Christmas Weekend at the Box Office wasn't very strong. With the big holiday on a Sunday, all of the family movies disappointed, but the more adult films didn't do much better. "M:I4" won with $26.5M (the lowest open in the franchise - hurt by the IMAX opening). "Sherlock 2" dropped over 50% from the previous weekend.
"Alvin 3" surprised many by beating newcomers "The Adventures of Tintin" and "We Bought a Zoo" ($13.3M to $9.1M to $7.8M). "Tintin" made only $17M for the 5-day total. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" also underperformed ($13M Fri-Sun; $21M Wed-Sun). The bright side to this story is that "Arthur Christmas" stayed in the Top 10 for the Christmas weekend making $2.7M. It's rare to have a Christmas movie stay on the list for the actual holiday weekend.
This is one of the lowest Christmas weekends of all time. Here are some stats for the same weekend over the past several years:
2011 - #1 Movie: "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" (PG-13) - $26.5M; Top 12 - $87.6M; 6 New Movies (In Wide Release) - 4 Counted in Original Estimates
2010 - "Little Fockers" (PG-13) - $30.8M; $132.2M; 3 New Movies
2009 - "Avatar" (PG-13) - $75.6M; $259.9M; 3 New Movies
2008 - "Marley and Me" (PG) - $36.4M; $179.6M; 5 New Movies
2007 - "National Treasure 2" (PG) - $44.8M; $152.1M; 5 New Movies
2006 - "Night at the Museum" (PG) - $30.4M; $109.3M; 4 New Movies
So far no family moviers are schedule to open Christmas Weekend 2012. Either that will change, or based on what happened this year, could stay the way it is. "The Muppets" was originally going to open on Christmas Day, but was thankfully moved to Thanksgiving. If it had stayed a Christmas day release it may have also struggled.
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Here are some suggestions on what you can do before or after Santa pays his annual visit:
- See "Arthur Christmas". Make it a gift to yourself and your family. It's a delighful animated film for all ages and, obviously, very timely. If you've been waiting since it can out last month to see it when you were really in the holiday mode the time is now!
- Watch "A Christmas Story". The modern classic airs for 24 hours straight for the 15th year in a row on TBS.
- Both version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the cartoon and the Jim Carrey movie) and "It's a Wonderful Life" both air on network TV over the weekend.
- And finally, spend time with your family and friends and share some Christmas spirit with those less fortunate and total strangers. It will make you and them feel great.
Over the last few years, the four major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX) have been making new animated holiday specials to try to revive the genre. And for the most part they've succeeded. "Shrek the Halls" and "Prep and Landing" have been big hits for ABC. "Merry Madagascar" and "Yes Virginia" are also very good. Four new ones premiered this holiday season. Here are my thoughts:
"Hoops and Yoyo Ruin Christmas" CBS - The hilarious Hallmark card characters get their own special in which they go back in time and help save Christmas for future generations. It's funny, has cute animation and a surprise twist. B+ View here: HOOPS AND YOYO (CBS.com)
"The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf Story" CBS - Based on the Elf on the Shelf book and toy, this bland special is just a marketing to try to sell the product. It's lacks excitement, heart and talented voice work. This is one of the weaker efforts in recent years. C-
"Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas" FOX - The entire voice cast from the "Ice Age" film series are part of this half-hour special which may be a predictable, but is still clever (although Scrat is underused). B
"Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice" ABC - This follow-up is a genuine original, with lots of laughs and nice messages. I still prefer the original, but this is great fun. A- You can watch the original "Prep and Landing" and this sequel back-to-back this Thursday beginning @8pm on ABC.
The Golden Globe nominations never fail to surprise and disappoint. And this year is no different. Some high and lowlights:
- Is there another movie named "My Week with Marilyn"? - because the one I saw wasn't a musical or a comedy.
- Happy with animated category - except for "Tintin", which doesn't belong. Put "Pooh" in it's place and they would have the nailed the Top 5 (for the most part). I don't have "Rango" in my Top 5, but most say it's the best of the bunch.
