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.
"Beyonce Knowles set for Dreamgirls" - Monday, April 11
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.
"Steven Sommers to write and direct When Worlds Collide" - Monday, April 11
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.
"New Line picks up Jeff the Demon" - Tuesday, April 12
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.
"Simon West set to remake When a Stranger Calls" - Wednesday, April 13
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.
"Disney seeks Mark Wahlberg for Vince Papale biopic" - Wednesday, April 13
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.
"WIP picks up Spring Break in Bosnia" - Thursday, April 14
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.
"Phil Joanou directing The Rock in Gridiron Gang" - Thursday, April 14
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.
"Peter Dinklage set to star in Mendel's Dwarf" - Friday, April 15
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.
Aeon Flux: (www.aeonflux.com)
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.