If you’re old enough to remember "Underdog," then you’re probably too old to appreciate the direction in which Disney has decided to take the character. And if you’re too young to know who Underdog is, then all you’ll see in this brand-new teaser is a dog who can fly.

"Name recognition" is the game being played here, and all I can say is I hope "Underdog" turns out better than "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Dudley Do-Right." Click here to see the new "Underdog" teaser, but don’t expect a whole lot. Aside from one cute shot of a flying doggy, we’re not offered much in the way of movie footage.

Opening August 8th, "Underdog" comes from the director of "Racing Stripes," and it stars Peter Dinklage, Patrick Warburton and the voices of Amy Adams and Jason Lee. I’ve been wrong before (a whole lot of time, actually) but to me this trailer looks like a harbinger of obvious puns and broad silliness. Still, the dog is pretty cute — even if it doesn’t look a darn thing like the Underdog I remember.

This week at the movies, we’ve got mother/daughter conflict ("Because I Said So," starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore) and dark proceedings on a North Dakota sunflower farm ("The Messengers," starring Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller). What do the critics have to say?

Diane Keaton is one of America’s finest actresses, and Mandy Moore has continued to emerge as an engaging cinematic presence. Thus, critics say it’s especially disappointing that "Because I Said So," a dramedy about the dating woes of a mother and daughter, is so derivative. Keaton stars as a mom who is overly involved in Moore’s love life, in the hopes of helping her avoid past mistakes. The pundits say the actors in "Because" do the best they can with the material, which isn’t much, since the script is slight and shrill. At eight percent on the Tomatometer, the critics are saying to stay away from this one just "Because."


The eight percent tomatometer came as a shock.

The folks behind "The Messengers" are sending a missive to audiences by not screening the film for critics. The message is this: the movie probably isn’t any good. Directed by the Pang brothers, the film stars Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller as a couple whose children see dead people; evil goings-on ensue. Memo to readers: Guess that Tomatometer!


"I see…film critics!"

Also opening this week in limited release: "East of Havana," a documentary about young rap artists in Cuba, is at 100 percent; "An Unreasonable Man," a documentary about Ralph Nader‘s tumultuous career, is at 91 percent on the Tomatometer; "Fired!" a comedic meditation on the nature of getting sacked, is at 75 percent; "In The Pit," a Mexican documentary about freeway builders, is at 57 percent; "Puccini for Beginners," a screwball love-triangle comedy starring Gretchen Mol, is at 36 percent; "The Situation," a multifaceted look at the U.S. occupation of Iraq starring Connie Nielsen, is at 36 percent; and “Constellation,” a story of familial togetherness, is at zero percent.


"An Unreasonble Man" is good for consumers.

And finally, it’s time to dole out congrats to those clairvoyant souls who correctly guessed last week’s Tomatometers for "Epic Movie" and "Blood and Chocolate." To sir_mcchris_the_pirate, we say, "yo-ho-ho and a bottle of props" for correctly guessing "Epic"’s three percent. And a "bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yay" to the one and only dreday, on a Tomatometer-guessing spree; the good doctor correctly estimated "Blood"’s eight percent.

Recent Diane Keaton Movies:
————————————-
53% — The Family Stone (2005)
69% — Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
13% — Town and Country (2001)
11% — Hanging Up (2000)
32% — The Other Sister (1999)

Recent Mandy Moore Movies:
—————————————
41% — American Dreamz (2006)
45% — Romance and Cigarettes (2006)
67% — Brother Bear 2 (2006)
34% — Racing Stripes (2005)
60% — Saved! (2004)

Films Not Screened for Critics in 2007
———————————————-
3% — Epic Movie
8% — Blood and Chocolate
22% — The Hitcher
16% — Primeval

Can Ben Stiller and his living artifacts four-peat at the top of the North American box office, or will one of the new releases take the crown over the four-day Dr. Martin Luther King holiday weekend? Ticket buyers will decide.

Leading the freshman class is the dance drama "Stomp the Yard" which could have breakout potential. Also opening are the fantasy pic "Arthur and the Invisibles," the drug dealer pic "Alpha Dog," and the horror flick "Primeval." With so many schools closed on Monday, the new films are targeting students of all ages who will have extra time on their hands.

