Another seven days has come and gone, and left us with another slew of movie news, box office figures, new websites for upcoming flicks and new trailers. So lets get this party started with this week's Notables.
"Saw III Set to Come to Theaters on October 31" - Monday, May 22
The only thing shocking coming out of this news bit is the sequel's staggering budget of a whopping $10 million. A $10 million budget isn't normally anything to write home about, but when the first two flicks had a COMBINED budget of $5.2 million ($1.2 million for the first, $4 million for the second), $10 million is quite a windfall for this franchise. This franchise continues to be the McDonalds of movies, consistently producing fast and very efficient results. They've twice proven they don't need much time and money to make awesome flicks in back-to-back years, so it'll be pretty cool to see what they can do with such an inflated budget. This is how movies should be made, folks, and I can't wait for the next installment. Best News of the Week Nominee.
" Cillian Murphy and Natalie Press to Star in Telepathy" - Monday, May 22
I know Cillian Murphy is a hot young actor as of late, but this might be pushing it a tad. He'll star here as both, assumably, of these Russian twin brothers who are picked by the government as lab rats to test out telepathy as a medium of communication. If that doesn't sound bad enough, it's not just any normal communication they're interested in... it's communication between earth and outer space. Wow. I don't expect Miranda Richardson, Sam Neil or the obscure Natalie Press to help matters out much for Murphy, because this just sounds utterly moronic. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Danny Glover And Sir Ben Kingsley To Star In And Produce Albert Einstein Biopic" - Monday, May 22
This sounds like a very interesting flick, and should easily give both Glover and Kingsley a nice push for their careers. I was never aware of this campaign by Albert Einstein and Paul Robeson to make lynching a federal crime in 1948, but it sure does sound interesting. We haven't really seen Einstein dealt with on film for quite some time, and this should bring a more realistic look at the man who's last name alone is synonimous with genius. After doing a little research on Robeson, he indeed sounds like a rather interesting character himself, and these two coming together for this front sounds like some nice fodder for film. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Christine Taylor Has A License to Wed" - Monday, May 22
This actually sounds pretty interesting, that should lure me to the theater solely because of my disdain for marriage. The flick sounds normal enough at first: a young couple, played by Mandy Moore and John Krasinski from the TV show "The Office," are set to be married and life is hunky-dory. That is, until they meet their priest that will perform the ceremony and he insists that the couple pass a marriage preparation class before they dive into their nuptuals, or he won't marry them. There are a few surprises about this flick. One is that Ben Stiller, Taylor's husband, doesn't appear to be anywhere near this flick, unlike most of her recent offerings. Another is that Robin Williams will be, hopefully, toning it down a ton of notches to play the stern priest. It doesn't sound like a comedic role at first glance, so that's a big sigh of relief there, and Williams has proven he can shine in non-comedies, like his brilliantly dark turn in One Hour Photo. This could very well be a winner here, folks... if Williams keeps his trap shut. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Sony Going Forward with a The Da Vinci Code Prequel" - Tuesday, May 23
Well, duh. It's no surprise why Sony would sit on plans for Angels and Demons, Dan Brown's first book with his Robert Langdon character, until the opening grosses for The Da Vinci Code came out. And yeah, $232 million worldwide in 5 days is a pretty good indicator that there is a bit of a demand for this. The book takes place a year before the events in Da Vinci Code and has Langdon in Vatican City to solve a mysterious murder and try to prevent many more while chasing down the Illuminati, an ancient brotherhood that was thought to be defunct many moons ago. Hanks surely will sign on to this and return as Langdon, but they do need to cast Vittoria Vetra, a headstrong, leggy, Italian scientist whose father was the victim of the aforementioned mysterious murder. That's all I've gathered through the first 231 pages I've gotten through. The book seems as ingeniously crafted as its successor, and they should have no trouble creating a flick on par with the worldwide popularity that The Da Vinci Code movie has amassed in such a short time. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Samuel Goldwyn Fetches Distribution Rights for Lassie" - Thursday, May 25
Oh give me a frickin break, people! I can't believe they actually made another Lassie movie after all these years. Apparently it got some great response when it premiered at Robert De Niro's Tribecca Film Festival. I just can't wrap my brain around this. This one is set in WWII England, with the family in financial peril and forced to sell the beloved collie to some royal dude. But Lassies misses home sweet home and traverses the countryside to get back to the boy that he loves, and crap. Sure. For one, there hasn't been a Lassie flick out in years, and modern kids won't have any familiarity with the pooch. Second, family flicks haven't been making jack squat at the theater lately, unless they're animated ogres or something. The American family isn't anything like it was when Lassie first came into the mainstream, and I think this flick will fail miserably. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
If the finality of the title remains to be true, then at least the X-Men franchise went out with a major bang. X-Men: The Last Stand took in a Memorial Day weekend record with $122.8 million over the 4-day weekend. That take shattered the previous record of $90.2 held by The Lost World in 1997. It couldn't, however, break the seemingly unbreakable opening weekend (3-day) record held by the almighty Spider-Man. The Last Stand took in $102.8 from Friday to Sunday, making it the fourth highest opening weekend ever, but still far shy of Spidey's record of $114.2 million.
