WHICH TO WATCH -- WITCH OR WATCHMEN?
Several box-office prognosticators are predicting that last week's No. 1 film, Watchmen, will take a huge tumble this weekend and be replaced at the top of the list by Disney's family (PG-rated) flick Race to Witch Mountain, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Indeed, two other debuting films may also race ahead of it, too, Universal/Rogue Pictures's horror film The Last House on the Left and Fox Atomic's Miss March both of them R-rated, and both of them reworks of films originally released in the '70s. Although Watchmen produced $55.2 million in ticket sales in its first weekend, it was far less than expected. Analysts have suggested that fans of the graphic novel on which the movie was based represented the primary audience for the movie and that unless that audience returns in droves, the movie is likely to see at least a two-thirds revenue drop this weekend.
MOVIE REVIEWS: RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN
Roger Ebert gives Race to Witch Mountain, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson the mildest sort of recommendation: "I think Dwayne Johnson has a likable screen presence and is a good choice for an innocuous family entertainment like this, and also he once sent me some Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Brickle," he writes. Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal also registers a lukewarm reaction to Johnson's performance: Johnson, he says, "is always an appealing presence as well as an imposing one, and he's got a gift for comedy that's been waiting to be sharpened and refined. It's still waiting." A.O. Scott in the New York Times is equally unenthusiastic. Scott took his 10-year-old daughter along to the screening. "When the movie was over, as my own impressions buzzed distractingly around in my head, I asked her what she thought. "It was OK," she said. "It was pretty noisy, though." Really, what more can I add?" Kyle Smith in the New York Post compares this Witch Mountain with the '70s' original about a couple of aliens disguised as children. The original, he writes, "which came during a far-out era when people actually believed in aliens, devils and Jimmy Carter, looks like a classic compared to this very loose remake." But Elizabeth Weitzman cautions in her New York Daily News review that the movie "bears little resemblance to its predecessor. ... So anybody who loved the original as a kid - and I speak as someone who watched it often enough to break the Betamax - would be well served to check their expectations at the door."
Review summaries of The Last House on the Left and Miss March will appear here on Monday.
ICAHN FIRES FIRST SHOT AT LIONS GATE
In a series of surprise moves, corporate raider Carl Icahn broke off talks with Lions Gate Entertainment over gaining seats on its board, offered to buy up all of Lions Gate's debt for around $325 million, then, in an interview with today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times, blasted the company's recent $250-million acquisition of the TV Guide cable network and TVGuide.com as reckless and accused the company of maintaining excessive overhead. According to reports, the talks broke down over Lions Gate's insistence that, in return for two seats on its board, Icahn agree to a standstill agreement preventing him from acquiring a larger stake in the company. He currently owns about a 15-percent stake and his former investment chief, Mark Rachesky owns about a 20-percent stake. "After spending all that time negotiating, I think it was shortsighted on their part," Icahn told the Times. According to several reports, Icahn has been maneuvering to install his 29-year-old son Brett on the board. At one point in the negotiations, according to the reports, Lions Gate offered to permit Brett Icahn to participate in board meetings as an observer (i.e., without a vote) and become a full-fledged member of the board when shareholders hold their annual meeting in September. Instead, Icahn is expected to ally with Rachesky and other shareholders to propose a dissident slate of directors at the September meeting. The developments sent shares of the company sliding more than 5 percent Thursday, despite the fact that it currently is reaping a bonanza at the box office with the low-budget film Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, which has earned $78 million at the box office in three weeks.