Records that The Force Awakens has set

Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a pretty big opening weekend. It broke the records for domestic opening weekend ($247.9M, over Jurassic World’s 208.8M) and worldwide ($529M, also breaking Jurassic World’s 524.9M). But that’s not all.

  • Largest Thursday "preview" day
  • Largest Friday, largest opening day, largest single day
  • (Not the largest Saturday, it was 3rd, behind the first Avengers movie and Jurassic World
  • Largest Sunday
  • Largest Monday (in this case breaking Spiderman 2's 11-year-old record)
  • Highest per-theater average (this record is probably the craziest -- it broke Jurassic World's previous record by 22%)
  • Fastest movie to $100M (in fact, the very first movie to break 100M in one day, so this record will never be broken, only tied) and the fastest to $250M
  • Largest domestic and global IMAX weekends
  • Biggest December opening weekend (by a factor of 3! $248M, compared to the previous record was the first Hobbit at 85M)

There are more, too, but they’re all implied by the above ones (largest PG-13 opening weekend! Largest holiday weekend!).

And for the record, my review:

2010 Oscars scoresheet

It’s Academy Award nomination season again – the time of year I reveal how few new movies I watch. Let’s just hope I have improved on last year’s dismal record.

Category # seen
Best Picture 1
Best Actor 0
Best Actress 0
Best Director 0
Best Screenplay 1
Best Adapted Screenplay 0

Thank goodness for Inception. If it weren’t for that, I’d have been shutout two years in a row. I want to see Toy Story 3, Black Swan, 127 Hours, The Fighter, and True Grit, which would bring my grand total up to a monstrous (for me) 17. But only the first of those is out on DVD (it’s at the top of my queue). Maybe it’s time to go to the theater. Or search for leaked screeners.

2009 Oscars Scoresheet

The Academy doubled the number of slots for Best Picture nominees (to ten!) but it hasn’t really helped my Oscar scoresheet. Just like past years, I’ll go over the nominees and admit exactly how many movies I haven’t seen this year.

Category # seen
Best Picture 0
Best Actor 0
Best Actress 0
Best Director 0
Best Screenplay 0
Best Adapted Screenplay 0

Goose eggs, across the board. In fact, the only nominated movies I saw this year were Coraline (Best Animated Feature Film), Sherlock Holmes (Art Direction and Score), and Star Trek (four nominations, all FX-related). But like usual, there are a whole bunch of movies that are high on my list: Up, Inglorious Basterds, District 9, and The Blind Side (Best Picture? Wow. I loved the book, so I need to see it.)

If I see all of those before March 7, I’ll finish with 8 points, which would tie with my final score last year.

Update: I did manage to see all of the above-listed movies. Expanding Best Picture from 5 to 10 let some great-but-not-fantastic movies in. District 9? Blind Side? Who really thinks those might deserve Best Picture?

Guy movie month

My wife is going to be halfway across the world for essentially all of the month of October. I have a couple of projects that are going to occupy much of my time, but I’m also planning on catching up on a backlog of action movies. I’m looking for suggestions of good action or Sci-Fi movies from the past five years or so. Here’s a list of the ones I came up with off the top of my head that meet the criteria of “oh yeah, she doesn’t want to see that”.

  • Knowing
  • The Simpsons Movie
  • Traitor
  • The Italian Job
  • Shooter
  • The Transporter
  • Crank
  • Solaris
  • Nerdcore Rising
  • The Prestige
  • Clerks 2
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Terminator Salvation

This isn’t a great list. I’m sure some of them aren’t worth seeing, and there are probably 50 that should be added. Give me some suggestions.

Transformers 2 reviews

I never saw the first Transformers movie, and I never had any plans to see the second one, but I’ve come across three separate reviews for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that have left me somewhat breathless. I can’t think of another movie that was so thoroughly reviled as completely worthless:

  1. Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie: "...the movie's id overload reaches such crazy levels that the fabric of reality itself starts to break down. ... After a few hours of this assault, you feel the chair melt and the floor of the movie theater becomes an angry mirror into your soul. Nothing is solid, nothing is real, everything Transforms."
  2. Roger Ebert's review: "The plot is incomprehensible. The dialog of the Autobots®, Decepticons® and Otherbots® is meaningless word flap. Their accents are Brooklyese, British and hip-hop, as befits a race from the distant stars. Their appearance looks like junkyard throw-up. They are dumb as a rock. They share the film with human characters who are much more interesting, and that is very faint praise indeed."
  3. Trans-Coon-ers: "Skids and Mudflap seem to be everywhere, bantering, fighting each other... sheesh. The only thing they don’t do is shoot craps and eat chicken with watermelon. At one moment, even, LaBeouf’s character asks the two if they can read a robotic script that will reveal crucial information. 'Uh, we don’t do too much readin,' one drawls."

