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Girls Trip

hitmans_bodyguard_logan_lucky

Courtesy of Lionsgate; Claudette Barius/Fingerprint Releasing/Bleecker Street
‘Hitman’s Bodguard’ (left), ‘Logan Lucky’

Neither film, however, could stop domestic summer revenue from continuing to fall as Hollywood and theater owners endured the lowest-grossing weekend of the year to date.

In a blow for returning director Steven Soderbergh, his star-studded heist pic Logan Lucky was mowed down at the domestic box office by The Hitman’s Bodyguard despite rapturous reviews.

Hitman’s Bodyguard also doesn’t lack for star power in its two leading men, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Lionsgate’s action comedy debuted to a better-than-expected $21.6 million from 3,377 theaters to easily top the weekend box-office chart, although it couldn’t do anything to stop overall summer revenue from continuing to tumble as Hollywood and theater owners endured the lowest-grossing weekend of the year to date.

Critics snubbed Hitman’s Bodyguard, while audiences gave the R-rated pic a B+ CinemaScore. Directed by Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3), the action comedy tells the story of a world-renowned bodyguard (Reynolds) who must protect an infamous hitman (Jackson) who is scheduled to testify. The movie drew its fair share of females (48 percent).

Logan Lucky placed third with an estimated $8.1 million from 3,301 theaters, the lowest nationwide start of Soderbergh’s career behind the 2002 space odyssey Solaris ($6.7 million) and the lowest when adjusting for inflation. The filmmaker made the $29 million heist comedy outside the Hollywood studio system by relying on a combination of foreign presales and equity, while raising another $20 million for marketing so as to retain tight control of how the PG-13 pic was sold. Indie distributor Bleecker Street distributed the pic on behalf of Soderbergh’s Fingerprint Releasing.

Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes and Hilary Swank, Logan Lucky follows two brothers (Tatum and Driver) as they attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

The film — Soderbergh’s first in four years after his previously announced retirement — boasts a stellar 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences were notably less enthusiastic, giving it a B grade.

No other new movies opened nationwide. Total revenue for the weekend is roughly $94 million-$95 million, behind Super Bowl weekend ($99 million).

Among holdovers, Warner Bros./New Line’s Annabelle: Creation came in a strong No. 2 with $15.5 million in its second weekend for a domestic total of $64 million. It declined 56 percent, an unusually good hold for a horror title. Overseas, Annabelle 2 earned conjured up $42 million from 56 markets for a foreign cume of $96.7 million and $160.7 million globally.

Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is still going strong, placing No. 4 with $6.7 million for a domestic total of $165.5 million and a global haul of $392.7 million. And in a third win for the studio, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman cleared the $800 million mark at the global box office, including $404 million domestically. (Disney and Marvel’s summer superhero tentpole Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II is still ahead worldwide with $862.1 million.)

Open Road’s The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature fell to No. 5 in its second outing, earning $5.1 million for a 10-day domestic total of $17.7 million.

At the specialty box office, the news was grim for filmmaker Geremy Jasper’s Sundance Film Festival sensation Patti Cakes$, which opened to $66,000 from 14 theaters for a screen average of $4,714. Fox Searchlight acquired the suburban rapper comedy for $9.5 million following a heated bidding war at Sundance in January.

The Weinstein Co.’s Wind River moved into the top 10 as it expanded into a total of 694 locations, grossing $3 million for a location average of $4,359 and an early domestic total of $4.1 million.

Ingrid Goes West and Good Time both continued to impress in their sophomore outings. From Neon, the comedy-drama Ingrid earned $265,567 from 26 cinemas for a screen average of $10,214 and a cume of $438,685. And A24’s crime drama Good Time upped its theater count to 20, earning $173,000 for a screen average of $8,652 and a 10-day total of $349,007.

 

AC-FP-035rv2 Film Name: ANNABELLE: CREATION Copyright: © 2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Caption: (L-R) The Annabelle doll and LULU WILSON as Linda in New Line Cinema's supernatural thriller "ANNABELLE: CREATION," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Film Name: ANNABELLE: CREATION
Copyright: © 2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Caption: (L-R) The Annabelle doll and LULU WILSON as Linda in New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “ANNABELLE: CREATION,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

As the summer box office continues to look a fright, the horror movie Annabelle: Creation is on track to debut with an estimated $35 million gross in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, topping fellow newcomers The Nut Job 2 and The Glass Castle as well as holdovers including Dunkirk and The Dark Tower.

The fourth installment of Warner Bros. and New Line’s Conjuring franchise, Annabelle: Creation is poised for the lowest opening of the series, behind Annabelle’s $37.1 million, The Conjuring’s $41.9 million, and The Conjuring 2’s $40.4 million. Nevertheless, $35 million represents a strong start for a chiller that cost a modest $15 million to make.

