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"Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" is one of the best films of 2014 and a frontrunner for Best Picture and Best Ensemble honors this Awards Season. The dramedy also has a defiant score dominated by a single drum set. In this LCJ INTERVIEW, Golden Globe nominated "Birdman" composer and drummer Antonio Sanchez talks about working on this, his first film, with visionary director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Ranking Titles...Bond Titles Movie Review

Sony Pictures has announced that the 24th installment in the 007 series will be titled "Spectre". Returning James Bond, Mr. Daniel Craig, will be joined by Ralph Fiennes and new villain Christoph Waltz (a perfect casting choice), along with returning director Sam Mendes (who helped earn 2012's "Skyfall" two Oscars and a total of 5 nominations). "Spectre" hasn't begun shooting, even though the release date is a mere 11 months away - November 6, 2015.

So, to mark this occasion, here's my ranking of all 24 James Bond movie titles (the titles only), from Best to Worst:

1. "Thunderball"
2. "You Only Live Twice"
3. "Tomorrow Never Dies"
4. "Dr. No"
5. "The Man with the Golden Gun"
6. "For Your Eyes Only"
7. "Casino Royale"
8. "GoldenEye"
9. "The Spy Who Loved Me"
10. "Skyfall"
11. "The Living Daylights"
12. "From Russia with Love"
13. "Goldfinger"
14. "License to Kill"
15. "The World Is Not Enough"
16. "Diamonds Are Forever"
17. "Die Another Day"
18. "Spectre"
19. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
20. "Octopussy"
21. "Quantum of Solace"
22. "A View to a Kill"
23. "Moonraker"
24. "Live and Let Die"

Will It Fly? Will It Fly? Will It Fly? Movie Review

Last December, NBC did something no TV network had done in nearly 50 years: televise a live musical. "The Sound of Music LIVE!", a three-hour, stage production starring country singer Carrie Underwood as Maria Von Trapp, drew nearly 19 million viewers. So The Peacock has decided to take a calculated risk and air another one.

"Peter Pan LIVE!" will fly into homes this Thursday night. Allison Williams, the daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, and co-star of HBO's "Girls", plays Peter. It's an interesting choice, but if the show is a success, this role will likely propel Williams' career to new heights. In the one-hour "Making of" special that aired last week, Williams seems confident with her lines and working with the other actors, many of which, of course, are children. But it's the actual flying that's got her and likely everyone else most concerned. Any above-ground mistake could be serious and will make instant headlines.

Since every Peter needs a Hook, this is where Oscar-winner Christopher Walken comes-in. Yes, the sly, 71-year-old is going to sing and dance and over-act as the larger-than-life one-handed pirate. For me, this is the most interesting thing about the show, because you never know what Walken might do, especially if something goes wrong. Personally, I'd love to see Walken (as Hook) tell his crewman during one of the songs "Fellas, we need a little more cowbell". Hey, this is an NBC production!

I'm predicting "Peter Pan LIVE!" will not do as well ratings-wise as "The Sound of Music LIVE!" Many viewers will likely check in and out, like I did last year, listen to a song or two, watch some flying, and then move on with the evening. Of course, NBC is hoping for another smash hit. And they've already got "The Music Man LIVE!" (including 76 trombones) lined-up for next year.

The

If you predicted that the adventures of Woody and Buzz were over after 2010's Best Picture Oscar nominee "Toy Story 3", you are surely regretting it now. The announcement that John Lasseter will return to direct "Toy Story 4" (due out in June 2017) stunned many, and delighted even more. The screenplay, co-written by "Parks and Recreation"'s Rashida Jones, is reportedly a love story.

Fans seem to be split on the news. Many are thrilled they'll get to see more of Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Hamm, Bonnie and the rest of the gang. But others, including those who thought "Toy Story 3" ended perfectly, and those fed-up with Pixar's "obsession" with sequels and prequels, believe this decision is a complete mistake.

