Howdy folks and happy Memorial Day. Since you're all enjoying your day off of work like myself, I figured I'd throw up this week's column. So lets get this shindig kicked off with this week's Notables.
O.K., now I'm a huge fan of Tarantino, but this guy just gets too much press lately. The only thing I don't like about it, is he has so many damn projects out there, it's hard to tell what he's actually going to do next. I thought this pic wasn't going to happen, but, who frickin knows. Anyway, since it is apparently going to happen, it sounds pretty cool. Svenson has been in numerous movies like Heartbreak Ridge, an 80s Eastwood flick with honestly some of the best one-liners EVER, and Delta Force, but lately he appeared in Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 2 as the reverend. I actually like QT's choice of Sandler here, because it's always interesting to see what he can do outside of his normal routine. Of course, Madsen and Roth are great picks, but I'm really just excited for this to be getting off the ground. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Well, this isn't quite the "big star" I had in mind to form the trio last week after Sophia Bush and Brittany Snow signed on to this project, but what kind of pull do I have anyway, eh? I thought Ashanti was pretty solid in Coach Carter, and she's pretty popular so she'll help out the box office draw since there is not even close to a household name in this flick yet. But this doesn't really sound like it's up her alley and they'd be better off with some of the names I suggested last week, but, again, no pull, kids. I like the premise here, but, unfortunately these days, premises don't sell tickets, and when this one flops, don't say I didn't tell ya so. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Yeah, that's right, Sly is going literal on us. This article mentions his writing and directing credits....which were many moons ago and involved characters who either beat the crap out of people or killed them. Sure, Edgar Allan Poe sounds like a natural transition, eh? Not so much, no, especially since his 6th Rocky flick is supposedly still in development, that he wrote and, as you'll see later in Notables, there will be yet another Rambo. I hope he wasn't writing all of them at the same time...."Yo, that raven is bugging me, Adrian. Where's my bow and exploding arrows?" Downey does sound like a decent pick for Poe, but I just can't get over the fact that Sly, of all people, will be bringing this to the silver screen. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
I can't believe this pitch fetched such a high price, because it sounds absolutely retarded. This schoolteacher realizes he's a witch, and somehow he finds out about a witch school where he's the only adult there where he's taught to harness his powers. Sounds like a moronic mix between a Harry Potter flick and Elf to me. How does he find this witch school anyway? Is it listed in the Yellow Pages, or does a bunch of letters just start flying under his door? These Hollywood execs are worried about this year's box office takes, and probably wondering why no one has really been going to the movies much this year, with very few exceptions. Here's a hint: take a look at the dreck that you are making into movies, you morons! Some people, I tell ya....Worst News of the Week Nominee.
See, another QT story, but as long it's about cool-sounding flicks like this, I won't mind at all. Tarantino and Rodriguez just keep on pushing the envelope, and I just love every minute of it. Being a Midwesterner, I'm not too familiar with the grindhouse genre, but it sounds pretty cool to me. Always looking for a challenge, this will be both QT and RR's first horror flicks, and it appears that they want to conquer every and all genre. With their trademark dialogue, I hope a silent film isn't next, but I can't wait to see what they can both do with a horror movie. Best News of the Week Nominee.
This sounds great for Chiklis, because, even though he's playing a cop like he does in the phenomenal TV show The Shield, it sounds like he's playing a much different cop, and it'll give him a chance to display some range here. It's not quite clear what Liu's role in this flick is from this article, though. Still, I think this will be really good for Chiklis and a chance for us to see him at something different other than a corrupt cop or the "clobberin time" Thing. Best News of the Week Nominee.