Now the only question is: Does this clinch my plans to never see this movie? Or do I need to rent something this hideous, just to be able to say I looked at the face of cinematic death and didn’t blink?

An anecdote from my childhood

My parents made a censored version of Raiders of the Lost Ark for me when I was young. Indiana Jones escapes from the tomb, blows up the plane, steals the ark back from the Nazis in the desert, gets on the ship with Marion, THE END. I was probably in my teens before I saw the whole version on television. I had never even questioned it.

Someone’s going to bring it up, so here’s another anecdote: When I was very young, my parents called the ice cream truck the “music truck” to keep me from screaming every time I heard it. I don’t know how long that one lasted, because I have no memory of it.

2008 Oscars Scoresheet

It’s that time of year again: Oscar nominations! The 81st Academy Awards nominees were announced today, and here’s my scoresheet:

Category # seen
Best Picture 1 2
Best Actor 0 1
Best Actress 0
Best Director 1 2
Best Screenplay 1
Best Adapted Screenplay 1 2

Another banner year here at for seeing movies in the theaters. I’ve seen the entertaining but overrated Slumdog Millionaire and the fantastic and completely deserving WALL-E. If (as I hope) I see The Wrestler and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the next month, that’ll give me 5 more points.

How’d you do?

Update Jan 26: I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button this weekend. I have to say, neither of the Best Picture nominees I’ve seen have really blown me away. Both this and Slumdog Millionaire were good movies, but I don’t think they’d have made the cut if they were made last year.

Lessons learned from Film Addict

It’s been a week since I posted Film Addict. It got posted to, Slashfilm,, and became a Twitter and Facebook meme on some level. At this point, it has received 100,000 pageviews, and it was filled out 37,000 times (peaking at a rate of over 1000 per hour, but at this point still about once a minute).

Lessons learned:

  • If I use strict and warnings, I should keep an eye on the Apache error log. I generated 10GB of errors in the first 24 hours, filling up /var on my webhost, which resulted in 8 hours of downtime during the Slashfilm surge.
  • Google Adsense now allows "personal" domains. I tried to sign up in 2004, when Weboggle was all the rage, and I was turned down because it lived under I'm not sure when the policy changed, but I applied this week and was approved on Thursday.
  • Google ads don't really make you much money. At this point, the ads on the Film Addict page have made me $2.90, but even if I had had them from day one, I'd only have made about $15.
  • I sleep fine at night, even after creating something clearly intended to be meme-fodder.
  • With enough data, you can get awesome bell curves. Histogram of number of movies seen:

It didn’t end up going much of anywhere on Digg or Reddit or Delicious. I’m not sure why, but I think part of it might have been the individual nature of the form. You could compare your list against your friends', but there was no community interest. Another factor (especially on Delicious) was the unique id in every posted URL; there could never be enough posts of a single URL to get any momentum.

Film Addict

A couple friends of mine posted one of those lame Facebook chain note things today. It was a list of a couple hundred movies, mostly 18-25-year-old targeted franchises from the past decade or so (think Scream, Saw, American Pie, etc) with some others (mostly very popular) thrown in. “Copy this list to your profile and check off the ones you’ve seen”. The list’s arbitrary inclusion criteria angered me, so I decided to make my own, with a better inteface than “copy and paste it yourself”. The list is IMDB’s top 250.

I posted it to MetaFilter Projects. Pretty much immediately, Mathowie Twittered it. At this point, more than 200 people have taken it already. Give it a try, compare your list to mine.

A Decade of Comic Book Movies

There have been 34 movies based on DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse comic books released in the past decade (9 by DC, 17 by Marvel, 8 by Dark Horse). If you put any stock in Rotten Tomatoes’s raw percentage, the worst of them was Son of the Mask (5%), and the best is Iron Man (94% and currently in theaters). 2007 was an especially unremarkable year for comic book movies: only Spider-Man 3 and 300 scored at least a 60%, and both just barely. There are at least four more such films slated for release before the end of 2008, and based on my totally unbiased guesses, The Dark Knight will be highly rated, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II will be mediocre, and the sequel to The Punisher will be junk.

