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 flicks and new trailers. So lets get this under way with this week's Notables.
Well, crap. I thought this flick sounded rather interesting when I first heard of it last week and made it a Best News of the Week Nominee, but those damn schedules always have to get in the way, don't they? What sucks about this is these kind of delays tend to have a snowballing effect. For instance, perhaps Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller will be ready to shoot this next year, but in that time director Jay Roach decided to make a 4th Austin Powers flick, or a Meet the Parents/Fockers flick. When he's done with that, Carrey will be doing Ace Ventura 3: Pet Cemetery, where he tries to figure out pet murders through telepathy, and when he's done with that, Stiller will be off making Mystery Men 2, and when he's done with that... well, you get the picture. Of course, they say they're all committed to make the picture, but this never includes a deadline, and we may end up seeing this flick in the far future, when it won't end up being a period piece. I just hope they pull this together soon. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
This true-story flick sounds like the old Sean Astin flick Toy Soldiers, but in a much different environment. This is about a Russian elementary school that is infiltrated by Chechen rebels for 3 days in 2004. The flick is based on an Esquire magazine article from the New York Times writer who covered the story as it happened, and then returned recently to interview the survivors. This sounds like a powerful story that will cross over from the days of the attack to the survivors a few years later, and could make for a pretty good flick. Best News of the Week Nominee.
About the only thing that this has going for it is the cast, with the talented duo of the lovely Kate Hudson and Ken Wantanabe. Besides the stupendously stupid title, this kind of story has been done before with a stranger in a strange land falling in love with someone they shouldn't be falling in love with and blah blah blah. It was most recently done with South Africa and Aparthied as a back drop with Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche in In My Country. While the nice pairing of Hudson and Wantanabe could be nice to watch, it's probably the only thing worth watching here, and I'm just not too optimistic about this. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
I'm starting to see a LOT of straight-to-video sequels these days, and it's starting to irk me. While they haven't said that this will be a straight-to-video flick, I can't see how it could be anything else, with Rob "No More West Wing" Lowe taking the reins. I'm assuming Lowe will be playing an entirely different character, and this reminds me of a DVD review I did a little while back. It was for Single White Female 2: The Psycho, and I invented a new term to help classify this growing genre: "sequoff." It's part sequel, loosely borrowing parts of the premise, but with different characters, and part rip-off, because it doesn't really have anything to do with the first flick. They're basically just attatching the title to draw fans of the first flick to the sequel, even though both flicks might be both similar and vastly different at the same time. This trend seems to be catching on, with Hollow Man 2 out on DVD this week, and even the new The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift falls into the "sequoff" genre because there is no one at all from the first two flicks in this one, but the flick centers on racing. Welcome to the sequoff genre, Rob Lowe. I doubt it will be a popular one. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Unreal. The sub-head here said it was about some vidgame freaks who help out the government, and I was thinking along the likes of War Games or something. Alas, this flick is about these monsters IN the video games that come to life and the government recruits these guys who have mastered the game to lend them a helping joystick. Wow. I know I'm always pleading for originality in movies, and I guess this is fairly original. Too bad it's also one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard of in my life. OK, I'll start pleading for originality AND intelligence from now on. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
It was nice to see a different side of Kirsten Dunst in Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and this flick should provide another little break from her Mary Jane Watson character from the Spider-Man series, as this will probably come out after her third turn as Spidey's squeeze next year. It's not quite clear what role Dunst will play here, and Gondry is writing this time instead of the enigmatic Charlie Kaufman, but she did great in Eternal Sunshine, and she'll probably repeat here. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Well, I was way off on my prediction that The Da Vinci Code would break the opening weekend record held by Spider-Man, but it had a pretty damn good weekend anyway. The adaptation of the Dan Brown blockbuster novel took up blockbuster status itself, crushing the field this weekend, taking in just over $77 million. While it missed out on breaking Spidey's 4-year record, it did break a different record. Since it had a worldwide rollout this weekend, it broke the foreign opening weekend record held by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, taking in $152.6 million overseas, surpassing Sith's $145.5 record. What's very surprising about these domestic and international grosses is the scalding treatment it got from the nation's critics. It currently has a 22% "Fresh" rating from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes, although I recall its rating on Friday being even lower at 16% "Fresh." It had a significant rollout at 3,735 theaters and posted a whopping per-screen average of $20,635. They're in pretty good shape after the first weekend, with a good chunk of the $125 million budget made back already. But, with such bad reviews and more religion controversy swirling around the movie, it'll be interesting to see what next weekend's returns will bring, especially in a holiday weekend and especially going up against what could be the heaviest hitter of all this summer: X2: X-Men United.
