Another week has passed, and we have another slew of movie news, box office figures, new official websites to upcoming movies and new trailers to look at. So lets get rolling with this week's Notables.
"Richard Linklater directs Fast Food Nation" - Monday, May 2
Hmm. A movie inspired by a book which digs up dirt on fast food companies? Super Size Me delved into this a little bit, between Morgan Spurlock wolfing down burgers and fries. What I don't get is how they're going to make this fictionalized version into a thriller. Does the Hamburgaler and Dave Thomas' ghost come after people looking to expose the fast food companies? I just don't see how this can be effective, and, even though I'm a big fan of Linklater's work, I just don't know why he'd pick a project like this. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Kevin James set to star in Man in Uniform" - Monday, May 2
Kevin James is certainly on a roll lately. He has the highest grossing flick of the year, so far, in Hitch, and a few weeks ago he signed onto a flick called Field Trip, which I made a Best News of the Week Nominee. This guy sure can pick his projects, because this one sounds like a winner too. This flick has James as an average Joe who's life takes a bizarre turn when he comes across a missing police uniform. What's funny is this flick, and the Field Trip project seem like they probably wouldn't work with ANYONE other than James. He has the perfect demeanor for both these roles, and I wouldn't be surprised if these two roles were written with him in mind. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"WB picks up A Long Way Down" - Tuesday, May 3
There are just some authors whose work just translates perfectly to the silver screen. Stephen King comes to mind as does Elmore Leonard, who wrote the books for Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Jackie Brown and many many others. Nick Hornby is right up there though, even though this new book of his that is being adapted to film, is only his fourth book. But it will also be the fourth movie from his four books (See: High Fidelity, About a Boy and this year's Fever Pitch). Although I haven't seen Fever Pitch (which was, incidentally, a remake of a British flick based off the book, which featured an obsessed soccer fan instead of a baseball fan), the other two adaptations of his work have been great flicks, so I don't see why this one would be any different. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Gabriele Muccino to direct Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness" - Tuesday, May 3
This sounds like one of those true stories that the critics all warm up to, but not always moviegoers. However, with a bankable star like Will Smith signed up for this project, this could earn some serious bank. The story centers on Smith's character, who was a homeless father and is now the head of a brokerage firm in Chicago. I've never heard of the director, Muccino, but this sounds like a truly amazing story, and it'll give Smith a chance to show off his dramatic chops once again. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Vinnie Jones confirmed for X-Men 3" - Tuesday, May 3
This sounds like a pretty good fit to me. My comic book friends tell me this Juggernaut guy has super-human strength, so he'll probably have to wear a big body-suit, but he definitely has the look for this character. Vinnie can play the meanest SOB with the best of 'em, and I hear that later on, in the comic book, Juggernaut goes bad, so they have that angle covered. Add in the fact that he has worked extensively with producer-turned-director Matthew Vaughn on Guy Ritchie's Brit crime flicks, this should turn out nicely. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Sony has plans for a total of 6 Spider-Man films" - Wednesday, May 4
Whew! I was a bit worried when it was said awhile ago that the third Spidey flick, to be released in 2007, was to be the last. I didn't really understand the logic behind that, since the comic book series has gone on since practically the beginning of time, and there are countless villains that could be used in movie versions. I think 6 would work just fine, since it would give ample room to develop Spidey/Peter Parker's character fully, and use as many villains up as possible. Besides, there is mucho demand for Spidey anyway, since the first two flicks have grossed almost $800 million DOMESTICALLY! It definitely isn't broke, so I'm glad they have no plans of fixing it. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Alien vs. Predator 2 is a go!" - Wednesday, May 4
Innacurate Statements made by 20th Century Fox Film Co-Chairman Tom Rothman in this article:
1) "It was a huge success." - referring to the first AVP. Really? A huge success? It only made $20 million profit, somehow, and if you factor in $35 million that was spent in marketing the flick, it lost $15 million, so take it easy with your "huge success."
2) "The previous Alien and Predator movies take place in the future..." The Alien movies, yeah, but both Predator movies take place in present day, with the first taking place in the Central American jugle, and the second one in Los Angeles.
