Pete Davidson Jokes About Suicide Scare, Reviews ‘The Mule’ In ‘SNL’ Return

Read on: Deadline.

Pete Davidson was back in full force on Saturday Night Live’s first show after the holiday break, doing a no-holds-barred Weekend Update segment with comedian and SNL alum John Mulaney, which skewered the latest Clint Eastwood movie The Mule and …

‘The Mule’ Has Quietly Shown That Clint Eastwood Is Still a Box Office Star

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The headlines of the holiday box office have belonged to “Aquaman” while “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” have brought in family audiences. But farther down the charts, Clint Eastwood has quietly left his own mark on the Christmas season.

After opening nearly a month ago to a $17.5 million launch, Warner Bros.’ “The Mule” has amassed a domestic total of $82 million against a budget of $50 million, and is on course to reach $100 million by the end of its theatrical run.

As a director, Eastwood has had several major hits this decade, the biggest being 2014’s highest grossing domestic release, “American Sniper.” He also found success with Tom Hanks on the biopic “Sully” in 2016. He’s also had some missteps, namely “The 15:17 to Paris,” which only made $57 million worldwide against a $30 million production budget before marketing.

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But “The Mule” is a different movie, because Eastwood is both in front of and behind the camera. It’s an actor-director combo that Eastwood hasn’t done since “Gran Torino” way back in 2008, and his first acting role since “Trouble With the Curve” six years ago. But when Eastwood does appear on the big screen, he can count on a devoted following of fans — mostly boomers — to show up to see him.

“For a generation, Clint Eastwood is The Man. There aren’t a lot of people in Hollywood these days at his age that have that must-see status,” comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap last month.

According to data from Movio, “The Mule” had by far the the highest concentration of moviegoers over the age of 50 among the December wide releases. When drilling down into that age demographic, Movio found Eastwood’s recent films, including “Sniper” and “15:17,” were the most common films that had previously been seen in theaters by “The Mule”‘s audience. Other films commonly seen by the film’s audience were the WWII biopic “Hacksaw Ridge” and “A Star Is Born,” which was directed by “The Mule” co-star Bradley Cooper.

The film is also doing well with people who don’t regularly go to the movies. According to the audience survey, 21 percent of those who bought a ticket to “The Mule” see less than four films per year. For the average film, infrequent moviegoers account for 16 percent of the total audience.

At a time when recognizable brands are driving the upper echelons of the box office charts, Eastwood is proving to be a throwback to the times when actors were the main draw for moviegoers. On top of that, the film had the advantage of being released by Warner Bros., which in 2018 was able to do an excellent job of marketing their mid-budget fare well to the specific demographics that would show up on opening weekend to the likes of “Ocean’s 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”

“WB did an excellent job handling this film,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “It worked well as an adult alternative to the Christmas blockbusters, especially in parts of the country where it was the only major drama in theaters. Plus it had two stars in Eastwood and Cooper that are very popular with older audiences, so that just further increased the word of mouth.”

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‘Aquaman’ Crosses $250 Million in Domestic Box Office in 3rd Weekend

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

On a mostly quiet start to the 2019 box office, Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” stayed atop the charts for a third straight weekend with an estimated $30 million total. That pushes the DC film’s domestic run to $259.7 million, 6 percent behind the domestic pace set by “Wonder Woman” in 2017.

Overseas, “Aquaman” has been a record-setting hit since it was released in China one month ago. With a running total of over $650 million, it is now the highest grossing overseas release in DC history, passing the $636 million made by “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012. In the next few days, “Aquaman” will also pass “TDKR” in the international total, becoming Warner Bros.’ first billion-dollar hit in six years and the first not released by Disney or Universal since summer 2014. The current global total is $940 million.

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In second place this weekend is the sole new release, Sony’s horror film “Escape Room.” Sony has found some mild success released low-budget horror films during quiet weekends on the release calendar, such as post-Thanksgiving weekend release “The Possession of Hannah Grace.” Here, “Escape Room” has opened to an estimated $18 million from 2,717 screens and against a $9 million production budget. The film has a 53 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and a B from CinemaScore audience polls.

Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” takes third with an estimated $15.8 million, giving the film a $138 million domestic total. The $130 million musical looks like it will be a modest success for Disney, as it crosses $250 million worldwide for a total of $258 million.

Also Read: 2018 Domestic Box Office Finishes With Record $11.85 Billion

Completing the top five are Paramount’s “Bumblebee” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” with $13 million each. “Spider-Verse” now has a total of $133.5 million, while “Bumblebee” has not yet reached the $100 million domestic mark after three weekends in theaters with a domestic total of $97 million.

