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Waxing Nostalgic With Bela Lugosi At The Cinema

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Dracula movie poster

Dracula movie posterI remember watching Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster on Chiller Theater in the afternoons after school on black and white television sets in the early 1960s. This was television on the cheap, showing reruns so worn out they seemed to be deteriorating before your eyes.

Chiller Theater played early Godzilla films, variations of King Kong and even the modern comedies, like Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the 1948 classic with Glenn Strange playing Frankenstein’s monster and Bela Lugosi still playing Dracula, only in the form of a character called Dr. Leighos.

How many times Lugosi played Dracula is hard to say by a study of his film titles. He played in 12 feature films in the 1910s, about 25 in the 1920s, and about 40 in the 1930s after his most famous role in the 1931 Dracula established his credentials as a ghoulish creature who lived on the blood of others and slept in a coffin during the day. He played in another 26 films in the 1940s and a small handful in the 1950s, when he was living in poverty and a morphine addict.

He was, of course, beautifully built for the part as Dracula. He had a somewhat ferret-like face. His fingers clutched at the air like a bear trap that would never let you go. He had a cold stare and demonic eyes to go along with his very worrisome Hungarian accent.

In films, he is slow. In the 1931 feature Dracula, there are a half dozen shots of his face alone, either leering or just looking hellishly blank. Director Tod Browning had little to offer in the way of special effects, but he shone two separate lights at Lugosi’s eyes to make him appear haunted.

But the most frightening thing about Lugosi was his supernatural purpose. He was a very determined vampire, who was ready to strike if he could just get his victim alone for a moment or two. He wasn’t just into blood to keep him alive, as the storyline goes. He seemed to think it was delicious.

I don’t run to see horror films. Most of the time, I’m not sure why they make them. But I spent my coins on Sunday to watch the one-time revival of Dracula at the cinema, because the intensity is only available when the screen is larger than life. And what if you calculated the worth of this film by the profits it made in 1931 plus all the profits made from horror films since, which owe some debt to this one? And a classic is a classic, no matter the age or the story line. For myself, I sat their wishing my childhood friend Gill was with me. I would have sent him to the kitchen for some Jiffy Pop.

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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