This week on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon", Tim Allen talked a little about "TS4". But his main focus was on the challenges in dealing with Tom Hanks voicing Woody. Allen stated that most of his lines as Buzz Lightyear are basically "Watch out, Woody!" He joked that, because of his two Academy Awards, Hawks gets all the great monologues. However, Allen takes pride in the fact that Buzz outsells Woody in the action figure world.

Good news: we don't have to wait 2 1/2 years for a new "Toy Story" story. Following the success of last year's Halloween treat, "Toy Story of Terror", a post-Christmas-themed "Toy Story That Time Forgot" premieres this Tuesday, December 2nd at 8pm on ABC. The plot sounds a little confusing, and the TV promos don't give away much. Let's hope this special lives-up to the very high standards of the franchise. Not one of the feature films, shorts or TV specials has disappointed us yet.

Ultimate 2014 Holiday Movie Preview Movie Review

This Holiday Season is jam-packed with choices. From Awards Season contenders, to guaranteed blockbusters, there's something for everyone. I've made the list - and checked it twice:

FAMILY FARE

"Penguins of Madagascar" (PG) The DreamWorks Animation spinoff to the highly-successful "Madagascar" trilogy is the final animated release of 2014. New voice cast members include Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich and Ken Jeong. Nov. 26

"Annie" (PG) This updated version of the classic musical stars Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"), Jamie Foxx, and Cameron Diaz as Ms. Hannigan - a controversial casting choice since announced last year. Dec. 19

"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" (PG) 5 1/2 years since 2009's "Battle of the Smithsonian", we finally get the third installment in the Ben Stiller-starring franchise. Rebel Wilson and Sir Ben Kingsley join the cast, and the film features the final on-screen performances of both Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney. Dec. 19

"Into the Woods" (PG) Disney's holiday musical boasts an all-star cast of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, James Corden, and Johnny Depp. Looking to become The Mouse House's first live-action Best Picture nominee since "Mary Poppins" 50 years ago. Dec. 25

ACTION!

"The Pyramid" (R) 'Tis the one horror movie option of the season. Dec. 5

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" (PG-13) Ridley Scott directs Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton as Moses and Ramses in this Biblical epic. Co-stars Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, and a busy Sir Ben Kingsley. Dec. 12

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (PG-13) The 3rd and final chapter in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" prequel trilogy, as Bilbo Baggins and Co. go on one, final "precious" quest. Dec. 17

HO! HO! HO!

"Horrible Bosses 2" (R) Follow-up to the 2011 hit with the all-star ensemble of Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis, and Jamie Foxx. New to the clan this time around are Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz. Nov. 26

"Top Five" (R) Chris Rock writes, directs, and stars in this romantic/inside Hollywood comedy. Supporting cast includes Kevin Hart, Rosario Dawson and Tracy Morgan. Early buzz is quite good. Dec. 12

"The Interview" (R) Seth Rogen and James Franco reunite and play a talk show producer and host who travel to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-Un. But the CIA has other ideas. Could be really funny or a huge, edgy flop. Dec. 25

CRIME DRAMAS

"Inherent Vice" (R) Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and Reese Witherspoon (in a supporting role) star in this ensemble dramedy from director Paul Thomas Anderson ("The Master"). Dec. 12 (Limited)

"The Gambler" (R) Mark Wahlberg wants money and John Goodman wants his money back. Dec. 19 (Limited)

"A Most Violent Year" - Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") and Jessica Chastain star. Dec. 31 (Limited)

THE CONTENDERS (aka Based on a True Story)

"The Imitation Game" (PG-13) Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley give nomination-worthy performances as British mathematicians Alan Turing and Joan Clarke looking to break the Nazi Enigma Code and end WWII. An inspiring drama. Nov. 28 (Limited)

"Wild" (R) Witherspoon seeking another Best Actress win as Cheryl Strayed, who's seeking purpose in her life while on a 1,100 mile hike. Dec. 5 (Limited)

"Mr. Turner" (R) From British director Mike Leigh. This is one of two painter biopics this season. Here, Timothy Spall plays J.M.W. Turner. Dec. 19 (Limited)

