Here’s How ‘Dunkirk’ Crushed ‘Emoji Movie’ at the Box Office

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On paper — or maybe on a smart phone screen — “The Emoji Movie” may have looked like a sure thing. It’s a family-friendly cartoon based on the emoticons that every texting kid with opposable thumbs knows and loves. To attract parents, it has a voice cast of popular stars. And it’s from the studio that turned a phone game into a cartoon smash (“The Angry Birds Movie”) last summer.

In fact, “Emoji” did surpass the modest expectations held by both its studio (Sony) and box office experts. Most predicted a debut of around $20 million for the cartoon, yet it premiered with an estimated $2.7 million. Among new wide releases, “Emoji” beat Charlize Theron’s spy thriller “Atomic Blonde,” which underperformed slightly with an estimated $18.6 million and debuted in fourth place.

Even so, “Emoji” wasn’t strong enough to overcome “Dunkirk,” a week-old movie aimed at much older audiences, with no box office stars. The World War II drama finished first again with an estimated $28.1 million. Bad reviews and less-than-okay audience ratings lead to “Emoji” striking out. Here are a few more reasons:

1. Buzz
Families can smell a bad movie, even a kid-oriented one, and stay away/not give it their box office. And the Friday to Saturday decline for “Emoji” looks like that’s exactly what happened.

“Dunkirk” has some of the year’s best reviews (with a 93 percent fresh score from critics at Rotten Tomatoes) and audience word-of-mouth (an A- at CinemaScore). Critics also liked “Atomic Blonde” (75 percent at RT), but audiences were less thrilled (a B at CinemaScore).

Viewers gave “Emoji” a B, which is a very weak grade for a cartoon. And critics absolutely hated it (8 percent “Rotten”). A kid-appeal movie like “Emoji” ought to be critic-proof, but the CinemaScore grade indicates that paying customers were as disappointed as reviewers were. And Sony must have known critics wouldn’t like it, since it withheld the film from them until the last minute. Hollywood has been complaining all summer that low scores on Rotten Tomatoes are hurting sales, but having no score at all doesn’t necessarily help.

2. Audience
Kids’ movies are not the automatic gold mine they once were. Look at this summer’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” which topped out at $20.7 million, or Sony’s own recent “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” whose $45.0 million domestic take is by far the lowest for the three “Smurfs” movies. The reason? Kids don’t always make the ticket-buying decisions. Often, their parents do, and there was little about the film that appealed to grown-ups.

3. Female Appeal
Still, to the extent that it’s moms choosing which movie for the family to see, “Emoji” had a slight edge, drawing an audience that was 52 percent women and girls. Indeed female appeal has been the story of the summer, from “Wonder Woman” (at $395.4 million, it’s the summer’s biggest hit and the third biggest domestic hit of all time for Warner Bros., behind only Christopher Nolan’s last two Batman movies) to “Girls Trip” (this weekend’s third place finisher, with a strong $20.1 million in its second weekend).

4. Timing
“Atomic Blonde” took some advantage of the girl-power trend, though it had to settle for sharing the female audience with “Girls Trip” and the action audience with “Dunkirk” and several other holdover hits. It might have done better had it opened a week or two later, or it might have struggled against Stephen King fantasy epic “The Dark Tower” and Halle Berry’s “Kidnap.”

“Emoji,” however, benefited from being released a full month after the last major kids’ cartoon, “Despicable Me 3,” so it pretty much had the marketplace to itself.

5. Star Power Is a Big Deal
For the second straight week, the biggest name at the box office wasn’t anyone in front of the camera; rather, it was “Dunkirk” director Nolan. Theron does well at the box office among ensemble casts — like this spring’s “Fate of the Furious,” or recent hits “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Prometheus.” She’s much less a draw on her own or as the biggest name in a cast (“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”).

