Monday, March 31, 2008

Today's Film News: A Big Happy Family Again

By Katey Rich

Fbt3Diane Keaton has hit a rough patch with comedies lately (Because I Said So, Mad Money), and Steve Martin hasn't done too well for himself either (the Cheaper by the Dozen movies). Now maybe they'll both have a chance to redeem themselves, since they're teaming up for the comedy One Big Happy, from the creators of the TV series "Party of Five." Lorne Michaels is attached to produce, which hasn't always meant instant success (The Ladies Man, anyone?), but it indicates the movie will be more than a cheap throwaway. Variety reports that Keaton and Martin will play a couple, as they did in the early-90s Father of the Bride movies.

For perhaps the first time in history, the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" is at the center of a labor dispute. Over the weekend, as the two actors' unions SAG and AFTRA tried to hammer out a deal that would find them renegotiating their contracts with the AMPTP as a united front, the two groups decided to split off instead. The tipping point, Variety reports, was when SAG reportedly tried to take control of the cast of the soap opera, which had been previously under AFTRA's jurisdiction. Now the two unions are going it alone in renegotiations, which makes it all the more likely that we'll be seeing-- sigh-- yet another strike.

Mos Def dazzled me in Be Kind Rewind, and now he'll have his chance to show his stuff in a very different role in Cadillac Records. The Brooklyn-based rapper and actor will play Chuck Berry in the drama, a fictional take on the 1950s music label Chess Records. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Gabrielle Union has also joined the cast as Geneva Wade, a girlfriend of Muddy Waters.

21377ford_harrison_slime_278x150And finally, this photograph has nothing to do with anything except that the Kids Choice Awards were held yesterday, and it's a slow news day, and there's not much better than seeing a sexagenarian Indiana Jones smiling through the slime. Happy Monday!

Weekend Roundup: Audience Says 'Hit Me' to 21

By Katey Rich


I'm going to credit Film Journal's executive editor Kevin Lally for the success of 21 at the box office this weekend. Amid a sea of negative reviews, Kevin's stood out as particularly glowing; audiences clearly took his advice, putting 21 in the #1 spot for the weekend with a $23.7 million haul. It came in well ahead of its only real competition, the stalwart Horton Hears A Who!, which fell to #2 with a still-strong $17 million. Horton also became the first movie of 2008 to cross the $100 million mark.

As for the other new releases, audiences pretty much treated them exactly the way they deserved to be treated. In a glorious move away from the trend, lazy spoof Superhero Movie didn't rake in the cash. It didn't fare too badly either, coming in at #3 with $9 million, but that's well below what Meet the Spartans made in January and what other similar spoofs have done in the past. If this is a sign that the genre is flagging, I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Elsewhere, Stop-Loss fared OK in moderate release, coming in at #8 with $4.5 million. The real test will come next weekend, once MTV's teen-centric marketing has worn off and the audience knows it's getting in for an Iraq War movie and not a soapy melodrama. And Run, Fat Boy, Run, the most mediocre comedy Simon Pegg has ever made, made mediocre money. It couldn't even land in the top 10 with its $2.4 million draw, and had to settle for 13th place.

Holdover Meet the Browns saw a steep 60% drop, falling to #4 and a $7.7 million take; even though the movie has taken in $32 million in just two weekends, it's a lackluster performance from the Tyler Perry juggernaut. Drillbit Taylor, though, is a product from yet another never-ceasing production house that is faring even worse. The Judd Apatow-produced comedy fell to #5 and $5.8 million, though given that it didn't debut much higher, that's not actually too great a drop.

Shutter did pretty much what all Japanese horror remakes do, dropping sharply in its second weekend to #6 and $5 million; expect it to disappear entirely in another two weeks. 10,000 B.C, on the other hand, is hanging in there, coming in at #7 and adding another $4.8 million to its $84 million take. Give it a few more weeks and it might be the second movie of the year to cross the $100 million mark.