Accurate Statement by Me:
Worst News of the Week Nominee
"WB pick up Gary Goldman's Skyport" - Thursday, May 5
First of all, the first sentence in this article is innaccurate. Gary Goldman was not a screenwriter on Minority Report, he was an executive producer. He did, however, write Total Recall, so he does have some experience in this sci-fi gig. This sounds like a really interesting story, about a scientist who wants to build an orbiting city in space. Kinda sounds like Bugsy, only in space, instead of the Nevada desert. Anyway, this sounds like a pretty cool sci-fi project to me. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Chris Tucker signs onto Brett Ratner's Rush Hour 3" - Thursday, May 5
After reading this article, I think we can easily compare Chris Tucker to the NFL's bad boy Ricky Williams. I'm not saying Tucker is a pothead or anything, but it appears that Tucker has been extensively travelling the world, like Williams had said he was going to do, and after a hiatus from their given profession, both now want to get back into the fold, although Williams' return is likely because he owes his team a crapload of money. While Tucker definitely has a gift for comedy, I'm not sure if anyone is up for a third installment of this series, except for New Line Cinema who is stretching for a profitable series of flicks after their Lord of the Rings series ended its run. Besides, Tucker's cohort Chan has pratically fallen off the American radar with a string of bombs as of late. Tucker hasn't worked since Rush Hour 2, and that was four years ago, and while I'm sure he can shake off the rust easily, I just don't know what else they can do to spin a successful third installment of a series that has basically just repeated the same jokes over and over again, only in different locales. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Kingdom of Heaven took the number 1 spot at the box office this weekend, but it's results were anything but heavenly. The Crusades epic came out on top with a paltry, for this time of year, gross of $19.6 million. It was the lowest #1 movie on the first weekend in May since 1997, when The Fifth Element scored just over $17 million. This incredible underperformance is not a great sign for the movie biz, which has seen only 3 flicks go over $100 million so far this year, Hitch, Robots and The Pacifier. Last year, at this time, there were only 2 flicks over $100 million at this point, but one of them was The Passion of the Christ, and its $374 million gross. Anyway, Kingdom fell well below expectations, averaging only $6,105 per-screen in 3,216 theaters, which aren't horrid numbers for any other time of the year but summer. They don't have a chance in hell, or even heaven of making a profit back from its massive $130 million budget.
In a surprisingly close second place this weekend was House of Wax which scored just over $12 million in its debut weekend. The flick averaged a meager $3,882 per-screen in 3,112 theaters, but there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for this flick: it only had a $40 million budget. It'll be very tough, mind you, with that one flick about Jedi and stuff coming out in a few weeks, but if it performs very well next weekend, it could have a shot at a profit.
The big surprise of the weekend for me was the 4th place finish of Crash. I'm not surprised it did well, grossing $9.1 million in its opening weekend, I was mainly surprised it was released in so many theaters. It was released in 1,864 theaters, which was WAY more than I figured it would be shown in, so my $1.2 million prediction from my summer preview was just shot all to hell. Budget figures weren't released for this flick, but it's off to a pretty decent start.
As always, the flick industry looks to the summer to rebound from the normally-slow spring, and this weekend has become the kick-off to it all. It looks like this year was an on-side kick.
BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS
Well, aren't I off to a smashing start. Not so much. Besides the first two flicks, I didn't really do that bad, though. I'm going to alter my predictions from my summer preview a bit, because Unleashed is getting a pretty slick marketing campaign, and Monster-in-Law I think is falling by the wayside, even though Monster-in-Law is in many more theaters. I'm just hoping the third time is the charm...
Predictions for 5/13-5-15
1) Kicking and Screaming: $50 million
2) Unleashed: $20.4 million
3) Monster-in-Law: $16.7 million
4) Mindhunters: $9.8 million
5) Kingdom of Heaven: $8.7 million
Last Weekend's Prediction Results
1) Kingdom of Heaven: $45 million -ACTUAL Rank - 1; Gross - $19.6 million
2) House of Wax: $22 million -ACTUAL Rank - 2; Gross - $12.07 million
3) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: $12.6 million -ACTUAL Rank - 3; Gross - $9.7 million
4) The Interpreter: $8.7 million -ACTUAL Rank - 5; Gross - $7.8 million
5) The Amityville Horror: $3.2 million -ACTUAL Rank - 8; Gross - $3.3 million
The Beautiful Country: (http://www.sonyclassics.com/beautifulcountry/)
I used to think that Press Kit's on these websites was a cool thing, because they give you a lot of info that you'd normally not get on a website. Now, I'm only starting to see them on sites just so they don't have to go through the trouble of creating a good website. This site is just like that. All we get here is the press kit and a few photos. In the press kit, there is a ton of info that is normally incorporated into a website like a synopsis, cast and crew info, historical info, since this is based on a true story, and stuff like that. Instead of adding this onto the main site, and putting some style behind it, they just let you download the press kit. There is a reason movies have official websites for all to see, because websites, the good ones anyway, have info and style that makes it fun to take in this info. They just make no effort here. Worthless. The Beautiful Country opens on July 8 in limited release.
