M. Night Shyamalan broke through into the mainstream with his second-feature, the late ’90s horror phenomenon The Sixth Sense. The two similarly successful films that followed (Unbreakable, Signs) was building up Shyamalan as a director of possible Speilbergian talent, though in danger of having his third-act screenplay twists overwhelm his brand. That bore Rotten fruit with The Village and The Happening, which set off a bum streak with big-budget sci-fi and would-be blockbusters: The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth.
The Visit in 2015 would be a back-to-basics, comeback horror effort. Its box office and relative critical success set the stage for the Certified Fresh Split, which brought back the dark superhero world of Unbreakable. Shyamalan closed the trilogy with Glass.
Shyamalan’s latest is Old. See where it places as we rank all M. Night Shyamalan movies by Tomatometer!
(Photo by Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection)
After making three movies in the ’80s credited as Leaf and then disappearing, Phoenix returned to the public eye, this time under his birth name Joaquin, for 1995’s To Die For. In that Gus Van Sant erotic thriller, Phoenix plays a high schooler seduced by Nicole Kidman to murder, thus beginning the actor’s penchant for performing disturbed, frequently mordant characters, carried further through the ’90s in movies like Clay Pigeons, 8MM, and U-Turn.
Phoenix became a near-household name after playing sword-and-sandal scumbag Commodus in Best Picture-winner Gladiator, in which he got his first of three Oscar acting nominations. But for several years after, Phoenix remained in character actor mode, taking supporting roles if he found the movie compelling (Quills, Hotel Rwanda, Signs), in between lead star parts such as in Buffalo Soldiers and The Village.
In 2005, Phoenix broke into that echelon of truly transformative actors, owning the Johnny Cash role in Walk the Line, which walked him right into a second Oscar nomination. A long period of reunion collaborations has followed, working frequently with clearly favored directors: To Die For‘s Gus Van Sant (Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot), James Gray (Two Lovers, We Own the Night), Rwanda‘s Terry George (Reservation Road), and P.T. Anderson for Inherent Vice and The Master, the latter marking the most recent time he became an Oscar nominee.
His last film, Joker, rampaged into theaters riding a wave of controversy and buzz, all the way to become the biggest-grossing R-rated movie ever. So put on that smile as we rank all of Joaquin Phoenix’s movies by Tomatometer!
(Photo by Warner Bros. Thumbnail: Jasin Boland for ©Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection)
There’s only one place where you can get clones, time travel, simulated realities, irradiated and irritated giant lizards, and space fights and beyond. (Maybe not all at once, but we can dream.) Anything’s possible in this creative nebula known as science fiction, and with its long and historic association with cinema, we present our choices of the greatest science-fiction movies ever: The 150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies!
As they do with horror, filmmakers use science fiction to reflect our aspirations, terrors, and issues of the times. Through genre lens, we can consider our impact on the environment (Godzilla, WALL-E), technology gone berserk (The Terminator, Ex Machina), identity (Blade Runner, The Matrix), and societal breakdowns (Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange). We might even check-in on the current state of the human condition (Gattaca, Her).
Or, maybe we just want to see giant ants wreak havoc across the neighborhood. There may not be a lot of subtext in a big monster movie like Them!, or even crowd-pleasing masterpieces like Star Wars or Back to the Future, but they speak to the one thing that attracts us to movies in the first place: escapism. Science-fiction movies are our tickets to planets far-away (Star Trek, Avatar, Starship Troopers), or a quick hop to a local joint in the solar system (The Martian, Total Recall). They take us just above the atmosphere (Gravity), deep down to the bottom of the ocean (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Abyss), and into the human body (Fantastic Voyage). Limited only 2020by imagination, sci-fi inspires wonder, awe, terror, and hope for alternative mindsets and better futures.
Sci-fi spreads across subgenres, all represented here: the monster movie (Cloverfield), space opera (Serenity), cyberpunk (Ghost in the Shell), and post-apocalyptic (Mad Max: Fury Road) and more. Or it can fuse onto traditional genres like drama (Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), comedy (Repo Man, Idiocracy), and action (Predator, Demoliton Man). Wherever the destination, these movies — each with at least 20 reviews — were selected because of their unique, fun, and possibly even mind-blowing spins on reality.
It’s time to strap in and cue the Theremin for some of the best science-fiction films created: Time to launch the 150 Essential Sci-Fi Movies!
This week’s Ketchup recaps ten stories from seven days in the life of Hollywood, as represented by film development news. Included in the mix this time around are xXx 3, the videogame adaptation Borderlands, and new roles for Bryan Cranston, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, Joaquin Phoenix, and John C. Reilly.
Social media feeds and the sites that “feed” them have been all aflutter this summer with coverage of the new friendship that has formed between Hollywood’s highest paid actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and the star of Trainwreck (Amy Schumer). There was that time when they formed a human pyramid on a yacht, and they danced on Billy Joel’s piano together. This week, we learned that the summer of 2015 hasn’t been all fun, games, and big-knee-shaped-bruises-on-your-back, as the two stars have also been working (“Stars, they’re just like us!”, as US Weekly might put it). Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence are now reportedly about 100 pages into writing a comedy movie that they will star in together (the average Hollywood screenplay runs about 120 pages). Nothing much is known about this particular script, except that Lawrence and Schumer will play sisters. Meanwhile, Amy Schumer has also written a separate comedy script for 20th Century Fox with her actual real sister, Kim Caramele, which will be a mother-daughter comedy.
Netflix is increasingly stepping up its production slate to include original feature films (some of which will get theatrical releases) as well original series. One of the latest filmmakers to sign on with Netflix is Christopher Guest, best known for mockumentaries like Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, which he has made with mostly the same ensemble cast. This week, we learned that many of those actors and comedians will indeed be returning in Mascots. This new comedy will be set in the world of sports mascots, those people in the oversized foam outfits who entertain crowds between plays. Joining Guest for sure in Mascots will be Jane Lynch, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, and Parker Posey. It’s not yet known if some of Guest’s other regular players, like Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, will also have roles in Mascots.
Although his roles in Will Ferrell movies like Step Brothers and Talladega Nights might inspire one to think of John C. Reilly as “just” a comedian, the actor has also worked with several “serious” directors, such as Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York, The Aviator), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia), Robert Altman (A Prairie Home Companion), and Roman Polanski (Carnage). This week, we learned that Reilly will add another acclaimed director to that list, in the form of French filmmaker Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust & Bone), in what will be the director’s English-language debut. Reilly and Audiard will be teaming up on an adaptation of the comic Western novel The Sisters Brothers, by author Patrick DeWitt. John C. Reilly will play one of the title characters, sibling hired guns who travel to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush to murder a prosecutor.
This year will mark the 15th anniversary of Meet the Parents, in which Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro came into conflict as potential son and father-in-law. It’s indeed a decades-old set up for comedy, and one that keeps on ticking, because this week, another such comedy made the news. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and James Franco (Freaks and Geeks, to keep up the TV references) will star in a 20th Century Fox comedy called Why Him. Cranston will play a “Midwestern dad” who travels with his family to see his daughter at college to find that she is is dating a “brash tech billionaire” (Franco). John Hamburg (Along Came Polly; I Love You, Man) will be directing from a screenplay he cowrote when filming starts in Los Angeles in February.
It’s something of an old Hollywood cliche that pitch meetings involve “X meets Y” analogies. For example, you could say that Ant-Man was “Ocean’s Eleven meets Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” This week, Anne Hathaway became attached to star in a science fiction comedy called The Shower, and the synopsis totally read as something like “Bridesmaids meets This is the End (or if it had been more successful, The World’s End).” The Shower of the title has a double meaning, as the guests at a baby shower are threatened when a meteor shower turn nearby men into “blood-hungry aliens.” The Shower might also end up resembling next year’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, another case of women banding together against monsters, within the constraints of social niceties. Hathaway was newly available for The Shower after another of her projects, the giant monster movie Colossal, was recently put on hold.
