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The Lion King, a 3D conversion of a 1994 Disney animated film that has been available on DVD and on video, cable, and broadcast television before that has stunned box-office predictors by out-grossing Brad Pitt’s very high profile baseball movie in its second week back in theaters.  It is tough for a family movie to beat a PG-13 because children’s tickets cost less and they don’t sell many seats to late-night and weekday showings.  “Lion King” makes up the difference with the premium for 3D  glasses, but still, even “Moneyball’s” Billy Beane could not have come up with a computer formula to predict that a 17-year-old film could make “Moneyball,” like the Oakland A’s, an underdog.

I have my own theory about this.  I don’t think it’s because of the 3D conversion.  In the old days before videos, Disney re-released its classic animated films every seven years or so because they knew there was a new generation of children who had not seen them.  The children of today may have seen “The Lion King” dozens of times on DVD but they have not seen in on a big screen with no distractions.  And they have not seen it as an event, a family outing with everyone sitting in the dark enjoying it at the same time.  That’s a dimension that goes way beyond anything you can do with fancy glasses.

1. The Lion King 3D — $22.1 million
2. Moneyball — $20.6 million
3. Dolphin Tale — $20.3 million
4. Abduction — $11.2 million
5. Killer Elite — $9.5 million

“Citizen Kane” has topped more “all-time best” lists than any other movie and this 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition is a treat for passionate fans and those who still have the thrill of seeing it for the first time ahead of them.

Orson Welles was only 26 but already an accomplished writer/director with a distinguished body of work on stage and radio.  He and writer Herman J. Mankiewicz wrote the script, inspired by the life of publishing titan William Randolph Hearst.  Welles directed and starred in the title role of a wealthy young man who turns from idealistic newspaper owner to political candidate to bitter recluse.  It is worthy of every accolade it has received and more.

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This magnificent film influenced and inspired everything that came after.  And the sumptuous extras that come with this anniversary edition are treasures, especially the scene-by-scene commentary by Roger Ebert, almost as entertaining and illuminating as the film itself, with insights and details of technology and artistic innovation that are mind-boggling.  There’s a separate commentary by director/historian Peter Bogdanovich and interviews with editor Robert Wise (who later became a director) and co-star Ruth Warrick (who played Kane’s first wife and later went on to star in “All My Children”).

This looks like a perfect holiday release.  I love the idea of 20 seconds of insane courage!

 

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“Dolphin Tale” features one of my favorite poems, “Sea Fever” by John Masefield.  Here it is:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.