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Old 09-21-2019, 02:52 AM
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Is "Ad Astra" bombing?


I went to the opening weekend Friday night 10pm showing, and there were literally four of us in the auditorium. Me, and a group of three guys. That doesnít seem good, and I donít see any thread about it here which compounds the sense of a soft opening. Itís a shame if so, because it is so infrequent that we get hard sci-fi about traveling at sublight speeds. I give the movie a lot of points for that, and the related production design, even if the story isnít the greatest ever.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:03 AM
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even if the story isnít the greatest ever.
Sounds like you're politely saying it's a bad movie.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:13 AM
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I'm not sure hard sci-fi is a crowd pleaser. Notable exceptions like Interstellar or 2001 were anomalies.
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:35 AM
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Lemme get this straight: the OP's question is "is this movie that opened less than 24 hours ago bombing?"

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Old 09-21-2019, 07:32 AM
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Rotten Tomatoes says 82% fresh, but the audience score is 48%.
edited to add: The commercials seem rather vague to me.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 09-21-2019 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:33 AM
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Box Office Mojo has Thursday night "previews" posted. Made $1.5M which is in line for a $20+M opening. Since BOM was predicting $19M, this is okay.

Friday numbers come later today.

Rotten Tomatoes has it at 82% overall and 91% among top critics. It's not a bad movie.

But the dark side is its Cinemascore is B-. That is really not good. So word of mouth might drag it down below $20M.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:25 AM
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And with a reported budget of $80-$90mm it better do really well overseas or that $20mm wonít get the job done.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:07 AM
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I saw it yesterday and liked it, although there seemed to be some plot holes. Anyone want to talk about the movie?
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:30 AM
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Some people may be put off, thinking it's two hours of commercials for a mediocre Vauxhall.

Last edited by dropzone; 09-21-2019 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:36 AM
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Looks good but the trailers don't give an easy to identify plot. With The Martian you get what it's about in 10 seconds and are interested in how he does it.
This is some sort of ant-matter-What's-It-Space-Dad thing in outer space thing, if it's even an actual thing.
Hope it does well, though. Unfortunately I'm one of those bastards ruining America by not going to a movie this week.
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:33 PM
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I can't see this losing money since it's so perfectly calculated to make money. Movies like this are on an unstoppable template.
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:22 PM
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The other thing is that it's an original story. People regularly complain here that all of the movies seem to be comic-book superhero films, sequels or remakes. So when there is a movie out there that seems to be an original concept (particularly one that has 82% on Rotten Tomatoes), they should be flocking to see it.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:01 PM
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Ok, I don’t see another thread about the film itself, what do people think of it? I’ve got AMC movie pass so I’m probably going to see it today or tomorrow in IMAX
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:57 PM
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The other thing is that it's an original story.
Sadly, that matters little at the box office. The other two big openers this weekend are the Downton Abbey movie and a Rambo sequel (what????). Downton will win big and it will be close between Sly and Brad.

The BOP link above has been updated with Friday numbers. Now predicting $19.7M for the weekend. Given the budget, that's not good- domestically. Note that Arrival opened at $24M and did $100M (*4). But that First Man started at $16M and ended up at $44M (*2.75). I think the latter multiplier is more likely. So in the $55M range. And after theater's get their cut, it isn't going to be much.

The question is how well this plays to the overseas markets. By which I mean China. They love space stuff if it's action oriented. But this might be more "thinky" than "actiony" and that won't do.

As to the OP's 10pm showing experience. That's surprisingly common. A lot of people are loathe to go at that time if the movie isn't selling really big time and earlier times are not available.
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:31 PM
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I’ll discuss the movie as I just saw it. Ultimately it’s an intimate story about a father and son in an epic setting (literally spans the entire solar system). It’s sort of ponderous, but my GF and I were never bored. The VFX were beautifully done, and a lot of awesome backdrops like the Moon, Mars and a gorgeous close up of Neptune.

