This may have been one of the weakest weekends at the box office this summer, with audiences seemingly avoiding movies new and old like the plague. Even the victories feel a little half-hearted, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows taking number one at the box office while not even coming close to matching the business of the first film. With Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping simply bombing, the only new release to show promise was Me Before You.
The Jungle Book was destined to take the number one spot at the box office this weekend. However, the early estimates were off by, oh, $20 million or so. Jon Favreau’s reimagining of this beloved story exceeded all financial expectations. Buoyed by strong reviews and positive word of mouth, the film had the second biggest April opening of all time, topped only by last year’s Furious 7.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was never not going to have an enormous opening weekend. Toxic reviews and mixed word of mouth mean nothing next to hype — that title alone guaranteed a record-breaking start. And right now, Zack Snyder’s superhero epic does look like a gigantic hit. However, this weekend is really all about the trailers and posters and Warner Bros.’ omnipresent marketing. The real challenge will be next weekend, when the film’s legs will be properly tested.
Kung Fu Panda 3 once again led the box office this weekend, but like its lower-than-expected opening weekend, it’s not as impressive as anyone was hoping or expecting. DreamWorks Animation’s sequel managed to fend off a trio of newcomers, but each of those films disappointed in their own ways, leading to a shrug-worthy top 10 that feels like Hollywood just accepting that everyone is going to be watching the Super Bowl instead of going to the movies.
Around this time last year, SNL presented a commercial parody centering around Totino’s Pizza Rolls, just in time for the Super Bowl. And it was a nasty piece of business, tearing apart the image of the NFL’s biggest game as a day for men and imprisoning Vanessa Bayer’s indefatigable housewife in the kitchen, where she was simply tasked with warming up more disgusting food. So when SNL aired another Totino’s sketch in last night’s episode, we simply assumed it would be a carbon copy of the first one. Boy, were we wrong.
The late, great David Bowie inspired countless artists of all stripes during his time on planet Earth. As a musician, an actor, a personality, and an encapsulation of all things odd, weird and wonderful, he touched countless lives...including former SNL star Fred Armisen, who returned to the stage during last night's episode to pay homage to Bowie in the most appropriate way possible: by sharing a clip from his appearance on the show back in 1979.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Adam Driver hosting 2016’s first episode of SNL, a Kylo Ren sketch of some kind was inevitable. After all, you don't get the actor who plays the villain in one of the biggest movies of all time to appear on your comedy variety show and not have him reprise that character. And we'll give the show this much: we never would have predicted a faux episode of Undercover Boss set on Starkiller Base, with the angry, murderous Kylo Ren going undercover amongst his troops as a radar technician named Matt.
It took Avatar two and half months to become the highest grossing movie of all time. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will surpass its domestic box office gross within the next day or two after less than three weeks in release. The big question now is when J.J. Abrams’ sequel will find its ceiling because as of right now, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Dual guest hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler brought a lot of magic to last night’s episode of SNL, but the former cast members and Sisters co-stars probably hit their peak with a sort-of-music-video about their “Dope Squad,” aka the team of perfectly ordinary people who make their lives better on a daily basis. And while they may be wearing tight leather outfits, wielding weapons, and posing dramatically in front of post-apocalyptic imagery, the subject matter is far more mundane…and then Amy Schumer shows up.
SNL commercial parodies are at their best when they’re at their most scathing. The fake ad for a fictional dating app called Settl may not be as dark as that vicious, pro-gun parody from a while back, but it’s a different brand of cynical: Here is the app for people who are tired of trying to find the right person and just want to settle down with, well, any person.
While traditional live sketches are still the backbone of any given episode, modern SNL is frequently at its best in the pre-recorded segments. The past few years have seen an interesting evolution as the silly “digital shorts” of a decade ago have matured into full-blown filmmaking, with sketches that feel more like short films than just a comedy bit. Last night’s Ryan Gosling-hosted episode peaked with a pre-recorded sketch titled “Santa Baby,” which let both SNL and Gosling himself turn the weird up to 11.
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