"Unbroken" (PG-13) Directed by Angelina Jolie, it's the true, incredible story of Olympian Louis Zamperini's fight for survival. Jack O'Connell is getting some Best Actor buzz. Dec. 25

"American Sniper" (R) Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper in this true story of one of the most influential Navy SEALs in U.S. history. Dec. 25 (Limited)

"Big Eyes" (PG-13) Some are calling this Tim Burton's most "normal" movie in years. Amy Adams (going for her sixth Oscar nomination) plays successful painter Margaret Keane, with Christoph Waltz as her husband. Dec. 25 (Limited)

"Selma" (R) The Martin Luther King biography has David Oyelowo ("Lee Daniels' The Butler") in the lead role. Dec. 25 (Limited)

Plenty of big films to see, so getting your shopping done early.

He's Still Got the Music in Him Movie Review

We haven't heard much from Gregg Alexander, former lead singer of the band New Radicals, since he left the band in 1999. The music drama "Begin Again" marks Alexander's notable return to the music scene, as the co-writer of Awards Season Best Original Song frontrunner "Lost Stars" (performed by Adam Levine). In this LCJ Interview, Alexander talks about making the movie, putting this fantastic soundtrack together, and his future in the industry.

Johnny Rockets Shoots for the Moon with Drive-In Theaters Plan Movie Review

The first Drive-In movie theater opened in 1933 and, at one time, there were over 4,000 operating in the US. Today, sadly, there are fewer than 300 Drive-Ins still open. However, the Johnny Rockets restaurant chain wants to change that. Johnny Rockets has announced plans to build up to 200 new Drive-In theaters, each with a Rockets drive-thru restaurant, by the year 2018. Along with the old-fashioned, 50s theme of the restaurant chain, which fits perfectly with the Drive-In image, plans are for ticket prices to be low and for customers to have food delivered to their cars.

It all sounds too good to be true. Here are my concerns: First of all, will the head honchos at Johnny Rockets know how to efficiently run Drive-In Movie Theaters? Most of the theaters in operation today are family owned and run by people who have been doing it for 50 years! I happen to have some inside knowledge of the business and, trust me, there are unique challenges to pulling-off a successful Drive-In.

This is also going to be a very costly experiment. For Johnny Rockets, which right now only has about 300 restaurants in the world, to not only drastically expand it' food business, but add 200 outdoor movie theaters - which means buying 200 large plots of land, construct screens, purchase state-of-the-art digital projection systems, etc. - just seems like too much. And, according to the company, these will be all-new theaters, not renovations of old, abandoned Drive-Ins. Wow!

And there are always the obvious climate-related issues to consider. Where I live Drive-Ins are only open from April-Sept. Will Rockets attempt to battle the northeast weather and stay open year-round (and be prepared to shut-down on rainy summer nights) or will they only build these new theaters in the south and west (and just hope it never rains)? There are so many questions.

My prediction: This plan, as it's designed right now, isn't going to work. And I truly hope I'm wrong. I am one of the world's biggest supporters and fans of Drive-In movie theaters. But there are just too many things here that can go wrong. Hopefully they'll cut back and open, maybe, 10 over the next 5 years, and see how it goes. I believe the family audience is out there to support the concept - if the locations are right.

But if I was sitting in for Mark Cuban on "Shark Tank", and was pitched this as a business investment, I'd have to say: "For those reasons, I'm out."

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is the highest-grossing animated film of 2014 worldwide and is out on DVD/Blu-Ray this Tuesday, November 11th. DreamWorks Animation is hoping for multiple Best Animated Feature nominations throughout Awards Season. In this LCJ Interview, producer Bonnie Arnold, who will join director Dean DeBlois on stage if "Dragon 2" wins, talks about the success of the film and the future of the franchise.

Biggest Showdown of the Fall Movie Review

A three-hour space epic vs. an animated superhero adventure. The first weekend of November is going to be one of the biggest of 2014, with the first legitimate big budget box office battle since "22 Jump Street" defeated "How to Train Your Dragon 2" in June. Two GIANT releases are competiting for the top spot. So the question is, which film is going to be the champ: "Interstellar" or "Big Hero 6"?