I feel like it’s fighting itself with a sleepy story and tone (B-/C+) but epic backdrop (A+), punctuated with interesting events.

There were a few issues I had with it, science/physics wise, that I’d let slide for other science fiction, but bother me more here since it’s presenting itself as hard scifi. It’s very disappointing when this happens, because they get SO much right, and beautifully executed, so when issues like instant communication happens across 2 billion miles, it pulls me right out of the movie, and I ask myself, “how did they get that wrong?” Other things like obvious earth gravity on the moon and Mars, and issues during one part where he climbs aboard a rocket, during launch, and the Gs don’t seem to pull on him or the crew at all. In fact, they’re still accelerating into space and him and the crew are weightless. ?? Just bizarre mistakes like this. Disappointing.

Overall I recommend it though. Just keep in mind it’s a story about the broken relationship between a father and son first, epic space odyssey second. And I don’t think it’s nearly as rewatchable as something like Interstellar or Gravity, and no where near as seminal as 2001: ASO. But if you like those sorts of films, definitely check this out.

Last edited by cmyk; 09-21-2019 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Go_Arachnid_Laser View Post
Sounds like you're politely saying it's a bad movie.

No, overall I would rate it 8/10, to use the common online parlance. But that’s because I give more weight to the production design and grittiness of hard sci-fi than many people might. Another way to put it is that the worldbuilding is exceptional, but they chose to portray a story within that world that is not super gripping.


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I'm not sure hard sci-fi is a crowd pleaser. Notable exceptions like Interstellar or 2001 were anomalies.

I dispute those being qualified as hard sci-fi. They certainly start out that way, but both end on a note of serious woo. “The Martian” is a better example. Hard science fiction all the way through, and it did very well.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 09-21-2019 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:02 PM
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I dispute those being qualified as hard sci-fi. They certainly start out that way, but both end on a note of serious woo. ďThe MartianĒ is a better example. Hard science fiction all the way through, and it did very well.
i hear what youíre saying, but I think movies can still be hard scifi, with a fantastical element. Itís when they bend the technology and physics so far when itís obvious the screenwriter is not even really considering the science behind it at all that I put it in soft scifi.

I think movies like this are the aforementioned Interstellar and 2001, but also movies like Contact, The Arrival and Powder.







Totally kidding about that last one.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:12 PM
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Maybe we need a medium term. Semisoft?
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:18 PM
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I would not be surprised if it doesn't do well.

From the trailer it looks like the classic Hollywood tearful farewell / I love you scene (as seen in Armageddon, Interstellar et al, and something I personally hate, as it usually takes place at a point in the plot where every second counts and there's absolutely no time for that syrupy shit) times 20.

And one or two very fast cuts of action strongly give the impression that there isn't a single significant action scene they could draw from for the trailer.

Finally, the "Hard sci-fi" thing is weird to me. When last year people were describing the film Wandering Earth* as hard sci-fi, I knew it had lost all meaning. As far as I can tell, it just means sub-luminal now.

* Plot summary contains spoilers:
SPOILER:

It's a film where humans decide to move planet earth to another star system by attaching thrusters to the equator. But they screw up the equations and earth is on a collision course with Jupiter! But -- phew -- at the last minute they realize that they can ignite Jupiters atmosphere, which will push the earth away (and presumably, back on course towards the target star system)
Lot of tearful farewells in this Chinese-made movie too.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:21 PM
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I thought there were some good action scenes. But I don’t watch trailers, so...
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:07 PM
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Another way to put it is that the worldbuilding is exceptional, but they chose to portray a story within that world that is not super gripping.
.
Just got back from it myself and this is similar to how I was going to explain it. The world building is so interesting and done so well that itís the best part of the movie. The ďdistractionsĒ from his main mission will be what you remember. Itís too bad the main story kind of fizzles out.
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:11 PM
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Agreed.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:12 PM
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according to this, it is ....... https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/new...yK2?li=BBnbfcL

Quote:
[Ad Astra" is projected for a $19.5 million opening from 3,460 screens this weekend, a poor result given the film's $80 million budget before reshoots. The movie will now have to turn to overseas to recoup its costs and avoid becoming another flop for a Fox slate that has struggled since the Disney acquisition.

