There were a lot interesting news bits to come out of Hollywood in the past week. Some A-list actors are considering the adaptation of the smash hit novel The Da Vinci Code. Damon Wayans is following in his big brother Keenan’s footsteps in the director’s chair. And America’s favorite dingbat, Jessica Simpson talks once more about the possibility of her playing Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard big screen adaptation. But a lot more happened in Hollywood this week. Let’s take a look, but first, let’s see who conquered the holiday weekend at the box office.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
It turns out that America prefers ogres and donkeys to Weather Channel death and mass destruction. Who could’ve figured that…on Memorial Day weekend...Shrek 2 was tops at the box office again this weekend. The Dreamworks animated flick scored a very healthy $92.2 million for the 4-day holiday weekend. The movie nabbed $72.2 million in the 3-day weekend, only dipping 33.2 percent from last weekend’s debut. That brings Shrek 2’s total to a whopping $256.9 million in just 13 days. It still has to pass The Passion of the Christ, but still, it looks like Shrek 2 might be the box office winner for the year here, barring any movie miracles…
The Day After Tomorrow was right on Shrek’s trail in 2nd place. The disaster flick grossed an estimated $86 million for the holiday weekend. For the 3-day weekend, it was only $2 million behind Shrek 2, with $70 million. But even though it didn’t nab the top spot, a consolation prize for the flick is that it had the highest gross for a non-#1 movie. And the flick’s healthy opening weekend almost assures the movie will make back it’s $125 million budget, barring a 60%-70% drop next weekend. That’s good news…right?
The week’s other two new releases didn’t fare quite as well this weekend. Raising Helen took the 4th spot at the box office, grossing an estimated $14.02 million, right behind Troy in 3rd place with $15 million. And Soul Plane could only take off to a 5th place finish this weekend. It scored a meager $7 million in its debut weekend. It looks like this flick is going to have to take cinematic evasive actions to make its $16 million budget back…
Facing Windows: (www.sonyclassics.com/facingwindows/) The main page for this drama gives us some awards it has won, and you can download a PDF press kit here as well. Once inside you can look at a long synopsis of the plot, some production notes from, I assume, the filmmakers, some background on the cast and filmmakers, and a large photo gallery. There’s nothing really extravagant or fancy about the site, but you can get some nice background on the film before it’s June 18th release.
She Hate Me: (www.sonyclassics.com/shehateme/) The site for this Spike Lee Joint is up next, but there is barely anything here. All we have here is a 41-page press kit and some production stills. The “joint” opens on July 30, but the site says that the movie’s “official” site will open soon. Which is a good thing, because there really isn’t much here.
Cellular: (http://www.cellularthemovie.com/) There really isn’t much to this site here either. All we get is a tiny sound byte, a little graphic of somewhere in Italy, the movie’s trailer and you can sign up for updates on the movie. Yeah, not a whole lot here. But hopefully more will be added as we near the movie’s August 17 release.
Ladder 49: (www.ladder49.com) Last up is the site for this John Travolta fireman flick. This is a slick-looking site where you can view the trailer, download the one-sheet and some desktops, view a small photo gallery and see a list of the cast and crew. Again, there isn’t a ton of stuff here, but the site looks nice, and there is plenty of time for more updates before the movie’s October 8 release.
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid:There is a totally different cast and filmmakers here, and it looks like one of those greed-over-safety flicks. And they’re releasing this at the end of August, which is a horrendous weekend. Oh yeah, the trailer. Well, the trailer doesn’t instill any more faith in this movie than the previous facts mentioned…This looks to be a great weekend…to work on your tan.
Deep Blue:This trailer starts out with some facts that seem like they’re trying to “sell” the ocean to us like shares of stock. The trailer is a little heavy-handed for a documentary, and we get no real feel of what this documentary is really about. We see a bunch of shots of marine life and stuff like that, but it doesn’t look like anything we can’t see on the Nature Channel or something like that. But if the ocean is your kind of thing, look for this documentary sometime this year.
