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The most-rented movies of 2011 probably aren’t what you’d expect

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With 2011 now firmly under wraps, kiosk superstars Redbox have announced their most-rented movies for 2011, broken down by genre. The quality of the films isn’t exactly surprising, given that insanely popular movies like “Transformers” don’t generally make the Academy lists. No, what’s notable is the films didn’t exactly do gangbusters at the box office; at least one of them would almost universally be considered a domestic flop.

The films are:

  • Most Rented Action Movie: “Green Hornet”
  • Most Rented Horror Movie: “Insidious”
  • Most Rented Comedy Movie: “Just Go With It”
  • Most Rented Drama Movie: “The Tourist”
  • Most Rented Family Movie: “Rango”
  • Most Rented total for all of 2011: “Just Go With It”

Let’s break those down by the numbers.


“Green Hornet”

The Michel Gondry-directed, Seth Rogen-starred superhero adaptation rolled out with $120 million budget, plus whatever additional monies Sony spent on Print & Advertising (P&A). The big-budget film debuted to weak results at the box office, garnering a little over $98 million domestic. Where the film cleaned up was overseas, where it nabbed another $130 million. Did it take a while for American audiences to catch up with their foreign brethren? Maybe, but it only earned $15 million in domestic DVD sales, so who knows? Apparently most folks were more happy to drop $1 to see it, than a theater ticket or home video sale. But for “Green Hornet” to surpass titles like “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and “Captain America”? Color me surprised, even if “Green Hornet” had more time on store shelves.


“Insidious”

Now this one makes more sense. Filmed on a shoestring budget of only $800,000 plus P&A, the James Wan-directed horror film managed a whopping $54 million at the domestic box office and another $43 million overseas, making it the most profitable film of 2011. With another $7.2 million in domestic DVD sales, it’s not surprising that Americans went out in droves to rent this low-budget gem.


“Just Go With It”

With an $80 million budget plus P&A, there was really no question whether this Adam Sandler comedy, co-starring Jennifer Aniston, would find a home at the box office. Sandler comedies usually do. But it’s somewhat surprising that it’s the most rented comedy of the entire year given that it generated only $103 million domestic with $14 million on home video. “The Hangover Part II,” for example, earned a whopping $254 million domestic , $322 million overseas and $26 million in US DVD sales. Could word-of-mouth have been a factor? Well, maybe. “Hangover 2″ was rated 58% by audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas “Just Go With It” reached 63% (the critics’ ratings were the other way around, by far). Even so, though, in a year filmed with huge-budget blockbuster films, for “Just Go With It” to take not only “Most Rented Comedy” but the all-encompassing “Most Rented of all of 2011″ cake is fairly amazing.


“The Tourist”

With $100 million budget plus P&A, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie’s “The Tourist” bombed at the domestic box office, earning only $67 million. Where it succeeded however was overseas, where it racked up another $211 million. Another indicator that this would be a strong rental offering is in home video sales, where “The Tourist” managed to generate almost $17 million in sales. That’s around 25% of its entire American gross…pretty impressive. And while its two marketable stars may have not been enough to pull in a theater crowd, they’re big enough where they stand out at a DVD rental kiosk.


“Rango”

The second Johnny Depp release to make an appearance on the “Most Rented” list, “Rango” is another title that makes sense, but becomes more surprising when you compare it to other 2011 DVD releases. The film earned $123 domestic on a $135 budget plus P&A, and nearly almost as much internationally. It also racked up an impressive $22 million in domestic DVD sales. But as a 2011 release, it had incredibly strong competition from films like “Kung Fu Panda 2″ ($165M domestic, $500M overseas) and “The Smurfs” ($142M domestic, $417M overseas). Perhaps word-of-mouth really did help on this one, as “Rango” is generally considered among the year’s best films, with a 88% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes (although only 69% audience rating, so go figure). But the easier answer is that “Rango” was released mid-year, giving it considerably more time on shelves than other noteworthy family films.


Most Rented lists are always a little wacky given that films released earlier in the year have a better shot at making the list than those released later, but when movies like “Deathly Hallows Part 2″ earn $22 million in DVD sales yet fail to make the list, it’s interesting to consider why (in that case, it’s probably because Potter fans want to purchase their beloved wizard rather than keep him as a one-night stand). Nonetheless, we hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the numbers with us. Bring on 2012!

Which of these surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

My favorite posts of 2011

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We’re burning away the last few hours left in 2011. It’s been a great year for movies and — if we don’t say so ourselves — a great year on IFC.com. Putting together one last post to highlight some of the best pieces of 2011 was not an easy task because there was so much good stuff on the site this year. To make things a little more manageable, I’ve made this a list of my favorite posts that I wrote on the site, in part because I wrote a ton of stuff this year (approximately 750 posts, give or take) and in part because I am an egomaniacal, self-centered bastard.

