It’s the penthouse to the outhouse this week. Whereas a week ago I was excited to have two movies I was excited to see (and actually did up seeing and enjoying both), this time around, it’s a collective shrug. It’s the kind of weekend where I’d think about catching up on an older film I haven’t seen yet, or seeing something I really liked again, or taking up Redbox on one of the seemingly two hundred promos they send me every week. Hey, every weekend can’t be a winner, and with the kind of summer we’ve been having box office-wise, we were due for a dud.
Pixels was a great idea for a movie … when Futurama did it thirteen years ago in the “Raiders of the Lost Arcade” segment of their second “Anthology of Interest” episodes. In fact, Pixels started off as a short film inspired by that segment. Columbia Pictures snapped up the rights, and decided that what this project needed was the liberal application of Adam Sandler. So derivative and unfunny. We’re off and running here. The director is Chris Columbus, who probably wishes somebody would remember he directed the first two Harry Potter movies (or maybe they do remember, since he never directed any of the others and only three films since then). The trailers for this have been pretty incessant, so I have little doubt this is going to open well, and Sandler somehow still manages to get films over the $100 million mark. This isn’t aiming for low-hanging fruit; it’s aiming for fruit that’s already on the ground and requires no effort to pick up. And sadly, plenty of films have gotten rich off of that formula.
The buzz around Southpaw was of the “genuinely good movie” variety, but it never really excited me all that much. I mean, I appreciate all the gym work Jake Gyllenhaal clearly put in to prepare for the role. And it certainly looks like the film means well (maybe too much so for its own good). But comparing the trailers, the upcoming Creed looks like the more exciting boxing movie, and it’s the seventh film in the Rocky franchise. Southpaw has the Weinstein Company behind it, so you know Gyllenhaal will get some kind of awards push, but if there was really any kind of prestige hopes for this, we’d be getting in November, not late July.
So Paper Towns winds up leading the way here mostly by having had the most interesting trailer. Which doesn’t mean I’m in any rush to see it, but hey, something had to wrap up this week’s list. Based on the book by John Green, this brings back the same writers who adapted Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which banked a nice $124 million on a $12 million budget and tremendous goodwill towards its source material. Paper Towns has similarly low budget, and the same Green mojo behind it, so it might do just as well, especially when there aren’t any specifically YA (and more specifically YA for girls) films in theaters right now. So here it is topping my rundown.
Still, it’s the leader of a pretty weak pack. Even with the new Mission: Impossible film and Fantastic Four on the horizon, it feels like the wild ride of Summer 2015 is over. Jurassic World is now the third-highest grossing film of all time (a title it could hold for all of five months), Inside Out may be headed for the #2 slot all-time for Pixar, Age of Ultron is poised to be the most overlooked billion-dollar grosser in movie history (and I still love it, dammit), and Universal currently has five of the top 10 grossing films of the year. Yet it’s probably Mad Max: Fury Road that’ll be the film of the summer for me. Even now, with it having been out of theaters for a while, it still crops up in my head, and given its cosplay presence at Comic Con this year and the plethora of t-shirts and memes I’ve seen, I’d say it’s seeped into the pop culture consciousness to a degree far beyond its box office muscle. A shiny and chromed summer, indeed.