Overall, 2011 was a pretty interesting movie year, although things didn’t really get interesting until the second quarter or so.
It looks like the year’s box office grosses will end up slightly lower than 2010’s. The year’s seven highest grossing films were mostly anticipated sequels: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I, The Hangover Part II, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Fast Five, and Cars 2. These films made a lot stateside and even more overseas. Some of the biggest surprises of the year were two films aimed towards women: Bridesmaids and The Help. Not only are they receiving awards attention (the latter is pretty much a lock to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars), but they had long box office runs despite middling openings. The Lion King was released in 3D and grossed a fairly hefty $94 million, not bad for movie most people can watch at home.
Tom Cruise never really left, but the success of the new Mission Impossible film shows that he is in the audience’s good graces again. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris seems to be his most commercially and critically acclaimed film in quite some time. The writer/director has been around in the 60’s and shows that he is still a major creative talent. Bradley Cooper in Limitless displayed that he can carry a movie on his own without resorting to his obnoxious/arrogant attributes found in The Hangover movies. Kristen Wiig pretty much became a big star after Bridesmaids’ success, and will likely be headlining many films in the near future. Same with Chris Hemsworth after Thor. French actor Jean Dujardin is mostly unknown here in the US, but he is one of the frontrunners to win the Best Actor academy award for his work in the silent drama/comedy The Artist. Ryan Gosling appeared in 3 critically acclaimed films this year, and pretty much put himself back on the map. Cameron Diaz came back with a vengeance, leading Bad Teacher to a $100 million+ gross, displaying that she is still a box office draw.
What do Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Toby Jones and Mark Strong have in common? The answer: all of them appeared in a bunch of movies this year. Chances are that if you’ve seen at least 5 movies this year, at least one of these actors will show up in one of them.
On another note, newcomer Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of the Olsen twins) received rave reviews for Martha Marcy May Marlene, an independently-produced drama that has also been getting awards attention.
On the contrary, some big stars were MIA this year. They include Drew Barrymore, Russell Crowe, Will Ferrell, Will Smith (hasn’t been onscreen since 2008), Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, and Kate Winslet (minus a TV miniseries). Christian Bale almost made this list, but the Chinese film The Flowers of War gets a limited release this weekend.
3D Not Necessary
It seems that people have been getting 3D fatigue. After Avatar’s runaway success two years ago, many studios have been converting or filming their movies in 3D in hopes for better success. Things did not exactly go to plan, as many people avoided 3D movies that they weren’t really interested in seeing in the first place. Casualties include Drive Angry, Final Destination 5, Mars Needs Moms, and Spy Kids 4.
The juggernaut company had to do a lot of damage control after upsetting many of their members…twice. First, there was a price hike on its streaming and streaming/DVD rental services. Then, later in the year, the company announced its decision to separate their streaming and DVD rental services into two different entities, naming the DVD service “Qwikster”. After a huge backlash, the CEO sent e-mails to every subscriber, apologizing about the price changes and then cancelling “Qwikster” altogether. Sucks for this guy.
On the Rochester front, it seems like the film industry is slowly picking up. The Shells was filmed at the old Kodak building on Elmgrove Rd back in June. That film will be hitting festival circuits next year. In September, After was released in select theaters in Rochester. The Pieter Gaspersz film was shot here in Rochester a couple of years ago. Mud Jumpers with Adrien Brody and Megan Fox was supposed to start filming in October, but production in Canandaigua got delayed until next year.