- "Hugo"? Best Picture? If Martin Scorsese wasn't connected with the film it would be considered just another average family adventure movie.
- Glad "Hello Hello" ("Gnomeo and Juliet") got Best Song nom, but nothing from "The Muppets"? "Pictures in my Head" may be best of year.
- Happy for: Jonah Hill who's great in "Moneyball", Owen Wilson and Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris", Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis ("The Help), George Clooney and Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") and Kenneth Branagh ("Marilyn") Disappointed: Adam Sandler for "Jack and Jill" (hey, he played two parts!)
- I knew Ryan Gosling had a hot year, but a double nomination is still a little surprising.
BIG SNUBS: "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (Gary Oldman), "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock), "The Tree of Life" (Many thought Brad Pitt would get a Double Nomination). He did get one for "Moneyball".
- But the biggest surprise of them all was Woody Harrelson's hilarious promotion for his upcoming movie right before naming the Best Drama nominees. Top that Ricky Gervais.
"Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol" opens nationwide on the 21st, but it's being released in 400 IMAX theaters five days earlier on the 16th. I can't remember the last time a big budget movie opened in just a limited number of screens and then expanded wide a few days later. So how much money will "M:I4" make opening weekend? Considering the cost of IMAX tickets and that it won't be sharing the IMAX spotlight those days with "Happy Feet Two" (which bombed) I'm predicting between $10 and $12 million. After all Cruise fans and fans of the franchise will want to see this film as soon as possible, no matter what it costs (at least that's what Paramount is counting on). And there's the added bonus of the "Dark Knight Rises" prologue. On the flip side, it will be going up against "Sherlock Holmes 2" and "Alvin 3".
Then a few days later (also the 21st), "The Adventures of Tintin" opens in IMAX 3D. This is another Paramount film, so will "MI4" have to share the IMAX screen with "Tintin"? If so that will hurt it's box office.
This could have been avoided if the IMAX preview (or the wide release) had been this weekend instead.
The National Board of Review has announced its winners for the best acting performances and best movies of the year. I realize they want to be the first every awards season, but it's way too early to be handing-out honors for movies, many that haven't even opened yet.
Among their Top 10 Films of the Year are both George Clooney movies ("The Descendants" and "The Ides of March"), "The Artist", "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" and "War Horse" (opening Christmas Day). But it's their outrageous selection for "Hugo" as the Best Movie of 2011 that really has me baffled. If "Hugo" is the best movie of the year (I gave it a C) than it's been a terrible year in movies. Not surprisingly Scorsese also won Best Director.
Clooney wins Best Actor for "The Descendants" (good choice) and Shailene Woodley (who plays his eldest daughter in the film) is their Best Supporting Actress. Christopher Plummer gets the Best Supporting Actor nod for "Beginners". But the biggest surprise out of the acting group is that Tilda Swinton beat both Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Michelle Williams ("My Week with Marilyn") to win Best Actress for "We Need to Talk About Kevin".
The Best Ensemble Award went to the cast of "The Help" (another fine decision), and they gave out a special award to the "Harry Potter" franchise. For the Best Animated Feature category they chose "Rango" - not my top pick (or even in my Top 5 this year for that genre), but it looks like the frontrunner for the Globes and the Oscar.
I'm most pleased that both "Buck" and "Born to Be Wild 3D" were chosen as two of the five favorite documentaries of the year. The National Board of Review should honor five animated movies as well instead of just one. I'm hoping "Buck" gets nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar. I guess "Hugo" will get an Academy Award nomination, but I can't see it winning. Next, we've got the Golden Globes nominations, on Dec. 15th, to deal with.
December is traditionally a good month for DVD releases, because many of the top summer movies make their disc debuts in time for the holidays. This year is certainly no exception, with some of the best family films and adult dramas of the year set to appear on store shelves.
