Mark Ellis is a comedian, actor, podcaster and self-proclaimed “dog stepfather‘ which has been dissecting pop culture for over a decade. In addition to appearances in comedy clubs nationwide, Ellis co-hosts Rotten Tomatoes is wrongwhere he likes to critically dissect both fresh and crappy films Spider-Man 3, catsand Thor: The Dark World. He also performs regularly The Rotten Tomatoes Channel (which can be found on Peacock, The Roku Channel, Xumo TV, and Samsung TV Plus) to discuss a variety of topics, from this year’s Academy Awards to the raucous critical reception of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Ellis took time out from his duties as Rotten Tomatoes editor and correspondent to talk about the state of the film industry after a successful summer with Digital Trends. He shares his thoughts on the state of superhero movies after the release of physician Strange 2 and the repeal of bat girlthe phenomenon that is Top Gun: Maverickand what we can look forward to in the rest of the year’s multiplex.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: We started the cinema summer with them Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and continue with Thor: Love and Thunder and DC League of Super Pets. How is the current status of the comic film adaptation with the summer season officially over?
Markus Ellis: I have a feeling that the current state of comic book movies is healthy, even though there isn’t a comic book movie that’s at the summer 2022 box office. ‘Cause, I mean, let’s be honest Top Gun: Maverick surpassed. It’s only provided historical numbers, so every time you have a movie that clears the field by about $500 million worldwide, you’re going to look at it and say, well, this looks bad. What was wrong with comic book movies?
There’s nothing wrong with comic book movies because Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is 74% on the tomatometer and Thor: Love and Thunder is 65% on the tomatometer. They’re both critically “fresh” (perhaps as fresh as some previous MCU entries) and have about $1.8 billion worth of deals. Doctor Strange has reached nearly $1 billion worldwide and Thor: Love and Thunder will reach almost 800 million dollars.
None of these films got big releases in China, and they didn’t get much reception in Russia either, for obvious geopolitical reasons. I think the lack of those box office receipts from those two countries has prevented these two MCU films from joining their siblings in the multi-billion dollar club.
What about DC? Super Pets was OK, nothing great, but the big news was what wasn’t released: bat girl. Comic book movies are doing well, but mostly because of Marvel. How will DC progress from here?
It’s interesting with bat girl. I think the way to think about it is that it’s less about the character or the creative team behind this film and more about the brain’s trust in Warner Brothers and HBO Max, because that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the problems they’ve got. It’s less about that batgirl, and it’s more about a company wanting to save money and worry about its tax return than it cares about character.
How can the phenomenon be explained? Top Gun: Maverick? Because for me it was just an OK film that just became the film of the moment. It just topped the box office over Labor Day weekend, which is unheard of for a film that debuted at #1 on Memorial Day.
I have a few different theories on this. First, you are right, the support for loner is huge. It is 96% certified on Rotten Tomatoes, and viewer rating is 99% with over 50,000 verified ratings. You can point to the more obvious reason, which is that Tom Cruise is still a viable box office star Impossible Mission movies. He is revealed to be returning to another iconic role of his with Maverick.
I also think that the appeal of the way it was filmed, where it was actually real jet fighters in action with some of the actors piloting those planes, was something that appealed to viewers.
Probably most important, the buzz around Top Gun: Maverick was that the reason Paramount held it back was because it had to be seen on the big screen. With loner, we haven’t had a movie like it in a long time: a good old-fashioned blockbuster with handy stunts. At the end of the day, we love seeing actual dogfights take place.
I feel like loner symbolized something bigger than itself: the return to cinemas and a full summer cinema season. We didn’t just see that loner and the Marvel blockbusters, but also with smaller films like The black phone and Where the crayfish sing. are theatres Where do they need to be in terms of their recovery at this point?
I think so, yes. There was no alternative to see loner except in the cinema. With horror movies like The black phone, the audience loves to scare in the dark together as a collective experience. People want to come together to see something truly remarkable together. Either they want to get scared, or they want to laugh together, or they just want to get their socks blown with something like this loner.
From May to July it was a success story at the box office, but it was also a success story with many different films and genres resonating with audiences. Now we’re in that kind of sleepy time between summer and fall, even more so than usual, where there’s just nothing planned that’s going to come out that’s really going to appeal to audiences to lure them into theaters. Has Hollywood missed an opportunity here by not making films like preywhich received a lot of critical and fan acclaim on Hulu, and genre fare like Orphan: First kill in the cinema instead of in the stream?
I think some of these examples would have benefited from treatment on the big screen. Hindsight is always 2020, but when you think about it prey, for example, I think yes, it would have made an impact on the big screen because it was so well received by critics and audiences alike. And it’s a Predator movie, and you want to see it on the big screen. That’s just fun to see.
But the last few Predator movies haven’t been that good, so maybe we don’t need to get big and bombastic with a huge marketing campaign to get people back into theaters to get these things working properly again. Maybe the way you do it, like prey did it: Building basic support for a streaming service. For now, after seeing prey and what they did to the property at a certain time period in history, I want to see the Predator at all time periods in history. I would like to see biblical times with Jesus and the apostles against the Predator. I want to see Frodo meet prey. Maybe one day based on the success of prey on a streaming service, we might see a Predator movie on the big screen after all.
After summer 2022 is over, what can we look forward to for the rest of the year?
Well, you’ve got some huge movies, and in particular, a studio that’s really betting on a movie to revitalize its collaborative franchises, which would be DC with theirs Black Adam in October. This film has so much to offer because Shazam 2 has just been moved to March 2023 so that’s it for them for the year. They really hope The Rock can bring its magic – and its audience – back to the DCEU.
I think the MCU is in a slightly more favorable position simply because they opened up big movies last summer and now they have Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in November. And you have to expect this sequel to top $1 billion and take the MCU back to where it was in 2019. It will resonate with a lot of people because of the sad death of Chadwick Boseman. It’s a mystery who inherits the mantle in this movie, and then you also have your teases and your nuggets and your Easter eggs as to what to expect from Phase Five.
avatar 2 is something that everyone will watch with a keen eye to see if it can even come close to the previous iteration avatar 2009 in terms of box office earnings and the cultural impact it has had. Disney re-releases the original avatar in theaters later this month to whet the appetite for the sequel.
With his track record, it’s hard to bet against James Cameron.
You wonder with James Cameron. I think of success avatar 2 is determined by the marketing campaign and the timing of its release. I think a Christmas release date and a clear runway into 2023 is the right release timeline for that.
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