As for “Emoji,” many of the comedy-credentialed names in the voice cast (T.J. Miller, Maya Rudolph) don’t matter to kids and won’t necessarily impress adults. Casting a beloved Shakespearean thespian (Patrick Stewart) as the poop emoji isn’t going to fool grown-ups into thinking “Emoji” is a prestige picture.

6. Social Media
Of course, “Emoji” was made to be marketed on your kids’ phones. Sony partnered with numerous apps to release “Emoji”-branded content. And “Emoji” stars like Christina Aguilera and Sofia Vergara were able to leverage their large social media followings into interest in the movie.

7. IMAX and Cool Fight Scenes > Emojis
Style was part of the selling point for “Atomic Blonde,” thanks to both its period setting and director David Leitch’s (“John Wick”) ability to stage inventive action scenes on a small budget ($30 million). “Emoji” was also low-budget ($50 million, a pittance by animation standards), but its cheapness shows. “Dunkirk,” however, remains the current visual champ, with its wide-screen battle scenes. It’s currently hoarding the nation’s IMAX and large-format venues, resulting in a full $22 million of its $102.8 million earned to date coming from the giant screens and their ticket surcharges.

To the extent that it takes eye-grabbing, immersive spectacle to draw moviegoers out of their living rooms and into the theaters, “Dunkirk” has a clear advantage.

Adults may not be as fluent as kids are in the language of emojis, but a blank space at RT the day before a movie opens is a sign that smart, ticket-buying moms know how to read.

The First Teaser of Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Mother!’ Is ‘Insane’

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Jennifer Lawrence has most of the quotes, and screams, in the first tease for “Mother!” The clip doesn’t tell us much about what’s happening, but it does a great job of setting a dark, ominous tone. We know what’s happening ain’t good.

The full trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller will arrive August 8. The movie was originally scheduled to open in October, but it got moved up to September 15, and it will now compete at the Venice Film Festival, and have its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

The teaser mostly shows Lawrence walking around a seemingly empty house as we hear her voice, and the voices of her co-stars, including Ed Harris, Javier Bardem, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

“What brings you to us,” Lawrence is heard asking at one point. “He’s a stranger,” she adds later. “Did you know he had a wife?” “Who are these people?” Her unease escalates, with her character ultimately screaming, “You’re insane,” and “Murderer!”

Watch the teaser:The full trailer arrives in about a week on August 8. The movie opens in theaters on September 15.

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Angelina Jolie Refutes ‘False and Upsetting’ Claims of Child Cruelty on Set  

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Angelina Jolie is understandably “upset” that her new Vanity Fair interview left readers believing she tricked starving orphans in a twisted money game to cast her new Netflix film.

The truth, Jolie said in a statement to The Huffington Post, is that the children were aware that it was a “pretend exercise” improvisation from an actual scene in the film, “First They Killed My Father,” based on a survivor’s memories of the Khmer Rouge killings in Cambodia in the 1970s. She added that she would be outraged herself if real money had been taken away from any kids, and the whole point of the film is to help protect children caught in the crossfire of war.

Rithy Panh, a Cambodian filmmaker and producer on the film, also called the criticism a “misunderstanding,” and shared his own lengthy statement to set the record straight.

Here’s the full statement from Angelina Jolie:

“Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present. Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand everyday, to ensure everyone had all they needed. And above all to make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the recreation of such a painful part of their country’s history.

I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario. The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened.

The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.”

A source added to HuffPost that the children were aware they were improvising a scene, and no real money was involved.

Here’s part of producer Rithy Panh’s longer statement:

“I want to comment on recent reports about the casting process for Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father, which grossly mischaracterize how child actors were selected for the film, and I want to clear up the misunderstandings.

Because so many children were involved in the production, Angelina and I took the greatest care to ensure their welfare was protected. Our goal was to respect the realities of war, while nurturing everyone who helped us to recreate it for the film.