 Reviews have been mixed to positive for the film, which currently has a 68 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences gave it a CinemaScore of B. The story centers on a grieving dollmaker and his wife with a haunted past who welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. David F. Sandberg directed, and the cast includes Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, and Stephanie Sigman.

Holding steady in second place is Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic Dunkirk, which is set to take in an estimated $11.4 million over its fourth weekend in theaters. A rare bright spot during a sluggish summer, the Warner Bros. movie will thus cross the $150 million mark at the domestic box office, while tallying $210 million from foreign markets.

Rounding out the weekend’s top three is the Open Road animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature, with an estimated $8.9 million. Despite being good enough for third place, that figure is less than half of what the first Nut Job movie opened to — $19.4 million — on 500 fewer screens in 2014.

Reviews have not been kind to the computer-animated comedy, which follows a group of animals trying to stop an egomaniacal mayor from bulldozing their home to make way for a shoddy amusement park. Audiences gave it a B-plus CinemaScore.

(Left to right) Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) and Andy (voiced by Katherine Heigel) in NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE. Photo credit: Courtesy of Open Road Films / Distributor: Open Road Films
(Left to right) Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) and Andy (voiced by Katherine Heigel) in NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Open Road Films / Distributor: Open Road Films
Open Road Films

The weekend’s other newcomer, the Brie Larson drama The Glass Castle, will crack the top 10 with an estimated $4.9 million. Opening in 1,461 theaters, the Lionsgate film has a much smaller footprint than than many of its competitors; Annabelle: Creation, for example, is playing in 3,502 locations, and Nut Job 2 is playing in 4,003.

Based on gossip columnist Jeannette Walls’ 2005 memoir about her unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12), The Glass Castle divided critics but garnered an A-minus CinemaScore, suggesting positive word of mouth.

Meanwhile last weekend’s winner, the Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower, will tumble to the No. 4 slot with an estimated $7.9 million. Notching a 59 percent decline, the Sony film continues the recent trend of steep second-week drops.

On the specialty front, the Aubrey Plaza dramedy Ingrid Goes West is set to take in an estimated $141,216 at three locations, which works out to a robust $47,072 per-theater average (one of the best limited releases this year). The crime drama Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson, is on track for an estimated $137,625 at four locations, a per-theater average of $34,406.

After a promising opening last week, writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River is holding up with an estimated $642,067 from 45 locations ($14,268 per-theater average), bringing its domestic total to $870,285.

The forecast is less sunny for Al Gore’s climate documentary An Inconvenient Sequel, which will take in an estimated $800,000 from 556 locations in its third weekend, bringing its domestic total to $2.3 million. By comparison, the original Inconvenient Truth totaled about $4 million by the end of its third weekend, at 122 locations.

Per ComScore, overall box office is down 4.1 percent from the same frame from last year. Check out the Aug. 11-13 figures below.

1. Annabelle: Creation — $35 million
2. Dunkirk — $11.4 million
3. The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature — $8.9 million
4. The Dark Tower — $7.9 million
5. The Emoji Movie — $6.6 million
6. Girls Trip — $6.5 million
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming — $6.1 million
8. Kidnap — $ 5.2 million
9. The Glass Castle — $4.9 million
10. Atomic Blonde — $4.6 million

annabelle

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature’ and the book adaptation ‘The Glass Castle’ also open nationwide this weekend.

New Line’s Annabelle: Creation is scaring up a strong business in its box-office debut for a projected domestic launch in the $36 million-$39 million range, according to early Friday returns.

The origin film, directed by David F. Sandberg, is the fourth installment in the studio’s Conjuring horror franchise. It’s pacing to gross as much as $17 million from 3,502 theaters on Friday, including a strong $4 million in Thursday previews.

Annabelle, which opened in October 2014, earned $2.1 million in late-night showings on its way to a $37.1 million domestic debut. It earned $256.9 million worldwide. Conjuring 2 took in $3.4 million in previews in June 2016 on its way to a $40.4 million debut in North America. The highest earner in the Conjuring universe, it has grabbed $320.3 million worldwide.

The new installment follows a doll maker and his wife who, after losing their little girl, welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. But they soon become the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Annabelle: Creation is also impressing overseas, where it has grossed $9.5 million in its first two days, including a Thursday haul of $1.2 million in South Korea.

Elsewhere in North America, Open Road’s animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is projected to open to a subdued $8 million-$10 million from 4,003 theaters. Friday’s gross will include $330,000 in Thursday previews.

The first Nut Job film debuted to $19.4 million in January 2014.