For younger kids/families:
"The Smurfs" - Dec. 2; "Mr. Popper's Penguins" - Dec. 6"; "Kung Fu Panda 2" - Dec. 13; "Dolphin Tale" - Dec. 20
For action/sci fi fans:
"Cowboys and Aliens" - Dec. 6; "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" - Dec. 13
"The Help" - Dec. 6; "Contagion" - Dec. 16; "Midnight in Paris" - Dec. 20
"Glee: The Concert Movie" - Dec. 20
Even though I didn't like all of these films, that's a pretty impressive line-up. I expect a lot of these will end up under the tree on Christmas morning in home all over the movie world. There's a few I'm hoping to see under mine and a couple ("Cowboys and Aliens", "Glee") that if I get them I'll know I must have been really bad this year.
A new Regal movie theater just opened not far from where I live so I decided to take a trip to see this 10 screen cinema, one of the screens being an RPX (only the 2nd RPX in New York State). RPX stands for Regal Premium Experience, which is supposed to have better picture and sound quality than IMAX, complete with a giant, IMAX-size screen. I saw "Hugo" on the RPX screen, but this one is much smaller than the RPX in NYC I've been to and smaller than every IMAX screen I've ever seen. In fact, it was just about the same size as other screens in this same, new theater.
The lobby and ticket booth are also small, but the staff on this day was doing a nice job moving people right along, and the theater, in general, is colorful and clean. But with so many big movies out (and only 10 theaters) films such as "The Muppets" and "Arthur Christmas" were only on one screen. That night "Muppets" and a "Twilight" shows were sold out, turning families away. You'd have to think many will consider going somewhere else with more choices the next time.
The theaters themselves are also small - ranging from 150-300 seats. The RPX theater holds 300 and the picture and sound are fantastic. The seats are leather, and they're comfortable, for about the first hour or so. Then you start to get fidgety. And fidgeting in leather seats creates noise. And leather seats cost money. But with a ticket price of $15.50 for 3D movies in RPX, the theater will make that money back quickly.
One of the most puzzling things about the design of the theater are the railings attached to the aisle seats, which leave you only 16-inches or so of space to get into the row and to a seat. This will pose a problem for heavier people and folks carrying food who will have to squeeze-in sideways.
And the seats in the first few rows on the floor and even futher up on the sides provide terrible views of the screen, but that's also the case in most theaters.
Overall, this new Regal theater is nice, and I understand that the company wanted the re-model completed in time for the holiday releases. But whenever I go to a brand new, state-of-the-art theater I hope to be blown-away and this time the experience was a little underwhelming. C+.
L.C.J. RECIPE FOR A GREAT THANKSGIVING:
- Watch a Parade
- Eat with the Family
- Watch some Football
- Eat some More
- Watch a Movie. And you've got some great choices this year. I'm surprised that many are predicting that "Twilight" will beat "The Muppets" and win the weekend Box Office. I don't see it. I think Kermit and company win the 5-day and the 3-day. And don't listen to people who will say that "Arthur Christmas" was a disappointment with moviegoers if doesn't have a great first week. If families only have the chance to see one movie they're going to see "The Muppets", knowing they'll have plenty of time for "Arthur", especially as we get closer to Christmas and they want to get into the spirit of things.
BOX OFFICE UPDATE: "Twilight" wins Wednesday with $12.5M. "The Muppets" opens in second with $6.6M. "Arthur" comes in 4th with $2.4M and "Hugo" makes $1.7M to open in 7th. I'm still expecting "Muppets" to win Fri-Sun.
This Wednesday, "Arthur Christmas", "Hugo" and "The Muppets" open nationwide. This might be one of the tightest races of the year for box office supremacy considering that all three are going after the same family audience. Here's a break-down of the race, and thoughts on which has the best chance to win:
"Arthur Christmas" PG 1hr. 37min. - an Animated comedy about Santa Claus and his family. Previous Sony Pictures Animation movies have opened with an average of $26.8 million. The film has fantastic early reviews, but parents might decide to wait a week or two closer to Christmas to bring the kids to it. Opens in 3,300 theaters. Columbia.