The casting was done in the most sensitive way possible. The children were from different backgrounds. Some were underprivileged; others were not. Some were orphans. All of the children were tended to at all times by relatives or carers from the NGOs responsible for them. The production team followed the families’ preferences and the NGO organizations’ guidelines. Some of the auditions took place on the NGOs’ premises.

[…]

Great care was taken with the children not only during auditions, but throughout the entirety of the film’s making. They were accompanied on set by their parents, other relatives or tutors. Time was set aside for them to study and play. The children’s well-being was monitored by a special team each day, including at home, and contact continues to the present. Because the memories of the genocide are so raw, and many Cambodians still have difficulty speaking about their experiences, a team of doctors and therapists worked with us on set every day so that anyone from the cast or crew who wanted to talk could do so.

The children gave their all in their performances and have made all of us in the production, and, I believe, in Cambodia, very proud.”

“First They Killed My Father” is scheduled for release on Netflix in 2017.

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Movie News: How ‘Deadpool 2’ Will Be Like ‘Rush Hour’; Very Young Jean Grey Rumored for ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’

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Deadpool 2: Wade Wilson, created as a supervillain by writer Rob Liefeld and scripter Fabian Nicieza for Marvel in 1991, will return in Deadpool 2. Played by Ryan Reynolds, he’ll be teamed for the first time on the big screen with comic book cohort Cable (Josh Brolin). How will the sequel differ from the original? Liefeld says: “It’s going to be comic book’s equivalent to Rush Hour and I don’t know if comic fans are ready for it. I think it’s going to be great.” [ComicBook]

X-Men: Dark Phoenix: Reportedly, Summer Fontana (TV’s The Originals) has joined X-Men: Dark Phoenix as young Jean Grey. If the report proves to be true, the eight-year-old actress will be playing a younger version of the character first portrayed by Famke Janssen…
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Film Representation of Women, Minorities Remains Largely Unchanged From Previous Year Despite Increased Awareness: Study

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Women, hispanic and disabled characters are represented in a way most disproportionate to their U.S. demographics, according to a study from the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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Emilia Clarke Celebrates Instagram Milestone With Adorable Chewbacca Video

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She’s the Mother of Dragons on “Game of Thrones,” but Emilia Clarke is “Queen of the Wookiees as well.”

Clarke has a mystery role in the untitled Han Solo movie and, while filming, her Instagram hit the 10 million follower mark. So she celebrated by posting this great little video with Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo:

In a Instagram far far away……. 💫 (Or in pinewood backlot filming #untitledhansolomovie ) One CHEWBACCA (and one @emilia_clarke) wanted to THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU 10 MILLION WONDERSTAR-INCREDIBLE DREAM MAKERS for following me!!! 🏁✌️♥️ Yup. Those dreamboats at @starwars said yes, this furry ball of joy could help me thank you personally… @joonassuotamo you are more than just a cute nose and lotta hair to me. #allhailthewookieofourdreams #behindthescenes #behindthelove ❤️💪🏻🙌👌🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆❤️

A post shared by @emilia_clarke on Jul 28, 2017 at 10:38am PDT

Suotamo reposted the photo, adding, “Earlier today at work, Emilia told me about her hitting 10 million followers on IG. Needless to say I lost it immediately. Congratulations!!! 🎉🎉🎉 You’re the Queen of the Wookiees as well as Dragons, and the Iron Throne, and!! ***”

New director Ron Howard has also been sharing images from the set of the Star Wars standalone movie, including his own Chewie post, plus a look at young Lando. Most recently, he added this shot:

Working out a shot w/cinematographer Bradford Young for #UntitledHanSoloMovie pic.twitter.com/z4ZYFZXBE4

— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) July 28, 2017
The Han Solo movie is currently scheduled for release on May 25, 2018.

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What’s New on TV, Netflix, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: July 31-August 6

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At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what’s new on Netflix and TV, we’ve got you covered.