For your linking ease and pleasure, I’ve separated things according to article type: thinkpieces, lists, interviews, and reviews. If you missed any of these, check them out. And if you’ve read any of them over the course of the last twelve months, from the bottom of evil, narcissistic heart: thank you and have a happy New Year.

THINKPIECES
A movie theater etiquette manifesto
Sick of the multiplex? Go to the drive-in
A married couple jointly reviews the marriage comedy “Hall Pass”
Guts before six packs: why flab is funny
Drake’s Reception: “Uncharted 3″ and video game criticism
Jaws and the changing face of movie theme parks
A “Planet of the Apes” Primer
“The Bachelor” is the worst and best show on television
Am I nuts or are “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Project Nim” the same movie?
Is “The Hangover Part II” a “good” sequel?
Remembering Elizabeth Taylor in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”
The “Black Swan” dancing controversy makes no sense
How “Network” predicted Charlie Sheen’s meltdown
The dead-rat-covered truth about movie theater nostalgia
The sudden death (and promising afterlife) of film
The worldbuilding is not enough
Outrage in the age of superhero outsourcing
The surprising parallels between Thor and George W. Bush
Spoiling a spoiler manifesto and Why I don’t like the new rules for TV spoilers

LISTS
The fifty greatest opening title sequences of all time
The ten coolest cars in movie history
Ten changes we wouldn’t mind seeing in the “Star Wars” Blu-rays
Five more directors who should act more
Our five favorite movie wheelmen
Five ridiculous studio mandated endings
Five actors who made uglier onscreen women than Adam Sandler
Ranking this year’s Razzie Nominees
A “Star Trek” theme park guide wish list
The porn parody titles of 2011

INTERVIEWS
Jodie Foster on “The Beaver”
John C. Reilly on “Terri”
Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz on “The Interrupters”
Jeff Nichols on “Take Shelter”
Nacho Vigalondo on “Extraterrestrial”
Neil Burger on “Limitless”‘ opening titles
Yuen Woo Ping on his five favorite martial arts sequences
Master makeup artist Rick Baker at Fantastic Fest

REVIEWS
“The Adventures of Tintin,” directed by Steven Spielberg
“Another Earth,” directed by Mike Cahill
“The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu,” directed by Andrei Ujica
“Cedar Rapids,” directed by Miguel Arteta
“Hugo,” directed by Martin Scorsese
“Ironclad,” directed by Jonathan English
“Killer Elite,” directed by Gary McKendry
“Limelight,” directed by Billy Corben
“Rubber,” directed by Quentin Dupieux
“Tyrannosaur,” directed by Paddy Considine

What was your favorite piece on IFC.com this year? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Christopher Lee talks about Saruman in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

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There are going to be plenty of memorable reappearances by some of our favorite “Lord of the Rings” characters in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” that didn’t happen within the pages of the novel the film is based on. Frodo, for instance, will make a return through some tricky manipulation of the “Lord of the Rings” timeline, and Legolas will make an appearance even though only his father Thranduil actually shows up in “The Hobbit” novel.

Such is the case with Saruman, the white wizard who doesn’t show up in “The Hobbit” story though later J.R.R. Tolkien literature reveals that he was actually pretty busy at the time Bilbo Baggins’ tale was taking place. Actor Christopher Lee will be reprising his role as the head of the Council of Wizards, and he posted a Christmas message to YouTube in which he talks about the upcoming role.

“The Hobbit” takes place many years before “The Lord of the Rings,” so needless to say we’ll be seeing a different side to Saruman than we did in the later stories. According to Lee, Saruman is “indeed, still, Saruman the White” and will be “a good and noble man and the head of the Council of Wizards, as he always was.”

It’s nice that that is how director Peter Jackson has chosen to portray Saruman in the movie. A quick brush up on our “Lord of the Rings” mythology has Saruman attacking the evil Sauron at Dol Guldur to prevent his rise to power. Sounds like a good guy, right? Unfortunately, the context of that attack was for Saruman himself to try to gather more information about the possible location of the One Ring — which Bilbo ends up finding at about the same time as Saruman’s attack — so he’s maybe not as good and wholesome as Lee is making him appear to be.

Discrepancies aside, Lee added that several “Rings” characters won’t be making an appearance in “The Hobbit,” including Aragorn and the Rohirrim. A bummer, to be sure, but that will just be a sacrifice we have to pay to meet some new faces around Middle-Earth.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” hits theaters on December 24, 2012.

Are you happy to hear we’ll be seeing Saruman in a positive light? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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