The west and east coasts meet in "Stomp the Yard," a story of a Los Angeles student enrolled in an Atlanta university who uses his unique style to help his fraternity compete in a step dancing contest. The PG-13 film is short on starpower, but makes up for that with terrific marketing which is the real ingredient that will put asses into the seats. Sony has cut exciting trailers and commercial spots which should spark lots of interest with teens and young adults. Plus, MLK weekend is the perfect time to open a black college film since interest will be high for this particular subject matter. African American students will especially be out in solid numbers. However, the opening of Justin Timberlake‘s "Alpha Dog" could take away some of the young adult crowd.

"Stomp" should appeal to the same audiences that delivered bigger-than-expected openings for "Drumline" ($12.6M opening, $6,865 average), "ATL" ($11.6M, $7,212), and "You Got Served" ($16.1M, $8,341). The urban youth of America possesses tremendous spending power and Hollywood has just woken up to this in recent years financing low cost flicks that return handsome profits through theatrical and DVD sales. "Stomp" also offers an appealing story relevant to today’s young people and looks to join this list. Stepping into 2,051 theaters, "Stomp the Yard" could collect about $16M over four days this weekend.


An action shot from "Stomp the Yard."

The weekend’s only new kidpic comes in the form of the French production "Arthur and the Invisibles," a groundbreaking feature which mixes live-action with animation in a fantasy tale. The PG-rated film from The Weinstein Co. is directed by action professional Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element," "Joan of Arc") and features the voices of Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna. With so many young children across the country having a long school holiday, "Arthur" should get some play as the only new option for parents who have taken enough trips to the Museum. Of course "Happily N’Ever After" flopping last weekend shows that family audiences will not come out for just anything. With about 2,500 theaters, it is the widest of the new titles which could help it get into double digit millions over the extended frame. The marketing push has been admirable too. MLK weekend has often seen better-than-expected results for debuting kiddie flicks like "Kangaroo Jack," "Racing Stripes," and "Hoodwinked." "Arthur and the Invisibles" may carve out its share of the pie and gross roughly $11M over the four-day period.


Those troll dolls have found a new purpose in "Arthur and the Invisibles."

Pop music king Justin Timberlake joins an ensemble cast which includes Emile Hirsch, Sharon Stone, and Bruce Willis in the gritty drama "Alpha Dog." Directed by Nick Cassavetes, the R-rated film tells of a drug dealer who kidnaps the younger brother of a friend who owes a debt. The Universal release is based on true events and will target older teens and twentysomethings. The marketing makes the film look slick and cool plus JT provides a built-in audience of fans that can be tapped into.

However, two main obstacles are in the way – the rating and competition from "Stomp the Yard." A large portion of Timberlake’s fans are young teens and they will have a hard time buying tickets. Plus, "Stomp" will be distracting the urban youth with its slick look and milder PG-13 rating. On top of that, the studio’s release is not too wide. These factors should curtail the potential of "Alpha." Critics have given solid support which may help a little, although Time Out New York boldly calls the pic the worst movie of the year in its zero-star review. Opening in about 1,200 theaters, "Alpha Dog" might bite down on around $8M over the long weekend.


Timberlake gets down in "Alpha Dog."

Every horror film since Halloween has flopped and the streak looks to continue with "Primeval" from Buena Vista. The R-rated film about a news crew hunting down a killer boasts no starpower and lacks a compelling plot worthy of the ten-dollar bills of genre fans. Marketing support has been weak and awareness is not very high. The fright flick seems to have the same potential as last month’s "Turistas" which bowed to a weak $3.6M and $2,282 average. "Primeval" will open wider with about 2,000 theaters and has an extended four-day session so a gross of roughly $6M could result followed by steep drops.

Zhang Yimou has seen solid but not spectacular averages for his latest Chinese epic "Curse of the Golden Flower" which has already grossed $2.2M from its limited release in about 60 theaters. Its average of $6,104 last weekend will drop considerably as it expands nationwide into about 1,200 playdates. The Mandarin-language period piece seems to be going too wide too fast and with all the choices in the multiplexes, Sony Classics may find it difficult to get multiplex crowds into all those new seats. "Curse" will try to play to fans of the "Hero" director, but Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li are no Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi at the American box office. A $4M gross over the long weekend could result.


