solid business. Shutter Island isn’t a summer picture, and if it came out during award season, it’d get raked over the coals. Instead it did $125 Million with a February launch. Percy Jackson likely couldn’t compete with other summer releases, it does nearly $90. And then for a picture like The Wolf Man, Universal can say they weren’t pretending when the dumped it in February.

Of course, the x factor with The Green Hornet is that Seth Rogen and Michel Gondry are talented filmmakers with a track record of quality. Both, though, are also working outside of their comfort zones. I know that Drew McWeeny got annoyed on Twitter that people were being snarky and cynical about this move (and spoke with Seth Rogen and defended the move here), but converting films that were shot and conceived of in 2-D into 3-D comes across as infinitely more cynical than anything that could be said about it. And talking about release date moves and 3-D conversions is perfect for this column, because it says nothing about the quality of the movie. It does, however, imply things.


The Losers is not a very good film. Okay, that out of the way, it should open soft, and may lose to J. Lo and The Back-Up Plan. Tis the season.

1. How to Train your Dragon - $16.3 Million
2. The Losers – $14.5 Million
3. The Back-Up Plan - $14 Million
4. Kick Ass – $9.5 Million
5. Date Night – $9.4 Million

I think there’s going to be a lot of close calls here. Dragon may drop more than 20%, and The Losers could be softer than I thought. Kick Ass could drop over 60%. But it’s all moons and tides as we wait for Iron Man 2, which is screening for a number of press tonight, so word should start leaking.