This sounds like a super-cool project here. Sisto is a census worker who investigates a town that the population hasn't changed for 100 years. Sisto is a solid actor, and even though both the writer and director are both fairly newbies, this story here just sounds too cool to pass up. I'll be keeping an eye on this one, definitely. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Oh come on, Disney! Why on God's green earth would you want to remake this? This is strictly an 80s movie, that was aimed towards 80s audiences. Do they think that the modest success of Are We There Yet? will translate into the same for a remake of this flick? I loved that flick when I was a kid....mainly because I always wanted a babysitter as hot as Elizabeth Shue, but I just don't get why they just can't keep some things sacred. Stop the remakes and grow some originality, you dolts. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Come on, Sly. You're, what, 98 years old now, and you want to keep doing this? How tight is that little red headband tied around your head, eh? Can't you just do what every aging star does, and star in a bunch of indies until people remember who you are again? I thought you frickin rocked in Shade, so just keep doing stuff like that and you'll be just fine. Don't try to re-create your success in the 70s and 80s by just adding on to your franchises. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Well, it was the Jedi's week yet again, but this week, it wasn't just a one-horse race, confirming indeed that summertime cures all at the box office. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith regained its top spot this weekend, earning an estimated $55.1 million in its second weekend. Its take for the weekend jumped up to $70.7 million for the 4-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. It had a modest 49.2% decrease from last weekend, and still posted a very healthy per-screen average with $15,042. The George Lucas film now stands at $271.1 million, which is easily the highest-grossing movie of the year so far. It has far surpassed its $113 million budget, and the only real question now is how high this movie will gross when it ends its run in, probably, a few months.
Unlike last weekend, where there were no new movies to compete with Sith, the two new movies this weekend provided more competition than I anticipated. The Longest Yard earned a 3-day estimated gross of $48.1 million, and a 4-day estimated gross of $60 million. But Madagascar was right on its heels with a 3-day gross of $47.1 million and a 4-day gross of $61 million. Since these two flicks were so close, and since they both flipped the 2nd and 3rd spots in the 3-day and 4-day grosses, it's not real concrete which flick will end up in 2nd and 3rd until the actuals are released. Still, these flicks performed much better than I expected, both coming a lot closer than I thought to overtaking Sith. The Longest Yard probably performed better, though, since it was shown in nearly 500 theaters less than Madagascar's mammoth 4,131 theaters, which makes it the 3rd widest release of all time. These two movies were also both #2 and #3 in the record books for biggest opening weekends that weren't the number 1 movie of the weekend. Also, combined with Sith, those three flicks helped get the #3 spot for all time aggregate weekend (total of the top 12 films in that weekend) with a total of $176.7 million. It seems that the wayward moviegoers have made their way back to the theater, and this should make for a very interesting summer.
BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS
This weekend wasn't too bad for me. I picked all 5 movies in their right places, although most of them performed better than I thought they would. So, this weekend kicks off June and three new, very different flicks will be heading to a theater near you. Unfortunately for one of them, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, these girls and their pants just don't stand a chance, and I think it will finish 6th place with $9 million. Sorry, sisters, it just isn't your weekend. But lets see who's weekend I think it will be with this weekend's predictions.
Predictions for 6/3-6/5
1) Lords of Dogtown: $30 million
2) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: $28.9 million
3) Cinderella Man: $26 million
4) The Longest Yard: $22.7 million
5) Madagascar: $20.4 million
Prediction Results for 5/27-5/29
1) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: $67.4 million - ACTUAL Rank: 1; Gross: $55.1 million
2) The Longest Yard: $38 million - ACTUAL Rank: 2; Gross: $48.1 million
3) Madagascar: $32 million - ACTUAL Rank: 3; Gross: $47.1 million
4) Monster-in-Law: $6.8 million - ACTUAL Rank: 4; Gross: $9.2 million
5) Kicking and Screaming: $5.3 million - ACTUAL Rank: 5; Gross: $4.8 million
Deep Blue: (www.miramax.com/deepblue)
Since the Mirimax/Weinstien's divorce, these Miramax sites have been as boring as they come, all with the same background and outline, and just new info filled in for whatever flick the site is for. This one they actually injected some style here, but there still isn't much content. All there is here is the synopsis, the trailer and links to register for updates and another to register for a contest. Not too much here, folks, but at least they're putting forth a semblance of an effort this time. Deep Blue opens on June 3 in limited release.
