The victory of of Kung Fu Panda 3 at the box office this weekend conjures one of the most common questions you have to ask yourself when keeping a constant eye on the charts: when is a hit not a hit? Sure, the third film in DreamWorks Animation’s series did open at number one and its numbers are very good, but they’re lower than you’d think. In any case, it still fared significantly better than the rest of the competition this week — all of the other new releases simply flopped.
When the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced nearly two weeks ago, the response to the overwhelmingly white line-up of talent proved instantly controversial. Film fans and industry veterans alike gathered around the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to make their voices heard, especially decrying how films starring black actors and directed by black filmmakers — like Creed and Straight Outta Compton — somehow managed to only receive nominations for the white people involved in making them. With material this ripe, of course SNL was going to take a swipe at the Academy Awards this week.
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.
We’re not entirely sure why SNL decided to riff on Disney’s Aladdin in this week’s episode. It’s not like the 1992 animated movie has entered the national conversation again for some reason. If anything, this feels like someone on the writing staff rewatched the movie with his or her family over the show’s holiday break and came back with an idea or two. The result: the least timely parody you’ve ever seen! Although it is pretty funny and will appeal directly to those click-happy millennials.
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.
It’s a testament to the staying power of certain public figures that they’ve been played by more than one SNL cast member over the years. People like Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady turned former Senator turned former Secretary of State turned current Democratic Presidential frontrunner, linger on long past Saturday Night Live cast rotations. So what is the show to do when one of its guest hosts used to play a vital and very much in the public eye politician back in the day? Put her on stage with the current version, of course.
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.
Once families finished feasting on Thanksgiving, they had several options: continue enjoying each other’s company in the privacy of their own home, brave the crowds in search of deals at the retail store of their choice, or nip any potential argument over politics in the bud by heading out to the movies. Option three was apparently a popular one this year, as the overall top 10 for the week was the healthiest it has been in awhile, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 fending off The Good Dinosaur and Creed, which still performed well.
As expected, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 topped the box office charts this weekend. But like the war in the movie itself, it all feels like something of a hollow victory. That may seem like a weird thing to say about a movie that broke $100 million in its opening weekend, but this is a new low for the series’ box office receipts…and it’s not even close.
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