It was another week full of news bits, box office figures, new official websites for upcoming flicks (yes, there are actually some this week) and new trailers. So, lets get right into the best and worst news of the week with Notables.

NOTABLES

"Frank Oz set to helm Horrible Bosses" - Monday, March 14

Franl Oz has provided us some of the most memorable voices in entertainment history. He has voiced several characters on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, as well as his most famous voice, the grammatically incorrect Jedi master, Yoda. But Oz is also an accomplished director as well, who can cross genres easily from dark comedy (See: The Stepford Wives) to heist/action (See: The Score) to everything in between (See: Bowfinger....hey, no one is perfect). Anyway, Oz seems like a good choice to helm this flick, which sounds like a darker version of Office Space. Sounds good to me. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Bruce Willis stars in Solace" - Monday, March 14

My opinion on Bruce Willis is that he's only as good as the material he's working with. If there is a project with a great script, (See: The Sixth Sense) he'll perform accordingly. If he is in a project with a horrid script, (See: The Whole Ten Yards), he'll perform accordingly. Basically, he can't turn in a great performance in an otherwise bad movie, and it seems like he's the Randy Moss of Hollywood: he's capable of performing well, but, like Moss takes plays off, Willis does the same with certain movies. Lucky for Willis, in this project, he'll be working from a script by the wonderful scribe Ted Griffin (Ocean's 11, Matchstick Men), so I think he should turn in a nice performance here, in a project that has a fresh plot. Best News of the Week.

"Matthew Vaughn set to helm X-Men 3" - Monday, March 14

This is definitely some interesting news. We have yet to see what Vaughn can do at the helm, with his directorial debut, Layer Cake hitting theaters in limited release on May 13, but he must have impressed someone up at Fox. I think this move could pay off, adding a new blend of style into the franchise. Vaughn has primarily worked on lower-budget crime dramas, so this is definitely a big jump. But, then again, Bryan Singer had only worked on similar types of flicks before his monsterous success with the first two X-Men movies. I think this will bring some new life into the popular franchise, and I'm looking forward to see what Vaughn can do with our favorite mutants. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Neve Campbell to star in Indian epic Partition" - Tuesday, March 15

You've got to be kidding me...Neve can barely act her way out of a regular picture, let alone a period epic. She's been floating around in some indie pictures after Scream 3, so she's been off my radar for awhile, thankfully. I don't think she has a shred of talent, and this project sounds syrupy enough as it is without Neve's horrid acting. The only reason I saw Scream 3 is because I thought she would be killed. What a rip-off, just like what this movie will probably be. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Disney picks up Beyond the Blonde" - Tuesday, March 15

My God, why does Disney have to be so...well, stupid. They run out Miramax and Pixar, for some reason, and I hope the reasoning behind that has nothing to do with their own film division picking up the slack for these two giants of the industry. If this project alone is any indication, it can't and won't come close to the same ballpark as picking up the slack. For one, this basically sounds like a white version of the upcoming Beauty Shop, which is a female version of Barbershop. Apparently, Disney has little to no concept of originality. Sure, this will be based on an upcoming book, but with all the movies out there that are so similar, why keep beating that horse? Try something new for a change, because re-hashed flicks like this just won't cut the mustard. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Columbia picks up This Bill Smith" - Tuesday, March 15

Now this does sound orignial, folks: a downtrodden dude named Bill Smith sets out to meet the other Bill Smith's in America (apparently, 74,000 of them) to see if their lives are better than his. This sounds really cool, although I can see the possibility for this to get really overdramatic. Still, the concept is golden, highly original and I hope they cast this properly. Are you taking notes, Disney film people? You should be...Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Gus Van Sant in talks to direct The Time Traveler's Wife" - Thursday, March 17

I lost every shred of respect for Gus Van Sant when he brought us the ridicolously artsy Elephant, that somehow won the prestigious Palme D'Or at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. It is the worst award-winning movie (excluding Razzies) I have ever seen. This sounds just as stupid. A guy with a time-traveling gene? No, not a machine, but a chromosome or something that can take him through time. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...it does sound like The Butterfly Effect, in a weird sort of way. And then they say this is a loose re-telling of Homer's The Odyssey? What the flip is going on here? This is just all kinds of wrong, and I hope it just dies on the shelf. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

The robots and the big bald babysitter performed well this weekend, but they still had rings ran around them. The Ring Two took the top spot at the box office this weekend, taking in an estimated $36 million in its opening weekend. It more than doubled the opening weekend take of its predecessor and outgrossed last week's top performer, Robots by almost $15 million. a href='/movies/box_office/daily/film_daily.php?id=2522' class='film'>Robots took the 2nd spot with an estimated $21.8 million in its second weekend, and The Pacifier went down a spot to 3rd, with an esimated $12.5 million. The Ring 2 was packing them in all across the country, with a per-screen average of a tremendous $10,804, showing in 3,332 theaters. Budget figures weren't released for The Ring 2, but with this strong opening, I'm sure the Dreamworks execs won't be too worried.

