Here’s a look at some of the reviews that have already been released for the film, including CNET’s own.
The sequel trap
“While It Chapter 2 brings their story to a conclusive and largely satisfying end, it disappointingly walks right into the same trap as many sequels. Bloated with story ideas, characters and, most noticeably, running time — not to mention excessive CGI — Chapter 2 is at times harder to hang onto than an escaping balloon.” — Jennifer Bisset, CNET
Kudos for the cast
“The casting of the grown up versions of each character is very impressively done, with James McAvoy and Jay Ryan seeming to be the standouts — but that might be because their characters bear the most striking resemblance to their younger counterparts. Meanwhile, Bill Hader pours an impressive amount of heart into the film, despite being forced to try to add the comic relief endlessly, a task which lands most of the time.” — Brandon Davis, ComicBook.com
First film was better
“The decision [to split the book into two movies] paid off beautifully for Chapter 1, transforming the cerebral novel into a Goonies-flavored coming-of-age adventure with a cast of magnetic, scrappy, lovable kids who faced off against a monster and learned all sorts of lessons about life, love, and friendship along the way. In Chapter 2, however, the cracks in the concept begin to show, and ultimately, the final chapter fails to maintain the spark of the first, succumbing to a dangerous cocktail of muddled timelines, poorly placed novel call-backs, and scattered focus.” — Meg Downey, GameSpot.com
Nearly three hours is too long
“So what’s the problem? For starters, It: Chapter Two is an ass-numbing two hours and 50 minutes. That’s a good half-hour longer than Chapter One, proving the adage that less is definitely more. The dragging pace diminishes the film’s ability to hold us in its grip. There are endless flashbacks to the characters as kids, as if director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman didn’t trust the audience to have seen the first film and decided to squeeze the highlights into this one just in case.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Trailers and teasers
A featurette released in early September includes some of the stars briefly talking about their roles.
It’s official. With Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is a certified graduate of the Acme Academy of Dramatic Arts. You want acting? Come and get it.
Skills on display include but are not limited to leering, jeering, airhorn-style blasts of laughter timed for maximum audience discomfort, funky-chicken style dance moves, the occasional blank, dead stare and assorted moony expressions indicating soulful lonerism.
But don’t for a minute think Phoenix isn’t funny, too. They say you never forget Clowning 101, and Phoenix hasn’t: He hops around like an unhinged Emmett Kelly, twisting his physique into weird and unsettling shapes. His body has a rubbery angularity, like a chicken bone soaked in Coca-Cola.
In Joker — playing in competition here at the Venice Film Festival — Phoenix is acting so hard you can feel the desperation throbbing in his veins. He leaves you wanting to start him a GoFundMe, so he won’t have to pour so much sweat into his job again. But the aggressive terribleness of his performance isn’t completely his fault. (He has often been, and generally remains, a superb actor. Just not here.)
Director Todd Phillips — who made frat-boy comedies like Road Trip and Old School before graduating to dude-bro comedies like The Hangover movies — bears at least some of the blame, and the aggressive and possibly irresponsible idiocy of Joker overall is his alone to answer for. Phillips may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture, but really, he’s just offering a prime example of it.
Joker is a stand-alone origin story that dovetails with, but does not strictly follow, DC Universe Batman lore. Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck — he’ll later become one of Batman’s nemeses, the Joker, in case you didn’t already know that — is an odd, lonely guy who lives at home with the mother (played by a wan Frances Conroy) he love-hates.
Arthur works for a sad rent-a-clown joint, and nothing ever goes right. This is clear from the moment we meet him: he’s tense, nervous and he can’t ever relax. The movie is set in a Gotham City that’s a lazy approximation of gritty 1970s-era New York, complete with garbage strikes and “super-rats” overrunning the city. On the job in clown costume, Arthur gets beaten up by a mob of nasty punks — and then almost gets fired because they stole and broke the “going out of business sign” he was twirling for a client.
More bad stuff happens, day in, day out. He gets angrier and more isolated by the minute. No one is ever kind to Arthur; he’s the world’s saddest punching bag.
When the city’s social services close down, he can no longer receive counseling there, or get his meds. (He carries around a little laminated card that he holds out helpfully whenever he laughs inappropriately, which is pretty much all the time. It reads, “Forgive my laughter, I have a brain injury.”) The one bright spot of his day, or night, is watching a Johnny Carson-style talk-show host, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), on television. He dreams of being a stand-up comic and someday being on the show. His wish will come true, but life will have beaten the poor lad down interminably before then.
As you can probably guess, all of Arthur’s travails are leading up to a series of “See what you made me do?” brutalities, most of which happen while he’s dressed up in his clown suit. Violence makes him feel more in control, less pathetic. Killing — usually with a gun, but scissors or a good old-fashioned suffocation will do just fine — empowers him.
