We're one week closer to the new year and, like always, there was a slew of movie news to delve through. Lets get right into the big news of the week with Notables.

NOTABLES

"Universal picks up The Strangers" - Monday, November 15

Even the buffest of film buffs probably haven't heard of the Nicholl Fellowships for Screenwriting...unless said film buff is a screenwriter. It is probably the biggest screenwriting competition out there, mainly because of the huge cash prize ($25,000, if I remember right) and the fact it is run by those Oscar guys at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But however big this competition is, it doesn't produce many theatrical films, for some reason, with recent exceptions of Mike Rich's Finding Forrester and Ehren Kruger's incredible Arlington Road. Anyway, this new project was a semi-finalist for this year's competition, and that is definitely a good sign. While this contest doesn't result in many actual films, the ones it does produce are of very high quality, so that alone should be a good sign for this project. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Lions Gate to release Lil' Pimp" - Monday, November 15

I am a HUGe Lions Gate Films fan. Their films are edgy and cut against the grain and there are very few of their films that I dislike. They also have a history of picking up wayward projects that have, for any reason, lost its home at one of the other studios (See: House of 1,000 Corpses, Farenheit 9/11). However, they are not perfect (See: Cabin Fever) and this is one wayward project they should've left on the wayside. I can't see too big of a market for, 1) a Flash animated movie, 2) a 9-year-old (yes, 9-year-old) hanging out with pimps and hos. I just can't see this working at all. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Pras to create biopic from Pimp" - Monday, November 15

It looks like pimps are definitely "up" this week. Now I am a sucker for a true story and all, but Pras? He's still alive, and apparently producing? The guy can't even act, and he's the 3rd fiddle of The Fugees along with the wonderfully talented Wyclef Jean and Lauren Hill. With anyone else doing this, I could maybe see it work. But, come on. Pras? Give me a break. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Jay Wolpert penning Escape Artist for DreamWorks

Wolpert might not be an A-list scribe, but the two screen credits under his belt are very solid ones (See: The Count of Monte Cristo, Pirates of the Carribbean). This new work of his sounds like it has a lot of potential. The story here is quite original, revolving around an escape artist hired to break someone out of prison. Depending on the casting, this definitely sounds like a potentially great flick. Best News of the Week Nominee.

Jessica Simpson set for Room Service

Oh goody. America's favorite dingbat playing a hotel heiress. Hopefully she doesn't have any "white chicks" protecting her...Anyway, it seems like they want to give Ms. Dingbat some range here, because it sounds like this gets a tad "dramatic" at least in some aspects, and if that's not bad news, folks, I don't know what is. Here's some advice, Jessica. Divorce Nick. Yeah, I said it. Divorce him, for a little bit at least. Then your ratings on that stupid show will go up because of the "drama" and you won't have to take on retarded projects like this. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Ioan Gruffudd the new 'James Bond'?" - Friday, November 19

Gruffudd's name was mentioned for the new Bond when Pierce Brosnan said he was calling it quits as 007, but it seemed like he only had an outside chance. I enjoyed his performance in King Arthur, but barely anyone saw it, and if his upcoming The Fantastic Four flops, he doesn't have that good of a resume to take on this kind of role. Then again, Pierce's resume wasn't looking too hot either before he donned the tux and Walther PPK. I think Gruffudd has a good look for the role, although he is more rugged than debonair, but they subtly re-invent Bond all the time anyway, so they could definitely make it work. Best News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

The two new movies this week were atop the box office race...but the winner was quite a surprise. National Treasure held off fellow newcomer, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie to take the #1 spot from The Incredibles, which held the top spot for two weeks.

The Nicholas Cage actioneer, National Treasure, was apparently undaunted by many lackluster reviews (41% positive reviews on RottenTomatoes.com), taking in an impressive $35.1 million in its opening weekend. The flick scored a massive $11,648 per-screen average, being shown in 3,017 theaters, which was 205 theaters less than Spongebob was shown in. Spongebob didn't do too bad, though, taking the second spot with just over $32 million in its opening weekend, with a healthy $9,968 per-screen average. The sour reviews for National Treasure, and the immense popularity for Spongebob's TV show led many to believe the box office results would be much different. I really don't know what could be analyzed here, but one thing is for sure: no one saw this one coming.

