Inside the making of made-for-TV holiday movies; Avatar: The Way of Water is killing it at the box office; Daniel Craig’s character is not supposed to be the protagonist of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, according to director Rian Johnson. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
But First: Happy Holidays from all of us at MovieMaker. We hope you had — and are perhaps still having — a lovely and well-deserved end-of-year break full of good food, and maybe a few Christmas movies. While most families go for Elf or Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas at this time of year, in my family, it’s tradition to watch Billy Bob Thornton’s 1996 cult-classic Sling Blade. Mmm-hmm.
(Still) in the Christmas Spirit: Vulture did a Christmastime deep-dive into how made-for-TV holiday movies are made, from set to screen. According to the story, over 150 have/will premiere this holiday season, and there’s quite a machine behind them. It’s a fascinating read from Vulture‘s Rebecca Alter.
Rian Johnson Has Something to Say: The director of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — now streaming on Netflix — recently told our own Joshua Encinias that he bristles at people assuming Daniel Craig’s detective character is the protagonist. “I will say, generally, in whodunits, the life of the detective is best seen in glimpses,” Johnson told MovieMaker in a wide-ranging talk about Glass Onion and much more. “I feel it’s an error to mistake the detective for the protagonist and to think that digging into his background or his life outside of the case is what’s interesting about it.”
Speaking of Johnson: He has another complaint. The director told Variety that he’s “pissed off” that he had to put A Knives Out Mystery in the title. “I’ve tried hard to make them self-contained,” he said. “I want it to just be called Glass Onion.” He blames the need for serialized storytelling: “I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series, but also, the whole appeal to me is it’s a new novel off the shelf every time,” he adds. “But there’s a gravity of a thousand suns toward serialized storytelling.”
Obama’s Favorite Movies: Former President Barack Obama released his annual list of his favorite movies, music, and books of the year this past week. The movies list includes John Patton Ford’s Emily The Criminal — starring our recent cover star, Aubrey Plaza — and Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. It also includes Gina Prince-Blythwood’s The Woman King, which was one of my favorites this year, too, and Audrey Diwan’s incredible French abortion drama Happening. See his full list below:
I saw some great movies this year – here are some of my favorites. What did I miss? pic.twitter.com/vsgEmc8cn8
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 23, 2022
Avatar 2: Surprising no one, Avatar: The Way of Water has absolutely dominated the holiday box office, and has officially crossed the $900 million mark worldwide. It’s still behind the year’s current top-grossing film, Top Gun: Maverick, which grossed, in total, $1.488 billion. But I wouldn’t put it past James Cameron to catch up to those numbers by the end of Avatar‘s theatrical run, considering that the original Avatar is still the highest-grossing movie of all time.
Defending Babylon: Damien Chazelle’s Babylon earned only $3.5 million at the box office during its Christmas weekend opening, but the star-studded big studio movie with an even bigger imagination (and over 3-hour runtime) is getting a lot of love from cinephiles on Twitter. Featuring Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Olivia Wilde, and Tobey Maguire, many movie lovers insist that artistic studio films that take big swings are essential to keeping the box office interesting — even if they aren’t immediately beloved by the masses. Behold, some tweets:
Me defending Babylon: pic.twitter.com/k4olaNRKTq
— HellCatMaddy (@Madmaddingcrowd) December 24, 2022
real quick: i don’t care how bad you think BABYLON is, if you’re celebrating the flop of one of the priciest big-swing studio movies this decade, you’re celebrating another nail in the coffin of original film programming made by actual filmmakers at the studio level
— Brendan Hodges (@metaplexmovies) December 27, 2022
Babylon flop discourse is weird, cause even in other eras it would’ve been a flop. if it came out in 1981, it would have bankrupted a studio and maybe 35 years later gotten a Criterion release.
— Corey Atad (@CoreyAtad) December 27, 2022
I understand if BABYLON isn’t everyone’s “thing,” but what I *don’t* get is when the same people who complain about Marvel’s monopolization of the box office celebrate the financial failure of original, unrestrained art that is already so rarely given the greenlight these days. pic.twitter.com/L82dy1xlK4
— Zoë Rose Bryant (@ZoeRoseBryant) December 26, 2022
Main Image: A still from Lifetime’s Snowed Inn Christmas.