Rounding out the top 10, College Road Trip and The Bank Job continue hanging in there together, coming in at #9 ($3.5 million) and #10 ($2.8 million), respectively. Given that The Bank Job debuted with very little fanfare but has hung on this long, it's the real success story among the entire current crop of films.

After the jump is the full top 20, courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Under the Same Moon dropped in the box office despite upping its theatre count, but according to Variety, the Weinstein Company still has big plans to target this drama to Spanish-speaking audiences. Other than that, the biggest surprise is the undying Juno, which has probably seen its last weekend in the top 20; it still made half a million bucks over the weekend from 444 theatres, despite my impression that everyone in the universe had already seen the movie and gotten sick of repeating "I'm fo shizz up the spout" to their friends.

TWLWTitle (click to view)StudioWeekend Gross% ChangeTheater Count / ChangeAverageTotal GrossBudget*Week #
21Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!Fox$17,425,000-29.1%3,826-135$4,554$117,274,000$853
3NSuperhero MovieMGM/W$9,510,000-2,960-$3,212$9,510,000-1
42Tyler Perry's Meet the BrownsLGF$7,760,000-61.4%2,016+10$3,849$32,828,000-2
54Drillbit TaylorPar.$5,800,000-43.7%3,061+5$1,894$20,574,000-2
7510,000 B.C.WB$4,875,000-45.4%3,055-399$1,595$84,920,000$1054
97College Road TripBV$3,505,000-25.4%2,270-305$1,544$38,370,000-4
108The Bank JobLGF$2,800,000-33.2%1,605-8$1,744$24,104,000-4
116Never Back DownSum.$2,405,000-50.2%1,869-860$1,286$21,295,000$203
129Vantage PointSony$2,400,000-36.9%1,739-385$1,380$69,348,000$406
Click here to find out more!
13NRun Fat Boy RunPicH$2,390,000-1,133+1,055$2,109$2,390,000$101
1410Under the Same MoonWein.$2,251,000-18.7%390+124$5,771$6,675,000-2
1512The Other Boleyn GirlSony$1,350,000-33.8%1,119-69$1,206$25,012,000$355
1613Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayFocus$1,167,000-21.2%516-15$2,261$9,413,000-4
1714The Spiderwick ChroniclesPar.$735,000-39.0%659-567$1,115$69,381,000$907
1816Fool's GoldWB$585,000-38.6%640-371$914$68,110,000$708

Friday, March 28, 2008

Box Office Outlook: Taking Card Counters To The Bank

By Katey Rich

Since Horton Hears A Who! has dominated the box office for the last two weeks, Hollywood is sticking it to the kids this weekend and offering movie only for grown-ups. Well, at least one movie for grown-ups, a few for teenagers or grown-ups with low expectations, and one for no one with intelligence, which may guarantee that it becomes the #1 movie of the weekend. None of the reviews so far have been particularly enthralled, which might make the whole scheme backfire, handing the keys to the castle once again to that blasted elephant. You'd think that with superheroes, card sharks, marathon runners and soldiers in the mix, at least one of them could make a fair run at the crown.

21poster21. Opening in 2,648 theatres. It's the movie Vegas (probably) doesn't want you to see! Based on the true story of M.I.T. students trained to count cards and walk away from casinos as millionaires, 21 stars Jim Sturgess as a student with big dreams that also involve big amounts of cash. He gets involved in a campus group organized by a professor (Kevin Spacey) who teaches the math whizzes to count cards, all the better to win at blackjack. As is usually the case, though, the casinos don't like it when people come in and actually win money, so soon the M.I.T. scammers are wrapped in a world a whole lot more complicated than Boston Common. Kate Bosworth and Laurence Fishburne also star.

Appropriately enough, 21 screened at ShoWest in Vegas two weeks ago; our Kevin Lally caught it there and writes, "There's less here than meets the eye, but the show is bright and brisk enough that audiences will likely be happy they took the gamble." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly agrees, calling it "a clever and novel card-sharp thriller." The Washington Post, on the other hand, deems it "slick but resoundingly empty," and the Village Voice calls Sturgess "a bust [...] in a movie that wastes a lot of time and money and really, really shoulda stayed in Vegas."

