Moviegoers will have plenty to choose from over the long Christmas holiday weekend as four new star-driven wide releases hit the marketplace adding to an already crowded marquee.
The Ben Stiller fantasy pic "Night at the Museum" leads the way as the frame’s only new comedy while the Matthew McConaughey football drama "We Are Marshall" offers an inspirational story based on true events. Meanwhile, a pair of Italian Stallions hop into the director’s chair as Sylvester Stallone‘s boxing drama "Rocky Balboa" and Robert De Niro‘s espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" offer even more choices to holiday moviegoers. As is typical of this time of year, Christmas Eve will hurt the box office on Sunday as last-minute shopping and early theater closings will take their toll. But the Monday holiday will see a major recovery since Christmas Day brings forth a surge in traffic to the multiplexes.
Blasting into nearly 3,700 theaters including 72 Imax venues is the comedy "Night at the Museum" which finds Ben Stiller playing the new night watchman at New York’s Museum of Natural History where all the artifacts and statues come to life each night. Director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "The Pink Panther") leaves behind Steve Martin to work with a younger funnyman and more special effects. The PG-rated film is aiming for broad audiences hoping to bring in entire families looking for a fun time this holiday season. "Museum" also plans to score with teens and young adults as the only major comedy option for them. With "The Holiday" being the only other laugher in the top ten to register with that lucrative group, look for a solid response.
Stiller brings considerable starpower to the film but he also gets backup from comedians like Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. Plus with the prestigious ‘and’ credit already claimed by Williams, Owen Wilson takes a sizable supporting role but is so cool that he is nowhere to be found in the credits at all. Audiences want happy and funny films during the Christmas holidays and "Night at the Museum" should post muscular numbers thanks to its starpower, lack of comedy competition, mild rating, and formidable marketing and distribution push. Fox looks to close up the books on 2006 by taking over the number one spot this weekend. Attacking 3,688 locations, "Night at the Museum" could debut to about $34M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday period.
Sylvester Stallone brings the eye of the tiger back to the multiplexes one last time in "Rocky Balboa" which got a jumpstart on the holiday weekend with its Wednesday launch. The MGM release brings the iconic boxer back to the screen in what is supposedly the end of the franchise with Stallone back in the saddle as writer and director. In this tale, Rocky is brought back into the ring when media hype prompts fans to wonder who the best boxer is of all time. The underdog story on screen mirrored the one within industry circles. How could a franchise that died 16 years ago with the poorly-received "Rocky V" find its way back into the hearts of today’s moviegoers. MGM and the "Judge Dredd" star moved forward. Today, they proudly claim one of the best reviewed films of the Christmas season and the Wednesday bow is being counted on to get die-hard fans out early so they can spread positive buzz at work and in school going into the lucrative yet overcrowded weekend period.
With so many other films in the marketplace, and plenty with PG or G ratings aimed at luring in full families, "Rocky Balboa" will have to take its time at the box office as many moviegoers may need some convincing before spending money on the followup to the Tommy Gunn flick. Older adults are the ones who remember the excitement of the franchise, but the studio is hoping they could bring their kids with them for an uplifting tale that makes you feel good inside. "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "We Are Marshall" will be direct competitors in the feel-good genre and the latter will steal away many sports fans too. "Balboa" will have to rely on nostalgia and good word-of-mouth to carry it through round after round. Already playing in 2,752 theaters and adding more locations on Friday, "Rocky Balboa" may gross about $16M over four days and around $21M over six days.
For football fans this holiday weekend, Warner Bros. trots out another pigskin drama with "We Are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, and David Strathairn. The PG-rated film tells the true story of the football program at Marshall University in West Virginia which had to be rebuilt from scratch after a plane crash killed most of the players and coaches. Hollywood seems to have an endless line-up of sports dramas these days and since most of them become commercial successes, it’s no wonder that they keep getting churned out. Just a few months ago, moviegoers powered the football flicks "Invincible" and "Gridiron Gang" to the number one spot with bows of $17M and $14.4M, respectively. "Marshall" should play to much of the same audience and with its underdog feel-good story, the time of year will help since people are in the mood for that type of emotion.
Reviews have not been too good, but that should not matter much. "We Are Marshall" is meant for sports fans and those who love stories about overcoming adversity, regardless of how predictable they may be. Sales from the heartland should be solid and with the tame rating, entire families can come out together. Plus McConaughey is a reliable draw at the box office and is believable as a quirky football coach. Still, competition will be strong and coming from all directions so a blowout will not be possible. Opening in 2,606 theaters, "We Are Marshall" could score about $14M over the Friday-to-Monday frame.