Last edited by nightshadea; 09-21-2019 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:58 PM
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Oof.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:06 PM
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Ok, I donít see another thread about the film itself, what do people think of it? Iíve got AMC movie pass so Iím probably going to see it today or tomorrow in IMAX
I really liked it, but I can also understand some of the responses on Twitter and elsewhere calling it slow. I've read comparisons to 2001, and that seems apt. Brad Pitt's character is very distant emotionally, which makes sense for the character but doesn't draw you in like Pitt can in other movies, but he's very good in the role. I was captivated by the whole movie, and it's beautifully shot. I also knew nothing going in, and there were some action scenes I was not expecting and quite enjoyed. The thing I enjoyed the most I've seen mentioned in some reviews but I did not know about before so I'm going to put it in a spoiler box:

SPOILER:
Moon pirates!!! It makes sense with how they showed society developing on the moon, but I was not expecting it, I thought that was a lot of fun.


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Maybe we need a medium term. Semisoft?
Yeah, there were some big violations of science in this. Some of them I was wondering if there was some explanation that I either missed or that was cut out, but I was enjoying it all so much it didn't bother me. But after I got home and was reading a quote from the director about making very accurate space travel that made me laugh. Especially after I just finished watching the first three seasons of The Expanse, which works very hard on making all the space travel stuff as accurate as possible.

I agree that it might be helpful if there was some term where it's not extremely accurate hard sci-fi, but it's also not like something with Jedis using the force or talking raccoons or other stuff like that. I've enjoyed a lot of all types of sci-fi, but it might help to manage expectations for some people at least.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:34 PM
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.... ďThe MartianĒ is a better example. Hard science fiction all the way through, and it did very well.
I was of the opinion that the final scene in space, the Iron Man type of stunt was especially woo. I liked the movie; not nearly as good as the book though.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:45 PM
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I watched Ad Asta today. It was slow, but not 2001 Space Odyssey slow. I thought it was fair for hard scifi, but there were some problems on screen.
SPOILER:
1. Lunar gravity appeared identical to Earth gravity.
2. Brad Pitt's tears rolled down his cheek instead of balling up into a sphere.
3. Can a nuclear explosion really push a spacecraft away without tearing it apart?
4. I'm fairly certain that the way McBride propelled himself through Neptune's ring to return to his spacecraft would not work; not likely he could correctly judge the trajectory.
5. Animal bodies do not rupture when quickly exposed to a vacuum
6. Even with McBride's spacecraft's shielding him from the nuclear explosion, the secondary ionizations that occur as a result would quickly incapacitate him.


I don't think it passed the Bechdel Test either. Liv Tyler did not have any lines in the movie.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:49 PM
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I think this was better in terms of being hard SF than “Interstellar” or “2001”, because there was nothing that was just basically magic (and I know the Arthur Clarke quote, but I don’t think it excuses everything). I think the greatest violation of the genre here was the way they walked around the moonbase and Mars base like it was Earth gravity. I’m assuming they knew that was hinky, but they just didn’t have the budget to do anything about it.
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Old 09-22-2019, 12:04 AM
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I had a couple of problems with the story.
SPOILER:
1. Why did he land at the commercial spaceport and have to take the deadly drive across the moon to the military spaceport? Why not just take a rocket directly to the military spaceport and avoid the dangerous drive? Of course then we don't get the glimpse of how commercial and ordinary the commercial spaceport was and we don't get the cool extraterrestrial car chase.
2. As I understood the plot, the only reason to go to Mars was so that he could record a message to be transmitted to his father, in what appeared to be a state-of-the-art Martian recording studio. Why travel at all? Why not just record the message on Earth and then transmit it directly to Neptune from there, or to Mars where it's then relayed to Neptune?
3. And as someone suggested earlier, there was quite a lot of zipping about in zero-G from one spacecraft to another, apparently without using some sort of small thruster.