With Marvel Studios (and their counterparts at Fox, adapting Marvel titles) having so many projects in development, it’s almost requisite for this column to devote at least one spot each week to their films. This week, the obligatory Marvel headline goes to casting news for both Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange (11/4/16), and 20th Century Fox’s solo movie for Gambit (10/7/16). There have already been a few roles cast for Doctor Strange, including the title role (Benedict Cumberbatch), the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Baron Mordo (Chewitel Ejiofor), and a rumored role for Rachel McAdams. This week, we learned that Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, The Hunt, TV’s Hannibal) is in early talks to costar as one of Doctor Strange’s adversaries; what was left unsaid is which of Strange’s enemies he might be playing. Two strong possibilities are Dormammu, who many consider to be Strange’s main nemesis (and who’s head is covered in flames, so anyone could play him), and Nightmare, who was actually Doctor Strange’s very first enemy. (This writer also thinks that Mads Mikkelsen sort of resembles the way Nightmare is usually depicted in the comics.) Meanwhile, over at 20th Century Fox, French actress Lea Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the upcoming James Bond film Spectre) is now in talks to play the romantic lead Bella (AKA Belladonna) in the solo Gambit movie, starring Channing Tatum. Another Mission: Impossible costar, Rebecca Ferguson, had also been in the running for the role, but she recently took one of the lead roles in the upcoming novel adaptation The Girl on the Train.
With The Hunger Games ending this year, Lionsgate will have very few franchises left, outside of the remaining Divergent movies. That might be why the studio has started development on adapting the five books in author Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series, about the life of Rome’s Julius Caesar. The first movie, which will also be called Emperor, will be based upon the first two books in the series, The Gates of Rome and The Field of Swords, which establish the friendship between Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, who eventually betrays his friend (in the fifth book of the series). Emperor appears as though it’s being adapted by committee, with four different screenwriters working the first two books into one script. Those writers are William Broyles Jr (Cast Away, Apollo 13), Stephen Harrigan (Hallmark’s Cleopatra mini-series), Ian Mackenzie-Jeffers (The Grey, Death Sentence), and Burr Steers (17 Again, next year’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).
ROTTEN IDEAs OF THE WEEK
Both movies are now over 10 years old, and his career has gone completely different places since, but Joaquin Phoenix actually costarred in Signs (2002) and The Village (2004) for director M. Night Shyamalan. It’s also been over 10 years since one of M. Night Shyamalan’s films as director received a Tomatometer score over 25 percent. Joaquin Phoenix’s career, on the other hand, has benefitted from an opposite, more positive swing, with three Certified Fresh films (The Master, Her, and The Immigrant), and only one Rotten score (Irrational Man). So, this week’s news that Phoenix is in talks to reunite with Shyamalan on the director’s next film has us divided on precisely where this story should land. There are no plot details for this next film as of yet, except that it’s expected to be a lower-budget film, and filming is scheduled to start in Philadelphia in November.
When it came time for the 2002 action movie xXx to get a sequel in 2005, Vin Diesel chose not to return as extreme-sports-enthusiast-turned-spy Xander Cage. So, Ice Cube starred as a new character in xXx: State of the Union instead. Ten years later, Vin Diesel now seems quite excited to indeed return to the world of xXx. We got that news this week from Vin Diesel’s Instagram account, where he posted, “While I was filming xXx, guys on set called me Air Diesel… The time to return has come. Filming starts December in the Philippines. #ILiveForThisS***.” If filming is indeed starting in an exotic land in just four months, there’s still a few questions left to be answered. We don’t know the screenwriter or the director, and it’s even unclear what studio would be behind a xXx sequel (Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios last produced a feature film in 2007). xXx received a Rotten Tomatometer score of 48 percent, and the sequel xXx: State of the Union did even worse with a score of just 16 percent. Vin Diesel also confirmed this week that he will indeed be returning to voice Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
This year’s critical and box office hit Mad Max: Fury Road obviously did not create the post-apocalyptic genre (though an argument could be made that The Road Warrior played a big part in popularizing it). The movie’s success did, however, demonstrate to Hollywood that it is possible for a movie in the mid-2010s to be a post-apocalyptic success without being a girl-friendly YA adaptation (like The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.). And so, development executives are re-examining what pre-existing properties like Mad Max are out there, and very popular. From the world of video games, the #1 franchise like this is probably Fallout (the legal rights to which have been debated in court in recent years). But (especially if you expand the definitions of “post-apocalyptic”), the #2 franchise is probably Borderlands. So, that’s probably part of why Lionsgate has started development of a Borderlands movie. There have been three first-person-shooter Borderlands games to date, and two of them are set on a world called Pandora (yes, just like Avatar, except this one’s a desert), a colony world abandoned by corporate interests before the game’s start. The Borderlands games are popular, and have a quirky, appealing humor. However, we’re calling this story the Rotten Idea of the Week, because following the failure of this summer’s Pixels, video game adaptations still most often receive Rotten Tomatometer scores.
Just what does Rotten Tomatoes deem the all-time scariest horror flick? Is it a gruesome slasher that results in heightened anxiety and sudden spine-tingling jolts and jumps? Or, is it a psychological thriller that plagues the subconscious for weeks to come?
Author: Christina Troup
We searched the site for the top 20 horror/suspense movies to reveal the numero uno cinematic scare just in time for a frightful Halloween film fest.**
Today’s installment kicks off the countdown; check in every day ’til October 31 as we serve up the best reviewed frightening flicks for your Halloween viewing pleasure!
Oh, and be afraid. Be very afraid.
Top Horror/Suspense Films by Tomatometer, #20-16
20) Open Water (2004) 72%
It might as well be space because in the Caribbean Sea no one can hear you scream. Well, save for the circling sharks below. In the slow-paced psychological thriller "Open Water," married couple Susan and Daniel embark upon a deep sea adventure to rest, relax and reconnect. Unfortunately for the twosome, they are accidentally left behind by their diving team, smack dab in the middle of the deep blue. The pair struggle to survive amid tumultuous elements and inhospitable oceanic critters. Oh, and get this, it’s based on a true story, so you may want to rethink that next seaside getaway.
19) Joy Ride (2001) 73%
Breaker, breaker 1-9. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the horror meets the highway jaunt "Joy Ride," it’s that one should never mess with a guy who goes by the name "Rusty Nail." Tetanus, people. Tetanus. Of course, on-screen bros Paul Walker and Steve Zahn didn’t get the memo and end up messing with a mentally unstable truck driver via CB radio. Essentially, a mean-spirited joke goes awry and the two brothers, along with potential love interest Leelee Sobieski, find themselves in the path of a madman’s quest for revenge.
18) George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005) 74%
After a lengthy hiatus, horror master George A. Romero returned in 2005 with yet another unsettling tale of life among zombies in "Land of the Dead." This time around, the living dead and humans co-exist, but not without a structured caste system in place. Romero’s societal commentary tackles the issue of the "haves" and "have-nots," where the wealthy live in luxury, safe behind walls of protection while the not-so fortunate are relegated to life in streets. Regardless, no amount of money can keep the ever-evolving lineage of zombies at bay for too long.
17) Signs (2002) 75%
Honestly, which is scarier: the little girl that asks for a glass of water or the bobble-headed aliens lurking about in M. Night Shyamalan‘s "Signs?" Beyond the suspense of who, or perhaps what, is behind the crop circles in the cornfield, "Signs" digs a little deeper and brings up issues of faith and religion. The tale of the Hess family and the series of peculiar events that have lately befallen them is a perfectly chilling romp for the whole family to enjoy.
16) Audition (1999) 76%
The first half of "Audition" is slow-moving, like a glob of peanut butter lodged in the back of your throat. But by the latter half, chances are you’d prefer that things had kept at their leisurely pace. Not for the faint of heart, Takashi Miike‘s disturbing tale of courtship is a perfect example that it’s never wise to mislead a woman. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone severs a limb.
Tune in tomorrow for the next five titles, in our four-day countdown to Halloween’s #1 rated horror flick!
**These are our top-Tomatometer picks with at least 40 reviews counted, which is why some of the classics of spooky cinema aren’t included.
Comedy superstar Will Ferrell scored his first-ever number one opening in a lead role with the stronger-than-expected debut of his latest hit Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby which left all competitors in the dust at the North American box office.
Solid opening weekend results came from the animated comedy Barnyard: The Original Party Animals in second place and the horror film The Descent in fifth, but the Robin Williams thriller The Night Listener failed to find much of an audience in its debut. Overall, the marketplace was healthy and showed substantial improvement over the first weekend of August from the last two summers.
Sony crossed the finish line in first place for the industry-leading eighth time this year with the turbo-charged opening of Talladega Nights which grossed an estimated $47M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Playing in a massive 3,803 theaters, the PG-13 film about a legendary NASCAR driver averaged a fantastic $12,359 per location. Will Ferrell has collected more than his share of second place trophies. The former Saturday Night Live star has opened at number two numerous times in recent years with films such as Kicking and Screaming, Bewitched, Anchorman, Elf, and Old School. Elf climbed into first place in its second weekend, and Ferrell has had supporting roles and cameos in number one openers from other stars. But Talladega Nights marks the first time he has anchored a top spot debut, and he did it decisively.