Countering the parade of PG flicks is the R-rated CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" directed by Robert De Niro. The Universal release stars Matt Damon as Edward Wilson, a loyal government agent who helped to create the agency during the Cold War. Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, John Turturro, and De Niro also star. "Shepherd" boasts solid starpower which could help the film have broad appeal. The subject matter appeals to the 30+ crowd, but Damon and Jolie should help to pull in twentysomethings. Teens and ethnic audiences will have minimal interest. Critics have been mixed on the film which could impact the overall turnout.
The last few months have not been kind to star-driven period dramas aimed at adult audiences. Pictures like "Hollywoodland," "All the King’s Men," and "Bobby" have all struggled to find paying audiences with none reaching the $15M mark in total sales. "Shepherd’s" cast is what will allow it to rise above those failures. But the fight for the attention and time of mature adults will be fierce and a running time of nearly three hours will allow for one less showtime per day on every screen further cutting into its commercial potential. Infiltrating 2,217 locations, "The Good Shepherd" might capture around $13M over four days.
With the calendar year coming to a close, things continue to get crowded in the specialty arena this weekend. Clint Eastwood‘s award-winning war drama "Letters From Iwo Jima" debuted on Wednesday in limited release ahead of a January expansion similar to what Warner Bros. did two years ago with the director’s "Million Dollar Baby" which went on to reign at the Oscars. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts star in the period romance "The Painted Veil" from Warner Independent which also platformed on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. Thursday brings the limited launches of Miramax’s "Venus" starring Golden Globe nominee Peter O’Toole and the Chinese period drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" from Sony Classics which stars Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat.
Last weekend, Will Smith scored a number one hit with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which continues to please audiences. Overall moviegoing should increase over the holiday weekend, but more choices for adult audiences will give Sony some competition. "Pursuit’s" four-day take could drop 25% from its three-day debut gross giving the film about $20M and a cume of $58M after 11 days.
As a sci-fi actioner, Fox’s "Eragon" is likely to see one of the largest drops in the top ten. The dragon adventure might fall by 35% to around $15M over the four-day session leaving the studio with $46M.
Kidpics score big points over Christmas so "Charlotte’s Web" might see many of those fans who skipped out last weekend actually show up this time. The Paramount release’s four-day tally may slip 10% from its three-day bow and bring in roughly $10M. That would give the family film a total of $27M after 11 days.
LAST YEAR: With Christmas falling on a Sunday, the observed holiday on Monday gave the box office an expanded four-day holiday frame allowing the mega holdovers to repeat atop the charts. "King Kong" spent its second weekend at number one and grossed $33.3M over four days and was closely followed by "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $31.7M in its third adventure. The combined haul for the pair soared to $285M with much more still to come. Newcomers rounded out the top five with Jim Carrey defeating Steve Martin in the battle of the comedies. Sony’s "Fun With Dick and Jane" opened in third with $21.5M over four days while Fox’s sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" settled for fourth with $15.3M. Final tallies reached $110.3M and $82.6M, respectively. Sony also claimed fifth with "Memoirs of a Geisha" which expanded nationally and took in $10.2M over the long weekend. Also opening were Fox Searchlight’s Johnny Knoxville comedy "The Ringer" with $7.7M over four days, the Jennifer Aniston pic "Rumor Has It" with $7.5M in two days for Warner Bros., and Universal’s "Munich" with $6M in four days. The films went on to reach $35.4M, $43M, and $47.4M respectively. The debuting horror pic "Wolf Creek" opened outside the top ten with $4.9M in two days on its way to $16.2M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Whenever I go see an IMAX-ed movie, it’s (almost) always at Philadelphia’s beautiful Franklin Institute Museum — which would certainly be an appropriate place to see Ben Stiller‘s new comedy "Night at the Museum," no?
Press release from Movie City News: "IMAX Corporation (NASDAQ: IMAX; TSX: IMX) and Twentieth Century Fox today announced that Night at the Museum, directed by Shawn Levy (The Pink Panther and Cheaper by the Dozen) and starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams, will be simultaneously released to both IMAX® and conventional theatres on December 22, 2006. The adventure comedy will be digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. Night at the Museum is the seventh IMAX DMR film secured for 2006, the largest number of Hollywood blockbusters slated for release to IMAX theatres in a single year.