Shm2SUPERHERO MOVIE. Opening in 2,960 theatres. Superhero Movie has not been screened for critics, but it's another in the long line of ____ Movie titles so you can probably guess why. And the poster features pretty much all of the film's characters, so you can string together your own plot that seems like it would entertain you as well as the movie would. I figure you can fill this space with a long list of critical pans come Monday, so don't say I didn't warn you.

StoplossposterSTOP-LOSS. Opening in 1,291 theatres. Kimberly Peirce has waited nine years to make a movie since her debut with Boys Don't Cry, and Stop-Loss is what she came up with. Ryan Philippe stars as a young sergeant who, along with his two childhood friends who served with him in Iraq (Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is thrilled to come home after his tour of duty.  Before he can even unpack his bags, though, he's "stop-lossed," a.k.a. re-enlisted with his consent. Refusing to return to Iraq, he goes on the road instead with his best friend's fiancee (Abbie Cornish), hoping to seek justice from the government.

The movie has some mixed overall reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes, but by and large the top critics are pleased. Our Frank Lovece credited "the filmmakers' own expansive sense of humanity" as well as Cornish's "performance of remarkable subtlety and evolution." The Chicago Tribune acknowledges the general Iraq war movie malaise but hopes it won't affect this one: "Chances are you don't want to see this movie. In the case of Stop-Loss, [...] one can only hope audiences will make an exception." Peter Travers at Rolling Stone goes straight for the hyperbole, calling it "the first major movie of the new year that touches greatness." Variety, on the other hand, is a bit more skeptical: "The work of well-intentioned filmmakers whose stumbling efforts suggest that, much like the Vietnam War, the Iraq War won't inspire truly great and substantial dramas until the passing of time allows for perspective."


RUN, FAT BOY, RUN. Opening in 1,133 theatres. Simon Pegg, who makes a legitimate claim to be Britain's sweetheart, stars in Run, Fat Boy, Run as Dennis, a man equally afraid of exercise and commitment. He left his fiancee (Thandie Newton) at the altar five years ago, and now he's working as a lingerie store security guard and struggling to be a good example to his son. When the ex starts dating a hunky, obnoxious American (Hank Azaria) who is training for the London marathon, Dennis figures he can do the same thing, getting in shape and winning back his beloved in one fell swoop.

In case you can't tell from the plot description that the movie is a little formulaic, the critics will explain it for you. In my Film Journal review I called it "uniformly predictable," and noted that director David Schwimmer (a.k.a. Ross from "Friends") "just doesn't have the directorial wit to elevate the intermittently amusing script." Newsday cries foul on the third act sentimentality: "Despite an all-out effort by an appealing cast, the movie hits the proverbial wall toward the end through needless overexertion of its sentimental side." Rex Reed at the New York Observer, on the other hand, finds something to love, namely the star: "Simon Pegg steals this otherwise minor but enjoyably unpretentious little comedy and pockets it like a Mars bar." And The New York Times gets into it as well, writing, "Fat Boy will never be mistaken for art [...] Yet it's effective and affecting."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Run Fat Boy Run Does Pegg, Audience No Favors

By Katey Rich


Comedians, more than any other kind of actor, quickly develop themselves as a brand. With a few exceptions, you know what you will get from an Adam Sandler movie, a Will Ferrell movie, or, in earlier days, a Jim Carrey movie. Outliers are either clear from the start that they won't be what the fans expect (Punch-Drunk Love for Sandler, Stranger than Fiction for Ferrell), or quickly rejected at the box office.

Simon Pegg is on his way to building a similar brand for himself in America, after the low-key success of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. He's beloved among a small group of fanatics, but largely unknown to the population at large, which makes any risks at this point especially dangerous. If you're still trying to get people to just take a look at you, you need to show them the best stuff, the stuff that will make you famous.

