Howdy folks. I apologize for missing the column last week as my computer was apparently on a mission to drive me mad. Sadly, my sound is still MIA so there will be no Trailer Park this week again, but I hope that is fixed by week's end. Anyway, I'm back, so lets check out what went down this past week with Notables.
We don't normally see Hugh Jackman in a present-day non-fantasy type of movie. Sure, there was Swordfish, but we all know what that movie was remembered for now, don't we? (Hint: Halle Berry was payed $250,000 for each of this body part exposed...). Hugh's going all 21st Century on us in his latest flick, Rebound Guy, where he plays a womanizer who only dates women that are on the rebound since he's sure they won't want a heavy commitment after just getting out of one. Of course, his plan all changes when he falls in love with a woman who's on the rebound. In order to not let her get away, he sets her up with a different rebound guy so he has a chance to be her main squeeze, and such. This should show us a very different Hugh Jackman and after a few years of Wolverine and period pieces, this could be a refreshing change of pace for Jackman and audiences alike. Best News of the Week Nominee.
While it had a solid and very profitable run at the box office last year ($110 million gross from a $10 million budget), I just didn't find this movie all too good. It wasn't even close to the greatness of Saw, which opened the weekend after The Grudge to a smaller gross but much bigger fanfare, and while they did leave it fairly open for a sequel, that doesn't mean anyone really cares either. Gellar proved she could hold her own in the horror genre, but it seems that they're retaining the first flicks's writer, Stephen Susco, as well here, and that is the worst news about this. The first flick would've been far better off with a seasoned writer like Ehren Kruger (The Ring) or any other horror vetran than the first-timer Susco. While this might end up making some decent bank like the first one, with Susco's way-too-revealing style on board as well, this might not be worth watching. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Supernatural thrillers are now a wooden nickel a dozen these days, and one of the worst I've seen in recent years was the wretched White Noise. That flick was written by Niall Johnson, and he's writing this Before flick which, in looking at the terrible White Noise, is not a good sign for this flick. Johnson's new supernatural thriller revolves around a psychiatrist (original...) who looks into some killings at his institute (original...) and discovers the world of the supernatural (original...). I'd rather shoot myself in the foot than go see this highly un-original flick, written by a terrible writer. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
While I didn't mind, but didn't rave about Len Wiseman's Underworld flick a few years ago, I am a lot more enthusiastic about Wiseman's new project Shell Game. This sci-fi flick takes place in the future and deals with a new black market where immortality is illegally sold. This sounds like a very fresh sci-fi flick, and Wiseman has the darker style to give this project some nice vision. Wiseman is also the lucky bastard that is married to Kate Beckinsale, and while it's a little sad that he confirmed we won't see the lovely Beckinsale in this flick, I'm sure they'll cast this appropriately. This sounds like a wonderful, original new sci-fi flick in the making. Best News of the Week Nominee.
It's funny how a role as a hustling pimp and wannabe rapper can elevate you to bigger things. Terrence Howard did just that this summer with one of the best performances of the year in the indie hit Hustle and Flow, and now he's in talks to play one of the most prominent figures in black history in former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Howard, who had long toiled in supporting roles before his break in Hustle and Flow, sounds like a great fit here, as he has some spectacular range and delivery. Brad Silberling is an interesting choice to direct here, as he directed the first flick in the Lemony Snicket series of books, and I guess if he signs on to this one, he won't be on board for future installments, if there ever will be any. Still, this sounds like a great historical flick in the making and they're off to a good start both behind and in front of the camera. Best News of the Week Nominee.
While we're not quite sure when this war in Iraq will end, that doesn't seem to stop this project about the aftermath about the war. This revolves around three soldiers returning home after their tour in Iraq, and how their experience at war has changed them for life. While I assume that the lovely Mendez and newcomer Presley will play the other two soldiers, we know that Jackson was overseas as a doctor and when he comes home to his medical practice after the war, he returns a far different man. This sounds like a very interesting project that could prove to be fairly important, from a cultural standpoint, as this war seemingly comes to a close. Best News of the Week Nominee.
It looks like they're taking another classic TV show I grew up on and taking it to Hollywood. I haven't seen Valderrama on the silver screen yet, as his few movie credits have been mainly in indie's, and my impression of him is solely because of his work on That 70s Show, but it seems like they have the right dude for the job here. If anything else, Valderrama has almost exactly the right look needed to play Frank "Ponch" Poncherello, played on TV in the 80s by Hollywood journeyman Erik Estrada. They'll need some more solid casting for his partner, Baker, but I think they're off to a pretty good start with the dude who plays Fez, and this should help him break out of that foreign funnyman mold. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
The movie audiences might have been hibernating in the past few weeks, but it took a lion... and a witch and a wardrobe to awaken moviegoers from their slumber. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe too the box office by storm in its opening weekend, grossing an estimated $67.1 million in its opening weekend. That hefty gross was also the third biggest opening weekend of the year, and the second biggest December opening of all time. The Andrew Adamson flick posted a mammoth $18,546 per-screen average, showing in a very-wide 3,616 theaters. At Narnia's current pace, this should easily go over the $300 million mark, and solidify Adamson's place as a moneymaking draw as a director. He co-wrote and co-directed both Shrek flicks, and if his Narnia flick goes over $300 million, his flicks will have earned over $1 billion domestically. By the way, those are the ONLY 3 MOVIES Adamson has directed in his career. Simply astonishing. While there were no other new flicks in wide release, Syriana expanded to over 1,750 theaters and leapfrogged from 19th place last weekend to 2nd this weekend with a decent showing of just over an estimated $12 million.