Facing Windows:This drama looks like it has some elements of Rear Window and Chocolat mixed in to this movie about a wanna-be pastry chef. I’m really not too sure what to make of this movie, but this French film looks like it could be a very nice subtle drama. The movie opens Jun 11th in limited release.
Alexander:This marks the most ambitious project for both Colin Farrell and filmmaker Oliver Stone. But from the looks of it, I think they will both pull it off marvelously. With the Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded, it looks like this movie will fill the “massive epic” slot this holiday season. They did a great job with the trailer, and I’m really looking forward to this movie because of Stone and Farrell’s talent. The rest of the cast looks great as well with Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson and one of my favorites, Val Kilmer in supporting roles. Look for this movie November 5.
Riding Giants:This documentary is up next, the latest from the filmmaker who brought us the wonderful Dogtown and Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta. This time, Peralta focuses on surfing rather than skateboarding. Is a snowboarding movie next for Peralta? I can only hope so, because Peralta showed his talent in Dogtown, and it looks like he did a great job with Riding Giants here as well. He totally delves into his subjects in his documentaries, and this looks to be a great movie. Riding Giants opens July 9 in limited release.
Open Water:This looks like another winner from Lions Gate Films. This trailer is filled with shining testimonials from top critics, and, if the trailer is any indication, it looks like the critics are right on here. This drama was based on a true story of a couple who gets stuck in the ocean with nothing but themselves, left to survive among the sharks. This looks like a wonderful film that could be the surprise hit of the summer. The movie opens in limited release on August 6, and it expands on August 20.
Ladder 49:This movie looks like a pretty solid flick, although it doesn’t seem to heavy on plot. It just looks like an account of a fictionalized fire department, with no major, dramatic conflict, besides a series of fires they must fight. Still, the action looks great, as well as the acting from John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix. I’m not quite sure how this will play with the new Denis Leary TV series Rescue Me about firemen starting this summer, but we’ll just have to wait and find out. Ladder 49 opens on October 8.
Cellular: If you read anything about this movie and its plot, you probably aren’t too surprised that this was written by Larry Cohen, who wrote the tense thriller Phone Booth. Mr. Cohen has gone wireless in this new thriller, and it looks wonderful. There is a great cast here with Kim Basinger, William H. Macy, Jason Statham and Chris Evans, who was the spoof character Jake Wyler in Not Another Teen Movie. It looks like he’s grown up a lot here, because he actually looks to give a good performance here. Apparently, New Line doesn’t have a whole lot of faith in this flick, releasing it in the movie doldrums of September 17, but this looks like a great thriller.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
My pick for the best news of the week is director Michael Gondry teaming with Jack Black for Master of Space and Time. I’ve never read the book this is based off of, but the plot sounds just wonderful. Sure, it might not be incredibly original – mad scientists trying to control reality, but this still sounds like a winner. Gondry, who most recently directed the fabulous Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is a very talented director, and Jack Black is almost always wonderful on screen. This looks to be a great project for both of them.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
The worst news of this week is the news that Disney plans to make sequels based off Pixar movies, which they were formerly partners with. Apparently Disney thinks they can match Pixar’s magic. If Disney’s recent non-Pixar animated movies are any indication (See: Home on the Range), they just can’t. Pixar has the Midas Touch, and Disney doesn’t, so they’re trying to steal Pixar’s thunder by trying to make Pixar films on their own. The analysts think this will be good for Disney, which may be the case. But when moviegoers think it’s going to be a Pixar product, and it’s really just a Disney product, most likely, they will be disappointed. It may be good, short-term, but, unless they steal away members of Pixar’s team, I really can’t see this working out for Disney. If I were Disney, I’d give Pixar whatever they wanted, and practically beg them to stay with Disney, because I just don’t think Disney can come close to Pixar’s recent successes on their own.