Box Office: Labor Day Weekend goes to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!

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As expected, the biggest movie of the summer – and as of yesterday, the biggest movie of the year – had no trouble holding on to first place this Labor Day weekend. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY took in an estimated $16.3 million through Sunday, which gave the blockbuster it’s third box office victory. Although its wins were not consecutive, the Disney/Marvel pic is the only film to spend three weeks in first place this summer and just the fourth title to three-peat in 2014.

Here are the numbers from Collider:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy $16.31M
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $11.75M
3. If I Stay $9.26M
4. As Above/So Below $8.34M
5. Let’s Be Cops $8.2M
6. The November Man $7.66M
7. When the Game Stands Tall $5.65M
8. The Giver $5.25M
9. The Hundred-Foot Journey $4.6M
10. The Expendables 3 $3.5M

Box Office: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is #1 film of 2014, will take Labor Day Weekend!

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Labor Day weekend is here, which means that this summer’s box office will soon be put out of its misery. But before we close the book on a season of disappointment, we should take the time to praise the one unalloyed bright spot of the summer box office: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Last weekend, the Marvel title passed TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION to become the highest grossing release of the season; and today GOTG emerged as the biggest film of the entire year. GUARDIANS earned an estimated $3.8 million on Friday, bringing its domestic total up to $262.1. That beats the $259.7 million final gross of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, the April release that has made a mockery of the term “summer blockbuster” for the last four months.

Following its return to the top spot last weekend, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will remain in first place over the long Labor Day frame with a projected $20 million through Monday. That means that the Marvel hit both opened and closed August on top of the box office – with the two-week reign of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES in the middle.

In terms of Labor Day’s new releases, don’t expect any late-summer surprises. Relativity’s THE NOVEMBER MAN got a jump on the holiday frame by opening on Wednesday. The R-rated action pic took in $1.69 million in its first two days in 2,776 locations and an estimated $2.2 million on Friday. That is a lower first Friday than last weekend’s SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR – a fairly disastrous comparison. THE NOVEMBER MAN is also running behind April’s BRICK MANSIONS, Relativity’s last action release. For the four-day weekend, the film will be lucky to break $10 million.

The only new release that was legitimately ‘new’ on Friday was Universal’s AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. The R-rated horror pic looks like 2014’s latest victim of “found footage” fatigue. Back in January, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES set a new low for the crazy-profitable franchise with a domestic total of just $32.4 million – down almost 70% from the first PA in 2009. From 3,000 locations, AS ABOVE, SO BELOW earned an estimated $3.2 million on Friday, which is not bad for a film with a reported budget of just $5 million. But considering it’s the only new title of the weekend (and the first new horror movie since July) – it’s not especially inspiring either.

Clearly, holdovers will rule the last frame of summer. Along with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES continues to hold well, and is expected to bring in another $15 million by the end of the Labor Day holiday. Last weekend’s highest new release, If I Stay, was down 62% on Friday, bringing its ten-day domestic total to $23.2 million. WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL had a better hold, down 52% from a week ago, while Frank Miller’s SIN CITY sequel surprised no one by slipping out of the top ten altogether.

A DAME TO KILL FOR is still playing in almost 3,000 venues, but its Friday estimate was surprisingly close to a movie playing in just a fraction of those theatres. The 30th Anniversary re-release of GHOSTBUSTERS earned an estimated $490,000 from 784 locations yesterday. The estimate for SIN CITY 2? $610,000. Here’s how Friday’s top five played out:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy $3.84M
2. As Above/So Below $3.2M
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $2.66M
4. If I Stay $2.6M
5. The November Man $2.2M

DOCTOR STRANGE: Joaquin Phoenix in final talks for lead!

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Given the cloud of secrecy that surrounds each and every Marvel Studios property while in development, there are bound to be unconfirmed rumors about almost every major aspect of their upcoming films—particularly in the casting department. The studio is currently filling out its Phase Three slate, and while ANT-MAN is the first film out of the gate in July 2015 followed by CAPTAIN AMERICA 3 in May 2016, we then have the DOCTOR STRANGE movie on July 8, 2016. Marvel recently signed Scott Derrickson to direct the mystical comics adaptation, and in keeping with the rumor tradition, speculation has run rampant as to who will fill the title role.