That's why Run, Fat Boy, Run is such a bewildering mistake on Pegg's part. He re-wrote the screenplay with another comedian known in small circles for a distinctive brand of comedy, Michael Ian Black. The pairing is a dream come true for some comedy fans, but somewhere between picking David Schwimmer as director and pretending Pegg is the "fat boy," the whole thing goes horribly wrong. Run, Fat Boy, Run is not at all the subversive and silly comedy it could have been. Instead, it's exactly what you would expect from the posters, which feature Pegg in running clothes bearing the slogan "Erectile Dysfunction Awareness." Har har.

Up against Superhero Movie this weekend, Fat Boy actually stands out of an example of comedy done competently, with actual effort for jokes and actual talent onscreen. But it's so mainstream and so bland that the only thing special about it is Pegg himself, who proves that he's got leading man qualities if he ever finds someone willing to exercise them. Oh, and Hank Azaria, who is so well-known for his many voices on "The Simspons" that it's a shock to see him naked onscreen, totally ripped. He may be the voice of Comic Book Guy, but he sure doesn't resemble him.

In short: Don't get your hopes up for Fat Boy. Any given 10 minutes of Shaun of the Dead would probably elicit as many laughs as the entire movie does. But hold out hope for Simon Pegg, whose big-screen stardom just got a little more distant but is still totally possible.

Today's Film News: Subway Screenwriter Success Story!

By Katey Rich

MtaNext time you New Yorkers are frustrated because of construction delays in the subway, keep those curse words to yourself-- that's a Hollywood screenwriter slowing down your commute! Yet another Cinderella story has emerged in the trades today, with Staten Island-based transit worker Michael Martin's screenplay, Brooklyn's Finest, getting ready for production in May. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Martin began the screenplay after he totaled his car, with money in mind rather than a Hollywood future. Don Cheadle, Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke are preparing to star in the ensemble crime drama, with Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directing.

Ice Cube, the media mogul who defies categorization, will be steering away from his family-friendly Are We There Yet? series and making a movie for grown-ups again. He's teaming up with Dimension Films to make Janky Promoters, one of those movies where the title says it all. Cube and another actor will play music promoters totally unprepared when they book a major hip-hop act. Dimension head Harvey Weinstein told Variety, "He's a brand, like Tyler Perry, and that's the direction he's headed in." So, basically, it's Ice Cube's world, and we're just watching his movies in it.

Cromwell_james_15Georgebush1stWhile the rest of America figures out exactly who they want their politicians to be, Oliver Stone is busy building his own political dynasty. Yesterday he announced that Elizabeth Banks had been cast as Laura Bush in the George W. Bush biopic W, and now James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn have signed on as Poppa and Mama Bush. You'll remember that James Cromwell also played Prince Philip in 2006's The Queen, which means he's slowly taking over as every fictional version of a head of state. Until he plays Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I won't be too concerned.

Nate Parker shone big in his role in December's The Great Debaters, and now he may have a chance to step out from under Denzel Washington's shadow. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Parker will star in Blood Done Sign My Name, an adaptation of a true story about the murder of a black Vietnam veteran by a white businessman in a small North Carolina town. Jeb Stuart, who wrote The Fugitive and Die Hard among others, will direct and write. Parker will play a local teacher who stepped in during the civil unrest that followed the murder.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New York Needs Dinner at the Movies Too!

By Katey Rich


Cinematical had a pretty harsh take on Variety's article about the Village Roadshow upscale theatres coming to the U.S. They and their commenters pointed out, rightly, that the people who can afford a $35 movie ticket can probably afford the home theatres that pull people away from the cineplex to begin with, and the promised amenities of digital projection and 3D features are becoming more and more common in regular theatres as well. Sure, food served at your table and comfier seats are great, but are they good enough?

For me, the more important question is one raised by New York magazine's Culture Vulture: When are we New Yorkers going to see some of this action? The rollout will apparently include New York eventually, but the current focus is on wealthy suburbs of places like Chicago, Seattle and Dallas. Of course, as I mentioned in this morning's post, the trend of food service with your movie and high-class amenities has been in play for a while now, and theatres across the country are drawing people in on the simple promise of making moviegoing as much of a treat as, say, going to a play.

