Looks Like a Winner, But We’ll See: Eddie Murphy, Gabourey Sidibe, Ben Stiller and Alan Alda Star in Fall Film Offering, “Tower Heist”

Sorta 48 Hours meets Ocean’s 11, as the reviewer at Shadow and Act is putting it.  You’ll see why.

Actually, it’s Trump Tower meets Bernie Madoff. It’s a revenge-action-comedy flick. If you were ever ticked off about shysters like Madoff, and even those who haven’t been prosecuted yet, this movie may be the answer to some justice.  From Cinema Blend:

The Tower Heist trailer that was just posted online makes it look like a terrifically entertaining overmatched-underdogs-against-overprivileged-billionaires comedy that should make a fortune at the box office. And yes, I realize it’s a Brett Ratner film, but Noah Baumbach’s a credited writer and the trailer lobs a number of softballs at some very funny people (Matthew Broderick looks like he can steal this thing right from underneath Ben Stiller’s nose), then gets out of their way as they swing for the fences…

Also, and this is most important, it looks like Eddie Murphy is awake, invested, fired up and ready to make people laugh for the first time since Bowfinger. That’s going all the way back to 1999, people. Comedians don’t forget how to be funny, so I can’t explain how or why Murphy chose to coast through the likes of Daddy Day Care, Norbit, Meet Dave or Imagine That for the better part of the past decade. But if Ratner somehow coaxes 48 Hours-level Murphy for Tower Heist (and tell me you didn’t think of Reggie Hammond when you saw Murphy getting sprung from jail), then I’m even more on board what’s shaping up to be a hit holiday comedy.

As the trailer suggests, Ratner’s Heist has the blue-collar grunts in a Manhattan high-rise plotting to rob the fraudulent executive (Alan Alda) who cheated them out of their pensions. Ben Stiller plays the group’s leader, while Murphy is the ex-con who may or may not be helping them out. And yes, that is Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) going toe-to-toe with Murphy and holding her own. Call me crazy, but I think this one can work when it opens [in November].

Umph. If you are interested in Hollywood politics behind the films, another story has it that Imagine’s  Brian Grazer, who produced this film, along with director Ron Howard, may not be working with Universal in the future.  Their production company’s big money deal is proving unsustainable in the current economic climate. Even this possible success may be too late.

The Imagine deal has given Universal hits like The Nutty Professor and Oscar fodder including Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. But it is a costly one: well north of $8 million a year including overhead and development costs, according to sources, as well as a whopping 7.5 percent of the gross on Imagine films. Industry vets say such deals are unsustainable, not just for Ron Howard and Brian Grazer — among the most successful producers in town — but for just about every big player at any studio.

In the view of many contacted by [The Hollywood Reporter], a re-evaluation of Imagine’s deal, which runs through 2013, is inevitable. But the issues facing the company might be far larger than a renegotiation. One longtime observer says the real question is “whether Imagine, as it currently exists, can work. It’s been a very successful partnership for more than 20 years, but the last several movies didn’t work, including the last few that Ron Howard has directed.”

Howard’s Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code grossed more than $1.2 billion for Sony, but his recent Universal filmsThe Dilemma, Frost/Nixon and Cinderella Man — were disappointing. Other costly Imagine films have faltered, including Robin Hood and American Gangster.

The studio is releasing the Imagine-produced Cowboys & Aliens on July 29 and has high hopes for the November action comedy Tower Heist, starring Ben Stiller and directed by Brett Ratner. But Comcast-owned Universal is focused on minimizing risk rather than gambling on films that lack clear selling points.

Meanwhile, Imagine’s TV division, which distributes programs through 20th Television, still has Parenthood and the upcoming The Playboy Club (both on NBC), but 24, Lie to Me and Friday Night Lights are done.

Still, I think that these guys will be able to adapt or diversify. It isn’t always about Hollywood, but how one can make money even in hard times.  Next thing I predict, they’ll either go the cartoon film route or Broadway or do some indies or documentaries à la Ken Burns.  Meanwhile, Eddie just might have a winner after all this time, and Gabourey will show more of her acting chops.  Let’s hope that she’s not being made ridiculous in this flick.  Ben Stiller, however, just may have some competition with Matthew Broderick, who is no longer just being a daddy.

~ by blksista on July 28, 2011.

One Response to “Looks Like a Winner, But We’ll See: Eddie Murphy, Gabourey Sidibe, Ben Stiller and Alan Alda Star in Fall Film Offering, “Tower Heist””

  1. …the maid’s gone rogue… i’m in.


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