Easter weekend is always a holiday, with kids home from school eager to enjoy movies: last year saw three family films open in the top nine, as well as wide-appeal “Captain Marvel” and “Shazam!” This year, folks are watching movies from home.
But 21 years ago, Easter weekend broke box office rules. First, it was a ballsy move for Warner Bros. to greenlight the Wachowskis’ original and complex science-fiction actioner “The Matrix” in the first place, much less release the R-rated movie opened on that family holiday.
But the risk paid off. The eye-popping movie starring Keanu Reeves ended up blowing away all previous grosses for the holiday weekend without counting Wednesday opening results. All told, “The Matrix” took in nearly $68 million for its first five days in adjusted gross. Even the three-day result was among the ten-best in box office history.
And it wasn’t the only film that had a lasting impact that weekend. Disney’s “10 Things I Hate About You,” a high-school romantic comedy loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” scored some $21 million for its first five days.
Both “Matrix” and “10 Things” still have passionate followings decades later. What sets them apart from many similar titles with cult reputations is that they were successes from the start — on Easter. Memories can be fleeting: I knew “Matrix” was a success, and “10 Things” did OK, but it’s fun to review old records.
Today, “The Matrix” would be next to impossible to produce, unless an A-lister like Christopher Nolan or James Cameron demanded it. But Warners production executive Lorenzo Di Bonaventura banked on the Wachowski siblings, giving them a high-end budget, based on their script for Sylvester Stallone hit-man film ”Assassins,” and their directing debut with kinky indie heist thriller ”Bound,” which was a modest success for Gramercy $7 million.
While the Wachowskis were the geniuses behind “The Matrix,” Warners entrusted the production to their reliable nuts-and-bolts action producer Joel Silver “Lethal Weapon”. Rooted in multiple influences, “The Matrix” drew from evolving theories on machine/human interaction as the internet was entering daily life, Hong Kong genre films martial artist choreographer Yuen Woo-ping was a crucial collaborator, and Japanese Manga plots and characters.
Key to its success was casting Keanu Reeves to play computer programmer Neo. Coming off a five-year stretch of underperforming films, Reeves was not the studio’s first choice. But even his less successful films revealed an athletic edge that enhanced his credibility to audiences, which he has maintained with...
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...