It’s a cruel summer at the box office this year. Avengers: Endgame may have started off the blockbuster season with loads of cash and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum may be surpassing its predecessors on the charts with great success, but most of the other sequels are crashing and burning spectacularly. And despite topping the box office this past weekend, Men in Black International is another one of those disappointments.
The Men in Black International box office debuted with only $28.5 million from a whopping 4,224 screens. That’s massively disappointing, especially since it’s a record-low opening for the Men in Black franchise. It’s even below what analysts expected for the movie, showing that audiences aren’t attracted to summer movies simply because they have previously established intellectual property involved. Read More »
Rocketman, the Elton John musical starring Taron Egerton, nearly established a connected cinematic universe with last year’s Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Rami Malek, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, almost reprised that role for a small cameo in Rocketman, a connection the film’s director said “would have been amazing.” And speaking of Bohemian Rhapsody, after that film became one of 2018’s biggest surprise hits, Paramount considered turning Rocketman into a PG-13 movie to try to copy the earlier movie’s success. They ultimately decided to stick with an R rating, but it wasn’t just the studio that was considering the change – apparently the filmmakers and producers thought about it, too.
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In a perverse way, it makes sense that there are two films fighting for dominance in the middle of the musical biopic Rocketman. This story of the life and times of Elton John, sanctioned by the man himself, is unable to figure out whether it’s either a straightforward biopic in the vein of films like Walk the Line and Ray, or if it’s going to be a fantastical take on the English rocker’s songs, the same way that Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe re-contextualized the music of The Beatles. When Rocketman works — and it does work well enough that it deserves a mild recommendation — it’s because it leans far away from standard-issue storytelling. Like the performer, Rocketman is best when it lets its freak flag fly.
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Godzilla: King of the Monsters proved to be the reigning champ of the weekend box office as well. On its opening weekend, the Michael Dougherty-directed monster movie raked in $49 million domestically, beating out Aladdin and fellow new entries Rocketman and Ma. But despite its evisceration of the competition, the Godzilla King of the Monsters box office still disappoints in relation to its projected earnings and the rest of the Legendary MonsterVerse franchise.
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Who wants the job of altering some of the greatest and most beautiful rock songs probably ever produced? It’s a job that’d probably scare off some musicians, but of course, not record producer and musical virtuoso Giles Martin. Martin, who’s previously remastered The Beatles’ White Album and Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band, does a wonderful job of keeping the beauty of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s music alive and vibrant in his altered versions.
Working on Rocketman wasn’t Martin’s first encounter with John, who recorded with his father, George Martin (often known as “the fifth Beatle”). Now that Giles Martin has worked more closely with Elton John in the studio, his life has come full-fircle. It’s an experience Martin calls “a labor of love,” and I could’ve asked the Rocketman soundtrack producer a million questions about. In the time we did have with Martin, who also has a cameo in the movie, he told us about rearranging John’s songs, what he wants to see and hear in a musical, and remastering The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”
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Rocketman is no run-of-the-mill rocker biopic. While many movies about innovative and ambitious artists play things off-puttingly safe, that’s not the case with Dexter Fletcher‘s Elton John film. Rocketman is not afraid to be bold like its artists, and just like their music, the final result bursts with creativity and life.
The scope of the musical numbers, and how succinctly yet naturally Elton John’s story is told, it’s quite a feat for Flecther as a filmmaker. He’s made a piece of grand spectacle that feels so intimate and personal, which again, is spot-on for capturing the soul of Elton John’s music. If Fletcher’s talent behind-the-camera got overlooked in some corners with Eddie the Eagle, it won’t be in Rocketman.
Recently, we had a short conversation with Fletcher about Taron Egerton’s performance, depicting the Troubadour performance, and his conversations with Elton John.
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Elton John‘s life, music, and now the musical biopic about his journey are filled with rousing highs and crushing lows. Rocketman doesn’t fast-forward through the rough patches and consequences to get the good times, either. It’s the real-deal warts and all biopic that depicts John as an extraordinary musician but also as a deeply human and wounded man. That sounds familiar, yes, but it’s a contrast depicted without aggrandizing and with an immersive intimacy sorely missing in too many music biopics.
Responsible for some of the hard times in the story is John’s mother, Sheila Eileen Dwight, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. In the movie, no amount of success, acclaim, and money soften any the emotional blows John takes from her. It’s a cruel character that, like the film as a whole, Howard doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat. She is like a bulldozer in this movie, just crashing through the fantasy and dragging John back down to earth.
John turned a lot of that pain from his relationship with his parents into beautiful art, a common occurrence that’s both inspiring and, especially to Howard, saddening. We recently spoke with Howard about John’s relationship with his mother, the healthiest motivator for an artist, and what it took to play Elton John’s mother.
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Rock superstar Elton John began developing Rocketman, the musical fantasy biopic about his own life, all the way back in 2011. And while the movie is finally poised to hit theaters in just a few days, it had its fair share of obstacles to overcome: namely, that studios initially wanted to tone down the sex and drugs in the story and to strip the movie of its fantasy elements. Thankfully, neither of those wishes came true.
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The tile caption for Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman is clear enough – “Taron Egerton is Elton John”. It’s a simple caption, indicating a performer who’s focused on bringing a role to life. The same of course could be said about Reginald Dwight, that slightly portly kid from England with an ear for music who had to reinvent himself decade after decade, inhabiting his larger-than-life persona as he conquered the world.
For many, the decades-long career of Sir Elton is easy enough to take for granted, but in the ’70s, particularly in the U.S., he was preposterously successful, claiming some 5% of the total global musical revenue. He made a fortune for himself and those around him, all while struggling with his own demons that can be traced to his childhood.
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More often than not, when an actor takes on the role of an iconic singer, they lip-sync rather than belting out the tunes themselves. Not Taron Egerton, though. The Kingsman actor is portraying Elton John in the movie Rocketman, and rather than have John’s famous voice dubbed in, Egerton does all the singing himself. And he sounds great! Does he sound like Elton John? Not really. But his voice is just similar enough to work. A new Rocketman music video has Egerton performing the Elton John song “Rocket Man” below.