"Night at the Museum will look and sound incredible in IMAX’s immersive format, and we are excited to offer moviegoers a chance to experience this event motion picture in a unique and premium way," said Bruce Snyder, President, Domestic Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox. "We are thrilled to once again extend our relationship with IMAX and look forward to releasing this delightful film to the IMAX theatre network."
That sentiment is echoed by 20th Century Fox International Co-presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus who add, "The timing is exceptional for this release internationally as the IMAX format is growing in both popularity and locations overseas. We think the theme and content of Night at the Museum is a perfect complement to both commercial and institutional IMAX locations worldwide."
"The comic genius of Ben Stiller and Robin Williams combined with the film’s outrageous action should fit nicely into our well-rounded year-end lineup of Hollywood films," said IMAX Co-CEO’s Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler. "With a third film commitment from Twentieth Century Fox, and a seventh title for 2006, it is clear that Hollywood studios recognize the value of the IMAX theatre network as a distribution platform. This highly-anticipated film will enable IMAX theatres to deliver another great experience for every member of the movie-going audience during the holiday season. We believe the film’s unique setting and subject matter makes it ideal for both our commercial and institutional theatres."
Click here for the rest of the press release.
This week at the movies, we’ve got snakes…. on a plane ("Snakes on a Plane," starring Samuel L. Jackson), slackers on a campus ("Accepted," starring Justin Long), and Duffs on the screen ("Material Girls," starring Hilary and Haylie Duff). What do the critics have to say?
"Snakes on a Plane," the movie with the greatest title since "Dude, Where’s My Car?", has captured the imagination of the blogosphere. However, it will have to wait to capture the imagination of the critics, since it wasn’t screened in advance. The plot involves an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) who, golly, would really like to expel those ophidians from the aircraft upon which he’s traveling. Since "SOAP" (as the fanboys and girls call it) has no reviews, we’re going to play our favorite game: Guess the @#&$*$ Tomatometer.
There’s something inherently appealing about a bunch of party-hearty students and their battles with the uptight squares; that’s why movie people keep trying to recapture the magic of "Animal House" and "Rock ‘n’ Roll High School." "Accepted" tells the story of a high school graduate (Justin Long) who’s having no luck getting into college, so he decides to start his own fake institute of higher learning. To his surprise, a bunch of like-minded outcasts join him. Critics say the movie has its share of laughs, but it never totally gels, and turns a little too sweet at the end. At 31 percent on the Tomatometer, "Accepted" has been waitlisted.
Critics can beg, and critics can plead, but they can’t see "Material Girls" (that’s right!), ’cause the audience members with the cold hard cash are always Mr. (and Ms.) Right. Or, perhaps the people behind the latest Duff sisters vehicle feel the film is in the same artistic league as Madge‘s "Body of Evidence." Guess this Tomatometer while you’re at it.
"Little Miss Sunshine" was a big hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now that it’s hitting the theaters, the scribes are just as enthusiastic as the folks in Park City. This tale of a dysfunctional family hitting the road for a child pageant is Certified Fresh, and features sharp performances from its ensemble cast, particularly Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell. At 94 percent, this one’s a ray of "Sunshine." (Check out RT’s interview with co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton here.)
Also in theaters in limited release this week: "Factotum," the Sundance-approved Bukowski adaptation starring Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor, is at 75 percent; "The Illusionist," a tale of intrigue in turn of the century Vienna starring Ed Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti, is at 67 percent; Dutch import "Moonlight," a tale of risky teenage love, is at 60 percent; "Trust the Man," a rom-com starring David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, is at 39 percent; and "10th & Wolf," a story of mob family ties starring James Marsden and Giovanni Ribisi, is at zero percent.
Finally, props to XeternityX, who came closest to predicting "Pulse"’s 12 percent Tomatometer. Nobody got particularly close to "Zoom," still flying high at zero percent. Be forwarned when guessing the Tomatometers for this week’s unscreened releases: the average T-meter for movies not screened for critics is 11.75 percent.
Recent Samuel L. Jackson Movies:
25% — Freedomland (2005)
13% — The Man (2005)
82% — Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
18% — XXX: State of the Union (2005)
23% — In My Country (2005)
If you went to see "Pirates2" over the weekend, but got caught in the popcorn lines, you may have missed the new teaser trailer for the Ben Stiller FX comedy "Night at the Museum." Fortunately you can check it online right here.