Outside the top five, Warner Bros.’ “The Mule” continues to hold well as it dropped just 25 percent with a $9 million total in its fourth weekend, pushing its domestic cume to $81.1 million against a $50 million budget. Meanwhile, Annapurna’s “Vice” also held its drop to 25 percent with a total of $5.8 million and a domestic cume of $30 million. While the $60 million biopic still faces a long road to profitability, Annapurna will be hoping that some of the film’s six Golden Globe nominations lead to wins and more interest from audiences during awards season.

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‘Aquaman,’ ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Power Year-End North American Box Office

Read on: Variety.

Powerful holdovers “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns” are leading the way as the 2018 domestic box office finishes the year on a record-setting note. “Aquaman” will repeat as the winner of the final weekend of the …

Warner Bros Inks $100M Co-Financing Deal With BRON For Six Films, Including ‘Joker’ & ‘The Mule’

Read on: Deadline.

Warner Bros and BRON Creative, the joint venture between BRON Studios and Creative Wealth Media, have sealed a $100 million co-financing deal for six movies, starting with the Clint Eastwood thriller The Mule that opened last week.
The deal will make B…

Bron Creative Announces $100 Million Co-Financing Deal With Warner Bros.

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Bron Creative has closed a multi-picture, $100 million co-financing deal with Warner Bros, the company announced on Tuesday.

Bron Studios and Creative Wealth Media will co-finance several upcoming Warner Bros. films, including Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” the Batman villain prequel “Joker” with Joaquin Phoenix, the Ben Affleck-led film “Torrance” (working title) from Gavin O’Connor, as well as New Line Cinema’s “Isn’t It Romantic” with Rebel Wilson, “The Kitchen” starring Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish and “Superintelligence,” also starring McCarthy.

Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert and/or Creative Wealth Media’s Jason Cloth will also serve as executive producers on these upcoming films.

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The deal expands Warner’s relationship with Bron Creative, which previously co-financed New Line’s “The Good Liar,” which will be released on Nov. 15, 2019.

“I’m excited about expanding our relationship with Warner Bros.,” Gilbert said in a statement. “They have continued to be great collaborative partners and we feel they have put together a strong curated group of films for the global market.”

“The performance of Warner Bros. films speaks for itself. This is a studio and team with an unequivocal understanding of how to make and deliver hits. It’s a wonderful privilege to be partnered with an iconic brand that boldly continues to evolve, create and champion storytelling at the highest level,” Cloth added.

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“Aaron and the team at BRON have been great partners with us on ‘The Good Liar’ and we are happy to continue our partnership on these additional films,” Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich said in a statement.

Bron Creative has recently produced projects that include “Fences,” Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” “A Simple Favor” and “The Spy Who Dumped Me.” And they’ll also be behind “Greyhound,” a World War II film co-written by and starring Tom Hanks.

The co-financing deal was negotiated by Jason Cloth and Richard McConnell on behalf of Creative Wealth Media, Aaron Gilbert for Bron, supported by Bron’s Steven Thibault and Adam Davids, and by Endeavor Content.

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Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Swings to $35 Million Debut, ‘Mortal Engines’ Sputters

Read on: Variety.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the new box office king, collecting a solid $35.4 million during its first three days of release. That’s hardly the biggest opening for an animated film this year, but it does rank as the best st…

Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

Read on: Variety.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note. Sony-Marvel’s latest output is looking to pick up $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates pla…

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Swings to Top Box Office Spot

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is hitting analyst expectations and taking the top spot at this weekend’s box office, earning $12.6 million on Friday and on track to finish the weekend with a $35.5 million opening from 3,813 theaters.

With a $90 million budget, “Spider-Verse” is looking to leg out through the holiday season, as kids are only just starting to get out of school for holiday break and are expected to turn up in droves with their families to matinee screenings over the next three weeks.

The film has received overwhelming critical and audience acclaim, earning an A+ on CinemaScore and a 98 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, which should lead to strong word of mouth. By comparison, the Illumination movie “Sing” opened to $35 million in December 2016 and went on to post a domestic theatrical run of $270 million.

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In second is Warner Bros.’ “The Mule,” which is also posting a solid opening after earning $5.8 million on Friday and is estimated for an $18.5 million launch from 2,588 screens. Clint Eastwood’s $50 million crime film is only getting a slightly positive reception from critics with a 64 percent RT score, but it has won over the veteran actor-filmmaker’s fans with an A- on CinemaScore. Like “Spider-Verse,” “The Mule” will attempt to leg out over the holiday season, but with older audiences looking for an alternative to superheroes.

The big bomb of the weekend is Universal’s “Mortal Engines,” which had a reported budget of over $100 million and is projected to finish below its already abysmal tracker projections with an opening of just $8 million and fifth place on the charts.

