Another week, another boatload of movie news. So lets get right into the best and worst stories of the week with Notables.
"Paramount picks up The Killers Game" – Monday, August 9 I usually tend to enjoy hitman flicks (See: Leon: The Professional, Grosse Pointe Blank) and this one sounds pretty decent as well. It revolves around a hitman who wants to die and takes out a contract on himself, only to have the desire to live again and fend off the hitmen who are coming for him. This works for me, so I’m tagging this one as a Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Vin Diesel vs. Rocky Balboa?" – Monday, August 9
True, Diesel does have the physique and look to play a boxer on the silver screen. But the only way this could be good news is if Diesel beats the crap out of Rocky and we don’t have to see this once-great franchise pull out more and more lame flicks. I just wish Stallone would rest on his laurels with this one…Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Rob Reiner steps in to WB’s remake of The Graduate" – Tuesday, August 10
First of all, I didn’t think this was really a remake of The Graduate in the first place. It sounds more like a different story that ties in with the film, not a remake of it. I was really looking forward to seeing Ted Griffin, the writer of this project as well as Ocean’s 11 and Matchstick Men, make his directorial debut. I have no idea why Reiner is replacing him in the directors chair, but I’d rather see Griffin direct this than Reiner. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Revolution Studios picks up Super Fan" – Wednesday, August 11
The biggest NFL fan decides to be the first male cheerleader? Dreadful, simply dreadful. Worst News of theWeek Nominee and then some!
"Vin Diesel and David Twohy talk about the future of the Riddick franchise" – Wednesday, August 11
The sequel didn’t really make that much, but Riddick is still one of the coolest movie characters in the past few decades and I really want to see a third installment. I think it’ll be a great one and we’ll see how this great character came to light, pardon the pun. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Sofia Coppola to write and direct Marie-Antoinette" – Thursday, August 12
I thought Lost in Translation was overrated. It just wasn’t my thing, and I couldn’t believe the screenplay won an Oscar, because it was probably the worst aspect of the film. So now we’re getting another dose of "high art" with Marie-Antoinette? It’s not high on my priorities. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Tom Cruise bails on Mission: Impossible 3 for Speilberg’s War of the Worlds" – Thursday, August 12
I know they still have to find another director after Narc helmer Joe Carnahan dropped out, but I was really looking forward to this flick next summer. I think the Mission: Impossible series is great, and it’s a shame we have to wait until 2006 to see this. War of the Worlds does sound pretty good, but it sucks we have to wait even longer for M:I 3. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Level 1 picks up How To Win Back Your High School Sweetheart" – Friday, August 13
This just sounds retarded. A guy tries to win back the girl who broke his heart in high school so he can break up with her right away. Yeah, it does sound something that a guy who’s bitter enough would do, but do we really need a movie about this? Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Tom Welling playing Superman?" – Friday, August 13
Just frickin tell us already! WB and Welling are like two spoiled little kids who are so proud of themselves that they know something we don’t. He says he’s "sworn to secrecy" and that "it’s too early." If he’s actually signed on, to any movie, which apparently he has, how is it too early to tell us? This is just stupid. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Even a spate of horrid reviews (only 14% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) couldn’t stop Alien vs. Predator from ripping up the box office charts. The monster flick ended up at the #1 spot this weekend, earning an estimated $38.2 million in its opening weekend. The Paul W.S. Anderson flick averaged a meaty $11,266 per screen and took the top spot away from Collateral, which finished 3rd in its second weekend, with an estimated gross of $16 million.
Collateral did only drop 35.2% in its second weekend, and it’s very close to earning it’s $65 million budget.
In the second spot was The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement, with an estimated gross of just over $23 million. The Anne Hathaway flick, which opened this past Wednesday couldn’t even top AVP’s weekend gross in 5 days, earning a total of $37.2 million since Wednesday, despite being in 77 more theaters than AVP.
The week’s only other new release fared rather decently, despite being severely outnumbered at the theaters. Yu-Gi-Oh: The Movie took the 4th spot at the box office this weekend with an estimated gross of $9.3 million. This might not seem to be that impressive for an opening weekend gross, but considering it was in about 1,000 less theaters than the top 2 movies, and had the lowest theater count among the top 7 movies, this is a fairly impressive start for Yu-Gi-Oh.
Shaun of the Dead: (www.shaunofthedeadmovie.com) This is just another teaser site with nothing on it but the trailer, which I thought was fairly stupid anyway. There is also a link to sign up for the "Shaun Squad" which is just a fancy name for a link to sign up for updates. The site says that the official site is coming soon, so there will probably be some more stuff on this site before the flick’s September 24 release.
Alfie: (www.alfiemovie.com) This site is kind of cool, although there isn’t a whole lot here. After a weird little intro, we get a very brief synopsis and some desktops and AIM Icons available for download. There is also a link to the trailer, but it’s not available yet. Alfie comes out in theaters on October 22.