Maybe I'm wrong and these were not plot holes but I wondered about them while watching the movie.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 09-22-2019 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 12:34 AM
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SPOILER:
1. It was said that he had to fly commercial to keep a low profile. The reality is that it was to complicate the plot, but they did give an explanation in the movie.
2. The real answer is the same as above, but they said it was on a “secure laser transmission”, and had earlier said that the secure transmission facilities on Earth and the Moon were destroyed by the surge. So that is the technobabble explanation.
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Old 09-22-2019, 02:54 PM
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From Box Office Mojo's weekend wrapup. Ad Astra is estimated to make $19.2M this weekend. So pretty close to expectations and no surprise bonus money for Fox.

Brought in $26M overseas from a few markets with several more to go. The article doesn't mention China. Turns out it's a national holiday time so they're waiting for that to be over. That's a pretty decent haul given the size of the markets. OTOH, the percentage from overseas ticket sales is smaller so even if it makes $100M overseas there's still some financial pain going forward.

Video/streaming can help quite a bit. But one interesting point. 73% of the audience was 25+. Good: that means legs. Bad: that's not a good sign for streaming.

(I used to link to stuff at Box Office Prophets but that site has gone downhill. E.g., it predicted Downton would finish 5th with $16M. Instead it's 1st with nearly twice that. BOM relies on sources that track things like ticket pre-sales and IMDb page hits. So it's numbers are more reliable. But even it was predicting $22M for Downton. A lot of Molesley fans out there, I guess.)

Last edited by ftg; 09-22-2019 at 02:56 PM.
  #32  
Old 09-22-2019, 04:08 PM
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Finally, the "Hard sci-fi" thing is weird to me. When last year people were describing the film Wandering Earth* as hard sci-fi, I knew it had lost all meaning. As far as I can tell, it just means sub-luminal now.
Hard sci-fi means the characters wear astronaut suits.

Hard sci-fi:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Gravity
Armageddon
The Martian
Interstellar
Wandering Earth
Ad Astra

Not hard sci-fi:
Star Wars
Star Trek
Guardians of the Galaxy
Starship Troopers
Dune
Avatar
Galaxy Quest

If you're not worrying about where the air is coming from, it's not hard sci-fi.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 09-22-2019 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:03 PM
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Had two different friends see it this weekend. Both described it as being a long snoozer. One said it was the longest-feeling movie she's seen since The Thin Red Line.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:21 PM
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(I used to link to stuff at Box Office Prophets but that site has gone downhill. E.g., it predicted Downton would finish 5th with $16M. Instead it's 1st with nearly twice that. BOM relies on sources that track things like ticket pre-sales and IMDb page hits. So it's numbers are more reliable. But even it was predicting $22M for Downton. A lot of Molesley fans out there, I guess.)
Since IMDb bought them and Ray Subers left, BOM has felt like itís on autopilot in terms of doing any real analysis. Still, itís a great compiler of movie info, in particular non-US box office.

HSX also undershot the Downton Abbey opening weekend, but this is exactly the kind of movie they tend to undershoot.

Ad Astra breaking even is going to be verrrry close, but itís not a bomb.
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Old 09-23-2019, 09:52 AM
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FWIW I saw it at a Saturday matinee, and the theater was at 1/3 capacity.
Contrast this with "Avengers: Endgame" that I tried to see the Saturday just after it opened, and could not because the seats were all sold out. So by this one indication alone, I'd believe that Ad Astra raked in only a fraction of what A:E did on its opening weekend.

My review:

As stated by others, this is a movie mostly about a guy chasing after his dad's legacy, and the resolution comes when he finally comes to terms with who his dad really is.

Pros
Really atmospheric: It was filled with really beautiful spaceflight visions, even though some of them seemed a tad improbable.

I really liked the different "styles" in architecture, clothing, even haircuts, among the various human factions found here and there in the solar system.