Reviews were generally positive for the racing comedy, which co-starred John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Michael Clarke Duncan, and the weekend gross was roughly three times the take of its closest competition. Sony backed the $73M film with a lavish marketing campaign which involved promotional support from numerous corporate sponsors. Even veteran talk show host Larry King turned his daily chat session on opening night into a one-hour commercial for the film by interviewing Ferrell and Reilly in character as Ricky Bobby and his racing pal Cal Naughton Jr.
Talladega reached a broad audience with young males standing out slightly, as expected. Studio research indicated that 53% of the audience was male and that 52% was under 25. Aside from being Ferrell’s biggest opening weekend ever, the film also generated the third best bow ever in the month of August. Only 2001’s Rush Hour 2 and the following year’s Signs did better with debuts of $67.4M and $60.1M, respectively. Those two pics also launched on the first frame of the month which studios still look at as a good weekend for programming a high-profile summer film on. By this point, most of the season’s tentpole films have played out, but there is still enough summer playing time ahead to have long-term success.
Finishing far back in second place, but still enjoying an impressive debut, was Paramount’s animated comedy Barnyard with an estimated $16M. The PG-rated toon bowed in 3,311 locations and averaged a solid $4,844 per theater. The opening was better than The Ant Bully‘s $8.4M from last weekend, but did not reach the $22.2M debut of Monster House from two weeks ago. Barnyard was produced by Nickelodeon Movies for just over $50M and played mostly to kids and parents. Audience research showed that 75% of the crowd was made up of families with males and females represented evenly. With two other cartoons in the top ten, and with Pirates still pulling in every age group, the opening performance of Barnyard was commendable.
The year’s biggest blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest dropped 47% to an estimated $11M boosting its domestic treasure to a stunning $379.7M. That puts the Johnny Depp adventure sequel at number eight among all-time domestic blockbusters surpassing the $377M of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Pirates also managed to bump Mel Gibson‘s The Passion of the Christ off the all-time top ten list. Overseas, Disney scored another colossal gross taking in $57M from 47 markets to rule the international box office for the fifth straight frame. That sent the offshore cume soaring to $392M and the worldwide haul to $771.7M making it the top-grossing global hit of 2006 after just one month of release. Pirates could certainly be on its way to the one billion dollar mark with another installment in the franchise on deck for a May 2007 release.
Audiences rejected Miami Vice which tumbled a horrendous 62% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.7M. With $45.7M in ten days, the Universal action thriller is on course to end with $65-70M. That would give Vice a domestic gross of about half of its $135M production budget. Good news did, however, come from the U.K. where the cop pic debuted at number one this weekend.
Opening in fifth place was the new horror entry The Descent with an estimated $8.8M from 2,095 locations. The R-rated fright flick about a six-pack of young ladies trapped in an underground cave full of flesh-eating creatures averaged a solid $4,200 per venue. Reviews were unusually positive for the genre and distributor Lionsgate pitched The Descent in its advertising as being from the studio that brought audiences Saw and Hostel. But the opening was far short of the $18.3M and $19.6M that those low-budget hits opened to. Still, with a modest pricetag of its own, the cave exploration flick looks to make a few bucks theatrically and dig up a bigger audience when released on DVD.
Fox’s teen comedy John Tucker Must Die dropped 58% in its second weekend to an estimated $6.1M. With $28.6M in ten days, the revenge flick should find its way to the neighborhood of $40M. Sony’s animated scarefest Monster House followed close behind with an estimated $6M, off 49%, for a $57M cume. Competing toon The Ant Bully fell 54% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.9M. Warner Bros. has collected just $18.2M in ten days and should conclude with an underwhelming $25-27M.
A pair of films tied for ninth place with an estimated $3.6M each. Universal’s comedy You, Me and Dupree declined 49% and upped its sum to $66.8M. Miramax’s new Robin Williams thriller The Night Listener bowed in 1,367 locations and averaged a weak $2,634 per site.
Opening with healthy but not spectacular results in platform release was the teen drama Quinceanera which grossed an estimated $97,000 from only eight sites for a $12,125 average. The R-rated tale of a Mexican-American girl’s impending coming-of-age party won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was snapped up by Sony Classics. Quinceanera will expand beyond New York and Los Angeles in the weeks ahead.
Three comedies and a bedtime story dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Fox’s hit fashion industry pic The Devil Wears Prada held up well once again in its sixth frame with an estimated $3.1M, off 35%, lifitng the cume to a stellar $112.7M. It was the Meryl Streep film’s fourth consecutive weekend with a drop of less than 40%. Produced for just $35M, Devil should find its way to a fabulous $120-125M making it one of the more profitable hits of the summer.
On the other hand, the Warner Bros. suspense thriller Lady in the Water has been falling by more than 60% each frame and took in an estimated $2.7M in its third scare. Down a steep 62%, the M. Night Shyamalan pic has grossed only $38.7M in 17 days and looks to drown with a mere $42-44M overall. The production budget was reportedly in the $75M range.
Sony’s Little Man fell 51% to an estimated $2.5M in its fourth outing and pushed its cume to $55.1M. The Wayans brothers pic cost $64M to produce and should end its domestic run with a respectable $58-60M. Fox’s super hero comedy flop My Super Ex-Girlfriend stumbled 73% in its third flight and grossed an estimated $1.1M. With $20.2M in the bank, look for a disappointing $22M finish.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight expanded its hit indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine from seven to 58 theaters in the top dozen markets and grossed an estimated $1.5M. That resulted in a muscular $25,169 average and a $2.2M total. The distributor will add 17 more cities on Friday and widen nationally the following weekend on the heels of strong word-of-mouth momentum.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $115.7M which was up 18% from last year when The Dukes of Hazzard debuted at number one with $30.7M; and up 23% from 2004 when Collateral opened in the top spot with $24.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Detectives Crockett and Tubbs shot their way to number one in North America with the cop thriller Miami Vice which finally managed to knock the megablockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest out of the top spot.
The new teen comedy John Tucker Must Die debuted well but the animated entry The Ant Bully got squashed in its opening weekend. Overall, the box office saw a summer slowdown as the top ten films attracted the weakest sales since early May.
Universal hit the top of the charts with its big-budget actioner Miami Vice which opened with an estimated $25.2M. Starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell as the famous South Florida cops from the hit 1980s television series, the R-rated film averaged a strong $8,340 from 3,021 theaters. The debut was in line with the opening of director Michael Mann‘s last film Collateral which was also an R-rated actioner and bowed to $24.7M in August 2004. That film, which starred Tom Cruise and Foxx, eventually squeaked past the $100M mark domestically. The studio reported that the audience for Miami Vice was older, multicultural, and evenly split between men and women. Studio research showed that a high 62% of the crowd was age 30 and older, 51% was male, and 52% was non-white. Reviews were mixed for the $135M production.
After three weeks of ruling the box office, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest dropped to second place but still posted strong results grossing an estimated $20.5M. The Disney smash dropped only 42% and propelled its cume to a staggering $358.4M after just 24 days. More records were looted by Captain Jack Sparrow. Chest became the fastest film in history to sail past the $350M mark doing so on Saturday in only 23 days. Shrek 2 held the record previously with 26 days in 2004. The Pirates sequel also stands as the top-grossing movie ever for its studio surpassing the $339.7M of 2003’s Finding Nemo.
The middle film in the swashbuckling adventure trilogy vaulted to number 11 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind the $370.3M of 2004’s The Passion of the Christ. Pirates has also put an end to the industry’s seven-year streak of the top-grossing summer film coming out of the month of May. Johnny Depp and friends have completely dominated the moviegoing world this month as no other film since has opened north of $30M. The last time the month of July saw only one $30M+ opener was ten years ago when Independence Day ruled the mid-summer box office in 1996. Dead Man’s Chest looks to smash the $400M mark in the weeks ahead.
Teenagers pushed the high school comedy John Tucker Must Die into the number three spot with an estimated opening of $14.1M. Bowing in 2,560 theaters, the PG-13 film about a group of young women who get revenge on the guy secretly dating all of them averaged a solid $5,498 per site. However, sales plunged a disturbing 24% on Saturday from a strong Friday turnout indicating there could be trouble ahead. Still, with no pricey stars, Tucker should become a nice little hit for Fox. The studio’s divide-and-conquer marketing approach seems to have worked. Television spots aimed at females focused on the revenge-on-a-cheating-boy angle while those targeting males showed off the title character’s ability to juggle three chicks.
