First off, I apologize for my absence last week as my internet problems down here were the cause of many a dropped F-bomb and ultimately my column's absence. But I'm back this week with a fresh batch of movie goodies fresh from the Hollywood oven, so lets turn up the heat with this week's Notables.
This sounded pretty cool...until I realized this will be a group of kid karate people. So, bascially it sounds like Spy Kids with black belts. It might find a niche, but I think if it was an adult group of karate kickers who drink too much and ravage bars all across the world, that would be rather sweet. Of course, these are based on a childrens book series, so that angle might be a stretch. But, as it is right now, this just doesn't look too appealing. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Hmm curious. Wasn't the last Highlander flick called Endgame? Doesn't that mean, you know, the end? The Highlander series is like the NHL of movies. They have a very small (Endgame grossed $12.8 million off a $15 million budget), but very loyal and passionate fanbase. Sure, the timing is rather humorous since the NHL finally agreed to terms with its players and they will be on the ice next season, but does that mean we need more Highlander flicks? Well...no. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
It's been my experience that if you're presented with both good and bad news, it's best to take the good news first. So, with that in mind, here's the good news: they're going with a brand new cast and storyline...well, the storyline isn't new, really, but different characters. The bad news is that I'm even talking about this and it appears to be moving into production. Next year, you all can say I Know What You Did Last Summer to me, and what I did was naming this Worst News of the Week Nominee, and don't say I didn't warn ya. Flippin un-original bastards...
60 grand for a light saber? Hey Balchack, remember that 60 grand you owe me... Anyway, a light saber would be cool and all, but there is one thing I would love to have that I didn't see listed among the auction items. Seriously, how much for an Ewok? I want one of those little things, man! You know those guys that get the cute little dogs because chicks dig them? How many numbers do you think you'd score if you had an Ewok? Imagine the possibilities... No Nominee either way here, just rambling. I wonder what Ewok's eat... oh yeah, chocolate bars...
This sounds rather interesting, apparently derived from a true story of a guy who wrote a fake biography on the eccentric Howard Hughes in the 70s. The cast looks stellar also with Richard Gere as the hoaxer, Alfred Molina as his partner in crime and Marcia Gay Harden as Gere's wife. With Lasse Hallstrom at the helm, it looks like all the pieces are in place for this to be a pretty solid flick. Best News of the Week Nominee.
This is a wonderful addition to a great cast. Oldman has the range to play absolutely anyone under the sun, and he joins Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal and Anthony Edwards. The flick is based off the true story of the Zodiac killer that terrorized San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. The story sounds wonderful and director David Fincher at the helm here practically guarantees that this will be a great movie. Best News of the Week Nominee.
This comes along at just the right time, with two good 9/11 stories to tell. The 102 Minutes project will no doubt cause a stir, because it will be a fictionalized vision of the footage that is embedded in all of our heads, but I think we're ready for it now. The Port Authority project sounds just wonderful though, with the heroics of two brave Port Authority officers who survived the collapse. Some might frown on Oliver Stone directing this flick, because he's known for conspiracy theories in some of his flicks, but I don't think Stone will go this route here, not with something as powerful as 9/11... and the fact that he desperately needs to get on track after the failure of Alexander. I can't wait for both of these projects. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Wow, what a cast we have here. All of these actors and actresses are coming off wonderful performances in their last flicks and they're all on the rise. Alice Braga is probably the one you haven't heard of here, but she last appeared in the absolutely stunning City of God a few years ago, and Moreno was up for an Oscar last year for her remarkable portrayal in Maria Full of Grace. Fraser is coming off of the brilliant Crash, and Mos Def, who I'm a HUGE fan of, was awesome in both The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and in last year's The Woodsman. Damn, now that's a cast, people! Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
It was a fantastic weekend for Fox, and it surely was clobberin' time for their competition. The Fantastic Four ran roughshod through the rest of the field, taking the top spot at the box office this weekend with just over $56 million in its opening weekend. The flick averaged a beefy $15,563 per screen, showing in 3,602 theaters. The flick took the top spot from War of the Worlds which took a decent 2nd place finish with $30.4 million in its second weekend. The Fantastic Four is in decent shape for the rest of the summer, with no real blockbuster competition to contend with, as I don't see anything the rest of the summer that will have a higher opening weekend gross, though many will probably come close. Still, it should have no problem making back its $100 million budget, and should only drop about 40% or maybe less next weekend.