I Heart Huckabees: (www.huckabees.com) This is one of the weirdest official movie sites I’ve ever seen. It’s basically a mock corporate website for this Huckabees, a Wal-Mart-ish retail store. We get a few pictures of actors in their characters on this site, which also has a similar link to another organization involved in the movie, but there is really no information about the movie at all, just some background on these companies. I don’t know, it’s just too weird, and not enough movie info for me, even though the premise of the site is kind of cool. I Heart Huckabees comes to theaters October 1.
House of Wax: (houseofwaxmovie.warnerbros.com) I don’t even know why they bothered putting this site up now, for two reasons. One, the movie was pushed to 2005 because of a fire on the set. Two, there’s nothing here at all, besides the title, set in wax of course, and a link to sign up for WB Reel News. There will probably be more on this site next year or so, but it’s not worth surfing by quite yet.
The Polar Express: (polarexpressmovie.warnerbros.com) We finally get a good site this week. The Polar Express site starts off with a nice intro of train sounds, and once on the main site, there is plenty for your surfing pleasure. There is a link to a synopsis, the trailer, a photo gallery, a section where you can download wallpapers, screensavers and AIM Icons and a link to The Reading Challenge, which isn’t active yet, but it looks like it has to do with the vastly popular children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, which the movie is based on. This is a very nice site, well worth visiting. The Polar Express rolls into theaters November 10.
Nicotina: This flick looks like a neat little heist flick set in Mexico City. I’m not that familiar with the cast, except for the star, Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Open Range). But this is a very stylish trailer to what should be a stylish caper movie. I don’t really understand the title, which I assume is Spanish for "nicotine" since this is a diamond heist movie, but it still looks pretty good. Nicotina opens on August 20.
Uncovered: The War on Iraq: Are you up for some more government-bashing after seeing Fahrenheit 9-11? This documentary seems a lot more focused and under-hyped than the Michael Moore film, and I think both of those aspects will work in this film’s favor. This looks to be a great documentary and a lot more hard-hitting instead of heavy-handed. Uncovered opens August 20 in limited release.
Sideways: This is the latest film from writer-director Alexander Payne, who, along with writing partner Jim Taylor, has brought us the wonderful quirky flicks, Election and About Schmidt. Their latest flick, Sideways definitely looks to follow that quirky tradition, in this story about a couple of guys (Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) going over their failures and trying to turn their lives around. This might not be quite as good as Payne and Taylor’s earlier films, but with the amazingly talented Giamatti and Church, best known as the dumbfounded Lowell from the TV show Wings, is a pretty good sign. Sideways comes to theaters on October 20 in limited release.
I Heart Huckabees: If you checked out the website for this flick, and thought that was weird…the trailer is even weirder. I still have no real idea what this weird flick is about, except for this super-store called Huckabees has something to do with it. Still, this very nice cast (Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg) and writer-director David O. Russell (Three Kings) is fairly talented as well, so those aspects might be worth checking out…but this still looks very very weird. I Heart Huckabees opens on October 1.
Go Further: The one-sheet for this movie is probably the most misleading poster you’ll ever see. It looks like a children’s animated flick, just from the looks of the poster, but it’s really a documentary about actor Woody Harrelson going on an environmental/activism fueled road trip to spread tolerance about alternative living that is beneficial to the environment. Now I’m by no means an environmentalist, but this might be an interesting movie, just to see if Harrelson’s clout and fame can do any good for this cause. Go Further opens October 8.
The Final Cut: There is also a trailer for Robin Williams’ new flick The Final Cut, which from the plot summary looks very interesting. But my computer sucks and I couldn’t see the trailer. Check it out for yourself right here: www.movieweb.com/movies/film/40/2340/summary.php
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
There wasn’t a whole lot of good news this week, but my pick for Best News of the Week goes to Paramount’s acquisition of The Killers Game. These hitman movies always have the main hitman all depressed about life, so this movie, about a hitman that decides he doesn’t want to live and takes a contract out on himself, only to take it back and fend off the hitmen, seems like a natural direction for this genre to move towards. They’ll have to nail the casting, and even though he’s very busy, this sounds like a role tailor-made for Tom Cruise, because of his vast history of playing depressed characters and his recent, wonderful turn as a contract killer in Collateral. But whoever they get for this movie, I think it’ll be worth a look.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
There was plenty of bad news this week, but I think Rob Reiner replacing Ted Griffin in the directors chair of movie involving The Graduate is the Worst News of the Week. Griffin is a wonderful screenwriter, and it was only a matter of time before he took over at the helm. I’m very curious as to why he left the directing duties of this untitled flick after a week of filming, but I’m even more curious as to why Reiner was tapped to replace him. His last few flicks have bombed (See: Alex and Emma, The Story of Us) and he has an annoying knack for acting in his own movies, and I really don’t want to see him in this flick. If Griffin’s script remains intact, it still might be worth seeing, but I really wish they’d just try and get Griffin back instead of getting Reiner.