Sony’s digital toon Monster House dropped 48% in its second weekend to an estimated $11.5M and raised its total to $43.9M after ten days. The $75M film looks to find its way to a relatively good $65-70M.
Warner Bros. stumbled with the opening of its rival kid toon The Ant Bully which finished the weekend in fifth place with an estimated $8.1M. Playing in 3,050 locations, the PG-rated adventure about a boy who enters the world of insects averaged a weak $2,670 per location. Big-time Hollywood stars Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Nicolas Cage provided the voices, but audiences were not swayed. Bully’s opening weekend couldn’t even beat the second weekend of Monster House. The kidpic market will get even more crowded on Friday when Paramount launches its own animated film Barnyard targeting the exact same family audience once again.
Sixth place was too close to call with a pair of films claiming an estimated $7M in ticket stubs this weekend. Universal’s comedy You, Me and Dupree fell 45% in its third weekend and boosted its 17-day cume to a solid $59M.
However, M. Night Shyamalan‘s bedtime story Lady in the Water followed its weak opening weekend with a steep 61% crash and gave Warner Bros. a feeble $32.1M in ten days. By comparison, ten-day totals for the filmmaker’s last films have been $85.6M for 2004’s The Village and $117.7M for 2002’s Signs. Lady, which is not even in the same ballpark, has not excited audiences and it could stumble to a final tally of about $45M making its entire total smaller than the opening weekend of his last film.
It’s been a difficult summer for Warners. First, its costly ocean liner actioner Poseidon flopped grossing $100M less than its production budget. Then Superman Returns, the most expensive movie ever, did not live up to expectations. Now the studio is suffering a double blow with Lady and Ant Bully both being ignored by moviegoers. Of course, overseas box office and worldwide home video will add more revenue, but expensive marketing campaigns will make it hard for these films to become moneymaking ventures. The studio’s other summer film The Lake House has enjoyed a respectable run though, grossing $51M.
Sony’s Wayans brothers comedy Little Man placed eighth with an estimated $5.1M, down 54%, and raised its sum to a decent $50.2M. Meryl Streep followed with the sleeper hit of the summer, The Devil Wears Prada, which grossed an estimated $4.8M. Off only 35%, the Fox hit pushed its total to $106.7M.
Crumbling 61% to an estimated $3.9M in its sophomore session, Kevin Smith‘s Clerks II rounded out the top ten and put its ten-day cume at $18.5M. The inexpensive $5M production should continue to fade fast, but looks to end with around $25M making it a nice little moneymaker for MGM and The Weinstein Company. Smith’s last summer film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back dropped a hefty 53% in its second weekend in 2001 although the Labor Day holiday frame helped to cushion the blow.
Opening in platform release to sensational results was Fox Searchlight’s indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine which bowed to an estimated $357,000 from only seven theaters for an eye-popping $50,980 average. Since its Wednesday launch in New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated comedy starring Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin has grossed $449,000. Sunshine was the hottest film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and the distrib is now looking to turn it into a strong word-of-mouth hit for moviegoers numbed by all the mindless popcorn films of the summer. Reviews were outstanding and the road comedy will continue to expand in the weeks ahead. The distributor plans to widen to ten cities and about 60 theaters this Friday, 175 playdates the following weekend, and a full national release in over 600 sites on August 18.
Also debuting this weekend was Woody Allen’s latest film Scoop with an estimated $3M from 538 locations for a good $5,582 average. The Focus release stars Scarlett Johannson and Hugh Jackman and earned mixed reviews from critics.
Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Superman Returns fell 49% to an estimated $3.8M in its fifth mission and reached a cume of $185.8M. After 33 days of release last summer, Warner Bros. collected a similar $183.1M with its other super hero revival Batman Begins. However, the Caped Crusader posted a stronger $6M frame, ranked higher with a fifth place finish, and was enjoying smaller weekly declines on its way to $205.3M. With a reported production budget north of $240M, Superman Returns is on a course to end its domestic run with roughly $195M and will need some sort of special re-release in order to cross the double-century mark.
Fox also grabbed an estimated $3.8M with its super hero comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend which tumbled 56% in its second weekend. With a weak $16.4M in ten days, the Uma Thurman–Luke Wilson comedy should find its way to only $25M.
Disney watched Pixar’s durable toon hit Cars become the second highest-grossing film of the year this weekend. The G-rated smash fell 50% to an estimated $2.5M boosting its cume to $234.6M surpassing the third X-Men flick. Add in the recent Pirates sequel and the Mouse House can now claim the two biggest box office hits of 2006 with no other films in the near future looking to get in their way.
Al Gore‘s global warming hit An Inconvenient Truth became only the fourth documentary in box office history to cross the $20M mark this weekend. The Paramount Vantage title took in an estimated $773,000 in its tenth frame, off 23%, to lift its cume to $20.2M. The only docs to score better have been Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2M), March of the Penguins ($77.4M), and Bowling for Columbine ($21.6M).
The top ten films grossed an estimated $107.3M which was up a scant 2% from last year when Wedding Crashers climbed to number one in its third weekend with $20M; but down 22% from 2004 when The Village opened in the top spot with $50.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
With cops, drug dealers, and lots of bullets flying, the action film Miami Vice hits theaters across North America this weekend with its aim squarely on the number one spot. Young kids, meanwhile, will be offered another animated film in the form of The Ant Bully while teens get a new high school comedy in John Tucker Must Die. The overall box office should continue to be much healthier than last year as the Jack Sparrow-dominated month of July comes to a close.
Universal can smell a number-one opening in the air tonight. The studio hopes to claim bragging rights to the film that finally knocks Pirates out of the top spot with its action thriller Miami Vice. Directed by Michael Mann, the R-rated pic stars Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell in a loose update of the hit NBC cop show from the 1980s. Gong Li co-stars in this story of an undercover operation into the workings of a South American drug lord. In a summer full of Kryptonian heroes, pirates, and mutant villains, moviegoers are ready for a standard action film, set in modern times, with big stars playing the bad-ass good guys. With the tame PG-13 actioners behind us, Miami Vice ups the volume on violence and doesn’t hold back when it comes to gun battles and the offing of bad guys.
Vice has racked up some of the best reviews of any summer action film this year which should help in selling the pic to older adults. Though Mann stumbled with 2001’s Ali, the director has been pretty solid with the films he’s delivered over the past decade with Collateral, The Insider, and Heat. This new film’s leads will be the driving force at the box office. Both are hip and cool enough to appeal to teens as well as adults. The men exude plenty of sex appeal which will aid in drawing in women, plus Foxx has tremendous pull with African-American moviegoers who should be out in large numbers. Universal’s marketing has been as slick and cool as can be and makes the film seem like a necessary investment for action movie fans.
Miami Vice looks to appeal to the same audiences as a pair of action titles from the summer of 2003. Bad Boys II was another R-rated, star-driven, cop buddy picture set in Miami and bowed to $46.5M with a $14,602 average that July. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence made for a more potent commercial combo at the cash registers plus the sequel boasted plenty of comedy and already had a large built-in fan following. The next month, Farrell scored his fourth number-one opening of that year starring in another remake of an old cop show by teaming up with Samuel L. Jackson for S.W.A.T. The PG-13 film debuted on top with $37.1M and a $11,575 average.
Detectives Crockett and Tubbs will bring a breath of fresh air to a marketplace that is ready to move on from the record-breaking pirate shenanigans. Older teens and adult moviegoers are ready to see something else, and for now, this is it. Busting into 3,020 theaters, Miami Vice could debut with about $38M this weekend.
A ten-year-old boy gets miniaturized and becomes one with an insect colony in The Ant Bully, a new toon from Warner Bros. Young kids and their parents are the target audience here as the studio is aiming for the summer vacation crowd with this PG-rated adventure. An impressive voice cast that includes Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, and Meryl Streep might attract some biz and throwing in the name of producer Tom Hanks won’t hurt either. But Bully is going after the exact same audience as last week’s rival toon Monster House so the pie will get split. Neither is being treated as a must-see from a well-known franchise. Like Sony’s kidpic, Bully also will be playing in select 3D theaters as Imax is on board with a special run in their locations. The added value will certainly intrigue some families. Reviews are weak, but these films really rely on the ratio of nagging from kids to the willingness to give in by parents. Invading 3,050 sites, The Ant Bully might debut to around $15M.
