Turn my headphones up… ugh. Turn em up a little louder… Now check it.



THE ILLUSION OF SAFETY

Did Megan Fox quit Transformers 3 or get fired? That’s been a question circling the Internet, as many reported that she was let go, and then others -and her people said that it was her decision. It seems Megan Fox has been put in the position of many across the country when her job was downsized. Perhaps her part will go to someone overseas (Gemma Arterton is rumored). But in many ways, with a franchise like Transformers there is no single creative force behind the project that is necessary. Where if MacGruber becomes franchise-able there is no film without Will Forte, we are no longer in the place where a franchise film starring an off-brand actor (say Allan Arkin in Inspector Clouseau) will change the fate of most major franchises – at least not yet. The true test of this is when the Spider-Man reboot hits. But even the Bourne films have rumored the next film will have a different actor and director.

But where franchises used to be an actor’s safety card (think Schwarzenegger in the Terminator films) slash last ditch attempt to resurrect their stalling careers (what starlets often turn to nudity for), with the superhero and toy genre, actors are replaceable. And the films are often useless for the actors. Tobey Maguire had Seabiscuit, The Good German, and Brothers in between and after the Spider-Man films. Christian Bale appeared in Terminator 4 and had little discernible impact on the film’s gross, I’m Not There was an art film, 3:10 to Yuma was a disappointment, The Prestige was a disappointment, and Public Enemies wasn’t his picture on top of being a disappointment. Being a superhero doesn’t make you a movie star these days, it’s just good work. But even if your film does $200 Million dollars, it doesn’t mean anything if you’re Brandon Routh.

To that extent it may have to revolve around being a star, and making good choices. The analogous player to Harrison Ford in the 21st century is Orlando Bloom. Both starred in two blockbuster franchises (Star Wars, Indiana Jones vs. LotR and PotC), and played supporting and lead performances in both. And yet post-Elizabethtown and Kingdom of Heaven Bloom’s name is worth little. Ford went on to do Witness and Working Girl and maintained his star persona, even if Ford qua actor (Mosquito Coast) didn’t take. But fame is funny that way, and sometimes actors are thrust too fast into the spotlight, or lose their hunger, or are good for a role but prove too limited in either what they can do or how the public perceives them. This week we also witnessed Chris Klein’s supposed audition for Mamma Mia! and it does nothing to take away from how great his performance is in Election. And Klein – at this point – could probably play a great used car salesman. But he’s never shown the range or versatility of someone like Josh Harnett, for better or ill. At least Jason Biggs had the American Pie franchise.

Which leads us back to Megan Fox. Megan Fox is going to be – for the next couple years unless she Lohans – a perennial for the “hottest woman in the world” lists. Actresses have emerged from such a position (Marilyn Monroe, Jessica Lange, and Kathy Bates come to mind), but it also tends to objectify the actress before they actually do anything. Fox was game in Jennifer’s Body - but as I essayed at the time, she has yet to build a fan base because women generally aren’t sympathetic to hot-ass women and masturbaters would rather deal with nudity at home (of which there was none). With Fox’s noticeable accent and most of her roles revolving around being the sexpot du jour, we’ve seen little range from her, and she has done little to groom herself into the second coming of Angelina Jolie as has been suggested (nothing seems to have challenged her). We’ve seen little of Megan Fox, actress, and perhaps we won’t. But as she was inessential to the success of the franchise she could hang her hat on, perhaps the pay wasn’t worth the effort. But this much is certain: her absence will have no impact on the gross of the next Transformers film.

LET ME BLOW YOUR PREDICTIONS

I loved MacGruber. I have no interest in Shrek Forever After. But MacGruber will be lucky to make $20 Million, and Shrek 4 could top $100 Million. As Kurtis Blow said: Brakes.

1. Shrek Forever After - $87 Million
2. Iron Man Deuce – $25.5 Million
3. Robin Hood – $16.5 Million
4. MacGruber - $14.7 Million
5. Letters to Juliet - $8.6 Million

I think Shrek 2 and 3 really hurt the franchise, because they were both regarded as lesser than the first and/or terrible. But Dreamworks and twenty dollar Imax 3-D tickets should inflate the shit out of the gross. I think the film might do a bit better than I predicted, but I feel like enthusiasm has decidedly waned, and Children’s films are more unpredictable than other pictures because you can’t track kids. But if you like R-rated humor, then MacGruber is a must-see. It’s hilarious, but Universal is the new MGM. We’ll make hash browns on Sunday, because that shit’s delicious.