Thursday, November 16, 2006

Really "Flushed Away"

How much does an animated movie have to make to be a success? I had no idea.

Looking at the numbers for "Flushed Away," the new Dreamworks/Aardman pic, I was pleased to see that, even though it finished third in its first week, it still had the biggest opening ever for an Aardman flick (just nudging out "Chicken Run.")

It has now taken in $40 million since what Variety called its "unimpressive" bow. That's $40 million in three weeks. What the heck were they expecting?

Well, given the price tag, apparently a lot more. I had no idea that you could possibly spend a whopping $149 million on an animated flick, even one that looks as good as "Flushed Away."

I liked it quite a bit, but if they had spend just a little of that cash on a better story they'd probably be in a better mood right now. I thought it did manage to retain much of the Aardman wit, and I especially liked the running joke about England making the World Cup final (yeah right.)

Even before the movie opens in the UK (how in the world do you not open an Aardman flick in the UK!?!), Dreamworks is ready to dump Aardman, meaning the studio may have to find a new partner for its next flick, "Crood Awakening," which has definite potential.

Co-written by John Cleese, it's set in the prehistoric era, when a man's position as Leader of the Hunt is threatened by the arrival of a prehistoric genius who comes up with revolutionary new inventions ... like fire.

In the end, if a Dreamworks/Aardman split means a return to low-tech claymation and more attention to story for this next one, it could be a win for both Aardman and its fans.

Oscar sets its doc short list

Like the American electorate, it seems the Oscar voters have Iraq on the brain. As a panel of its documentary branch narrowed the candidates down from 81 to 15, that part of the world was definitely dominant.

Here are the titles that advance to the next round of voting: “Iraq in Fragments,” "An Inconvenient Truth," "My Country, My Country," "The War Tapes," "The Ground Truth," "Deliver Us From Evil," "Jesus Camp," "Shut Up and Sing," "The Trials of Darryl Hunt," "Blindsight," "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?," "Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple," "Sisters in Law," "Storm of Emotions" and "An Unreasonable Man."

I'm rather embarrassed to say I've only seen one of these, "An Inconvenient Truth," which isn't exactly a shocker to be on this list. Though I haven't seen it yet, I'm glad "Jesus Camp" made the first cut, because I quite enjoyed the first effort from its directors, "Boys of Baraka."

I was surprised, however, that two movies in particular didn't even make it this far. I found "Wordplay," with its uncritical look at the extremely geeky subculture of crossword lovers, to be utterly charming, and Jonathan Demme's "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" was a first-rate concert flick.

The 15 survivors will be wittled down to five when the Oscar noms are announced on Jan. 23. Man, do I love this time of year.

David Lynch gets cheesy

Following in the sad footsteps of Terry Gilliam, David Lynch has taken to the streets to try and draw attention to Laura Dern and "Inland Empire."

Wednesday he was apparently camped in front of the Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard with a cow and a large "for your consideration" banner.

"I'm here to promote Laura Dern who I think you'll agree gave an incredible performance that's going to live," Lynch said. "I think the Academy members love showbusiness -- and this is the showbusiness approach."

But why the cow? Lynch's reasoning was simple: "I ate a lot of cheese during the making of 'Inland Empire.' "

Pretty pathetic, but I hope he at least had some fun, and I'll definitely be seeing "Inland Empire" as soon as I get the chance. Below is some video from two dudes who met him pulling the same stunt a couple of days earlier. Enjoy.

Nate & Matt meet David Lynch (and a cow)


Anonymous said...

Given I am predisposed to liking Lynch (even his ambitious failures), I think its pretty cool that he's stumping for Dern. From word on the street (or Venice to be more precise), she pretty much knocks it out of the park in this one--even more so than her mom in Wild at Heart. If more directors believed in their actors as much as Lynch obviously does, perhaps we'd see more performances on par with, say, Nicole Kidman in "The Hours" rather than Nicole Kidman in "Fur."
(BTW, that's my way of saying stay away from Fur--unless its on a friendly cat.)

Reel Fanatic said...

I may take a chance on Fur, Jeremy, but it definitely does look a little scary ... I too am glad that Lynch stands up for his actresses, but this seemed to be much more about drawing attention to himself

SamuraiFrog said...

Funny, I just saw "Wordplay" last night for the first time. I found it charming, too, especially being a crossword puzzle fan myself. I do hope that "Iraq in Fragments" gets the award, though. I saw that recently at a screening and found it pretty moving.

Reel Fanatic said...

I've heard good things about that one, Samuraifrog, so I'll definitely be seeing that one on DVD .. I think the winner here will be either that or Mr. Gore's movie

Anonymous said...

I was hoping to squeeze "Flushed Away" into my watch list but it's just not going to happen. It'll be a rental for me.

The doc short list was not particularly surprising but there were a few others I saw this year that didn't make the cut and which I thought were rather good - particularly "Who Killed the Electric Car" which I thought was superior to "An Inconvenient Truth". Oh well. It's a good list...I'm curious to see who will make the top 5 list.

When I saw the Lynch bit yesterfay I nearly fell over laughing. It's great to see him again after so many years away fromt he limelight. Now if he'd only get on with releasing the darned movie!

Reel Fanatic said...

"Who Killed the Electric Car" is definitely on my must-see list for future DVDs .. I think it's gonna be as depressing as Mr. Gore's movie was thoroughly terrifying, though

Anonymous said...

Make sure you check out The Ground Truth, a remarkable documentary about the soldiers coming home and being ignored...and then go check out for an indepth profile on the subject

Reel Fanatic said...

I certainly will, Ashley ... thanks for the heads up!