High school hijinks are at the core of the new comedy John Tucker Must Die which finds Jesse Metcalfe playing the title character, a teen romeo that juggles three girlfriends who learn of the infidelity and plot their revenge. The PG-13 pic comes from director Betty Thomas (Dr. Dolittle, Private Parts) and co-stars Ashanti, Brittany Snow, and Jenny McCarthy. Teenage girls will make up the target audience but with limited starpower, Tucker’s potential should be limited as well. The Fox film will be going up against a handful of comedies currently clogging up screens in multiplexes. Young females not of age to buy a Vice ticket, or just uninterested in that shoot-em-up cop pic, will take interest in the female revenge story of Tucker. Some interest from teen guys could be there too, but the post-college crowd is not likely to donate many bills. The marketing push has been decent and a bold title will get some attention. Opening in 2,561 locations, John Tucker Must Die might take in about $9M this weekend.
Woody Allen seems to have loved working with Scarlett Johansson in London so much with the Oscar-nominated Match Point that he went for round two in his latest film Scoop which opens in moderate national release on Friday. The Focus title features the young starlet playing an American journalism student who gets the inside track on uncovering the identity of a serial killer from the spirit of a deceased reporter. Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane, and Allen himself co-star in the PG-13 flick. Critics have not been kind as reviews so far have been weak which will impact the box office significantly. Die-hard Woody fans won’t be swayed, but other upscale moviegoers will be affected. Scoop enters 537 theaters this weekend and might collect about $2M.
Fox Searchlight platformed its Sundance darling Little Miss Sunshine on Wednesday ahead of a gradual national roll-out that will continue into late August. The R-rated film about a dysfunctional family that takes a road trip to enter their young daughter in a beauty contest stars Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin. Sunshine wowed audiences in Park City and won a reported $10M distribution deal from the Fox subsidiary. Armed with glowing reviews across the board, the comedy from the husband-wife directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris should score a sizzling average from its seven theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Long-term prospects also seem bright as Sunshine should play out as the indie alternative to a summer of mindless popcorn flick.
Kings lose crowns and this weekend Johnny Depp looks to give up his title as three-time ruler of the box office. Still, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest has been holding up well during the week and Miami Vice is the only new film to make a serious dent in its treasure chest. Another drop of 45% would give Disney about $19M for the session boosting the overall domestic haul to a mammoth $357M.
Sony’s animated adventure Monster House got off to a strong start last weekend with a $22.2M bow, but will face head-to-head competition from Ant Bully this weekend which will be looking to kick some sand in its face. A 40% fall would leave House with around $13M and a ten-day total of $45M.
M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest thriller Lady in the Water debuted below expectations last week and will be entering its all-important sophomore frame. If history is any indicator, the grosses should see a steep drop. Second weekend declines for the director’s last three films have been 68% for 2004’s The Village, 51% for 2002’s Signs, and 52% for 2000’s Unbreakable. Lady may not sink the way Village did as it seems to be generating both love-it and hate-it camps. Still, with such a low starting point, and Crockett and Tubbs stealing away adults, a fall of at least 50% could be in order. That would give the bedtime story roughly $9M and a cume of $34M in ten days.
LAST YEAR: After two weeks at number one and two respectively, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wedding Crashers swapped places with the Owen Wilson–Vince Vaughn comedy taking over at the top with $20M, slipping a mere 22%. The Johnny Depp kidpic followed with $16.4M in its third frame. Newcomers filled up the rest of the top five. Leading the way was Disney’s super hero family film Sky High with $14.6M on its way to a solid $63.9M. Close behind were Sony’s action flop Stealth with $13.3M and the Warner Bros. romantic comedy Must Love Dogs wth $12.9M. Final grosses reached $31.7M and $43.9M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Johnny Depp made this weekend’s four new releases walk the plank as his megablockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest became the first film of the year to spend three consecutive frames at number one and zoomed past the $300M mark in record time.
Among the new offerings debuting in theaters, Sony’s animated film Monster House posted the best results opening in second place while M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest supernatural thriller Lady in the Water stumbled in its first weekend settling for third place. The comedies Clerks II from Kevin Smith and My Super Ex-Girlfriend from Ivan Reitman debuted with more modest single-digit results outside the top five. Overall ticket sales were a healthy amount ahead of last year’s.
Sailing past more box office records with ease, Pirates grossed an estimated $35M in its third weekend to remain the top choice among summer moviegoers across North America. Off a moderate 44%, the Disney smash became the fastest film to break the $300M mark when it surpassed the milestone on Saturday, its 16th day of release. Star Wars Episode III previously held the record doing the deed in 17 days last summer. Pirates now stands at $321.7M after a mere 17 days and has soared up to number 16 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which grossed $317.6M in 2001.
Dead Man’s Chest also entered a very exclusive club of films that reached the triple-century mark while still at number one. It joins only 1982’s E.T., 1997’s Titanic, and 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The third weekend hold for Pirates was commendable showing that the high seas adventure is not falling apart like many action sequels and instead still pleasing audiences. It now looks to be on course to reach $400M in box office treasure.
Sony generated a solid debut for the animated film Monster House which opened in second place with an estimated $23M from 3,553 locations. The PG-rated tale about three kids who discover an evil home averaged an impressive $6,473 per theater. Oscar-winning directors Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis served as executive producers and had their names used prominently in the marketing. As the first toon for kids in over a month, Monster scored with children and parents who made up the bulk of the audience. The studio released the $75M production in 163 3-D theaters which collected $2.6M of the overall gross for a sizzling $16,012 average. Reviews were mostly positive.
Suffering his worst opening since becoming an A-list director, M. Night Shyamalan saw his latest thriller Lady in the Water struggle in its debut grossing an estimated $18.2M from 3,235 theaters. The PG-13 film about a mysterious creature from the water who must return to her world averaged $5,629 per site. The opening was less than half the size of the $50.7M bow of Shyamalan’s last film The Village and less than one-third of the $60.1M that his previous film Signs took in when it opened in 2002. Critics panned Lady which was promoted as being a "bedtime story" as the Oscar-nominated filmmaker earned the worst reviews of his career.
Shyamalan’s last four thrillers were all released by Disney but after The Village, the studio passed on the opportunity to make Lady. The project found itself over at Warner Bros. Village opened impressively based on the brand name of Shyamalan, however negative word-of-mouth led to it crashing 68% on the second weekend and quickly disappearing soon after. In fact, its final domestic tally of $114.2M remains the lowest gross ever for any film opening north of $50M. Many former fans may have decided to pass on his follow-up which was Lady. It could be rough seas ahead for Water as well since its Saturday sales were flat compared to Friday’s. Plus, it has scored a weak B- average grade from over 3,000 users of Yahoo Movies which means ticket buyers have not been very thrilled.
Universal’s hit comedy You, Me, and Dupree dropped a moderate 41% in its second weekend and placed fourth with an estimated $12.8M. With a solid $45.3M in ten days, the $54M picture should find its way to a sturdy $70-75M. Fellow sophomore comedy Little Man saw a larger drop and fell 49% to an estimated $11M for a total of $40.6M in ten days. Sony’s $64M Wayans brothers film looks to find its way to $60-65M.
Fans showed support for Kevin Smith whose comedy sequel Clerks II debuted in sixth place with an estimated $9.6M from 2,150 theaters. Averaging a good $4,477 per site, the R-rated story of a pair of slackers still doing little with their lives in their thirties opened a bit weaker than Smith’s 2001 late-summer pic Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back which bowed to $11M on its way to $30.1M. Ticket sales for Clerks II fell a sharp 18% on Saturday from Friday indicating that Smith’s loyal fans rushed out on opening day and that there may not be much of an audience left for future weeks. The film earned favorable reviews and was released by MGM and The Weinstein Company.
Fox saw a disappointing opening for its romantic comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend which debuted to an estimated $8.7M from 2,702 theaters for a mild $3,220 average. The PG-13 film stars Uma Thurman as a woman who is secretly a super hero that exacts revenge on her ex-boyfriend (Luke Wilson) for dumping her. Reviews were mixed for the Ivan Reitman-directed pic. Studio research showed that the audience was split evenly between men and women with those age 25 and older making up 59% of the crowd. With so many other comedies in the marketplace from Owen Wilson, the Wayans brothers, Kevin Smith, Meryl Streep, and Adam Sandler, plus Pirates still raking it in, audiences found no special reason to spend money on Ex-Girlfriend.
Superman Returns dipped 39% in its fourth flight to an estimated $7.5M and pushed its cume to $178.4M. The pricey Warner Bros. film is still ahead of the $171.9M that its last super hero film Batman Begins collected after the same amount of time. The Caped Crusader pic, however, held up better grossing $10M in its fourth frame. The $200M domestic mark still seems reachable for Superman. Overseas, the international cume climbed to $110M.
