I can never resist reading or commenting on the daily gossip column by Roger Friedman at Fox News. He wonders if Tom Cruise has jumped the shark in terms of his career. (If people can jump the shark just like a TV show, I'll bet I did it when I adopted that baby kangaroo in 2002.) I doubt it. He's a talented movie star and has good taste in roles for himself. His next project with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford sounds like a good move away from commercial fare. People sort of expect movie stars to be wacky, no?
Then Friedman gets a little confusing about the weekend box office. He paints the $40 mil opening as disappointing, even though it's the second biggest Bond opening of all time. Then he says the "over-hyped" movie "may prove to be less of a blockbuster" than hoped for. THEN he says "it may wind up being the biggest success in the series in years." Huh? Brosnan's final outing "Die Another Day" was by far the biggest grossing Bond film, hitting $456 million worldwide. How could "Casino" prove less of a blockbuster but also the biggest success "in years?" And in the unlikely scenario that it beats "Die Another Day" (is it coincidence that spells DAD?) then this Bond would be the #1 Bond of all time. That's hardly a reasonable expectation. And given the nature of this film, I wouldn't expect it to equal Brosnan's run.
Like many people, Friedman sees the battle for #1 as all-important and finds it disconcerting that "Happy Feet" could beat Bond. Who cares? This was the first weekend ALL YEAR that two movies topped $40 million so I'd say they're both winners. Remember, the only numbers that matter are the movie's budget and the movie's worldwide gross. (DVD can be a nice safety net of course but is usually reflective of the box office.) All that matters with "Casino Royale" is where it ends up -- if "Happy Feet" is a $300 million worldwide smash, that doesn't hurt Bond one way or the other. Despite the great reviews, I've assumed that the lengthy running time, draggy parts and vulnerable moments mean this Bond will hit about $300 million worldwide. There aren't enough whiz-bang moments to demand repeat viewings from teenagers who might like Daniel Craig's toughness but don't need to sit through more than two viewings to take in the stunts. That $300 mil would be a serious drop from the $456 million of "Die Another Day," but a fine first number to build on.
Finally, Friedman loves the new Beatles mash-up by George Martin and his son. I'll certainly listen to "Love" as well, but I'm a fuddy-duddy when it comes to masterpieces. The Beatles albums don't need to be presented in new ways to attract the kids -- "Revolver," "Rubber Soul," "Sgt. Pepper," "The White Album," "Abbey Road" and the rest sound just as fresh and exciting today as they did 40 years ago. But Friedman's mention of how great the CD sounds reminds me again of how frustrating it is that the Beatles haven't remastered their catalog since it first came out in the late 80s. They better get George Martin on this immediately. He ain't getting any younger.