In news that should surprise approximately no one, a new study from the University of Texas at Austin has discovered that “binge-watching” has been linked to depression, loneliness, and the inability to make wise decisions, like getting off the couch and doing anything else. Researchers Wei-Na Lee, Yoon Hi Sung and Eun Yeon Kang surveyed 316 people between the ages of 18 and 29, asking them about their mental and emotional states while they marathoned TV shows on Netflix (the study defined binge-watching as at least three episodes in a row).
‘Breaking Bad’ may be completely, definitively over, but that doesn’t mean Walter White is ready to leave popular culture alone. Oh, no. As long as Bryan Cranston is alive and as lone as insurance companies are prepared to back dump trucks full of cash up this house, we’ll get to see America’s favorite meth dealer pop up every so often. So while it’s weird to se Cranston play Heisenberg one more time in an Esurance commercial, it’s not that surprising.
In most years, January tends to be the most boring month of the year for the box office. This is where Hollywood typically sends the movies in which it has the least faith. This is the dumping ground, the place where movies go to die so the studios can concentrate on their Oscar campaigns. However, thanks to ‘American Sniper,’ this January has bucked every trend. It may technically be a 2014 release, but Clint Eastwood’s war film has made the first chunk of 2015 interesting, shattering expectations and threatening to become the highest grossing film of last year in only a few weeks.
Super Bowl commercials are still a big, huge, massive, crazy deal, with major corporations shelling out absurd amounts of money on ads designed to win over the most reliably large and receptive audience in all of televised sports. So of course ‘SNL’ was going to contribute its own commercial parody to the mix...but man, no one was expecting something this mean, scathing or on-point.
Okay, let’s ask the big question: what the hell is ‘Chappie’? The first trailer made the film look like a slightly goofy and overly sentimental ‘Short Circuit’ riff, with the title robot learning about the world ... while teaching us (blech). The new trailer feels more like director Neill Blomkamp’s previous work, showcasing wacky science fiction ideas and explosive action. In any case, we’re definitely not sold on the film yet based on either trailer.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
The odd couple is one of the basic principles of comedy. You take two very different people, fling them into an absurd situation and (hopefully) rack up some good laughs. The ‘Get Hard’ trailer shows off one of the more inspired comedic pairings in recent memory, with the tall whiter-than-white Will Ferrell teaming up with the short black Kevin Hart. If the differences between two lead actors generated laughs on their own, then this is already the funniest movie of 2015.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
Although 'Nightcrawler,' the only new wide release of the week, did end up taking the top spot at the box office this weekend, it did so in one of the tightest races we've ever seen. The top six films all came within $3 million of each other and the order could have radically changed by a stiff breeze for all we know. Heck, some titles may get swapped around by tomorrow when the studios release some more official numbers.
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