The ‘Child’s Play’ Remake’s Biggest Problem Is That It’s One Of Three Killer Doll Movies This Summer
We got a new trailer for the Child’s Play remake this morning, and it’s pretty much as expected. Save for a new gimmick which turns the “Buddi” doll into essentially a “smart doll” that controls various apps and household services (hence why a teenager might want a doll) and a brief bit implying that Andy’s friends team up, It or Monster Squad-style, to take out the killer doll, this looks like, for better or worse, a Child’s Play remake.
I’m not expecting a new cinematic classic out of Orion’s new Child’s Play flick. The film only exists because MGM only owns the rights to the first flick (Universal distributed the sequels), but I’m also not sitting here with my arms aggressively folded inward waiting to pounce. Don Mancini will still get to make his Chucky TV show on SyFy and the last two direct-to-VOD Chucky flicks were pretty great. If this turns out to be great, then great.
If it turns out to be terrible, well, I hope Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry (who is busier these days than Bella Thorne) got a nice studio paycheck out of it. Speaking of “nice studio paycheck,” this trailer looks stylish and relatively unremarkable, while also hiding one of the few elements that might qualify as a new variable this time out. Yes, Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series) is voicing Chucky the killer doll, but we barely hear a peep out of him in this trailer.
That’s slightly unexpected, but I guess they may want something for a third trailer or a different piece of marketing over the next two months. I don’t know how many otherwise uninterested moviegoers are going to seek this one out because Hamill is voicing the villain, but I’m more interested in the film because he’s in it than I would be if he were not. And yeah, the success or failure of this remake isn’t whether it pleases the fans (who are mostly opposed on principle) but whether it looks decent to general audiences as just a flashy fright flick about a killer doll.
That may be a problem this summer. Because, in a random coincidence, Child’s Play is just one of three killer doll movies opening between June 21 and July 28. It’s one of nine horror movies between Brightburn on May 24 and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark on August 9. Yet, oddly enough, three of them involve evil dolls.
The key to making a remake like this work is to sell something that appeals to audiences with no vested interest in the IP. Yet it’s going to be hell convincing folks that Child’s Play is worth the time/money when Annabelle Comes Home opens just one week later. Yup, despite a cute attempt by Orion to open their evil doll movie on the same day as Toy Story 4, it may have backfired when New Line moved the third Annabelle movie (and sixth Conjuring flick) into the pre-July 4th-weekend slot.
The third Annabelle is essentially a kinda-sorta Conjuring movie too since it features Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens as the title doll goes after their daughter. So, in a skewed way, this is the closest thing we’ll get to “The Conjuring goes Avengers,” but that’s for another day. Point being, Child’s Play won’t even be the biggest killer doll movie in the month of June.
Even if the film opens well, it’s probably going to be a replay of when The Dark Knight opened on the second weekend of Hellboy II: The Golden Army (or when Interview with the Vampire opened on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein’s second weekend). Hellboy II dropped 71% in weekend two against The Dark Knight’s record-breaking $158 million debut weekend back in 2008. Frankenstein dropped 67% (a huge fall in 1994) against the $36 million launch (a record for an R-rated and non-summer debut) of Interview with the Vampire.
I see a similar fate for Orion’s horror remake when it faces a sequel to a “new” and currently popular franchise. Even if Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark doesn’t feature a scary toy/evil doll (and I don’t remember every story in Alvin Schwartz’s trilogy of terror), Child’s Play will have to eventually face Brahms: The Boy 2, a sequel to STX Entertainment’s inexplicably leggy horror romp that’s also about a doll which brings terror and torment.
So even if by some miracle Child’s Play survives Annabelle Comes Home, it’s going to have to deal with another movie with the same hook on July 28. Yes, the Chucky flick will probably be finished by then anyway. But if Annabelle doesn’t gut Chucky, then Brahms will probably finish him off.
