Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the Net, many creatures were stirring, in studios and on set. All poetry aside, it was another week filled with movie happenings so lets dive right in to the good and bad news of the week with Notables.

NOTABLES

"Fox sets Sheldon Turner to pen Magneto" - Monday, December 13

Sheldon Turner is one hot young writer that Hollywood seemingly can't get enough of. He has written two big movies set for release in 2005; The Longest Yard remake and The Amityville Horror remake. He has 4 other flicks in development as well, and now he's come aboard this project, which should be high-profile as well. This guy must be one hell of a writer to get this fast of a start to his career, and while we only get a vague idea of what the Magneto flick will entail, with Turner scripting it, and the buzz behind him is valid, this should be a great flick. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Robert Duvall and Katie Holmes join Thank You for Smoking" - Monday, December 13

With all the heat, no pun intended, coming down on the smoking industry, this satire sounds like a great idea. It's unclear what role the wonderful Duvall and my future wife Katie Holmes will play, but Eckhart is usually a solid actor and with this kind of story, I think we could have a winner here. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, folks. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Austin Chick adapting Manhattan Loverboy" - Monday, December 13

I was not a fan of Chick's debut film XX/XY. The indie flick starring Mark Ruffalo, one of his few bad movies on his resume, was as dull as my thumb, it wasn't very funny and the ending was terrible. So you can assume how excited I am about Chick's next project...yeah, not very excited at all. This adaptation doesn't sound like it will cut the mustard either, so this one has been slapped with a Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Jennifer Love Hewitt talks about another I Know What You Did Last Summer" - Tuesday, December 14

For the love of God, not another one of these. The title alone would be horrific. "I Forgot What You Did Last Summer, and So Did Everyone Else Because No One Cares About It or You Anymore." Hewitt and Ryan Phillipe haven't had much success in recent years, although I did enjoy Phillipe in Igby Goes Down, and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. will probably be busy doing another Scooby Doo, or a The Grudge sequel or possibly Scooby Grudge Doo... I just can't see this working at all. It's been 6 years since the sequel. Let it go. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Chris Cooper joins Jarhead" - Tuesday, December 14

This sounds like a fitting role for Cooper, who before he shot to fame in his Oscar-winning turn in Adaptation, played a "Jarhead" (slang for a Marine) in Best Picture winner American Beauty. He is reteaming with American Beauty helmer Sam Mendes in Jarhead and his addition to this stellar cast of Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal should be marvelous. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Will Ferrell set to star in Bronze God" - Wednesday, December 15

I tend to disagree with scribe Alex Gregory who said that Ferrell is "about the funniest guy out there." For my money, that title belongs to Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder). Sure, sometimes he Farell is extremely funny, but that's mostly in supporting turns, and his starring role in Elf did more to prove his family-friendly chops more than his comic ability. Anchorman fell flat under Ferrell's lead, and Steve Carell stole the show in many parts of that overrated comedy. When Ferrell has the lead, or even a prominent supporting role, it just seems that he's trying too hard to be funny, and the result is an unnatural awkwardness that results in only a few scattered laughs, rather than an all-out laugh-fest. This new project should provide the aforementioned scattered laughs and will probably be fairly dissapointing, unless Ferrell learns to just settle down. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Mobius Entertainment acquires Rockit" - Thursday, December 16

OK, this is supposed to be in the vein of Dodgeball, but Dodgeball thrived mainly on slick writing and physical comedy. I can't see any slick writing in a rock-paper-scissors competitions, and unless they start punching each other with their "rocks" I can't see any physical comedy here. I've never heard of Mobius Entertainment before, and with projects like this, I can't see that changing any time soon. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

Fortunately, for Jim Carrey and Co., the weekend wasn't an unfortunate event for them. Carrey's latest flick, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events took the top spot at the box office this weekend. The flick, which encompasses the first 3 of the 11-book series, took in an estimated $30.2 million in its opening weekend. The flick averaged a healthy $8,342 per screen, showing in just over 3,600 theaters. The Brad Silberling-helmed movie overtook Ocean's 12 at the top of the box office, as Ocean's 12 slipped down to second place, earning an estimated $18.2 million in its second weekend. The only unfortunate part of the weekend of A Series of Unfortunate Events, is that it has to put in some major work if it hopes to get a profit under its Christmas tree. The movie is budgeted at $140 million, and with a lot of competition coming out before the new year, it could be tough to get a profit out of this flick.

The week wasn't as kind to the other new releases this week. Spanglish took the third spot this week, earning an estimated $9 million in its debut weekend. The James L. Brooks dramedy had been generating some substantial buzz, due to Adam Sandler's return to drama, but it wasn't received quite as well by critics, with a 49% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This rough start almost guarantees this won't see a profit, as it was budgeted at a hefty $80 million, although I can't imagine how this kind of movie would cost so damn much. Sandler can't be asking for that much...can he?