My brief unscientific survey showed that most people believe that Marvel would have the highest average rating. The Daredevils and Elektras would be more than balanced out by the consistent high-quality of the X-Men and Spiderman series. In truth, DC edges out Marvel by a pedestrian 58 to 54%. Dark Horse does worse, with a dismal 37%.

I’d really like to revisit these numbers in another ten years. Iron Man will certainly have sequels, as will Superman Returns and the burgeoning Batman franchise.

Blade (1998)
Virus (1998)
Mystery Men (1999)
X-Men (2000)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Blade II (2002)
Spider-Man (2002)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Daredevil (2003)
X2 (2003)
Hulk (2003)
Catwoman (2004)
The Punisher (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Blade: Trinity (2004)
Hellboy (2004)
Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Constantine (2005)
Batman Begins (2005)
A History of Violence (2005)
Elektra (2005)
Fantastic Four (2005)
Son of the Mask (2005)
V for Vendetta (2006)
The Fountain (2006)
Superman Returns (2006)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Splinter (2006)
Ghost Rider (2007)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
30 Days of Night (2007)
300 (2007)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
Iron Man (2008)

2007 Oscars Scoresheet

It’s one my few yearly traditions to check the list of movies nominated for Oscars and see how many of them I’ve seen through the year. I never do very well, not because I usually see crappy movies, but more because I usually don’t see very many movies. The 80th Annual Academy Awards nominees were announced today, and here’s how I did.

Category # seen
Best Picture 1
Best Actor 0
Best Actress 1
Best Director 1
Best Screenplay 2
Best Adapted Screenplay 0

If these had been announced 2 weeks ago (before I saw Juno), the only point I’d have got would have been the Best Screenplay nomination for Ratatouille. There are at least 9 more points listed on my Netflix queue (No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and The Butterfly And The Diving Bell), but I doubt any of those DVDs will come out before the awards ceremony press release.

Academy Award Nominations

In 2006, I hardly did any better than the year before. I’ve hardly seen any of the Oscar-nominated movies.

Category # seen
Best Picture 1
Best Actor 0
Best Actress 0
Best Director 0
Best Screenplay 1
Best Adapted Screenplay 0

The Departed, The Queen, and Children of Men are all still very high on my “to-see” list. Those three alone would push my combined total up to 9. The AP contrasts this year’s Best Picture nominee field with last years – they claim that there’s no immediate widely-accepted favorite. (Of course, last year’s favorite didn’t win..)

Update 26 Feb: For the first time since 2003, I saw the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture (The Departed) in a first-run theater before the night of the awards. That was the only additional top-award nominee I saw, but it brought my total up to six. The only other award winner I've seen is An Inconvenient Truth, which I coincidentally saw just this weekend.

Academy Awards 2005

I apparently haven’t seen enough movies this year. Of the top categories of 2006 Academy Awards nominees, I’ve seen:

Category# seen
Best Picture0
Best Actor0
Best Actress0
Best Director0
Best Screenplay0
Best Adapted Screenplay1

I’ve got five weeks. I wonder how much I can improve those numbers.

Update, 6 Mar - I saw only a single additional top-Oscar-nominated movie in the five weeks since this post was made: Match Point, nominated for Best Screenplay. Out of the Oscar winners for all of the categories, I saw only two: The Constant Gardener (Rachel Weisz won Best Supporting Actress) and Wallace and Gromit (Best Animated Film)

More precritic update

Precritic update: Batman Begins has 83% on the Tomatometer. If we had used my fancy scoring for our guesses, Nomad would get 2 points, and Manish would get 1. Chris and I were way too pessimistic.

Time to play again! Fantastic 4: the Tomatometer is here, for reference. The movie comes out Friday 8 July, and scoring will be done about 2 weeks later.

Precritic: Batman Begins

Time to play precritic on Batman Begins. What will the tomatometer score for the movie be two weeks after release date? Release date is this Friday, June 17 Wednesday, June 15. As of this writing, the tomatometer is at 83% (with only 30 reviews).

Hitchhiker's Guide

I saw Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy last night. It’s the first movie since Lord of the Rings I cared enough about to see on opening night. Here’s my very short spoiler-free review: Despite a poor review from Douglas Adams' biographer, and mixed reviews overall, it was much farther from terrible than it was from fantastic. It was more silly than wry, but it was surprisingly faithful to the book. And despite a number of departures from the canon storyline, all of the changes still felt Adamsesque. I was definitely happy with the movie.