At any rate, the mutants did succeed in bringing moviegoers back to the cinemas in full force, and the weekend as a whole was a record-breaker as well. This weekend the top 12 flicks grossed a total of $188.4 million (3-day period), surpassing the same weekend from 2004 (May 28-30) and its total of $185.6 million. While the weekend as a whole was record-breaking, it was the mutants' weekend all the way. The Last Stand averaged a simply astonishing $33,295 per screen over the four-day period ($27,845 average for the three-day period), showing in 3,690 theaters. The theater count is fairly wide, but there have been much wider releases recently, which just shows how popular this series has grown to become. There is even more good news for the mutants also: the month of June. June is filled with lighter fare and only Superman Returns, which was just announced to open on June 28 instead of June 30, that will have similar fanfare for its release, so X-Men will basically be able to run rampart over the month of June. The one problem about this is that they almost have to. The budget for The Last Stand is estimated at a mammoth $210 million and, even though they got off to a smashing start, if the flick does somehow crap the bed in June, they won't be doing so hot, as far as profits go. But that seems highly unlikely, and with this smashing start, The Last Stand should easily be on its way to being the top grossing movie for 2006.
Jackass 2: (http://www.jackassmovie.com/)
OK. A little while ago they put up a site that was one of the worst ever. They had nothing on it but this weird skull and crossbones thing and the title. Now, they have the new and improved site!! It a massive improvement... but still absolutely terrible. The site is really just a collage of photos, two of which you can click on to get a 10-second or so video clip. Wow. These guys really are jackasses... Jackass 2 opens on September 22.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: (http://www.thefastandthefurious.com/)
The opening page for this site has a lot to do before you even get into the site. You can get stuff for your celly by texting "Fast" to "Drift", you can enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, download an "Xtreme" desktop, watch some online showoff and buy all the editions of the first two flicks. Whew. After all that jazz you enter the site, and it's just a lot of style, and not a whole lot else.
Click the Start Engine button to get another little intro and the main menus. The first is About the Film, and there are a few sub-menus here. They have a Synopsis that is done in too small a text, with more style elements dominating instead, Cast and Crew coming soon, Photos give you a nice photo gallery and the Production Notes are coming soon. The next menu is Downloads and it appears that the "Xtreme Desktop" that you could get on the first page is no joke. They offer a description of the desktop on this page, and it sounds pretty sweet. This desktop actually gives you updates of the flick leading up to opening weekend, giving you up to 10 different animated desktops, new video content and it comes with AIM Icons and a screensaver as well. I've never heard of a desktop like this, and it sounds like the real deal, folks... if you're that much into this movie anyway. But if you just want the AIM Icons, screensaver or other desktops, you can get them individually here, along with a WinAmp Skin and some MySpace downloads. The Videos menu has the trailer, a few behind the scenes videos which are kinda cool, the TV spots and the Film Clips are coming soon. Don't even bother with the Features menu now, because it's just another spot to get the Xtreme Desktop and the Drifting 101 sub-menu is coming soon. Lastly, on the top of the site you can Explore the Cars of the movie, and this part has more substance than the whole rest of the site combined. They offer 8 cars for you to view, with detailed specs on every aspect of the car. You can even click on the car a few more times to get different views of it. This site does have a decent amount of stuff to do, but they used way too much style here. Before clicking on any different menu or sub-menu, they have this annoyingly long loading thing where they give you this stupid graphics thing going all over a certain car, and the tackometer at the top-left charts the loading progress. It just seemed like style overkill to me, and they could've used some more content as well. Still, if you're a die-hard gearhead, or a fan of the series, this should be a great site for you. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift opens on June 16.