Meryl Streep’s hit comedy The Devil Wears Prada enjoyed another solid hold suffering the smallest decline in the top ten. The Fox release took in an estimated $7.4M, off only 29%, to lift its sum to $97.6M. Devil opened on the same weekend as Superman Returns with a much smaller gross, but is now doing nearly identical weekend business.
Disney bookended the top ten with its Pixar smash Cars which dropped 37% to an estimated $4.9M in its seventh lap. The animated hit has now grossed $229.4M putting it at number 49 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after X-Men: The Last Stand which opened two weeks earlier and has taken in $232.8M to date.
The weekend’s four new releases tossed a quartet of summer pictures out of the top ten. Adam Sandler’s latest winner Click grossed an estimated $4M in its fifth frame, off 45%, for a total of $128.2M. The $83M Sony title should finish with $135-140M. Fellow comedy Nacho Libre with Jack Black tumbled 69% to an estimated $505,000 for a cume of $78.7M to date. Paramount looks to end its run with just under $80M.
Keanu Reeves grossed an estimated $661,000 for his sci-fi toon A Scanner Darkly and an estimated $625,000 for his sci-fi romance The Lake House this weekend. Warner Independent Pictures has taken in $3.2M with Scanner and is shooting for the $5M mark. Parent company Warner Bros. has grossed $50.7M with its Sandra Bullock tale and is heading for $52M.
The global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth remains a popular summer flick slipping just 14% to an estimated $1M in its ninth weekend. Paramount Vantage has collected $18.8M to date and is enjoying remarkable momentum.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $138.2M which was up 12% from last year when Johnny Depp’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remained at number one for the second time with $28.3M; and up 2% from 2004 when Matt Damon‘s The Bourne Supremacy opened in the top spot with $52.5M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Directors take center stage this weekend providing starpower to four new films opening in North American theaters all hoping to take down reigning box office king Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
M. Night Shyamalan leads the way with his latest creepy tale Lady in the Water while fellow east coast helmer Kevin Smith lets the expletives fly in the comedy Clerks II. Oscar winners Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis serve as producers on the animated film Monster House which is aiming for kids, and Ivan Reitman provides a different type of super hero film in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. With four interesting new films and Johnny Depp still firing off his cannons, the overall marketplace should expand as it moves into the late July period.
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan returns to theaters with his fantasy chiller Lady in the Water which marks his departure from the Disney family. The Warner Bros. release tells the story of a superintendent who discovers a mysterious creature in his building’s pool that must be sent back to her world. Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, and Bob Balaban star in the PG-13 pic. Known for his small cameos in previous pics, Shyamalan the actor has been promoted this time around and gets a meaningful supporting role. As they say, it pays to know the director. Could he be preparing himself for playing the lead role in a future film? Only time will tell.
The Philadelphia-based director has been seeing diminishing returns at the box office over the last few years. In 2002, his alien drama Signs with Mel Gibson opened to a sturdy $60.1M on its way to a robust $228M. Two years later, The Village tested Shyamalan’s brand name since it lacked any A-listers and the opening was still strong with $50.7M. But poor word-of-mouth quickly set in with the film plunging 68% in its second frame on its way to $114.2M overall. This time around, the director is once again the biggest name attached to the project. Giamatti won plenty of acclaim with Sideways, but he’s still not a star who drives in audiences on opening weekend. Shyamalan’s starpower will be put to the test once again, and some who left The Village with a bad taste might just pass on Lady. The new film should also open weaker than Village because it will debut in 500 fewer theaters.
Many elements to the film and its marketing are new this time around. With a different studio in charge, a notable difference is the female voiceover on the television commercials where a little girl whispers to viewers in a creepy way. This reinforces the new angle where the picture is being sold as a bedtime story. Shyamalan also became very visible this year with his American Express commercial. Instead of relying again on a twist, Lady instead plays out like a fantasy arthouse film that offers more comedy than all of Shyamalan’s past films combined. Audiences may end up once again dividing themselves into the love and hate camps after coming out of theaters. But in a world where people complain about the lack of originality coming out of Hollywood, the filmmaker does deserve credit for offering moviegoers something new and different.
The summer has not seen too many scary movies yet so Lady in the Water will stand out to audiences who like a good fright. With a story that is really out there, the film may find more fans with the fantasy and sci-fi crowds than with mainstream moviegoers. That will hurt ticket sales in the long term. Still, like with other Shyamalan movies, there is a mystery to them which draws in fans. That magic will work its charm again as the film will try to attract enough moviegoers to knock the popular Pirates out of first place. Emerging in 3,235 locations, Lady in the Water might find itself with around $33M this weekend.
The late-summer cartoon wars begin with Sony launching the first attack with its computer-animated entry Monster House. The PG-rated film tells the story of some teenage kids who believe that a neighborhood house is actually a ferocious beast. Although directing duties fell on newcomer Gil Kenan, it’s executive producers Spielberg and Zemeckis whose names are used most prominently in the marketing materials. Many families are sure to be fooled into thinking these brilliant filmmakers were behind the camera. The studio reported encouraging results for the sneak previews it offered last weekend to help spread advance buzz.
And advance buzz will be essential to box office success since rival studios will be unleashing their big toons in each of the next two weekends with Warner Bros. opening The Ant Bully on July 28 and Paramount tossing in Barnyard on August 4. There might not be room for all three to thrive so Sony’s early jump on the competition gives it a major leg up. The Disney/Pixar hit Cars has raced past the $220M mark, but is aging so young kids will be looking for something new to rally behind. Direct competition should not be too fierce for Monster this weekend since even the PG-13 Pirates is a bit too scary for smaller children. Sony is going all out with their push of Monster House which debuts in 3,553 sites on Friday. An opening of about $25M could result.
Mixing the date movie formula of The Break-Up with the comic book antics of X-Men, Fox unleashes its new comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend. The PG-13 film stars Luke Wilson as a man who dumps his squeeze only to learn that she is secretly a famous super hero who now will use her powers to exact revenge. The plot has ample appeal to both men and women so interest from the date crowd will be solid. But the marketplace has been flooded with comedies over the last several weeks so those looking for a laugh can easily go elsewhere. The concept does, however, offer a unique what-if scenario that is sure to attract business. A slight female skew is likely.
Starpower is also an important component here. Uma Thurman has had many hits and though Wilson is not much of a leading man, he does offer value when playing second fiddle to a bigger star, like in this case. Trailers in front of the studio’s recent mutant sequel have raised awareness with the comic book crowd. But Wilson’s brother Owen, coming off of a $21.5M bow for You, Me and Dupree, won’t help any and Super probably has the most direct competition in its way among the weekend’s four freshmen. Flying into 2,702 theaters, My Super Ex-Girlfriend could take off with around $13M this weekend.
Kevin Smith leaves the Jersey girls behind and revisits the boys in Clerks II, a sequel to the 1994 indie hit that launched his career. The R-rated film finds his Garden State slackers in their thirties and working at a fast-food restaurant where colorful customers make their way in and out each day. Released by The Weinstein Company and MGM, Clerks II has a very specific audience of Smith fans it will appeal to. Others will be hard to reach as there is little starpower on the screen. The director’s 2001 summer comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back opened to $11M from 2,765 theaters for a $3,985 average while 1999’s Dogma starring Matt Damon and a pre-J. Lo Ben Affleck bowed to $8.7M from 1,269 theaters for a $6,832 average.
Clerks II will debut in a level of theaters that is in between those two pics. Males in their twenties and thirties will make up the core crowd and there will be other options competing for their attention like Pirates and Lady. The marketing push has been good, but multiplexes will be crowded this weekend so getting in the undecided vote will be difficult. Opening in over 2,100 sites, Clerks II might bow to roughly $12M this weekend.
After two weeks of sailing ahead of the rest of the box office fleet, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest will face a serious challenge for its number one position this weekend. The Johnny Depp megahit dropped 54% in its second frame, but should suffer a smaller decline this time around. A number of new enemies will invade its waters so audiences will be scattered and competition should be formidable. Pirates may fall by 45% this weekend giving Disney about $34M for the frame. That would push the adventure sequel past the triple-century mark in a record 16 days and up to a staggering $321M by the end of the weekend.
Last weekend, the competing comedies Little Man and You, Me and Dupree battled it out for the distinction of being the biggest non-pirate movie in the country. Man inched ahead of Dupree by less than $100,000, but this weekend, the Wayans Brothers could see the larger decline losing about half of its business. That would give Sony around $11M for the frame and a ten-day cume of $40M. Dupree won’t have it easy though. My Super Ex-Girlfriend will offer direct competition for its core audience. A 45% drop could occur leaving Universal with roughly $12M for the frame and a stronger $44M after ten days.
