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

NOTABLES

"Studios On Track to Release Fewer DVD's in 2006" - Wednesday, July 5

Well, it looks like Open Letters are good for something after all. While 9.2 percent doesn't seem like much of a drop, that's over 600 fewer titles that were released this year compared to last year, which is definitely a good thing. Now, if this means that the massive "special editions" market is shrinking, or if they're cutting into releasing obscure TV shows on DVD, I'm not sure. Hopefully it's a little of both. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Michelle Monaghan to Star Opposite Ben Stiller in Seven Day Itch" - Wednesday, July 5

Dammit. Why do there have to be two actresses with the damn near same name?? Whenever I see Michelle Monaghan sign up for something, I always think it's the lovely Bridget Moynahan. Yeah, I know. I'm an idiot sometimes, but I'm not good with first names. Sue me. Anyway, I don't get the big deal over Monaghan anyway. I don't really like her work that much anyway, and she looks like she'd play more of a girl-next-door type than play an alluring woman who could tempt Ben Stiller out of a hasty marriage. The premise sounds all right, but I'm just not diggin' on the casting. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Suzanne Francis and Gabe Grifoni Going To School In Bristol Bay" - Wednesday, July 5

I never thought I'd see myself saying that scavenger hunt movies seem played out, but it certainly appears to be the case. Not only do we have Eli Roth's Scavenger Hunt movie in the works, but there's a great little flick that I reviewed on DVD called Dirty Deeds on the shelves now. Oh yeah, then there's that one code movie that I hear was fairly popular... This time around, it's at a tech school with a bunch of nerds solving puzzles and crap. Sign me up... to ban this from my theater. Morons. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Fox Picks Up Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman's Cool Comedy" - Thursday, July 6

I just don't get the appeal in this flick. It revolves around a supposedly real seminar class where out-of-touch adults learn what's really "cool" these days. Yeah, that sounds like fun. But wait, it gets better... in the movie, the ad exec adults revert back to their personas in their high school days. Hmm, let me guess. One is a near-psychotic bully, one is a nerd, one is a too-cool-for-school jock and the other is a born leader. Give me a frickin break. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"ThinkFilm Picks Up 10th & Wolf" - Thursday, July 6

OK. Here's the exact quote from the news bit on describing this movie: "It's inspired by the true story of a Marine (James Marsden) who returns home to discover he can't escape his family's ties to the Mafia." Sounds a little teensy-weensy bit familiar, doesn't it? A little bit similar to one of the best movies of all time, perhaps? I'm sure it will be much different than The Godfather, with his family on the other side of the mob. The cast is pretty good here too, with Giovanni Ribisi, who I'm still waiting to make a breakout performance, Brad Renfro, Piper Perabo, Brian Dennehy, Lesley Ann Warren, Dennis Hopper, Tommy Lee and Val Kilmer. Add on the directorial debut of Paul Haggis' co-writer on Crash, Bobby Moresco, and this doesn't sound too bad after all. I'm going to give this one a Best News of the Week Nominee... but I'll be keeping a very close eye on it, hopefully for a better plot description.

"American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile Now in Production" - Friday, July 7

The most shocking news in this whole article is the fact that the last straight-to-DVD release in the American Pie franchise, Band Camp, sold 2 million units. Wow. So, of course, they're going to keep on pressing and ride this donkey 'till its legs give out. This one is basically the same story as the first American Pie flick, but with Stiffler's littler brother, Erik, trying to lose his virginity before high school graduation. OK, when you took us to Band Camp, that really wasn't too bad since we only saw bits and pieces of band camp in the second flick. Now, you're just taking the same damn story from the first flick that started this ball a rollin' and now you are just cut-pasting it to Stiffler's brother's character. Go fist yourself, American Pie people! Worst News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

I knew one thing was certain this weekend. If Johnny Depp and his band of merry men couldn't knock off Spider-Man's astonishing opening weekend record, that has stood for over 4 years, it would be safe for another year. Well, it's not safe anymore. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest took the theaters by storm this weekend like no other movie ever had, taking in just over an astounding $132 million, almost $18 million more than Spidey's $114.8 million mark set in May of 2002.