Saving Face: (http://www.sonyclassics.com/savingface/)
Now, this site is the perfect antithesis to the last site. There isn't a ton of stuff on here, probably the same as you'd find in any press kit, but with the style of a website. We get a synopsis, bios on the cast and crew, a small photo gallery, the trailer, some production notes and a nice Directors Note from Alice Wu. The site won't set the world on fire, but it's a hell of a lot better than flipping through a press kit. Saving Face opens on May 27 in limited release.
Crazy Like a Fox: (http://www.crazylikeafoxmovie.com/)
I wasn't too crazy about this site when I first hopped on, because it was pretty bland, they only give you a tiny synopsis and the trailer and if you scroll down more, there is what appears to be a mission statement for the production company. Yeah, pretty stupid. But, there are some links at the top, that provide a bit more content. Click on Synopsis for more of an in-depth synopsis, and also a Q&A session with the writer-director, Richard Squires, which gives some nice insight into many aspects of the movie. Under Cast and Crew there are some decent biographies for the main members of the cast and crew, News gives a timeline of festival highlights and other bits and Gallery has the trailer and a few photos. I liked some of the things for content they included in the site, but it isn't real style-heavy, not that you'd expect it from a lower-budget flick, but it's a decent site all together. Crazy Like a Fox opens on May 13 in limited release.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: (http://www.mrandmrssmithmovie.com/)
The site starts off with a real slick intro, and once you get into the site, you can even choose your own background from 4 choices, something I've never seen before, but thought was fairly cool. Under About the Movie there are the sub-menu's The Story, which is just a brief synopsis and list of the main cast and crew, Cast and Characters, which for now just has some pictures of each of the characters but will have bios coming soon, and the same goes with Filmmakers which has a list of the crew with no bios as of yet. The Meet the Smiths section is also coming soon. Under Dossier, there is a Photo Gallery, but the Movie Clips and Behind the Scenes sections are, yeah, coming soon. In Assignments, it's really just a downloads section where you can grab some AIM Icons, desktops and screensavers. You can also check out the trailer here as well. There is plenty of style here, with each page loading in a spy-like fashion, which is really cool. They just need to fill it out a bit more. Hopefully they will soon, because the movie opens on June 10.
Saint Ralph: (http://www.saintralphmovie.com/)
This is a pretty decent site with a little bit of style and some decent substance. The Film link gives us a decent synopsis, although it's the exact same thing we get in the link Production. The Cast and Crew links give us some decent bios of the main players involved in the flick. Under Production, there is The Production, which is the same as the synopsis, The Director, Director's Statement, which is cool though rather lengthy, as well as links to The Look, The Cast and a full list of both cast and crew. There is also the trailer, some news and reviews, a photo gallery and release dates. This is a pretty decent site for an indie flick like this. Saint Ralph opens on June 10 in limited release.
Crazy Like a Fox:
This looks like a quirky little flick, with some parts Field of Dreams and some parts Grumpy Old Men, where an old man gets tricked out of his historic property. The cast has no one you'd turn your head for, but it does look kind of cool. It's one of those flicks that you'd never admit to your friends that you liked, but secretly did...well, if you're a guy that is. It comes out May 13, in limited release, so I'm not sure how much of an audience it will find in the summer crowd. But, as we saw from this week's box office results, anything can happen.
This one looks like a cross between Grind and Torque, and that really isn't a good thing. This flick centers around motorcross, with a couple of amateurs trying to take on the big boys and live the good life and blah blah blah. It might be some mindless fun to end out the summer, but I'm not counting on it. Supercross opens on August 10.
Wow. This looks like a simply amazing movie, though it shouldn't be surprising since it won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Terrance Dashon Howard looks to give a breakthrough performance here, and his supporting cast including Anthony Anderson, who you all should be watching this year on the phenomenal TV show The Shield, and rapper Ludacris looks great as well. This one just got slated for release not too long ago, and I hope it finds a niche amongst the summer blockbusters. Last year, it was Napoleon Dynamite and Garden State. This year, I wouldn't bet against this flick as being the indie darling of the summer. Hustle and Flow opens on July 13.
I was a huge fan of the TV show as a kid, so I have a few problems with it, but I'm not a purist snob or anything, and it does look rather entertaining. It looks like the director, Jay Chandrashekar, does a really good job here with the car chase scenes, and it looks like he used a lot of the same angles and techniques they used on the show. And his Chandrashekar's Broken Lizzard comedy troupe looks to do a decent job with the script, although it seems a little weird with it being souped-up for modern-day. I'm still not sure about Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg, mainly cause Hogg was truly a hog, and a few others in the cast, but it still looks pretty good. Scott and Knoxville seem to fit into the Duke boys' roles pretty good, and Jessica Simpson seems to fit into everything very nicely as Daisy Duke. Good Lord can she work them shorts....Dukes of Hazzard opens on August 5.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
It was a tough choice this week, but I'm going with