Howdy folks. It was another week chocked full of movie news, box office figures, new official websites for upcoming flicks and new trailers. So lets get this started right with this week's Notables.
I know this is starting to be the new trend on the small screen these days, with Barbershop and Crash getting the TV treatment. That doesn't necessarily mean this is a good thing though, and although I absolutely love Sin City, I don't think this will work as a TV show. The main reason these movie-to-TV adaptations fail is that no one wants to see either secondary characters taking the reins, or no-name scrubs filling in for accomplished movie actors. Sin City had such a superb ensemble cast that it's almost insulting that they'll make this into a TV show, seeing as these are some incredibly big shoes to fill here. Besdies all that, how are you going to spin an ultra-violent movie like Sin City in a TV show? Either it will be so watered down with fluff it will be unbearable, or it will air at 2:30 a.m. on a Friday night. I guess if they showed this on the cable network F/X, which has a history of pushing the TV envelope, this might be the only way this is worth watching. But if they plan on pitching this to a Big 4 network, I'd just hate to see how much they'd butcher this wonderful flick. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
This sounds like a pretty interesting and original pic here. The flick surrounds the title character, Santa Claus' bitter older brother who, for some reason, is forced to move in with his big brother at the North Pole. There's a lot of interesting ways they can go about this flick. Maybe Fred is an alcoholic and his old lady boots him out after he makes an embarrasing drunken scene at Thanksgiving. Who knows, folks. I know Mike Mitchell doesn't have the best track record in the world, especially in the X-Mas department (See: Surviving Christmas) but this pic just sounds so cool I'm not even sure that he can screw this one up. Best News of the Week Nominee.
It isn't clear if this book by Mike Lupica, who is a regular guest on ESPN's roundtable show The Sports Reporters on early Sunday mornings, is fiction or non-fiction, but it certainly sounds like an interesting story. Heat is about a homeless orphan, who happens to be a baseball prodigy and lives on the street near Yankee Stadium and wants to fulfill his dream of playing in the Little League World Series. Sounds like a real tearjerker here folks, and could turn into a pretty interesting flick. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Now we have someone to blame for extending the career of Uwe Boll indefinitely: this Running With Scissors software company. Boll has had a string of just dreadful duds in recent years, also based on vidgames, including one of the worst movies I've ever seen, Alone in the Dark. What really sucks here is that this is such a controversial video game, and we all know how much controversy helps put people in the seats when it comes to movies. Boll seems to be a director that's only as good as his material given, i.e. he can't turn a shoddy source material into a solid movie. I'm not familiar with this game, but from the sales numbers and immense controversy, I'd have to say this is probably the best material he's had to work with in years. That means we'll probably get a solid product here, but the bad news is that if this is a moderate hit, he won't be getting voted off the proverbial island that is Hollywood, and with that immunity, he'll use to make more horrid products until he finds another semi-decent video game to adapt. I'd just be much happier if he moved back to Germany, so the extension of his existence in Hollywood surely makes this a Worst News of the Week Nominee.
If you've made a trip to your local video store, you may have noticed that Wesley Snipes has started to make a few foray's into the straight-to-video world. Of course, this makes it all the more ironic that he's teaming up with Jean-Claude Van Damme here, one of the kings, if you could call it that, of the direct-to-video genre. What's odd about this project, is that it actually doesn't sound too bad. Snipes will star as a cocky boxer who hires Van Damme to head up his security after Snipes starts beefing with a rap star. Van Damme, just returned from Afghanistan, must assemble a team from his old squad to protect the boxer and his family. I'm not expecting any Oscar buzz from this, but this does sound like a decent action vehicle, and perhaps a surge of life for Van Damme and even for Snipes, who hasn't showed us too much when he isn't playing The Daywalker, Blade. Best News of the Week Nominee.
I guess Lindsey Lohan is serious about getting serious after all. After starring in a bunch of kids and fluff flicks, Lohan turned heads when the luscious actress signed on to Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion, which was shot this summer in my old stomping ground of St. Paul Minnesota. While it isn't said what type of character she'll play, I think this is a very interesting addition to this already-great cast. Brian Geraghty is a bit of a newcomer, but I love the addition of Shia LaBeouf, since he's one of my favorite younger actors working today. Emilio Estevez's cast just keeps getting better, and I'm really looking forward to seeing this flick about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on the silver screen. Best News of the Week Nominee.