But New York, the supposed cultural mecca of America, has seen none of this. With every article Film Journal has written about new theatres that feature bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and whatnot, I've seethed with jealousy. New York has some of the best independent theatres in the country, and places like the Angelika serve delicious food in their cafe, while venues like the Lincoln Plaza appeal to older moviegoers who don't tend to talk the whole way through Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Yes, in New York moviegoers really have it easy, with virtually every American release available in locations all over the city. But what about the fun stuff?

I'm still not totally convinced the $35 movie ticket idea can fly, given how good at-home theatre systems are and how much complaining there is about what it costs to go to the movies to begin with. But the dinner-and-a-movie concept is wonderful, and it works whether you're eating beer and pizza or sushi and wine. A favorite theatre of mine, Asheville, North Carolina's Brew and View, sells $2 tickets to second-run movies and sells you pizza in the back that you can bring to your seat. That's actually cheaper than the usual dinner and a movie, and a whole lot more fun too-- sure, it gets a little raucous, but you paid $2! Village Roadshow has a great idea, and may find success, but that's not the only way to do it. Let's see a little more creative thinking, a little more thought on what else brings people to the movies, and maybe some thought that New Yorkers might like some dinner with their movies too.

Today's Film News: More Dinner, More Movies

By Katey Rich

DrafthouseTheatres offering high-end menus and other plushy comforts are nothing new-- our Andreas Fuchs has been covering a number of them all over the country in his "Dinner at the Movies" series in Film Journal. But now those 300 or so high-end theatres will be getting company, Variety reports. A group of investors will be opening Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas across the country in affluent suburbs, modeled on the deluxe cinemas Village Roadshow operates in Australia. Tickets will cost as much as $35 and valet parking, a cocktail bar and reclining seats will all be part of the package. Meals will be served as well, with sushi and wine replacing popcorn and Coke. For the time being we'll all pretend there is no looming recession that could possibly get in the way of this plan.

BanksBush In casting news, Elizabeth Banks, known for comedic roles in movies like The 40-Year  Old Virgin and Wet Hot American Summer, is joining the cast of Oliver Stone's W, a biopic about the current president. Banks will be playing First Lady Laura Bush, though most of the movie reportedly takes place before Bush took office. Josh Brolin, currently doing his best imitation of 1970s San Francisco politician Dan White, will play George W. Bush.

Sadly, Anthony Minghella died before finishing his planned segment for I Love You, New York, an episodic feature consisting of a series of short films by famous filmmakers about the city. Now The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Shekhar Kapur, known for directing the commanding Cate Blanchett in the two Elizabeth pictures, will helm the script Minghella had already written. It looks as if Minghella's last film will be the HBO movie The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, set for broadcast later this year.

And finally, the dream of two more film students just came true. Variety reports that DreamWorks has bought the rights to the spec script Imaginary Friends, a fantasy adventure with no other plot details available. The lucky writers are Cornelius Uliano and Bryan Schulz, both of whom graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography in California within the last three years. Uliano appears to be younger than I am. Let the resentment begin!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Will The Recession Take Away Our Film Sets Too?

By Katey Rich

British_columbia_4 I just finished writing an article for our upcoming issue, which will come out at the ShowCanada Expo in Alberta next month. The story is about the British Columbia film industry, specifically two government organizations that exist to support and promote film production in Canada's most western province. In the era of Giuliani and Bloomberg's support for film production here in the States, we forget how often Vancouver used to stand in for the fair city of New York, or anywhere else in America for that matter. I was surprised to learn while writing the article that British Columbia is the third-largest film production center in North America, just ahead of L.A. and New York.

The problem for the province right now, of course, is an even bigger problem for the U.S.: The American dollar is worthless, which makes the Canadian dollar valuable, which makes Canada no longer a cheap destination for location shooting. Even with the intensive tax breaks offered to foreign productions in the province, shooting in Canada instead of New York is not the instant budget-slasher it used to be. In fact, given aggressive tax breaks in New York and other states, it's probably cheaper to stay home.