Nutty by Nature, about a group of animals trying to stop their serene park from being turned into an amusement venture, features a voice cast that includes Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan and Katherine Heigl. Cal Brunker directed it.

Lionsgate’s adaptation The Glass Castle is opening in far fewer theaters, or 1,461 locations, for a projected $4.5 million-$6.5 million launch.

Based on former gossip columnist and author Jeannette Walls’ best-selling 2005 memoir, the story follows a young girl and her siblings who grow up with parents who choose to live an unorthodox (and often homeless) life. Brie Larson plays Walls in the film while Woody Harrelson plays Walls’ alcoholic father Rex. Naomi Watts plays Walls’ mother. The film sees Larson reunite with her Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton.

In limited release, Reliance will premiere Toilet: Ek Prem Katha into 175 theaters; A24 will release Good Time into four theaters; Neon will debut Ingrid Goes West into three theaters; IFC is also debuting The Trip to Spain in three locations; Roadside will debut Amazon’s The Only Living Boy in New York in 15 theaters; and Freestyle is releasing Bedeviled.

This weekend’s forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Annabelle: Creation (3,502 theaters) – $31.5 M
  • Dunkirk (3,762 theaters) – $11.0 M
  • The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (4,003 theaters) – $9.5 M
  • Girls Trip (2,303 theaters) – $7.6 M
  • The Dark Tower (3,451 theaters) – $7.6 M
  • The Emoji Movie (3,219 theaters) – $6.2 M
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2,607 theaters) – $6.0 M
  • Kidnap (2,418 theaters) – $5.6 M
  • Detroit (3,007 theaters) – $4.8 M
  • The Glass Castle (1,461 theaters) – $4.1 M

dunkirk

Elsewhere, Universal’s ‘Girls Trip’ is breaking the R-rated comedy curse with a projected $25 million-plus opening.

‘Dunkirk’ Delivers $5.5M from Thursday Previews, ‘Valerian’ and ‘Girls Trip’ Each with $1.7M

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is easily winning the Friday box-office battle for a projected $45 million-$50 million debut, marking the best opening for a World War II movie in recent times.

Dunkirk is expected to earn $17 million or more on Friday, including $5.5 million in Thursday night previews. The critically acclaimed film, from Warner Bros., is playing in 3,720 locations and is getting a wide berth in Imax theaters and on 70mm screens.

Other comparisons used in our weekend preview below include:

  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – $4m Preview / $55.5m Opening
  • Mad Max: Fury Road – $3.7m Preview / $45.4m Opening
  • Interstellar – $3.5m Preview / $47.5m Opening
  • The Magnificent Seven – $1.75m Preview / $34.7m Opening
  • Fury – $1.2m Preview / $23.7m Opening
  • Unbroken – $850k Preview / $30.6m Opening

Nolan’s last film, Interstellar, debuted to nearly $50 million over the long Thanksgiving holiday in 2014, including $47.5 million for the three-day weekend. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was his biggest opening ($160.9 million), followed by 2008’s The Dark Knight ($158.4 million), 2005’s Batman Begins ($73 million, including a three-day weekend of $48.7 million) and 2010’s Inception ($62.8 million).

Dunkirk, recounting one of World War II’s most famous battles, stars Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, One Direction’s Harry Styles and Aneurin Barnard. At 107 minutes, it is the shortest film of Nolan’s career, outside of his first movie. The production budget was reportedly $150 million or more.

Overseas, Dunkirk has earned $8.6 million in its first two days after beginning to roll out in select markets on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Universal’s Girls Trip is laughing loudly in North America. The femme-centric pic looks to earn $11 million or more from 2,591 theaters on Friday, including $1.7 million in previews, for an opening in the $26 million range — the best showing of the year so far for an R-rated comedy, a genre that’s been decidedly challenged.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who also produced alongside Will Packer, Girls Trip stars Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah as lifelong friends who go to New Orleans for a wild weekend of fun.

The news isn’t good for the weekend’s third new release, Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets. The sci-fi epic, costing at least $180 million to produce, is projected to gross $7 million on Friday from 3,553 theaters and $17 million for the weekend.

From Besson’s EuropaCorp and U.S. distributor STX Films, the film stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as a duo who must travel through space and time to save the universe. EuropaCorp put together financing for the movie and provided marketing funds.

At that pace, Valerian won’t be able to beat holdovers Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes. Among other holdovers, Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 jumped the $200 million mark at the domestic box office on Thursday.

Finally, as of Wednesday, Wonder Woman was up to $383.5 million domestically. Expected to bring in another $4 million or so this weekend, it will top Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and become the second highest grossing film of 2017 so far.

