After toiling away on my summer movie preview column, it's back to doing this review thing one week at a time. And what a week it was, with a slew of movie news, new box office figures, official websites for upcoming movies and new movie trailers. So, let's light up a smoke and go for broke, starting off with this week's Notables.
This actually might sound good for Beyonce. I'm still not sure about her acting ability, but they obviously need someone who can belt out a tune, and Beyonce can definitely do that. Her hooking up with Oscar magnet Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Chicago, Kinsey) should definitely be a big help, and if Beyonce's lucky, she might even parlay this into an Oscar nomination. I'm not sure if that's for better or for worse, but with Condon writing and directing here, I think she could do rather well. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Oh goody, another Stephen Sommers movie. This guy is the Dionysus of filmmaking, and, if your Greek mythology is rusty, Dionysus was the god of excess. Sommers' scripts are all about 15 pages too long and his budgets keep escalating as well. They haven't released a budget for this remake, but he got $160 million for last year's Van Helsing, and that only managed to make $120 million, even though it had probably the best release date of the year; the first weekend in May. I wouldn't be surprised if they signed off on a $200 million budget for this flick, but, really, they should know better. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
This sounds almost like an 80s throwback, almost in a Weird Science sort of way. Casting will be crucial here, but I still can't muster up much excitement about this project. Maybe if they pick up Chris Marquette, who played Eli in the wonderful The Girl Next Door and Shia LaBeouf, who was wonderful in the underrated The Battle of Shaker Heights, to play these two "losers," I might be looking forward to this. But if they drop the ball in casting, I doubt this will be something to check out. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
OK, so they're remaking the flick that apparently had a heavy influence on Scream with the hack helmer Simon West? Give me a break! This is basically a remake of a remake, and people will lock onto that right when they're watching a trailer. Moviegoers don't usually like watching rip-offs of other popular flicks, so this one will probably fail to connect with audiences. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Marky Mark has been getting serious on us as of late, and this sounds like another great project for him to be involved with. These true-story sports movies are never big-time blockbusters, but they almost always find a fairly profitable niche with audiences. They already have Mike Rich, who has written two of these types of flicks in The Rookie and Radio, and if they secure Wahlberg, this project's stock will rise even more. Best News of the Week Nominee.
No, this isn't a bizzare spin-off of the Girls Gone Wild series, but this does sound very intriguing. This project centers around two journalists who get assigned to Bosnia, 5 years after the war, and the bizarre things they discover about the American involvement there. I think I would suggest a title change, because it just sounds like a dopey comedy title, and this seems a lot more serious in tone. Title problems aside, this could be a very interesting project to keep an eye on. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Hmm, this one sounds a lot like a mix between Hardball and The Longest Yard. I'm a fan of both The Rock and rapper/ride-pimper Xzibit, but I'm not sure if this story will fly or not, especially with Jeff Maguire writing this, who wrote the dreadful Timeline. Director Phil Joanou has a very sketchy resume as well, and I don't even think the star power of The Rock could save this flick. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Most moviegoers will know Dinklage best as the angry "elf" that Will Ferrell encounters in Elf, but everyone should really check him out in his wonderful starring turn in The Station Agent. Dinklage is a terrific actor, and I'm glad to see him in another starring turn like this one. I've never heard of the writer Sonny Murray, or this novel, but with Dinklage's talent on board, I'll surely check this out. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
There was only one new flick that hit the theaters this weekend, and it was a scream at the box office. The Amityville Horror cleaned house this weekend, taking in $23.5 million in its opening weekend. The remake scared up some decent numbers, even though it didn't really have much competition. Last weekend's #1 flick, Sahara, took the second spot with a little over $13 million in its second weekend in release, but those were the only two flicks to score 8-figure grosses this weekend. Amityville Horror scared up a healthy $7,074 per-screen average, and it was screened in the most theaters this weekend, 3,323. The Ryan Reynolds flick even had the rare accomplishment (for this year, anyway) of making a profit after its opening weekend. It was budgeted at a modest $19 million, so it's all profit from here on out for Amityville.
Sahara, however, isn't in such good shape. While it had a decent weekend, only dropping 27.7% from last weekend, which is very impressive, the flick stands now with an overall gross of $36.4 million. The problem here is that the budget was $130 million. Right now, this flick probably stands to take home about $70 or $80 million, but they need a hell of a lot more than that. And with the blockbuster summer season just a few weeks away, they'd have better luck combing the actual Sahara for dollar bills than banking on this flick to earn a profit.
This site has a really slick intro, but the main site is a little weird. To access the menus, you have to look at these little bubbles, then find the ones with the green arrows above them, and click on them to get that menu, and there aren't even a lot of menus to choose from. There is a very brief synopsis in About the Story and a desktop and AIM icon to get in Downloads. Other than that, there is a link to register for updates, and you can replay the intro again, and that's about it, folks. The style here isn't bad at all, but they really need some more content here. Aeon Flux is still looking for a release date.