This sounds like it could be a very good flick. I've heard about the dissent of real bikers who despise suburbanites with Harley's for years, and this flick ties into that sub-culture. The pic centers on a group of middle-agers, bored with life, who set out on a Harley road trip in search of adventure and excitement, only to run into a real biker gang. Walt Becker hasn't been heard from much since his breakthrough hit Van Wilder, but he surely has the comic chops to handle this flick, and I think it'll turn out pretty well, given they cast this right. Best News of the Week Nominee.
We're just gonna have to start calling Sly "The Resurrector" since he keeps bringing his characters back from the dead. While I am thankful that the rumor from awhile ago, that Rambo will be taking on the Taliban, aren't true, I still can't believe he will don the headband and bow yet again. He must just love ruining people's nice and neat boxed sets of Rocky and Rambo. Perhaps he thinks he found the Fountain of Youth. Perhaps he's derranged. Perhaps he doesn't know when to throw in the towel. Perhaps he likes annoying lowly internet columnists like myself. Perhaps these are all true, but surely this is a Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
It's just so fitting that a horror flick on Halloween weekend can bring movie audiences basically back from the dead. Saw II dominated the box office this weekend, taking in $31.7 million in its opening weekend ($22.8 million prediction). The gruesome sequel shattered the record for biggest Halloween opening weekend, breaking Jackass: The Movie's record by almost $9 million. It nearly doubled the opening weekend of it's predecessor, which took in $18.2 million on the same weekend last year. It could also be on track to be one of the most profitable movies of the year, with a minisule $4 million budget that, ironically, was more than double Saw's budget last year. The sequel took in a smashing $10,758 per-screen average, showing in 2,949 theaters. If anything, this excellent box office performance proves how important the American moviegoer places a great story above star-power, with this virtually no-name cast anchored by, of all people, Donnie Wahlberg.
On the opposite end of that spectrum was the #2 flick of the weekend, The Legend of Zorro, which took in a disappointing $16.3 million ($13.5 million prediction). This flick had the bigger stars (Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones) and the much bigger budget ($75 million) and yet it simply couldn't contend with Saw II, grossing about half of what Saw II took in, even though it was shown in 3,520 theaters, almost 600 more theaters than the weekend leaders. It took in an less-than-exciting $4,638 per-screen average, and it has a tough hill to climb if it hopes to make a profit from its $75 million budget. Prime took the third spot this weekend with $6.2 million.
In one of the biggest tumbles of all-time, Doom plummetted from the top spot last weekend, all the way down to 7th this weekend, taking in $4.2 million in its second weekend ($7.3 million prediction). It dropped a mammoth 72.7% from its opening weekend, and while statistically it counted for the 22nd biggest 2nd weekend decline of all time, it was the biggest drop-off ever for a flick that opened in more than 3,000 theaters. With just over $23 million overall, a $60 million budget to make back and this incredible tumble, I don't think there's a more aptly-titled movie this year than this one...
Box Office Predictions
I guess I didn't do too bad, but we'll see if I can do better here.
1) Chicken Little: $35 million
2) Jarhead: $29.7 million
3) Saw II: $21.4 million
4) The Legend of Zorro: $8.1 million
5) Prime: $3.8 million
CLICK HERE to check out my last week's predictions.
The first page of the site offers three different things to click on, besides entering the main site, but the same stuff can be found in the main site, so just go on and enter. When inside, after a few intros, there is an icon in the middle about this 50 Years + 50 States with Johnny Cash. Every day, for 50 days, they cite a memorable concert or event that Cash did in the state, and follow it up with a quote from a different celebrity, elaborating on Cash's career. On the left side of the site there are 3 different menus for you to choose from. First is About the Film, and there are several different sub-headings here. Under Story you get a very detailed synopsis, also including some quotes from director James Mangold and you can also download some production notes. In Cast + Crew you get a detailed summary of the main cast and crew members careers, there's a decent photo gallery in Photos, the Trailer, and some downloadables like Desktops, a slick Screensaver and a link to the Sountrack site. The Cash Family Tree menu is coming soon, and the Red, White and Black menu is the same as the icon in the middle, but there's some pretty cool stuff in there. Overall, this is a pretty slick site, with a decent amount of content, with more to come, and some great style. Walk the Line opens on November 18.
