Hey all. I'm still reeling from this weekend, with the brilliance of Saw (review to come soon) and some interesting Halloween costumes. I went as Bad Santa, and I can tell you from experience that drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel's in 45 minutes will give you an unexpected regurgitating experience...Anyway, lets get the column rolling with the best and worst of the week with Notables.

NOTABLES

"Greg Kinnear joins The Bad News Bears” – Monday, October 25

I assume that Kinnear will take on the role of the “nice” coach, opposite Billy Bob Thornton’s not-so-nice coach, and this is just a perfect fit. He has that clean-cut look and demeanor that would be just on point for this role. The casting just keeps getting better and better for this project. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Revolution wants the original cast of Rent” – Tuesday, October 26

This is some very interesting news and something I’ve never heard of happening before. I’m not really that into the theater scene, mainly because I live a thousand miles or so from Broadway, literally, but I hear Rent is a damn good show. I guess the original cast of Rent has had some Hollywood-style acting experience since Rent, most notably the talented Taye Diggs, so this sounds like a pretty good, if not surprising move. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Jonathan Mostow to direct Confessions of a Little League Coach” – Tuesday, October 26

This is a very interesting project from the guy who brought us the latest in the Terminator franchise. They’re saying this will be more like American Beauty than anything, which is very odd for a movie surrounding a Little League coach trying to round the bases with the kids’ hot mothers. Wouldn’t it be more like American Beauty if the coach went after the kids sister’s or something? Anyway, Mostow’s skills just don’t seem to be a good match for this project, and with the writer of So I Married an Axe Murderer doing the script, this just doesn’t sound good at all. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Andrew Kevin Walker to pen Le Convoyeur remake” – Tuesday, October 26

Walker hasn’t been working much in recent years, with only 2 flicks under his belt since his 1995 breakthrough Se7en, but this sounds like a perfect project for his talents. This story has a lot of potential, and the characters in the original seem to be right up Walker’s alley. This should be one to keep an eye on, and it’s a Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Baz Luhrman’s Alexander defeated?” – Thursday, October 28

This was such a huge rivalry a few years ago that people were thinking these two flicks would come out at virtually the same time frame. It looks like Oliver Stone’s version has proven triumphant, and seeing that Stone’s film will be our in a few weeks, and Luhrman hasn’t started his project yet, I just don’t think it would be right if Luhrman tried to salvage this project. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"The Red Sox win forces a Fever Pitch rewrite” – Friday, October 29

I think they should count their blessings that the Red Sox finally won, because, from what this movie originally sounded like, this sounded like it would’ve added a LOT of insult to the injury of Sox fans. Sure, it’s just one city, but a girl died when their team WON. Think about that...Anyway, with the incredibly dramatic and wonderful turn of events with the Sox 8 straight wins, after being one out away from elimination at the hands of the Evil Empire (a.k.a. the New York Yankees), it sounds like this will fit in perfectly to this movie. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Brett Ratner talks about his next project” – Friday, October 29

What happened to Breaking Vegas, the true-story adaptation of M.I.T. students who get the best of Las Vegas? He’s considering these two projects over Breaking Vegas, which he has been attached to? The Rush Hour series is just tired and the other project apparently forced Sean Connery into retirement. What the hell are you thinking, Ratner? Pick Breaking Vegas! You have to strike while the iron is hot, and right now, Vegas and gambling IS hot. Ratner is a very talented director, who can glide between genres with ease, but if he picks these two sorry projects over one with so much more potential, his judgement should be called to task. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Paramount set to remake The Blob” – Friday, October 29

Oh give me a break, people! The f*&*in Blob? They’ll probably have this Blob come from Afghanistan or something...Raise the Terror Level Alert thing people! There is a Blob coming our way, and it’s headed for the Mall of America! Mother of God. I hope a giant Blob comes Paramount’s way so they don’t remake this...Worst News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

Moviegoers apparently didn’t get enough of The Grudge last weekend, as it took the top spot this Halloween weekend. The Sarah Michelle Gellar horror flick repeated as the #1 flick of the week, in its second weekend, with an estimated gross of $22.4 million. The remake had only a modest drop of 42.8% which helped it retain the top spot at the box office. The Grudge should enjoy its spot at the top while it lasts, because next week when The Incredibles rolls into theaters, along with the first trailer for Star Wars Episode III, The Grudge will surely be knocked down a spot or two...or more.

Two of the week’s new movies enjoyed rather solid opening weekends. Ray, the Ray Charles biopic, took the second spot with an estimated gross of $20.1 million. This opening weekend gross is even more impressive since it was in considerably less theaters than The Grudge, and even was in less theaters than the #3 movie, Saw. Ray was shown in 2,006 theaters, while The Grudge was shown in 3,348 and Saw was in 2,315. Ray scored a huge per screen average of $10,024. The flick was budgeted at $40 million, so this Jamie Foxx flick has a good start on its way to a profit.

Saw took the third spot this weekend with an estimated gross of $17.4 million. While its per-screen average isn’t as impressive as Ray’s $10,024, it still managed a very healthy $7,516 per-screen average. The budget figures weren’t available, but from seeing this movie, it didn’t appear to have a huge budget, and if this flick doesn’t decline too much in the coming weeks, it could post a healthy profit.

