Tag Archives: Steven Soderbergh

Summer 1998: The Top 10 Hits and More

Continuing with my recaps of the movie summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago – we arrive at 1998. If you missed my post recounting the 1988 season, you can find it right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/11/summer-1988-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

1998 was a rather astonishingly sequel lite summer with only one making up the top ten moneymakers. And while 2018 will be known for its Avengers phenomenon, it was a much different story with Avengers two decades ago.

Behold my synopsis of the top 10 hits, along with other notables and flops:

10. The Mask of Zorro

Domestic Gross: $94 million

He may be playing Pablo Picasso on TV now, but Antonio Banderas had a significant hit (alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins) in this tale of the famed swashbuckler. A less successful sequel would follow in 2005.

9. Mulan

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Disney’s 36th animated feature (with a voice assist from Eddie Murphy) didn’t reach the heights of titles like Aladdin or The Lion King, but the Mouse Factory has already commissioned a live-action version slated for 2020.

8. The Truman Show

Domestic Gross: $125 million

Jim Carrey’s first major big screen foray outside of zany comedy, Peter Weir’s reality show pic garnered critical acclaim for the film itself and the star’s performance.

7. Lethal Weapon 4

Domestic Gross: $130 million

The final teaming of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (with Chris Rock and Jet Li joining the mix) made slightly less than part 3 and was generally considered rather mediocre, especially considering the heights that the franchise started from.

6. Godzilla

Domestic Gross: $136 million

Coming off the massive success of Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s tale of the giant green monster was expected to possibly be summer’s biggest hit. It came in well below expectations with critics and audiences. A better regarded version arrived in 2014.

5. Deep Impact

Domestic Gross: $140 million

Our first asteroid disaster flick on the list came from Mimi Leder with a cast including Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, and Robert Duvall. Moviegoers loved their asteroids 20 years ago.

4. Dr. Dolittle

Domestic Gross: $144 million

Eddie Murphy was still in popular family guy mode with this remake of the Rex Harrison animal tale. A sequel would follow in 2001.

3. There’s Something About Mary

Domestic Gross: $176 million

The Farrelly Brothers had the comedic smash of the summer in this effort that made Ben Stiller a huge star and had a showcase role for Cameron Diaz’s talents.

2. Armageddon

Domestic Gross: $201 million

Our second asteroid pic (this one from Michael Bay) comes with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler… and an Aerosmith ballad that played all season long.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Domestic Gross: $216 million

Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed World War II drama with Tom Hanks has one of the most intense first scenes in cinematic history. It was considered the Oscar front-runner until it lost in an upset to Shakespeare in Love. 

And now for some other notable films:

The X-Files

Domestic Gross: $83 million

Bringing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s alien themed FOX TV show to the big screen turned out to be a profitable venture. An ignored sequel would follow 10 years later.

Blade

Domestic Gross: $70 million

The vampire-centric Wesley Snipes flick spawned two sequels and major cult status.

Out of Sight

Domestic Gross: $37 million

Its box office performance was middling, but Steven Soderbergh’s romantic crime pic showed George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez at their best. Critics dug it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Domestic Gross: $10 million

Not a success at the time, but Terry Gilliam’s wild ride featuring Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson created a serious following in subsequent years.

And now for some flops:

Six Days, Seven Nights

Domestic Gross: $74 million

Harrison Ford was flying high off the success of Air Force One one summer earlier, but audiences and reviewers weren’t as kind to this action comedy with Anne Heche.

Snake Eyes

Domestic Gross: $55 million

Likewise, Nicolas Cage experienced a trilogy of mega hits during the two previous summers with The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off. This one from Brian De Palma didn’t impress nearly as much.

The Avengers

Domestic Gross: $23 million

Not THOSE Avengers, ladies and gents. This big screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series with Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and Sean Connery landed with a thud in August. No sequels here.

54

Domestic Gross: $16 million

Mike Myers was coming off a little something called Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when this pic about the famed NYC nightclub opened. Critics weren’t kind and crowds didn’t turn up.

BASEketball

Domestic Gross: $7 million

Trey Parker and Matt Stone rarely create something that isn’t massively successful – like “South Park” and The Book of Mormon. This sports comedy is the rare exception, though it has developed a following since.

And there you have it – the summer of 1998! Look for 2008 shortly…

Unsane Movie Review

In Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic world, the mental health and pharmaceutical industries come with even more side effects than the lengthy list we hear following commercials. They come with frequent plot twists, relationships ending in blood spattered bursts, and the stylistic flourishes we’ve come to expect from the director. This was explored first in 2013’s Side Effects and it’s continued now with Unsane.