This is a pretty cool site, with a ton of style and some decent stuff to do. You can watch the trailer, which you view through a home video camera which is pretty cool, and the Image Gallery are framed as actual snapshots, and when you click on the picture it falls out of this hand and displays the next. The Story just gives us a basic synopsis, but the last two things here are pretty cool. In The Crasher Kit they give you all the essentials to crash a wedding and score with some bridesmaids, and the whole thing is really cool and funny. There is a nametag that you can personalize and print off, a Purple Heart medal that you can print and cut out (hillarious!), instructions on how to make a balloon animal and even excerpts from a book on crashing weddings. I don't know if the book is actually real or not, but some of the "rules" set forth in the book are pretty funny, and, actually, really practical, if you think about them. There are some others that are coming soon, but the whole kit is a very cool and original addition to the site. The last thing to do here is the Quail Shoot game. It's a basic shooter game, where you move the crosshairs to a flying quail and shoot it down with a click of your mouse. It gets trickier, however, when you take daquiri breaks, and the crosshairs and quails both become blurry, and your reaction time is slower. It's a really fun game and it tops off this super-fun site perfectly. There isn't an overwhelming amount of content here, but the stuff they do have here is right on point. This is one of the best sites of the year so far. Wedding Crashers opens on July 15.
This is a real worthless site here. All we get is a brief list of the cast, a decent synopsis and a photo gallery with all of 2 photos. Yeah, pretty lame, folks. Don't waste your time. The 40 Year Old Virgin opens on August 19.
Last Days: (www.lastdaysmovie.com)
This is certainly a weird little site, but it's set up rather well. The site opens up with Michael Pitt's character outside of this house, and you click on the house to get in. Inside the "living room" run your mouse over various items to pull up the menus. Click on a note on the door for the synopsis, click on Pitt laying down for bios on the three main actors. The videotape on the floor reveals the trailer, the picture tacked on the wall has bios of the producer and director of photography, a stack of newspapers/books is a bio of writer/director Gus Van Zant, the telephone on top of the TV has contact info for the prodco Picturehouse and the door next to Pitt reveals a photo gallery. The content is nothing really earth-shaking, but it is rather thorough and I liked how they organized the site a lot. A pretty good site here, folks. Last Days opens on July 22 in limited release.
The background music fits for this type of movie, but it's way too poppy for my taste, so thankfully you can turn it off if you want to. Anyway, in About the Film you get a decent synopsis, but Cast Bios, Crew Bios and Production Notes are all coming soon. In Media, the film clips are coming soon, but you can view the trailer, TV spots and A Look Inside, which features bits of interviews with some of the stars, cut in with most of the trailer footage, but we don't usually see behind the scenes stuff like this on official websites, so it's pretty cool. There is also a fairly big photo gallery, a bunch of stuff to download like AIM icons, screensavers and wallpapers (e-cards coming soon) and in Features there are a few quizzes for the girls: Is He the Right Guy For You and What Makes the Perfect Man. Overall, this is a pretty good site with some nice style and info, but there is too much here that is coming soon. The Perfect Man opens on June 17.
Although I haven't seen his complete works, I'm a very big fan of auteur David Cronenberg, and I don't think I've ever seen one of his flicks (newer ones anyway) under a studio flag like New Line. It still looks just as wonderfully dark as his other works, with a creepy story about an average Joe-turned-hero who apparently has a not-so-average past. There is a real slick cast here with Viggo Mortenson, who usually chooses his projects rather well, with Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt. This probably won't be too big of a moneymaker for New Line, as they're releasing it in the doldrums of September, but this should be a great thriller. A History of Violence opens on September 30.