"Hugo" PG 2hr. 7min - a Live-Action adventure based on an award-winning book. This is famed director Martin Scorcesee's first family film, that alone could draw in both adults and kids. But opening in only 1,200 theaters will hurt the film's chances for big success. Awards buzz and solid early reviews should help. Paramount.
"The Muppets" PG 1hr. 45min - the big-screen return of the iconic characters will likely draw in diehard fans of the old shows and movies and as well as a whole new generation of kids. Plus, with Disney behind it and Jason Segal, Amy Adams and Kermit the Frog as stars, this is expected to be a blockbuster. And the marketing for this film has been huge. Opens in 3,300 theaters.
And you have to factor in weekend #2 of "Twilight". Here are my predictions:
1. "The Muppets" $42M ($60M 5-Day)
2. "Twilight" $38M
3. "Arthur Christmas" $31.5M ($46M 5-Day)
4. "Hugo" $7.8M ($10.2M 5-Day)
Considering the positive buzz for all three new films, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 could go down as the best single day for family films in movie history. Hard to imagine, with practically everyone off from school and work the following day (Thanksgiving) that most people won't be going to see one of these three that day. And it looks like those of us who do will all have something to be thankful for.
In November 2008 I saw "Live with Regis and Kelly" for the first time. That was also the first time I got to meet Regis Philbin. We'd written back and forth several times before then - me as a big fan, he simply as a nice guy. I'll never forget that first show - he came over to where I saw sitting during a commercial break to say hello and then after the show he invited me and my parents up to his office.
After a brief tour, including a photo with his famous Dean Martin cut-out, Regis sat with me for over an hour - asking me questions and answering mine. He gave me the tie he wore that day on the show and autographed it to me. He posed for pictures and then allowed me to interview him, on camera, for my school TV station. It was one of the most amazing days of my life.
The next time I went to "Live" Regis and Kelly actually interviewed me on the show, another incredible thrill. It was actually my first national TV appearance and a complete surprise and will always be one of the highlights of my career. And again Regis brought me upstairs and gave me the star treatment.
I was lucky enough to go to the show four other times, in person. But I was also on "Live" in Apr. 2010 - the day Regis announced that I had won a N.Y. Emmy. He held up my picture and told the world. Again - amazing.
This past Friday I attended "Live w/Regis and Kelly" for the 6th and final time. It was also the 6th-to-last show that Regis will do, as his 28 year run on the show ends this Friday. And once again, during commercial breaks he came over to chat and after the show we shared memories and best wishes. I know this won't be the last time we get together (I'm going to need him to autograph my copy of his new book) and I can't wait to learn where he's going next (he's not saying). But today I simply want to say "Thanks".
Regis has been an idol of mine since I was very young and it's not often that someone gets to meet their idol and then have them become a good friend. And I want to answer the question I get from people all the time: Yes, he is the same incredibly nice, funny and thoughtful guy in real life as you've seen on TV for the past 50+ years - and will continue to see for many more years to come.
Morning television will never be the same.
Billy Crystal will host the Oscars for the 9th time on February 26th. This is the first time since '04 that Crystal has hosted, and I believe will be my first Billy Oscar show. Maybe the Muppets will still present an award, or Kermit will win for Best Actor.
The Twitter, Facebook and website campaigns were fun - even though they are no longer necessary. While having the Muppets host would certainly have been a techinical nightmare for everyone producing the show it would have undoubtably been more entertaining than any Academy Award telecast in recent memory.
But movie fan and Oscar fans love Crystal. And obviously it didn't take much to convince him to take the gig, one day after Eddie Murphy backed-out. However, most young people don't even know who Billy Crystal is, so if the Academy is still hoping to grab a hipper, younger audience (as they tried last year) they're going to have to add more to the show that just a veteran host.
He was a safe choice in the middle of a controversy. We'll see if he was the best choice.
Crazy week for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - and the Oscars are still over 3 months away!
