Hi there folks. It was another news-filled week in Hollywood, with a fresh batch of news bits, box office figures, new official websites and trailers to delve through. So lets get it all started with this week's Notables.
"Chad Michael Murray set for Stealing Cars" - Monday, April 18
When I first checked this out, just from the title alone, I thought it would be a rip-off of Gone in Sixty Seconds, but after reading through the article, it sounds more like an odd mix of The Longest Yard and Sleepers. I'm not too familiar with Chad Michael Murray's work, since I'm a guy and never got around to seeing Freaky Friday or A Cinderella Story, but with this kind of fare under his belt, I'm not sure he's ready for a more serious role as of yet. Still, this just sounds too unoriginal for my tastes. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Nick Cannon stars in Miracle Cars" - Monday, April 18
OK, what's with these goofy titles this week? This flick should be called Stealing Cars, and Stealing Cars should be called something else entirely. This flick is about the largest auto heist in American history, so Stealing Cars fits a lot better here. I don't think the clean-cut Nick Cannon has ever played someone who's ever jaywalked before, let alone a car theif, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Even still, the premise alone should be worth taking a look at. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"No Paul Walker or Vin Diesel in the 3rd Fast and the Furious" - Tuesday, April 19
I'm sensing an automotive theme for this week's column, but this one should be left in park...or perhaps driven off a cliff. They lost their big star for the first sequel, but forged ahead with the dopey Paul Walker, and some reinforcements in Tyrese, Ludacris and others. Now their ditching Walker and Diesel won't be returning AND they're doing it in Japan? I know most of the cars they race in this "franchise" are made in Japan, but they don't necessarily have to move the flick there. Producer Neil Moritz is apparently looking for ideas for the title for this new flick. Hmmm how about "Once, Twice, Three Times a Stupid Movie." Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey set for David Fincher's Zodiac" - Tuesday, April 19
This sounds like another great Fincher flick, and he has a solid cast behind him. While it's true there's not a whole lot of star-power here, all three of these actors are just a breakthrough performance away from making A-list status, and this project could very well provide that for them. Fincher is one of the best directors working in Hollywood today, and while screenwriter James Vanderbilt got off to a rocky start (See: Darkness Falls and Basic) his The Rundown was much better than expected, and this true-story crime drama looks pretty damn good as well. This is definitely a project to keep an eye on. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Mandy Moore does Personal Shopping" - Thursday, April 21
This just sounds utterly stupid. The main conflict here is a dude loses his luggage in London and he find a female shopper to get him a new wardrobe. Wow. They don't say in the article, but, I'm just taking a stab in the frickin dark here, but do you think there's an off-hand chance that they fall in love in the process? Hmm possibly... Sure, Mandy Moore was great playing against type in the sleeper hit Saved! last year, but I just can't fathom that this will be worth seeing at all. Wow. My head hurts...Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Kate Beckinsale and David Hasselhoff sign onto Click" - Thursday, April 21
Holy weird cast, Batman! David Hasselhoff? Wow. But if you can get past the fact that Hasselhoff will be in a fairly big role on the silver screen again, this flick does actually show some promise. It centers around a guy who finds a remote control that enables him to fast forward and rewind to different parts in his life. Sure, it's not realistically feasible, but the premise alone sounds like it's worth a visit, especially with the lovely Beckinsale on board. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Jack Black, Mike White and Jared Hess set for an untitled Nickelodeon comedy" - Thursday, April 21
This sounds like a wonderful convergence of three magnificent comedic minds. Hess is still enjoying some phenomenal success from his magnificent writing/directing debut, Napoleon Dynamite and Mike White wrote for Jack Black in the wonderful School of Rock. The premise here is astonishingly great, focusing on a Mexican preist, played by Black who at night dons a mask and performs as a professional wrestler to save an orphanage from closing its doors. Sure, Black isn't Mexican, but who really cares? Not this guy. I'm just so psyched to see how this will turn out, it's not even funny, but this flick sounds like it will be quite funny, and then some. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Kevin James set for Disney's Field Trip" - Friday, April 22
This sounds like a perfect venue for Kevin James' comic stylings. He fits the substitute teacher mold to a T, and he's always hillarious when he flips out, which this project looks to provide ample fodder for him doing so. I just have this image of him standing in a school bus and getting a lot of stuff thrown at him and he just loses it. James proved his big-screen chops in this year's hit Hitch, and it looks like he'll continue his winning streak here. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
You don't have to work for the United Nations to interpret this week's box office results. The Interpreter took home the top spot at the box office this weekend, earning an estimated $22.8 million in its opening weekend. The Sydney Pollack flick took over the top spot, held last weekend my The Amityville Horror, which slid into the second spot in its second weekend, with an estimated gross of $14.2 million. The Interpreter posted some impressive numbers, although it appeared in far less theaters than The Amityville Horror and the 3rd place finisher this weekend, Sahara. The Interpreter posted an impressive $8,270 per-screen average, showing in 2,758 theaters. The flick is still on shaky ground, though, with a hefty $80 million budget to earn back and the summer movie season starting in 2 weeks. It better have a great showing next weekend if it has any shot to make some money.