Now THIS is how you make a trailer, folks! Besides the Revenge of the Sith trailer, this is the best one I've seen all year. They give you some nice background on the characters, build up the conflict, show some of the just amazing special effects employed here, and, most importantly, ends leaving you wanting more and will ensure the viewer's money when this opens. Just a perfect trailer, folks. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the movie looks phenomenal also... War of the Worlds opens on June 29.
I'm not familiar with the clay-mation duo of Wallace and Gromit, but that's because I'm not 10, or a parent...thank God. Anyway, for this demographic, it looks like some good-natured fun. For those of us who go to bed after 9 p.m., well, not so much. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit opens on October 7.
No, this is not the sequel to the stoner comedy How High, but it looks pretty interesting. It almost seems like a mix of Harry Potter and The Incredibles, with a teen whose parents are two great superheros and he is enrolled in this superhero high school. The problem is, he hasn't discovered his powers yet and is surrounded by talented and powerful kids. They definitely have the "kid movie" element here, but it almost looks to have that Pixar mix where adults might find this intriguing as well. The cast looks pretty solid here with Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Bruce Campbell, Dave Foley as well as the kids, who I'm not familiar with. This could be a lot of summertime fun. Sky High opens on July 29.
I don't think I've ever seen the "inspired by a true story" tag actually implemented into a title before, but there's a first time for everything, eh? I'm a sucker for true stories, and this sounds like a pretty decent one, with some similarites to Seabiscuit. The cast looks really good here, with Kurt Russell, the insanely talented Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristoferson, David Morse and the lovely Elizabeth Shue. Writer-director John Gatins seems like a good fit, since his resume is pretty much completely sports-driven true stories, so this could be a winner. Dreamer opens on October 21.
When I first heard of this flick, I always wondered how two white guys and two black guys were all brothers, but it gets explained here. This looks like a really solid flick, with a great cast (Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund) and a slick story about the brothers seeking vengeance for their mother's death. I'm not sure who picked the music for this trailer, because some of it doesn't seem to fit, because this looks fairly dark in theme, and the music is fairly light, but whatever. This John Singleton flick looks like a great way to end the summer with a bang. Four Brothers opens on August 12.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
This was a really tough choice this week, because there was some great news this week, but a choice must be made and I'm picking Jeremy Sisto's creepy census flick as my Best News of the Week. I'm not picking this because of Sisto. I did like him a lot in Suicide Kings, but he doesn't hold a candle to Michael Chiklis, who came in a close second place this week. I'm picking this because this is one of the coolest stories I've heard of in quite awhile. It's a really feasible story, in the fact that a small town's unchanged population for 100 years would probably go unnoticed by the Census Bureau, because, well, they've got a whole country to count up. It sounds like a very smart and original premise, which, in the age of sequels, remakes, sequels of remakes and remakes of sequels, is definitely a rarity. Sisto has a sort of inquisitiveness about him that makes him right for the part as well, and I really can't wait to see how this unfolds.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
There was plenty of bad news to go around as well, but I'm going with Sly's guy refusing to die for my Worst News of the Week. I watched all the Rambo's with a friend about 6 months ago or so, and I noticed how they just kept getting worse and worse, although with all the explosions, deaths and such, they do make for good drinking games, which is why we were watching them in the first place. The story just doesn't sound that interesting, almost a knock-off of Commando. I get the sense with this moving forward, and him trying to revive his Rocky series also, that Sly feels his legacy slipping away, and he thinks this is the only way to preserve it. Sequels don't preserve legacies, buddy. You just look for good projects and try to get attached to them. That's all you need to do. I was really impressed with your work in Shade and I thought it was your best performance in many years. What's wrong with doing more work like that? Think of it this way. What if Travolta, in his pre-Pulp Fiction downturn of his career, tried to write a Saturday Night Fever sequel instead of doing that little Tarantino picture that put him back on the map? He'd be discoing off into oblivion, which is exactly where you're heading too if you think just slapping on more installments of your franchises will be your path to redemption.
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official websites for upcoming movies, new 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.