But it’s not as if we don’t know how this pathology works: In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week. And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love. Before long, he becomes a vigilante folk hero — his first signature act is to kill a trio of annoying Wall Street spuds while riding the subway, which inspires the masses to don clown masks and march enthusiastically around the city with “Kill the Rich!” placards.
Arthur also tries to work out a personal beef with rich asshat and aspiring city mayor Thomas Wayne, father of you-know-who. Because, it turns out, Arthur has some daddy issues too. Who would have guessed?
Joker — which was written by Phillips and Scott Silver — doesn’t have a plot; it’s more like a bunch of reaction GIFs strung together. When Arthur gets fired from his clown job, he struts by the time-clock, deadpans, “Oh no, I forgot to punch out” and then, wait for it, socks it so hard it dangles from the wall. Make a note of the moment, because you’ll be seeing it a lot in your Twitter and Facebook feeds.
The movie’s cracks — and it’s practically all cracks — are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom. Just before one of his more violent tirades, Arthur muses, “Everybody just screams at each other. Nobody’s civil anymore.” Who doesn’t feel that way in our terrible modern times? But Arthur’s observation is one of those truisms that’s so true it just slides off the wall, a message that both the left and the right can get behind and use for their own aims. It means nothing.
Meanwhile, the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior. There’s an aimless subplot involving a neighbor in Arthur’s apartment building, played by Zazie Beetz, in an underdeveloped role. (Beetz also appears in another movie here at the festival, Benedict Andrews’s Seberg, where she’s given much more to do.) Arthur has a crush on her, and though he does her no harm, there’s still something creepily entitled about his attentiveness to her. He could easily be adopted as the patron saint of incels.
Arthur is a mess, but we’re also supposed to think he’s kind of great — a misunderstood savant. Dressed up for his big TV moment in a turquoise paisley shirt, marigold vest and dapper cranberry suit (admittedly a marvelous feat of costume design), Arthur struts down an outdoor stairway like a rock’n’roll hero. It’s the most energizing moment in the movie, but what is it winding us up for? Arthur inspires chaos and anarchy, but the movie makes it look like he’s starting a revolution, where the rich are taken down, the poor get everything they need and deserve, and the sad guys who can’t get a date become killer heroes. There’s a sick joke in there somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s on us.
In a move that surprised many in the movie industry, luxury cinema chain iPic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning and announced it is pursuing either a financial reorganization or a possible sale of the circuit.
iPic indicated in the filing that “the financial restructuring will allow the company to further improve and enhance its theaters and dining experiences, continue to provide an unparalleled guest experience that is evidenced by the over 2 million iPic Access loyalty members, and continue with its expansion plans.”
The circuit currently operates 16 locations in nine states and has expansion plans for several more in the coming years. CEO Hamid Hashemi, who previously founded the Muvico Theatres chain, began iPic in 2007 and has grown the chain from its infancy, purchasing the Village Roadshow chain and transforming it into the circuit at the forefront of the luxury cinema experience.
While the company avowed it would explore restructuring options, what is especially intriguing about the filing is its proclamation that it is actively exploring the sale of the chain. The court filing indicated that several entities have been granted access to the circuit’s financial data.
It would not be surprising to discover that one of those companies might be Netflix. When Landmark Theatres was put up for sale last year, both Amazon and Netflix actively kicked the tires on a possible purchase, striving to secure a theatrical footprint through which it could release its films. At the time, I mentioned in a Forbes article that it was a curious approach as Landmark already played most Netflix films, such as this past December’s multiple-Oscar winner Roma. Why they would want to buy a chain that was already exhibiting Netflix content was baffling.
So far this morning, the name Netflix is the one on most industry observers’ lips, and if the Landmark purchase was head-scratching, then the purchase of a circuit chain that has even fewer locations would be even more peculiar. Perhaps the fact that Netflix already has a marketing partnership with iPic is the genesis of these rumors. For example, if you drive past the iPic Westwood, you’ll see an enormous vertical billboard on the side of the theater not for a current or upcoming film but for Netflix content.
To me, what would make more sense is if an entity such as Amazon or Apple might dip their toe into the exhibition waters. Amazon has hinted that their existing release strategy of adhering to the 80-to-90-day release window might be up for debate. Having their own exhibitor in which to feature their content, especially around awards season, might be extremely beneficial. The same goes for Apple.
But it would behoove any company interested in the circuit to do their due financial diligence. iPic was launched as a luxury cinema brand that would appeal primarily to adults 21 and over. However, with Disney garnering a larger and larger market share the industry can expect more films that appeal to the under-18 crowd for whom iPic has little interest. Five of the top ten films so far for 2019 are films geared toward children, including the aforementioned Lion King, Toy Story 4, and Aladdin, along with the latest installments of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Secret Life of Pets franchises. In both 2017 and 2018, only two of the top ten films for the year were family offerings.