"INTERSTELLAR"

Pros
- All-star cast including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine, along with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain
- Director Christopher Nolan has an excellent recent track-record ("Inception" which opened to $63M in 2010, and "The Dark Knight" Trilogy)
- Based on trailers, the film looks intense, exciting and promising

Cons
- It's 2 hours and 49 minutes, nearly twice the length of last year's "Gravity" (which grossed $274 million)
- Early reviews have been mixed
- In fewer theaters than "Big Hero 6" and will have fewer showings (because of length) per screen

"BIG HERO 6"

Pros
- Walt Disney Animation Studios' follow-up to $400M juggernaut "Frozen"
- Early buzz says it's a contender for a Best Animated Feature nomination
- Based on Marvel comic book, so likely will bring in that crowd as well

Cons
- It's a down year for animation, with WB's "The LEGO Movie" as the only true success story $257M domestic; nothing's come close since February
- With "Penguins of Madagascar" out on Nov. 26, will families familiar with that franchise hold off?

- Moviegoers may wait a week or two to see it (no other family options until "Penguins")

PREDICTIONS: "Interstellar" wins with $68 million (the total will be over $70M by Sunday since it opens in select theaters on Wed.) "Big Hero 6" will will finish a strong second with $54 million.

2014: The Year

"The Simpsons" is Primetime TV's longest-running scripted series. Now in its 26th season on FOX, the 31-time Emmy-winning animated comedy shows no signs of slowing down, since the showrunners have made 2014 one of the most memorable years in "Simpsons" history by crossing over...A LOT:

To celebrate the 550th Episode in May, "The Simpsons" crossed-over into the world of LEGOs with a mix of the traditional, hand-drawn animation and a CGI LEGO look for "Brick Like Me", a clever episode with a smart script that even poked-fun at "The LEGO Movie".

For the one-hour Season Premiere of fellow FOX animated series "Family Guy", Peter Griffin and Co. traveled to Springfield and interacted with The Simpsons and other townspeople. This episode attracted over 8 million viewers on a crowded Sunday night. There were some funny moments, but the crossover went on far too long, and the overall negative tone that the "Family Guy" is all about dominated the story. The script treated these two families/franchises equally when, obviously, that's not the case.

Last month, on this year's very strong "Treehouse of Horror XXV", The Simpsons crossed-over with themselves by having the "Tracy Ullman Show"-looking Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie interact with the present-day Simpsons.

And they're not done yet. Creator Matt Groening will be crossing over one of his other shows, the twice-cancelled "Futurama", into Springfield with "Simpsorama", airing November 9th.

Diehard fans seem to be appreciating these "Event Episodes", which are keeping "The Simpsons" one of the most buzzed-about and respected shows on TV, even after all these years.

The Inside Story of

E. Max Frye is the Emmy-nominated screenwriter of the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers". He and Dan Futterman (Oscar nominated for 2005's "Capote") co-wrote the Steve Carell/Channing Tatum sports drama "Foxcatcher", out November 14th. But as Frye explains to me in this LCJ INTERVIEW (link here), the two never worked together on the film. He also talks about director Bennett Miller ("Moneyball") recruiting Tatum, the year-long release delay, and the Awards Season ahead.

Tyler Perry's Madea's First Animated Feature Movie Review

Tyler Perry has spent much of his acting career in ladies clothing, playing his on-screen alter-ego Madea. There have been six movies centered around the feisty, opinionated old woman, and the character has also made guest appearances in other Perry movies over the years. However, "A Madea Christmas", which was released last holiday season, made only $52 million (the second lowest in the franchise). Perry's hoping to add to that total when the DVD is released on November 25th.

It's no surprise, with Madea's popularity apparently sliding, that Perry has been looking to widen his acting scope. Recently he did a nice job in the very small role of attorney Tanner Bolt in "Gone Girl". Now Perry's getting into the world of animation, and including his trademark character. "Madea's Tough Love", a PG-rated hand-drawn animated film, is set to be released on Digital HD January 13th and on DVD/VOD January 20th.

