Another week, another slew of movie news, box office figures, official movie websites and trailers to sort out. So lets get the party started with this week's Notables.
"The Butterfly Effect 2 moves forward without Ashton Kutcher" - Monday, March 21
This actually sounds more like a direct-to-video sort of thing, since they don't have the original cast or the original writer-directors. I think the only reason this flick made $57 million (off a $15 million budget) was because Ashton Kutcher was fairly huge at the time. I really didn't like it that much, and I don't think this should be sequelized, especially with the hacks they've assembled to throw together a sequel. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Ryan Merriman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead to star in Cheating Death: Final Destination 3" - Monday, March 21
Hmm I'm sensing a theme developing. This is another sequel that shouldn't be made, with a new cast of no-namers. Well, at least they got the first flick's director back, but still, there shouldn't have been a second flick, let alone a third. They don't advance the story at all, just use the same premise with different kids. Sure, it keeps making money off a small budget, but this series isn't setting the world on fire either. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Affleck to be in Die Hard 4?" - Monday, March 21
Wow, we really do have a theme here, don't we? Now, before all the die-hard Die Hard freaks throw a fit, I love the Die Hard series and I think they are some of the best action flicks of all time. But seriously, know when to say when. Just let the series be, no matter how much Willis desperately needs a hit. Besides, I don't think they'll mesh well. I didn't like their vibe together in Armageddon, and I don't think it'll work here either. Affleck will go way over the top, like he has been known to do, and Willis will just wince and smoke a carton of cigarettes. Hoo rah. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Ewan McGregor keen on a Moulin Rouge sequel" - Monday, March 21
Holy theme overload, Batman! Stop it already! Enough sequel theme! Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Ben Affleck set to making his directorial debut with Gone, Baby, Gone" - Tuesday, March 22
I think this is really cool, actually. For one, if this is anything like the wonderful Mystic River, then it should be a winner. The pic is set in Boston, too, and we all know of Affleck's Boston roots. I just like that a famous actor is willing to change gears like this. Maybe his and Matt Damon's Project Greenlight inspired him, and he does have a screenwriting Oscar, but still, besides Clint Eastwood, you don't see many actors doing something like this, especially writing and directing. Denzel Washington and George Clooney both have directed movies in recent years, but they graced their star power to the pic by acting in it as well, something Affleck is not doing, which I think is great. He wants his writing and directing to stand out here more than his acting, I can't wait to see what he can do at the helm. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Thomas Haden Church is Spider-man's new archenemy in Spider-Man 3" - Tuesday, March 22
I don't like this for a couple of reasons. Church was wonderful in Sideways, but can you really see him playing a villain? He's too good at being goofy, and this archenemy thing doesn't seem to be his particular brand of pinot noir. The main thing that irks me here is that it seems that they're ruining the awesome set-up they left us with in Spidey 2. We got the impression that Spidey 3 will involve Spidey and the emergence of Harry Osborne as the Green Goblin Jr. With Church on board, I don't know if that will happen, and that's a shame. We don't know what exact character Church is playing, so maybe he'll team up with Osborne to take on Spidey, but still. Lowell from Wings as a villain? Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Ben Affleck asks Does Anybody Here Remember When Hanz Gubenstein Invented Time Travel?" - Wednesday, March 23
This sounded like a very interesting script when they were describing it on the season premiere of Project Greenlight a few weeks ago. The flick they did pick, Feast, is looking rather troublesome as of now, so it will be interesting to see if anything becomes of this Hanz Gubenstein movie. They said Feast was the most marketable, and they're trying for a profitable movie this year, after not even coming close to a profit with the first two movies, Stolen Summer and The Battle of Shaker Heights. So they pick a movie in Feast that had apparently the worst script and the most expensive to produce? I have entered the screenwriting contest 2 of the 3 years, and the whole thing is such a great opportunity in the movie biz, but it might all be in some trouble if they can't make some money this time, and they dug an even bigger grave by picking a script that will cost them much more than they have to make. It will be interesting if this quirky Hanz Gubenstein flick will be able to make some money and show them what they missed out on. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
You'll never "guess who" took home the box office crown this weekend...that's right, Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac. Guess Who survived some lackluster reviews (43% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) to grab the top spot at the box office this weekend. The comedy remake grossed an estimated $21 million on its debut weekend. It averaged a healthy $6,673 per screen, appearing in 3,147 theaters. The budget numbers weren't released for Guess Who, but this is a fairly modest opening weekend, although I doubt they have a lot of work to do to see a profit here. Bernie Mac can't cost that much, can he?