By coincidental scheduling (and this is presuming that Toy Story 4 doesn’t feature scary toys as part of its hook), Child’s Play will be a remake facing off against two sequels to franchises that broke out at least partially because they were offering something new and different. This summer may turn into a classic “rip-off, don’t remake” lesson, as the “We’ve got the IP!” remake gets smushed (or at least undercut) by a slightly similar hook from a comparatively “new” horror franchise.
It’ll be hard to convince moviegoers that your remake has something new to offer or can stand out from the crowd when it’s just one of three movies with near-identical gimmicks, including one that’s part of the biggest R-rated horror franchise of all time. Maybe Chucky will get lucky. But he’ll need all the voodoo he can do to survive Annabelle’s demonic magic.
We are just under a week out (counting time zones and the like) from the start of the 2019 summer movie season. Actually, if you’re counting global box office. I wanted to start with the totally “for my own amusement” prediction as to the biggest movies of the summer, including at least one hail Mary prediction that may prove quite embarrassing in a month or two. This will be in terms of global box office. I’ve never considered myself a fortune teller (especially in terms of ranking), so this should be fun come mid-August. And now, without further ado…
Avengers: Endgame (April 26, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: around $2 billion
Yes, this one could make a lot less than Avengers: Infinity War both in North America and overseas, not least of which because of the sheer amount of kid-friendly or action-packed summer biggies opening between May 10 and June 21. But whether Avengers 4 makes a little more or a little less than Avengers 3, we’re still looking at a monster hit and the frontrunner for the “biggest movie of the year” title. Unless it’s terrible, there will be no shame in an Avengers: Endgame that ends up closer to Jurassic World ($1.671 billion) than Titanic ($2.1 billion). But unless the film is stunningly lousy or something surprises the hell out of us this season, the summer is Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ to lose.
The Lion King (July 19, 2019)
Box Office: Guestimate: $1.4 billion
I don’t think the Jon Favreau-directed remake of the 1994 Disney toon is going to threaten Avatar. But that doesn’t mean that this all-star redo (Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Beyoncé, John Oliver, Chiwetel Ejiofor, etc.) won’t make “all the money” when it opens in what used to be WB and Chris Nolan’s magic “last mega movie of the summer” slot. If The Jungle Book can earn $996 million and Beauty and the Beast can earn $1.263 billion, then it stands to reason that The Lion King (which earned $777 million way back in 1994) can flirt with Avengers: Age of Ultron numbers, especially if it’s different enough from its also-animated predecessor to justify repeat business.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (May 10, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: F*** it, $900 million!
Am I going to annoy my Warner Bros. contacts who would prefer that expectations be kept in check? Yup! Am I risking abject humiliation? Absolutely! But there’s something in the air about this one, folks. All three of my kids (and my wife) are excited for this video game-based flick for different reasons. It’s Pokémon! it’s funny! It’s adorable! Most everyone I know (inside and outside of the film nerd bubble) is at least curious. This feels like The LEGO Movie all over again (a fabled property that never got a big movie) with the added benefit of potentially huge overseas business in China and Japan alongside potentially “really good” domestic business. It can make a heck of a lot less than the above-prediction and still be a hit, but this feels like the sleeper super-hit of the season.
Toy Story 4 (June 21, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $875 million
If summer is boring, then this one will end up as the third-biggest grosser of the summer. But the trailers have been distinctly “Eh… whatever” and pretty much nobody really wanted a fourth Toy Story movie. This feels less like a desired finish to an iconic series than a corporate mandate that has yet to sell itself as artistically justified. That said, it’ll probably be huge by any rational standard, and I’m not going to hold my nose at a Toy Story 4 that earns Inside Out money as opposed to Toy Story 3 money. Many Pixar movies have had underwhelming marketing only to be revealed as a new tear-jerking classic. Prove me wrong, Pixar. I thought Incredibles 2 was a bad idea until I saw the damn thing.