The only other new flick this weekend took the 4th spot in unimpressive fashion. Ice Princess grossed an estimated $7.01 million in its debut weekend, despite scoring much better reviews than The Ring 2. Ice Princess nabbed a 55% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, while The Ring 2 garnered a measly 24%. The Michelle Trachtenberg figure skating flick averaged a lowly $2,804 per screen, showing in 2,501 theaters. I can't say I'm surprised at these poor results for Ice Princess. The only time people get excited about figure skating is when there is a clubbing-for-hire plot thrown in there...

GOING LIVE

The Ballad of Jack and Rose: (www.ifcfilms.com/ballad/)

We don't get a ton of stuff here, but there is some decent content here. The trailer loads up automatically when you log on to the site, and the synopsis is right below the trailer. Above the trailer there are a few more options for you to choose from. There are Cast Bios and Crew Bios which give you some detailed information on that person's career, and there are also Director's Notes which give you some nice info on how the film came to be. That's about it here, although on the main page, on the right side, there is a detailed list of the dates the movie will be appearing and in what cities and theaters as well. Not too much here, but it serves up some nice background for the movie, which opens on March 25 in New York and Los Angeles.

Eros: (wip.warnerbros.com/eros/)

This flick seems to be 3 shorter flicks by 3 different directors, so the main site has a link to each of these segments; The Hand, Equilibrium and The Dangerous Thread of Things. Under each movie there are the same categories. We get a synopsis, a bio of the director, bio's of the cast members, some production notes, photo gallery and a message board. The site is set up nicely, and this will keep you busy for awhile if you go through each segment. All in all, this is a quality site to what looks to be a very interesting picture. Eros opens on April 8 in the top 12 markets.

The Game of Their Lives: (www.gameoftheirlivesmovie.com/)

This site is more of a booster for the sport of soccer than anything else right now. It says the full site is coming soon, so in the meantime, they give you a bunch of links to American soccer organizations, and a number to call to get group reservations and advance seating to the flick. The only things on the site that are related to the actual movie, is a very brief synopsis and the trailer. There is a link below the trailer called Team Info, and, silly me, I assumed that it was info on the actual soccer team that this movie is based on. It is not. It's just a link to all the Major League Soccer team's official websites. If you're a soccer freak, this is a great site for you. But if you want information on the movie, you better wait for the full site to launch. The Game of Their Lives opens on April 22.

The Amityville Horror: (www.amityvillehorrormovie.com

This site went live awhile ago, but there is finally some worthwhile content up here now. After a few intros, we get inside the house, and there is a lot to do there. There is the DeFeo case file, which consists of a lot of actual documents from police files and newspaper clippings that describe the actual killings in 1974. Below that is some info on the Lutz family, who moved into the house a year after the killings, along with some photos of the cast who portrayed them. Below that, is a very interesting feature of the site, which is psychic analysis. These are 6 video clips of an actual psychic (not Miss Cleo), talking about the supernatural aspects of this house. These clips are very interesting and provide some nice background. Then click on this little cross thing on the lower left corner, and there is more stuff to look at (don't choose The Truth, because that is the page that you are already at). Under The Film, there is Cast and Crew, which is just a very basic list of who made the film, Photo Gallery and Stories From the Set which are video interviews with 4 people involved with the flick. These are very cool as well. Under Video there is just the trailer, but they present it in this old TV in the middle of a dark room, which was also cool. And lastly, in Downloads, there are some Desktops, AIM Icons and a screensaver available. I think the did a wonderful job with this site, with plenty of style and content, going above and beyond your normal official website. The Amityville Horror opens on April 15.

The Skeleton Key: (www.theskeletonkeymovie.com)

Unlike the last site, there is practically nothing here. All we get is a synopsis, the trailer and a photo gallery. The movie doesn't open until August 13, though, so there might be more added to this site before then.

