If you’re a particularly committed cinephile with an HBO subscription, then you’re undoubtedly aware that the network is notorious for showing films in the wrong aspect ratio. For instance, Mad Max: Fury Road was formatted in 2.35:1 widescreen, but changed to 1.78:1 for HBO — effectively cropping out a significant portion of the action. Although casual viewers likely don’t notice a difference, it’s rather frustrating for more dedicated movie fans…and directors, as evidenced by an interesting Twitter exchange between Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Peter Atencio.
When I was younger, one of my favorite parts of buying movies was seeking out the best package of special features. I must’ve owned three or four different copies of Evil Dead over the years, with each new release or re-release featuring a brand new interview with the filmmakers, unseen behind-the-scenes footage, or a new featurette on the film’s enduring appear to fans. These days, absent the occasional Criterion Collection, Arrow Films, or Scream Factory release, my hunt for special features has mostly died out, but that’s only intensified my appreciation for VFX sizzle reels. It’s the on special feature I still find I get excited for.
One of the fun parts of film criticism is trying to identify which blockbuster movies that open to middling reviews will undergo a critical re-appreciation in the years to come. For example, while audiences were generally disappointed with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus on its release, the movie has slowly gained steam with critics, becoming something of an under-the-wire classic in the last few years. And now, just a few months after the release of Kong: Skull Island, there are already those who have argued that its unique aesthetic makes it one of the better action movies of the year.
The legendary King Kong got more than a few moments in the sun with Kong: Skull Island, but can the eighth wonder of the world even fit into TV? We’ll find out, as a new live-action King Kong series is reportedly in development, but not set within Legendary’s growing monster-verse.
In a parallel universe where Paramount Pictures doesn’t alienate its fanbase, we might be talking about Ghost in the Shell as the big winner of this weekend and the de facto start of a new wave of Japanese Hollywood adaptations. Instead, DreamWorks Animation and The Boss Baby blew up the box office, no doubt delighting a handful of DreamWorks executives who watched the Ghost in the Shell controversy unfold with glasses of champagne in hand. After all, nobody’s going to boycott a movie about a baby who wears a suit.
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, shrouded in mystery and a hurricane that never dissipates, lies a place beyond comprehension. It is Skull Island, a land where God never finished creation. It is home to monstrosities beyond imagination. Massive spiders with limbs like bamboo poles. Hideous lizard beasts known as skull-walkers. Also, street tots.
It might be a tale as old as time, but audiences have proven there’s still a few petals left on that old flower. Despite being projected to open at somewhere between $214–245 million worldwide, Beauty and the Beast knocked the pants off those projections, eclipsing $350 million at the international box office and setting a March record for domestic releases along the way. Let’s take a look at how things shook out this past weekend with some of the expected grosses.