Spider-Man: Far from Home (July 5, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $750 million
Honestly, this was one of the harder ones to “rank,” (with the caveat that rank is far less important than actual grosses). On one hand, this Spidey sequel doesn’t have Iron Man and it won’t have the advantage that Homecoming did of being the last big kid-friendly live-action movie for four months. On the other hand, it may get an Avengers: Endgame bump and Sony is on a roll with Spider-Man: Homecoming, Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. My gut says that this one will earn numbers closer to Amazing Spider-Man ($757 million) than Spider-Man: Homecoming ($881 million), but I could be wrong. and Either result will be fine as long as the movie didn’t cost much more than Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (August 2, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $725 million
We’re getting a new trailer for this Universal spin-off tomorrow, and word is that the CinemaCon footage offered action and stunts worthy of Ethan Hunt (or Rick Ford). With buzzy, overseas-friendly movie stars (Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham) teaming up and facing off against the Internet’s boyfriend (Idris Elba) in a film directed by the guy who directed John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, it’s increasingly likely that this spin-off plays like a genuine Fast and Furious entry. That doesn’t mean it’ll gross $1 billion worldwide, but even a Puss In Boots-level decline (from Shrek Forever After) gets it to $910 million. That seems high, so let’s be “realistic” and argue somewhere between Suicide Squad ($725 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($773 million) among recent August mega-hits.
Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 5, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $700 million
The Secret Life of Pets opened with $104 million in the summer of 2016, which is still the biggest Fri-Sun debut for a wholly original movie. And the well-liked (if not necessarily beloved) talking pets flick earned $368 million domestic and $875 million worldwide, so the movie can drop quite a bit and still be a huge moneymaker. That being said, this sequel offers exactly what the first film did, and history shows that Pixar and Illumination biggies can thrive concurrently. Whether or not it reaches the heights of its predecessor, and let’s hope that this season’s live-action biggies are better than they were in 2016, it should still be a doggone super-smash.
Aladdin (May 24, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $650 million
The run-up to release of Guy Ritchie’s live-action adaptation of the popular (and yet always controversial) 1992 toon has been an odd one. Every decision has been second-guessed on social media even as Disney has essentially done what they promised (a live-action Aladdin with Middle Eastern and Asian actors in most of the key roles) from the get-go. We adults made fun of Will Smith’s Genie, but kids won’t care Smith is still a star when he’s encased in the safety of a franchise title. I’m expecting something closer to the $794 million cume of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 than the $394 million gross of Solo, but that will depend on if overseas audiences care. This is one of the summer’s biggest question marks.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $600 million
Early rough cut screenings in China have resulted in “only Infinity War was bigger” type buzz, but size only partially matters. Will this be the first non-Jurassic monster movie to top $600 million worldwide? Or will it, like The LEGO Movie 2, prove to be a case of “too late” and “curiosity doesn’t equal continued interest”? I’m leaning toward the former because it seems to be promising an all-star monster smashing extravaganza. Even my seven-year-old wants to see it (and yes, he watched and enjoyed the previous Godzilla), and it’ll absolutely be sold by WB as the summer’s “biggest” movie in terms of scale and scope.
Rocketman (May 31, 2019)
Box Office Guestimate: $450 million
There are four “big” movies (Dark Phoenix, Rocketman, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and Men in Black International) that each could easily “overperform” and end up among the ten top this summer. But the Dexter Fletcher’s biopic is, by appealing to people who want to see a flashy Elton John musical, least dependent on its quality. Bohemian Rhapsody earned $900 million partially because of the very things that drove critics bananas so we can expect (relatively speaking, as Rocketman will be R-rated with at least some “Yay, gay!” content) similar results for the Taron Egerton flick. It could be the big adult movie of the summer, and live-action musicals are “so hot right now.”
I expect to be wrong in terms of some of these rankings. Heck, I hope I’m wrong as I like surprises when it comes to box office punditry. Secret Life of Pets 2 could drop to $550 million while Spider-Man: Far from Home swings past Spider-Man 3. Maybe Quentin Tarantino’s “event movie for adults” Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will pull Revenant numbers or maybe Men in Black International will pull a relative Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. For the record, those numbers are not ironclad predictions to be taken as factual or science-based.
