Why ‘The Mortal Engines’ Was A Painfully Predictable Box Office Disaster


Universal and MRC’s The Mortal Engines has currently earned just $7.5 million in North America and $42m worldwide. Even if it legs out like Night at the Museum (not likely), it would still barely top $60m domestic. And with $34m overseas after opening in much of the world, the more likely endgame for the $100m-budgeted fantasy flick is under-$30m domestic well-under $150m worldwide. So, yes, barring an overseas miracle, The Mortal Engines is doomed to join the likes of Jupiter Ascending ($183m on a $175m budget), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ($225m on a $175m budget) and Tomorrowland ($209m on a $190m budget). It is a tragedy, to be sure, but it is an entirely inevitable one.

As 2018 comes to a close, there is a certain pattern in terms of the very biggest of the big box office bombs. It’s no secret that merely offering a big-budget fantasy adventure is no longer enough to qualify your movie as an event film. And it’s no secret that the YA fantasy craze that spawned Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games is both essentially dead and was itself responsible for a handful of failed attempts for every one successful offering. For every Twilight, we had a few along the likes of The Host, The Darkest Minds, The Giver and The Mortal Instruments. The YA fantasy sub-genre was limping along for the last five years, with only Divergent (for the first two movies, at least) and The Maze Runner keeping the hope alive.

Yes, there have still been hit movies that have YA source material, like The House with a Clock in Its Walls ($130 million worldwide on a $42m budget), but the specific genre tropes defined by Hunger Games and Harry Potter are no longer the stuff of box office magic. If anything, Divergent was the exception to the rule in that it spawned two hit movies (before cratering on the third) despite A) being derivative of its predecessors and B) not selling itself on a popular lead character. If Mortal Engines did anything wrong (beyond existed as stands in the 2018 theatrical environment), it was in not successfully selling its core leading character (Hera Hilmar’s Hester Shaw) as an icon comparable to Harry Potter, Bella Swann or Katniss Everdeen (who was preemptively sold as a defining “strong female character” prior to Hunger Games).

‘The Mummy’Universal

The core pitch of The Mortal Engines, that it offered a never-before-seen fantasy adventure world sans iconic characters or conventional star power, was the same pitch that doomed Valerian or A Wrinkle in Time. Audiences did not so much turn their back on new-to-cinema concepts as they did turn their backs on the allure of movie stars. Once upon a time, folks would show up for The Fifth Element because it was a Bruce Willis sci-fi actioner. But in 2018, moviegoers no longer show up for Valerian merely because it’s from the same director. Heck, they won’t even show up for The Mummy (relatively speaking…) despite featuring Tom Cruise. They’ll show up for Mission: Impossible partially because he’s playing Ethan Hunt. In 2018, the character is the movie star.


10 Skills Our Kids Will Never Learn

10 Skills Our Kids Will Never Learn


En español | When you think about it, human progress can be summed up as the shedding of skills that once seemed vital in order to free up times to acquire new ones. Steamboat captains aren’t much in demand these days; expertise in social media is. It’s a process that used to take several generations. These days, it happens in a blur. Already, vast areas of Boomer knowledge is becoming obsolete.


Great Wolf Lodge Is Las Vegas For Kids (And It’s Amazing)

Certain hotel experiences cater to the entire family, where parents can tend to their own needs while children can engage in activities that best suit theirs. Great Wolf Lodge is not one of those experiences. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. Too often on vacation, I’m all too quick to drag my children to a kid’s club or babysitting room, rationalizing they’d rather hang out with kids their own age. Whether it’s true or not, they usually oblige, and then our trip becomes a “family vacation” only after 3:00 pm.

