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Box Office Rap: Out of the Furnace and Christian Bale’s Body (of Work)

Without question, Bale remains one of Hollywood’s most versatile and risk-taking leading men.

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As Bane raises Batman above his head and prepares to snap his back in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane postulates, “I was wondering what would break first: your spirit or your body!” The scene is faithful to the comic books for its “krakt” intensity, but also reflexive insofar as it speaks to Christian Bale’s acting career, which has been founded on consistent bodily transformation and, before donning the cape for Christopher Nolan’s franchise, a lack of commercial success that could have easily broken the actor’s spirit in becoming an A-list star. Yet, even after the Batman films, Bale’s financial viability removed from franchise confines remains questionable, and one wonders with Out of the Furnace opening this weekend if Bale’s name alone is enough to guarantee a $10 million opening.

Bale’s career began as a child actor in films like Empire of the Sun and Newsies, but it wasn’t until 2000’s American Psycho that he found a leading role that began to define his star persona. As Patrick Bateman, Bale’s slender, muscular body and strikingly handsome face were apparent enough, but perhaps more surprising was the ease with which the actor seemed to project Bateman’s affability-masking-psychopathy lifestyle, wielding an ax with the same quotidian detachment as when he visits the tanning salon. Roger Ebert said in his review of the film that “Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor.” Audiences generally agreed, as the $7 million film grossed just over $15 million domestically.

But Bale’s career saw critical and financial failure for the next four years, with the dreary Reign of Fire tanking at the box office and a string of supporting roles failing to connect with either critics or audiences. At least, until 2004’s The Machinist revealed Bale as an actor willing to go beyond Method acting and into borderline insanity, looking emaciated to an alarming degree as Trevor Reznik, an insomniac questioning his sanity. Ebert again: “[Bale] is so gaunt, his face so hollow, he looks nothing like the actor we’re familiar with.” Grossing just over $1 million, audiences were unwilling to subject themselves to the darker side of what would become Bale’s actorly m.o.: drastic vacillations between dapper leading men and tortured, afflicted souls.

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Perhaps, then, that’s why Bale found his home with critics and audiences alike as Bruce Wayne, which enabled Bale to put on a physique suitable for a GQ spread, but revel in the pain and torment of a character like Reznik and introduce what has become a profitable trend at the box office: the gloomy, brooding superhero. Although Nolan is often credited with pioneering the type for 21st-century tastes, Bale gave it a recognizable and empathetic face. The same could be said in 2010’s The Fighter, which enabled Bale to return to his hyper-Method ways, though by playing an addled, if empathetic, character within the confines of a genre film in which Mark Wahlberg brought the beef, the character functioned in contrast, rather than front and center—which was much more palatable for commercial audiences.

Yet, Bale has struggled in recent years playing characters that deviate from this proven combination; though Rescue Dawn saw the no-brainer teaming of Bale with Werner Herzog and led to much critical acclaim, audiences remained perplex by Bale’s presence without the muscle-bound physique or witty charm. With Terminator: Salvation, the marketing campaign did little to afford Bale’s intensity the proper stage, instead offering machine-on-machine pyrotechnics as the film’s central draw. Public Enemies nearly made $100 million domestically, but the $100 million budget, combined with Michael Mann’s preference for ambiguity over closure, rendered the film a minor failure and left audiences (and critics) rather lukewarm.

Without question, Bale remains one of Hollywood’s most versatile and risk-taking leading men, perhaps trailing only James Franco and Ryan Gosling at this point as actors willing to undertake projects regardless of commercial prospects. Make no mistake: These are decisions to be commended, not questioned. However, when discussing commercial prospects, Bale remains a wild card, which is why anyone expecting his name to attract audiences to Out of the Furnace should reconsider, especially since the role appears to fit rather messily into the qualities audiences have historically sought from the actor. Certainly, with American Hustle later this month, David O. Russell, Bale, and the notable ensemble should have a considerable hit on their hands. For now, with Bale sporting long hair, a dirty white T-shirt, and a hunting rifle, don’t be surprised if audiences give this one a shrug just as they did to the equally grungy looking Homefront last weekend.

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Box Office Weekend Predictions

1. Frozen: $44.4 -34%

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: $39.3 -47%

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3. Out of the Furnace: $8.3 NEW

4. Thor: The Dark World: $7.6 -31%

5. The Best Man Holiday: $4.7 -42%%

6. Delivery Man: $4.4 -36%

7. Homefront: $4 -43%

8. The Book Thief: $3.9 -20%

9. Philomena: $3.2 -14%

10. Black Nativity: $2.3 -37%

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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