Another seven days come and gone, which has left us with another slew of movie news, box office figures, new official websites for upcoming flicks and new trailers. So let's get this party started with this week's Notables.

NOTABLES

"Steve Brill Directing DreamWorks Untitled Air Guitar Project" - Tuesday, February 7

Right, because that's what I've been clammoring for: a movie about idiots doing air guitar, in a competitive environment, nonetheless. What's really sad is that these contests actually exist, supposedly, and I just don't get it. It's like holding a lip-syncing contest, and if I hear those actually exist too, I might just have to pull my hair out and/or shoot someone. Anyway, Steve Brill is one of the "Sandler Regulars" behind the camera, directing two of his worst movies, Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds. His Without a Paddle wasn't too bad a few years ago, but it's pretty much the only good thing on his resume, and this just sounds like a dreadful project. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"John Stalberg Jr. Directing Stephen Susco's Zero Dark Thirty" - Tuesday, February 7

Boy we're off to a great start this week... For one, the title is terrible, two, it sounds like maybe a supernatural remake of Walking Tall and three, the director has barely any experience and the writer has only the poorly-written The Grudge under his belt, and from how this flick is shaping up, I have even less confidence in him now than I did before. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Joe Stillman Penning CG Flick Planet One" - Tuesday, February 7

Finally, something that sounds pretty damn cool. We have tons upon tons of flicks about aliens invading our home planet, but this flick, about an alien society that lives in fear of us humans invading, sounds, dare I say, rather original. Stillman seems to be rather comfortable with those animated characters, with all of his scripts for animated flicks or TV shows, so I'm not sure if this will be like a Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within thing with all the characters being CG, but this still sounds pretty damn cool to me. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Steve Buscemi Set for We're The Millers" - Tuesday, February 7

Well, this is certainly some refreshing news. Steve Buscemi has long been one of my favorite actors, although he has constantly been underused in a vast majority of his flicks. He's been in the pictures for 22 years and has never (as far as I could find) EVER been the topliner of a movie, and it's about damn time that he gets to star for once here. In this flick, Buscemi plays a drug dealer who creates a fictional family, the Millers, to smuggle a huge cache of drugs from Mexico. This sounds pretty damn cool, folks, both the flick, and Buscemi finally getting a starring role. It's about damn time! Best News of the Week Nominee.

"DreamWorks Picks Up How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" - Tuesday, February 7

Let's do a little math here, shall we? OK, first we take Orange County subtract Colin Hanks' stuffy character, add a stuffy girl character, subtract Stanford University, add Harvard University multiply the stupidity factor and that all equals this title that will piss off movie theater employees if it ever comes out, since this will be a pain in the balls to put on the marquee. I'll be looking forward to this flick about as much as I'd look forward to doing any real math whatsoever, and I flippin hate math. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Adam Sandler and Kevin James Set for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" - Tuesday, February 7

OK, I'm confused. It says the currect draft was written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, the magnificent writers who have brought us Election, About Schmidt and Sideways, and if this is so, this is very good news. But this flick, about two firefighters (Sandler and James) who pretend to be gay to get marriage benefits, just doesn't sound like their style. Then it says this was based off a treatment from a guy named Lew Gallo. That might be interesting news to Mr. Gallo, since he died in 2000, was primarily an actor while he was alive and has never been credited as a writer. Perhaps this was a typo, and they meant George Gallo, who wrote the first draft of Bad Boys as well as Trapped in Paradise, but who flippin knows. I'm just going with Worst News of the Week Nominee here, because my head hurts too much...

BOX OFFICE CORNER

In a weekend with 4 new releases, the Panther slipped past them all. The Pink Panther found itself at the top of the heap this weekend, taking the top spot at the box office with an estimated $21.7 million in its opening weekend ($12.4 million prediction... oops). The Steve Martin/Beyonce flick wasn't exactly a hit with the nation's critics though, with just a 22% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But it had an overwhelming theater count advantage, showing in 3,477 theaters, at least 600 theaters more than each of the new releases this weekend. It scored a solid $6,241 per-screen average, and if the flick keeps at a decent pace for the next few weeks, it has a good shot at making its $80 million budget back, although I have no idea why it cost so damn much. Steve Martin and Beyonce can't be that pricey, can they?