Many of those films can earn less than “predicted” and still be quite successful, so let’s not fret if Pokemon “only” earns $550 million or if Rocketman earns “just” $250 million. Perhaps Godzilla 2 or Aladdin will go down in flames, or maybe The Lion King will end up above Avengers 4. Maybe Toy Story 4 will prove one trip to the well too many, or maybe I’m overestimating mainstream interest in the Pokémon flick. Maybe Dark Phoenix will surprise us all and post “normal for X-Men” numbers. We know Avengers 4 and The Lion King will be huge. Everything else quite frankly is at least somewhat up for grabs. I can’t wait…
New York natives Mary J. Blige and Nas will join forces to co-headline a tour across North America this summer, Live Nation announced on Tuesday.
The queen of hip-hop soul and legendary rapper will be performing in 22 cities, making stops in Boston, Atlanta, Houston and more. While this is the first time the pair will be touring together, they are not strangers to collaborating musically.
In 1997, Blige teamed up with Nas for their single “Love Is All We Need” from her third album, Share My World. They reunited in 2012 for the track “Reach Out” off of Nas’ eleventh LP, Life is Good. Blige has also co-headlined tours with rappers Jay-Z and Maxwell.
Produced by Live Nation, the upcoming tour will kick off July 11 at Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Citi card members will be able to purchase presale tickets starting April 17 at 12 p.m local time. Tickets will be available to the general public on April 19 at 10 a.m local time on livenation.com.
Check out the tour dates, below.
July 11 – West Palm Beach FL @ Coral Sky Amphitheater at the S. Florida Fairgrounds
July 13 – Tampa, FL @ Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheater
July 16 – Atlanta, GA @ Candace Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park
July 20 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena
July 21 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
July 24 – Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion
July 25 – Raleigh, NC @ Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
July 28 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 31 – St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheater
August 2 – Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion
August 3 – Austin, TX @ Austin360 Amphitheater
August 6 – Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theatre
August 9 – Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin Pavilion
August 14 – San Francisco, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheater
August 20 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Ampitheater
August 22 – Dallas, TX @ Dos Equis Pavilion
August 25 – Tuscaloosa, AL @ Toscaloosa Amphitheater
August 31 – Syracuse, NY @ St. Joeseph’s Health Amphitheater
September 1 – Boston, MA @ Xfinity Center
September 10 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage
Today (April 15), in partnership with Sean “Diddy” Combs, CÎROC Ultra-Premium Vodka reveals its newest offering, Summer Watermelon just in time for this coming season. Combs tapped multi-platinum selling producer DJ Khaled to help create the delectable flavor. Speaking on why he decided to partner with the spirits company, Khaled mentions “I love working with CÎROC, and when Puff asked me to help him create another Limited Edition CÎROC flavor I jumped at the opportunity.” He continued by saying, “I’ve been working on my album that will drop in May and I immediately thought about my new music being played while people are at the pool or barbecue or in the club sipping on CÎROC Summer Watermelon cocktails. It’s music and a cocktail meshed up for the perfect summer vibes!”
Commenting on how inspiring it is working with Diddy, Khaled remarks, “I love working with Puff because he always hustles to make sure that he has the best products out there. We have the same work ethic and values so it doesn’t matter whether we’re in the studio working on my new Summer anthem or working together on this special flavor, I know we’re going to put 100% into everything that we do.”
Khaled concluding by saying, “a major key to working hard is also celebrating your success, and CÎROC Summer Watermelon was designed specifically for celebrations and being with friends and family . The summer season it’s all about celebrating your wins, having fun and relaxing with cool refreshing tasting drink on a hot summer day.”
CÎROC kicked off celebrating its newest flavor with an interactive pop-up in Los Angeles followed by a larger activation at Coachella. For the duration of the summer, the company will host other events in the form of rooftop brunch, parties, tastings and more across markets like New York and Miami.
On the way home from a recent trip, I managed to cram in all eight episodes of Netflix’s new zombie series, Black Summer. Like so many other Netflix originals these days, it sprang out of nowhere with little fanfare, and it’s anyone’s guess whether it will be ignored completely by viewers or the next viral sensation.