Cons
All of the action scenes (fighting / conflict / trouble) were due to the characters failing to properly manage the situations. That is, some of them weren't very good astronauts. In an ideal case the conflicts should not have happened. (They could have all been removed from the movie without changing the story that much or the lovely space scenery.)

The "spaceflight dynamics" were just wrong in a number of places, which took me out of the movie. Toward the end there were sequences very reminiscent of "Gravity" (in a bad way, meaning just impossible.)

Overall I'd see it for the coolness of the visions, and the nice job Brad Pitt did making us care about his story.

Last edited by Limmin; 09-23-2019 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 09-23-2019, 10:12 AM
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Had two different friends see it this weekend. Both described it as being a long snoozer. One said it was the longest-feeling movie she's seen since The Thin Red Line.
Good comparison...one could say this movie is to realistic SF what The Thin Red Line is to realistic war movies. Space, or the war, is the backdrop to the protagonists' inner struggles.

I kind of was irritated by Thin Red Line because it felt wrong, or off somehow. I have read WWII-in-the-Pacific history extensively, especially about Guadalcanal, so pivotal and important. So see this importance overshadowed by...something else...just didn't work for me.

As for Ad Astra, I can forgive some of the spaceflight issues because the awesome production design far makes up for it being a "feeling" movie. After all, spaceflight such as this has very long stretches of apparently not too much going on, but to an astronaut, there's always something going on.

To quote Dave Scott (Apollo 15 CDR) in The Shadow of the Moon, "You're not just lying there. Every second is something of significance." Which is all to say: as an astronautical engineer I'm very well entertained by real spaceflight that may appear boring to others. If you don't know or care about such details, then it would seem very boring. As my spouse and son would readily agree to.

Last edited by Limmin; 09-23-2019 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 09-23-2019, 10:40 AM
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FWIW I saw it at a Saturday matinee, and the theater was at 1/3 capacity.
Contrast this with "Avengers: Endgame" that I tried to see the Saturday just after it opened, and could not because the seats were all sold out. So by this one indication alone, I'd believe that Ad Astra raked in only a fraction of what A:E did on its opening weekend.
Not really a great or fair comparison. A small space film vs the climax to a multi-billion dollar twenty film series.
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Old 09-23-2019, 12:28 PM
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My wife and I saw it this weekend, we both enjoyed it, but we were both confused about one particular plot point.

SPOILER:
The energy surges experienced on Earth, the moon, and Mars, are due to an antimatter leak on the Project Lima station out near Neptune. So, the plan is to nuke the station to stop the surges? Wouldn't that produce a HUGE surge when all the antimatter gets released?
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Old 09-23-2019, 12:44 PM
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Had two different friends see it this weekend. Both described it as being a long snoozer. One said it was the longest-feeling movie she's seen since The Thin Red Line.
I definitely felt the same vibe while watching it. It was like Terrence Malick remade Apocalypse Now, but in space.
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Old 09-23-2019, 05:16 PM
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My wife and I saw it this weekend, we both enjoyed it, but we were both confused about one particular plot point.