The week's big winner, though, could very well be the highly-praised Kung Fu Hustle. The martial arts/comedy hybrid expanded a lot in its third weekend, and leapfrogged from 21st place last weekend, all the way up to 5th place this weekend, earning an estimated $7.2 million. The flick jumped from only showing in 7 theaters last weekend to 2,503 this weekend and it posted a mammoth increase of 2,846% up from last weekend. The movie is getting some smashing reviews (88% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes), and if it keeps expanding and more keep on coming to the theaters, this could very well be the Napoleon Dynamite of 2005.
A Lot Like Love finished in the 4th spot this weekend, earning an estimated $7.7 million in its debut weekend, although since it was so close to Kung Fu Hustle, it's possible those two flicks switch spots when the actual figures are released. This flick might have outgrossed Kung Fu Hustle, but it doesn't have the buzz going for it. It has a $30 million budget to make back, and with Hustle moving up the charts and the summer season on the horizon, it's not looking as good for this movie. The weekend's other new release, King's Ransom brought up the rear in the 10th spot, with an estimated gross of $2.2 million, and it averaged a horrendous $1,508 per-screen average. It looks like they're going to have to take some moviegoers for ransom if they expect this flick to earn any shred of a profit.
NEW - BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS
OK, I forgot to add this to last week's column, so we'll start it off this week. This coming week is traditionally one of the worst movie weekends of the year, right behind Labor Day weekend. This is the last weekend of the spring, right before the summer movie season, and movies released here are usually flicks that studios are unsure of. This year, it doesn't looks too bad, though, with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and xXx: State of the Union as the new flicks in wide release. They're both slated to be released in over 3,000 theaters, so who will come out on top? Here are my predictions for the top 5 flicks for next weekend.
1) xXx: State of the Union: $19.4 million.
2) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: $14.8 million.
3) The Amityville Horror: $10.7 million.
4) Kung Fu Hustle: $9.8 million
5) Sahara: $6.3 million.
Come on by next week to see how right or wrong I was.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: (http://www.narnia.com/)
This lavish site is all style and very little substance. After the long intro, we finally get to the site and there isn't much there. If you move your mouse to the left or right side of your browser, you scroll along some background scenery, but there are no links here and it just doesn't make much sense. For the actual content here, click on the lion's head for all three choices you get. Click on The Movie for a brief synopsis, but there is another link to The Production Room here, where there is a lot more to do here. There is Production Art, which is a bunch of storyboards, Cast and Crew, which is just a simple list of the cast and crew, Props, which is a little bizzare, and is just some pictures of weapons and other props, Downloads, which has some wallpapers and AIM Icons to nab, and a news link and a videos link which has a few behind the scenes videos to watch. Also, you can click on any one of the statues in the room for a character bio and picture. In the main menu, under Chronicles, you can learn more about the books this flick is based on, and under Discover Narnia, there are links that delve into every aspect of this fantasy world. I guess this site isn't too bad after all, it just didn't look so good to start off with. The Chronicles of Narnia opens on December 9.