The sliver medal this weekend went to the latest from Dreamworks Animation, Over The Hedge. The flick took second place with a respectable $38.4 million, and it won over the critics with a 75% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the flick's gross is a tad deceiving. It had the fourth widest release in history, with 4,059 theaters. But its gross, out of the 15 widest releases ever (all of which have been in the past 2 years), is 13th, above only The Dukes of Hazzard and Robots and its per-screen average of $9,474 only bests Dukes, in the top 15 widest flicks. While the gross and per-screen average are pretty good on their own, when you consider how many theaters it was in, it's performance was fairly lackluster.
The only other newcomer this weekend was the WWE Films take on horror with See No Evil, starring WWE Superstar Kane. Superstar or not, Kane's debut film got a terrible rollout and could only muster a 6th place finish, taking in $4.5 million. It was only shown in 1,257 theaters, accounting for a dismal $3,644 per-screen average. While people do like seeing Kane is a big creepy guy on TV, they apparently don't want to pay for it...
OK, this is a little confusing to start with. The site starts out with a dumb little intro and then they have the main menu items on the top. But I'd advise against clicking on these right away, because it'll just lead you in a big circle back to the main site until you "Pick a Side" of His Way or Her Way. Just do that first, and then surf on to the menus. In About the Film you get Story, which is a nice little synopsis, Cast, which has bios of the really diverse cast. On most of the trailers for this flick, we mostly just see Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, but there is a pretty broad cast here that I was surprised to see like Joey Lauren Adams, Vincent D'Onofrio, Justin Long, Ann-Margaret, Judy Davis, Cole Hauser and Jon Favreau. The things you learn on websites, eh? Anyway, there are also some nice, in-depth Production Notes here as well. Media has the trailers, TV spots and clips, Photos is self-explanitory, Downloads has AIM Icons, wallpapers and screensavers to grab and Special Features has some more goodies. The Argument Mixer has a series of audio clips from both Vaughn and Aniston and you can edit them as you wish to create your own argument and even send it to a friend if you wish. Next here is Mind Reader which is really a little quiz about guys or girls, depending on which "way" you selected earlier, that's fairly interesting. Bowling for Vengance is a dumb little game where you can upload a picture of your ex or someone and put it on some bowling pins and attempt to, literally, strike them down. Lastly is Heading for a Break-Up which is another quiz that rates how your relationship is heading, or something like that. Overall, this is a catchy little site, if you pick your way right away, and it has some nice style, substance and a little fun as well. The Break-Up opens on June 2, which, as the opening page on the site says, is National Break-Up Day, that is apparently sponsored by the site and, humorously enough, Budweiser.
Nacho Libre: (www.nacholibre.com)
This is a fun little site. We open up with the main site having Jack Black and his little cohort shaking hands, and on the left are the menu options. First up is About This Film. It has "Fotos" with a decent gallery to view, Story + Notes, which is just a tiny synopsis and the production notes coming soon and the Cast and Crew sections are both coming soon as well. Blah. The Video menu has the trailers and the awesome Jack Black Confessionals, which are some wonderfully put together video bits taken on the set. There are 17 on the site now, with at least 2 more coming soon. Black is just hilarious and they're well worth watching if you're a fan of his. The Clips and TV Spots are coming soon. The only other active menu on the site is Downloads which gives you a desktop, some AIM Icons and some Mobile goodies to download, with a screensaver coming soon. There are a two other menus here, presumably with some games and stuff, but, alas, they're coming soon. Still, there is some pretty good stuff, just with the confessionals alone to make this site worth taking a look at, and when it's fully active, there should be plenty of entertaining content. Nacho Libre opens on June 16.
The Devil Wears Prada: (www.devilwearspradamovie.com)
Not much here folks. We just get a tiny synopsis in Story, a 10-image gallery and the trailer. Hoo rah. The Devil Wears Prada opens on June 30.
