While Brady and Manning duke it out in Phoenix, the $15 movie ticket aims to conquer the multiplexes over Super Bowl weekend. That’s the admission price that theaters are charging moviegoers that line up for Disney’s Hannah Montana concert film which opens Friday on a wave of fan frenzy that has given the hot pic event-film status with young girls everywhere. But other ladies that got their big break from a television series will enter the weekend race at the North American box office too. Jessica Alba stars in the supernatural thriller The Eye while Eva Longoria Parker headlines the comedy Over Her Dead Body. Guys will be tossed their own entry in the form of the nature comedy Strange Wilderness. Disney and Lionsgate will be the studios competing for the box office trophy as Sony’s seven-year streak of ruling Super Bowl weekend will come to an end.
Tween girls who couldn’t get their parents to shell out a grand for a scalped ticket for Hannah Montana’s live concerts can now cough up a Hamilton and a Lincoln and see the big show at their local multiplex. Disney goes 3D for its special one-week-only engagement of Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert which aims to capitalize on the immense fan base for the Disney Channel superstar. The G-rated musicfest will play mostly to girls but should lure in nearly 100% of its target demographic with what has become a major event film for lovers of all things Hannah. With a trim 74-minute running time, theaters will be able to squeeze in six showtimes per day to maximize their revenue. School teachers nationwide may have to brace for record high absenteeism on Friday.
The Hannah Montana phenomenon has become a cash cow for the studio. Thanks to last year’s live concerts which sold out within minutes, fans have wasted no time in pre-buying their movie tickets for Best which has been a top seller all through December and January. Fandango.com reported on Wednesday that the film accounted for a whopping 91% of all tickets purchased with over 1,000 showtimes already sold out coast to coast. Rival MovieTickets.com stated that Best has already joined its all-time top ten list of pre-sales ranking alongside tentpole sequels from franchises such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Helping Montana-mania at the box office will be those increased $15 ticket prices which will allow the overall grosses to swell.
Best of Both Worlds could very well be one of those box office surprises that exceeds all expectations thanks to intense demand plus brilliant marketing and distribution. This could be a Borat-type weekend when the film with the fewest theaters actually beats out all of its competitors for the top spot. In fact the numbers could climb really high if parents join their daughters for the show, or if repeat business kicks in with fans seeing the film multiple times since it will only be on the big screen for seven days. The Super Bowl should not be much of a distraction since young females are typically the quadrant least interested in the big game. Hitting the stage in 683 movie theaters with digital 3D facilities, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert could open to about $17M this weekend.
Although there are no other major horror flicks out there, The Eye will still face formidable competition. Hannah Montana is a very different type of film, but it will take some teen girls out of the picture. Young males also have plenty of other choices out there. But Alba is a decent box office draw despite the weak launch of her last thriller Awake which debuted to only $5.9M. The Eye is in a much better position to find success, though. A scary trailer, a creepy one-sheet, a commercially-friendly rating, and a popular star in the lead all will contribute to a solid debut. The Eye opens in 2,436 locations on Friday and could scare up roughly $14M over three days.
Sylvester Stallone settled for the vice president’s job on last weekend’s chart with Rambo and with most fans charging theaters in the beginning, not much of an audience will be left. Plus the Lionsgate film lacks the positive vibe that the actor/filmmaker saw with Rocky Balboa last winter. A 55% fall would give Rambo roughly $8M and a sum of $31M after ten days.
Fox could enjoy a solid third frame with its chick flick 27 Dresses which has been holding up well since its strong opening. A 40% decline to $8.5M would give the Heigl hit $57M after 17 days. Diane Lane also could see a reasonably good hold for her crime thriller Untraceable which may drop 40% to $7M for a ten-day tally of $20M. The monster flick Cloverfield fell hard in its second weekend and another sizable drop of 55% could give Paramount $5.5M and a 17-day total of $73M.
LAST YEAR: Super Bowl weekend saw teen girls edge past their moms at the box office as the thriller The Messengers bowed at number one with $14.7M beating out the $13.1M debut of the Diane Keaton pic Because I Said So. Final grosses reached $35.4M for the Sony spookfest and $42.7M for Universal’s star-driven comedy. Holdovers rounded out the top five. Epic Movie dropped from the top spot to third with $8.4M, the hit comedy Night at the Museum followed in fourth with $6.4M, and Smokin’ Aces placed fifth with $6.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
With the Super Bowl taking males out of the picture, mothers and daughters squared off at the North American box office this weekend with the younger set earning a slim victory. The spooky thriller "The Messengers" opened at number one driven by teenage girls and young women while the Diane Keaton comedy "Because I Said So" bowed close behind in the runnerup position drawing upon older women.
