[This is part one of a four-part series. You can also read part two, part three, and part four.]
While discussing which movie to review for next week’s /Filmcast, my co-hosts instantly gravitated towards David Yates’ newest take on the Harry Potter universe, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Having seen the wonderful and thrilling trailer for this film (in IMAX no less), I wasn’t opposed to this, but I was forced to make an uncomfortable confession: I had never watched a Harry Potter film or read a Harry Potter book in my life. The reasons for such a travesty are numerous and varied, but as Sam Seaborn once said, let’s not focus on the fact that I’m late to the party; let’s just be glad I arrived at all.
I contemplated watching the film without watching any of the previous films but was told by many, many, many people that this would be a terrible idea. Not only would the new film not make any sense, but I would be robbing myself of experiencing the entire Harry Potter storyline. So, I decided to undertake the task of watching all five films and writing some brief reflections about each one, culminating in a viewing and a review of the sixth film later this week. My hope is that this will spark some conversation about the previous films, and help us appreciate the benefits and shortcomings of each one’s contributions to this epic series.
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Remember when Chris Columbus made good family films? We’re talking about the writer of Gremlins and The Goonies, the director of Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire and the first two Harry Potter films. But over the last few years he’s been part of a lot of klunkers, including Christmas with The Kranks, and Rent. Lets not forget that he produced Jingle All the Way and the Fantastic Four films.
Columbus’ next film is a return to the teen film genre with an adaptation of Larry Doyle’s novel I Love You, Beth Cooper starring Hayden Panettiere. The movie tells the story of a nerdy valedictorian who proclaims his love for the hottest and most popular girl in school – Beth Cooper – during his graduation speech. Much to his surprise, Beth shows up at his door that very night and decides to show him the best night of his life. Fox released the film’s trailer over the weekend to coincide with some viral Valentine’s day release. You can watch it embedded after the jump.
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Paramount is in talks with Chris Columbus (The Goonies, Home Alone) to direct the Jim Carrey comedy Ripley’s Believe it or Not. The project has been plagued since the beginning, with cast changes and shooting schedule delays, and budgetary concerns. The studio ordered the the script be reworked after original director Tim Burton and Carrey’s endless brainstorming resulted in the FX budget skyrocketing to gigantic proportions. Last we heard they hoped to wrangle the budget to the $150 million range. The project has been in development heck since 2007.
Believe It or Not is said to pick up with Ripley at the time when he gained celebrity status through a “Believe it or Not” column that chronicled his search for the greatest oddities in the world. Along the way, he starts to respect his unusual human discoveries as more than mere conquests to be documented. According to Variety, the story will be completely overhauled, and the entire China-based storyline is being completely scrapped. Columbus will hire a writer if and when he officially signs on. Paramount hopes to get the film on track for a 2011 release.
Who is the most profitable movie director of all time? Steven Spielberg of course… But who is the second biggest money maker in Hollywood? That question isn’t as easy to answer, is it? I decided to put together a listing of the Top 10 Most Profitable Movie Directors of All Time:
Filmography: Munich, War of the Worlds, The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, A.I., Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Hook, Always, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun, The Color Purple, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws
Total Domestic Box Office: $3.445 Billion
Per Film Average: $164.1 Million
Filmography: Beowulf, The Polar Express, Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Contact, Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her, Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Romancing the Stone, Used Cars
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.799 Billion
Per Film Average: $150 Million
Filmography: American Graffiti, Star Wars, Star Wars Episode I, Star Wars Episode II, Star Wars Episode III
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.698 Billion
Per Film Average: $340 Million
Filmography: The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man, The Missing, A Beautiful Mind, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, EDtv, Ransom, Apollo 13, The Paper, Far and Away, Backdraft, Parenthood, Willow, Gung Ho, Cocoon, Splash, Night Shift
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.606 Billion
Per Film Average: $100.3 Million
Filmography: Rent, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Bicentennial Man, Stepmom, Nine Months, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Only The Lonely, Heartbreak Hotel, Adventures in Babysitting
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.567 Billion
Per Film Average: $130.6 Million
Filmography: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Weather Man, The Ring, The Mexican, Mouse Hunt
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.308 Billion
Per Film Average: $187 Million
Filmography: King Kong, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Frighteners
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.268 Billion
Per Film Average: $253.6 Million
Filmography: Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks!, Ed Wood, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Beetlejuice, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.267 Billion
Per Film Average: $97.4 Million
Filmography: Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Gift, For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan, The Quick and the Dead, Army of Darkness, Darkman
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.247 Billion
Per Film Average: $138.5 Million
Filmography: Titanic, True Lies, Terminator 2, The Abyss, Aliens, Terminator
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.147 Billion
Per Film Average: $163.8 Million
Please Note: To simplify things, I only counted/mentioned films that played on over 500 screens.
So what do you notice while looking at this list? What do all these directors have in common?
Six out of the ten directors have helmed a trilogy (Spielberg – Indiana Jones, Zemeckis – Back tot he Future, Lucas – Star Wars, Verbincki – Pirates, Jackson – Lord of the Rings) Sam Raimi actually directed two trilogies (Spider-Man and Evil Dead).
And while Tim Burton and James Cameron have yet to direct a full-on trilogy, both filmmakers directed Part 1 and 2 of a big franchise (Batman/Terminator respectfully). Christopher Columbus has been part of the start of two franchises, Harry Potter and Home Alone. And Spielberg even directed the first two Jurassic Park films, and who knows, he might eventually helm a third film in the series.
Ron Howard is the odd man out. The only one in the bunch yet to direct a sequel (although Angels & Demons is approaching on the horizon).