This is a nasty little low-budget psychological thriller that saves much of its venom toward the cure for wellness empire and insurance game that benefits from it. It’s also a traditional stalker tale unless that aspect is all in our lead’s head. Part of the mystery is finding that out, for a bit.

Claire Foy is Sawyer, a banker who left Boston in fear of a man she obtained a restraining order against. We briefly see her day-to-day activities in which she can’t escape his shadow and can’t seem to have normal interactions with dates or coworkers. Her issues bring her to Highland Creek Behavioral Center where she believes she’s had a healthy conversation with a counselor. Yet that brief errand on her way to work turns into another situation she can’t escape from.

Held at the facility against her will, the audience is left to decide whether she truly belongs there or if there’s truth or delusion to her surroundings. Sawyer maintains that her stalker is orderly David (Joshua Leonard) and that he’s tracked her down in an elaborate scheme to be with her. No one bothers to really listen to her with the exception of her mother (Amy Irving) and a fellow patient (Jay Pharoah) with access to a cell phone.

Unsane doesn’t keep the plot’s central mystery going for long. Approximately halfway through, we know what’s up. Soderbergh and screenwriters Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer are then tasked with holding our attention. They mostly succeed partly to, ahem, a committed performance from Foy and the director’s undeniable glee in shooting this gory B-movie (on an iPhone by the way).

Soderbegh, who’s made great pictures, is known for these occasional side excursions into genre fare. This one is mostly minor with its own side indictments of big business. Had those issues been explored with more focus, Unsane could have been more than its rather trivial (if skillfully made) vibe. The aforementioned Side Effects is a stronger example of Soderbergh working in this realm, but that pic had some third act letdowns itself. There’s some fun to be had in the first half, but Unsane is more of a curiosity than anything else.

**1/2 (out of four)

Ocean’s 8 Box Office Prediction

A franchise is reborn with a twist when Ocean’s 8 lands in theaters next weekend. It’s been over a decade since the Ocean’s 11-13 heist sagas with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and a bunch of other famous faces being directed by Steven Soderbergh. Each entry made a little less at the box office as they went along, but they all opened between $35-$40 million. Soderbergh just produces here with Gary Ross taking over the directorial duties. He’s had hits such as Seabiscuit and The Hunger Games, but his most recent was the Matthew McConaughey flop Free State of Jones. 

The aforementioned twist is that it’s the ladies getting in on the thievery this time around. Sandra Bullock plays the sister of Clooney’s character from the first trilogy and she’s the mastermind of a crew that includes Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina. Anne Hathaway is the target of the score with James Corden, Dakota Fanning, and host of celebrity cameos included among the cast.

Ocean’s 8 looks to bring in a sizable female audience and their male counterparts may not mind coming along for the ride. The high-profile cast, especially Bullock, certainly doesn’t hurt and this stands a real shot at having the highest Ocean’s debut of all. That’s not guaranteed as I could see the low bar being in the low 30s. That would fall under the previous low of $36 million by Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007.

However, I’m leaning more towards a high 30s to possibly mid 40s roll out for Sandra and company. I’ll estimate it somewhere in between.

Ocean’s 8 opening weekend prediction: $42.6 million

For my Hereditary prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/30/hereditary-box-office-prediction/

For my Hotel Artemis prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/30/hotel-artemis-box-office-prediction/

Unsane Box Office Prediction

Shot in secret last year, psychological thriller Unsane arrives on screens next weekend. It comes from Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh and premiered at the Berlin Film Festival recently. Claire Foy of “The Crown” fame stars alongside an eclectic supporting cast that includes Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple, SNL alum Jay Pharoah, Amy Irving, and paralympic athlete Aimee Mullins.

Reviews have been mostly positive as it currently sits at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The low-budget enterprise was shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus and continues Soderbergh’s experimentation with the cinematic medium. The secrecy surrounding the project may contribute to a unawareness among the general public of its very existence.

Unsane will likely struggle to find an audience in theaters and hope for more eyeballs when it reaches the On Demand circuit.

Unsane opening weekend prediction: $3.9 million

For my Pacific Rim Uprising prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/13/pacific-rim-uprising-box-office-prediction/

For my Sherlock Gnomes prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/13/sherlock-gnomes-box-office-prediction/

For my Paul, Apostle of Christ prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/14/paul-apostle-of-christ-box-office-prediction/

For my Midnight Sun prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/16/midnight-sun-box-office-prediction/

Logan Lucky Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/17): I am revising my Logan Lucky prediction down to $10.5 million on the eve of its debut.