Great Wolf Lodge in the PoconosGreat Wolf Lodge

On a rainy weekend in November, we visited Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, where we engaged in 40 hours of non-stop family time. There was no drop-off, no adults-only restaurant, no 18-and-over pool – only pure, uninhibited childhood fun. If you’re game, you’ll have a blast. If not, you should wait in the car, because Great Wolf isn’t a part-time hang. It’s a full on, all-encompassing kid-zone, complete with giant storytelling bears, a complex scavenger hunt, candlestick bowling, mini-golf, a tremendous game room, and the Great Wolf calling card – an 80,000 square foot indoor water park featuring a lazy river, wave pool, water playground and a series of hair-raising slides. Essentially, Great Wolf Lodge is Las Vegas for kids. And, like Vegas, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a sensorial experience that’s super fun and slightly exhausting, but if you step it up and go big, it will be one of the best weekends of your parenting life.

The Great Wolf Poconos location joins the brand’s 17 other locations throughout the US, in regions ranging from Traverse City, Mich. to Colorado Springs to Charlotte, N.C. The first lodge opened in southern Wisconsin in 1997. Fast forward to today, Great Wolf is on a recharged growth trajectory to open additional locations in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Manteca, Calif. while renovating its existing hotels. While each location differs slightly depending on its age – the newer ones feature updated rooms and a different structural flow – the common thread running through each property is the gigantic indoor waterpark and its trademarked MagiQuest scavenger hunt, a “Dungeons & Dragons” style maze where kids navigate the quest with the help of magic crystals, prophetic tomes and nymph-like fairies.


Mid-Century Modern In Walnut Creek Has Floor-To-Ceiling Windows

Mid-Century Modern In Walnut Creek Has Floor-To-Ceiling Windows-0

WALNUT CREEK, CA — This light-filled Mid-Century Modern Rancher sits on a mostly level half acre of property.

The home has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and many updates including a gas fireplace, Nest thermostat, air conditioning and more.

Click on the address below to see more photos.

  • Address: 4200 Walnut Blvd, Walnut Creek, California
  • Price: $1,097,000
  • Square Feet: 1811
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2 Baths
  • Built: 1963
  • Features: Acalanes High School District Walking distance to top-rated Walnut Heights Elementary, Shell Ridge Open Space and Walnut Height Swim Club. Fabulous family neighborhood with country feel, but only 5 minutes drive to downtown Walnut Creek, Plenty of Upgrades New Energy Efficient Foam Roof, Stainless Steel Appliances & Landscaping make this a Gem.


Behind-The-Scenes Of How Rahul Gandhi Chose Chief Ministers

Rahul Gandhi has finally ticked some very important boxes in his tenure as Congress President and can now happily take his new year break.

First, he put the Congress back in the business of winning elections; then, he displayed the delicate art of the deal in brokering peace between rival leaders in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while installing his own choices as Chief Minister in both states.

Kamal Nath, 72, heads Madhya Pradesh now. Ashok Gehlot, 67, takes charge of Rajasthan with 41-year-old Sachin Pilot as his deputy. Gandhi also proved his Love Guru credentials (which debuted with that jhappi of PM Modi) by managing pretty pictures of the competing contenders in the midst of tough negotiations along with quotes from Tolstoy. So maharajah-sized egos were managed with flair; experience balanced with dynamism and youth.

The claims for Chief Minister went late into last night. A senior leader who was privy to the delicate negotiations says that Gandhi, like his grand mother and father, is a late bloomer but now finally shows sign of having a grip on managing his party. Also, he is no longer being second-guessed by his mother, Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving president in Congress history, and her team of veterans.


In Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath has been chosen as the Chief Minister.

This is perhaps the first time that Sonia Gandhi has provided support for a decision made entirely by Rahul Gandhi, who, to his credit, has managed to ensure that the Old Guard and Young Guns accept complementary roles unlike the sad old-age home of the BJP, the Margdarshak Mandal, where Shah and Modi have banished older leaders.

Gandhi appears to have taken years to make his own assessment of leaders and before deciding on where they fit into the party’s scheme of things. So when funds became a problem for the party he asked Ahmed Patel in a joint meeting with his mother to take over the job of Treasurer. Patel, his mother’s closest political aide, had been subjected to years of spin by rivals about how Gandhi disliked him and would have no job for him.