The last new flick of the week failed to break the top 10, but it’s not that surprising since it was in a meager 550 theaters. Birth, the new Nicole Kidman movie, fell just short of the top 10, in 11th place with an estimated gross of $1.7 million. This flick is budgeted at $20 million, so it just seemed that with placing this in only 550 theaters, they just had no hope for a profit here from the start...

GOING LIVE

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: (www.lifeaquatic.com)

This site starts off with giving you the trailer, but if you’ve already seen it, you can just click Enter Site to get on to the main site. Once inside, there are a bunch of scrolling pictures, quirky music (also with a volume button, which is kind of cool) and you think there’s going to be nothing on this site. But all you have to do is click on the Team Zissou Navigation button in the upper right corner, a little map unfolds and gives you some things to do on this site. Click on #1 Team Zissou for some background on each of the characters, and other little quirky things as well. #2, Zissou Fan Club is “coming soon” but the rest of the links are active. #3, The Life Aquatic has a synopsis and a look at the movie’s one-sheet, #4, Store Zissou, is probably the worst part of the site, because it’s just a fake merchandise page with products that don’t exist. #5, Zissou Archives features a bunch of trailers and clips, only a few of which are actually there, the rest “coming soon” and #6, Creature Cam which is just some animations of little fish swimming by. Some of the features here are fairly worthless, but there is still plenty to do on this site before this movie opens December 10 in limited release and Christmas Day in wide release.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera: (www.phantomthemovie.com)

The main site, before you enter the Flash site is full of goodies. There are links to Story, Trailer, Downloads, Photos, Message Boards and Contests. On the Flash site you get some of the great songs from the movie, but if you have a slower computer like me, it takes forever and a day to load because of the songs. But once the Flash site does load, there is a ton of stuff to do, including a history of the Phantom, and many different looks into different aspects of the film. This site has plenty for Phantom fans to do before the film hits the theaters on December 3.

Noel: (www.noelthemovie.com)

This Flash site opens up with some corny music, that, thankfully, you can turn off, but once the site fully loads, there is not a lot to do here. There is a link to the story and the cast and you can also view the trailer. What is odd is how much this site promotes two new movie technologies, LidRock and Flexplay. I’ve never heard of either of these things, but I guess they’re trying to use this movie to pimp them out. Noel opens in theaters on November 12.

Racing Stripes: (racingstripesmovie.warnerbros.com)

There isn’t a whole lot on this site, and they say that the full site is coming soon, but at least they put forth a decent effort to put together a teaser site, knowing that a full site is coming soon. All we have here is the trailer, but if you click on each of the animals, you get a brief description of each character and you also get a brief sound clip for each character. Sure, this isn’t a great site, but after seeing some other sites just throwing up the title and Coming Soon or something of that nature, it’s nice to see someone actually try to put a nice teaser site together. Racing Stripes opens January 14.

TRAILER PARK

Racing Stripes:

I think there’s a very good reason this movie is opening in the middle of January...it just doesn’t look good. When I saw the website (See: Going Live) I was under the impression that this was an animated flick. Well, it’s not, although it probably should be. It’s live action with some human voices for the animals (See: Dr. Doolittle) and a hokey story about a zebra that apparently wants to race. I’ll wait until I get a coupon for a free rental before I see this stupid-looking flick. Racing Stripes opens on January 14.

Churchill: The Hollywood Years:

This looks like a hilarious movie, bar none. It’s like a weird mix of American and British comedy and it looks like they pulled off a wonderful satire, in this movie that’s “based on an actual war.” I’ve honestly never heard of this movie before the trailer came about, and there is no release date slated yet, but this should be one to look out for.

Pooh’s Heffalump Movie:

Good Lord. Didn’t they learn from Piglet’s Big Movie that no one cares about the things in the Hundred Acre Woods anymore? I guess not...This is just another futile attempt for Disney to try and prove that they can make successful animated movies without the help of Pixar. The key word in that previous sentence is “try.” This stupid-looking flick opens on February 11.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It was a tough choice this week, but I’m going to have to pick the return of Andrew Kevin Walker for Best News of the Week. He didn’t quite achieve the success of Se7en with 8MM and Sleepy Hollow, but Walker is still one hell of a writer. It’s just too bad that he is incredibly picky with his projects, because Hollywood could definitely use more of a great writer like Walker. This new project, Le Convoyeur remake, sounds very suited to his talents and it should make a great picture. I just really wish this guy would write more...

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It was a tough choice here as well, but I’m going to have to go with Brett Ratner’s judgement here. I really wonder what happened with Josiah’s Canon that led to Sean Connery’s apparent retirement after he left this picture. Now Ratner wants to take this project on after this great actor retires because of it? And his other choice is with a “star” in Chris Tucker who has basically been retired himself these past 3 years? And what an ego this f*&er has. He said he’ll do, “Whichever one pay-or-plays me first.” I’m still a huge fan of Ratner, and I own most of his movies. But he should ditch both of these flicks and take on Breaking Vegas, because if he keeps making choices like this, my Brett Ratner collection might not grow much at all...

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.