Howdy folks. I apologize for the lack of a column last week, but for some reason I couldn't get almost anything on the site to load up right until late Wednesday. But I'm back, so let's get this party started with this week's Notables.
"Dennis Haysbert Joins Breach" - Monday, November 14
This true-story adaptation sounds like a very solid thriller. Haysbert joins Ryan Phillipe and Chris Cooper in this FBI drama where Phillipe plays an up-and-coming agent who trains alongside Cooper, a legendary g-man, only to discover that Cooper might be a national security threat. Haysbert is set to play an agent who investigates Cooper along with his partner played by Laura Linney. This kind of sounds like The Interpreter with a different setting, and if that's the case, I'm really looking forward to this now. Haysbert is a great actor and should make a nice addition to an already-solid cast of Phillipe, Cooper and Linney. Billy Ray, who wrote and directed the wonderful Shattered Glass, sounds like a great fit behind the camera as well. I'll be keeping an eye on this flick for sure. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Will Arnett is Jeff the Demon" - Monday, November 14
I don't watch much TV besides ESPN these days, so I'm not too familiar with Arnett's work on Arrested Develoment, which I hear is a great show. Regardless, this sound like a pretty cool comedy, with Arnett in the title role as a demon who, by some kids finding a book to conjure him up, helps the teens in their daily battles, but get soon over their head. True, this does sound like one of those "A guy finds a lamp on the street" jokes, but this sounds pretty good. They have to cast the teenagers still, but, given that they don't botch that one up, this could be a pretty good comedy. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Imelda Staunton Playing Opposite Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers" - Tuesday, November 15
This one surprises me a little. Both actresses are coming off banner years, Staunton nominated for an Oscar for her breakthrough performance in Vera Drake and Swank beating her out for the Best Actress award for her amazing performance in Million Dollar Baby. While they might work fairly well together here, I have no idea why they'd pick a movie that is such a blatant retread it's not even close to funny. The brief plot summary given here sounds EXACTLY like Dangerous Minds, the 1995 hit starring Michelle Phieffer. It's not "shades of" Dangerous Minds or a mix of that and something else, it sounds EXACTLY THE FLIPPIN SAME! It's not surprising that the highly unoriginal MTV Films is doing this flick, though it is surprising that such serious actors like Swank and Staunton would work for such a fluffy prodco. They must be getting some huge bank for their parts here, because I don't know why they'd want to do this, after coming off such great years. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Will Ferrell and Jon Heder Skating in Blades of Glory" - Thursday, November 17
I rarely laugh out loud when reading news bits, but I just couldn't help it after reading this one. This just sounds DAMN funny, folks, especially in teaming up Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. Both funnymen play top figure skaters who are suspended in disgrace after an ugly brawl at the Olympics. Three years pass and they find a way back to the rink... together as a pairs figure skating team. I have about a trillion images running through my head right now, trying to picture Ferrell and Heder fighting, which sounds damn funny as is, and then competing as a team on the ice. I hope they fast-track the crap out of this flick and I can see it as soon as humanly possible. I just can't wait for this, folks, period! Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Dane Cook is Employee of the Month" - Thursday, November 17
Cook is a new comic superstar, with his CD becoming the first stand-up comedy disc to crack the top 10 in sales, and his very funny, but underused performance in Waiting. This sounds like a good chance for him to break in big, with a toplining role here as a clerk at a convenience store who battles with another clerk for the "coveted" employee of the month status, and the affections of a young female clerk. If you've heard his CD at all, you know that this is one hilarious dude, and this quirky little role could just be what he needs to start a long career in Hollywood. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Gold Circle Moves Forward with White Noise 2: The Light" - Friday, November 18
If you were as utterly disappointed with White Noise as I was, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is, from what they give us of a plot summary, this doesn't really sound anything like a White Noise at all. The bad news, it still sounds amazingly retarded. It's basically a different sequel to the Final Destination series, with a man who's family is murdered but he is saved and realizes he can now tell which people are about to die. As he sets out to save them, he realizes that messing with the "reaper" isn't something to be taken lightly. White Noise is about communicating with the dead, and this flick is about saving people from death and while there is an aspect of that in the first movie, it was more about the communication then the saving, and this is just a moronic way to go about a sequel, especially for a movie that could've been great, but underperformed across the board. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
I guess it took a young wizard to remind folks en masse to remember what the inside of a theater looks like. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire took the nation by storm, taking in a massive $102.3 million in its opening weekend. The fourth Potter flick ended the weekend with the fourth highest opening weekend of all time, and the top November opening ever. I doubt it mattered much that the critics loved this flick (88% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes), since the audience is so huge to begin with, but it was impressive nonetheless. Potter and Co. took in an amazing $26,525 per-screen average, screening in a whopping 3,858 theaters, which was 8th highest all-time. With a $150 million budget, the Hogwarts folks don't have a whole lot of work to do to make back it's budget, and I'm sure that will be done by this time next week. It will be interesting to see the ripple effect from this weekend, and if Potter's allure will continue to draw people back to the theater for the rest of the holiday season.
