Ben-Hur – Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) stars in Paramount/MGM’s remake of the swords and sandals epic. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch, my favorite unfilmed Moby Dick adaptation) directs. 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and 36% on Metacritic.
The film cost over 100m before marketing costs and should earn under 15m for this weekend. That is obviously very bad. Paramount is having a terrible year at the box office and just narrowly avoided a sale of 49% of the studio to Chinese investors. It’s off the table for now, but probably unavoidable long-term. Amazing how far they’ve fallen from their dominance in the 1980’s.
Personal interest factor: 1
War Dogs – A pair of young arms dealers (Jonah Hill and Miles Teller) successfully land a major contract with the U.S. military during the Iraq war.
Critics are being pretty kind to this Todd Phillips (The Hangover, The Hangover Part II, The Hangover 3, Due Date) picture, singling out Hill’s performance and Phillips’ successful transition into more adult-oriented filmmaking. I’m sure I’ll see it eventually, but I’ve been burned too many times to see another Todd Phillips picture theatrically.
Personal interest factor: 2
Kubo and the Two Strings – Based on critical notices: this gorgeously animated feature is probably a frontrunner at next year’s Oscars. I’m not even going to try to summarize the plot, but it involves a magical suit of armor. Curious to see how the box office performance is with such a low wattage release date.
Personal interest factor: 7