Once Brett Ratner resigned as producer of the 84th Academy Awards you knew that Eddie Murphy wouldn't be far behind. Ratner has been replaced by Brian Grazer, but so far a new host (or hosts) has not been named. (Personally, I think there's another Murphy out there who would do a great job, but so far no call).
But there's no shortage of possible candidates. Kelly Ripa is trying to start a campaign to get Regis to host. Afterall, he'll have the time since he's leaving "Live" at the end of next week. But as much as I'd like to see that, I think the most interesting choice right now are the stars of the upcoming blockbuster "The Muppets" (and I'd don't mean Amy Adams and Jason Segal).
Yes, Kermit, Fozzie and the gang are officially campaigning to host the Oscar ceremony in February. While this would certainly be a techinical nightmare for everyone producing the show it would undoubtably be more entertaining than any Academy Award telecast in recent memory.
If you want to be part of the push to get The Muppets to host the show you can join the Twitter campaign @MuppetOscars
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced that 18 Animated films have been submitted for this year's Best Animated Feature category. If all of the films meet Oscar criteria, there will be five nominees because the number is over 16. However, some of the considerations are not even fully animated.
"The Adventures of Tintin", "Mars Needs Moms" and "Happy Feet Two" all use motion capture technology, and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" and "The Smurfs" are a mix of CGI and live-action. There's never been a live-action/CGI nominee, but past winners "Happy Feet" and "Wall-E" featured brief scenes of real people.
Here are the well-known candidates:
"Arthur Christmas" (which still has to play in LA to qualify)
"Gnomeo & Juliet"
"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil"
"Kung Fu Panda 2"
"Puss in Boots"
"Winnie the Pooh"
And here are the smaller/foriegn considerees:
"A Cat in Paris"
"Chico & Rita"
The Academy will announce the five (or possibly three) nominees in January, but here are my early predictions:
If it's only three "Cars 2" will likely be left out. I'm guessing (as of now): "Rango", "Pooh" and "Puss". If there are five, "Cars 2" and "Gnomeo" get added (though that could change).
Chris Miller has had much success as a member of the DreamWorks Animation team, but his shining glory can be seen in theaters right now. Miller is the director of "Puss in Boots", which was the number one movie in America last weekend, setting an all-time box office record for a Halloween weekend opening in the process. Miller has had a part in practically every DW animated film, doing voices in many of them. He does the voices for five different characters in "Puss" and hated directing himself.
If you'd like to hear his voice (and mine) check out my exclusive interview with Chris Miller, in which he says that talk in Hollywood these days is that the spin-off is the new sequel. If that's the case let's hope they're all as good as "Puss in Boots".
This is the first Halloween since 2003 that there isn't a "Saw" movie in theaters. Here are some observations:
"Paranormal Activity 3" (another scary frtanchise) would've won the weekend if it had opened on the 28th and not the 21st
Because of that, "Puss in Boots" wins the weekendwith $34M - the biggest opening for a movie on Halloween of all-time
"Saw II, III and IV" all won Halloween weekends from 2005-2007, but as the franchise became less and less popular, other films (including family films) overtook the series
In 2008, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" beat "Saw V" both Halloween weekend and the previous one with a combined total of $57.3 - $40.2M
In 2009, "Saw VI" opened the weekend before and lost to newcomer "Paranormal Activity" $21.1 - $14.1M (a franchise low). The next weekend, "Michael Jackson's This Is It" crushed the horror flicks on with $23.2M
Last year, "Paranormal Activity" dominated the weekend before Halloween with $40M. "Saw 3D" (a.k.a. "Saw: The Final Chapter") won Halloween weekend. The fact that it was the series finale likely helped.
"Puss" will likely win again next weekend (and have a low % drop). $34M is a little less than what most expected, but this does show that a family film can still dominate a weekend when most families are focussing on making costumes, carving pumpkins or attending parties - and not going to the movies.