After rounds of shortlists and cryptic comments with regards to who will inhabit the character, the trades reported in mid-July that Joaquin Phoenix was finally in negotiations to star in the film. It’s been over a month since that time and there still hasn’t been confirmation from Marvel’s end, so the speculation machine kicked up again recently with word going around that Jack Huston is now “under consideration” for the part. However, we’re hearing there’s absolutely no truth to that rumor, as Phoenix’s deal is currently being finalized.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Collider hears that Phoenix is absolutely still in line to play DOCTOR STRANGE in the Marvel adaptation, with our source telling us that his contract is essentially at the 1 yard line, about to pass into the endzone. Though some believed the length of time it’s taken for Phoenix to finalized his deal was a sign that things might have gone south, it makes sense that an actor of Phoenix’s caliber and temperament would want to ensure that his Marvel contract doesn’t restrict his creative freedom to take on other projects outside the MCU.

While Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel in the days of the first IRON MAN, subsequent actor contracts have varied in length; Chris Evans, for instance, only signed for six films. It’s unclear what amount of options Phoenix’s contract will entail, but he’s someone who is unpredictable in his career choices so he no doubt wants to make sure he’ll still be able to take significant chunks of time out of his schedule to work with filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson and Spike Jonze in addition to his Marvel duties.

But make no mistake: this is a huge get for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phoenix is a phenomenal actor with three Oscar nominations under his belt, so he brings a serious degree of clout to the MCU. Though some thought him a strange fit for a comic book adaptation, the actor previously mulled over the possibility of joining the burgeoning DC Universe as Lex Luthor in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE fresh off his tremendous performance in HER. However, Phoenix will be making his superhero debut with Marvel instead in their DOCTOR STRANGE movie. Expect official confirmation from Marvel’s end soon.

New trailer for SEVENTH SON, might it actually be released?

Universal and Legendary Pictures have released a new SEVENTH SON trailer and poster along with some new images. The plot follows mystical knight Father Gregory (Jeff Bridges) and his apprentice Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) and their fight to defeat the evil witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) and her followers. If you feel like you’ve been vaguely hearing about this movie off and on the past several years, it’s because you have. SEVENTH SON was originally scheduled to open on February 15th…2013. After being pushed back three times, the movie is now (probably) going to finally come out. That’s a big build up for a movie where the Dude and Prince Caspian fight monsters, but we’ll see if it was worth the wait. The film also stars Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, and Djimon Hounsou.

SEVENTH SON opens February 6, 2015.

Rumor: MS. MARVEL to not be introduced in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON?

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Many have been vocal about the need for more female superheroes, perhaps more so than ever, and Kevin Feige has admitted that the team at Marvel is paying attention. There’s been talk about Ms. Marvel making a big screen appearance for quite some time now. Remember that rumor from two years ago claiming that Emily Blunt and Ruth Wilson were top choices for the character?

In the comics, the members of the Avengers are always changing, so it’ll always be tough to pinpoint who’s in, who’s out, who will join an ensemble film and who will get their own, however, there have been reports floating around claiming that Ms. Marvel could make her way into a close-approaching Marvel film and pave the way to Phase Three in the process. But now Marvel’s plans for introducing Ms. Marvel into the MCU may be changing.

According to Badass Digest, this is what’s planned for the end of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON:
“Cap will assemble a team that is a mix of familiar and new faces, leading forward into Phase Three.”
There’s no word on who will be part of that team and the outlet even points out that nothing is set in stone until the scene is shot. They suspect that hasn’t happened yet (the film has already wrapped principal photography) and might not until they schedule Age of Ultron reshoots or decide to tack it on to the Captain America 3 shooting schedule. But either way, Badass claims to know the heroes who will be involved in this new Avengers team, however they’re only willing to reveal one – Captain Marvel.

