Another week has passed, giving us another slew of movie news, box office figures, official websites for upcoming movies and new movie trailers. So let's get this party started and kick it off with this week's Notables.
"Denzel Washington set for Tony Scott's Deja Vu" - Monday, April 25
It looks like Tony Scott is all set for his next summer blockbuster with this project, with his two-time cohort Denzel Washington and his many-time cohort, producer Jerry Bruckheimer. It seems like Bruckheimer and his buddies are finally putting their thinking caps on, because with this project, and Michael Bay's upcoming The Island, it looks like they're moving away from the mindless drivel that they've spun out for years and years. The story here sounds pretty cool, with Washington playing an FBI agent who can travel through time, and falls in love with a woman who will be murdered soon. The only thing I'm wondering about here is why screenwriter Terry Rossio didn't team up with collaborator Ted Elliot for this script, instead writing this project with relative newcomer Bill Marsilii. Still, this looks like a solid new project. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Lions Gate picks up Prey" - Monday, April 25
With the recent split up of Miramax Films, the company that gave a face to independent films, I'm looking to the edgy Lions Gate Films to pick up the slack. They have spun out some wonderful flicks in the past few years, and I was looking for them to take the reins of the indie scene. Well, if they keep picking up projects like this one, I'm not so sure anymore, even though this is a Lions Gate shingle company, Sobini Films, that has acquired this project. This sounds like a pure rip-off of Misery, for one, and, since this is the same company that gave us the bomb The Prince and Me, I'm not so confident that they can pick their projects so well. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Jesse Metcalfe to make his film debut as John Tucker" - Wednesday, April 27
My TV watching schedule normally consists of poker tournaments, South Park, The Shield and damn near anything on ESPN, so, I'm probably the only person in the country that has never seen Desperate Housewives and this Jesse Metcalfe kid. But they must have a lot of faith in him to topline a picture like this, seeing as he has only Housewives, a TV movie and the TV show Passions to his credit. The story sounds really good, actually, almost a reverse chick-flick, with three conniving exes who set up Metcalfe to get dumped by the new girl in town. Now, I'm really hoping that she won't fall in love with him in the end, but it almost sounds that way. Still, this is a pretty fresh take on this sort of movie, so it'll be interesting to see how it turns out. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Clive Owen set for Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men" - Thursday, April 28
This sounds like a really cool project, and it seems that Clive Owen's stock just keeps on rising. This project is set in the "near future" (I hate when they say that) where man has lost it's manhood, i.e. it's ability reproduce. How this happens, I have no idea, but maybe Pfizer went out of business or something... Anyway, tragedy strikes when the youngest person in the world dies, and Owen is assigned to protect an anomoly: the first pregnant woman in 20 years. While the premise might be a tad "out there," at least it's original, and with Owen top-lining and Cuaron directing, it should definitely be worth checking out. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Lions Gate picks up Lord of War" - Friday, April 29
O.K., I guess I jumped the gun a bit by doubting Lions Gate Films before, with their pick-up of Prey. It still does sound stupid, but this Lord of War should more than make up for it. For one, it is written and directed by one of my favorties in the biz, Andrew Niccol (See: Gattaca, writer of The Truman Show and S1m0ne), and the cast looks pretty solid as well, with Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto. Niccol has never done an action-thriller before, focusing on dramas and dark comedies, but he is an exceptional writer, and this story, centering on an arms dealer who re-thinks his life while on the lam, sounds rather promising indeed. If anyone can pull this off, it surely is Niccol. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
While I'm sure most moviegoers drove to the theater this weekend, a lot of them were hitchhikers at heart. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy took the top spot this weekend, taking in $21.1 million in its opening weekend. It vastly outperformed the week's other new release, xXx: State of the Union, which was screened in almost 350 more theaters than Hitchhikers, but could only muster a 3rd place finish in its debut weekend, grossing $12.7 million. The Interpreter took the 2nd spot this weekend, only dropping 39.4%, with $13.8 million in its second weekend.
