Another seven days has come and gone, and brought with us a new slew of movie news, box office figures, new official websites for upcoming movies and new trailers. So let's get this party started with this week's Notables.
Phillip K. Dick's bizarre collection of novels and short stories have been the basis of many a fine movie (See: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report along with the recent A Scanner Darkly), and now it will be Dick himself that will be the subject of a feature flick. Bill Pullman seems like a pretty good choice to play the eccentric author, but I don't know what the deal is with director Matthew Wilder. Not only is the guy a first-timer, but his 15 minutes of fame came in the 80s with his song "Break My Stride." Talk about a blast from the past, eh? Still, I'm intrigued by the idea of a Phillip K. Dick biopic and Pullman should do a fine job here as well. Best News of the Week Nominee.
After the critical (83% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) and financial ($205 million gross) successes of last year's Batman Begins, this announcement was rather inevitable. There was a few intriguing developments with this sequel, though, that should make this flick all the more interesting. The biggest development is that Heath Ledger, fresh off a phenomenal 2005, will portray the iconic character, The Joker. While the buzz was all about Ledger's performance in Brokeback Mountain last year, he delivered a wonderfully bizarre performance in Lords of Dogtown as well, and that wonderfully weird performance tells me that he surely has the chops to play The Joker. Another interesting development is that director Christopher Nolan's brother, Jonathan, will be writing the screenplay, based off a story from Christopher and David Goyer. Jonathan Nolan wrote the short story that Christopher based his script for his breakthrough flick Memento, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the screenplay. Of course, Christian Bale will be back as said Dark Knight and I'm assuming Gary Oldman will also return as Jim "Don't Call Me Commissioner Yet" Gordon as well. Bring on The Dark Knight, baby! Best News of the Week Nominee.
This sounds like a very weird mix of very different flicks, even though it's based on a novel. The flick sounds like Shattered Glass meets Cry_Wolf (the original story behind the flick, anyway) and a little bit of The Hills Have Eyes. The story is about a fraudelent reporter, who was caught faking news stories who stumbles onto a real conspiracy about radiation testing from the 50s, but, of course, no one will believe him because of his shady past. While it is written by the writing team behind 2Fast 2Furious, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, but the team does have an array of interesting projects on the horizon that sound promising. Add this one to the bunch as well. Best News of the Week Nominee.
I guess Sylvester Stallone isn't the only one who likes to break up my nice, neat boxed sets. I love the title, actually, and this flick looks to modernize the John Wayne of cops, John McClane. It says that this flick is about some hacker who infiltrates the "computer infrastructure" and Bruce Willis' John McClane and his jet-black lungs try to put the kibosh on the whole ordeal. They haven't said what Justin Long will play here, but I'd be willing to bet he'll play some techie computer nerd who goes along with the roughneck cop to stop the hackfest. These two should be an interesting combo, with old-school meeting new-school, and, I have to admit, I do want to see Bruce Willis as John McClane on the silver screen one more time. Best News of the Week Nominee.
This is some pretty cool news, I think. Like many, I doubted this movie would make a dent at the box office or even be any good, but I was proven wrong in both instances. The flick actually has several similarities to The Da Vinci Code and when the first National Treasure was released, The Da Vinci Code novel (which was released in 2003) was just tearing up the book charts, so National Treasure's popularity might have spawned, somewhat, from the immense popularity of Dan Brown's novel. Still, the flick proved that these intriguing puzzles were drawing at the box office, and almost set the table for The Da Vinci Code movie to make some serious money. I think a sequel is a great idea, and with all the principals back in play, this should be in place for another strong showing. Best News of the Week Nominee.
While I think the marvelous John C. Reilly is more than ready to move out of the back seat and into the drivers seat, this re-teaming of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby co-stars is a pretty damn good move. They both had such great chemistry in the fabulously funny flick, and this new project should give us a much different look at these funnymen. They both live at home, each spoiled by their single parents. That is, until the single parents meet, fall in love and marry, making the best friends step-brothers. There is a pretty interesting dynamic with this story, and I know Ferrell and Reilly are more than capable to pull it off. Not only are Ferrell and Reilly re-teaming with each other, but also with most of the creative team behind Talladega Nights. Will and Adam McKay will both write the script again, and Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller will produce again here. No word yet on whether Adam McKay will direct again, or maybe Apatow will step behind the helm again, like he did phenomenally well with The 40 Year Old Virgin. This team also brought us the Ferrell "laffer" Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, but I thought that flick was insanely overdone. In Talladega Nights, it seemed they pulled it back a little bit, and it was a much funnier flick as a result, I think. If they keep the same formula up here, this should be a great comic gem for the whole team. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Will Ferrell took the drivers seat this weekend, as him and his new movie drove laps around the competition this weekend. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby dominated the competition and took the checkered flag this weekend with a solid opening-weekend gross of just over $47 million. This mark was good for the third highest August opening weekend, behind Rush Hour 2 and Signs. The flick was shown in a beefy 3,803 theaters, taking in an impressive $12, 369 per-screen average. This great opening weekend for Ferrell and Co., critically also with a great 76% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is made all the better since it means they'll likely secure a profit. The flick had a medium budget of $72.5 million, and since the secured over half of that budget in three days, it's safe to say this flick should easily make a profit, and likely reach $100 million. Also, with the biggest movie of the week opening on a Wednesday this week, and some mediocre competition during the weekend, it's probably safe to say that Talladega Nights will take the box office crown for at least one more weekend.
