Until now, Spielberg’s The BFG has had only minimal buzz — but that’s changing as of today because The BFG just had its black tie world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival — about as high profile a launch. The film is a collaboration between Spielberg and write Melissa Mathison — who wrote E.T. — and is a childhood forbidden-friendship story, pretty much along the same lines as E.T. There is some potential for it to blow up big — just like E.T. did. But the reviews suggest that, while it’s a very serious challenge to Legend of Tarzan — it doesn’t sound like it will ascend to the heights of E.T. There are some outright raves, some mixed-favorable, some mixed-negative — no one has completely panned it.
UPDATE — New BFG Trailer just dropped. Here it is.
Slashfilm has the best summation of the reviews – “Mixed reviews find charm but maybe not enough Spielberg magic.”
On Rotten Tomatoes — it’s at 80% Fresh with 8 fresh and 2 rotten.
Variety gives it a near rave: An All-digital Mark Rylance wins over audiences with his big, big hears in a forbidden-friendship story that serves as Steven Splielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” for an all-new generation.” — and, ominously for Legend of Tarzan: “The BFG” is gonna be huge. That much practically goes without saying: With Spielberg at the helm, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” screenwriter Melissa Mathison at the typewriter (though she died last November) and Dahl’s wonderful imagination — and vocabulary — at the fore, the film has ginormous box office potential. Still, without any bona-fide movie stars or franchise characters to drive worldwide audiences’ desire to see it, “The BFG” won’t have an easy time getting anywhere near the 20 highest-grossing films of all time (a list where Spielberg presently holds last place, with “Jurassic Park”).
The Guardian already has a review up and it’s basically a rave for Mark Rylance in the role of the giant, and two thumbs up for Spielberg and everything else about the movie.
Indie-Wire is mixed-favorable: “This is a lighter variation of the “E.T.” formula, impressively realized and likable without ever catapulting into more inspired territory. An eager crowdpleaser from one of the world’s greatest crowdpleasers, it gets the job done and nothing more.”
The Telegraph gives it five stars and says: “Spielberg creates a landscape of astonishments.”
Yahoo News: “The BFG is giant-sized visual splendor that just plods along.”
What does it mean for Legend of Tarzan?
Well for one thing — it’s “game on” time. LOT has been out in front in the buzz department but this clearly means that BFG is off and running and LOT is still pretty much in the starting blocks.
But the Cannes premiere can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s a jolt of adrenaline to an otherwise quiet promotion. But it’s also a bigger moment of truth than most films face this early on. If the reviews were all raves, this would be real trouble for LOT. As it is . . .well, 80% “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes is probably higher than it will end up, if normal patterns hold. But it won’t drift down into “Rotten” territory — and the Spielberg/Mathison/ET for a new generation storyline is daunting.
And don’t say, please, “it’s a different audience, I’m not worried.”
That’s not precisely the point. The point is that if one films sucks all the air of the promotional “room”, it affects everyone, regardless of whether it’s precisely the same audience.
Legend of Tarzan will be dealing with the second week of Independence Day Resurgence; plus The BFG opening on the same day.
I think it’s about time for WB’s “tactical silence” to end. The Vogue profile of Margot Robbie with a photo gallery of Margot and Alexander Skarsgard, is hopefully going to be followed up by a steady buildup.
We shall see. I’m squirming a bit, and not feeling great at the moment. Hopefully there will be more encouraging news to report soon.