These horses must be suffering from "The Curse of the Golden Flower."

Ben Stiller and Will Smith have been inseparable blockbuster brothers atop the box office charts for the last three weeks. But the weekend’s new releases should finally cause a breakup. Stiller’s runaway smash "Night at the Museum" has been holding up incredibly well against any competition that has come its way and will attempt to become the first film since 2003’s "The Return of the King" to remain number one for four consecutive weekends. The only thing standing in its path is a possible teen explosion for "Stomp." "Museum’s" four-day holiday gross could slip 25% from last weekend’s three-day figure giving the Fox hit about $18M and a remarkable cume to date of $187M.

Smith has done pretty well for himself too with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which should see another solid turnout over MLK weekend. A 20% drop would give Sony a four-day tally of $10M boosting its total to a stellar $137M.

Since it opened nationally on Christmas Day, "Dreamgirls" has been posting the best per-theater averages of any wide release. Now, Paramount will more than double the run and expand the Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical from 852 to about 1,800 theaters. The Jamie FoxxBeyonce Knowles musical is the favorite to take home that honor, plus other statues, and the studio wants to make sure the product is available everywhere once the wins occur. Plus, films with African American casts routinely do very well over the King frame so a jump in sales is assured. For the four-day period, "Dreamgirls" may climb to around $11M putting the cume at $68M. If it wins the Globe for Best Picture and secures a sizable number of Oscar nominations the following week, the total domestic take could certainly surpass the $100M mark as it did for "Chicago" four years ago. The Richard Gere musical reached a similar $63.8M at the end of the weekend it went fully national into 1,841 locations and went on to a sensational $170.7M final total.

LAST YEAR: Disney kicked off the first of what would be many hit sports flicks in 2006 with the basketball drama "Glory Road" which opened at number one over MLK weekend with $16.9M over four days. The live action film barely beat out the animated comedy "Hoodwinked" which also grossed $16.9M over the Friday-to-Monday period, but was about $50,000 shy of the number one spot. The duo reached $42.6M and $51.2M, respectively. Third place also was held by a new release. Paramount’s Queen Latifah comedy "Last Holiday" bowed to a solid $15.5M on its way to $38.4M. Rounding out the top five were former number ones "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $12.8M and "Hostel" with $11.4M over the long weekend. Fox’s romance "Tristan & Isolde" found few lovers in its debut opening to $7.6M on its way to just $14.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Amy Adams, the doe-eyed doll who dazzled literally everyone with her "Junebug" performance, has signed on to play the female lead in Universal’s live-action "Underdog" adaptation, in which she’ll co-star with Peter Dinklage and the voice of Jason Lee.

According to Variety… well, actually, I covered pretty much everything in the first paragraph. But I did get the info from Variety.

"Underdog" is being directed by "Racing Stripes" helmer Frederik Du Chau … but I still want to see it anyway.

With Peter Dinklage recently signed to play the nefarious Simon Barsinister, the "Underdog" producers needed to find an actor to provide a voice for the canine crime-fighter. So they did. They got Jason Lee.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Have no fear, the voice of Underdog is here. "My Name Is Earl" star Jason Lee is lending his voice for the title character of "Underdog," Spyglass Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action adaptation of the classic 1960s cartoon. "Underdog" followed the adventures of a humble dog named Shoeshine Boy who became the superheroic Underdog, who spoke in rhyme. In the movie, he is adopted by a 12-year-old boy and uses his superpower to protect his love, Polly Purebred, and the citizens of Capitol City from the evil Simon Barsinister."

The guy who directed "Racing Stripes" is at the helm here. Keep your fingers crossed.

Peter Dinklage, indie-centric actor best known for his work in "The Station Agent" and "Elf," has been tapped by Disney to play the villain in the studio’s upcoming live-action rendition of the classic "Underdog" cartoon.

Says Variety: "Peter Dinklage has signed on to play the bad guy in Walt Disney Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment’s "Underdog." Live-action version of the popular kids cartoon starts shooting April 10 in Rhode Island under the helm of Frederik Du Chau.