One of the other new flicks was right on its heels, though, as Final Destination 3 came in a very close second place. It was just $1.6 million behind the Panther, taking second place with an estimated $20.1 million in its debut weekend ($19.4 million prediction). Since these two flicks are so close, they might just end up switching spots when the actual figures are released. Still, the Final Destination series keeps on proving it's a solid franchise, financially speaking at least. The flick was shown in 2,880 theaters, posted an impressive $6,987 per-screen average and, unless every print of the movie falls to a weird demise, like characters in the flick, they're damn-near guaranteed a profit from a $25 million budget.

The other two newbies this weekend didn't fare quite as well. Curious George took the bronze medal this weekend, taking in an estimated $15.3 million ($16.8 million prediction), and Firewall was right behind the monkey in 4th place with an estimated $13.8 million ($24.6 million prediction... oops). Both flicks are in danger of failing to make a profit, since George was budgeted at $50 million and, while there were no budget figures released for Firewall, I'm sure a 4th place finish and under $14 mil wasn't what they had in mind...

Box Office Predictions

1) Eight Below: $23.2 million

2) Freedomland: $19.4 million

3) Date Movie: $14.6 million

4) The Pink Panther: $9.7 million

5) Final Destination 3: $9.2 million

GOING LIVE

Ask the Dust: (http://www.askthedust-movie.com/)

This is a pretty slick site, as far as style goes, but for content, the site is definitely lacking. After a cool little intro, we get into the main site and Chapter 1 is About the Movie. This gives us a decent synopsis, but the Production Notes are still "coming soon." Click on the Main Menu to get to the rest of the options, and the next one on the list is Cast and Crew, but, of course, that's "coming soon" as well. The next one is Downloads/Gallery which they mixed into one because you can download each image in the gallery to use as your desktop. There are also some AIM Icons to download here. The last one is Trailer/Video where, of course, there is just the trailer, and video clips are coming soon. The site is pretty slick, in terms of style, though, because instead of a boring "Loading" meter for each menu, we get a blank page and some words being typed onto it, and I thought that was slick. All they need is a little more content, and with it's nice style, this should be a decent site. Ask the Dust opens on March 10 in limited release.

The Hills Have Eyes: (http://www2.foxsearchlight.com/thehillshaveeyes/)

This creepy little site is a few notches above the last site, but still nothing spectacular. They start off with an intro of a brief snippet from the flick, that leads nicely into the main site's background, with the truck and camper trailer stuck on a desert road, and the menu options at the bottom of the site. The first menu is About the movie and here we get a brief synopsis, some Production Notes, with one page that offers a more in-depth synopsis along with insights from filmmakers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, a Cast section with, a full detailed rundown of his/her work and the Crew tab has similar rundowns. There is also an Interviews tab below this, but they are coming soon. The next one is the Trailer and then there is the Gallery, which is set up pretty nice with this big bulletin board full of pictures tacked up, and you click on the picture to enlarge. The next section is the Downloads section that has a screensaver, 6 AIM Icons and 6 desktops for your downloading pleasure. Lastly here we have a very cool 3D game. A lot of sites come up with cute little games that look like could be made in about 20 minutes, but not this site. This is a really cool, free, game, that plays and looks like any first person shooter that's on the market right now. It's actually pretty tough too, as you have to navigate through a tunnel/cave thing, collect batteries for your flashlight, the only little bit of light you get, and, oh yeah, avoid those zombie-like things that lie in wait for you. This is a damn good addition that makes a somewhat average site a lot better. The Hills Have Eyes opens on March 10.

Flushed Away:

Stupid teaser sites! This one has nothing on it except a link to a "sneak peek" which was taking so long to load that I just didn't bother with it. Morons. Flushed Away opens on November 3.