The potential fallout of the looming recession has been analyzed from all sorts of angles in the media, including in one Variety article analyzing the labor cuts and stalling development in Hollywood. But no one seems to be discussing how it might affect what we see onscreen. With foreign dollars worth so much more on our soil, will we be seeing more Bollywood movies set in New York, or a Japanese horror movie taking place in the Arizona desert? Conversely, given the tightening of belts all over the country, will studios be scaling back on location work, confining their movies to soundstages as if it were the 1940s all over again?

The Canadian industry, from Montreal to Vancouver, is probably asking this question the loudest; despite increases in domestic production in British Columbia, foreign production companies still make up about 75% of the business there. American moviegoers may be getting movies that are actually filmed where they're set-- at least if they're set in places with hefty tax breaks-- but the Canadians may get a shriveling industry. British Columbia is far too well-established a production center to die entirely, but the lean times in America could get even leaner for Vancouver production companies.

Personally, I see the location shooting crunch as a perfect situation for the return of a classic genre: the film noir. The old ones were all set in Los Angeles and filmed largely on soundstages, perfect for a modern production company strapped for both cash and plane tickets for the crew. Your costume needs are pretty simple-- snappy fedoras for the men, waist-cinching dresses for the ladies-- and special effects are minimal, since the old movies weren't allowed to show fake blood. Hey, for true authenticity you could shoot it on black-and-white stock, with the money you save from staying on a soundstage. Yes, I think the gumshoes and dames are due for a comeback... teach the kids these days how murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle.


Today's Film News: Back To The Negotiation Table

By Katey Rich

SagThe Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists-- better known as SAG and AFTRA--are heading back to the negotiation table with the studios, hoping to hammer out a new contract before the current one expires June 30. The plan, says Variety, is to get a contract for features and primetime television. The two acting unions have a history of animosity, which is why they have to work things out amongst themselves before they take on the AMPTP. The potential strike, of course, is pretty much a worst-nightmare situation in Hollywood right now, given that we've only just recovered from the months-long TV drought. Keep your fingers crossed.

Warner Bros. has bought the rights to a book proposal with possibly the best title ever written: I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President. The young adult book, to be penned by "Daily Show" writer Josh Lieb, is about a geeky 13-year-old who is actually an evil genius and the third-richest person on the planet. Just read this synopsis from The Hollywood Reporter: "The story concerns the boy's attempt to prove himself in the eyes of his do-gooder father by being elected class president. Unfortunately, the tactics he uses to stage coups in Central America prove to be less effective in running a middle-school campaign." This concept seems, in every way, flawless.

My_bloody_valentine 3D movies are intense enough as it is-- just the sight of Bono popping out of the screen in U2 3D can make your heart pound. But is the world ready for a 3D slasher movie? That's what Jaime King is assuming, at least, now that she's taken the lead role in My Bloody Valentine 3D, a remake of the 1981 thriller. Presumably because Halloween is too played out, the story takes place around Valentine's Day, when a serial killer targets couples who celebrate the holiday.

And finally, Harvey Weinstein may think he has all the power he needs, but he's no match for legions of Star Wars fans with a cause. The Weinstein Company has been holding off on the release of a dramedy called Fanboys for two years now. The story, about friends trekking to Skywalker Ranch for an early screening of the first Star Wars, was deemed too depressing because of a subplot about a friend with cancer; Weinstein reshot key scenes, using Drillbit Taylor director Stephen Brill, to excise the cancer story. But 40 minutes of the movie had already been shown to Star Wars fans, and they were livid. Now they're threatening to boycott this weekend's Superhero Movie and other TWC releases unless the original, unedited Fanboys is released. The Hollywood Reporter has the whole messy story, as well as one excellent quote from the fans: "It's not going to work, Darth Weinstein." Wait, does that make Michael Eisner Emperor Palpatine?