There isn't much to this site for the dance-craze documentary. All we get here is the new trailer, some message boards and a link to register for updates. Not a whole lot of stuff here, but there might be more added to the site before the movie opens on June 24 in limited release.
The Baxter: (http://www.mammothadvertising.com/ifcfilms/thebaxter/)
The site for this indie flick starts off with an introductory message from the flick's director, Michael Showalter, which is pretty cool. The menus are at the top of the page. In News, the only news is that the website is active, but we already know that, don't we? In About, you can read about the story or the movie's production. Under Cast, you can click on one of the cast member's photo to get a biography, and you get similar bio's under Filmmakers. Under Press there is only an article in Premiere Magazine, but more will be added and the Downloads section is a little different, since they have actual songs from the soundtrack that you can download, as well as a video clip and some audio commentary. The Behind the Scenes and Journal sections are coming soon. Overall, this is a pretty good site, with plenty to do before this flick opens on August 12 in limited release.
Ma Mere: (http://www.mamerethemovie.com/)
This is a very simply site for the French flick. We get a brief synopsis in Story, a cast and crew list in Cast/Crew, though there are some links on some of the filmmakers names, some photos in Images/Trailer with the trailer coming soon, and a list of the two theaters that will be showing this flick when it opens on May 13. Not a whole lot here, folks.
What an utterly ridiculous trailer. It looked like it was strung together by some freshman film student, since all we get is a string of oddly-chosen shots, with some cheesy music and NO dialogue! If you saw this trailer in the theater, without the benefit of a plot summary like we have on this site, you'd have absolutely no clue of what you're watching, besides the fact that Joan Allen and some other scrubs are in this flick. This is just a moronic trailer, and I'm not psyhced for the unoriginal flick at all. Just say no to Yes, which opens on June 25.
A Hole in One:
No, this isn't a Tin Cup sequel or anything, with the "one" being a head. I can't remember if I've heard of a flick centering on labotomy's before, but there's a first time for everything, eh? I think they plan on marketing this as a quirky comedy, Charlie Kaufman style, but without the genius of Kaufman. Michelle Williams just isn't that talented, and she's backed up by frickin Meat Loaf of all damn people. This looks like one to avoid, but seeing as this opens on May 6, in limited release, going up against Kingdom of Heaven, I'm sure most people will.
So, yeah. They go out of their way to mention the title about 345 times, and the fact that this is a Lars Von Trier film just as many times. The cast here is pretty solid, with Bryce Dallas Howard, Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe and Lauren Bacall, but this looks like some pretentious arthouse fluff, that deals with a plantation in the south and the degredation of blacks. Manderlay is still looking for a release date.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
This is an easy pick this week, and I'm going with the wonderful comic trio of Jack Black, Mike White and Jared Hess teaming up for this week's Best News of the Week. White and Hess have proven to be two phenomenal comic writers, with a dry touch and some wonderful dialogue. The premise here is golden, even though Black isn't Mexican, and from what I remember about the old-school masked Mexican wrestlers, they were all little guys, and Black has never been accused of being smallish. Still, these are very minor transgressions, and I simply can't wait to see what this wonderful team can come up with.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
It was a slightly tougher choice this week, but I'm going with Mandy Moore and her retarded new project. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved her in Saved!, but this is one of the worst-sounding movies I've ever heard of. Any film school neophyte or even any film buff will tell you that every story needs to have conflict. What's the conflict here? Is the guy afraid of shopping malls or the Gap? I just wanted to pull my hair out after reading about this mundane story with absolutely NO CONFLICT!! And where does he find this "shopper"? Is she listed in the Yellow Pages? This is just a horrible idea, and I hope the script finds its way into a paper shredder, that's assuming there is or will be a script for this absolutely stupid movie. Wow, my head hurts...
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official websites, trailers and, of course, the new 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.