Trailer Park: Are audiences really more hungry for the Mockingjay than the Millennium Falcon?

Philip Molloy takes a look at features coming soon to our cinema screens

Trailer Park: Are audiences really more hungry for the Mockingjay than the Millennium Falcon?

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in 'Mockingjay' [YouTube]

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most anticipated movie of the autumn/winter period. Right? Well, no. Or at least not according to Piedmont Media Research which is citing The Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2 following a nationwide survey in the US.

Both films scored some of the highest numbers recorded by Piedmont over the five years of its poll but Katniss Everdeen is leading the charge. The young-adult audience that Star Wars will need to herald its return to the big screen after an absence of ten years is, apparently, more anxious to see cold-eyed President Coriolanus Snow get his comeuppance than witnessing the re-appearance of the Millennium Falcon.

There were three books and now four films and Mockingjay Part 2 is where everything comes to a head as Katniss and her ever-growing rebel army take the war to the Capital in an attempt to do-away with the “hunger games” philosophy once and for all.

One of the accomplishments of the franchise has been its part in the career-growth of Jennifer Lawrence and, as the biggest female film star in the world, she will, no doubt, repay it with a stellar performance at the box office come the release of the second Mockingjay on November 20th. With its ability to appeal to both a new and older audience, it is difficult to conceive that The Force Awakens won’t ultimately outpace its competition but what seems certain is that the two movies, with Spectre, the new James Bond, will finish top of the pile.

Since then, he has directed one new movie, the sci-fi action adventure Pacific Rim but it is probably accurate to say that his career hadn’t kicked back on track until now – and the Gothic, horror romance Crimson Peak, which is one of five self-initiated movies that he has been preparing to direct over the past year.

Crimson Peak charts the relationship between an American writer, played by Mia Wasikowska, and the English inventor (Tom Hiddleston) who sweeps her off her feet and spirits her several thousand miles to his ancestral home where madness and potential death await. It is a grand, opulent, large scale melodrama which cost about ten times the budget of the currently popular Blumhouse horror franchises such as Insidious, Sinister, The Purge and Paranormal Activity.

Crimson Peak co-stars Jessica Chastain (who learned to play the piano for the role) and Charlie Hunnam; it was made in the new Pinewood Studios in Toronto and it will be out here on October 16th. Del Toro says he only now gets involved in things he is “crazy about” and Crimson Peak is one such. 

Two months prior to the US Presidential Election in 2004, the venerable US television current affairs series 60 Minutes carried a report which alleged that George W Bush had lied about his involvement in the National Guard in the early 70s. Subsequently it was revealed that the documents on which the report was based were not authenticated – in fact they were forgeries – and the producer of the programme, Mary Mapes, was sacked and Dan Rather, the long-time 60 Minutes anchor, was widely condemned.

In 2005, Mapes published a memoir, Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power,and it is this book that forms the basis of the movie, Truth, which played to an enthusiastic response at the recent Toronto Film Festival.

Truth follows the breaking of the story and its aftermath, and it stars Robert Redford as Rather and Cate Blanchett as Mapes, with Elisabeth Moss, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Bruce Greenwood in supporting roles. It marks the directorial debut of James Vanderbilt who wrote Zodiac, another-well regarded media movie in 2007.

Truth, which was shot in Australia, will be released in the US in mid-October in time for an extensive Oscar campaign, but hasn’t been given an Irish opening date yet. On the basis of the trailer it looks fairly meaty.  

Quentin Tarantino was named after Quint Asper, the half-Indian blacksmith played by Burt Reynolds in the long-running TV series Gunsmoke. It was probably inevitable then that, as a director, he would have an interest in “cowboy” subjects – and that interest expressed itself in the revamped spaghetti western Django Unchained. And in his hotly-anticipated release, The Hateful Eight.

Tarantino has, in fact, said that The Hateful Eight was influenced more by TV series such as The Virginian, Bonanza, and The High Chaparral rather than a particular western film. Set in Wyoming in the years after the American Civil War, it focuses on a group of strangers who take refuge in a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass during a blizzard.

The film was announced by Tarantino in November 2013 but, after the script was leaked a few months later, he decided to abandon it and began to question whether he should continue to make movies. He changed his mind after a live reading of the revised script in Los Angeles and he began to cast regular members of the “Tarantino repertory company” like Samuel Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walt Goggins, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Bruce Dern.

They shot in snowy Telluride, Wyoming last January, February and March using 70mm camera lenses – the lenses that were used to make Ben Hur, The Battle of the Bulge and Mutiny on the Bounty.

Tarantino is a vocal opponent of shooting movies on digital and this was his way of hitting back at the trend. “My view was if I shoot it in 70mm, they are going to have to show it in 70mm, so that’s what we have.”

The film will be available in widescreen and, where required, in the more conventional format, and will be released here on 8th January.

Philip Molloy presents The Picture Show every Saturday on Newstalk from 6pm. Listen back to the podcasts here.