Snakes on a Plane: (http://www.snakesonaplane.com/)
OK, there might not be much here, and if your theater was like mine this weekend, most people who saw the trailer that was attatched to X-Men: The Last Stand, thought this looked absolutely absurd, except me. And if you're like those people, this site won't do too much to boost your confidence either. All they have is the logo, a few fan sites and blogs about the flick, which is a nice touch, and a Snake Kit. You can access the Snake Kit without registering first, but if you want to download stuff, you have to register, which is kinda weird but it's free so who cares. After a little video message from Samuel L. Jackson, they have a Photo gallery where you can download transparent images and make your own little snake creation or whatever, some Audio and Video clips and Downloads has AIM Icons, wallpapers, screensaves, the logo, the teaser poster and even a banner with a countdown to the flick to put on your own website. You might be wondering why you'd want to download the logo. Well, simply put, it's probably the coolest logo EVER. Yes, I did say ever, meaning of all time. I have a funny feeling about this flick, folks. If the movie is as simple and cool as this little site, it could be the sleeper hit of the summer. Mark my words. Snakes on a Plane opens on August 18.
I remember thinking this sounded pretty interesting when it was first announced last year, and I think my contention still stands now after seeing the trailer. Firstly, even if you think this looks or sounds stupid, it's well worth it just to see Luke Wilson get kicked around by Uma Thurman. Yeah, I'm not so much of a Luke Wilson fan, so sue me. Anyway, it's a great little twist on the romantic comedy genre, and almost a little bit of an unintentional spin-off on the upcoming The Break-Up. It's all the stuff we've seen before with the "boy meets girl" genre, until we find out that the girl is a superhero and is using her powers to make his life even more of a living hell than most women do anyway after a break-up. If it were any other guy besides Luke Wilson, I'd feel sorry for him, but I'll be at the theater, watching Uma kick him around for sure. My Super Ex-Girlfriend opens on July 21.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
I'm going with Christine Taylor going sans Ben Stiller and Robin Williams hopefully shutting up a bit, for a change. This sounds like a nice little twist on the wedding comedy, with a couple being forced to take a marriage prep class, or something like that, before getting married. The story sounds pretty slick and I'm just elated to see Robin Williams take a role that allows him to become human again, instead of the alien chatterbox that he comes off as most of the time. His strict priest character sounds about as far off from his normal self as can be, so that will be a very refreshing change of pace. Taylor is a pretty decent actress as well, but we don't see much of her without Stiller, or in his friends' productions, so it's nice to see her branching out a bit more.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Easy pick here. Flippin Lassie's return is my sure pick for Worst News of the Week. There have been way more failures than successes in the family genre over the past few years, with a few surprising oversights like Vin Diesel's The Pacifier. But I'm betting that the teenage girls of those families had some say in that one... Anyway, you just don't see the American family going to movies together too much these days, and when they do, they don't see flicks like this. Animated fare that caters to the young and old alike a la double entendres and slick writing are ruling the day. We're not going to see moms and pops bringing the whole family in to watch frickin Lassie. In today's moviegoing environment, this kind of tale just seems way too hokey to succeed, and when they try to throw it in more than 3,000 theaters, they won't like the results. The youngsters have no idea who this collie is, and the older generations probably don't want to see a staple of their youth remade for the 21st century. It just doesn't make sense for Lassie to come back to the silver screen... unless he's animated and has a big green ogre help him on his way.
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new websites 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.