While the marketing for this steampunk dystopian film flaunted the phrase “From the makers of ‘The Lord of the Rings’” — Peter Jackson and filmmaking partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens wrote the script — critics panned the film as dramatically inert, giving the film a 28 percent RT score while audiences gave it a B- on CinemaScore.

Also Read: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Scores $3.5 Million at Thursday Box Office

Universal is expected to take a hit on this film, marking a tough end to what has been a strong 2018 with over $1.7 billion grossed domestically. Universal co-financed the film with Media Rights Capital, with Jackson’s WingNut Films also producing.

On the bright side for Universal, Illumination’s “The Grinch” continues to hold up strong as a Christmas family film, estimated to earn $12.7 million in its sixth weekend as it steams towards the $250 million domestic mark. The film is now guaranteed to be the top grossing family film from last month’s competitive market, as it has finished above Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” on this weekend’s charts. After three weekends at No. 1, the Disney film has fallen to fourth on the charts with an estimated $9.5 million weekend.

Outside the top ten is Fox’s “Once Upon a Deadpool,” a Christmas-themed, PG-13 cut of the studio’s “Deadpool 2” with new footage starring Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage. Released on Wednesday, the film is looking at a $3.6 million five-day opening, with one dollar of every ticket donated to Fudge Cancer.

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Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Could Tangle Up to $40 Million in Debut

Read on: Variety.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is dominating the domestic box office as it heads for up to $40 million in its opening weekend at 3,813 North American locations, early estimates showed on Friday. Clint Eastwood’s drug-runner drama…

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Scores $3.5 Million at Thursday Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Sony’s animated superhero film, kicked off the holiday season release slate by webslinging its way to $3.5 million in Thursday box office previews. The film previewed on 3,321 locations ahead of opening on approximately 3,800 screens this weekend.

Sony is projecting a $30 million opening weekend for “Into the Spider-Verse” behind a $90 million budget, with independent trackers saying it could climb as high as $35 million.

“Into the Spider-Verse” opens opposite “The Mule,” the Clint Eastwood-starring and directed crime vehicle from Warner Bros., and “Mortal Engines,” a post-apocalyptic epic from producer Peter Jackson at Universal.

Also Read: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Film Review: Clever Superhero Saga With Animated Arachnids

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. In comparison, “The Lego Batman Movie,” which Lord and Miller also worked on, earned $2.2 million in its Thursday previews when it opened in February 2017 to a total of $53 million.

“Into the Spider-Verse” tells the story of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a Puerto Rican and African American teen who becomes a new Spider-Man and must take down the evil Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) with the aid of another Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) and other Spider-Men from alternate dimensions. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman direct the film with a script by Phil Lord. Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicolas Cage and Lily Tomlin co-star.

The film boasts an impressive 99 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes as one of the better-reviewed films of the year. Despite the potential fatigue from Spider-Man films with “Venom” being released in October, Sony is hoping that “Spider-Verse” will have a long life at the box office and experience a jump at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

Also Read: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Post-Credits Scene Explained

“Mortal Engines,” directed by Christian Rivers and produced by Peter Jackson, earned $675,000 in Thursday previews from 2,600 screens. It will open on approximately 3,100 screens this weekend.

Universal is projecting just a $10 million opening for the action/fantasy film with a reported $100 million budget. The film is based on a YA novel by Philip Reeve and is set in a post-apocalyptic world where cities ride across the planet on wheels, consuming other cities and towns in order to survive. Hera Hilmar stars with Robert Sheehan and Hugo Weaving. It has a 30 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Mule” is projected for a $20 million open while sporting a 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also Read: Sondra Locke, Oscar-Nominated Actress and Longtime Clint Eastwood Partner, Dies at 74

Eastwood’s “The Mule” is notable as the first Eastwood starring role since “Trouble with the Curve” since 2012, and it also reunites him with Bradley Cooper, who starred in his massive box office hit “American Sniper.” Earlier this February, Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris” earned $12 million in its opening weekend. Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” in 2008, also opened in limited release in December before expanding in January, and it earned $29 million upon opening wide.

“The Mule” stars Eastwood as a broke Korean war veteran who takes a job as a delivery man, only to discover that he’s been transporting millions of dollars worth of cocaine.

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‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ Grabs $3.5M In Thursday Previews

Read on: Deadline.

Sony Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung into Thursday grossing $3.5 million from showtimes starting at 5 PM from 3,321 locations, a solid number for this time of year.
Spider-Verse‘s number is higher than Universal/Illumina…

‘The Mule’ Film Review: Clint Eastwood Drives for the Cartel in Thoughtful, Bumpy Crime Tale

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

American movies are so addicted to well-intentioned wrongdoing that you’d think income-redistributing thief and ethical assassin were common career choices. But Clint Eastwood, who has mined our darker impulses for exhilarating pleasure for over half a century, knows how to tell an entertaining crime saga that keeps the pain, confusion, and moral quandaries front and center. Which makes “The Mule,” his 38th feature behind the camera (and gajillionth in front of it, this time as an octogenarian gardener turned drug courier), another mostly solid notch in a career built on making many of life’s notches feel like scars.

