Greetings from surprisingly warm Minnesota. It’s time for another Week in Review column. There was some interesting news coming out of Hollywood this week. There’s some Paris Hilton movie news that doesn’t involve a night-vision camcorder. The sequel to The Ring gets a new director. http://www.movieweb.com/news/0/.phpid=3030. And Seabiscuit director Gary Ross takes on a new project with a title so long he might have to pay for movie marquee’s to be elongated. But that wasn’t all that happened in Hollywood this last week. Let’s check out the rest of the news of the past week, or as Larry the Cable Guy said from The Blue Collar Comedy Tour Movie, let’s “Git ‘r’ done!”

BOX OFFICE CORNER

Movie theaters around the country are still serving as the world’s largest collection plate…at least for Mel Gibson and NewMarket Films. The Passion of the Christ stayed at #1 this weekend for the third consecutive weekend. The drama about the last 12 hours of Christ raked in an estimated $31.6 million in its third weekend of release, which was the 5th highest 3rd weekend gross in history. The $30 million film has now taken in an estimated $264 million.

This weekend brought four new movies to theaters, although only two of them had a wide release. Secret Window, the new Johnny Depp vehicle came in a distant second to The Passion of the Christ. The thriller took in an estimated $19 million in its first weekend in release, playing in 3,018 theaters. Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London came in 5th place, grossing an estimated $8 million in its first weekend. For some reason, MGM felt compelled to rush out a sequel to a movie that only made $47.9 million, a year after the original movie was released. They must have been bored, waiting for their new James Bond movie to get rolling. The new David Mamet film Spartan was released in only 832 theaters, but it came in 10th place, earning an estimated $2.03 million in its first weekend. And the other new movie of the week, NASCAR: The IMAX Experience was only released in 68 theaters, but it came in 11th place, grossing an estimated $1.5 million. What is it with motor sports and IMAX? Haven’t they learned their lesson from Ultimate X?

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

There were a few good news bits this week, with the news of a biopic on Tommy Morrison, the boxer who retired after contracting the HIV virus. Just as well, the news of Guillermo del Toro’s interest in directing a Daredevil sequel was intriguing, but of course turned out to be just a rumor. But for the best news of the week, would have to go to Corbin Bernsen coming on Shane Black’s comeback picture, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. O.K., Corbin Bernsen isn’t a totally huge star, but he’s a solid actor. I’m just really excited for Shane Black’s return. He was one of the highest paid screenwriters in the biz in the late 80s and early 90s. He created the Lethal Weapon series and wrote The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight and many others. But he pretty much dropped off the radar in the late 90s. But he’s back now, with a great cast (Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr.) and what sounds like another slick script. I can’t wait to see what he can do in the director’s chair as well. I haven’t really seen Bernsen in much either, but it will be interesting to see how he works out also. Look for Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang sometime in 2005.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Like last week, there are a lot of news bits that could qualify for the Worst News of the Week title. There’s Universal trying to rev up it’s Fast and the Furious franchise by putting the spendy Vin Diesel back on the top line. Get ready for more corny lines like, “I live my life 10 seconds at a time.”

And it looks like remakes are hitting a new low with USA to retool the classic Scarface for a 4-hour mini-series. Wow...

But I think the worst news of the week is the possibility of the resurrection of another franchise. Director Richard Donner wants to do yet another Lethal Weapon. The only way this would be good news is if the series creator Shane Black scripted this, but apparently Donner has a “great story.” Yeah. That’s coming from the guy who directed Timeline… I believe Danny Glover said it best in Leathal Weapon 4, “I’m getting too old for this s**t.” Just let it go, Richard. No one wants to see Gibson and Glover trading corny jokes and trying to chase guys half their age. And anyone who does want to see that can just rent Lethal Weapon 4.

Well, that’s all for this week folks. From the far side of the bizarre ride, this is your Movie Freak, signing off.

- Brian Gallagher