Dinklage will portray Simon Barsinister, an evil scientist who once created a Big Dipper Machine in an effort to steal the world’s water supply."

Young actor Alex Neuberger, last seen in "Running Scared," is also aboard the "Underdog" project. Director Du Chau’s last (and first) live-action effort was last year’s "Racing Stripes."

"Scrubs" star Zach Braff, who made quite the impression with his debut movie, "Garden State," has chosen his second directorial project: a remake of the 2003 Danish film "Open Hearts."

Says Variety: "Zach Braff has set up his next helming gig, a remake of Danish pic "Open Hearts" for Paramount Pictures.

Braff will direct and produce and is likely to take a small role in the redo, which is scheduled to shoot in New Jersey in June when Braff is on hiatus from his hit NBC sitcom "Scrubs."

Susanne Bier directed "Open Hearts," which received a domestic theatrical release via Newmarket Films in February 2003. Mads Mikkelsen, Sonja Richter, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Paprika Steen star in the pic, described as a Dogma 95 film about a woman who is devastated when her fiance is paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. To complicate the situation, she enters into an affair with her fiance’s doctor, whose wife is the driver who caused the accident.

Braff has yet to decide on a final cast for his pic."

A fresh press release from Universal informs us that there will soon be a "Bring It On 3" to enjoy, but also reminds us that, hey yeah, there WAS a direct-to-video "Bring It On" sequel that we never saw.

"Bring It On 3" (working title), the highly anticipated third installment of the wildly successful Universal Pictures film franchise about status and rivalry in the cheerleading world, began principal photography on Monday, October 24th in the Los Angeles area. Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Productions and Beacon Pictures present "Bring It On 3," a Universal DVD Original slated for release in 2006.

Following the tremendous success of its ever-popular predecessors, "Bring It On 3" marks the latest effort from Universal’s newly established DVD Original strategy to aggressively develop, produce or acquire superior family-branded fare for the explosive made-for-DVD market.

"Bring It On 3" stars talented young performers Hayden Panettiere ("Ice Princess," "Raising Helen," "Racing Stripes") and Solange Knowles Smith ("Johnson Family Vacation," "The Proud Family") and features gifted newcomers Gus Carr, Marcy Rylan, Cindy Chiu, Giovonnie Samuels, Francia Almendarez, Gary Leroi Gray, Danielle Savre and Jessie Fife. Also on board in a special appearance is Def Jam Records music sensation Rihanna, whose smash dance hit "Pon de Replay" from her debut album "Music Of The Sun" dominated the charts this summer.

"Bring It On 3" is directed by Steve Rash ("American Pie Presents Band Camp," "Can’t Buy Me Love") from a screenplay by Alyson Fouse ("Scary Movie 2," UPN’s "Everybody Hates Chris") and produced by David Roessell ("The Lizzie McGuire Movie," "Inspector Gadget 2"). Jon Kuyper ("Tremors 4: The Legend Begins," "Happy Endings") serves as line producer and unit production manager. The film is executive produced by Armyan Bernstein, Charlie Lyons and Zanne Devine.

The filmmakers have assembled a top production team for "Bring It On 3," including veteran director of photography Victor J. Kemper ("Dog Day Afternoon," "The Jerk," "Pee-wee’s Big Adventure"), production designer Simon Dobbin ("Slipstream," "Kingdom Come"), costume designer Shawn Barton ("Soul Plane," "A Man Apart") and editor Danny Saphire ("Good Advice," "American Pie Presents Band Camp").

The team also includes some of the country’s most accomplished choreographers who collaborate with the filmmakers and cast to present state-of-the art cheer/dance segments, including Tony Gonzalez ("Bring It On Again," "The Hot Chick," "Haunted Mansion," numerous music videos) Eric Little (acclaimed cheer choreographer), Tanisha Scott (music videos for Sean Paul, the Pussycat Dolls, NAS) and the Emmy®-nominated team, Richmond Talauega & Tone Talauega (RIZE-Producers/Music Producers; MTV Video Award nominees for Jennifer Lopez’ "Get Right").