My guess is the former, because it just isn’t all that good.
While I may be a Walking Dead fanboy, especially now that the show has gotten really good again as of season 9, I am certainly open to competition. Netflix itself has already made a great new zombie show in the form of The Kingdom, the Korean zombie period drama that was actually quite stunning and is returning for a second season.
Black Summer is…less impressive, and plays more like a bloated movie than a new series. I know Netflix doesn’t have to operate within the bounds of traditional formatting, but the show’s episode lengths are bizarre, with a 45 minute premiere and a 20 minute finale across the eight episodes, with 25, 30 and 40 minute episodes in between. This makes the entire thing about a 3-4 hour experience, which, if you’re a zombie die-hard you may want to check out, but if you’re anyone else, I’m not sure this is worth your time.
This is a fairly traditional outbreak story, one told in the early days of a zombie attack. I think we’re about 5 weeks out from when things got “really bad,” as referenced by the characters. We follow a handful of characters that end up intersecting with one another frequently, as the show likes to play with parallel timelines. They have an ultimate goal of reaching the fabled stadium in the center of downtown (I’m not sure what city this is, something in the southwest), where they hope to reunite with lost family members.
The zombies here are…weird. Here are the rules we’re working with:
- These are “fast zombies,” 28 Days Later style, meaning they sprint and chase you and go so fast you’ll often see them plowing through walls and windows when you think you’re safe
- Biting does in fact turn people, but we are also working with the Walking Dead rule where anyone who dies, even if they aren’t bitten, turns. And they turn instantly.
- Headshots kill them, but these zombies seem far, far more durable than most Walking Dead Combine that with their speed and even one or two is enough to ruin your entire day.
What this looks like in practice is bizarre. Given that these are fast zombies that turn instantly after death, the zombies are essentially just actors with white-out eyes and blood on their face running around screaming. There are no prosthetics here, no real monster make-up. No zombies rolling around with one arm or half melted by fire. Just a lot of crazy people screaming, which does not make for a terribly compelling threat, however dangerous they may be.
But as weird as the zombies are, it’s the editing of this show that I can’t shake as being even bizarre. The show feels like it is desperately throwing out left turns as much as it can, adding and subtracting new characters at will so in many cases, you don’t get more than 2-3 episodes to know any of them. The show does some weird things like take a character tagging along in a group that you were positive was a redshirt and then…giving him his own 40 minute episode that he spends running away from a single zombie.
Editing also results in weird time skips. Like we will have one episode where five characters spend the entire thing debating how to get out of a diner they’ve been trapped in by two zombies. And then one episode later they are executing a highly choreographed raid of a weapons cache buried inside a sex/dance club full of armed guards. I had to check to make sure I hadn’t missed an episode or two multiple times.
I do like a few things the show does. The idea of “durable zombies” is a good one, ones that eat tons of damage and bullets before going down rather than being killed with pencils and icicles like in the Walking Dead. It’s just that their presentation is all wrong. The diner episode and the heist episode were memorable, but it’s hard to get attached to these characters given how often they come and go. The only person I even recognize in this series is Jamie King, but I don’t even think she’s one of the better characters. That honor goes to Christine Lee as Sun who has to navigate all this madness without speaking English.
The show kills off so many people by the end I have no idea if this is supposed to be a one-off series or the first of a few different season. I don’t think I’m terribly interested in more, and there are just better zombie properties to compare it to, even on Netflix itself. It’s not the biggest time commitment, but I just don’t know if it’s worth getting through regardless.
Netflix’s Black Summer sure ain’t your grandpappy’s zombie-based drama.
According to its main star, Jaime King (Hart of Dixie), the show is actually a political allegory meant to mirror current events in America. King plays Rose, a mother who’s looking for her child, but also leading a band of human survivors across the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a zombified United States.
