Two big-budget adaptations open this week, both based on classics.
Opening Friday is Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, based on the childrens novel by Roald Dahl. As we noted earlier, Deadline Hollywood reported that it got a 4-1/2 minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Cannes film festival.
Despite the enthusiasm from audiences at Cannes, Variety, predicts disappointment at the box office, noting that Spielberg has not had a major hit in several years, “The man who ushered in the summer blockbuster era with Jaws hasn’t done as much escapist fare in recent years, preferring to spend his time on historical dramas such as last winter’s Bridge of Spies and War Horse. That may have been artistically fulfilling, but didn’t result in many financial windfall.” In addition, The BFG has to go up against Finding Dory, which continues to dominate box offices after two weeks in theaters.
Spielberg’s next project, an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, set for release in March, 2018, may reverse the trend, says Variety, since it is “appears to be more mainstream.” Seeming to prove that, each new casting announcement causes a spike in the book’s sales.
The Legend of Tarzan is the other big opening this week. In this live-action take on the familiar story, Tarzan has left Africa for the high life as an aristocrat in England, but is offered a job as a trade emissary to Congo that returns him to his jungle home and plenty of trouble. Variety predicts it will also be a disappointment, saying that “The failure of sequels such as Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Huntsman: Winter’s War has led some analysts to suggest that audiences are rejecting the overly familiar and are desperate for more original entertainment.”
The film stars Alexander Skarsgård in the title role, alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent and Christoph Waltz.
There is no direct tie-in.
Also opening this week is Life, Animated, a Sundance award-winning documentary following the life of Owen Suskind (son of author Ron Suskind) who was diagnosed with autism at age 3. Unable to speak as a child, Owen found a way to communicate through classic Disney animated films. Variety calls it “captivating” and The Hollywood Reporter says it is “radiant.”
A tie-in is set for release after the film opens, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, Ron Suskind (Hachette/Kingswell; on sale July 12). The original hardback was published in 2014.
Our Kind of Traitor opens July 1 and stars Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, and Stellan Skarsgård. It is the second recent adaptation of a John le Carré novel, but unlike the recent TV adaptation of le Carré’s The Night Manager, this project is getting less than rave reviews. As we noted earlier The Hollywood Reporter says it is “High-toned but ho-hum” while The Independent calls it “entertaining but very lightweight.”