The eclectic Steven Soderbergh is back in theaters with heist comedy Logan Lucky, debuting next weekend. It marks the director’s first theatrical release in four and a half years since Side Effects and first picture altogether since 2013’s Behind the Candelabra which premiered on HBO.

Lucky is headlined by many familiar faces, including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig (getting raves for the role), Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, and Sebastian Stan. Reviews have been quite pleasing and it stands at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, being frequently compared to the Ocean‘s trilogy that Soderbergh made.

Even with the solid reviews and a NASCAR tie-in (the film’s heist takes place at a race), there could be some issues with this completely breaking out. There is direct competition in the form of The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and it’s more likely to debut a bit higher. The mid August release date is also not one that lends itself well to openings above $20 million.

I’ll predict Lucky‘s number falls in the low to possibly mid teens, as it will hope to leg out well in future weekends (and may well do so).

Logan Lucky opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million

For my The Hitman’s Bodyguard prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/09/the-hitmans-bodyguard-box-office-prediction/

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Box Office Prediction

Deadpool may never appear in an Avengers film, but he costars with Nick Fury next weekend when The Hitman’s Bodyguard opens. The action comedy brings together Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and looks to target the #1 spot over a rival competing for a similar audience. Patrick Hughes directs with Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek in the supporting cast.

It’s been a year and a half since the star power of Mr. Reynolds went way up with the aforementioned Deadpool. Since then, he’s appeared in supporting roles in Criminal and Life (both box office disappointments). Bodyguard, however, is his first headlining role since his winter 2016 blockbuster.

The pic could somewhat benefit from the dog days of August release and scarce competition – with one notable exception. Another action comedy with some big names – Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky with Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig – debuts against it and it’s getting solid reviews. Lucky could charm some viewers away, but the net result could be slightly lower numbers for both because they’re directly competing against each other.

I’ll say Bodyguard manages to come out on top with a debut in the mid to high teens, which should be good for the top spot.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard opening weekend prediction: $16.7 million

For my Logan Lucky prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/09/logan-lucky-box-office-prediction/

Magic Mike XXL Movie Review

In 2012, I found Magic Mike to be a mostly effective star vehicle for Channing Tatum as a somewhat autobiographical tale of his dancing past. Somewhat surprisingly, he was able to enlist Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh to bring it to the screen. While I recognize I was far from the film’s target audience, I was able to appreciate its fresh subject matter, even if the screenplay didn’t always deliver. Where it did – Tatum’s turn in the lead and a wildly entertaining supporting performance for Matthew McConaughey in the midst of his career resurgence.

His own Academy Awards glory and busy schedule keeps Mr. McConaughey out of Magic Mike XXL and the absence of his presence is not all right, all right, all right. Also gone is Magic Mike’s understudy Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and his sister Brooke (Cody Horn) who was our title character’s love interest. Gone too (kind of) is Soderbergh, who handed over directorial duties to Gregory Jacobs, but he still handles the cinematography and executive produces.

Watching XXL, I could never shake the feeling that this is a sequel its star and producers probably never figured they’d make. While the original brought audiences into a world you don’t often see portrayed on screen, XXL feels been there, done that with really nothing more to say. Many sequels have the odor of being completely unnecessary and this is one of them.

The pic starts three years after we last left Mike as he continues to get his custom furniture business off the ground. He’s hung up his G string and checked his signature dance moves while recently becoming single after being rebuffed by Brooke. Mike is soon lured back to his band of merry dude strippers for one last event (a Myrtle Beach convention) and their journey there leads to what could be dubbed Magic Mike: Road Trip!!

Along the way, this extremely episodic and poorly paced experience leads them to an African American club owned by an annoyingly overacting Jada Pinkett Smith, to a cougar filled house party that includes Andie MacDowell, and to Mike’s interacting with a new kind of, sort of love interest in an underwritten subplot with Amber Heard. The other boys in the group get perfunctory and dull storylines like Matt Bomer’s longed for singing career.

It all left me with one overall feeling: the world didn’t need a second dose of this. I guess everything about Magic Mike that needed to be said was done so in 2012 and this listless affair proves it. For the female (and male) fans of the original, perhaps the climactic dance grooves at the convention will merit its existence. My suggestion would be to just watch the first one again. It’s no masterpiece, but it almost looks like it compared to this.

*1/2 (out of four)