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2013 Oscar Season Preview Wrap-Up: November

This was the first time I inadvertently worked up two different preview articles. After I noticed the duplication, I blended the two together into one. What's most interesting is just how often I managed to choose the exact same box office gross for both versions. Below are my comments from the "Updated" lists as well as the revised box office prediction and a mention of what I had originally predicted. I'll try to discuss whether I was wrong or right in my shifted expectations.

Note also that The Wolf of Wall Street was originally scheduled for November when I wrote the first article, but by the time I wrote the second, it had been shifted to December. As such, I will be recapping that film's performance in my December article. Since the box office totals are the same, I won't worry about carrying forward my commentary.

November 1-3, 2013

Ender's Game

Oscar Prospects: What I said: "Uncertain. Early reviews haven't been great and while that doesn't always mean Oscar failure, the films that have surmounted negative reviews to gain Oscar nominations have typically been films that were box office hits. With strong competition on release weekend from Last Vegas, Ender's Game could have a tough time finding a toe-hole in its climb up the box office mountain and if that's the case, no manner of great visual effects will give it an edge up over better received and better rewarded sci-fi films already in release this year."
Oscar Results: When you base your film on an acclaimed book, you had better hope critics are on your side. Without them, this kind of thing happens and thanks to the added box office disappointment, the film was an Oscar afterthought.
Box Office Prediction: $80 M (revised from $80 M)
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: "Good. Even if reviews are mediocre, the likelihood of this late-year sci-fi picture being successful is high. While it won't meet Gravity-size expectations, it should still do decent business. Of course, comparisons to Gravity might diminish the film's potential as it adheres to a Star Wars-esque sensibility towards the genre and not a 2001: A Space Odyssey approach."
Box Office Results: $61.7 M
Thoughts: [Minor Flop] Critics didn't give it legs and fans of the film didn't turn out enough or as frequently to turn this into a box office success. You have to be as good as your source to do well in this business.

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Film Preview: Lucy (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

August 8, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A drug mule accidentally swallows her cargo and finds she now has superpowers."

Poster: -

Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer: B

Review: The trailer starts off slow with a rather unappealing concept that eventually morphs into one of the most broadly interesting tales you could possibly hope for from Luc Besson. It does seem a bit too self-serious at times, but it could be better than the preview suggests.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Venus in Fur (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

June 20, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "An actress attempts to convince a director how she's perfect for a role in his upcoming production"

Poster: B- (2)

Review: The symbolism of the French poster was so enticing to the producers that they turned it from hand-drawn into reality. It works for he themes of the film, but may give the wrong impression to some passers-by.

Trailer: B+

Review: Most of my familiarity with Roman Polanski has been his dramas and while this certainly feels like a drama, it has some comedic elements to it and it feels like the director's having some of the most fun he's had in a long while.

Oscar Prospects:

Normally, you should say: "never count out Polanski." However, in this case, you should probably count him out a psycho-sexual play will just be too uncomfortable for the Academy members who favor things like The King's Speech and reject things like Shame. It's possible the film makes a small play in writing and directing, but I doubt either comes to fruition.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

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Weekend Preview: Apr. 11-13, 2014

Below are eight previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: The Railway Man (2014)

Poster

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 11, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A victim from World War II's "Death Railway" sets out to find those responsible for his torture. A true story."

Poster: C+ / D / B- (5) / B

Review: (#1-#6) A titular bisection isn't new, it's boringly old. The second design turns this from an E.M. Forster styled pseudo-period drama into a dark thriller, which is ultimately misleading. The five character posters thankfully employ distinctive backgrounds and the sepia tone adds to the memory element, but they are otherwise bland. The final design appeals more to the Forster style that I referenced above and better equates the film to its dramatic undertones even if only slightly better than the character designs.

Trailer: C

Review: The film looks to be a combination of The Bridge on the River Kwai and A Passage to India, which may not be the impression the producers want to give as comparing to either of those David Lean masterpieces is a mistake for an untested director.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

Additional Posters

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Film Preview: Joe (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 11, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin."