Game 6: (http://www.game6film.com/)

This is an interesting site to what looks like a very interesting movie. The menu options are on the right side of the newspaper. The first one is Playbill and they have Stills, with 12 pictures and the one-sheet to download, the trailer, the audio section is coming soon, 4 Wallpapers and 12 AIM Icons to download. Next up is Team Lineup, which has some nice bios in Characters, a decent Synopsis, full list of credits in Crew and in Behind the Scenes we get some nice insight from helmer Michael Hoffman in his Director's Statement. The next menu is Inside the Cab which has some little review snippets in Press Quotes, News Updates which aren't that exciting, Links which has sites for Red Sox Nation, the New York Mets, Playbill and the Don DeLillo Society, with the Theater Locater and Auction coming soon. The Ballpark has a complete rundown of the infamous Game 6 of the 1986 World Series as well as full stats for both the Red Sox and Mets. The last one is Where Were You? which is a contest where you submit your own story of where you were on that fateful day when the Red Sox let the World Series and the Curse of the Bambino slip away through Bill Buckner's legs. This is a really cool site, folks, with plenty to do and tons of information. One of the best sites of the year so far. Game 6 opens on March 3 in Boston and New York City, and goes wider on March 10.

Alpha Dog: (http://www.alphadogmovie.com/)

The movie sounds pretty cool, but the site surely isn't. All we get here is a brief synopsis and two film clips. Hopefully there will be more to this site before it opens, even though this doesn't exactly have a release date besides "Spring 2006" so far.

Stay Alive: (http://www.canustayalive.com/)

Another damn teaser site. All we get here is the trailer and a close-up look at an eye. Hoo rah. Stay Alive opens on March 24.

TRAILER PARK

The Sentinel:

This looks like a pretty slick hybrid of The Negotiator and In the Line of Fire. Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland look to be on the top of their game, and Eva Longoria takes a nice break from being desperate to play a hard-nosed Secret Service agent. I'm not a fan at all of scribe George Nolfi, whose only two movies (Timeline and Ocean's Twelve) were just terribly written, but he looks to improve his average here in this flick based off a novel written by a former real-life Secret Service agent. Director Clark Johnson always brings an edgy style to his work and I'm really looking forward to this flick's release, which is on April 21.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby:

In the summer of 2004, there were many that were in the theaters, laughing their balls off at Will Ferrell's Anchorman, but I really wasn't one of them. This summer, the same team behind that flick is getting in the drivers seat and bringing their vein of comedy to the NASCAR track, and it looks pretty good, actually. Ferrell plays Ricky Bobby (awesome name, by the way) a NASCAR icon who, along with his second-best partner (John C. Reily), have a new challenge to overcome in a French newcomer (Sacha Baron Cohen) to keep his throne on the NASCAR circuit. We get a little hint of Ferrell going way over the top, which I think is his downfall, but this looks like it's put together a little better than Anchorman, and might turn out to be pretty damn good. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby opens on August 4.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Not much on this front this week, but it's an easy pick with Steve Buscemi FINALLY getting a leading role for my Best News of the Week. I've heard the arguement that John Cazale was the best supporting actor of all time. He only was in 5 feature films before he died way too young at 43 of bone cancer, most notably in The Godfather series portraying Fredo, but every one of those pictures was nominated for Best Picture. Pretty good resume, eh? Even with those credentials, I'd take Steve Buscemi as the best supporting actor of all time, and it's just sad that he hasn't gotten a shot at toplining until now. Buscemi has given us some of cinema's most memorable characters, from Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs to Carl in Fargo and it's a shame he's been relegated to just supporting work for all of his career. Congrats Steve Buscemi! It's been a long time in coming, but you certainly deserve it.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

I'm going with another stupid project from another Sandler Regular for my Worst News of the Week. If you're not familiar with my term the "Sandler Regulars" I'll give a brief refresher course. The "Sandler Regulars" are a crew of guys, mostly actors but some directors like Brill, who became friends with Adam Sandler in college or perhaps through the early, struggling Hollywood years. Since Sandler is famous and stuff, he routinely throws these guys a bone, getting their movies made via his star power or getting the actors work in his own movies, perhaps even a few others. The "Sandler Regulars" are concrete proof of how connections are everything in Hollywood, because almost all of these guys have no talent whatsoever. Brill is one of the "Sandler Regulars" and although he does branch out past Sandler's wing every now and then, he's still a "Regular." This new picture he's doing, about air guitar competitions, sounds just insanely stupid and maybe I'll go get my air machine gun and air waste the crap out of anyone involved in making this picture. Sure, it won't do any good, but maybe it'll make me feel better about it...

That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official 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 look like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free.

Cinemark Movie Club