There are a few things on the first page of this site, like the Walk the Line site, but the same info can be found in the main site, so just enter. On the top of the site there is Film Info, Trailer and Tickets, and since the last two are self-explanatory, I guess I'll talk about Film Info. We get a decent synopsis in Story, Cast and Crew gives us detailed bios on the key players in front of and behind the camera, Gallery gives us a pretty big photo album and Downloads offers some AIM Icons, desktops and e-cards. There is also Media, which offers trailers, TV spots, film clips and a featurette, Notes which has a bunch of production notes and Features, which is very very cool. There are 4 different menus here: Jargon, which defines all the slang used in the Marine Corps, Legends, that features legendary stories from the battlefield, The Suck (a slang term used by Marines to describe the Corps) a history of the Marine Corps and Storm, an "interactive war theater" which is basically a map of the area covered in Desert Storm, filled with links to key battle sites and a brief history of what happened there.
There is much more to this site as well where you can "Enter the Experience" on the main site in three different arenas; Boot, Sheild and Storm. Boot takes you through the world of boot camp, giving you a lot of technical detail, like the physical requirements demanded of marines, proper language to use to a drill instructor, how much they get paid and other info. You'll want to run your mouse over the screen to look for stuff to click on before hitting the Advance button, normally on one of the cropped photos on the page. When you get to Shield, they ask you a question "Welcome to Sunny Saudi Arabia. Are You Happy to Be Here?" with a Yes or No you can click on, but if you run your mouse over the No, it turns into a Yes anyway. As you advance through Shield, you get a massive amount of info on the the amount of troops and enemies there, details on their weapons, troops duties while in the desert and other oddities like the Wall of Shame, featuring unfaithful significant others of jarheads. Storm shows us some interesting info as well, including the average temperature in Iraq, and inside the marines MOPP suits, some facts on the snipers, which is what Anthony Swofford who wrote the amazing book this flick is based on was, some facts on "friendly fire" and, what I thought was really cool, some of the 29 million pamphlets the US dropped in Iraqui areas, full of propaganda. This is quite simply the best movie website I have ever covered. There is absolutely tons of info here, both on the movie and the background for it, some great style and even humor, all tied in with a practical format. This is the standard that all official websites should be held to because it's the best I've seen in the year and a half of writing this column. Jarhead opens on November 4.
After that wonderful Jarhead site, of course I had to be let down with this teaser site. All we get here is the trailer and a link to register for updates. How disappointing... Final Destination 3 opens on February 10 2006
Dammit. Sorry kids, but I again have to forego this feature, even though I promised to fix my sound problem. Well, I didn't quite get that done this week, but I'll either fix it this week or steal someone else's computer so the Trailer Park can once again flourish. But that's not stopping you all from checking out the newest trailers, so CLICK HERE to check them out. Sorry again, folks.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
I'm going with a new style of biker dudes for my Best News of the Week. This Wild Hogs flick sounds like a weird version of City Slickers, but with a different kind of hog. This just sounds like a very simple flick, that can be cast fairly easily with a wide range of dudes to choose from, it won't cost a whole lot and if it's as good as it sounds, could end up being a very profitable flick. This should give director Walt Becker a big push, proving that Van Wilder was no fluke and he can do comedy successfully.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Easy pick here, Rambo IV: The Old Guy Strikes Back. Now, that's a subtitle, folks, and a rather fitting one since good ol' Sly is near retirement age at 60. A friend of mine, who I was bitching to about his new Rocky reincarnation, argued that he wanted to see another Rocky and that Rocky's character wasn't that old, even though Sly is. While that may be true, in a weird sort of way, Rambo's character is just as old as Sly is. I wonder if he can even pull the strings back on that compound bow of his anymore. Perhaps a nurse will put his little black headband on for him. I don't know. I just don't want to see a broken old man, who hasn't had a bonafide hit in many years, trying to recapture the good ol' days and pretending age hasn't caught up with him.
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official 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.