Poster: C / C

Review: Both designs are the generic, indie type that lack style distinctiveness or creativity.

Trailer: C

Review: The trailer presents a type of tale that's been done ad nauseum and, in spite of the critic's praise plastered throughout the trailer, the film just doesn't look that good.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

Poster

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 11, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A story centered on two vampires who have been in love for centuries."

Poster: C / C+ / B- (3) / C-

Review: The starting design tells you all you need to know about the film, except that it's about vampires. The second poster improves the situation, but not by much. The next three are like character posters and improve on the type we typically see. The sixth is blander and less interesting than all the others combined.

Trailer: B

Review: The trailer sets up the concept pretty early without being seeming too obvious. It's that concept that keeps the film looking interesting for the trailer's duration even if the content is less enticing.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

Additional Posters

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Film Preview: Hank and Asha (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 11, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "An Indian student in Prague and a lonely New Yorker correspond online through video letters. A voyeuristic love story about aching for human connection in a hyper-connected world."

Poster: C-

Review: A simple, joyful scene that lacks context or tissue that connects it to the trailer.

Trailer: B-

Review: Trying to equate yourself to other indie romantic dramas isn't necessarily the best tool, especially if you want your weakly original concept to see more original than it is. It has promise, but not a lot of it.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Cuban Fury (2014)

Poster

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 11, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A former salsa prodigy attempts a comeback years after his career was ruined."

Poster: C / D / B / C+ / D+ (6)

Review: (#1-#3) For what it is, the poster tries to be simple, yet funny without being creative. The second design is even less inventive, focusing on the stars and hoping fans of any of the three will be interested in putting money don to see the film. For the third design, you have something quite a bit punnier, which makes it entirely more engaging than what came before.

(#4-#10) The fourth design is far more likely sell the comedy aspect than what came before it and might draw in the target audience a bit better. The six character posters lack wit, excitement or originality. They use the same pattern for the background, simply changing the color to accent or contrast the characters.

Trailer: B

Review: The trailer picks up steam as it progresses, making the film funnier as it goes along. Taking that long to establish yourself may make viewers think there isn't as much funny as there probably is.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

Additional Posters

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Film Preview: Oculus (2014)

Poster

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 11, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon."

Poster: B- / C+ / B- / B+

Review: Apart from the sub-dermal baby hand poster, these designs are all sufficiently creative and visually interesting. The first keeps the audience off balance while establishing the mirror's essential properties. The third design puts children in peril, which is sure to push it towards audiences who like that type of horror. Meanwhile, the fourth design is the best but was destined for Italian audiences. It has the grit and thematic references that might sell it best in the U.S.

Trailer: B-

Review: Confusing your audience from the outset isn't the brightest idea. This trailer does that, making the plot seem a bit more convoluted than it needs to be. There are some creepy things in it, but lacking a definition might not set it apart enough from similar films in recent years.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(Apr. 6, 2014) Original

Additional Posters

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Trailer Watch: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

One new trailer.

Edge of Tomorrow, trailer #2

Preview Link: CLICK HERE to see all of this week's updates.
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Trailer Watch: Rio 2 (2014)

Two new trailers and fifteen new posters.

Rio 2, trailers #2 & #3, posters #1-#15

Preview Link: CLICK HERE to see all of this week's updates.
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Trailer Watch: Transcendence (2014)

One new trailer, three new posters.

Transcendence, trailer #2, posters #1-#3

Preview Link: CLICK HERE to see all of this week's updates.
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Looking at the Weekend: Apr. 4-6, 2014

Who doesn't think Captain America will top the box office. Anyone who doesn't really needs to rethink things.

Individual Commentaries

Wesley Lovell: I will always give a Marvel universe film the time of day. As to what else is showing? A few items look interesting, but other than Under the Skin, I wouldn't go out of my way to see them.
Peter J. Patrick: A week for those who find The Avengers franchise particularly awesome.

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Trailer Watch: Jupiter Ascending (2014)

One new trailer and two new posters.

Jupiter Ascending, trailer #2, posters #1 & #2

Preview Link: CLICK HERE to see all of this week's updates.
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