The overall box office picture was bleak as the top ten slumped below the $70M mark for the second time in three weekends.
Sony scored its seventh consecutive victory over Super Bowl weekend with the haunted house spookfest "The Messengers," which grossed an estimated $14.5M in its debut frame. The PG-13 pic averaged a solid $5,736 from 2,528 locations but was weaker than the studio’s previous three hits that ruled this particular weekend. Last year, the horror pic "When a Stranger Calls" topped the charts with a $21.6M opening and $7,205 average, in 2005 "Boogeyman" led with a $19M bow and $6,232 average, and in 2004 "You Got Served" hit number one with $16.1M and a $8,341 average. "Messengers" did however post the best opening for a horror film since October’s "Saw III." A long string of terror flops were tossed into the marketplace in between with disappointing results.
Budgeted at only $16M, "The Messengers" skewed to a young female audience. According to studio research, 53% of the crowd was female and an equal percentage was under the age of 21. The studio is already planning for next year’s Super Bowl frame when it will release the horror remake "Prom Night," which will again cater to the same crowd. Teenage girls and young women historically have been the group least interested in football’s big championship game making them an attractive audience to target on this weekend. Creepy PG-13 films with strong female characters coupled with saavy marketing have led to many number one hits for Sony and its Screen Gems unit. But with the grosses getting smaller, movie fans could be telling Hollywood that it is dipping into this well too often.
Opening in second place with respectable results was "Because I Said So" with an estimated $13M from 2,526 theaters. Averaging $5,155 per location, the PG-13 film stars Diane Keaton as a meddlesome mother trying to find love for her unmarried daughter played by Mandy Moore. Men showed practically zero interest in the Universal release. Studio research showed that a whopping 82% of the audience was female. The film also played more to Keaton fans than to the Moore crowd as 55% of the turnout was 35 or older. 83% was Caucasian. Critics trashed "Because" and "Messengers" may have eaten into its potential with younger women.
Last weekend’s number one film "Epic Movie" dropped a sizable 56% in its second weekend and ranked third with an estimated $8.2M. With $29.4M in ten days, the spoof comedy looks on course to finish with $40-44M making it a bit smaller than Fox’s spoof from last February "Date Movie." That spin on romantic comedies grossed a somewhat stronger $33.8M in its first ten days, had a slightly lower 53% sophomore drop, and found its way to $48.5M.
Fox’s runaway smash "Night at the Museum" slipped only 29% and placed fourth with an estimated $6.8M pushing its tally to $225.4M. The durable Ben Stiller blockbuster became the first film to spend seven weekends in the top five since 2004’s "The Passion of the Christ."
Universal’s mob thriller "Smokin’ Aces" dropped 57% to an estimated $6.3M in its second weekend and put its cume at $25M after ten days. The step dancing hit "Stomp the Yard" followed with an estimated $4.2M, off 45%, for a total of $56M. The Oscar-nominated musical "Dreamgirls" saw the worst decline of its run dropping 40% to an estimated $4M. Cume stands at $92.8M.
Picturehouse added 259 theaters to the run of the fantasy pic "Pan’s Labyrinth" and stayed put at number eight with an estimated $3.7M. With six Academy Award nominations, the R-rated film upped its cume to $21.7M while its average of $3,383 was the third best in the top ten. Will Smith‘s tenth career $100M blockbuster "The Pursuit of Happyness" took in an estimated $3.1M, down 38%, for a $157.4M total to date.
Tied for tenth place with an estimated $2.7M in ticket sales each were the Helen Mirren Oscar nominated pic "The Queen" and the Jennifer Garner dramedy "Catch and Release." The Miramax contender for Best Picture slipped 33% raising its cume to $45.5M while the Sony flick tumbled 65% in its second weekend thanks to its female audience shifting over to the frame’s two new releases. The ten-day total stands at a weak $12M.
The horror remake "The Hitcher" also saw sales nosedive and dropped out of the top ten. The Focus release slumped 68% to an estimated $1.2M giving the R-rated scarefest only $15.6M overall. A final gross of $17M seems likely.
MGM and The Weinstein Co. saw a solid start for its indie drama "Factory Girl," starring media darling Sienna Miller grossing an estimated $95,000 from only three theaters for a stellar $31,764 average per site. Bowing in just New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated film tells of the rise of Edie Sedgwick and her mentor Andy Warhol. Reviews were mostly negative.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $66.5M which was off 13% from last year when "When A Stranger Calls" opened at number one with $21.6M; and down 19% from 2005 when "Boogeyman" debuted on top with $19M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
There’s another "Boogeyman" in the works, and it’s got a director. According to Production Weekly (via Cinescape), it’s Jeff Betancourt, who edited a number of recent flicks, including "When a Stranger Calls," "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," and "Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle."