Shake your pom poms! "Bring It On 3" is a sassy and spirited production with new moves, new music and eye-popping dance sequences. Britney Allen (Hayden Panettiere) is living the dream — the cheerleader’s dream. At the elite seaside campus of Pacific Vista High School, Britney is captain of the cheerleading squad and the envy of everyone at school-including one overly-ambitious teammate. When Britney hears about a forthcoming audition for a top cheer squad to appear in recording star Rihanna’s upcoming television special, she is determined that her Pirates cheer squad will capture the coveted spot.

But Britney’s life turns from cheer-topia to cheer-tastrophe when her father’s job takes her family to Crenshaw Heights, a multi-ethnic working-class neighborhood east of Los Angeles. At her new school, Britney is viewed with suspicion by most of the students, especially by Camille (Solange Knowles Smith), the overly confident and acerbic leader of the Crenshaw Heights Warriors cheerleading squad. No one is more surprised than Camille, however, when Britney proves herself and secures a spot on the Warriors’ cheer squad. Britney and her new teammates work feverishly to prepare for the audition for Rihanna, incorporating some edgy new moves into their performance. Now the pressure is on, as the Warriors find themselves locked in a high-stakes cheer-off with Pacific Vista, Britney’s old school! During the climactic, no-holds-barred fight to the finish, friendships, loyalties and talents are tested-but only one team can come out on top."

Frederik Du Chau, director of the mild family hit "Racing Stripes," has been tapped by Disney to bring their live-action/CGI "Underdog" adventure to the big screen.

"Underdog" will use a CGI-enhanced live dog to portray the eponymous hero, a talking canine with super powers. Du Chau gained experience blending CGI and live animals on "Racing Stripes," which combined computer-generated effects and real horses to portray a zebra-turned-racehorse.

"This is a very special niche in the moviemaking business," Du Chau said.

Disney and Spyglass Entertainment plan to get "Underdog" underway early next year.

In Other News is back, with marital highs and lows alike to keep you gossip-mongers happy…starting with "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" star Jude Law, whose secret affair behind fiancée Sienna Miller‘s back was exposed by the British Press Monday. In response, Law issued a public apology to Miller, whom he has been dating since the pair worked together — appropriately enough — on the set of "Alfie." In his letter, Law says he is ‘deeply ashamed and upset’ for the illicit relationship he had with Daisy Wright, a former nanny for the children he shares with ex-wife Sadie Frost, and whom he met while in New Orleans — aka, the Big Easy — to film this winter’s "All the King’s Men." Law’s marriage to Frost ended in 2003 in a quickie divorce granted due to his ‘unreasonable behavior;’ there is no word yet on the status of his engagement to Miller.

Hopefully, a more blissful fate awaits newlyweds Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, who were married last weekend in a secret ceremony in Solvang, California. The "Miss Congeniality" star and her new husband, host of the Discovery Channel’s "Monster Garage," spirited 300 guests to a private ranch for the nups, where Bullock walked down the aisle to the sounds of her late opera singer mother, Helga Bullock, and guests chowed down on a wedding cake baked by sister Gesine Prado. Bullock got into the crafty action, too — she metal-worked James’ wedding ring herself.

And finally, more wishful thinking for the marriage-inclined — "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz has proposed to his girlfriend of months, a non-Hollywood civilian whose last name has not been publicized. The nineteen-year old "Racing Stripes" vocalist met his fiancée, ‘Jamie,’ in that hotbed of romantic pairings, New Orleans (see above Jude Law story), where he was filming the upcoming virtual-horror flick, "Stay Alive." The couple has not yet set a date, giving Muniz a chance to break out of his ‘it’s that guy from Malcolm in the Middle/Agent Cody Banks‘ mold and show audiences that he’s all grown up — maybe.

What is it with horror films these days? It doesn’t matter how badly they are reviewed, or what they’re about; they just keep raking in money at the box office. "Boogeyman," which has a very moldy Tomatometer of 8%, dominated the box office this weekend with $19M. It is directed by the director/writer (Stephen Kay) of such classics as the 0% "Mod Squad" and the 10% Stallone dud "Get Carter" — maybe it’s all those Lucy Lawless ("Xena") fans who just wanted to see her back on the screen (big or small).