While the Pirates did need a third-highest release of 4,133 theaters to overtake Spider-Man, it did out-pace Spidey in per-screen average, with a mammoth $31,944 average, barely overtaking Spidey's $31,769 per-screen average. The Pirates also notched records for the largest opening day ($55.5 million), was the fastest to reach the $100 million mark, hitting it in just two days flat, and it also helped set another weekend record as well. With the top 5 flicks all, incredibly, notching over $10 million, this weekend marked the highest aggregate weekend gross ever, becoming the first weekend where the top 12 flicks took in over $200 million. This weekend broke the record set just a few months ago, over Memorial Day weekend that took in $188.4 million and was fueled by the release of X-Men: The Last Stand. While these are all still estimated figures, all the records were broken by such a bigger margin, that when the actuals are released today, they should still be record-breakers. With a week full of fireworks, it seemed like the week ended with even bigger fireworks at the theater with an unbelievable record-shattering weekend!

While no one had the balls to wide-release another flick this weekend, righfully so as it turns out, another flick did some solid business on the limited release front. A Scanner Darkly took in an estimated $406,000 this weekend. Hardly record material, I know. But it was released in only 17 theaters and its $23,882 per-screen average is damn good, and this could make some noise if it gets a wide release in the coming weeks.

GOING LIVE

Crank: (Crankfilm.com)

Not much on this site here. Still, the one-sheet that dominates this site is pretty slick, even though they don't even have the trailer up yet. All we get here is a link to sign up for updates, a Message Board that doesn't have anyone on it yet, and the Synopsis, which is actually really good. This sounds like a really cool, original flick and I hope they put more on this site before it comes out on September 1.

The Illusionist: (Illusionistthefilm.com)

This is another pretty slick site, with not much on it, although there's much more than the last site. On the first page of the site, we get the great trailer and a nice little synopsis before entering the site. Once inside we start off with Reviews, which is just Edward Norton onstage with a bunch of review clips floating around. In the Imagery menu, we just get 9 stills, but there's a video clip for you if you click on the mirror. Under The Film menu, you get the same synopsis, and some nice, detailed bios for the main players in the cast and crew. There's another hidden video clip if you click on the little tree. No hidden film clips under Backstage, but you do get a wallpaper to download and in Scenes, you get the hidden scenes out in the open, plus another hidden scene if you click on the sword. For all the style they used on this site, it's a little surprising there isn't more content, but the stuff we get here is decent, at least. I still wish there was more, though. The Illusionist opens on August 18.

Miami Vice: (MiamiVice.com)

This is an amazing site, folks, but you won't see it unless you're 18 or over. I've never seen this done before, but you have to verify your identity on the site, and if you're under 18, well, I guess you can just read this, or go to the General site. Anyway, they have three different "experiences" for you to go through here, Traffic, Line and Miami Dade. Traffic takes you through the Miami underground and some of the tools of the trade that are used to traffic drugs into Miami. You advance your way through these places, clicking on little arrows in each spot to access downloads, video clips or little facts about drugs and such. At the end of this one, you can even go deeper into the black market, exploring other countries of the world and their black market specialty. In the Line experience, they go over different aspects of the gun and drug trade on the street, with a few more goodies to download and film clips to watch. At the end of this, like the other experience, is a tutorial on The Roots of Poison, which goes deeper into how the drugs are produced, and the effects it can have on its users. They must want to go out with a bang, because in the last experience, Miami-Dade, there are a few tutorials along with the normal goodies. The first one is really cool, actually. It's an Explore Miami tutorial, that lets you scroll through satelite footage or a map to click on several high and low points of Miami. They show both landmarks of the city, and landmarks of law enforcement, where several high-profile cases went down. The next tutorial is called Tools of the Trade, where they discuss things that the cartels utilize to carry about their business as usual. They talk about trafficking through the air and sea, as well the high-tech intel they use, along with the weapons and even the people they use to get drugs to America. All these tutorials are incredibly informative, and downright frightening in some ways, that will surely open your eyes on these subjects. But, you may be asking, what about the movie info? Well, they have that too, below the experiences, in Film Info, which is just the General Site that you could view instead of the Restricted Site. They give you a nice Synopsis, a decent group of Stills, all the trailers and TV spots in Media, all the goodies from the experiences in Downloads and all the tutorials to watch in Features, with these Landscapes coming soon, that are these changing desktops that look pretty cool. This is easily in the top 5 sites that I've ever reviewed!! It's incredibly informative, with some outstanding style and great content! This could be the site of the year, folks!! Check it out! You can check out the movie in a couple of weeks, on July 28.