Kamal Nath had dragged a reluctant Digvijaya Singh and Scindia to a joint meeting with Gandhi before the polls where they said, “We don’t care who you pick but pick one of us – or it will be curtains for the Congress in MP. We want to fight the BJP, not each other”. I had written about this meeting in an earlier column here.

Gandhi then made Kamal Nath walk the talk, assigning him as President of the Congress in the state to raise funds and lead campaigning while ensuring that Scindia and Singh did not indulge in their longstanding rivalry. Kamal Nath revitalised a moribund party organisation barely six months before the elections with Singh playing his backroom boy and trouble-shooter. Singh, because of his two terms as Chief Minister, knew every key person in the organisation and helped smooth the way. Kamal Nath ensured that Scindia and Singh did not have to spend any time together.


Ashok Gehlot will become Rajasthan Chief Minister and Sachin Pilot will be his deputy.

Both Scindia and Kamal Nath told me separately that if any one tried to create trouble between them, they would call each other to pre-empt any misunderstanding.

Scindia did want his turn post the results but was told gently by Gandhi that he could wait. Gandhi was clear that Kamal Nath’s enormous administrative experience is required to deliver on the tall poll promises and that his equation with industry will draw some show-piece job-creating projects to MP.

Gandhi also told Scindia that his “Shakti app” feedback showed overwhelming support for Kamal Nath and that he can’t do without Scindia in Delhi.



Online buying boosts ‘touch, feel’ business of home decor furnishings

Pepperfry provides customers a choice through its portfolio of over 100,000 products across categories like furniture, home decor, lamps and lighting, furnishing, kitchen and dining, housekeeping, and hardware and electricals.
Online buying boosts 'touch, feel' business of home decor furnishings

Show-Off Details, Built-In Storage Charms Of 2-Bedroom Homes

Show-Off Details, Built-In Storage Charms Of 2-Bedroom Homes

CALIFORNIA — Before there were McMansions and Tiny Houses, California was dotted with cottages and bungalows that typically had 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and oodles of charm. Today these homes are often coveted by empty nesters and first time home buyers alike who appreciate the smaller price tags, smaller square footage and period craftsmanship.

Take a look at these 2 bedroom homes for sale, many with enormous yards.


Branford’s Open House Of The Week (Dec. 9)

Branford's Open House Of The Week (Dec. 9)-0

There will be an open house on Sunday, Dec. 9 for this home located at 44 Marks Court, according to Realtor.com. The open house is from 1 to 3 p.m.

  • Address: 44 Marks Ct, Branford, Connecticut
  • Price: $469,000
  • Square Feet: 2840
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2 Full and 2 Half Baths
  • Built: 1993
  • Features: Welcome To This Beautiful Custom-Built Home Located At The End Of A Cul-De-Sac, With Beautiful Landscaping and Gorgeous Curb Appeal! This Home Offers 4 Bedrooms, 2 Full Bathrooms, 2 Half Bathrooms and Sits On 1.05 Acres Of Land! The Main Level Features A Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room, 4Th Bedroom, Great Room, Laundry and Mudroom. The Large Eat-In Kitchen Has Newer Ss Appliances, Flooring and Lighting.
  • The Dining Room Is Open To A Stunning Sunken Living Room With Cathedral Ceilings, A Gorgeous Stone Fireplace. Hardwood Floors and French Doors That Walk Out To A Private Deck With Newly Stained Decking and Trex Steps.
  • The 4Th Bedroom Can Also Be Used As An Office, Playroom Or Den. The Great Room Has Cathedral Ceilings W/ Skylights, Stamped Concrete Insulated Floors & An Oversized Slider That Can Be Used As A Separate Entrance For A Possible In-Law Or Home Office For A Small Business Or Practice. The 2Nd Floor Offers A Cozy Loft That Overlooks The Living Room With 2 Bedrooms and A Full Bath Located On One Side and The Master Suite On The Other. The Master Has New Hardwood Flooring, A Walk-In Closet and A Stunning Newly Remodeled Bathroom With Marble Counters, Custom-Tile, Footed Tub and Triple Shower Heads!
  • Lastly, The Lower Level Adds Approx. 1000 Sq.Ft. To Living Space With A Half Bath, A Walk-Out French Door, Bar Sink, Built-In Bench & Movie Room With Custom Glass Cabinets. Great For Entertaining! Most Rooms Have Been Freshly Painted! This Home Is A Must See!!