While in a vastly distant 2nd place, Walk the Line performed rather well against such steep competition. It took in $22.3 million in its opening weekend, averaging a solid $7,547 per-screen, showing in far less theaters than Potter, 2,961. This potential Oscar favorite held its own against the Hogwarts box office bullies, and while its budget wasn't released, this should turn out a decent total box office gross.
With such a big weekend, it's not surprising that most of the other flicks fell off significantly. Most notably were Get Rich or Die Tryin' at 7th place (4th last weekend) which dipped 63.2% from its opening weekend last weekend, and Zathura at 5th place (2nd last weekend) which dropped off 61.8% from last week's opener.
It looks like a Warner Bros. intern made this site, or perhaps maybe Michigan J. Frog... The synopsis is fairly in-depth, but it pretty much has to be since there is nothing else on this site but a link to the trailer and a picture of Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen and whoever plays their kid. This is one of the corniest sites I've seen in awhile, and there really needs to be more, or no more site. Firewall opens on February 10, 2006.
This is a pretty basic site, with some nice style to it. The menu options appear on a little notepad on the right, and there are some decent options here. There is a fairly in-depth Synopsis, a decent photo gallery in Photos, some nice actor bios in Cast and the same in Crew and the Trailer. The last option is On Set, and I was hoping for maybe a production diary or production notes or something to that effect. Sadly, all we get here is a different photo gallery that gives us more of a glimpse at the crew and sets. There could definitely be more to this site, but what's here isn't too bad, I guess. The Kid and I opens on December 2 in limited release.
This site starts out with a creepy little intro, and once in the site, it has you in this weird house, and you have to look around the room to find the links to click on (or you can click on the Site Map if you're boring or have a short attention span). Click on the poster on the wall on the left to access a very interesting Synopsis. They give you the synopsis in little snippets on these index card things, and you have to click on each one to get a little more, travelling across this map along the way. I've never seen it done like this before, and I thought it was pretty cool. Click on the radio in the middle of the room to get cast biographies and click on the piano for Postcards from Tideland, a nice little vignette with some movie footage mixed in with behind-the-scenes footage. From here, you can either click on the door to go outside the house, or on the stairs to go upstairs. Outside, you click on the tree with a little note on it for some pretty cool production diaries from departments you rarely get a glimpse into on a movie such as prosthetics, catering, the gaffer, wardrobe and some on location videos. I thought this was very cool to see some elements of a film set that often go unnoticed. You can also click on this big thing on the right to see various trailers. Click on the far left of the screen to go back inside the house, and if you click on the stairs, there's not a whole lot up there, just some production notes to download and a 15 stills to view. This is a really slick site, with some wonderful content and style, with some stuff that we've never seen before, and if it wasn't for the phenomenal Jarhead site, this would be the best site of the year so far. Tideland is still looking for a release date for next year.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Easy pick this week with the surefire comic duo of Will Ferrell and Jon Heder for my Best News of the Week. Ferrell tends to struggle on his own, and needs top-notch comic talent to vibe off of, and our favorite Napoleon, Jon Heder, is a great pick here. Both of these guys as figure skaters is just a hilarious visual image as is, and them being rivals-turned-teammates is just wonderful. I hope since ice skating is more of a winter thing, that they don't plan on doing a fall/winter release with this, and give it a proper home in the summer months, because these two together will surely bring in a ton of bank.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Another easy pick this week, with the surefire bomb that will be White Noise 2. What pissed me off so much about the first one, was that they did the trailer so well, and it looked like a really good movie. I guess I should've trusted my instincts, with it being released in the January movie doldrums, and listened to what the scheduling was telling me. Regardless, for one, the movie only made $57 million, which isn't bad for January, mind you, but isn't that great either. Second, the movie SUCKED! They took an awesome premise, and screwed the proverbial pooch with it, casting a hollow Michael Keaton and messing up the script. This should be called Final Destination 3.5 or something, because it sounds like it'd fit in that series rather well. The problem is, that series wasn't that good to begin with either, and the whole lot of these movies should burn in Hades, along with the people who keep insisting that we want to see them.
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more movie news, box office goodies, new websites for upcoming flicks, new trailers (seriously, I should have a sound card next week, honestly!) 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.