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COMMENTARY

Monday Morning Mixer: One story ends, another begins...

Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:44 AM CDT

By John Couture

It is still incredibly hard this morning to put aside the thoughts of the Colorado theater shootings, but I've always found that in difficult times, getting back into a routine helps. This tragedy will be in our thoughts for a long time, but maybe with a laugh or two we can start the healing process.

With all of that being said, I'm going to try and create as normal of a Monday Morning Mixer (MMM) as I can. Naturally, the aftermath of this tragedy was the singular most influential thing in Hollywood this weekend, but instead of re-hashing everything here, I would recommend checking out your favorite news media site as they have all been covering the story non-stop for the last few days.

Pull up a chair, it's time to dig into this weekend's other news-worthy stories.

Box Office 411

In a nice tribute, the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen in my 15+ years in the industry, Warner Bros. and the other studios have agreed not to release weekend estimates. Typically released on Sunday afternoon, these estimates include actual numbers from Friday and Saturday and an estimate for Sunday's box office to give us a pretty good impression of the box office Monday morning.

It is expected that the actual numbers will be released later today, but in the meantime industry insider Nikki Finke has culled her sources and estimates that The Dark Knight Rises has earned $161.8 million at the box office this weekend.

If that number holds, The Dark Knight Rises would have the third largest opening three day weekend ever. It would be the largest 2D opening of all-time, trailing only 3D releases The Avengers ($207.4M) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($169.2M).

That number would also best the opening of the previous film in the franchise The Dark Knight ($158.4M). Using that film as a guide, we can reasonably expect that The Dark Knight Rises will surpass $500 million at the box office, probably coming to a stop around $550 million. This will be good enough for second place behind The Avengers and join The Hunger Games as the third film to surpass $400 this year, a record for a given calendar year and 2012 is only half over.

The rest of the releases, as you would expect, trailed off significantly in the wake of The Dark Knight Rises. That being said, The Amazing Spider-Man continued to add to its total bringing in almost $230 million so far. Ted continued its creep to the holy land of R-rated comedies, $200 million, while Brave continues to climb the Pixar leader board.

It's a bird... it's a plane

I did get out this weekend and contribute to the box office of The Dark Knight Rises. One of the more interesting trailers that we saw in front of it was for Man of Steel.

I'll be honest, I haven't been following this film all that much given it's not coming out until next Summer. I knew that Zack Snyder was directing and Henry Cavill was putting on the tights and cape, but otherwise I was in the dark as it were.

I guess somewhere in the back of mind I knew that Christopher Nolan was producing Man of Steel, but when I saw his Syncopy Films logo come up on the screen, I was confused and intrigued. For a split second I thought we were getting a glimpse at Nolan's next project, but quickly realized what it is we were seeing.

It is a true teaser trailer, so don't expect to learn much about the film and plot. But, I think it does a good job of showing the look and tone that Snyder is shooting for. It's not as stylized as his previous films and you can clearly see Nolan's gritty, real influence that marked his Batman films.

Uncertainty for 'Gangster Squad'

According to the L.A. Times, Warner Bros. has pulled trailers for its upcoming release Gangster Squad from theaters and the Internet. It also claimed that in light of Friday's tragedy, they are evaluating whether to move the release of the film or to recut the film altogether.

The potentially offending scene is one towards the end of the trailer in which gunmen shoot up a theater from behind the screen and walk out into the audience. While similar scenes have been done in many films, I have to admit that this scene was the one that immediately came to mind when I heard about the Colorado shootings.

It's hard to say for certain what is appropriate or how much time is required to pass, but I think that Warner Bros. is taking the appropriate measures. From what I can gather from others who have seen the movie in early screenings, the scene in question is pivotal to the plot so it would not be east to remove outright. To do so would require significant re-shoots and a certain delayed release date.

Currently, Gangster Squad is slated for a September 7 release. While all of the official trailers have been pulled, you can still see the scene intact below.

Show me your hands

Veteran character actor Fred Willard was arrested late last week on suspicion of lewd conduct in a porn theater. The 72-year-old star maintains his innocence and as you can see in the story linked above, even the theater owner has come to his defense.

While this is certainly a serious charge, you had to know that jokes would soon pop up. My favorite was a tweet from Albert Brooks:

I love Fred Willard. He's a great guy. For his birthday I'm getting him a den and a computer.

The children are our future

Apparently something called the Teen Choice Awards were handed out this weekend. If you detect of note of sarcasm in my voice, it's because I find it hard to recognize any awards show that gives Taylor Swift an acting award as being legitimate.

Of course, we have a star profile for Taylor Swift so I guess we're part of the problem too. If you want to see all of the winners, just click here.

Jena on 'Fire'

While Jennifer Lawrence will always be known as the girl on fire from The Hunger Games, she now has some real competition in the series. Warner Bros. has made the Internet's worst-kept secret official, Jena Malone has landed the coveted role of Johanna Mason in the sequel Catching Fire.

I'm tickled pink by this news as I think Jena is a great casting choice for a critical and memorable character. Johanna Mason is also a winner of a previous Hunger Games and her character bristles quite nicely with Lawrence's Katniss Everdine.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins filming next month with a November 22, 2013 release planned.

As they say, it's always best to go out on top. With that in mind, I bid you adieu. Until next time, mix well my friends.

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