This weekend’s forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Dunkirk (3,720 theaters) – $51.0 M
  • Girls Trip (2,591 theaters) – $26.0 M
  • War for the Planet of the Apes (4,100 theaters) – $24.8 M
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (4,130 theaters) – $21.7 M
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (3,553 theaters) – $17.0 M
  • Despicable Me 3 (3,521 theaters) – $10.5 M
  • The Big Sick (2,597 theaters) – $5.2 M
  • Baby Driver (2,503 theaters) – $5.1 M
  • Wonder Woman (1,971 theaters) – $4.2 M
  • Wish Upon (2,154 theaters) – $2.8 M

* Valerian budget courtesy CNC.

dunkirk‘Dunkirk’
Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Pictures

    Dunkirk
In theaters
dunkirk_still_2

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Warner Bros. war drama centers on the British military evacuation of the titular French city in 1940, one of the biggest battles during World War II. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the film’s ensemble cast includes Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and One Direction’s Harry Styles.

In comparison to most war films, Dunkirk has very, very little dialogue and focuses and spans a relatively short period of time. “It places you so absolutely in the situation of conflict — you don’t learn the details of characters’ backstories or even their surnames. … You’re invited in to experience it as they’re experiencing it — as in, with not enough time to think or process things,” says Branagh. And since it has a PG-13 rating, Rylance hopes it speaks to a younger audience: “It’s good for young people to see a truthful war film like this. … young boys who are always fascinated by war can come and see just how awful and chaotic any war is. And if, God forbid, they come to a time when they’re going to be drafted or something like that, they’ll be a little more informed about what might be asked of them.”

Girls Trip
In theatersGirls Trip

Courtesy of Michele K. Short/Universal

The Universal comedy stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish as four lifelong friends who behave badly while vacationing in New Orleans. Though the R-rated offering has its share of raunchy humor, it’s also filled with heartwarming moments and female empowerment — a combination that’s earned strong reviews.

“I wanted a counterbalance to women sniping at each other or throwing drinks in each other’s faces; I wanted some real relationships,” explained director Malcolm D. Lee. “And my wife’s book club watched the movie as one of my first audiences, and they laughed and loved it and said, ‘I love how soft they are with each other.’ If that’s part of the takeaway of this bold, outrageous comedy, that’s great.”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
In theatersValerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Courtesy of STX Entertainment

Luc Besson’s passion-filled adaptation of the 1960s-era French comic book stars Dane DeHaan as the titular time-traveling hero, and Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline. They both find themselves on an enormous space station called Alpha, which is home to thousands of species. Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Clive Owen and Rihanna round out the cast of the STX sci-fi thriller, which features a whopping 2,355 visual effects shots, some 600 more than Rogue One.

The high-budget project is a personal gamble for the director, who ended up investing his entire salary into the movie. “[The budget is] not my money, but at the last minute, the financing fell short, so they asked me, ‘Can you put your entire salary in?’ And I said yes,” said Besson, who has wanted to make this movie for decades. However, critics aren’t as enthusiastic about the finished project.

Landline
In theatersLandline

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

The Amazon comedy from Jenny Slate, Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm — the team behind the beloved indie rom-com Obvious Child — stars Slate and Abby Quinn as sisters who, alongside their mother (played by Edie Falco), grapple with the fallout of their family patriarch’s affair in their unique ways.

The ’90s-set title is inspired by the writers’ own experiences. “Liz and I are both from New York City and our parents both divorced in the ’90s when we were teenagers and that’s sort of where this story started, with our personal lives,” says Robespierre. “Then through the course of writing it for a year it turned into something bigger. And that’s sort of how it started — over wine, as it always does.”

Ozark
Friday, NetflixOzark

Jackson Davis/Netflix

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in Netflix’s money-laundering drama, which released its full first season on Friday. Ozark sees Bateman, who is an executive producer and director on the series, in a much darker role than on his other Netflix show, Arrested Development. He plays Marty Byrde, a Chicago financial advisor who is laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. After a betrayal by his partner, the show takes a violent turn and Marty moves the operation, and his family — Wendy (Linney) and kids Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) — to Lake of the Ozarks.

Created by The Accountant‘s Bill Dubuque, THR‘s reviewer says the mystery drama is “four or five different shows doing battle at once — generally in the most familiar of moody and murky cable crime veins — but with a couple interesting characterizations and twists if you’re willing to focus in a way the show rarely is prepared to do itself.”

Ballers
Sunday, 10 p.m. on HBOBallers

Jeff Daly/HBO

One week after Game of Thrones’ return, HBO’s Sunday night of originals kicks off its second hour with Dwayne Johnson’s football comedy. The Rock’s Ballers picks up after his character, Spencer’s, hip surgery and welcomes guest stars Steve Guttenberg, Steven Weber and Graceland‘s Serinda Swan.

