US Audiences Taken About Taken?


I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before in all my years as a critic. On the weekend, a film called Taken topped the U.S. box-office with a tidy sum of $24m. That’s not bad considering its Superbowl weekend. That’s not the point I’m trying to make though.


The strange thing is that Taken was released in Australian cinemas almost 6 months ago – on 14 August 2008. It was released in France, its country of origin, back in February 2008. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film has also been released in countries such as South Korea, Poland, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela, Croatia, United Arab Emirates, Iceland and Egypt. It was released on DVD in Australia a few weeks ago.


Now, having gone all around the world, the film is being released in the United States. I speak of the country where movies are usually released first. What’s just as surprising is the number of people who paid to see it in its opening weekend. Those U.S. residents really keen could have ordered it on DVD from France months ago. Instead, they’ve waited and come out in droves. It makes you wonder why 20th Century Fox has been sitting on it for so long. Ah well.


Post Award Season Depression


Now that most of the major award season films have been released, I’m starting to worry about the films being released over the coming months. There’s always a “dead zone” between late February and early May each year. Virtually no big blockbusters are released and the award season has long passed. It’s a quiet time for cinema owners.


As I look ahead, those films to get excited about in February would be Changeling (which earned Angelina Jolie an Oscar nom), Rachel Getting Married (which earned Anne Hathaway her first Oscar nom) and The Reader (which is the only best picture nominee I’m yet to see). There are some others of interest which were largely overlooked in the award season including W. (a look at George W. Bush’s life story) and Last Chance Harvey (with the great Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson). I’m mildly interested by the Watchman (the trailer is great) but there’s something about it which makes me think I’ve seen all this before (e.g. X-Men, Batman).


Aside from the aforementioned flicks, the cinematic outlook is just as bad as the economic outlook. I speak of The Pink Panther 2 (please kill Steve Martin for doing this), New In Town (a romantic comedy with Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr), Paul Blart: Mall Cop (a comedy starring Kevin James which took $32m in its opening weekend in the U.S.), Dance Flick (yet another god damn spoof movie from the Wayans brothers) and All About Steve (a Sandra Bullock comedy – say no more).


I’m already thinking about what I’ll say to the cinema employees when I ask for a ticket to see these movies. I don’t want them thinking ill of me so I’ll have to disclose that I’m seeing it strictly in a “critic’s capacity”. Hopefully, they’ll believe me.


Director’s Guild Awards


My only major piece of award show news is that director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) took home the big prize at the Director’s Guild Awards over the weekend. He can start working on his Oscars speech now. Well done to Danny.


Rory McIlroy


In my Film Pie newsletter from 9 December 2008, I did my annual catch up on the golfing careers of Oliver Fisher and Rory McIlroy.


I make reference to Rory once again as he broke through for his first win as a professional yesterday in the Dubai Desert Classic. The win lifts him to a phenomenal 16th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Not bad for a 19 year old. Let’s hope it’s the first of many wins this year.


I’ll see you all next week.