Hitchhikers parlayed some solid reviews (63% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) into box office success, with a healthy $6,735 per-screen average. xXx, on the other hand, took a drubbing from the nations critics, only receiving a paltry 15% "Fresh" rating on RT. It only managed a $3,652 per-screen average this weekend. Budget figures weren't released for both of the new releases this weekend, but it seems clear that Hitchikers is definitely on its way up, and xXx is on its way out. They'll likely both take a beating this weekend, when the summer season kicks off with Kingdom of Heaven and House of Wax opening next weekend, but Hitchhikers definitely has the leg up on the competition...at least until Friday.
BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS
O.K., so my predictions took about as bad of a beating as xXx: State of the Union did at the box office this weekend, but hey, it was my first week. This weekend we get the summer movie season started, though, and there will surely be a surge at the box office this weekend. Kingdom of Heaven and House of Wax are both estimated to be screened in over 3,000 theaters, and Crash is surprisingly slated for a decent theater count as well, with 1,700 theaters. Let's see if I can improve my numbers this week.
Predictions for 5/6-5/8
1) Kingdom of Heaven: $45 million
2) House of Wax: $22 million
3) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: $12.6 million
4) The Interpreter: $8.7 million
5) The Amityville Horror: $3.2 million
Last Weekend's Prediction Results
1) xXx: State of the Union: $19.4 million ACTUAL Rank - 3; Gross - $12.7 million
2) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: $14.8 million ACTUAL Rank - 1; Gross - $21.1 million
3) The Amityville Horror: $10.7 million ACTUAL Rank - 4; Gross - $7.8 million
4) Kung Fu Hustle: $9.8 million ACTUAL Rank - 8; Gross - $3.3 million.
5) Sahara: $6.3 million ACTUAL Rank - 5; Gross - $5.7 million
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen: (www.bowlingmovie.com)
I don't think I've ever seen a teaser site for a documentary before, but there's a first time for everything, eh? Anyway, they better get their pins in a row pretty quick, since this flick opens in a few weeks, on May 27 in limited release. The only thing the site has to offer is the trailer, so it looks like an open frame for this site.
The Brothers Grimm: (www.miramax.com/thebrothersgrimm)
There is even less on this site, and it really pissed me off, because this is a movie that I'm really looking forward to. I should've known, though, since the site is directly off the Miramax website, and all that is there is a synopsis, with Cast and Crew "coming soon." I also can't say that I'm surprised, since there really is no Miramax anymore, at least not in the capacity that it used to be. Anyway, this flick doesn't open until July 29, so there is some time to get some content on here, or just start up a whole new site altogether, which is what I surely hope they do.
Yet another fairly worthless site, with only a brief synopsis, a photo gallery with all of 3 photos and the trailer. Next site, please... Land of the Dead opens on June 24.
The Great Raid: (www.miramax.com/thegreatraid/)
Yeah, another worthless Miramax site, with a synopsis, but they do have the cast and crew list this time. Hoo rah... The Great Raid opens on August 12.
This isn't a Mirimax site, but it might be even worse. All there is here is the one-sheet, and a boring list of info on the movie, like the cast and even technical specs. Give me a break, people! Pure opens on May 27 in limited release.
OK, the next four sites I looked at are Miramax sites, and they are all the same...well, except for the info on each movie, but yeah. You'll get the same info on these flicks in our Movie Vault, so I'm just providing the Movie Vault links for the following flicks: Secuestro Express, Twin Sisters, An Unfinished Life and The Warrior. Damn you Miramax, or should I say, damn you Disney! Anyway, I have a few more sites, so let us proceed.
Well, the crap just keeps on coming. There is nothing on this site, except for a picture of the aforementioned brothers and a link to register for updates. I think they're deliberately doing this just to piss me off...Four Brothers opens on August 12.
The Honeymooners: (www.honeymoonersmovie.com)
Well, at least we have SOME content here. There is even a little voice intro from the cast welcoming you to the site. How cute. Anyway, as far as content goes, there isn't much, but it's a frickin goldmine compared to the rest of this week's sites. There is a brief synopsis, you can view the trailer and look at 16 production photos, download some AIM Icons, screensavers and wallpapers and 3 simple games to play. The games are really simple, and are amusing for about 20 seconds. There's some nice style to this site, with the whole site on one page, and you have to pan through it, and the content isn't bad, but they could use more, and probably some better games. Still, this site is phenomenal compared to this week's field. The Honeymooners opens on June 10.