The week's other new release fared even worse than Spanglish. The Flight of the Phoenix could only manage an 8th place finish in its first weekend. The Dennis Quaid flick took in a paltry $5.01 million, and it averaged a horrible $1,927 per screen. This flick is budgeted at a modest $45 million, but with this kind of terrible start, it doesn't seem like the Phoenix will be flying towards any profits during its run.

GOING LIVE

Boogeyman: (www.sony.com/boogeyman)

There is a severe shortage of official websites to upcoming movies this week, but at least our only entry this week is fairly decent. If you have a slower computer, like I do, these may take some time to load, however. There is something very interesting in The Stories link. This link is where actual people (supposedly) have written in to tell they're own scary stories of unexplained occurances they have experienced. You can click on Tell Your Story to add to the list of stories, which, as of now, is at 103. If you click on Origins, you get a detailed timeline of how the legend got started. Click on Count to Five and you can play a game where you have to elude the Boogeyman and there is another game, Escape from the Boogeyman, although that Shockwave game is not available as of yet. And under About the Film, you get a synopsis, links to the cast and crew as well as photos, downloads and more media. This is a quality site, with plenty of material to surf through until the flick opens February 4.

TRAILER PARK

The Ice Princess:

If you caught Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, you probably caught the trailer for this. I wish I had been getting some popcorn or something when this trailer popped up on the screen, though. This looks ultimately retarded, another fish-out-of-water figure skating story. Remember The Cutting Edge? Neither does anyone else...Sure, Michelle Trachtenberg is a decent actress, as is her co-stars Kim Catrall and Joan Cusack, but come on...figure skating? Unless there is a figure skating movie that involves hitmen or knee bludgeoning, I doubt there will be an audience for this. The Ice Princess opens March 18.

In My Country:

This looks like a very interesting flick, with a pairing that seems rather unlikely: Juliette Binoche and Samuel L. Jackson. This has an All The Presidents Men sort of feel to it, only it's in South Africa, although Jackson is a reporter for the Washington Post. Jackson is sent to South Africa to investigate some killings and he teams up with Binoche in search of the truth. This looks like a very strong flick with a strong cast and story that should be very good in the end. In My Country opens on February 11 in limted release.

The Upside of Anger:

This could be a very interesting movie, with an incredibly diverse cast. Joan Allen is always wonderful, Kevin Costner...well, he can be good sometimes, and Allen's 4 daughters are all talented young actresses: Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell and Alicia Witt. The story is a slightly familiar love story, but it looks like there are some nuances that are fairly fresh in this sort of story. All in all, this could be a surprisingly good springtime flick. The Upside of Anger opens on March 11.

The Pink Panther:

Ugh. This looks like another chance for Steve Martin to stretch his over-acting resume. Remember his mind-numbingly stupid performance in Looney Tunes: Back in Action? His role as Inspector Clouseau seems like the perfect vehicle for that style, if only it was a good style. Jean Reno is a good pick for Clouseau's assistant, but I don't see him getting too much screen time here, and the spotlight will likely be hogged by Martin. This just doesn't look good at all. The Pink Panther opens September 23.

Hostage:

To all the people who make movie trailers, watch this trailer and take notes. This is a gripping trailer that starts out with a bang, gets you into the story without telling too much and never loosens its grip until the end. This is probably one of the best trailers out this year, and even if the movie sucks, which I highly doubt, the trailer will still stand out. With Bruce Willis at the lead, and a wonderful story like this, I have no doubt that this flick will stand up to it's expectations. Hostage opens January 21.

Bomb the System:

I think it's safe to say that we haven't seen a movie about grafiti writers before, so this flick has originality going for it. It almost feels like a documentary, but this fictional film about some young punks waging a grafiti war against the cops and the "system" after one of their crew falls under the long arm of the law. This could be a very fresh movie, with a new look at urban life in the Big Apple.

There were a few other trailers added to the site this week, but due to my computer being retarded, I either couldn't access them, or the links are bad. Either way, you can check out the trailers for Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Dangerous and Sahara by clicking on their links.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It was a tough choice for this category this week, but I'm going with Chris Cooper becoming a Jarhead for my Best News of the Week. He hasn't been in a whole lot since his Oscar win for Adaptation, with a role in Seabiscuit, Silver City and a few scenes in The Bourne Supremacy. He's got a few more high-profile projects coming out this year, and Jarhead should just add to his stellar resume. He is a wonderful character actor with a broad range, and his demeanor used in his role in American Beauty helps for his role here also. Cooper will surely add a tenacity to this movie that will only make it better. This is a great add-on to Sam Mendes' cast.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It was a tough choice here as well, but I'm going with Jennifer Love Hewitt and the possibility of yet another I Know What You Did Last Summer. This is just retarded. It's been six years, people, and in that timeframe, some talented filmmakers in Hollywood have learned how to make genuinely frightening horror movies (See: Frailty, Saw and many others). This teen slasher flick prototype has even been spoofed a few times in that timeframe as well (See: Scary Movie 1-3). So, do you really think we want another sequel in this sort of mold, while there are much better, scarier movies out there and not even to mention that the first sequel only made $39 million 6 years ago? Think again...

Cinemark Movie Club