Superman Returns has been chugging away trying to get itself to the $200M mark. But the Man of Steel’s third weekend gross of $12.3M was weaker than the corresponding takes of some of last summer’s big action offerings like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and even Fantastic Four. Pirates has been taking its toll on Superman and this weekend, the Clark Kent flick will no longer be in a massive 3,700+ theaters. Warner Bros could see a 45% decline to about $6.5M which would push the cume to $178M.
LAST YEAR: Johnny Depp spent his second weekend atop the charts with his cooky comedy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which fell 50% to $28.3M fending off competition from a quartet of new releases plus some solid holdovers. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn spent another week in the runnerup spot with Wedding Crashers which held up remarkably well in its sophomore date slipping only 24% to $25.7M. The super hero flick Fantastic Four remained in third with $12.6M in its third mission. Among new movies, the highest gross came from the action thriller The Island which bowed to $12.4M. Given its enormous budget, it was a big disappointment for DreamWorks which found its way to just $35.8M. Paramount did not fare much better with the remake Bad News Bears which debuted in fifth with $11.4M. The Billy Bob Thornton pic scored just $32.9M overall, but at least it didn’t have a huge production cost. Opening in fewer theaters, but with an impressive average, was the pimp drama Hustle and Flow which bowed to $8M and a $7,915 average. The horror film The Devil’s Rejects followed with a $7.1M opening. Final tallies reached $22.2M for the Paramount Classics hip hop pic and $17M for the Lionsgate gorefest.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week we’ve got some magic in ordinary dwellings (M. Night Shyamalan‘s "Lady in the Water" and "Monster House") and some funny couples ("My Super Ex-Girlfriend," with Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, and Kevin Smith‘s "Clerks II," featuring Jay and Silent Bob). What do the critics have to say?
For a moment, it appeared that M. Night Shyamalan would join the top tier of contemporary directors. "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs" were commercial and critical hits, establishing a winning combination of spooky, twisty plots and spiritual quests. But now, after the lukewarm critical reaction to "The Village," and the absolute drubbing that his latest, "Lady in the Water," is taking, it’s looking like Shyamalan may be adrift. (The fact that "Water" star Bryce Dallas Howard‘s dad was piloting the craft when Fonzie jumped the shark is purely coincidental.) The film tells the story of a super (Paul Giamatti) at a drab apartment complex who discovers a mythical creature (Howard) living beneath the swimming pool. Though its description makes "Lady" sound like a simple fairy tale, critics say the film is needlessly complex, ponderous, and pretentious. At 22 percent on the Tomatometer, "Lady in the Water" is out to sea.
On every street, there’s one house that’s just a little creepy, a place that inspires trepidation and even fear among the neighborhood kids. In "Monster House," there’s a residence that actually attacks people. The critics say this CG film, featuring the voices of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nick Cannon, and Steve Buscemi, is technically excellent and effective as a funny, scary funhouse ride of a movie. But perhaps it’s a little too effective; more than a few of the scribes say the movie may be way too scary for younger viewers. Still, at 66 percent on the Tomatometer, this "House" may be a prime piece of real estate.
"My Super Ex-Girlfriend" has a pretty amusing premise: A guy is on the outs with his girlfriend, but she’s a superhero, and uses her powers to thwart his budding romance with a coworker. Plus, director Ivan Reitman and stars Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson are pretty adept at light comedy. So what’s the problem? Well, the critics say the movie never quite transcends its premise. While the scribes say the leads are solid and the script does a decent job of poking fun at the superhero genre, the execution is ultimately too flat to make this material soar. "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is at 45 percent on the Tomatometer.
It appears Uma has seen "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" one too many times.
If it wasn’t for Bruce Springsteen, Kevin Smith would likely be the voice of New Jersey. His "Clerks" changed the landscape of indie cinema in the 1990s; its DIY aesthetic inspired hundreds of other kids in the suburbs with demented minds and big dreams to pick up a camera and document their existential crises. In "Clerks II," he revisits Dante and Randal, those lovable, potty-mouthed slackers, who’ve barely changed a lick in a decade (aside from the release of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the presence of Rosario Dawson, which at least gives them something new to talk about). The critics say that while "Clerks II" will not break any new ground, it will please the legions of Kevin Smith acolytes with its witty, ribald humor. At 70 percent on the Tomatometer, "Clerks II" may be worth a stop, though it’s still a cut below the original, at 85 percent.
Also in theaters this week in limited release: Ryuhei Kitamura‘s "Azumi" is at 57 percent on the Tomatometer; "Shadowboxer," starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren, is at 44 percent; and the bloody indie "Mad Cowgirl" is at 17 percent.
The Man of Steel conquered the North American box office this weekend as the super hero adventure Superman Returns claimed the number one spot over the pre-Independence Day holiday frame.
Second place was taken by Meryl Streep whose new comedy The Devil Wears Prada opened with more muscle than expected. Most holdovers suffered substantial declines, however the overall marketplace remained slightly better than last year’s. But for the first time in five years, Hollywood will reach the Fourth of July without a summer film passing the $250M mark.
Flying to the top of the charts, Superman Returns collected an estimated $52.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $84.2M since its launch on Wednesday. The PG-13 film was the first new installment for the beloved comic book characeter in nearly two decades and averaged a strong $12,829 over three days from a massive 4,065 theaters. The total gross included about $3M from Tuesday night previews which began at 10:00pm and $5M from 76 Imax theaters where the film was presented with special 3D footage. The studio expects to reach a seven-day tally of $110M by the end of Tuesday.
Reviews were mostly positive for the Bryan Singer-directed film which saw newcomer Brandon Routh stepping into the title role following the late Christopher Reeve. Kevin Spacey plays arch-nemesis Lex Luthor while Kate Bosworth takes the role of Lois Lane. The pricey film carried a colossal production budget in the neighborhood of $250M which included about $40M in early development costs before the current cast and crew were in place.
Though a strong number one bow, the opening of Superman Returns did not match up to the debuts of similar action and sci-fi films. One year ago, the Tom Cruise alien invasion film War of the Worlds opened over the same holiday weekend with the same Wednesday start but grossed a higher $100.6M over its first five days. Four years ago, Men in Black II also premiered the same way and grossed $87.2M over its Wednesday-to-Sunday launch which at today’s ticket prices would be close to a nine-digit gross. The Kryptonian hero’s five-day opening even fell short of the three-day bow of Singer’s last film X2: X-Men United which opened to $85.6M three years ago.
However, Superman Returns did manage to open better than last summer’s Batman Begins which was another Warner Bros. film attempting to restart a dormant super hero franchise. That film captured $72.9M in its five-day debut including $48.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The new Clark Kent pic is off to a 16% better start than the new Bruce Wayne flick over five days, and only 7% better over the weekend portion. The studio hopes to have long legs again like it did with Batman which went on to gross $205.3M domestically.
But that will be a tough task for Superman which has a very different road ahead of it. Batman Begins had little direct competition in its second weekend plus had the Fourth of July holiday help its third frame. Superman, on the other hand, is already taking advantage of its only holiday which is boosting its opening week. Plus it has a juggernaut in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest opening on its second weekend which is aiming to steal away the same audience.
Competition was also a major factor for Superman Returns this weekend especially with The Devil Wears Prada stealing away a larger-than-expected female audience. The super hero film’s next three competitors collected a hefty $60.4M in ticket sales over the weekend. By comparison, War of the Worlds faced $35.3M in combined sales from the next three biggest films.
Internationally, the new Superman film took flight in the Asia/Pacific region and opened at number one in eleven countries grossing an estimated $19.8M from 1,750 theaters. Key markets included Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and India. The studio is holding back the film in Europe and Latin America until after the World Cup final which takes place on July 9.
Fox countered the super hero adventure with the femme-driven comedy The Devil Wears Prada and scored a terrific second place debut with an estimated $27M. Playing in 2,847 locations, the PG-13 film averaged a stunning $9,484 per theater and ranked as Meryl Streep’s best opening ever in a lead role. Devil was based on the best-selling novel about a small-town gal who lands a job as the assistant to the evil editor-in-chief of the fashion industry’s top magazine. Anne Hathaway co-stars. The Prada audience was immensely female as studio research showed that a whopping 79% were women. Those over the age of 25 made up 61% of the crowd.