Barnyard: The Original Party Animals took a solid 2nd place this weekend, taking in $15.8 million in its opening weekend. The animated flick showed in a decent 3,311 theaters, taking in a per-screen average $4,778. The flick isn't doing as well, profit-wise, though. The flick has a $51 million budget and, even with some uncompetitive weekends coming up, I can't see these animals scrouning up enough to be profitable. The critics didn't help out much either, with Barnyard getting just a 27% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
While the critics did give the 5th place flick this weekend, moviegoers didn't pay it much mind. The Descent could only must $8.9 million in its opening weekend, even though it received a wonderful 83% "Fresh" rating on RT. But it wasn't released in a whole lot of theaters (2,095) and the marketing wasn't nearly as prevalent as Talladega Nights. It scored a moderate $4,253 per-screen average, but perhaps the shining reviews and some good word-of-mouth could give this flick some wheels.
Of course we have to start off here with a teaser site. Argh. All we have here is a look at a possible one-sheet and a link to register for updates. Next... Surf's Up opens on June 8, 2007.
A pretty simple site here, folks, but with some decent content. In the About menu, we get an intersting Synopsis, a nice Director's Statement which gives us some insight into the flick, and some insight into the conception of the film itself in From Sundance Lab to Screen. There is also The Heart of Sherrybaby, which is essentially an interview with star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Shooting For Truth, which tells us about some of the techniques used in the flick to make it more real and The Filmmakers gives us some nice bios on the crew. The Cast menu gives us similar bios on the stars in front of the camera, Sherry's World gives us a collection of film clips and there's also a Trailer here. This is a pretty decent site, with a little bit of style and some informative content. Pretty good site, folks. Sherrybaby opens on September 8 in limited release.
While Secretary was Maggie Gylenhaal's breakout film, Sherrybaby could be the one to make her a household name. This based-on-a-true story flick is the sort of stuff that Oscar voters have been going with lately, and Gylenhaal looks to deliver an outstanding performance here as a parolee who discovers just how hard it is to get your life back on track. A recovering herion addict, Gyllenhaal struggles to find a job and also to reconnect with her family, including her young daughter who barely knows her. This looks like a very powerful, eye-opening flick. Sherrybaby opens on September 8 in limited release.
This flick should test out the popularity of the WWE, with its new star and champion, John Cena, starring in his first flick. Sure, it doesn't look all that original, with Cena starring as an ex-Marine who gets in some baddies' way and ends up with his wife being taken hostage by them. Of course, it's up to just him to get her back and blah blah blah. Still, this looks like some great eye candy at its finest, with some innovative action sequences and some hot chicks to boot. This could find a niche with people longing for some summer-style action in the fall, but the true test will be to see if Cena has the chops to cut it as an actor... outside of the ring, that is. The Marine opens on October 13.
If you bring up Tenacious D in a conversation, most people would probably say, "Oh, Jack Black's band" and so on. There aren't many that know the other half of Tenacious D, Kyle Gass, but he's right there with his partner in this flick about a holy pick... guitar pick, that is. I had a friend that would always differentiate between "films" and "movies", saying something wouldn't be a good "film," but it'd be a good "movie" and this is probably the best way to describe this Pick of Destiny flick. You won't find any high art or drama here, or will you not find this flick anywhere near an Oscar ceremony. But this looks like some low-grade popcorn fun that will probably give you some cheap laughs and an overall decent time at the cinema. I'll give it a shot. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny opens on November 17.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
While I had a lot to choose from this week, I'm going with the Dark Knight's return for my Best News of the Week. Sure, we all saw this coming bat-miles away, but I doubt anyone saw Heath Ledger being cast as the legendary Joker here. Just forget about the gay cowboy movie and watch his two other flicks from last year, Lords of Dogtown and The Brothers Grimm. Both were great and vastly underrated flicks (both underperforming at the box office as well), but Ledger showed some astounding range in both of these flicks. He surely has the chops to play The Joker here, and with Christopher Nolan, David Goyer and Christian Bale returning, along with the screenwriting debut of Jonathan Nolan, this is shaping up to be pretty damn good, folks.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
This is a first, folks. This is the first time in over 3 years that I really couldn't find any news bad enough to be a Worst News of the Week Nominee. The only thing I could find that I think would qualify would be the the Pink Panther's return. Still, they just hired some scrubs to write a script, and, even though Steve Martin is on board, it doesn't really mean anything. So, I guess by default, this is my Worst News of the Week. Still, besides this little defect, it was a pretty damn good week, so enjoy the optimism while it lasts, kids!
That's all I've got 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.