"Good-hearted dreamer Larry Daley, despite being perpetually down on his luck, thinks he’s destined for something big. But even he could never have imagined how “big,” when he accepts what appears to be a menial job as a graveyard-shift security guard at a museum of natural history. During Larry’s watch, extraordinary things begin to occur: Mayans, Roman Gladiators, and cowboys emerge from their diorama to wage epic battles; in his quest for fire, a Neanderthal burns down his own display; Attila the Hun pillages his neighboring exhibits, and a T-Rex reminds everyone why he’s history’s fiercest predator. Amidst the chaos, the only person Larry can turn to for advice is a wax figure of President Teddy Roosevelt, who helps our hero harness the bedlam, stop a nefarious plot, and save the museum."
Despite the fact that I’ve been a huge Steve Martin fan for well over two decades, I strongly believe that his "Pink Panther" remake pretty much stunk on toast. And despite the fact that mostly everyone seems to agree with that opinion, Mr. Martin is planning to go back for a sequel or two.
From Dark Horizons: "Steve Martin is rumoured to be doing not one, but two sequels to his god awful "Pink Panther" redux for MGM and Sony. There is one good bit of news, the people behind the camera seem to be improving. Martin is apparently now polishing a script by "Dodgeball" writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Mike Saltzman that sees Inspector Clouseau placed on special assignment with Scotland Yard.
Former S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens is one of the names rumoured for the female lead. Kevin Kline, Jean Reno, and Emily Mortimer are not expected to return for the sequel. Thurber is also expected to fill the director chair instead of Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen") this time."
OK, so the removal of Levy and the addition of Thurber is definitely a step up, and look at it this way: There’s not much chance that the sequel will be any WORSE than the original. (Well, actually the "original" was a remake, so scratch that.)
Sure, everyone’s psyched for the Oscars this Sunday night (yes, even the movie snobs who claim to hate the Oscars), but let’s kick the weekend off with an awards presentation that’s a little less … highbrow. If you followed our advice last week, then you’ve already cast your ballot for JoBlo’s Golden Schmoe Awards. Now check out the winners!
Favorite Movie: Batman Begins
Worst Movie: Son of the Mask
Best Director: Miller & Rodriguez, Sin City
Best Screenplay: Haggis & Moresco, Crash
Most Overrated: Brokeback Mountain
Most Underrated: Serenity
Best Comedy: The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Best Horror: Saw 2
Best Animated: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Best Sci-Fi: Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Best Special Effects: King Kong
For the rest of the awards (29 in all!), hop on over to JoBlo’s and check out the goods.
Zap2it.com reports that British funnyman Ricky Gervais has signed on to appear in Shawn Levy‘s big-budget, high-concept adventure comedy "Night at the Museum." And to say that Mr. Gervais is joining an already-stocked ensemble would be kind of an understatement.
"Speaking to reporters in advance of his latest project, Steve Martin‘s reboot of "The Pink Panther," "Night at the Museum" director Shawn Levy threw in one additional piece of casting, "The Office" star Ricky Gervais."
And courtesy of ComingSoon.net, a synopsis: "Good-hearted dreamer Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), despite being perpetually down on his luck, thinks he’s destined for something big. But even he could never have imagined how "big," when he accepts what appears to be a menial job as a graveyard-shift night watchman at a museum of natural history. But during Larry’s watch, something extraordinary happens: the museum’s exhibits magically come to life. A fearsome T-Rex insists on a game of fetch (with one of his own skeleton bones); Mayans, Roman Gladiators, and cowboys emerge from their diorama to wage epic battles; and a wax figure of Teddy Roosevelt gives Larry important advice while harboring a crush for an Indian princess. As things spiral wildly out of control, Larry must find a way to control the magic to stop a nefarious plot and save the museum."
What is "Fun With Dick and Jane?" Is it slapstick? Satire? Social commentary? Dark comedy? Is it… fun? To the last question, the critics have an answer: sometimes, but not often enough. This remake, starring Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni, updates the 1977 Jane Fonda/George Segal comedy about two yuppies who steal to regain their riches. The plot is updated for the Enron era, and it also adds a scene with Mr. Carrey in a ninja costume. Yes, wacky Jim Carrey is back, but the scribes say "Fun’s" tone is too much of a muddle to really hit any of its targets. At 33 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s a pretty plain "Jane." And it’s Carrey’s worst-reviewed film since "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," which scored 26 percent.