Bridge to nowhere? Some doubts on U.S. economy justified, doom and gloom is not

Getty Images
Wall Street scurrying for the exits? More and more investors apparently see the economy becoming a bridge to nowhere.

Just a few months ago, investors drove the U.S. stock market SPX, -2.33%  to an all-time high. Now they’re scurrying for the off-ramp and showing fresh doubts about economy. Have things really gone south that fast?

Not really.

The economy is forecast to grow at an above-average speed of 2.6% in the fourth quarter, for one thing. Consumer confidence is at a two-decade high. The unemployment rate remains at a 49-year low. And the holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a big one.

Still, some warning signs have emerged.

Home sales have softened after a rise in mortgage rates. Corporate investment has tapered off. Job creation slowed in November. And a festering trade dispute with China and resulting tariffs have raised costs for businesses and consumers.

“It’s becoming clearer by the day that the best days for this economic cycle are behind us,” asserted Scott Anderson, chief economist of Bank of the West.

The sudden shift in perception is forcing the Federal Reserve to reconsider how many times it will raises interest rates in the next year.

Not only does the economy seem a touch more vulnerable than it did a few months ago, a recent upturn in inflation also appears to have crested. The Fed has been gradually raising rates to head off an unwelcome increase in rates, but now the problem seems less urgent.

One sign came last week in a weaker-than-expected November employment report. The economy added just 155,000 new jobs — well below the 190,000 forecast — and the yearly increase in hourly wage growth stood pat at 3.1%.

More evidence might emerge this week. The consumer price index, which tracks the cost of living, could show a flat or even negative reading for the first time in eight months. The annual rate of inflation as measured by the CPI could drop to a nine-month low of 2.2% from 2.5%

Similarly weak readings are likely in other inflation barometers for wholesale U.S. goods and imported products.

What’s a common thread?

Falling oil prices . A surge in petroleum helped fuel an upturn in inflation earlier this year that spurred the Fed to raise U.S. interest rates three times. Now lower oil prices are acting as a brake on inflation.

Lower oil prices CLF9, +1.24%  will probably deliver seemingly disappointing retail sales in November.

Americans spent a lot less filling up at gas stations, making it look like retailers had a bad month. Economists polled by MarketWatch predict a lackluster 0.2% increase.

“Here’s a word of advice on anyone planning to use the November retail sales report as a guide to how the holiday shopping season is going: don’t,” said chief economist Richard Moody of Regions Financial.


Impress Everyone On Your List With These Stylish Decor Gifts


There’s one category of gifts that will satisfy everyone on your list. Whether it’s for bosses, your best friend, babies or even those people you don’t know too well, a home accessory is a bold and meaningful choice. Here are the most stylish decor gifts to give (and also to receive) this holiday season.

Samsung “The Frame” Television

This tv isn't art, but it's close enough.

This tv isn’t art, but it’s close enough.Evine

Is it a work of art or a television? It’s both! Samsung’s “The Frame” television is designed with style in mind. It’s a 4k UHD SmartTv that’s an even smarter gift.

Petrossian Ecume Caviar Presentoir

Upgrade your caviar.

Present caviar with class.Petrossian

Caviar is the ultimate foodie gift. So why not upgrade and include this luxurious presentoir from Petrossian? Available in white, gold or platinum, each presentoir comes with a choice of various caviar tins. Luckily, it’s impossible to pick the wrong one.