1. Monsters University (Disney/Pixar, 4,004 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated G): If you have ever read my writing on this site, you know that I love Pixar. I think that they are by far the most innovative studio working in Hollywood today. So when they do a sequel, or in this case, a prequel, I feel a bit disappointed.
I mean. I love Monsters, Inc. It’s one of my favorite films. And I’m sure this film, which goes back to when Mike and Sully were in college, will be awesome. And also that Toy Story 3 might just be the best installment of that franchise. My gripe isn’t that the quality of the sequel will be lacking.
It’s just that when Pixar goes back to the well for a prequel or sequel to one of its legendary hits, I feel we miss out on new ideas like Ratatouille, Up, Wall-E, or Brave. Pixar does only one film a year (if we are lucky), and doing a follow up means that we don’t have the joy of seeing Pixar tackle a concept that might not seem to work on paper (A rat who cooks? Really?) and turn it to something magical.
Not to say I’m boycotting this film. I’ll probably be there this weekend with my daughter in tow, just a minor quibble.
2. World War Z (Paramount, 3,607 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, World War Z is a best selling book written by Max Brooks, son of Hollywood legend Mel Brooks. It has so much buzz behind it that a bidding war between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment erupts for its film rights. Pitt’s production company wins. Now the problem begins: translating Brooks after-the-fact, interview format into a film narrative.
J. Michael Straczynski writes a script that does just that. It is a script that is good enough to get the film officially green lit and is rumored to keep the “looking back” nature of the book as well as the political commentary intact. That was back in 2009.
However, someone believed that the script, with all its accolades, just wasn’t good enough. Straczynski’s script is thrown out and Matthew Michael Carnahan is brought in to write a new one from scratch. The script now places the action as the zombie outbreak is happening. Much of the political commentary is stripped, even going so far as to change the origin of the outbreak from China so as to not upset film distributors in that country. It is dumbed down to a action flick. The film finally enters production in 2011.
But there are still problems. The third act is rumored to be weak, so Lost’s Damon Lindelof is tapped to rewrite the film’s ending. He is unable to do due to time constrains, so his partner Drew Gabbard takes on the job. The cast is called back for seven weeks of additional shooting.
The reason why I am going into such detail about the production of this films is because I think it’s a reason why this film will bomb terribly at the box office. It has to counter act not only the second weekend of Man of Steel, which is getting great word of mouth, but also Monsters University. The film opened to $3.6 million dollars last night, $1 million more than Monsters University made but expect that latter film to make up the difference in a big way when kids are awake to see it. With a price tag near $190 million, World War Z better hope that a miracle happens or else this war will be over before it even starts.