The Baker family is back in "Cheaper By the Dozen 2." Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff and Eugene Levy star. There are lots of family hi-jinks. Despite some mild conflict, everyone loves one another. The first one made tons of money. The critics are pretty united in their disdain for "Cheaper By the Dozen 2," a film that, at 11 percent on the Tomatometer, is a point short of a dozen itself. It’s also substantially below the first "Cheaper," which scored two dozen on the Tomatometer.
Recent Jim Carrey Movies
71% — Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
93% — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
50% — Bruce Almighty (2003)
42% — The Majestic (2001)
51% — How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
He was on the job once before, left for a better gig, quit that one, and then returned. Filmmaker Stephen Sommers is back on the case to write and direct a remake of "When Worlds Collide" for Paramount Pictures and producer Steven Spielberg.
According to Variety, "Sommers, who directed "The Mummy" and "Van Helsing," was aligned with the project when Paramount first made a deal for it earlier this year (Daily Variety, April 11).
Paramount released the original 1951 "When Worlds Collide," directed by Rudolph Mate, and cleaned up some rights issues surrounding the pic when Sommers became interested in remaking the actioner.
However, his version languished a bit when Par’s new regime came in and he dropped out in favor of a deal to direct and produce Fox’s "A Night at the Museum." At the same time, Spielberg came aboard "When Worlds Collide" as producer. That move came during studio excitement for "War of the Worlds," which Spielberg directed and which has grossed $588 million worldwide.
Sometime around September, Sommers dropped out of "Museum" due to creative differences, which led him back to "When Worlds Collide." The Fox project now is in the hands of "Cheaper By The Dozen" helmer Shawn Levy."
Since Stephen ("The Mummy") Sommers will be helming the "When Worlds Collide" remake for Paramount, Fox needed someone to step in on their live-action/animated comedy "A Night at the Museum." So they hired Shawn Levy.
According to Variety, "the family comedy centers on a goodhearted but bumbling security guard at the Museum of Natural History who accidentally trips an ancient curse that causes the animals and insects on display to come to life."
As if you didn’t see this sequel coming. Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, and Hilary Duff will reunite this Christmas for "Cheaper By the Dozen 2," as directed by Adam Shankman. Oh, and you can see the trailer right here.
"The Baker family goes on vacation, which turns into a head-to-head competition with a rival neighborhood family of eight children." There’s your plot. And let’s not forget that Eugene Levy is now on board, as the dad who’s most likely a broadly obnoxious comedy villain.
"Cheaper By the Dozen 2" hits theaters on December 21st, while the also kid-laden remake of "Yours, Mine and Ours" debuts in multiplexes on November 23rd. Whichever flick you pick, I suggest packing a few aspirins.
According to Variety, director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper By the Dozen," "Just Married") has been invited by Sony to helm "21," a fact-based gambling flick that used to be called "Breaking Vegas" and used to have a director named Brett Ratner.
Written by Peter Steinfeld, "21" is about "six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings."
The screenplay is based on the non-fiction account "Bringing Down the House," as penned by Ben Mezrich.
Shawn Levy’s newest project, "The Pink Panther," is scheduled for release early next year.
Disney dropped some coin on screenwriter Kyle Long’s action-comedy "Flight Risk," says Variety. The undoubtedly family-friendly flick will be about "a hapless young man who’s hired by a wealthy father to escort his unusually rebellious 11-year-old son across state lines to a school for troubled kids."
Based on the 1968 comedy of the same name (which itself was based on an autobiographical book by Helen Beardsley), this remake is about nothing more than 2 middle-aged newlyweds, their ten kids, and a whole lot of chaos. Call it "The Brady Bunch +4" or call it "Cheaper by the Near-Dozen" — but don’t call me when you need a babysitter.
Not long ago it was announced that Eugene Levy ("American Pie") would be joining the cast of "Cheaper By the Dozen 2," and that the veteran funnyman would play the rival to Steve Martin‘s good-guy father figure. Now comes word that sultry siren Carmen Electra ("Scary Movie") has been signed to play Mr. Levy’s sexy young wife.
And for those who care about such things, Hilary Duff ("A Cinderella Story") has also been contracted to reprise her role from "Cheaper By the Dozen." Adam Shankman ("The Pacifier") is in the director’s chair for the sequel, which should go into production before the end of the year.