After filming its first two seasons in Miami, the comedy, which is executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, moved to California to film the third season. The season trailer sees Spencer and Joe (Rob Corddry) hitting up some familiar Los Angeles hotspots, talking about the next step in Spencer’s “global domination” and exploring launching a football team in Las Vegas.

Insecure
Sunday, 10:30 p.m. on HBO.Insecure

Justina Mintz/Courtesy of HBO

The second season of Issa Rae’s acclaimed comedy Insecure picks up fresh in the aftermath of Issa’s breakup with Lawrence (Jay Ellis). “For me it just came down to telling human stories,” Rae told THR of creating a show where people of color could be seen as relatable. “Trying to be funny, putting people in realistic situations. We’re telling a very universally specific story.”

Insecure and Rae were high on the list of snubs after the 2017 Emmy nominations were announced. But the star and co-creator (along with Larry Wilmore) said she was “over it in a minute.” Telling Bravo’s Andy Cohen, “We really stand behind this second season. We’re so excited about it and, you know, it just motivates us to work harder next year to get noticed.” THR‘s reviewer agreed, calling Insecure in his second season review “a show you should be watching.”

Girls Trip

The reviews have been mostly positive for the Friday release, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish.

The reviews are in for Girls Trip, Universal’s Friday (July 21) release, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish. The raunchy comedy, directed by Malcolm D. Lee from a script by Black-ish‘s Kenya Barris, Karen McCullah, Tracy Oliver and Erica Rivinoja, is receiving mostly positive reviews, with an 87 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday afternoon.

The film follows four longtime pals, who have a wild time, and rekindle their friendships, at New Orleans’ Essence Festival.

Read on to find out what the critics are saying about the movie.

The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney anticipated Girls Trip to be a second take on the recently released Rough Night — which he claimed “came and went with a blur of indifference” – but was pleasantly surprised, stating that the difference between the two flicks, both chock-full of sorority sister screams that are perfect for a summer blockbuster, was that Girls Trip “actually deliver[ed] on its promise of a liberating good time,” something the former had failed to portray. He does mention small flaws in the new hit, but says there is too much good in this one to get hung up on those flaws.

As for the four leads, Rooney called them “spirited” and “immensely appealing,” largely due to the direction of Lee, who is “a go-to director for high-gloss entertainment built around successful, sexy African-American characters.” Each character is established into her own with “deft economy,” making this flick a “sweet summertime hit,” according to Rooney.

Like Rooney, Kate Erbland of IndieWire also initially thought Girls Trip would be a Rough Night redo. But she proclaimed that the more recent release “benefits from a beefier storyline and better chemistry” than its simpler predecessor. “Those pure laughs are more than enough to sustain the summer’s best comedy so far, as Girls Trip nails laugh after laugh even amidst — and oftentimes because of — dramatic issues that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lifetime movie,” she wrote. “Girls Trip keeps the momentum whirling ever onward into the next big comedic set piece.”

Ariel Scotti from the New York Daily News called Girls Trip “your summer fun.” She also commented on the authenticity of the characters, delving deep into the raunchy and comedic role of Dina (Haddish), saying that a “less talented actress would have drowned in the vulgarity of the script.” Scotti agrees with the aforementioned reviews, praising Girls Trip for its portrayal of sisterhood on a “real and relatable level” and “black girl magic.” Her one complaint, though: “the humor can go too far on the crudeness level.”

Also offering praise for the pure characters of Girls Trip, Manohla Dargas of The New York Times explains that the four leading ladies “despite being fictional also exist in our world,” unlike those in other flicks about “naughty women” who end up murdering a man in their storyline. She claims “[Girls Trip] is also funnier; it’s also more appealing because it knows that there’s more at stake existentially for women, and especially for black women, than out-grossing men.”

Dargas lauds the film for addressing character issues that keep the cast grounded, teaching them and us “how to live in the world with love and joy, how to nurture intimate relationships so they don’t slip away, how to balance professional and personal obligations without going nuts, how to perform fairly tricky sexual acts without embarrassing you or your partner right out of bed — you know, the usual.” She compares the comedy to “male-centric” movies of the type, including The Hangover, adding that Girls Trip “adds complexity to the picture by bringing in class.”

Another fan of Haddish’s performance, Sandy Cohen of the Associated Press, begins by writing that “if there were such a thing as Comedy Oscars, [Haddish] would win for Girls Trip,” comparing her performance to that of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids. Cohen doesn’t forget the rest of Girls Trip‘s cast, though, mentioning that “all four actresses have shining moments of comedy and heart.”

Cohen also appreciates the realistic and relatable characters, calling the group “#friendshipgoals.” She closes with more appreciation for the fun summer film, promising it “delivers for all adult audiences.” “Regardless of your race or gender,” Cohen adds, “you’ll be laughing all the way home. The members of the Flossy Posse are fully realized people: accomplished people trying to have fun and find themselves as they navigate their grown-up lives.”