The only other new flick in wide release this weekend was Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and although it took the 2nd spot this weekend, it still wasn't off to a great start. The Sandra Bullock-starring sequel took in $14.5 million in its debut weekend, $6.5 million or so behind Guess Who, even though Miss Congeniality 2 appeared in almost 1,000 theaters more than this week's winner. I think this is a long shot for a profit here, and with the high-profile release of Sin City this coming weekend, I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing some big declines next weekend from Guess Who and Miss Congeniality 2.
Speaking of big 2nd weekend declines, we have last week's winner, The Ring Two. It took the top spot last weekend with a healthy $35 million, but dropped to third place in its second weekend, grossing an estimated $13.8 million. The spooky sequel dropped 60.6% from its opening weekend haul, despite being in more theaters than the top 2 finishers. Dreamworks will see the ring before this movie dies...but the ring will likely be a zero, under profit...
This is a very busy site, with a lot os stuff flying at you, like these scrolling characters running across the screen where your mouse is (you can close that out, though). On the left there is the menu, and under The Film you get a synopsis and cast and crew bios. Under Media, you get 7 video clips, a photo gallery and some Video Extras, which is footage from different premieres of the movie from all over the world. Click on Downloads for a bunch of wallpapers, avatars (which is just a fancy word for AIM Icon) and even a small set of trading cards for you to collect, with "stats" on each character. The Games link takes you to the Pig Sty Arcade that gives you 4 different games to choose from and play. These are some really awesome games too! They won't take your PS2's place, but for free web games like this, they are awesome and will take you back to the old-school Nintendo days. This is a really cool site, with a lot of style and substance and plenty for you to do before this kickig flick hits theaters on April 8 in limited release.
We get some creepy industrial music as a background here, and at the bottom of the site is a discreet menu running the width of the site. The Story link gives you a synopsis and a bio on Phillipe Nahon, who play's the flick's killer. Gallery gives you a few production photos, ECards has 4 cards to send online to whoever, Downloads has 4 wallpapers, with screensavers, AIM Icons and Stickers coming soon. There is also the trailer, which is very good, some brief statements from the director and message boards. There isn't a ton of stuff here, but there is enough to get you into this flick that opens on June 3.
OK, this is just weird. Let me see if I can explain this. This movie is based on a TV show from back in the day, right? Right. But, it's not an adaptation of the show. The movie is set in present-day Hollywood, where they're making a show called Bewitched. With me so far? Good. OK, so Will Ferrell plays the actor playing Darren, and he's searching for the actress to play Samantha. Then, he discovers Nicole Kidman's character, who he wants for the part...but she is actually a witch. It's like they got a team of acid-droppers to complicate this to the highest possible level, when all they had to do was follow the frickin show! It's like translating Japanese into Pig Latin into English. This might be worth seeing for Kidman and Ferrell, but I just don't know what they were thinking with the story. Bewitched opens on June 24.
It's All Gone Pete Tong:
It seems quite obvious that writer-director Michael Dowse is a fan of Christopher Guest. No one out there these days really does the "mockumentary" anymore, but Mr. Dowse wants to give it a shot. The problem is, this isn't nearly as funny as Guest's work, and while the material is interesting - a DJ who goes deaf - I just don't think this will be good at all. It's All Gone Pete Tong opens on April 15 in limited release.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Well, I only have 2 nominees this week, and they both revolve around Ben Affleck, so I'm just going to give them both to him. Ben's directing debut and new script acquisition should both work out great for him. It's nice to see such a famous actor trying to branch out in the biz. Maybe he is doubting his acting ability, or at least his choices of movies to act in with his many flops lately, but if he wants to work on the other side of the camera, these two projects sound like wonderful starts. If he's successful here, maybe he can breathe some new life into Project Greenlight, because it almost seems if they're trying to create as much conflict as possible, to make the TV show successful, which it is. Unfortunately, that doesn't do the movie you're making a lot of good. I think these new ventures will be good for Ben, and could just be even better for Project Greenlight.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
There was a lot to choose from this week, but I'm going with Thomas Haden Church as the new Spidey villain for my Worst News of the Week. I just can't see this working at all. He always looks like he just got back from surfing with Paul Walker or something. Is that really how you want a villain to look like? All the parts in the first two Spidey flicks were cast wonderfully, but this one just threw me for a loop. Hell, Paul Giamatti would even be a better choice. At least he looks meaner...
That's all for this week. Surf on by for more box office goodies, official movie 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.