Howdy folks. I had a few glitches last week and it appeared to be a particularly slow movie news week, so that is why the column wasn't seen last week. But it's time to start it up again this week with this week's Notables.
Umm ok. Why? It's not like the first cinematic outing of Street Fighter was a huge success 12 years ago. It made a whopping $33 million back in 1994, and I can't see it making much more today. It says here that they want to focus on Chun Li, who supposedly is the most popular fighter on the game, but yeah. They'll throw it to Zhang Ziyi or Michelle Yeoh. Maybe they'll sex it up a bit and have Chun Li seduce her opponents or some crap. I remember playing the original Street Fighter game and I don't remember a whole ton of backstory behind it, so, even if they do land Ziyi or Yeoh, it'll probably just end up like the first one: largely unwatched. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
Ha! I knew that declaration in the trailer for Jet Li's Fearless would turn out to be false. It said Fearless was to be his final martial arts epic, and now he's going to be shooting a martial arts flick with Jackie Chan, marking the first time the two international martial artists will be seen in the same flick. Of course, Fearless might still hold to that contention of the last Jet Li "epic" since this apparently is a "family film," but that's just a technicality to me. They've even got Yuen Woo-Ping choreographing the fights, so there! It might not be an epic, but at least we'll get to see Jet Li together with Jackie Chan, and that should get some people in the theater regardless of the genre. Best News of the Week Nominee.
Well, Lindsey Lohan has been saying for awhile that she wants to be considered a "serious actress" and she keeps taking the sort of films that might garner that kind of attention. This odd-sounding flick sounds like a decent step in the right direction as well. The movie centers on this bizarre foursome of friends in celebrated poet Dylan Thomas, his wife (Lohan) his childhood friend (Keira Knightley) and the friend's eventual husband. It seems they didn't turn out to be so good of friends at all, since a key element to the flick will be an incident in which Knightley's character and her husband opened fire at the Thomas home with a machine gun and a grenade. Whoa. Sounds interesting, actually. Thomas, one of the most famous poets ever, was a known alcoholic and actually died of cihrrosis of the liver, so some insight into his crazy life might be fairly interesting. Best News of the Week Nominee.
OK, I'll be the first to admit that I don't really know a ton about this Speed Racer cat. I haven't really seen many of the shows, or know much about him. What I do know is this: the Wachowski Brothers are making this live-action flick! We haven't heard much from the Brothers Matrix for awhile. Sure, they wrote the marvelous V For Vendetta, which proved that they could dish out the goods, post-Matrix. Now they'll be writing and directing a live-action version of this popular cartoon, and that sounds like some pretty damn good news to me. For one, auto racing is hella big these days, for one, and I'm pretty excited to see what kind of new angles these visionary filmmakers can bring to the material. Best News of the Week Nominee.
So he gets dumped by one of the biggest studios on the planet and how does he rebound? By giving new life into a seemingly defunct studio, and having even more power than he had in the first place. It must be good to be Tom Cruise, ladies and gents. Paramount dumped Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner for his "behavior" which they believed hurt the box office numbers of Mission: Impossible III. So he goes from being, essentially, unemployed to owning a stake in a studio, United Artists, with Wagner in place as CEO. Tom can oversee his own slate of films and, the icing on the cake, can even star in flicks for other studios. It was said in this article that Cruise wants to get back to the principles UA was founded upon - a community of artists that are managing their own studio. Now if this is true, this could be a very good thing for Hollywood, and we could see a new breed of filmmaking come out of United Artists. Then again, this is an election year, and many promises turn out to be empty. I'll give this a Best News of the Week Nominee... for now.
Ha! See what happens when you try to mess with a classic? You get shut down, baby! Props to Atlanta's Emory University for not allowing the new kid on the block, Fox Atomic, to desecrate an American classic by basically turning it into another American Pie-type of flick. Apparently, the Emory people pulled the plug when they learned how raunchy this movie will be. I'm all for raunchy college flicks, but not when they're remakes of awesome flicks that already are classics. It's something you just don't do, kind of like pissing on an Indian burial ground or something. Let's hope they don't find another college to shoot at, so this production never gets off the ground. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
While it's unclear how much Kazikstan will "make benefit" from this flick, it's quite certain that Sacha Baron Cohen made plenty of benefit this weekend. What Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan did make was a killing at the box office, taking the #1 spot with an extremely strong performance. It made an estimated $26.3 million at the box office, and while that number might not seem overly impressive, it really is, considering Borat's release circumstances. It was released in a paltry 837 theaters, but evidently made the most of the tiny release, taking home an astounding $31,511 per-screen average. To put it another way, if the movie had opened in 3,000 theaters, with that same per-screen average, it would've made $94.5 million. The flick's negative press, with a lawsuit against it and Cohen's controversial appearance on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, seemingly didn't phase the movie, that was budgeted at a mere $18 million, but perhaps that was all overlooked by the throngs of positive press. The flick got a absolutely spectacular 96% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Out of the 133 reviews for the movie up, only 5 were negative. These numbers, both on the financial and critical level are simply amazing, and perhaps this flick's outstanding debut weekend should mark the sheer genius of Sacha Baron Cohen as well. I can't remember a movie that got such incredible numbers on both sides, so I'm sure it's safe to say that we certainly haven't seen the last of Cohen.