With this shift toward family fare, it’s essential to note that tickets for children at some iPic locations can reach $18-23. That ticket price may be acceptable for a couple on an evening out, but a parent taking their two kids to see Lion King could drop close to $100 before even entering the auditorium. The Korean band BTS has a special event cinema showing this coming Wednesday of their Bring The Soul: The Movie film. The AMC Century City, just down the street from the iPic in Westwood, is showing the film at a ticket price of $15. At the iPic, the cost is $32. It’s not difficult to figure out which theater a parent will take the BTS fan in their family to.
Get the popcorn ready because things are about to get interesting in the movie business.
I have over 20 years of experience in the entertainment business and am the Founder and CEO of Scout 53 Entertainment Consulting, which provides global entertainment business analysis, content distribution and revenue generation opportunities for cinemas, producers and in-theatre tech entities. I previously served as President of Distribution at Sony Pictures as well as in top-level executive positions at both STX Entertainment and Fathom Events. During my time at Sony, I crafted and instituted release plans for over 60 films that grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office and over 100 films that finished first at the box office on their opening weekend. I live in Los Angeles with my wife and 15 rescue animals.
You could say K-pop sensation TWICE is experiencing a flight of “Fancy.” Their label, JYP Entertainment, confirmed to Forbes that the girl group sold over 6 million albums, encompassing both Korea and Japan, since their 2015 debut. Meanwhile, their overall album sales in Korea amount to over 3,750,000.
Forbes doesn’t have exact figures, but it appears that TWICE racked up over 500,000 album sales in less than a month. In late March, the JYP rep had estimated the overall sales figure to be 5.5 million, factoring in both the Korean and Japanese markets.
Since 2015, TWICE has released 16 albums: two studio albums, two compilation albums, four reissues and eight EPs. Four albums are Japanese releases, while 12 are Korean releases.
The girl group recently returned with their eighth EP, Fancy You, on April 22. Lead single “Fancy” marked a stark conceptual shift for the nonet, who built a massive fanbase out of largely cute concepts. But the more mature tone of their latest release still retains the confectionary feel of their previous work. They haven’t ventured completely into girl crush territory — rather, their newest offering matches the Apink model of going bold while staying hyper-feminine. Charli XCX and MNEK co-wrote other songs on the mini album.
Leader Jihyo spoke about the change in concept at a press conference for Fancy You on April 22. “We have only shown bright concepts until now, but we also wanted to show some of our maturity,” she said, according to Soompi’s translation. “However, we also worked to not let go of our overflowing energy.”
According to an unofficial view count, TWICE recently beat their own 24-hour debut record with “Fancy.” The music video reportedly racked up 39.8 million views in one day. However, YouTube hasn’t released the official figure yet. The group’s 2018 single, “Yes or Yes,” previously ranked as the seventh-biggest debut on YouTube with 31.4 million views in 24 hours.
They’ve had runaway success in the second-biggest music industry — and the multinational group includes three Japanese members. Earlier in the year, TWICE became the first K-pop girl group to embark on a dome tour in Japan. Their #DreamDay tour reportedly sold out five dates in one minute, amounting to 210,000 seats.
While K-pop has been blowing up in the West, TWICE has largely sat out U.S. promotions — despite amassing a strong international fanbase. But they’ll head out on a world tour that includes their first headlining dates in the U.S. Their newfound American promotions fit into a larger trend: over 20 K-pop acts have announced headlining tour dates in the States this year. Last month, JYP inked a deal with The Orchard to provide physical distribution worldwide, including the United States and Europe.
Check out the group’s upcoming Twicelights tour dates below.
May 25-26 – Seoul – KSPO Dome
June 15 – Bangkok – Impact Arena
June 29 – Manila – TBA
July 13 – Singapore – TBA
July 17 – Los Angeles – TBA
July 19 – Mexico City – TBA
July 21 – Newark – TBA
July 23 – Chicago – TBA
Aug. 17 – Kuala Lumpur – TBA
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It took a less than an hour in 2013 for Anna Todd to change her life. The Army wife and part-time babysitter had spent a lot of time reading fan fiction, stories by amateur writers about existing fictional universes and real-life celebrities. So her erotic tale about Tessa and Hardin—a wholesome college freshman and a tattooed bad boy who is a thinly veiled stand-in for singer Harry Styles—came together quickly when she sat down to typed the first chapter of After on her phone. Todd posted it to Wattpad, one of the world’s largest destinations for online reading and writing……