Monday, March 24, 2008

Today's Film News: Kristen Bell Forced To Settle

By Katey Rich

Shepard We're not sure what Kristen Bell did to deserve this, but apparently the only men worthy of her affections are Napoleon Dynamite, the main character from "Las Vegas" and the poor man's Dane Cook. That's at least what the casting for When in Rome is telling us, now that Jon Heder (Napoleon), Dax Shepard (Employee of the Month) and Josh Duhamel ("Vegas") have joined the cast of the Bell vehicle. She plays a woman who steals enchanted coins in Rome, and suddenly finds herself pursued by a variety of men. Lucky for Bell she at least has Anjelica Huston on her side, playing her boss, the curator of the Guggenheim.

Everyone figured Tony Soprano was unofficially in charge of the tri-state area, but now James Gandolfini will make it a little more official, playing the New York City mayor in the upcoming remake of The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3. John Travolta stars as a criminal who takes a subway car hostage, with Denzel Washington as an enterprising cop on his trail.

Sangster I must confess, I have for years confused Thomas Sangster with Freddie Highmore. Both are young British actors with sandy hair and toothy smiles; both were being cast as adorable moppets around the same time, in Love, Actually and Nanny McPhee (Sangster) and Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Highmore). But now Sangster has a chance to break out of the pack. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are considering the now-17-year-old actor for the lead role in their adaptation of Tintin, the Belgian comic strip series. Andy Serkis has already been cast in the motion-capture film, as Tintin's companion Captain Haddock.

GoreAnd finally, Tracy Morgan, Catherine Keener and James Marsden are looking to help Al Gore's daughter Kristin make her Hollywood debut. No, really. The three actors have joined the cast of Nailed, a political comedy set to be directed by David O. Russell with a screenplay he co-wrote with the younger Gore. Jessica Biel is already set to star as a woman who has a nail gun shot into her head, which motivates her to travel to Washington, D.C. and lobby for better health care. She enlists a clueless congressman (Jake Gyllenhaal) to help her with her cause.

Weekend Roundup: Horton Stomps The Competition

By Katey Rich


Horton continued hearing a stampede to the box office over the weekend, as kids and parents alike flocked once again to the animated fable. The Fox release grossed $25 million for a new total of $86 million over two weekends, easily making it the highest-grossing release of the year. Its biggest competition, Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, couldn't muster up much of a fight; it made $20 million on nearly half as many screens as Horton, a fine showing but beneath that of other Perry behemoths like Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

The Browns were followed by the other two wide releases of the weekend, the unscreened-for-critics horror remake Shutter and the Apatow factory comedy Drillbit Taylor. Shutter scared up about half of The Browns' take at #3, with $10.7 million. Drillbit was just below it at $10.2, but given that it's produced by the man who minted money last summer, it will likely be chalked up as a failure.

And rounding out the top ten was the other major release of the weekend, Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), which Variety reports had the best-ever opening in the U.S. for a Spanish-language film. Luna made $2.6 million from just 266 theatres, and the Weinstein Company plans a platform rollout that will probably benefit from strong word-of-mouth about the sentimental drama.

Elsewhere in the top 10 were pretty much the same holdovers as last week. The cavemen of 10,000 B.C. continue clubbing moviegoers over the head and dragging them into the movie theatres, coming in at #5 for the weekend with $8.6 million. Behind it was the martial arts B-movie Never Back Down, at #6 with $4.8 million. College Road Trip is hanging in there, at #7 with $4.6 million, but the real story is the British heist actioner The Bank Job. The movie, which debuted only at #4, continues seeing the lowest drops in audience from the previous weekend. It lost merely 20% of the crowds this weekend, coming in at #8 with another $4.1 million.

Finally, Vantage Point is also holding on steady; it dropped just 30% from last weekend despite dropping 600 of its theatres, and brought in $3.8 million, good for ninth place.

Below the jump is the full top 20, thanks as always to Box Office Mojo. There's a lot of films winding up their wide releases, with Fool's Gold, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Semi-Pro and the irrepressible Juno all shedding theatres quickly. Adding theatres, though, is the Oscar-winning Best Foreign Language Film The Counterfeiters, with a strong $5,608 per-theatre average at its 92 locations.