Even though the animation itself looks cheap in comparison to what were used to, I'm surprised that Lionsgate didn't option this for theaters. It could have done well, especially with families looking for something over the usually bare mid-January period. Based on the first trailer (link from Animation Scoop), Madea is in prime form (though with less adult humor and bad language). And because she's animated, the situations are bound to be wilder than ever.

I've always enjoyed the Madea character, especially when placed within the right, satirical material. Hopefully "Madea's Tough Love" will be a fun kick-off to what will be a busy 2015 in animation.

The Following Preview is for a Film Opening Next Week Movie Review

I used to love movie trailers. But that was before the studios decided to turn them into mini-movies which give away way too much of the film. And now we're getting multiple trailers of the same movie, making things even worse. I've been complaining about this problem for years now, and the situation is not getting any better. Studio marketing departments see trailers as a great way to generate buzz and sell tickets, and they've recently begun using some new strategies, which you may or may not have noticed.

It wasn't that long ago that when you went to the movies there would only be three or four trailers, all of them usually in the same genre, relating to the film you were about to see. And these "previews" would be for movies opening weeks, even months, in the future. But now that's changed. These days, when it comes to trailers, anything goes.

The number of trailers now shown has doubled, even tripled in some parts of the country. I've been "treated" to as many as 10 on more than one occasion. At an average of two and a half minutes each, that could mean up to 25 extra minutes tacked-on to the time spent in your seat before the feature begins.

And there doesn't seem to be any rules anymore concerning genre. I've seen trailers for big, intense action films prior to family movies, and romantic comedy previews in front of dramas. The "Annabelle" trailer did not go over well with the 60+ year-old Denzel Washington crowd at "The Equalizer" screening I was at earlier this month. Theater chains used to be careful about this. Not anymore.

And another new trend is showing trailers for movies that are coming out the following week. This never happened in the past. At the screening of "Fury" I attended last week there was a trailer for the Keanu Reeves action film "John Wick", which opens this week. So much for planning ahead.

It seems that studios and theaters have simply thrown away the rule book. They'll show practically any trailer for any film before any movie in hopes of getting even one new person interested in seeing that film.

I hope we never get to a time when there will be clips for "The Pyramid" prior to "Penguins of Madagascar", but the way things are going nothing would surprise me. If I wasn't so concerned about getting my ideal seat, I'd consider waiting outside in the lobby and only enter the theater after all the trailers were over.

And that's sad...because I used to love movie trailers.

A Dollar and a Dream Movie Review

Practically everyone has dreamed about seeing their name on the big screen during the closing credits of a movie. How cool would that be! Well, now you have your chance. But it's going to cost you. Exactly one dollar!!!!

Academy Award-winning Producer Barrie Osborne ("The Great Gatsby", "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, "The Matrix") and his collaborators have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their film, "Talk is Cheap". But this isn't like other Kickstarter film endeavors where, for a donation, you may get a t-shirt or get to attend the premiere. Everyone who gives to the "Talk is Cheap" campaign earns the title of Associate Producer on the film. And they get their name, as an Associate Producer, in the end credits. The price for all this fame and glory? ONE DOLLAR!

Osborne has partnered on "Talk is Cheap" with writer/director/producer/actor Jim Jarrett. It's an environmentally-themed family drama centered on the relationship between a father and daughter. The budget for the film os $1.5 million, which will be raised, a buck at a time, through Kickstarter.

The plan is to have the names of all the contributors listed in the credits, and shown at a very fast speed, 200-250 per page. But I've been told that you will be able to freeze frame on your name and see it clearly. The team expects it will take around 4-minutes for all the Associate Producer names to be displayed. The names will also be included in all of the material released with the film and the DVD, and also on the movie's website.

Considering all the flack Zach Braff got for crowdfunding "Wish I Was Here", you might think Osborne and Jarrett are going to get hammered for this campaign. Even Homer Simpson, in last week's episode of The Simpsons , listed Hollywood Kickstarter campaigns, in which rich people ask the public to fund their movies, as one of the things he hates the most. But I think this time it's different for two reasons:1) It's only a dollar, and 2) What you get in return is pretty great.