This flick was the Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance, but it sure does have a crappy site, so I guess it fits in well for this week. All there is here is a look at a probably one-sheet and a link to register for updates. Hopefully more will be added to this site before the flick hits theaters on July 15.
I can see this movie as being this year's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The critics loved that movie (73% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) but audiences really didn't ($37.7 million gross from a $70 million budget). This flick was adapted by TV guru Joss Whedon, from his cult-ish, yet short-lived TV series Firefly. The trailer does look pretty good, even though it has this Pitch Black sort of element to it. Another bad sign is the flick's release date of September 30. September isn't exactly a month where moviegoers flock to the theaters, so we'll have to see if this flick can reverse the trend. It does look rather interesting, but I'm still just not too sure yet.
This actually looks pretty good. I say "actually" because it has one of those dreaded September release dates. There is a pretty good cast here, with Jodie Foster, Sean Bean and the always stellar Peter Sarsgaard. The story is rather unique, with Foster as an aviation designer who builds the biggest airplane in the world. When she flies home with her daughter, the daughter somehow vanishes on the plane, and many believe she never came on board. I'm not sure how much bank this will make, but it looks like a pretty slick thriller. Flightplan (dull title, by the way) opens on September 23.
After the surprise success of last year's Dawn of the Dead remake, George A. Romero has been somewhat of a hot commodity. A lot of his films are now being remade, but he decided to go it on his own with his new zombie flick, Land of the Dead. It looks pretty damn cool too, I must say, with what seems like a reinvention of the zombies and a decent cast with Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo and Asia Argento. Horror is definitely back in style these days, and I can't wait to see what one of the living legends of horror can do to today's audiences. Land of the Dead opens on June 24.
We've been seeing a lot of these "strangers thrown together" type flicks lately, and, honestly, I can't say that I recall seeing one since Magnolia, although I am really looking forward to Crash. Anyway, this just looks like indie fluff, disguised as high art, but it looks about as fun as watching paint dry...on a blimp...from the ground. Do you sense my enthusiasm, or lack thereof? I thought so. Heights opens on June 10 in limited release.
While I think that Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy should make a great comic pair, I'm not quite sure this material is up to snuff. It actually looks a lot like an earlier Levy flick with John Candy, Armed and Dangerous, where Levy played a disgraced lawyer who becomes a security guard with Candy's disgraced cop character to foil bad guys. The story doesn't look like it's set up very well, written by fairly unproven writers and helmed by a director in Les Mayfield who has a string of bombs behind him (See: American Outlaws, Blue Streak and Flubber). Then again, it is being released on September 9, so I doubt there will be much else to see, so I'll probably check it out...skeptically.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
This week was loaded with good news, but I'm going with Clive Owen's new project for my Best News of the Week. Clive is on quite a roll lately, fresh off his Oscar-nominated performance for Closer and his marvelous turn in one of the best movies of the year, so far, Sin City. It looks like he's shooting for the hat trick with this project, with another wonderful director behind him in Alfonso Cuaron and a super-slick story to boot. By the way, if Mr. Cuaron, or any of his people are reading this, I would suggest the highly talented Samantha Morton for the lead female role of the pregnant woman. Just a suggestion, but I think she'd be smashing for the role. Anyway, I hope Owen keeps on his hot streak, because this flick will surely be one to watch for.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK NOMINEE
This week was not really loaded with bad news, for a change, so the only choice I have is Lions Gate on the "Prey" for my Worst News of the Week. Lions Gate is a wonderful company, and I'm not sure why they have a shingle like this Sobini Films under their flag. Sorry, but if you know anything about Lions Gate Films, The Prince and Me isn't exactly their kind of material. Oh well. No person, or production company for that matter, is perfect. That explains one of the only Lions Gate films that I just hated, Cabin Fever...
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, official websites for upcoming movies, 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.