New Video on Demand, Rental Streaming, and Digital

“Alien: Covenant”
Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” sequel is ready to terrify you at home with its Digital HD release this Tuesday, August 1. Two weeks later on August 15, “Alien: Covenant” will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD. Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, and Demián Bichir star in the sci-fi thriller, which comes with so many bonus features — a making-of documentary, deleted and extended scenes, commentary by director Ridley Scott, an inside look at “David’s Lab,” crew fear tests, and more.

“How to Be a Latin Lover”
In this comedy out on Digital HD August 1, an aging Latin lover (Eugenio Derbez) is suddenly dumped by the older woman he married for money, so he moves in with his estranged sister (Salma Hayek) and her 10-year-old son (Raphael Alejandro), and tries to use the kid to meet a rich widow. Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Raquel Welch, and Rob Corddry co-star in the movie, which is out on DVD and On Demand August 15. Special features include two behind-the-scenes featurettes; deleted and extended scenes; and audio commentary with director Ken Marino, producer Ben Odell and editor John Daigle.

“Comrade Detective” (Amazon Original)
This one sounds crazy, Amzon Prime-ers, but it’s worth trying. Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt dub the voices of the lead cops in this spoof based on a 1980s Romanian gritty police series. The show follows two detectives as they seek to uncover who killed a fellow officer. Played by real-life Romanian actors Florin Piersic Jr. and Corneliu Ulici, their lines will be dubbed by Tatum and Gordon-Levitt. The rest of the Romanian speaking characters will be dubbed by Jenny Slate, Chloe Sevigny, Jake Johnson, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, Kim Basinger, Mahershala Ali, Tracy Letts, Bobby Cannavale, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton Duplass, Jerrod Carmichael, Bo Burnham, and John Early. “Comrade Detective” premieres August 4 on Amazon Prime Video. Watch the trailer to get a feel for it.

“Fun Mom Dinner”
This has been a big year for moms gone wild, and “Fun Mom Dinner” follows suit. In this comedy — in select theaters and On Demand/Digital HD this Friday, August 4 — four moms whose only common ground is their kids’ preschool class, decide to get together for a harmless “fun mom dinner” that begins in disaster but leads to an unforgettable night. The all-star cast includes Katie Aselton, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott, Rob Huebel, Adam Levine, and Paul Rust.

New on DVD and Blu-ray

“The Circle”
The dream cast of Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Bill Paxton, Glenne Headly, and Patton Oswalt united for this adaptation of Dave Eggers’ best-selling book about the dark side of social media. The thriller arrives on DVD, Blu-ray, and On Demand August 1. Bonus features include three making-of featurettes, a look at the future of technology, and an interview with Tom Hanks and James Ponsdolt reminiscing about their work with the late Bill Paxton.

Check out this exclusive clip from the bonus features, with Patton Oswalt and Tom Hanks talking about Oswalt’s character, Tom Stenton, co-founder of The Circle.“The Lovers”
In this critically acclaimed romantic comedy, Tracy Letts and Debra Winger play a married couple — both secretly cheating on each other — who are sent reeling when they suddenly fall for the least likely person: each other. The film co-stars Aidan Gillen, Melora Walters, Tyler Ross, and Jessica Sula, and it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD August 1. Bonus content includes audio commentary with writer/director Azazel Jacobs and two behind-the-scenes featurettes on the music and making of the film.

Watch this exclusive featurette clip with writer/director Azazel Jacobs talking about casting Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as the leads:“The Drowning”
Josh Charles, Avan Jogia, and Julia Stiles star in this psychological thriller based on the novel “Border Crossing,” about a psychologist (Charles) who jumps into an icy river to rescue a young man (Jogia) from drowning, only to discover that he is the man who was convicted of murder 12 years earlier based on the psychologist’s own testimony. Watch what happens when the film arrives on DVD and Blu-ray August 1, including a behind-the-scenes clip of the cast exploring their characters and the intricate details of the past, present and future.