With both The Lake House and The Break-Up aging, Devil found an opportunity to score with adult women with extra leisure time over of the long holiday weekend – especially those who had little interest in seeing Superman. The counter-programming move worked like a charm for Fox which spent over $40M on Prada which managed to tap into a built-in audience of fans of the book. Starpower from Streep and Hathaway also allowed for a broad age range to take interest. Reviews were mostly good.
Dropping from first to third was Adam Sandler‘s comedy Click which grossed an estimated $19.4M in its sophomore frame. Falling 52%, the Sony release has laughed up a solid $77.9M in ten days. Compared to the ten-day cumes of the studio’s previous Sandler comedies opening on the weekend before the Fourth of July frame, Click has done slightly better than the $73.6M of 2002’s Mr. Deeds but has not reached the $83.7M of 1999’s Big Daddy. Those films ended their runs with $126.3M and $163.5M, respectively. The $83M Click looks to find its way to about $130M.
Cars enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten slipping 40% to an estimated $14M for fourth place. The Disney/Pixar hit upped its cume to $182.1M. Paramount’s Nacho Libre fell 51% to an estimated $6.2M giving the Jack Black comedy $65M to date.
Folowing in sixth place was the Keanu Reeves–Sandra Bullock romance The Lake House with an estimated $4.5M, off 49%, leaving Warner Bros. with $38.7M thus far. Close behind with an estimated $4.4M was the street racing sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift which dropped 55% in its third lap. Total to date stands at $51.7M.
The Tyrese Gibson actioner Waist Deep suffered the worst decline in the top ten tumbling 65% to an estimated $3.3M in its second weekend. The Focus release has grossed $15.2M in ten days and should finish up with around $22M. Universal’s comedy The Break-Up crumbled 57% to an estimated $2.8M while Sony’s religious thriller The Da Vinci Code rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.3M, off 43%. Cumes for each are $110.1M and $209.8M, respectively.
Although overall ticket sales continue to inch ahead of last year each weekend, the season’s top blockbusters remain weaker than those from 2005. The cumulative gross for the top five summer films this year reached $900.3M, down 8% from last summer’s five biggest hits at this same point.
Two Fox sequels fell from the top ten over the weekend. The year’s highest-grossing film X-Men: The Last Stand dropped 58% to an estimated $2.1M to boost its sum to $228.6M. The $165M film currently stands at number 48 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of Signs which grossed $228M in 2002. The final mutant adventure is the top-grossing installment in the trilogy surpassing the $157.3M of 2000’s X-Men and the $214.9M of 2003’s X2 and should complete its domestic run with around $235M. Overseas, it has already grossed over $195M.
The studio has not had as much luck with its kidpic Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties which tumbled 62% to an estimated $2M in only its third weekend. Family audiences have rejected the cat flick spending only $21.5M on it thus far. The Garfield sequel looks to end up with only $25M or one-third of the $75.4M of its 2004 predecessor.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $136.2M which was up 5% from last year when War of the Worlds debuted at number one with $64.9M; but down 12% from 2004 when Spider-Man 2 opened in the top spot with $88.2M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
The director of "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable," "Signs," and (yes) "The Village" is back, and this time he’s got a soaking-wet mystery woman who haunts Paul Giamatti. The movie is "Lady in the Water" and here’s the all-new trailer.
"A modest building manager named Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) rescues a mysterious young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) from danger and discovers she is actually a narf, a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the treacherous journey from our world back to hers. Cleveland and his fellow tenants start to realize that they are also characters in this bedtime story. As Cleveland falls deeper and deeper in love with the woman, he works together with the tenants to protect his new fragile friend from the deadly creatures that reside in this fable and are determined to prevent her from returning home."
WB’s "Lady in the Water" opens on July 21st.
Filmmaker presentations and schmoozing aside, the studio-sponsored "Dreamgirls" event was much more than an early publicity push with free food and drinks; it prompted a moment of speculation about Broadway adaptations, popular casting, and the production itself. "Dreamgirls" is in its seventh week of production, and Monday’s live performance of "Steppin’ To the Bad Side" proved at least that Condon can put on a dazzling show with flashy stage lights. The intricate stage movements of stars Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Eddie Murphy‘s stand-in, and about a dozen other professional dancers also show that weeks of training can make musical (and movie) magic. Then again, this was only one of many song-and-dance numbers in "Dreamgirls," and thus hardly any indication of how the end product will be received.
In terms of the cast, you almost have to ask, can "Dreamgirls" measure up to the award-winning "Chicago?" Condon’s largely credited with turning the highly successful stage musical into a watchable, laudable film script — but then again, "Chicago" had the benefit of two Oscar-caliber actresses (Catherine Zeta-Jones and a surprising Renee Zellweger), a leading man (Richard Gere), and a legendary source musical by Bob Fosse. "Dreamgirls" has Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, who can believably hoof it and has a burgeoning singing career; Eddie Murphy (in what his fans hope to be a comeback role) as the dynamic James Brown-type pop singer James "Thunder" Early; and a supporting cast that includes Danny Glover and Tony winner Hinton Battle.
The real test will be within the main trio, The Dreamettes. Sure, Beyonce’s cut her cinematic teeth on projects like the recent "The Pink Panther" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember" — but neither role was dramatic or, arguably, demanding. Yet as Deena, the pretty member of the group, Beyonce seems to have it locked down; after all, this is the woman who fronted Destiny’s Child, the Supremes of the last decade.
Also proven is Anika Noni Rose, who plays Dreamette Lorrell. Rose is an award-winning stage actress who’s got a Tony under her belt, which automatically qualifies her singing and acting abilities.
That leaves newcomer Jennifer Hudson, whose character Effie is the main, pivotal character of "Dreamgirls." As everyone knows, Hudson’s big voice got her to the finals of "American Idol" two years ago; casting rumors had her pitted against "Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino for the role of Effie White. Yet Hudson’s got no prior acting experience — although she does carry herself with maturity in the media — and that may be the biggest challenge "Dreamgirls" has to face. Can the unknown, unproven Hudson carry film musical as ambitious as this? We know she can sing, but the character of Effie has to do much more — serving as the emotional center of the story, Effie is the original lead singer of the Dreamettes, who is slowly pushed into the background (and eventually out of the group) by the group’s manager (Foxx) and replaced by the prettier Deena (Knowles) as the group gains celebrity by selling out.
Another question is the music. With songs written in the 1980s, but set in the 1960s, many of the songs have a Motown-tinged vibe but still retain that ’80s sound, as evidenced in the now-standard, early Whitney Houston-sounding "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going." Original composer Henry Krieger is on hand, with new songs, no less, but Condon’s employed the producing team of The Underdogs to contemporize the soundtrack. Can Krieger’s soundtrack hold up after revisions, additions, and a work-over by the producers of Kelly Clarkson and Justin Timberlake?
Also, Condon’s made the smart decision to add dialogue to his film version, since the original stage musical is sung through entirely. Will this be enough of an adaptation to convince film audiences, where previous attempts at making a musical less "stagy" (like adding dialogue to "Rent") failed? Condon’s "Chicago" succeeded as a film musical in part because most musical numbers were Roxie Hart’s fantasies, thus explaining the phenomenon of spontaneous song and dance to a non-musical audience. It doesn’t appear to be so in "Dreamgirls," where as a "backstage" musical the story has the benefit of explaining away some musical scenes; still, some numbers (like the clip of "Steppin’ To the Bad Side" previewed at the "Dreamgirls" presentation) will take place in the "real world" of the film.
The studios have initiated a marketing campaign already that includes paying the licensing fees for community and high school theater groups to put on productions of "Dreamgirls" in the coming year with the hope that it will introduce the "Dreamgirls" story and music to new, younger audiences. Those same audiences and young, MTV-watching demographics are the targets of star power provided by casting Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx, and those teenagers’ parents may be enticed by the appearances of older gen-stars Eddie Murphy and Danny Glover.
Likewise, Broadway fans have been clamoring for a film version of "Dreamgirls" for years, and they’ll no doubt arrive in droves to see this latest, high-profile musical; after all, die-hard show fans went to see the critical dud "Rent." Casting Anika Noni Rose and stage legend Hinton Battle can’t hurt, either, and adds some very important stage credibility to a cast of mostly film thesps.
The filmmakers also have the distinct advantage of attracting the "American Idol" audience — which, in its fifth season, shows no sign of ever going off the air — with fan favorite Jennifer Hudson. The power ballad number "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Leaving," with its showy flair and melodrama, is a signature song that the "Idol" audience will surely be suckers for. To hear it yourself, view the "Dreamgirls" teaser trailer, here, which is no more than title graphics and the power tune, yet has hooked excited fans already.