I, Robot

Half of me is offended by what the movie I, Robot does to Isaac Asimov's universe. The heart is in the right place -- to a certain extent -- but it messes up some characters and it throws a huge monkey wrench into the pre-Empire timeline. But, I did get a kick out of the references to his stories. I can think of three off the top of my head. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

  1. Near the beginning of the movie, Dr. Calvin and Detective Spooner are trying to find the "malfunctioning NS-5" in a warehouse of 1000 other non-malfunctioning but otherwise identical NS-5's. In the Little Lost Robot, Calvin is trying to sort a robot with a modified First Law from a group of otherwise identical robots. Her proposal in the movie - interviewing each robot and correlating their responses - is what she first tries in the story. Even more amazing, the model number for the robots in the short story is NS-2.
  2. Sonny's dreaming, and the dream itself, are taken almost verbatim from the story Robot Dreams.
  3. Viki's interpretation of the three Laws (and thus the very climax of the movie) is very similar to R. Daneel Olivaw's development of a Zeroth Law in the Empire series.

Add to that the very prominent position of Dr. Susan Calvin, Alfred Lanning, and Lawrence Robertson in the movie (not to mention the Three Laws and the title itself), and you have a movie that borrowed pretty heavily from Asimov's work.

Update: Damnit, IMDB's trivia page for I, Robot listed all three of my references.

Why self-destruct DVD's won't take off

I talked about self-destructible DVDs before, but I could never analyze its big downfall as well as this MeFi comment.

War of the Worlds

Stephen Spielberg will be filming a part of the War of the Worlds remake in my home town of Naugatuck sometime before Christmas. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for calls for extras. Nevermind, this article says “extras will not be needed for the scene shot in Naugatuck”. Oh well.

Self-destructing DVDs

For the time being, let’s ignore the environmental implications of mass-marketed self-destructing DVDs. Let’s also ignore the fact that this is starting with some low-budget indie movies. Those things ignored, I think the business plan is a remarkably good idea.

Tell me, if you could get a 48-hour DVD of something like The Incredibles the day it comes out and watch it at home, would you do that instead of going to the movie theater? Call it hyperbole if you must, but I think this could revolutionize movie marketing.

On the other hand, piracy? Selling one DVD at $5 (or even at $10 or 20) instead of several nine-dollar tickets? The loss of snack bar profits for the theaters? If this ever happens on a wide scale, it won’t be for a long while.

RotK EE Pre-order on Amazon

I know I signed up twice to be emailed when it was available for pre-order, so why didn’t Amazon tell me that you can get The Return of the King (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition) now? How many times do I have to sign up to get the email?


THX-1138 references in pop culture:

  1. American Graffiti - A car has the license plate "THX-138"
  2. Maniac Mansion (NES video game) - Weird Edsel's license plate is "THX 1138"
  3. Ocean's Eleven - The keycode Matt Damon uses to get into the elevator to go down to the vault is "1138".
  4. Sneakers - The code used in the opening vignette is "1138".
  5. Star Wars - Han and Luke pretend to transfer Chewie from cellblock 1138. In the novelization, the stormtrooper TK-421 -- who has been knocked unconscious by Han and Luke -- has the identifier THX-1138.
  6. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - One of the droids that Jar-Jar kills near the end of the battle has the number "1138" on its back.
  7. Swingers - A license plate is "THX1138".
  8. "We Are 138" by The Misfits was inspired by the movie.

Star Wars DVD deal

I meant to post this earlier, but I kept forgetting. If you buy the new Star Wars DVDs at either Saturday Matinee or FYE, it only costs $50. And if you get it by today, it comes with a $15 rebate. I wasn’t planning on buying it myself, but for only thirty-five dollars, it’s definitely worth it.

The Incredibles trailer

The Incredibles, trailer 2. Hell, yeah. Take that, dilettante Dreamworks dickheads.

RotK EE Release

Return of the King Extended Edition info:

Release date: December 14
Pre-ordering starts: October 1 (This Friday)
Movie length: 4 hours, 10 minutes
More information here

Update 09-28: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition is 208 minutes. The Two Towers Extended Edition is 208 231 minutes. The Return of the King Extended Edition is 250 minutes. 208 + 208 + 250 = 666 minutes. Update update: IMDB and Amazon disagree about Two Towers' runtime. I'd be likely to agree with IMDB, though, so that means the symbolism is broken. Oh well!