The only other new flick this weekend didn't fare quite as well against the fantastic ones. Dark Water took the 4th spot at the box office this weekend, taking in $9.9 million in its opening weekend. The Jennifer Connolly flick took in a meager $3,740 per screen, showing in 2,657 theaters. There weren't any budget figures released for this one, but it doesn't appear to have an astronomically high budget, so it might end up turning a profit.
Box Office Predictions
1) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: $45 million
2) The Fantastic Four: $41 million
3) The Wedding Crashers: $25 million
4) War of the Worlds: $17.8 million
5) Batman Begins: $7.5 million
The Edukators: (www3.ifcfilms.com/theedukators)
The site starts out with a colorful front page, with a look at the probable one-sheet and some praise from a critic. Once you get in the site, there are a few things to do. The most prominent thing you see on the main site is right in the middle there is "Our Diary" which I thought would be some sort of blog from the filmmakers or actors or something like that. It really is just a bunch of quotes from different critics. But then you click on the right on Be an Edukator which is basically a template for a letter that you can send to a major company or organization or something, which encourages that organization to attend screenings of the film and be a revolutionary or something. Weird. Anyway, at the top of the site you can watch the trailer and read a synopsis for the film, and at the bottom it says you can "View Our Best Work To Date" with some clips from the film and some bogus websites. It's a weird little site, but it's kind of cool...in a very weird way. The Edukators opens on July 22 in limited release.
This is a pretty simple site. There is what appears to be a rip-off of the humming anthem from The Bridge on the River Kwai in the background, and on the left there are your menu options. In Trailers and Clips, you only get the trailer and clips and behind the scenes are coming soon. Under The Movie, you get a synopsis, a brief list of cast and crew and production notes are coming soon. In Photos you get a pretty decent still gallery, but the Characters menu is the best on the site. On the bottom of that page is a line-up of all the characters in this animated flick, and for each one there is a small video clip, sound byte and a brief description of the character in the form of an army file. The last two menus are Games and Downloads, but, of course, they're coming soon too. The site has a decent look to it, but there just isn't a ton of content here, although it should be decent when they have everything up there. Valiant opens on August 19.
We all have those DVD's in our collection that either were a mistake, or just weren't that bad and you found super cheap. The Transporter wasn't really a mistake, but I recall it was in the $6 range when I bought it. It was worth $6 just for that fight in the oil with Jason Statham wearing bike pedals. Anyway, I sequel might not have been needed here, as it didn't make too much of a dent at the box office ($25.2 million in 2002) but it looks like the sequel is a lot better than the original. They didn't have much of a script in the first one, and it looks like they might have too much of a script here, as it looks like it delves into a lot of things at once. They brought in Louis Leterier to direct, who was the "artistic director" of the first flick, and they added in uber-hottie Amber Valetta into the mix. It'll be worth the price of admission, I think, which oddly enough is about how much I paid for the first DVD...
This doesn't look too bad, actually. Nick Cannon is really big these days and it should draw in some decent late-summer bank for Mirimax, or whatever is left of it. Going undercover at a high school isn't exactly a new route, but they're putting a new spin on it by having it at an upper-crusty private school. I'm not sure how it'll do against The Dukes of Hazzard on opening weekend, but it should hold its own and find a niche with the younger crowd. Underclassmen opens on August 5.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
I'm going with one hell of a cast in Brendan Fraser, Catalina Sandido Moreno, Mos Def and Alice Grace for my Best News of the Week. They all aren't household names, for sure, although they really should be. Mos Def continues to prove himself in both film and music, Fraser is usually great with dramatic material and Grace and Moreno are both pretty young, emphasis on pretty, and both did great jobs in their debuts. The story here was described rather briefly, and does sound a bit like City of God that Grace appeared in, but with this cast in place, it shouldn't really matter too much. Whoever that casting director is, deserves a raise. Smashing job!
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Easy. yet another I Know What You Did Last Summer, even though there was some stiff competition. Still, this is a no-brainer. Why would you continue this series? Sure, the first one made huge bank, but at the same time they were just banking off the success of the genre that was kick-started with Scream in 1996. It's a different climate these days in 2005, and the successful horror flicks these days or more psychological than physical. I know what you did this summer, Screen Gems. You lost your originality.
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 looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free.