Check out the "Talk is Cheap" Kickstarter page for more about the film and to become part of the campaign.

$1 to be an Associate Producer. Now that's cheap!

 

The Mojo of Box Office Mojo Movie Review

Box Office Mojo is one of the most reliable movie news websites in the industry, giving accurate daily box office results, as well as weekend estimates before Noon ET every Sunday. It also features year-by-year charts, special articles, predictions, news, and most importantly, MPAA rating announcements, release date and title changes. I go to boxofficemojo.com every day - in fact, several times a day. It's an invaluable research tool and helps with scheduling the films I need to see each week.

Last Friday (10/10) the site mysteriously disappeared, with visitors being re-directed to a generic box office page on IMDb (Amazon bought BOM, through subsidiary IMDb back in 2008) leaving millions of loyal fans and industry insiders rather puzzled. The disappearance of BOM was Variety's top story on Friday, as they, and many others in the movie business scrambled to try to find out what had happened. The internet was filled with speculation, as well as "RIP" stories. When I first Tweeted about the situation on Friday I heard back from panicked Mojo followers, worried that this was the end.

Was the site might be undergoing a design change (which it has done several times before since its inception in 1999)? Was Mojo being absorbed into IMDb? Would we now have to pay for access to the information that Mojo provides? Reps for IMDb and Amazon would not answer any questions from the media.

But then, just as mysteriously, Box Office Mojo returned midday Saturday, without any cosmetic changes. And when Sunday morning came, the weekend box office was up, as usual. When asked to comment, officials from both IMDb and Amazon still refused to reply. The head honcho at Box Office Mojo, Ray Subers, finally tweeted these two remarks on Sunday:

"I think it's about time to resume normal programming here..." and "Actually, two things. 1) I am 100% OK. No health/family/personal issues whatsoever. 2) I will not be answering any Qs re: the past 3 days."

And he still hasn't and probably won't. Will we ever know "the rest of the story" on what really happened to Box Office Mojo? Likely, no. But the most important thing is that the site is up and running, as if nothing happened at all.

If I had the chance to speak to Subers directly I would tell him, on behalf of the millions of us who enjoy and depend on his site, "Don't do that to us again!"

From Belle to Bullwinkle Movie Review

Gary Trousdale co-directed Disney's 1991 animated classic, and my all-time favorite movie, "Beauty and the Beast". Now, more than two decades later, Trousdale is bringing some iconic cartoon characters back for a new CGI "Rocky & Bullwinkle" short on DreamWorks' "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" Blu-ray/DVD, out Tuesday. In this LCJ Interview, Trousdale talks about the R&B return, and fills me in on some fascinating inside secrets and surprising facts about that "Tale as Old as Time".

New Home for Critics' Choice Awards Movie Review

As a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, I'm pretty excited with the news that the 2015 and 2016 Critics Choice Movie and TV Awards have a new home. In fact - TWO new homes! The Movie Awards show - The 20th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards - will air live on Thursday, January 15th, 2015 on A&E. And the event, for the first time, will take place at the historic Hollywood Palladium.

Most recently the CCMAs aired on The CW and were held at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica. The move to A&E, which reaches 96 million homes nationwide, is a nice step-up in class - a "perfect home" for the show according to BFCA/BTJA President Joey Berlin. A&E Executive VP and GM David McKillop says both shows will be "key highlights of the Movie and TV awards seasons for A&E viewers".

With Screener Season has already here, I'm completely pumped-up about the changes and look forward to increased promotion for the telecast, including during such A&E hit shows as "Duck Dynasty", "Bates Motel", and "Wahlburgers". And attending the event once again is going to be thrilling. The Palladium is an entertainment landmark, hosting performers from Frank Sinatra to Jay Z, and also being the location for several memorable films, including "Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip" and "The Blues Brothers".

So, mark your calendars now...and I've got some travel plans to make!