This is quite honestly one of the best sites I've ever seen. After selecting your language preference, another site comes up and it's set up like a poker table. There are many things to click on here, including the martini glass that just gives you little tidbits, but you should start by clicking on the cards, from left to right. The far left card is About the Film. Here you get a nice Synopsis, the Cast and Crew menus have nice bios on the main players on both sides of the camera and there is also a News section with one enty, a full cast list and a link to Register for updates. There are also Production Notes but they're deemed "Classified" which roughly means they're coming soon. The next card has a Wallpaper, Screensavers and AIM Icons to download, the third card has a blog from some cat named Yarborough along with a video for each entry and the last card has some goodies for your cell phone. But they're not even close to being done with this site, folks.
Click on the Dealer button on the right and you switch to the other side of the table, but the cards are all different. The first card on the left has Assignment and Operatives. The Assignment one seems like a different take on a Synopsis, in the form of a letter from M to Bond/you. The Operatives menu is the same as the Cast menu, but for each actor you get a little description of the characters each actor is playing. The next card has you access M's computer and retrieve Bond's Dossier. This is a really cool part of the site and has tons of background info on the young Bond. Keep in mind, Casino Royale was the first Bond novel from Ian Flemming and Daniel Craig's Bond is just starting out as a 00 agent. The third card is Surveilance, with Freeze Frame and Video Capture items to choose from... or a Photo Gallery and the Teaser Trailer. The last card is Basic Training, which I'm assuming is a game of some sort, but this one is Classified/Coming Soon as well. But, of course, there is still more to this site!
Click on the stack of poker chips on the right and you're taken to an overhead view of the table. Click on those chips again to get to a neat little poker game. Since poker is a big part of the movie, apparently, they incorporate it on this site. You can get lessons, or just hop in and play against the computer. You can also set up a private table for you and your friends or even play any open game, if other players are online. They have a nice little interface here, and it's a nice set up.
This is easily one of the best sites I've EVER seen, folks. It will be well worth your time, Bond fan or not. Casino Royale opens on November 17.
Absolutely unreal. I have never seen a trailer like this in all my life. Would you like to know why? Because this ISN'T A TRAILER!!! My God. This is just a film clip that they slapped the title on and called a trailer. I watched it three times, actually, in hopes that there was some mix up with the file or something, but alas, this is what they give us. As if the website wasn't bad enough. While I'm all for trying new stuff with the trailer, and this does, oddly enough, give us a decent feel for the flick, that doesn't mean I can condone the sheer laziness here. It's just confusing and awkward to watch, because you don't know how long this will go on for. For all I knew, the files got switched and I was going to watch the whole movie. It's just terrible terrible marketing, folks, and whoever made this terrible excuse for a trailer should be drawn and quartered. Wow. Some people's kids, I tell you... The Devil Wears Prada opens on June 30.
I remember hearing talk from some friends of mine, when United 93 came out, that it was too soon for these 9/11 flicks to be coming out. Well, if you share that contention you might be skipping this flick as well, but I don't think you should. This true story stars Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena playing John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, two Port Authority officers who attempted to evacuate the towers before they went down, and were caught in the rubble after they went down. It also recounts their families tale that day as they tried to find out if they were all right, and the workers who rescued them from the debris. This looks like an incredibly powerful flick that will show the heroism that was overlooked by the looming evil deeds of that fateful day. This is a flick that surely shouldn't be missed. World Trade Center opens on August 6.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Not a whole lot here this week, but I'm going with Kirsten Dunst reteaming with Michel Gondry for my Best News of the Week. While her bread and butter is surely Spidey, it's nice to see her break out of that mold and play something a little different. Well, in Gondry's case, I'm guessing it will be a LOT different. Dunst has a lot more range that goes unused in Spidey's tales, and it's nice to see her trying to find outlets to further advance her craft, instead of just going with the (cash) flow.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Plenty to choose from here, but I'm picking what might be Jerry Bruckheimer's worst decision EVER in Game Boys. Now I'm guessing they're going to try to cover this by throwing it under the "fantasy" cloak, but that's just retarded, especially in a modern-day setting. If they do this in the year 2145, then maybe it's a little more feasible, because we don't know how far the technology will advance in those years. But, if they're going to do it present-day like I think they will, this will just come off as insanely stupid. I'd like at least a tiny modicum of reality in my movies, and it looks like they're throwing that right out the window here...
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 look like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free.