TWLWTitle (click to view)StudioWeekend Gross% ChangeTheater Count / ChangeAverageTotal GrossBudget*Week #
11Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!Fox$25,100,000-44.2%3,961+7$6,336$86,470,000$852
2NTyler Perry's Meet the BrownsLGF$20,010,000-2,006-$9,975$20,010,000-1
4NDrillbit TaylorPar.$10,200,000-3,056-$3,337$10,200,000-1
5210,000 B.C.WB$8,660,000-48.4%3,454+44$2,507$76,100,000$1053
63Never Back DownSum.$4,861,000-43.5%2,729-$1,781$16,824,000$202
74College Road TripBV$4,630,000-40.7%2,575-131$1,798$32,005,000-3
86The Bank JobLGF$4,100,000-18.9%1,613-$2,541$19,430,000-3
95Vantage PointSony$3,800,000-30.4%2,124-637$1,789$65,300,000$405
10NUnder the Same MoonWein.$2,602,000-266-$9,781$3,329,000-1
129The Other Boleyn GirlSony$2,000,000-30.6%1,188-24$1,683$22,515,000$354
Click here to find out more!
1312Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayFocus$1,421,000-26.8%531-8$2,676$7,481,000-3
1410The Spiderwick ChroniclesPar.$1,200,000-48.6%1,226-1,181$978$67,788,000$906
1613Fool's GoldWB$955,000-43.4%1,011-494$944$67,100,000$707
1914Step Up 2 the StreetsBV$535,000-65.1%640-906$835$56,710,000-6
2025The CounterfeitersSPC$516,000+23.1%92+20$5,608$1,876,000-5

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today's Film News: Bob Marley Singin' To No One

By Katey Rich

Marley_2 Looks like we could have another Diablo Cody on our hands. Brad Ingelsby, a 27-year-old living with his parents in Pennsylvania, has sold his script The Low Dweller to Relativity Media, with Ridley Scott attached to direct and Leonardo DiCaprio to star. Variety points out the script's similarity to No Country for Old Men, as a dark drama about a man released from jail who is forced to avenge his brother's murder. Scott and DiCaprio are apparently hoping to finish the film before the potential SAG strike in June, and Ingelsby, if his script is what they say, might hope to be polishing his Oscar this time next year.

Turns out you can be too popular after all. Bob Marley, who will be the subject of both a forthcoming documentary and a feature film about his life, may not be able to lend recordings of his voice to either project. (Well, his estate won't be able to, since Marley is dead.) The Hollywood Reporter has all the dirty legal details, which basically amount to the producers behind the documentary pressuring the owner of Marley's music, Blue Mountain Music, not to sell the music to the Weinstein Company, which is producing the biopic. The president of the music publishing company said he'd like the biopic to be delayed until 2015. That's pretty territorial, but you don't think Harvey Weinstein is gonna fight back? This whole thing could get even uglier in no time.

Fey_2Comedy fans far and wide can rejoice today: Some of the best names in the business have signed on to be part of Ricky Gervais' comedy This Side of the Truth. Variety reports that "30 Rock" creator and comedy goddess Tina Fey, Best in Show creator and mockumentary god Christopher Guest, "Daily Show" correspondent and "PC" from the Apple ads John Hodgman, and "Arrested Development" star and Bluth patriarch Jeffrey Tambor will all join the comedy, about a man who learns to tell lies in a world where everyone tells the truth.

And finally, Michael Bay has a new cohort in his efforts to destroy the legacy of every horror movie ever made. Jared Padalecki, of TV's "Supernatural" and House of Wax, will star in the remake of Friday the 13th planned for release, of course, on Friday, February 13th, 2009. The new film, according to the Reporter, will focus on the serial killer Jason, while Padalecki will play an investigator. It's unclear how close the new film will actually resemble the original, given that Jason was only a bit role in the 1980 film.