After three docudramas — “American Sniper,” “Sully” and “The 15:17 to Paris” — that amount to a trilogy of sorts about heroism, Eastwood’s return to acting sees him playing a resolutely non-heroic man whose survival choice is fascinating, nonetheless. Eastwood’s character, Earl Stone, is based on a real-life 90-year-old horticulturalist recruited to drive hundreds of kilos of cocaine across America for the Sinaloa cartel before he was caught by the DEA.

In the half-comic, half-dramatic extrapolation of the story as written by Nick Schenk — who scripted Eastwood’s last turn as director-star, “Gran Torino” — Earl is a gregarious, wisecracking day-lily grower in Peoria, Illinois, facing hard times after his business fails. Long estranged from his ex-wife (Dianne Weist) and the daughter (Alison Eastwood) he ignored during his marriage, Earl’s only family connection left is his granddaughter (Taissa Farmiga), soon to marry. When a guest at her pre-wedding party approaches him with a proposal to make money driving, Earl — whose record is spotless after years on the road — quickly accepts.

Watch Video: Watch a Ruined Clint Eastwood Smuggle Cocaine in ‘The Mule’ Trailer

In an El Paso tire shop, a handful of serious-looking, tattooed Mexican-American garage hands give Earl a suitcase, a burner phone, and dropoff instructions. Before long, Earl is happily flush with cash as the cartel’s best driver, winning the respect of kingpin Latos (Andy Garcia) and the chummy garage gang who affectionately call him “Tata” (grandpa), even as his old-man-at-his-own-pace ways work the last nerve of impatient cartel minder Julio (Ignacio Serricchio, Netflix’s “Lost in Space”).

At its best, “The Mule” is a sneaky disquisition on America as a place in which opportunity and success often carry disquieting undercurrents. Earl preferred work to family, then the internet (so he says) killed his business, so when an organization offers income for a simple task, Earl sees a chance to earn again and to be well-liked. Looking the other way is as American as anything, and if the largesse that reignites his flower business keeps his cash-strapped VFW hall open and finances his granddaughter’s education isn’t questioned by anybody — including Earl himself, often shown in his pickup singing along to the radio like a carefree lackey — then what’s the problem?

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Well, guilt and death, namely. “The Mule” becomes a better, admirably heavier film when more dangerous stakes, one character’s mortality, and late-in-life regret take over. Those later moments carry a heft that’s absent when Earl is a merry mule cavorting with prostitutes, and Eastwood’s camera is ogling grinding backsides at Garcia’s compound. The circumstance may technically fall within the movie’s “inspired by a true story” tag (the real-life guy did go on cartel-financed vacations), but these shameless scenes only seem “inspired by” an aged male director’s need to prove his abiding virility.

There’s also a clunky engagement with race and subculture, beyond Earl’s built-in familiarity with Spanish speakers as a one-time boss of undocumented migrants, that’s intended to indicate a changing society to an unfiltered senior (Much like “Gran Torino”). When Earl assists a black family with a flat tire, they politely inform him not to use the word “negro.” And yet Earl’s use of “ladies” when meeting a lesbian motorcycle gang is corrected when he learns they self-identify as Dykes on Bikes. (That earns a reaction shot with a rascally twinkle.)

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More effectively handled is a non-Earl moment when Bradley Cooper’s DEA agent, on the lookout for the cartel’s top driver, stops an upstanding Latino driver who articulates his nervousness: “Statistically, these are the most dangerous five minutes of my life.” Though he’s not mistreated, the few seconds of this rattled bystander struggling with his seatbelt afterward is the kind of empathetic detail about today’s America that few filmmakers telling a cops-and-criminals story would have bothered showing.

Eastwood’s on surer ground overall, though, when the walls start closing in on Earl and a reckoning (both figurative and literal) is at hand. Some may see Cooper as underused, but his sturdy appeal informs his two key exchanges with Earl, both centered on the consequences of a badly prioritized life. Eastwood and Weist also do memorable work laying out the recriminations and ruefulness of a failed marriage in a mere handful of scenes that reinforce both her excellence and how underrated he’s always been playing conflicted leading men.

Earl is, on some level, the perfect part for the 88-year-old legend, long a master of sneaking uncomfortable truths about life and finality into well-oiled, enjoyable packages. “The Mule” may not always stand with his most resonant work, at times betraying the awkwardness of someone set in his grizzled ways. But Eastwood’s tilled enough filmmaking soil over the years to know that the same ground can produce daylilies or contraband and that the most involving movies at least try to harvest both.

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