The Toronto Star‘s Bruce Demara, in one of the film’s few bad reviews, praises the chemistry among the four stars and the film’s “positive and life-affirming message about sisterhood and personal empowerment” but he lamented, “You have to wade through an awful lot of clutter to get there. … The film is audacious and unabashed in its determination to draw laughs from material that takes vulgarity to the extreme,” Demara writes. “Some of it works while a lot of it is just head-shakingly awful.” He attributes the problems to the film’s screenplay and its “focus on antics and bad language [more] than plot and character development. … Words like ‘bitch,’ ‘ho’ and the dreaded N-word flow freely, and how tiresome and anti-feminist it is to hear women repeat the mantra that all a woman with the blues needs is something big and black,” he writes.

girls_trip_ver7

Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah play college friends reuniting for a New Orleans weekend during the Essence Festival in Malcolm D. Lee’s sisterhood celebration.

It’s barely been a month since the joyless Rough Night came and went in a blur of indifference, and this new comedy on paper could almost be the same movie — only with black sorority sisters and no corpse to dampen the weekend getaway. The difference is that Girls Trip actually delivers on its promise of a liberating good time, thanks in large part to the spirited characterizations and believable chemistry of its four immensely appealing leads. The progression from raunchy, raucous laughs into dramatic conflict and then out the other side into the uplifting empowerment of sisterhood and self-worth isn’t entirely seamless, but there’s too much dizzy pleasure here to get hung up on the flaws.

All that should spell “sweet summertime hit” for Universal, especially with women, while confirming Malcolm D. Lee as a go-to director for high-gloss entertainment built around successful, sexy African-American characters. In the Best Man movies, he explored how four longtime guy friends navigated various rivalries and romances, their bonds outlasting their frictions. Working from a script by Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, Lee mines similar territory with the ladies this time, and again, his biggest assets are strong casting and genuine affection for his characters.

The movie opens with a quick recap starting at college in 1992, when the “Flossy Posse” first became an inseparable, hard-partying unit. The closeness lasted through graduation and even later, but marriages, careers and other inevitable divergent paths of adult life have weakened what was meant to be a four-way lifelong union. Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), a popular self-help author whose latest best-seller is You Can Have It All, decides to fix that when she’s invited to be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Essence Festival in New Orleans, reconvening the posse for a luxury weekend of girl time.

Ryan’s lily-white agent Liz (Kate Walsh), who likes to think she’s in on the “#BlackGirlMagic,” is working on closing a massive deal during the festival, setting up her star client and the latter’s husband Stewart (Mike Colter), a retired NFL player, with their own talk show and product line.

Lee and the screenwriters establish the distinct personalities of the four principal women with deft economy. Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is the clown of the group, a man-crazy hothead who, in possibly the movie’s most hilarious scene, blithely steamrolls her boss as he’s attempting to fire her for assaulting a co-worker. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) has traded in her former freaknik credentials to be a nurse and nurturing mother of two, pretending not to mind the absence of romance since her divorce. And Sasha (Queen Latifah) has moved from top-tier journalism into bottom-feeder celebrity muckraking with a gossip site, whose backer is threatening to pull the plug if she doesn’t start coming up with juicier items to goose ad revenue.

The requisite squealing airport reunion segues directly to the French Quarter, with brass ensemble The Soul Rebels blasting Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.” Already, even before the boozing and carousing has fully gotten underway, there’s infectious enjoyment in watching these women (both the characters and the performers) cut loose and have fun. But when one of Sasha’s regular paparazzi forwards her a photo taken the night before of Stewart making out with Simone (Deborah Ayorinde), a self-promoting “Instagram skank,” a cloud is cast over the group, revealing the cracks in Ryan’s famously perfect world.

The setup is formulaic and the characters cut from familiar cloth, but the template is fleshed out with freshness and verve as each woman exhales alongside the three other people in the world who know her best. Weaving through crowds on Bourbon Street or in the Superdome, where we catch glimpses of concert performances by Common, Diddy and others, the posse shake off the concerns of their regular existences, including Ryan, whose professional responsibilities and marital troubles don’t inhibit her ability to get crazy. The divine Hall is definitely not straitjacketed by her designated role as “the responsible one,” her voice shifting into her trademark squawk in more excitable moments.

The sparkplug that repeatedly ignites them all is shameless wild-child Dina, a role likely to be a breakout for the volcanically funny Haddish, best known for The Carmichael Show. And when she scores some 200-year-old absinthe (from Mike Epps in a cameo), ignoring the “imbibe with caution” warning, their night out turns hallucinogenic — Girls Trip,” geddit?