“When I read the script, I was in Europe at the time. As soon as I closed the script, I literally changed my flight and flew back to the States because I was like, ‘I am Rose,'” the actor tells me during a one-on-one phone call.
Going on to relate the harrowing story of when her son was born with a heart defect and needed immediate surgery, she explains how it helped her realize that she and Rose were of one mind:
“There was something about going through that experience where I knew, in that moment—you hear that mothers can lift up cars to save their child—that there is nothing that a mother cannot do. When I read Rose, I knew I was her. I knew that there was nothing a woman cannot do to protect their child.”
Created by Karl Schaefer (co-creator of Z Nation) and John Hyams (a director of Z Nation and The CW’s Legacies), Black Summer deals with heavy themes of loss and humanity that echo the recent headline-making stories of children being separated from their parents at America’s border with Mexico.
“When I asked [John] why he wrote [the show], he said, originally, it was a love letter to his wife,” adds King. “When he saw what was happening down there [at the border] and what was happening with the country, he was like, ‘That’s it, I’m done. I have to tell this story’ … “All of this is a metaphor and that’s what I love. It’s metaphorical, but it’s also fun and in your face and it’s also authentic and true.”
In time, it became evident that such a relevant parallel would take precedence over the actual zombies. While the world of the show becomes infested with the flesh-eating ghouls, they are more of a unique lens through which to view the politically-charged stories swirling around since the 2016 election.
“And then our scripts, there was no mention of zombies. That was never mentioned,” King says. “It was that there was this sickness and the sickness is totally and fully representative of what is happening in our country in terms of that it doesn’t matter how much you love or how much you hate … no one is immune to the separation of one another and that we’re getting infected with biases that have always been present, but that are coming up to the surface and how does each person handle something like that?”
That being said, the series still has plenty of stuff to love for fans of both zombies and the horror genre in general without things becoming too overwhelming or graphic. King compares this approach to Alfred Hitchock, who once said that it’s better to leave some stuff up to the imagination, which will conjure up imagery and explanations that are much more frightening than if they were simply put up on the screen.
“If you love horror, you’re gonna love this. If you love drama, you’re gonna love this. It’s cinematic. It’s not like this gory, horror show, it is the kind of show that when you watch it, you can’t even breathe because it’s so grounded in truth … When you do see [the gore] in your face, it’s really purposeful and so, there’s a lot of care and consideration so that we were hitting all the different notes for everybody.”
While Season 1 isn’t even available to the public yet, I couldn’t resist in asking her where she’d like a second season to go, should Black Summer be renewed by Netflix. She was more than happy to oblige in a little speculative guesswork, saying:
“If Rose makes it to her child or wherever she makes it, I would like her to explore the aftermath of what that’s like to be separated from the person that you love so much. I would like to explore what it is that I’ve seen when mothers go back to their children at the border and their child doesn’t know who they are. I would like to explore the actual real aftermath of what happens when the people in power oppress and strip you of your humanity and the strength that you come to in realizing that you don’t need them in the first place because someone will have your back if you find that person. But I would just like to explore the complexities of that if she reaches her.”
Netflix was, at least for King, the inevitable choice for how the series was meant to be produced and distributed.
“I love genre and most importantly I just love cinema and the way that [the show] was shot, we break so many rules that most shows aren’t allowed to do, but that’s the beautiful thing about Netflix,” she says. “When they hire you for your voice, you get to do your voice and they let you just run and be free, which is why every artist wants to work with them.”
As for those of you watching at home, Jaime hopes that you’ll take their time with the show, which is obviously debuting on the Internet’s most “bingeable” site. The temptation is pretty great, but if you do zoom through all of Season 1, don’t worry—there’s still plenty of rewatch value.
“I think people should linger on it, because the way that we shot it, it’s so cinematic and we never jump backwards in time and we never jump forwards in time. We shot it like a play … What I hope is that the audience watches it however they prefer—if they binge it, then they go back and watch it episode-by-episode so that they can see each thing that’s woven within.”
Season 1 of Black Summer arrives on Netflix tomorrow, April 11.