Beerfest: (Beerfest.com)

It'd be pretty damn tough for any site to follow Miami Vice, but someone's gotta do it, eh? This is a very simple site with not much to it. All you get here is a Synopsis, some Photos and some AIM Icons and wallpapers in Downloads. You can also click on the "From the Creators of Super Troopers" thing, and that brings you to Broken Lizard's site... which has nothing on it but a logo and a "Please visit our MySpace page" link. Ahh that silly MySpace... Anyway, that's all we have here folks, but maybe there will be some more goodies added before this flick comes out on August 25.

TRAILER PARK

10th & Wolf:

OK, well I guess I didn't read the part in that news bit about 10th and Wolf about it being released next month, but this looks damn good, folks. Forget about the Godfather comparisons, this one looks like the real deal, folks. Sure, most mob movies all seem the same, but this looks great, with the busy James Marsden as a Marine who gets in a pickle overseas and gets twisted to twist up his mob family. While my man Giovanni Ribisi doesn't have a starring role here, this could be his big break if this flick does good, because he looks to deliver another great performance here, but on a much bigger stage with this flick. Can't wait for this one, folks. 10th & Wolf opens on August 18 in limited release.

Hollywoodland:

Hmm, this looks pretty damn cool. For one, we have just a knockout cast here with Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins and Ben Affleck. Remember him? Yeah, he doesn't look too bad here, actually, and everyone else looks great in this Hollywood-set period piece about the death of TV Superman George Reeves, played by Affleck. So yeah, even if you don't like Affleck, you'll probably see him get killed here, so there's that for ya. This is based off the true story and still unsolved murder of Reeves that rocked Hollywood, so it's no surprise that, since Hollywood people are in the movie, Hollywood pushed this to a dumping-ground September release. Hmm, weird. Check out Hollywoodland on September 8, if you can find it...

Deja Vu:

This looks, umm, confusing. Denzel Washington stars as an ATF agent who gets a case of the ol' deja vu, and realizes that there's much more to it than once thought. We don't see much of this in the trailer, but the plot description says he travels back in time, or something. Hmm, I'm not sure what's going on here, but I think their M.O. is confusing us enough to make us want to see it and figure it out. Interesting strategery there... but it just might work. Deja Vu opens on November 22.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Not much on the sunny front this week, but I'm going with DVD skies looking a lot clearer for my Best News of the Week. The DVD market has gotten just ridiculous in recent years, with special editions piled on top of TV shows no one remembers, piled on top of more special editions. Oh, and the regular slate of movies that wait a few months after they've hit the theaters to come on DVD. It's quality, not quantity in the DVD game, and now that they've pared back the quantity, hopefully the quality will start to rise.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Plenty to choose from here this week but, in some nice synergy with my Best News of the Week, I'm going with another American Pie moron-fest coming straight to DVD. Why can't this be a part of that 9.2% of fewer DVD's that were released this year? I'm still frickin shocked that the Band Camp flick sold 2 million copies, but I think that's mainly because most of the American Pie regulars made cameos and were somewhat prominent in the marketing campaign. People kept coming up to me and asking about my old high school classmate Seann William Scott a.k.a. Stiffler, being in that Band Camp flick, and I had no idea about it, since it turned out to be just a cameo. They better hope to get everyone back for this flick if they think it'll be nearly as successful as Band Camp. The story is just recycled crap, tailored to fit Stiffler's little brother instead of him, and the biggest star I saw on the cast was Christopher McDonald, who's biggest role is Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore. I am a Christopher McDonald fan, don't get me wrong. But I wouldn't want to see him in something like this, or see them just drag the American Pie name down even further by essentially doing a remake of the first flick that got the whole thing started. Originality is a word that's not in their vocabulary, it seems...

That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites 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.

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Cinemark Movie Club