There’s a cute moment around that point where the movie acknowledges the screen history of Latifah and Pinkett Smith by having them exchange a knowing look when Dina ushers them into a dance club, shouting, “C’mon, bitches, let’s set it off!” It’s followed by that most time-honored of female smackdowns, a dance-off against the aggressively adversarial Simone and her girls, which only makes the scene more irresistible.

The two posse members who have suffered betrayal or neglect both get to feel like queens again through some avid male attention. Ryan gets drawn into a flirtatious knot with Julian (Larenz Tate), a college friend who has filled out nicely and now plays bass for Ne-Yo; and frisky young stranger Malik (Kofi Siriboe) sets his sights on prim Lisa, even before she’s unleashed. His intimidating endowment prompts a tutorial from Dina in “grapefruiting.” Don’t ask. Haddish tackles most of the more outrageously vulgar end of the comedy spectrum, and while it occasionally gets a tad gross, her fearlessness is breathtaking. Though did we really need not one but two golden showers raining down on New Orleans revelers?

Lee lets the pacing lag once uncomfortable reality intrudes, and the public humiliation of Ryan causes her to doubt Sasha’s loyalty. That in turn sparks animosity amongst all four friends in a somewhat rote development. But such rifts are necessary in order to be mended in movies like this, and the warm feelings engendered toward the characters make you root for their inevitable happiness — and the strengthened renewal of their sisterhood — even if they’re more diverting company in down-and-dirty mode than soft-and-fuzzy.

At just over two hours, the movie could be tighter and some of its transitions more elegant. But the vibrancy of the authentic New Orleans locations and the bustle of the Essence crowds (Mariah Carey, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Ava DuVernay and Best Man alum Morris Chestnut are among familiar faces glimpsed) keep things humming. Mostly, however, it’s the likability of the cast and their relaxed rapport together that maintains the flow even in weak script spots. Lee rolls the end credits on a suitably celebratory image of all four leads, dressed to slay and shimmying through the Quarter in the midst of a brass-band parade. They look like they’re having a ball.

Production companies: Universal Pictures, Perfect World Pictures, Will Packer Productions
Distributor: Universal
Cast: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh, Kofi Siriboe, Deborah Ayorinde
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Screenwriters: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
Story: Erica Rivinoja, Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
Producers: Will Packer, Malcolm D. Lee
Executive producers: Preston Holmes, James Lopez
Director of photography: Greg Gardiner
Production designer: Keith Brian Burns
Costume designer: Danielle Hollowell
Music: David Newman
Editor: Paul Millspaugh
Casting: Mary Vernieu, Michelle Wade Byrd

Rated R, 122 minutes

(L to R) REGINA HALL, TIFFANY HADISH, JADA PINKETT SMITH and QUEEN LATIFAH in "Girls Trip," a new comedy from director/producer Malcolm D. Lee ("The Best Man" franchise, "Barbershop: The Next Cut") and producer Will Packer ("Ride Along" and "Think Like a Man" franchises, "Almost Christmas").  When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.
(L to R) REGINA HALL, TIFFANY HADISH, JADA PINKETT SMITH and QUEEN LATIFAH in “Girls Trip,” a new comedy from director/producer Malcolm D. Lee (“The Best Man” franchise, “Barbershop: The Next Cut”) and producer Will Packer (“Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man” franchises, “Almost Christmas”). When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

Girls Trip

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Summer movie season is heating up, with major crowdpleasers (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and indie gems (Landline) offering a major seasonal rush throughout the month. Here’s every notable movie coming to theaters in July.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man swings into theaters in the driver’s seat of his own starring vehicle for the first time since 2014, as Jon Watts puts a delightful teenage spin on the classic superhero tale with a new film that follows Peter Parker through his formative teenage years. “The fact that Peter Parker is 15 allows me to have fun with it,” Watts (Cop Car) told EW for this week’s cover story. “Yes, there’s a lot of drama and conflict, but more than anything, it’s about, ‘If you were that age and could do what he can do? That would be really fun.”

Release date: July 7 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

City of Ghosts

Hailed as an “urgent” and “timely” documentary about the civil war in Syria by EW’s Chris Nashawaty, City of Ghosts hits limited release as one of the best-reviewed nonfiction titles of the year. “City of Ghosts shows us what journalism can do in the face of evil,” Nashawaty writes. “Its message is haunting, humane, and ultimately hopeful.”

Release date: July 7 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

A Ghost Story

In the mood to see Casey Affleck spend most of a movie hiding under a sheet? That’s exactly what A Ghost Story, David Lowery’s well-received Sundance drama about a grieving widow (Rooney Mara) who mourns the loss of her husband (Affleck) while he “haunts,” in one way or another, their home. The movie also reportedly delivers an amazing extended sequence of Mara eating pie, so there’s that, too.