As someone who isn’t really in-the-know when it comes to the comics, Evan’s piece on female superheroes from last year is a great source for the basics and explains that Captain Marvel is Colonel Carol Danvers. She can fly, she’s got super strength, super speed, she’s invulnerable and, on top of that, she can shoot energy blasts from her hands.
Should Joss Whedon stick to the information Badass Digest was given, Captain Marvel, who’s dubbed Ms. Marvel in the script, would be incorporated into the film by way of an end-of-movie cameo that introduces the new Avengers. This scene doesn’t involve an action sequence, so it can be shot at any time leading up to the film’s release without needing significant lead time to finish effects.

Essentially, this scene would serve as a transition of sorts into Phase Three by teasing the important characters, and if that’s the case, it would make it more likely that Ms. Marvel would wind up with her own movie eventually. In fact, Badass reiterates that point.

Trouble is, then the article goes on to say that Marvel is getting cold feet about the whole thing.
“Not because they’re against the character – my sources assure me she is coming and it’s very plausible she could be on the team in AVENGERS 3 – but because they’re not certain they want to introduce her in this way. They basically aren’t certain they want to just drop her into the MCU fully formed in a team movie.”
Apparently Marvel isn’t into the idea of doing origin stories like IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER anymore and would rather veer towards films like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and THOR, where the characters already have their powers. However, that doesn’t mean they want a situation where everyone in the world already knows who the heroes are.

“This is part of the reason why you won’t see Black Panther in the movie, despite the film visiting Wakanda so Ultron can get vibranium. There’s enough time passed between the end of the action in Age of Ultron and that final scene for Carol Danvers to get powers, a costume and have a career as a hero, but the powers-that-be aren’t sure how this will play on film. Will dropping her in just be baffling to audiences? I think it’ll be an exciting hint in the way that many of the credit tags are exciting hints.”

And I’m inclined to agree. Again, I don’t know much about the source material for these movies, but time and time again, I’ve caught those super brief end credit sequences and even though I don’t necessarily know the details of what they’re teasing, getting hints at what’s to come still has an inherent thrill. By the end of AGE OF ULTRON, I may not know who Ms. Marvel is, but if they do throw her in, I’d like to bet I’ll walk out interested in knowing more.

Unfortunately, if Badass’ report is accurate, I may have to wait longer to find out. If Marvel does pull Ms. Marvel out of AGE OF ULTRON, hopefully it’s in lieu of a better and more significant introduction to the MCU. We’ll see one way or another when AGE OF ULTROM opens in theaters on May 1, 2015.

Meet the Rebels in the new THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 posters!

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For some reason I keep forgetting that there’s a new HUNGER GAMES movie coming this year. CATCHING FIRE impressed the heck out of me and was my favorite studio tentpole of last year, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Francis Lawrence tackles the final book in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy (well the first half of the final book, technically). A peek into what’s in store has surfaced today by way of a new collection of THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 posters that introduce the leaders of the rebellion. There’s Liam Hemsworth’s Gale, of course, but I’m really excited to see “Game of Thrones” actress Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of Cressida; Dormer’s look for the character is positively fantastic.The posters also feature Mahershala Ali as Boggs.

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The film also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, and Donald Sutherland. THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 opens in theaters on November 21st.

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Charlie Hunnam is KING ARTHUR, Elizabeth Olsen set as female lead!

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We’ve known for a while that Guy Ritchie has been trying to get his version of KING ARTHUR going (though perhaps not as the six feature films originally intended). Things got a bit more real last month when Idris Elba was cast as a “Merlin-esque figure who trains and mentors Arthur.” Now it appears as though they may have cast Arthur himself in the form of Charlie Hunnam (PACIFIC RIM, “Sons of Anarchy”). In addition, Elizabeth Olsen (GODZILLA) is said to be the frontrunner for the female lead.

Per Deadline, Hunnam is in “final negotiations” for the role. Ritchie seems high on him and this could be a good fit, considering that Hunnam has more charisma than most of Hollywood’s new crop of leading men. Variety is also reporting that Elizabeth Olsen is the “frontrunner for the female lead.” We’ll see how that shakes out. I like Olsen and think she’s a better actress than most of the material she’s been in recently, so if this is a good script I’m all for her lunging at it. Ritchie previously developed a version of a KING ARTHUR film with producer Lionel Wigram back in 2010, but the project (written by John Hodge) died when David Dobkin’s (now dead) competing film gained more traction.

KING ARTHUR opens on July 22, 2016.