"The Muppets" is Disney's reboot of the classic franchise. It's written by and stars Jason Segal. While the film has been doing well at early test screenings, veterans of the TV show and previous movies believe that Segal, co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin "didn't have a complete understanding of the Muppets characters or were willing to sacrifice the characters' integrity to land a joke."
The Hollywood Reporter has a lengthy article that discusses how many of the old crew members are "outraged" by the "crude" updating. "They're looking at the script on a joke-by-joke basis, rather than as a construction of character and story," says one.
There is a list of concerns: (without giving too much away): Kermit would never live in a mansion, as he does in this movie; The Muppets, depicted in the script as jealous of Kermit's wealth, would not have broken up in bitterness; The script "creates a false history that the characters were forced to act out for the sake of this movie," says an old Muppets hand.
It's interesting that Segal is such a die-hard "Muppets" fan (like his character in the movie) that he would be O.K. with an inaccurate script and the changing of backstories and the personalities of these well-known characters.
Frank Oz (director of "The Muppets Take Manhattan") said, “I don't think they respected the characters. But I don't want to go on about it like a sourpuss and hurt the movie.” Oz actually was thinking of doing a new "Muppet" movie and pitching it to Disney, but the studio decided to go in Segal's direction.
One of the things I'm most concerned about involving "The Muppets" (that none of these people even mention) are all of the celebrity cameos. There are about 25 of them. With so many stars there's a good chance they'll take the focus away from the story and the Muppet characters, which everybody wants to see. And how will Segal and Amy Adams share screen time with Kermit, Fozzie and the rest? We'll all find out on November 23rd.
If you were looking forward to seeing "Anonymous" next weekend (as I was), chances are those plans are not "To Be."
The Shakespeare mystery was originally supposed to have a wide release on October 28th (around 2,500+ theaters). But just a week before the curtain is scheduled to rise, Sony has decided to cut the number of screens from 2,500 to 200-250.
According to CinemaBlend, the Sony execs believe that the film wouldn't do well opening weekend, and that would hurt the word of mouth for what they and early reviewers are calling a great film. The studio is hoping for a strong, if limited, early box office and positive reviews in a limited number of theaters, so that a buzz for the film might grow over the coming weeks.
What makes more sense is that Sony thinks "Anonymous" isn't great and didn't want to see it bomb nationwide. So now the final week of October, which already lost "Johnny English Returns" (moved to this weekend) will have only three major releases: "Puss in Boots", "In Time" and Johnny Depp's "The Rum Diary". "Diary" will be overshadowed by the other two, which should finish 1-2 at the box office.
In "Real Steel" 12 year old Dakota Goyo boxes, dances and goes toe-to-toe with actor Hugh Jackman. I recently spoke with him about the movie and his career:
LCJ: In "Real Steel" you play Hugh Jackman's son, Max, who discovers an old boxing robot and together you try to make him into a champion. The movie is filled with very large robots. How often were there actual robots on set and how much was CGI?
Dakota Goyo: Probably around 50% real and 50% CGI. When you see in scenes when the robots are not moving then they are real. When you see the robots moving, especially when they're moving their legs, then they're CGI because the real robots could only move their hands and head.
LCJ: So you had to work with CGI robots in a lot of the scenes. Was this the first time you had to work with invisible co-stars and was it difficult?
DG: We did have Atom in a lot of those scenes with me. When he picks me up and I look into his eyes he was actually there. But a lot of the times I'd just be screaming into a tennis ball in the area. So it was much more difficult than having a human as a co-star.
LCJ: Were you a boxing fan before you got this part?
DG: I heard that Sugar Ray Leonard was going to be involved in the movie and training us. He's such a nice guy. I've always been a boxing fan - also UFC and Mixed Martial Arts. My brothers are into it so they taught me a few things and me and my dad trained. It was a lot of fun.
LCJ: Did you get to work at all with Sugar Ray Leonard, who, I know, helped train High Jackman for the movie?
DG: No, Hugh Jackman was the only one who trained with Sugar Ray Leonard. I wish I had gotten to train with him. I got to meet him at the LA premiere last week. He's such a nice guy.