Layer Cake: (www.sonyclassics.com/layercake/)

The site opens up with the trailer, but when you enter the site, they give us a new way to say that the site is loading: they use an iron on the yellow background, and the steam that rises forms the word "Loading." Once inside, there are some menus to choose from. We get a Synopsis, Characters, which is really a bio of the main actors not the characters, a photo gallery, brief bio on the director, Matthew Vaughn, some production notes, the trailer, some links to reviews and other somewhat-related links. There is a link to a contest, but it is not active yet, and when you click on each link, a small video clip plays below while that section loads. This site won't set the world on fire, but it's a quirky little site with some good content. Layer Cake opens on May 13 in limited release.

TRAILER PARK

The Island:

This looks a lot different from the usual Michael Bay flick. It looks a lot more serious than his usual shoot-em-up/blow-em-up fare. It seems like a very bizarre mix of The Matrix, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Stepford Wives and Planet of the Apes, but I do admit that I'm intrigued. We don't even get any dialogue until almost halfway through the trailer, and we don't get much more after that. I think this could be really good for Bay, whose dumb-downed flicks usually catch constant flack from critics, but usually earn at least $100 million. It looks like critics and moviegoers could both win with this flick. The Island opens on July 22.

Eros:

OK, first of all, this is a "red-band" trailer, which means that the kiddies aren't supposed to see it. Second, I don't know why it's a red-band trailer in the first place. I guess it's more sexually suggestive than most other trailers, but there is no full-frontal nudity or naughty words or anything. Anyway, this flick looks really interesting, because it is really 3 separate flicks that all encompass sex in some form. This should raise some eyebrows for sure, but this could be a very good movie. Eros opens on April 8.

Rock School:

This is the real life version of the Jack Black flick, School of Rock. This looks like a great documentary about this somewhat-psychotic guy and his school that creates gods of rock. The guy alone looks like an interesting enough subject for a documentary, with his erratic behavior and his insane demands on his students. It all seems to pay off for the kids, though, and this looks like a documentary to watch out for. Rock School opens on June 3 in limited release.

The Skeleton Key:

This looks like another great white-knuckle thriller from the brilliant mind of Ehren Kruger. His Arlington Road is probably the best thriller that practically nobody knows about, and Kruger is just an amazing writer. Horror is a new trip for the lovely Kate Hudson, but her performance looks wonderful from this trailer. This will be a great way to wrap up the summer movie season, and I just can't wait to see how well Hudson will perform, and how much Kruger can scare the crap out of us. The Skeleton Key opens on August 12.

Red-Eye:

This trailer was attatched to The Ring 2 this weekend, and I was slightly intrigued. I am a huge fan of horrormeister Wes Craven, but he's working from a script from a relative newcomer in Carl Ellsworth. The movie, from the plot info on the Movie Vault sounds interesting, but the trailer makes it seem like a romantic comedy until the very end of the trailer. It get's you interested, yeah, but I don't think it pique's your interest enough, and the trailer comes off as a cheap Passenger 57/Executive Decision/Turbulence rip-off. The flick will probably be decent, as Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy look like the work well together. I just think they could've put the trailer together in a different way. Red-Eye opens on August 5.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It was a close call, but I'm picking This Bill Smith as my Best News of the Week, just slightly over Matthew Vaughn taking over the X-Men franchise. I went with Bill Smith simply because of originality, which has seemed to have died in Hollywood lately, with the notable exception of the magnificent screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Apparently the writers came up with the idea while working in a Hollywood cafe. Hmm, I would've thought they worked for a phone book company or something, but whatever works. This has sort of a Forrest Gump kind of innocence to it, and that should work in its favor. I think they should bring Kevin Spacey in for this picture, because this sounds like his kind of role, and he definitely needs a hit. Regardless of casting (unless it's someone attrocious like Paul Walker), I will be keeping both eyes on this project.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

This one is fairly easy, and although I just loathe Gus Van Sant now, I loathe Disney's pathetic movie choices even more, and that is my Worst News of the Week. Sure, the Barbershop flicks were profitable, and I'm sure Beauty Shop will perform along the same lines. I guess this is going to be a romantic comedy, so that is a little different from the previous flicks, but I'm sure they'll draw in familiar elements from these flicks, unfortunately. Disney just doesn't have it anymore, even with their animated flicks...they're own, not Pixar, and if they keep picking up crap like this, they're really going to regret letting go of Pixar and losing the Weinstein brothers of Mirimax.

Well, that's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, official websites for upcoming flicks, trailers, and, of course, the best and worst news of the week. Take care, folks, and always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time...it probably isn't free.