It was another news-filled week, with a new batch of the good and bad news, box office digits, websites and trailers. So lets dive right into last week and check out the best and worst news of the week with Notables.
"Virginia Madsen signs onto The Wrong Element" - Monday, January 31
Before her Oscar-nominated role in Sideways, Madsen has had a rather checkered film career. I wouldn't expect her to take on a rather dull-sounding project with filmmakers who have checkered careers themselves. It seems she's playing second fiddle in this role, as Harrison Ford's wife, and she has proved her talent in Sideways and I would've expected her to take on more of a top-lining role in her follow-up to the Oscar nomination. This just doesn't sound like that at all. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Rowan Atkinson to star Keeping Mum" - Monday, January 31
I'm sorry, but I just don't get the appeal of this guy. His Mr. Bean character that made him famous, has small doses of humor, and he really hasn't had a successful movie in American yet. I just can't see this new project changing any of that, and maybe he should think twice about renewing that passport, because if he does come back over here, nobody will know him or even care. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Sam Huntington is Jimmy Olsen in Bryan Singer's Superman" - Monday, January 31
Well, Huntington isn't a complete unknown like Brandon Routh's Superman/Clark Kent, but he might has well be. His biggest roles were in the underrated comedy Detroit Rock City, in which I thought he was the weakest actor of the 4 main kids, and Not Another Teen Movie, where he was so over-the-top, he made the rest of the bad acting look marvelous. We aren't off to a good start this week, I guess, but I just don't think this guy has the chops to take on such a big role as this one, even under the wonderful Bryan Singer's direction. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Paul Greengrass set to pen They Marched Into Sunlight" - Tuesday, February 1
Finally, some good news! This sounds like a very interesting project, that connects 2 days of Vietnam war protests in Wisconsin and American soldiers being ambushed in Vietnam over the same two days. The premise alone will get me into the theater, because I haven't heard of anything quite like this before. Greengrass has proven himself in solid action directing in helming last year's The Bourne Supremacy, and while I haven't seen his major writing effort, Bloody Sunday, I've heard good things about it, and it also is based on true events, like this picture is. I think this one sounds like a winner, folks. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Sean "Puffy" Combs to develop and star in heist-action comedy" - Wednesday, February 2
Good Lord, people... This movie was average the first time I saw it...when it was called 2 Fast 2 Furious! Puffy said it himself that it would "take a page out of all the great heist movies and return the favor by having two token white guys." Come on, you unoriginal bastard. The big mystery here is which of his numerous monikers he will go by. Sean "Puffy" Combs, P. Diddy, Guy Who Steals From Everyone Else and Pawns It Off as Original... Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Columbia Pictures set to pick up 102 Minutes" - Wednesday, February 2
While there have been many films that have used the 9-11 tragedy on the back burner of their stories, this is the first project to focus on the tragedy itself, and not the aftermath of it. I think the timing is right for this project, and it definitely sounds film-worthy. No one is in place to write, direct and star here, but I imagine a project of this magnitude will attract some A-list talent, and I hope it does. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Halo screenwriter chosen" - Friday, February 4
The video game genre can't be described as a highly successful genre. There is only one movie that was based on a video game that grossed over $100 million (See: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). However, these newer games are getting so popular, with sophisticated stories to go with them, that I think this Halo project might be the first genuine video game blockbuster. The game has sales exceeding $600 million, which almost eclipses the total of all the video game adptations, and I think Alex Garland is a great choice to write the screenplay. I loved his dark 28 Days Later, and this dark style would do Halo well. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Eva Mendes signs onto Ghost Rider" - Friday, February 4
The luscious Ms. Mendes will be a great addition to this diverse cast. I'm assuming she will play Ghost Rider's love interest that he fights for, and now that this role belongs to Mendes, I can't say I blame Mr. Rider. She's a beautiful and talented actress that should only improve this talented cast. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
It was the weekend of the big game, and, as usual, Hollywood didn't offer much to moviegoers, so not to compete with Super Bowl watchers and weekend party preparations. It was the mythical bedtime creature that was the big winner this weekend, despite some reviews that were scarier than the retarded movie itself. Boogeyman nabbed the top spot this weekend, grossing an estimated $19.5 million in its opening weekend. The flick set a record for the highest grossing flick to open on a Super Bowl weekend, although it's not too impresive since it overtook You Got Served... The "horror" flick did average a healthy $6,389 per screen, showing in 3,052 theaters, despite the movie not even being screened for critics. The critics that did see it, however, obviously didn't like what they saw, with the flick earning a horrid 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, or 2 positive reviews out of 34. The scariest thing about the whole movie is that the movie is only $500,000 or so from earning a profit, and that is more sad than scary...