"The Wedding Date," starring Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney, had a strong debut with $11.1M, despite being clobbered by critics. It has a similarly moldy 10% on the Tomatometer. It placed second.

In third place is "Are We There Yet" with $10.6M for a side-splitting total of $51.3M in three weeks. Despite bad reviews, the film continues to hold up well from week to week, and may even eclipse "Barbershop"’s $75M total as Ice Cube’s personal best for films in which he received top billing.

Last week’s chart topper, "Hide and Seek," fell to fourth place this weekend with $8.9M. Of the films in the top 10, it has the biggest drop-off from the previous weekend at 59%. Its total in two weeks is a still solid $35.7M.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are "Million Dollar Baby" with $8.5M ($34.4M total); "The Aviator" with $5.4M ($75.9M total); "Meet the Fockers" with $4.8M ($265.2M total); "Sideways" with $4.7M ($46.7M total); "Racing Stripes" with $4.3M ($40.4M total); and "Coach Carter" with $4.2M ($59.3M total).

The versatile Robert Deniro scored another hit with this weekend’s horror release Hide and Seek, which scared up an estimated $22M over the weekend. Along with Meet The Fockers, this gives Deniro two films in the top 10. Hide and Seek also stars Famke Janssen and child actor Dakota Fanning. Robert De Niro and especially Dakota Fanning have earned some praise for their work in Hide and Seek, but critics have called the rest of the film derivative, illogical and somewhat silly. Its Tomatometer is a Rotten 18%.

The other new wide release this weekend, Alone in the Dark starring Christian Slater and Tara Reid, was definitely such with both audiences and critics. It grossed an estimated $2.5M and failed to place in the top 12. It is probably the worst reviewed film of the year so far with an almost completely Rotten 1% on the Tomatometer.

A couple Oscar nominated films opened wider this weekend and saw improvements in their standings. Million Dollar Baby, which received 7 Academy Awards nominations, expanded to 2010 theaters and grossed an estimated $11.8M this weekend, placing third. It’s total so far is $21.1M. The Aviator, which received 11 Academy Awards nominations, added 242 more sites and saw a 55% improvement from last weekend. It grossed an estimated $7.5M, placing 6th. It’s total so far is $68.2M. Sideways, with 5 Academy Awards nominations, added about 1000 sites and grossed $6.3M this weekend. It placed 7th. It’s total so far is $40M. Finding Neverland added nearly 400 sites after receiving 7 Academy Award nominations, but failed to crack the top 12 at the box office this weekend. It grossed an estimated $2.7M. Its total so far is $35.9M.

Overall, the rest of the films in the top 10 held up pretty well. In 2nd place is Are We There Yet, which grossed an estimated $17M this weekend – a drop-off of only 8%! It’s total so far is 39.1M after two weeks. Coach Carter placed 4th with $8M for a total of $53.6M after three weeks. Meet the Fockers placed 5th with $7.6M for a total of $258M after six weeks. In Good Company placed 8th with $6.2M for a total of $35.9M after five weeks. Racing Stripes came in 9th with $6M for a total of 34.6M after three weeks. In 10th is what Focus Features’s marketing department slyly calls "The #1 action movie in America!" – Assault on Precinct 13 – with $4M for a total of $14.7M after two weeks.

Hide and Seek’s surprisingly good debut and the expanded release of Oscar nominated films helped power this weekend to a 41% improvement over the same period a year ago. This weekend’s top 12 films grossed an estimated $103.6M, compared to $73.4M a year ago when You Got Served top the chart with a $16.1M.

Click here for the full box office chart.

According to Showbizdata, the versatile Robert Deniro scored another hit with this weekend’s horror release Hide and Seek, which grossed $8.1M on Friday. It will likely gross between $23-$25M over the Friday-Sunday weekend. Hide and Seek also stars Famke Janssen and child actor Dakota Fanning. Robert De Niro and especially Dakota Fanning have earned some praise for their work in Hide and Seek, but critics have called the rest of the film derivative, illogical and somewhat silly. Its Tomatometer is a Rotten 18%.

The other new wide release this weekend, Alone in the Dark starring Christian Slater and Tara Reid, was definitely such with both audiences and critics. It failed to place in the top 10. It is probably the worst reviewed film of the year so far with an almost completely Rotten 1% on the Tomatometer.