Audiences Come Back to the Movies Movie Review

For the second year in a row, the first weekend of October has proved to be a Box Office bounce-back. Last year, 7-Oscar recipient "Gravity" opened on Oct. 4-6 to a huge $56 million, and Sony previewed the Tom Hanks drama "Captain Phillips" in more than 800 theaters nationwide.

Now, following a disappointing September, Oct. 3-5, 2014 has given us one of the closest battles in years, as the thriller "Gone Girl" beat the horror prequel "Annabelle" by just $800,000 in the Weekend Estimates. With $38 million, the page to screen adaptation of "Gone Girl", starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, took-in $38 million, while "Annabelle" grossed $37.2 million. Both films exceeded their respective studios' (Fox, WB) expectations. UPDATE: "Gone Girl" beat "Annabelle" by just under $400,000 in the Weekend Actuals: $37.5M to $37.1M.

But congratulations are to be in order for all Top 5 movies of the weekend, as the "The Equalizer", "The Boxtrolls" and "The Maze Runner" combined to make more than $43 million, bringing the Top 5 total to an impressive $118.6 million.

This is the time of year when big movies return and Awards Season contenders emerge. Robert Downey, Jr.'s "The Judge" and Brad Pitt's "Fury", along with family films "Alexander and the Bad Day" and "The Book of Life" should help the box office stay strong all the way through Halloween, leading into what should be a blockbuster November.

"The Boxtrolls" is the latest stop-motion animated film from Laika, the makers of Oscar nominees "Coraline" and "ParaNorman". The adventure/family drama was released last weekend to strong reviews and the third biggest open in the genre of all-time. In this LCJ Interview, directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi discuss taking these characters from page to screen, a memorable experience working with Sir Ben Kingsley, that elaborate ballroom scene, and what the story means to them.

ABC felt confident enough to release the pilot episodes of two of their new Fall shows online and On Demand weeks before their premiere nights. I've already reviewed the inaugural installment of the drama "Forever". Now it's time for my thoughts on Episode 1 of the romantic comedy "Selfie", which airs this Tuesday, September 30th at 8pmET.

50 years ago, the movie musical "My Fair Lady" was released in theaters, and it went on to win the Best Picture Oscar, beating-out fellow iconic nominees "Mary Poppins", "Becket", and "Dr. Strangelove". The film starred Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle and Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins, and was based on the play 'Pygmalion'.

A half-century later, ABC, for some reason, thought they could successfully put an ultra-modern spin on this classic with "Selfie". Less than three minutes into watching the pilot and it was impossible to not only want to turn this off, but to search YouTube for a clip from the film to wash-away any memory of this bomb. Karen Gillan ("Doctor Who", "Guardians of the Galaxy") stars as Eliza Dooley, a Twitter/Facebook/Instagram obsessed 20-something who works at a pharmasutical company. We get to witness her completely fall apart aboard an airplane (including an extended vomiting scene). She realizes that, while she has plenty of internet "friends", she has no real-life friends or social skills. Looking to change her image (not on her profile), she begs for help from her company's marketing guru, Henry (played by "Harold & Kumar"'s John Cho). He's great at makeovers, but is a bit of a loner. Of course, they will now team-up and help each other.

"Selfie" does a great job of offending just about everybody in this first episode. The script is filled with racial and gender "jokes", which are simply embarrassing for everyone involved. There are no actual funny lines or situations, nor many opportunities for them. And there's no authentic  commentary or insights on the social media phenomenon.

Series creator Emily Kapnek, who also wrote the script, tries to make every situation cute and bubbly. But with awful musical placement and several uncomfortable moments (including a squirm-inducing rendition of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"), "Selfie" makes for #MustAvoidTV. The final segment is the best of a really bad batch, with Eliza and Henry realizing that love may be in the air. But because the premise is so basic and predictable, and the execution is so poor, there's little chance the show will survive long enough for anything to blossom - and certainly no one will be watching if it does.

After sitting through 32 minutes of "Selfie" on my DVR (can't FF through the commercials) there was one thing I couldn't wait to do - hit DELETE.


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