And they just keep on getting worse and worse...All that is here is a big production still that covers the whole site, and is so stupid it has the two stars' backs to the camera and there is also a link to register for updates, so at least there's that... Elizabethtown opens on October 14.
I think it's funny that this will probably be the worst movie out of this week's bunch in Going Live, but, as of now, they have the best site. If you're an artist type, there is even a link on the start-up page where you can create fan art. Before you enter the Flash site, there are a bunch of menus to choose from. There is a decent synopsis here, plus the trailer and in Downloads you can nab a bunch of wallpapers, AIM icons and a screensaver and the one-sheet. There is also a photo gallery, a link to register your cell phone for some goodies on that, some contests and a link to the soundtrack's page. There is also Paris Hilton's Podcast, where, starting April 29, the hotel heiress will be recording the days leading up to the movie's release, and you can listen to all the shopping and partying on your iPod or other media device. Hmm, too bad there's no video...just kidding...not really. When you go to the Flash site, most of the stuff here is the same as on the main page, but there are cast and filmmaker bios and in Downloads you can also download e-cards and fan art. All in all, this is a pretty thorough site with plenty to do before this flick opens on May 6.
This IFC site is fairly simple, and it's clear they're banking on critical praises to help this movie out financially, because there are praises from Roger Ebert and Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum. On the top of the site are the menus, and you can read about the story, get some insight into the making of the flick with photos and production notes, which is really an interview with the writer-director, Miranda July. The interview segment here is coming soon. There is also the trailer, some nice cast bios, some downloadable photos (screensavers and "Cutting Room Floor" are coming soon), some info on festival screenings, reviews and awards and a blog from Miranda July. This is a pretty good site, with plenty to offer before this opens on June 17 in limited release.
Wow. The trailer starts off by noting that the film has not been sped up in any way, and after watching the first few images, you're amazed that it hasn't been. This documentary is about a dance craze in South Central L.A. called Krumping or Clowning. It is an intense dance phenomenon that shows people dancing in such a fast way that would make some people pass out. The visuals here will be worth the price of admission alone, but some of the subplots, like the rival gangs Bloods and Crips competing against each other, look very interesting as well. If this flick gets the right kind of buzz, I can totally see this doc expanding a lot and finding a niche between all the blockbusters this summer. Rize opens on June 24 in New York and Los Angeles, and is set to expand on July 8.
Well, the critics obviously like this one, because there are praising testimonials all throughout the trailer. It could be rather interesting, but the story seems a bit muddled. The cast is fairly interesting, with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Elizabeth Shue and Michelle Trachtenburg, but I'm still just not too sure about this one. It could very well be a decent flick, but they didn't really get the trailer down too good, so who knows. Mysterious Skin opens on May 6 in limited release.
Well, the only link for this trailer is to a French movie site, so if you want to watch this trailer, which is in English with French subtitles, you have to put up with that. And even if you're willing to put up with that, you have to put up with more pretentious crap from Gus Van Sant, who puts the "die" in "indie" because I want to either die or kill someone else after watching his artsy waste of celluloid, like the horrible Elephant, which somehow won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palm d'Or. Like Elephant was loosely inspired by the Columbine school shooting, this flick looks like it's loosely based on rocker Kurt Cobain's last days before he committed suicide. Going for another Palm d'Or, are we Gus? Why don't you just move to France for good, because, apparently, you're their new Jerry Lewis, and I certainly wouldn't be sad to see you leave... Last Days opens on July 22 in limited release, but I couldn't care less.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
It was a tough choice again this week, but I'm going with Marky Mark doing some drama for my Best News of the Week. He has done some drama before, with his very nice turns in The Basketball Diaries and Boogie Nights, but he's been locked up in action flicks for the past few years, and it's nice to see him doing more dramatic fare. He even has two other dramas in the coming up with Four Brothers later this year and Martin Scorcese's The Departed next year. I think he's a great choice for this underdog sports biopic, because he has more of a working-class look to him that should fit right in here. It looks like Marky Mark is on quite a roll lately.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
It was a tough choice for this pick as well, but I'm going with Steven Sommers continuing to work for my Worst News of the Week. It seemed that his CGI-heavy successes with The Mummy series pretty much equated to a blank check for his future movies. He brought the budget up for The Mummy Returns, and the result was an increase in profit. He brought his budget up even more, to an insane $160 million for Van Helsing, and they came out $40 million in the hole. Now, what do you think will happen when they give him, oh, $180-$200 million for this flick? $60 million in the hole? $80 million? Hey Stephen, do all of us a favor and look up the word "minimalist" in the dictionary, and try to incorporate it into your moviemaking, because bigger isn't always better.
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for the latest box office goodies, 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.