There were a couple more newcomer family flicks that battled it out for 2nd place, but it was The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause that took the silver medal with an estimated $20 million. The flick performed decently, under the circumstances, showing in 3,458 theaters and posting a slightly above-average $5,783 per-screen average. It was followed rather closely by Flushed Away, which took the third spot with an estimated $19.1 million. It's unlikely, but possible, since both these flicks were so close together, that their positions may reverse when the actual numbers come out today. Anyway, this animated flick was probably even more of a dissapointment, since it had a fairly large rollout. The flick was shown in 3,707 theaters, and averaged a average $5,152 per-screen average. Budget figures weren't released for both flicks, but surely they'll need some work to do if a profit is in their future.
We don't get a whole lot here. Actually, this is the official UK site for the movie, and it also has a different release date here, so don't expect this in theaters on "16 February." Silly Brits and their reversals. Anyway, all we get here is a brief synopsis in About the Film, a couple of teasers in Trailers, a nice Video Blog section 15 different vidblogs to check out, and a Gallery of a whopping six pictures. You can also "join the fuzz" by filling out a little form, and you'll get a bunch of updates and other swag. There should be more here, but the blogs make up for the lack of content. Hot Fuzz hits the American theaters on March 9.
Another teaser site here. We get a little intro from Jerry Seinfeld, and the only other thing we get is this "first look" at the movie. It's really just a faux trailer with Seinfeld and Chris Rock dressed up in insect costumes with Eddie Izzard "directing" this sequence where human bugs are wiped off an enormous windshield. It's mildly amusing, but you really get no info about the movie. It did say something about "more to come" so maybe we'll be treated to more faux trailers or some crap like that. Anyway, yeah. Not too much here. There'll probably be more up on the site before the flick opens on November 2, 2007.
I get the whole thing that Steve Carell is uber-popular these days, but I'm just not sure about this one. This "sequel" to Bruce Almighty will have Bruce's old nemesis, Evan, to be called on by God, played again by Morgan Freeman. But, instead of giving Evan those God-like powers that he gave Bruce, he wants Evan to build him an ark. Hmm, sounds like kind of a rip-off to me. Evan has to build a gigantic boat, and Bruce got all sorts of super-human powers. Lame trade-off, I'd say. The trailer doesn't really evoke too much humor, but the last entire flick didn't evoke that much for me anyway, so yeah. I'm sure it'll make a ton of money, and maybe it'll even be pretty funny with Carell toplining, but it just doesn't look like it right now. Evan Almighty opens on June 22, 2007.
This looks pretty damn funny, folks. Broadway star Dan Fogler stars here in a flick by the creators of Reno 911. Fogler plays an ex-pro Ping Pong player who gets sought out by the FBI to infiltrate an international Ping Pong tournament that's organized by a wanted criminal. Yeah, I know how weird it sounds, but it does look pretty damn funny. We get a solid supporting cast as well with Christopher Walken as said wanted criminal, George Lopez, Maggie Q, and Ben Garrant, who co-wrote the script with Thomas Lennon and directs and co-stars as well. This just looks so damn weird that it could be really funny, kids. Balls of Fury is looking for a release date for next year.
This certainly looks like an odd little flick. Jim Carrey plays a man who reads a book that seems to be based off his life, called The Number 23. This number, apparently plays a big part in his life, and he becomes obsessed with this number, seeing it all throughout the history of his life. It doesn't really help much that at the end of this book is his murder, so, naturally, he has to take this mysterious number 23 and figure it all out, and such. I usually like it when Jim Carrey takes of his comedy hat and puts a different genre hat on. I don't think he's ever done a "thriller" like this before, but he looks pretty solid here as this unhinged paranoid guy who's trying to figure out this shady number. Virginia Madsen looks to be stellar in a supporting role as well, and this could turn out to be a pretty decent thriller. The Number 23 opens on Februrary 23... yeah, saw that one coming didn't ya.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Lots of positive vibes this week, but I'm going with the return of the Wachowski Brothers for my Best News of the Week. While this doesn't necessarily sound like something the Wachowski's would be into, it still sounds like a damn good deal. A racing environment sounds like the perfect test for these writer-directors, and I'm sure they could bring a new, futuristic vision of Speed Racer to the big screen. This should be one to keep an eye on for sure, folks.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Not a lot of negative vibes this week, so I'm going to have to pick Street Fighter sadly coming back to the big screen. I'm not really to current on my video games, but I can't remember a new version of Street Fighter in quite some time. The game wasn't even all that damn good, from what I remember. It's tough in the first place to mold a movie around a fighting game like this, especially a game that first showed up back in the day where video game backstory was rather unnecessary. So they want to whip up a new backstory and put Chun Li, the firethrowing export, in the middle of it. Fine. See how far that gets you, even with Ziyi or Yeoh. I mean, think about it. They just nixed production on Halo, on of the most popular video games in recent years. If they just nixed a movie based on a game of that caliber, and you're stepping up to the plate with a tired 90s game that probably no one remembers, I wouldn't feel so confident, if I were you guys...
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites 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.