There were two possible Oscar favorites that came out in limited release this weekend, and they both did very well, like Syriana did last weekend. Memoirs of a Geisha took the 14th spot this weekend with an estimated $674,000. The flick, released in only 8 theaters, took in a whopping $84,250 for a per-screen average. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain came in at 16th place, showing in only 5 theaters and taking in $545,000. It averaged a walloping $109,000 per screen, good for 9th best all-time in that category. Look for these flicks to be climbing up the charts fairly soon when they get wide releases.
Box Office Predictions
1) King Kong: $112.3 million ($165.8 million 5-day gross)
2) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: $32.6 million
3) The Family Stone: $12.4 million
4) Syriana: $6.3 million
5) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: $5.8 million
Just another dull teaser site here. All we get is a very brief synopsis and the trailer. Nothing to see here... Inside Man opens on March 24, 2006.
Another teaser site here, but with a little more style and a little more content. The main site features what looks like an old drive-in theater, and it displays the few options you get here when you click on them. You get the trailer, and a better synopsis like the last site, but there is also a decent photo gallery as well. While it might be a few notches above our last site today, it still doen't have a whole lot. Hoot opens on April 7, 2006.
This site has a weird intro that takes way too long, but thankfully you can hit Skip at the bottom. Unfortuantely, after all that fanfare, there isn't much to the site, of course. There is a decent synopsis, a poor photo gallery with only 4 photos and then there's the Tell Us Your Story link. Here, you can tell your own creepy story about a prank call or a stalking stranger or both. There are 15 stories on here, varying in length, and they are pretty interesting. If you click on Tell Us Your Story above all the other stories, you can submit your own spooky story as well. It's nothing great, but it's a little bit of something original here, even though the rest of the site just sucks. When A Stranger Calls opens on February 3, 2006.
On the first page of this site you can do a few things before you head on to the main site. Click on What the Critics are Saying to get a sample of some top critic's reviews, you can buy tickets to the show, pre-order a DVD of Peter Jackson's production diaries, due out December 13, and get a countdown to Kong. In the main site, you get a decent amount of options. In The Movie, there are four different sub-menus. We get a very thorough synopsis in Story, a very nice 45-picture gallery in Photos, Cast and Crew has extensive biographies on the major players in front of and behind the camera and Production Notes offers a very interesting look, divided into 7 chapters, into all aspects of making this movie. The Downloads section is just as extensive, offering wallpapers, screensavers, AIM Icons and e-cards to download and the Media menu has the trailers and TV spots to view. The Special Features menu has three different options that go even farther into this flick. The Beastiary offers us a look at the other monsters of Skull Island. We get a nice description of each beast and its capabilities and a few thumbnails of what they look like. This is a very cool option, as I haven't seen something so in-depth for CGI monsters before. The Skull Islanders feature centers on the human inhabitants of Skull Island, how they live and what they're like. This is also very cool, and I would've never expected this to go into so much detail. Lost Cities is the last of the Special Features, and it is basically a timeline of both real cities and civilizations that have vanished and mythical places. Click on each name to learn more about each place, and it's very informative. This is a great site, and the only beef I have with it is that it takes quite a while for each page to load up. Other than that, this is a very informative and stylish site for what is sure to be a gargantuan movie. King Kong opens on December 14.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
There were some great news items this week, but I'm going with Len Wiseman's new Shell Game for my Best News of the Week. This sounds like a great, original flick, dealing with a future where immortality is sold illegally. It's not clear if this is a pill, a potion or if BALCO will be involved or not, but still sounds cool nonetheless. Wiseman clearly has a dark style to his writing and directing, and I can picture this as maybe a darker Blade Runner, with immortality instead of clones. If Phillip K. Dick were still alive, I'm sure he'd be pleased with this, because it sounds right up his alley. It sounds right up my alley as well. It's just too bad we won't get to see Wiseman's wife, the smashing Kate Beckinsale here. Those damn directors have all the luck, don't they...
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK NOMINEE
We didn't have a ton to choose from here, but I'm going with the boring Before as my Worst News of the Week. We have a crappy plotline, as unoriginal as they come, written by a crappy writer and there even is this crappy title. Maybe they should just call this flick Toilet because there's so much crap here, a toilet would be fitting. It would be even more fitting if we could flush this whole project down a big ol' toilet as well...
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new websites for upcoming flicks, 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.