The week's other new release, The Wedding Date took the second spot, earning an estimated $10.9 million in its debut weekend. What's interesting here, is it was screened in nearly half the theaters than Boogeyman (1,694 to Boogeyman's 3,024) but it posted a higher per-screen average ($6,489 to B-Man's $6,389). This is another low-budget flick, with a good shot at earning a profit. It was shot for $15 million, and it could survive almost a 50% drop next weekend and it will still have a profit. I wouldn't be too optimistic for a whole lot of profit, however, unless they bump their theater count up significantly.
If you're familiar with this column, you're also familiar with my hatred for Sony Pictures official websites. They usually just have a graphic or two, the title, maybe a picture and the release date. This one fits that formula to a T, although they did add a stupid tagline of "Boyz 'N the Wood." There is absolutely nothing here, so don't waste your time. It'll be 5 seconds you will never get back... Open Season opens September 29, 2006
Another crappy site here, but at least they put forth an effort and gave us a decent intro, that gives you a gist of what the movie will be about. Still, after the intro, there is absolutely nothing but a big "Coming Soon" banner. There is nothing else here, but the intro is worth a look for a few seconds. Wolf Creek is still looking for a release date.
Aeon Flux: (www.aeonflux.com)
Yet another bad site, but this one is really a teaser. When you sign on the site, you get a loading graphic, and when you usually see this, you'd expect a decent site. Nope, sorry kids. There is just the logo, the tagline "The Future is Flux" and a link to register for updates. There is no release date slated for this flick yet, so there should be more to come from this site.
Last, but definitely not least, we have the Batman Begins site, and the only site worth a visit this week. It looks like another teaser site when you first log on, but just scroll down past the Batman picture and there are many options for your surfing pleasure. You get a brief synopsis, downloadable domestic and international posters, a photo gallery, and a big selection of downloadable desktops and AIM Icons. You can also get the teaser trailer, full trailer and TV spot under Video and some interviews that also has some production artwork. The other categories, Mobile, Contests, Updates and Partners are coming soon, but this is still a very nice site with a cool dark style and some nice content. Batman Begins opens on June 17.
What is it with these tough-guys-turned-tender thing that's going on lately? Tommy Lee Jones is doing it in the upcoming Man of the House, Ice Cube is doing it in theaters now with Are We There Yet? and now Vin Diesel is completing the trio with The Pacifier. Sure, Mr. Diesel has to move on to other things, but playing a Navy SEAL that has to protect some kids? Come on... I keep thinking Kindergarten Cop when I watch this, and that's not a good thing...The Pacifier opens March 4.
The Boys and Girl From County Claire:
I don't think I've ever seen Colm Meaney in a starring role before, so that should be interesting to see. The flick doesn't look too bad, but I doubt it'll set the world on fire or anything. This flick about dueling traditional Irish bands and a girl that gets between them. I'm on the fence about this one, really...The Boys and Girl From County Claire opens March 11 in limited release.
This looks like an amazing movie. I'm a huge fan of director Oliver Hirschbiegel's Das Experiment and this new movie of his looks to be a classic. It revolves around the crumbling of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich towards the end of World War II, and Bruno Ganz looks to give a riveting performance as Hitler. If this flick comes to your area, I think it will definitely be worth checking out. Downfall opens on February 18 in New York and February 25 in Los Angeles. I just hope it expands further than that in the coming months.
This looks like a very interesting movie, for a couple of reasons. One, I can't remember the last time Joe Mantegna had a starring role, and two, this just looks like a really good movie. It is almost like a non-elf version of Elf, but more genuine. There doesn't appear to be anything really fancy about this movie, even in the cast, but this story could end up being a winner after all. Uncle Nino opens on February 11 in limited release.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
It was a very tough pick this week, but I'm going with Alex Garland as the new Halo scribe as my Best News of the Week. Garland doesn't have a very long resume, as this will be only his second screenplay, but I think he's a solid pick for the job. For one, it's obvious that video game movies written by established (somewhat) writers hasn't exactly worked. Halo is probably the most popular video game in history, so if they want the movie to work, they might want to try something different. Garland's only other work was 28 Days Later, and although the ending fell under much controversy, it was still a very well-written flick. I think Garland's style will make Halo a certifiable blockbuster and the biggest video game movie ever...even though that isn't saying a whole lot.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
This was a tough pick as well, but I'm going with P. Diddy doing some stupid heist thing for Worst News of the Week. Almost all of his musical "hits" were remixes of other people's songs, so it's not surprising that his movie project doesn't sound too roriginal either. The whole thing just screams 2 Fast 2 Furious and if Paul Walker is cast here, I just might have to shoot somebody. I really hope by "develop" they don't mean that P. Diddy will write this thing, because I don't think that is something anyone wants to see. OK, I'll give Puffy a little credit for holding his own on the acting front in movies like Made and Monster's Ball. But to give him carte blanche on a movie that sounds like it's been done too many times before? Not so much, no. Sorry P Diddy. Why don't you scope out the clubs and find a new song to hack up and steal instead of doing this dreadful project...
Well, that's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, websites, 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.