Other films in the top 10 for this Friday are Are We There Yet with $4M, Million Dollar Baby with $3.4M, Coach Carter with $2.2M, Meet the Fockers with $2.2M, The Aviator with $2M, In Good Company with $1.9M, Sideways with $1.7M, Racing Stripes with $1.4M, and – what Focus Features’s marketing department slyly calls "The #1 action movie in America!" – Assault on Precinct 13 with $1.2M.

This weekend, one of the worst reviewed films of the year took the #1 spot at the box office. With a very moldy 10% on the Tomatometer, the Ice Cube and Nia Long starring Are We There Yet grossed an estimated $18.5M. Ice Cube continues to be a reliable performer at the box office, with a majority of his films opening in the $15-20M range. Are We There Yet’s debut ranks as his third best behind the two Barbershop films, which opened with $24M and $21M respectively.

This is the second consecutive weekend where films targeted at the African-American demographic took the top spot. Unfortunately, last weekend’s top opener, Coach Carter took a major hit because of the shared audience. Coach Carter grossed an estimated $11M, a 55% drop-off from last weekend. It’s total now stands at $43.2M after two weeks of release.

In third is Meet The Fockers with an estimated $10.2M for a total of $247.7M. It currently ranks as the sixth highest grossing film of last year. It looks very likely that it’ll eventually beat The Incredibles’s $257.3M for fourth, but unlikely that it’ll reach The Passion of the Christ’s $370M.

In fourth is In Good Company with an estimated $8.5M for a total of $28M.

Racing Stripes finished fifth with an estimated $7M for a total of $27.3M.

The other wide release debut last week is the remake Assault on Precinct 13 starring Ethan Hawke and Lawrence Fishburne. It grossed an estimated $7M. Since opening last Wednesday, it has grossed a disappointing $8.6M total, despite modestly good reviews; it’s Tomatometer is 60% which is not bad for an action movie.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera at seventh with $5M ($33.5M total), White Noise at eighth with $5M ($49.4M total), The Aviator at ninth with $4.8M ($58M total), and Elektra at tenth with $3.8M (20.2M). The Aviator had the lowest drop-off with a measly 5% of movies within the top 10; Elektra had the highest drop-off with 70% (it’s pretty safe to say that we don’t have to worry about a sequel for this film).

Audiences celebrated this Martin Luther King weekend by watching the sports drama Coach Carter starring Samuel L. Jackson. Coach Carter marks the movie debut of popular R&B singer Ashanti. The film grossed an uplifting $29.2M for the four day holiday weekend, putting an end to Meet the Fockers three week reign. This is a personal best for the versatile Jackson in movies where he receives top billing. His previous best was 2000’s Shaft, which opened with $21M. Coach Carter is the second best MLK weekend opener ever behind Along Came Polly’s $32.5M and ahead of Save the Last Dance’s $27.5M.

Meet the Fockers dropped to second place with a still great $22.5M. Its cum now stands at an unbelievable $234.3M after just four weeks of release, easily outgrossing its predecessor’s $166M. This is Ben Stiller’s highest grossing film ever.

Racing Stripes raced to a solid third place finish with $18.9M. This is Frankie Muniz’s best debut thus far in his early movie career, slightly ahead of 2003’s Agent Cody Banks.

In Good Company, starring Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson, opened wide this past weekend and placed fourth. The best reviewed of this weekend’s openers with a Tomatometer of 83%, it grossed a respectable $16.6M.

The last of this past weekend’s debuts and easily the worst reviewed of the bunch with a Tomatometer of a very moldy 7%, Elektra grossed a mediocre $14.8M.

Last weekend’s surprise hit White Noise dropped to sixth place with an estimated $13.8M. Its total thus far is a scary $42.9M. It’s the first sleeper hit of 2005 and Michael Keaton‘s best performing movie at the box office since 1992’s Batman Returns.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are The Aviator with $6.4M (cum $51.5M), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events with $5.3M (cum $112.4M), The Phantom of the Opera with $4.6M (cum $27.5M), and Fat Albert with $3.8M (cum $45.6M).

Click here to view the detailed box office chart (to be updated later today).