Release date: July 7 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

War for the Planet of the Apes

Regarded as one of the best blockbuster franchises of the contemporary era, the revival of the classic Planet of the Apes series returns for a fourth go-round, this time centering on Caesar (Andy Serkis), the protagonist primate (and his legion of similar-species followers) embroiled in a massive war with humans.

Release date: July 14 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

Wish Upon

A bullied teen (Joey King) whose mother died by suicide discovers a mysterious music box that grants her seven wishes — which come at a deadly price.

Release date: July 14 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

Lady Macbeth

Having traveled the festival circuit for most of the latter half of 2016, Lady Macbeth — starring Florence Pugh as a young bride sold into marriage to a middle-aged man, ultimately beginning an affair with an estate worker — is exactly the kind of English costume drama you’ve been waiting for all year.

Release date: July 14 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan returns to the big screen for another monolithic undertaking, fronting a period war picture about the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk, France during World War II, which saw more than 300,000 Allied soldiers safely venture across the English Channel. “I kept coming back to the firsthand accounts, with people describing the sights and sounds of being on that beach, or being up in a plane above that beach, or being on a boat coming across to help the situation,” Nolan has said of the film. “I think the confusion, not knowing what’s really going on, was one of the most frightening and disturbing things for people.”

Release date: July 21 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

Girls Trip

Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish embark on a hilarious bonding venture in Malcolm D. Lee’s (The Best Man Holiday, Barbershop: The Next Cut) latest comedy. ““It’s The Hangover meets Sex and the City,” Lee told EW of the movie. “Women are just as lascivious and sexual as men, and they want to let loose and have fun.”

Release date: July 21 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

The most expensive French movie ever made finally hits theaters this summer, promising an epic, sci-fi adventure based on the beloved comic series. “If you don’t like sci-fi, I want you to still like Valerian,” Besson told EW of the film. “I allowed myself much more freedom. I centered the story to make it more real, more human.”

Release date: July 21 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

Landline

Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn play a pair of sisters, bonding while investigating whether their father (John Turturro) is cheating on their mother (Edie Falco) in ’90s New York City.

Release date: July 21 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

Atomic Blonde

Gal Gadot isn’t the only Wonder Woman in town. Charlize Theron is kicking ass and taking names in this action-thriller set in 1980s Berlin, which also stars James McAvoy and John Goodman. “I remember sitting in a room one day thinking about how do you make this different from other spy movies,” Theron, who is also a producer on the film,. “It’s really hard. Who is going to be the love interest? Kurt [Johnstad], who’s a punk rock writer, suggested she falls in love with a woman. It’s unexpected. It’s refreshing. Everybody says you can’t do that — which is such bullsh–. Why is it that James Bond can sleep with every girl in every movie and nobody says, ‘Wow, he’s not in love with them?’ Am I the only person who — long, long ago before I had children — had a one-night stand with somebody from a club? Nobody else has done that before?”

Release date: July 28 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

The Emoji Movie

Those cute little buggers you send to friends in text messages are finally getting their own movie — and, yes, that includes the poop emoji, voiced by Patrick Stewart. Need we say more?

Release date: July 28 — get tickets here
Release type: Wide

From the Land of the Moon

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A headstrong French woman (Marion Cotillard) bucks convention and incites scandal by falling for a war veteran (Louis Garrel) after her arranged marriage to a Spanish farmer in this Cannes-debuting romance.

Release date: July 28 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Climate change might put the planet in an early grave, but at least we have Al Gore to tell us how it’s all going to happen. The former vice president returns to the nonfiction genre for another documentary highlighting the ever-evolving state of our natural environmental, this time examining Gore’s global efforts to convince political leaders to adopt sources of renewable energy.

Release date: July 28 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

Menashe

A Hasidic grocery clerk fights for custody of his son following his wife’s death, challenging traditions that require children to be raised by women.

Release date: July 28 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited

Strange Weather

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Holly Hunter gives a stunning performance in Katherine Dieckmann’s latest film, a poignant exploration of death and redemption navigated by its maker’s fearless commitment to exploring the truths about grief and loss with real women at the center — complete with an Americana-inspired Sharon Van Etten score. “I was trying to write [these characters] away from stereotype. I also have a number of friends who are southerners, and I have a strong connection to the South… I’m equally frustrated as a filmgoer by southern people [presented] as backwards rubes, because I know that to not be the case,” Dieckmann. “I think in film, it’s been way more difficult for women to be iconic. I don’t know why that is. I want to see women who are aesthetically ruthless shake it up.”

Release date: July 28 — get tickets here
Release type: Limited