“Colossal”
Anne Hathaway plays a hard-drinking party girl who is shocked to discover she’s somehow controlling a giant monster who has been causing devastation across the globe in Seoul. At the same time, her friend and bar owner (Jason Sudeikis) seems to be causing a giant robot to appear in the same area. Pity South Korea and see what happens when the offbeat sci-fi comedy — co-starring Dan Stevens, Tim Blake Nelson, and Austin Stowell — arrives on Blu-ray and DVD August 1.

“Big Little Lies”
HBO is exploring options for a sequel to this star-studded Emmy-nominated limited series, led by Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, and Nicole Kidman. All seven episodes arrive on Blu-ray and DVD on August 1, along with six “Inside the Episode” pieces and an exclusive extended “About Big Little Lies” piece featuring new cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

New on Netflix

Guess what? This week marks the start of a new month, and you know what that means: A heap of new titles will be added to Netflix as of August 1, and a bunch more will be leaving.

“Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later” (Netflix Original)Keep ’em coming, Netflix! “Ten Years Later” is the sequel to the 2001 cult classic comedy “Wet Hot American Summer,” and also sequel to the 2015 prequel “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.” These eight episodes, set in the 1991 — 10 years after the pivotal summer at camp — star everyone under the sun (except Bradley Cooper?). Check out the full cast list in the trailer, and watch the magic this Friday, August 4.

“Icarus” (Netflix Original)Every week Netflix streams a new must-watch documentary, and this week it’s “Icarus.” Filmmaker Bryan Fogel sets out to learn about performance-enhancing drugs in sports, and ends up discovering a lot more than he ever imagined. Watch the trailer and deep-dive into the scandal this Friday, August 4.

  • “The Matrix”
  • “The Matrix Reloaded”
  • “The Matrix Revolutions”

There is no spoon, but there are three “Matrix” movies waiting for you to binge them on Netflix, starting August 1.

TV Worth Watching

“The Sinner” (Wednesday on USA at 10 p.m.)
In USA Network’s eight episode close-ended series, Jessica Biel plays a young mother who commits a shocking act of violence when overcome with an inexplicable fit of rage. That launches a crime thriller surrounding the “why” of what happened, as an investigator (Bill Pullman) finds himself obsessed with uncovering the woman’s buried motive.

“Sharknado 5: Global Swarming” (Sunday on Syfy at 8 p.m.)
“Make America Bait Again!” If you could stand the others, you can probably stand this one, which is still giving paychecks to Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, plus Cassandra Scerbo, Masiela Lusha, Cody Linley, Fabio, Charo, and Gilbert Gottfried. Watch it with Twitter for best results.

“The Guest Book” (Thursday on TBS at 10 p.m.)Last week, HBO debuted “Room 104,” with every episode following different guests in a hotel room. Now TBS is offering this comedy following the visitors of the vacation home Froggy Cottage. “While the house and cast of characters living in this small mountain town remain the same, each episode will feature a different set of vacationing guests.” The series — which stars Kellie Martin, Charlie Robinson, Aloma Wright, Carly Jibson, Garret Dillahunt, Laura Bell Bundy, Eddie Steeples, and a bunch of other stars you’ll see in the trailer — begins, appropriately enough, with “Story One.”

“Swedish Dicks” (Wednesday on Pop at 8 p.m.)
Peter Stormare and Johan Glans star in Pop TV’s procedural comedy about a pair of mismatched detectives who form the firm Swedish Dicks, solving some of the strangest and wildest cases L.A. has ever seen. Keanu Reeves never does TV, but he has a recurring role in this 10-episode first season, and you’ll also spot Anthony LaPaglia, Eric Roberts, and Margaret Cho. Here’s the synopsis for the first half-hour episode, which premieres August 2: “Ingmar (Peter Stormare), a former stuntman, is trying to get by as a private investigator. A private dick, as they used to say. One day, a case leads him to an incredibly annoying DJ, Axel (Johan Glans). But it’s not just irritation that Axel awakens in Ingmar.”

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