On a good note for Spongebob, they're already seeing a profit, with the flick budgeted at $30 million. Budget figures weren't released for National Treasure, but I'd be willing to guess that it's somewhere around $50 or $60 million. With this opening weekend, Treasure can't drop off too much next weekend if it hopes to see a profit. With this surprising opening weekend, though, it's definitely looking good for this action flick.

GOING LIVE

Be Cool: (www.becoolmovie.com)

For a teaser site, this has to be one of the coolest ones I've seen in awhile. There is a very cool intro here, giving us our first glimpses at the very diverse cast. After the nice intro, there's not much else here, just the trailer and a link to register for updates. I'm just impressed because they put forth a very nice effort for a teaser site, and they didn't just throw up the title and "Coming Soon" or something like that. Hopefully there will be more to this site very soon, because if it's as stylish as the teaser site, it should be a great site.

Coach Carter: (www.coachcartermovie.com)

There is a little more content here than on the Be Cool site, but it's presented with far less style. No Flash here, literally and figuratively, with just the trailer that loads automatically, a synopsis, photo gallery and the obligatory link to register for updates. There might be more added to the site before it opens on January 14, but they don't give us any hint that more is coming, so I'm not holding my breath here.

Beyond the Sea (www.beyondtheseathemovie.com)

The main page here points out that Kevin Spacey did all his own singing for this movie, and you have the trailer and link for updates. When you enter the site, you get some background clips of some of Spacey's renditions of his character, Bobby Derin's songs. Oh yeah, there's some content here too. There are most of the normal new-movie-official-website stuff here, with About the Film, Cast, Filmmakers and Downloads along with Views and Reviews. What's new here, and pretty damn cool, is a Timeline. A line of years appears on the right, and you click on each year for a significant fact about Derin's career. All in all, this is a very cool site, for Derin fans or even for Spacey fans to see if he can sing or not. (He's actually pretty good). Beyond the Sea opens in limited release on December 17

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous: (www.armedandfabulous.com)

Here I thought we were going to have a good week, and this site had to ruin it. I completely forgot that they were actually going through with this sequel, probably because I forgot to watch the original in the first place. There is nothing here but what appears to be Sandra Bullock having some wardrobe issues, the title and "Spring 2005". Retarded.

TRAILER PARK

The Aryan Couple

I've never heard of this movie before, but it definitely looks intriguing. Martin Landau is the only recognizable face in the cast, but the story definitely sounds interesting. This could be one to look for when it opens December 3 in limited release.

I apologize now for not having more in Trailer Park, but my computer is really being retarded and I keep losing the sound and I just hate my computer. Then again, Christmas time is just around the corner, isn't it? Anyway, you can check out the rest of this week's trailers, which include Beauty Shop and a bunch of trailers for movies going straight-to-video, at this link right about....here http://members.movieweb.com/movies/trailers.php

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It was a fairly balanced week this week, so it was a fairly tough decision. However, I chose Jay Wolpert's Escape Artist as the Best News of the Week. Wolpert might not be proven as a great writer yet, and since he only got a story credit on Pirates of the Carribbean, it's unclear how much of that wonderful movie was actually his contribution. However, this is a great concept for a movie, and I think Wolpert can craft a very good story (a story credit implies he was the first to actually write the movie) and with this high-concept story, a fine cast should come along as well.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Pras producing pimps. Bad? Yes. Jessica Simpson doing...anything. Bad? Yes. My Worst News of the Week has to go to Lions Gate trying out a pimp. I'm so dissapointed in Lions Gate for even thinking something this stupid would actually sell. Even seedy folks don't want to see an animated 9-year-old hanging out with animated pimps and hos. These Internet Flash series' have minimal popularity, and I'm surprised they're actually jumping on this and trying to take it to the mainstream. Maybe that shiny new Lions Gate logo is a little too shiny and they can't see straight over there...

Cinemark Movie Club