SPOILER:
The energy surges experienced on Earth, the moon, and Mars, are due to an antimatter leak on the Project Lima station out near Neptune. So, the plan is to nuke the station to stop the surges? Wouldn't that produce a HUGE surge when all the antimatter gets released?
While watching, I think I saw a chamber or device labeled ďAnti-Matter CatalystĒ, which made me think the anti-matter was created as need arises? At least that was the train of thought my mind had in the moment which allowed me to get over the very same thought you had. But who knows?
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:11 PM
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SPOILER:
1. It was said that he had to fly commercial to keep a low profile. The reality is that it was to complicate the plot, but they did give an explanation in the movie.
2. The real answer is the same as above, but they said it was on a ďsecure laser transmissionĒ, and had earlier said that the secure transmission facilities on Earth and the Moon were destroyed by the surge. So that is the technobabble explanation.
SPOILER:
That still doesn't make any sense; they could've just had him make the recordings on Earth and sent them to Mars in the equivalent of a flash drive. They only reason he would need to physically be on Mars would be to respond to his father's response without the added time Earth-Mars time delay, but that clearly wasn't Space Command's intention. Hell unless voice synthesis technology hit's a wall soon the only reason have him actually record messages would be so they're personal enough to trigger a response from his father, but gave him a script to read.
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:42 PM
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well according to this confusing report it did make about half of its budget back so far ........ https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/new...31m/ar-AAHFTrM
  #43  
Old 09-23-2019, 09:47 PM
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I kind of was irritated by Thin Red Line because it felt wrong, or off somehow. I have read WWII-in-the-Pacific history extensively, especially about Guadalcanal, so pivotal and important. So see this importance overshadowed by...something else...just didn't work for me.
I believe the intended message of The Thin Red Line is that modern warfare isn't personal. In my opinion, Malick was rebutting the common war movie myth about a small handful of men changing the tide of history. He was saying that individual heroics have no effect on the outcome of a battle, much less a war. Soldiers and sailors and airmen and officers and civilians are all just pieces in a vast war-making machine.

I'll grant that this is a difficult message to convey; it's hard to make a movie about how life isn't like a movie.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 09-23-2019 at 09:47 PM.
  #44  
Old 09-24-2019, 09:26 PM
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Not really a great or fair comparison. A small space film vs the climax to a multi-billion dollar twenty film series.

Yeah, I was thinking the same. Also, 1/3 full for a matinee showing is a lot different from my going on Friday night of opening weekend and being literally one of four people in the theater.
  #45  
Old 09-25-2019, 08:44 AM
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Didn't take long for it to turn political - some people think the movie performs poorly because it discusses toxic masculinity.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottme...y-birds-rambo/
  #46  
Old 09-25-2019, 08:57 AM
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That would require a someone to know in advance that it, somehow, discusses "toxic masculinity" and to reject attending a screening because of it. How are people going to know that?
  #47  
Old 09-25-2019, 10:32 AM
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well according to this confusing report it did make about half of its budget back so far ........ https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/new...31m/ar-AAHFTrM
1. Box office does not all go to the studio. Most for the first week or two does but after that the share drops off. (And given the B- CinemaScore, the studio is going to get even less down the road.) Also the total given includes overseas where the studio share is even less. It has not remotely made half its budget back yet.

2. Budget only includes the cost of making the movie. It does not include ads, PR and other costs in rolling it out. This can be surprisingly large at times. I've seen examples of the ad budget equaling the movie budget! Ad Astra's ad budget will be large, but hopefully not that large.

(The movie has been sitting on the shelf a bit too long. Supposedly due to the Disney/Fox deal. But they might have been worried about it regardless.)

Last edited by ftg; 09-25-2019 at 10:33 AM.
  #48  
Old 09-25-2019, 10:45 AM
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The studios have various ways of recovering production costs. I read someplace that box office revenues are only a small part of overall film revenues (twenty percent on average from what I remember). In the case of this movie, even though it's a space epic set in the future, there were a few present-day brands shown or mentioned so there were some product placement options.
  #49  
Old 09-25-2019, 03:03 PM
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The way those brands were shown was decidedly negative, so those companies were foolish if they paid much for that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
That would require a someone to know in advance that it, somehow, discusses "toxic masculinity" and to reject attending a screening because of it. How are people going to know that?

Word of mouth, which is crucial for the success of a movie.
  #50  
Old 09-25-2019, 03:39 PM
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I really think one would have to be overly sensitive about "toxic masculinity" if one got the idea that was a big part of the film. I really didn't see that.
SPOILER:
The main character, played by Brad Pitt, was unemotional and distant with his wife/girlfriend, which was why she left him at the beginning. At one point, we were told that he was famous because his heart rate never rose above 80bpm, no matter how stressful the situation. So the lack of emotion was perhaps part of that. And then when we met his father, we learned that he (the father) abandoned his wife and son to devote himself to his career, and the son was doing the same thing. Is that toxic masculinity?
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