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Traditionally, January is seen as a time of box office doldrums during which there's little scratch to be made after the orgiastic movie-going of the holiday season. As such, it was generally a time when studios would dump less-than-exciting fare. This year, however, has seen a bunch of bigger releases that have pretty consistently exceeded expectations, and so the last three weekends have consistently seen busier business than comparable weeks in years before. Leading the charge this weekend is Underworld Awakening, the latest sequel to follow the tried and true formula of Kate Beckinsale + pleather catsuit + guns, guns, guns = profit.
The first full weekend of January saw only one major new release, a critically reviled faux-documentary horror film that performed quite spectacularly despite eliciting a vitriolic reaction from damn near everyone who saw it. The second weekend was considerably more competitive, however, with a number of titles with very different audiences. In that environment, the Mark Wahlberg-led crime drama Contraband surprised many by easily winning the number one spot, while the 3D reissue of a twenty year old Disney movie came in second place, a third sequel passed an important mark, and a music-centric comedy-drama opened in fourth place.
A phenomenon swept the nation over this past weekend, and it involved audiences uniformly and venomously booing The Devil Inside as soon as the credits rolled on the found footage horror movie. The film's mediocrity has now been well documented by audiences on Twitter, accompanied by almost unanimously terrible critical reviews and a rare "F" score collected by market research firm CinemaScore. Being pretty much objectively a really, really crappy movie didn't stop The Devil Inside from making a fairly ridiculous amount of money in its debut weekend and easily topping the domestic box office.
2011 is in the bag and the bag is in the river, folks. It was a year that saw ticket prices continuing to increase and attendance continuing to decline at multiplexes all over this nation of ours. Overall, the year that was saw a decline of roughly 3% from the cumulative box office of 2010, the year in which Avatar rolled around in a money pile. The last weekend of 2011 saw no new major releases, leaving the heavy hitters from last week's holiday onslaught to stay strong over New Year's weekend. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol once again stood atop box office mountain, with fellow sequels Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked rounding out the top three. Additionally, War Horse built momentum and New Year's Eve got a bump for obvious reasons.
With some notable exceptions, 2011 was not the most robust year at the American box office, and studio soothsayers are no doubt hunched over chicken livers, divining better fortunes for the impending year of 2012, packed as it is with much-anticipated blockbusters. For the penultimate weekend of this odd-numbered year, though, multiplexes across the nation were packed with new releases, all dropped willy-nilly throughout the week, creating a strange brew of eclectic releases. For the holiday weekend, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol emerged as the big winner, with fellow sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in second place, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo getting all Swedish in third place, along with two Steven Spielberg joints down the line.
For a long, long time, the conventional wisdom regarding sequels was that they were inherently endeavors of diminishing returns, with each entry making less money than the one before. Of course, these days juggernaut franchises have proven that to no longer be the case; the seven biggest movies of 2011 have all been sequels, starting with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and down through Cars 2. The two widest releases this weekend made a case that certain properties lead to franchise fatigue faster than others, as both Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, couldn't equal the debuts of their predecessors. Still, the limited released of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol could indicate that, after fifteen years, the Mission: Impossible franchise could still have some kick.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows arrives at a theater near you in a matter of mere days, You've probably noticed, based on the ubiquitous nationwide advertising campaign touting Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprising their roles as Holmes and Watson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's quintessential detective duo. Over the last week, TV spots for the sequel to 2009's Sherlock Holmes have been in frequent rotation and have featured many a quotation of critical praise from print and online journalists. Two of those television spots include quotes from IAR's own Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, who enthuses in one that Game of Shadows is "Even better than the original."
So to commemorate IAR's formal recommendation of the new release from Warner Bros. hitting theaters this Friday, check out both TV spots below, and keep your eyes peeled for the words of Jami Philbrick and the sight of IAR's namesake:
Joel Silver is without a doubt one of the most successful Hollywood producers of all-time. His career goes back over thirty-years and he is responsible for some of the most popular movies ever including 48 Hrs., Predator, Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon series, and The Matrix franchise.
Producer Susan Downey first worked with Silver on the 2002 film Ghost Ship, and their collaboration continued on such films as Cradle 2 the Grave, and House of Wax. But it was the movie Gothika that probably had the biggest impact on Susan Downey personally, as that is where she met her now husband, two-time Oscar-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr.
Silver had first worked with Downey Jr. in the early ‘80s on Weird Science, and was no stranger to the actor’s brilliant, yet unusual body of work. Silver and the Downeys would eventually go on to make the 2005 cult classic comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang together, but after the actor’s inexplicable success in a series of films based on a certain Marvel Comics superhero (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and next summer’s The Avengers), Silver and the married couple wanted to create their own movie franchise at Warner Bros. They began with ‘2009s smash hit action-mystery Sherlock Holmes, and now hope to continue that success with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which opens in theaters on December 16th.
Opening in theaters on December 16th is the long awaited sequel to '2009s hit action mystery Sherlock Holmes, entitled Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Director Guy Ritchie returns to helm the second film of the franchise that once again stars Oscar-nominee Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man 2) in the title role and fellow Oscar nominee Jude Law (Hugo) as his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson. Also making a return are actors Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris), Eddie Marsan (Hancock), and Kelly Reilly (Me and Orson Welles), who are joined by series newcomers Noomi Rapace (Prometheus), Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta), and Jared Harris (TV's Mad Men) as the villain Professor Moriarty.
IAR's managing editor Jami Philbrick recently had a chance to sit down and chat with writers Kieran and Michele Mulroney (Justice League) about their work on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The writers discussed the new film, joining the franchise, the "bromance" between Holmes and Watson, limiting Rachel MacAdams' role and creating a new female character, developing Moriarty's evil scheme, and introducing Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is just a few weeks away from hitting theaters from coast to coast, so Warner Bros has obliged with its very last poster for the sequel. 2009's Sherlock Holmes established a pretty easy to understand formula, taking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective and liberally adding speed-ramping action, big visual effects, the skewed charm of Robert Downey Jr., and plenty of barely-repressed homoeroticism. In keeping with this philosophy, the final A Game of Shadows one sheet is pretty simple, with Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson on the streets of Paris. You know for sure its Paris because of the Eiffel Tower in the background, as has been the standard means of denoting Paris onscreen since time immemorial.