Serious question: does any single entertainer have such complete dominion over their chosen field as Weird Al Yankovic wields over the song parody? Skeptics may scoff that musical spoofery is a stupid thing to become really, really, virtuosically good at, but the point stands that Yankovic has completely and totally mastered his preferred art form. So when the producers behind the upcoming film adaptation of the Captain Underpants chapter book series needed to find a talent for their theme music, of course their choice was obvious. In no insignificant way, Weird Al Yankovic was born to write a peppy pop tune about tightened-whiteys.
We owe a lot to scientists — they cured polio, got us on the moon, and they‘re doing their darnedest to stop us from methodically killing the planet. But man, what a bunch of nerds. It seems like every time biologists discover a new species of animal and need to give it a name, they take the opportunity to bust out a reference to their favorite bit of geek-approved pop culture. Lest we forget the velvet worm named after My Neighbor Totoro, and we’d be remiss to overlook the euglossa bazinga, a rare bee with a Big Bang Theory catchphrase as its namesake. And it appears that now the nerds are at it again.
We‘ve only just entered May, but in the first few months of 2017, the year has yielded a surprisingly eclectic array of blockbusters. Survey the biggest earners to date, and you’ll see a socially critical horror flick from a first-time director, a spin-off based on a cross-property licensing deal within a corporate brand expansion, and a tough-as-nails superhero side project with post-apocalyptic Western overtones. The latest Fast and Furious installment looks most at home in the top five so far, but more unexpected still is that it’s been handily defeated by the year’s top earner, Disney’s handsomely mounted revival of Beauty and the Beast. And now, the unlikely box-office behemoth has claimed another record.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, because you almost certainly haven’t — think The Heat, but instead of tough cookie Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy teams with a street-smart puppet to bust criminal scum. Step aside, Anomalisa, a new puppet comedy has arrived to freak out audiences and challenge the boundaries of what can be considered marketable for a mass audience.
This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
Last summer, a spat allegedly broke out between Fast and Furious franchise megastars Vin Diesel and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson while shooting the latest installment The Fate of the Furious. There were rumors of unprofessionalism on set, Johnson threw around the term “candy-ass” pretty liberally, it was a hoot for all involved. But it did cast some doubt on Johnson’s future with the series; there was no telling whether the performer could be persuaded to return for another collaboration with a guy he seemingly couldn’t stand. But a new revelation today (well, new for all of you — Johnson and I are well-documented besties and have been Gchatting about this all week) clarifies the fate of this furious man.
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
Over the years, Disney’s made a rich tradition out of refashioning their amusement park rides as feature film attractions. There have been successes (Pirates of the Caribbean and its many demon-spawn sequels, and Eddie Murphy vehicle The Haunted Mansion), flops (the Tomorrowland movie, the horrifying Country Bears picture) and whatever Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars movie was. But the massive entertainment conglomerate has not given up hope on its cross-vertical synergy potential. Today brings the news that yet another of Disney’s thrill-a-minute rides will soon make the jump to the big screen, and let me break it to you now that a hideously insensitive It’s a Small World movie remains, for the moment, an impossible dream/nightmare.
After the release of the shocking Sausage Party racked up an equally shocking $140 million (far more than any of us expected a movie involving anal beads forcibly yanked out of an anthropomorphized hot dog bun to make), it was only a matter of time until more bawdy animation followed. Cartoons for grown-ups may be on their way to a moment in the sun, as today brings the news that Netflix has launched production on an R-rated project in a similar vein. But they won’t stop at desecrating the sacred space of the grocery store. This time, nothing short of our nation’s origin story will provide the canvas for whatever vulgarity they’ve got in store.
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