LCJ: But you do get to dance in this movie. Was that a lot of fun - and did you have to be taught those dance moves?
DG: I never knew I could dance. Some of the moves I knew I could do so I just threw a lot of them together. I told our choreographer I couldn't dance and she taught me some more moves and I've been dancing ever since. Dancing in front of thousands of extras was very overwhelming. They were all going to scream no matter what so I just went out there and did the best I could.
LCJ: You have some scenes with Evangeline Lily in the movie. Was she nice to work with?
DG: She so sweet and so pretty. To get to work with the girl from "Lost" was so great. Me and my older brother had been watching all of the "Lost" episodes, even before I stared working on "Real Steel", so seeing her face on the TV screen and then in real life - on the outside I was like "no big deal", but on the inside I was going crazy.
LCJ: Looking at your career, one of your earliest roles was in another sports movie, which not too many people saw (though I did) - "Resurrecting the Champ", with Samuel L. Jackson. What was your experience on that film?
DG: I was only six. Working with Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett was so much fun. I was so young. I had a teacher on set with me and we played a lot of games between scenes. It was such a big world for such a little kid. And to have all these big stars around was very exciting.
LCJ: Recently you played the younger version of "The God of Thunder" himself, in "Thor". What was it like working with Sir Anthony Hopkins, another huge movie star?
DG: He is such a great guy and a legendary movie star. Getting the chance to work with someone like Anthony Hopkins doesn't come everyday. It's certainly something I never thought I'd get to do. Getting to work with people like Hugh Jackson and Anthony Hopkins has been great.
LCJ: You're re-uniting with High Jackson in next year's animated film: "Rise of the Guardians" from DreamWorks. I'm really looking forward to this film. Did you get to meet him while you were doing your voice work for "Guardians" or not until "Real Steel"?
DG: I didn't meet Hugh until "Real Steel". We had separate recording sessions for that film, but it's going to be great to hear how they put the voices together so it sounds like I'm talking to him. Obviously it's a lot more difficult because I didn't have him there to work with so you have to use your imagination a lot.
LCJ: Did you always have a dream when you were younger than you wanted to voice an animated character?
DG: I watched a lot of cartoon when I was little so I guess I did. I always watched "Arthur" and so when I got to voice the twins that was a dream come true.
LCJ: What's more fun for you - voicing an animated character or playing a real-life character?
DG: Doing an animated film is fun because you can go to work in your pajamas, not brush your teeth and be stinky and smelly and nothing happens. But if you do that on a feature film people are going to go "Disgusting!" Feature films are more exciting because you have so much more pressure on you, there's people all around and you're in the setting of the film. I definitely enjoy feature films more.
LCJ: What's next for you? Do you have any other projects coming out besides "Rise of the Guardians"?
I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but the way "Real Steel" ends there's a good chance we could be seeing a "Real Steel 2". Would you be interested in doing a sequel?
DG: I think the whole cast and crew are hoping for a "Real Steel 2". Getting to see each other again and working together again would be great. I'm looking at some other scripts right now. It's been a good year, with all the movies that I've done.
Here are more of my picks for movies that are worth watching now on HBO:
"How to Train Your Dragon" (PG) Well-told animated adventure that's one of DreamWorks' best.
"The A-Team" (PG-13) Hilarious and outrageous action from start to finish, with a solid cast (Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel).
"Tooth Fairy" (PG) Simple story with nice messages for the adults, hockey and Dwayne Johnson as a Tooth Fairy for the kids, and Hollywood legends Julie Andrews and Billy Crystal for everyone. What more could you want?
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" (PG-13) Not my personal favorite in the "Potter" saga, but definitely worth seeing before "Part 2", which comes out on DVD November 11th.
And here's one that I strongly recommend you not to waste your time watching:
"Gullivers Travels" (PG) The second worst movie of 2010. That statement alone says a lot. Premieres This Saturday. Please make plans to have something - ANYTHING - else to do that night.
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