Bettencourt is the editor of another horror sequel, "The Grudge 2," which hits theaters Friday. "Boogeyman 2" will begin production in Los Angeles in November. The plot involves a young woman who learns the hard way that directly confronting one’s fears can have terrifying consequences.
The original 2005 "Boogeyman" starred Lucy Lawless and was directed by "Get Carter" helmer Stephen Kay. The pic garnered just 14 percent on the Tomatometer, but was a surprise hit, grossing $46 million at the box office and $36 million from DVD rentals. Kay subsequently returned to directing in the realm of television.
I know, I know: You hear the phrase "Birds remake" and you start getting all fidgety and mad. That’s a good reaction to have. But producer Brad Fuller wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The new-fangled version of "The Birds" is a new re-telling of the original short story, period. Those expecting stuff found in the Hitchcock flick will probably be disappointed.
From our pals at IGN FilmForce: "We’re not remaking Hitchcock’s movie. That movie stands on its own and it is a wonderful piece of filmmaking. It’s a very difficult thing to say, ‘We’re remaking a Hitchcock film,’" Fuller said. "What was interesting to us was that the short story [by Daphne Du Maurier] the Hitchcock film was based on was chock full of stuff that Hitchcock didn’t use in his film. And so we went to those things and that’s the basis of our film. It’s the same title because it’s based on the same short story but we don’t have characters like what they have. The concept of birds, certainly, that’s the core of the movie but the situations and the plot come from the short story not from the Hitchcock film."
Hell, still a remake, tho. Right?
"V for Vendetta," which had an advanced screening at South by Southwest Wednesday, is thrilling as cinema but questionable as politics. Well-crafted and often stirring, it’s an overtly political action film that makes a few trenchant points, but it’s tough to come away from the film with a coherent message. But it’s worth seeing nonetheless.
It’s the year 2020, and Britain has become a fascist state. The government has rounded up the undesirables, used the media as a fear-mongering tool, and enforced a strict curfew on its cynical but weary populous. In the bowels of the city, V (Hugo Weaving), a man once imprisoned and tortured for his dissent, is plotting a violent overthrow of the government, as well as revenge against his individual tormenters. He stumbles upon Evey (Natalie Portman), who is first skeptical but eventually becomes his partner in revolution. The action scenes are well-staged, and the movie has a few dark laughs (including a subversive play on Benny Hill). The supporting players, which include John Hurt, Stephen Rea and Stephen Fry, are excellent.
V is a man with a lot on his mind, and while he commits some pretty gruesome acts of revenge, he’s a romantic at heart; he likes Shakespeare, "The Count of Monte Cristo," and Cat Power, and has Jan Van Eyck’s "Arnolfini Wedding Portait" on the wall, all of which are banned under the regime (though it’s never adequately explained how he acquired his martial arts skills and amassed such staggering wealth). The sequence in which Evey makes the transformation from skeptic to fearless freedom fighter (drawing heavily from Dreyer‘s "The Passion of Joan of Arc") is one of the more moving in the film, and never more so than when she reads a letter in her jail cell written by one of the regime’s innocent victims.
But in the wake of 9/11 and the London terrorist attacks, it’s not unreasonable to feel more than a little queasy rooting for this guerilla campaign. The film is on firmer ground in other respects, as when it makes the claim that governments should be beholden to their people (no argument there) or that civic engagement is a necessity, especially in particularly troubled times (ditto). In all, "V for Vendetta" is a provocative film, not least because it’s sometimes unclear what reactions it should be provoking.
ComingSoon.net shares with us a press release from the workaholics over at Walden Media, and the newest news is this: Production has already begun on Walden & Disney’s "Bridge to Terabithia," a sprawling fantasy adventure inspired by the works of author Katherine Paterson. Flick’s got a pretty solid cast & crew lined up, too.
Bridge to Terabithia, the motion picture adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s Newbery Honor award winning best-selling novel, began principal photography on location in Auckland, New Zealand. The project is a co-production between Walden Media (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Because of Winn-Dixie) and The Walt Disney Studios. International sales and distribution will be handled by Summit Entertainment.
Josh Hutcherson (Zathura, The Polar Express) stars as Jess Aarons, an 11 year old boy whose efforts to be the fastest runner in his grade are thwarted by a new girl who outruns all the boys. AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) stars as Leslie Burke, the new girl who becomes friends with Jess despite their awkward introduction.
She ultimately opens up a world of imagination for Jess in the land of Terabithia that changes his life forever. "Bridge to Terabithia" also stars Zooey Deschanel (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Elf) as Miss Edmunds, the music teacher at Jess and Leslie’s school, and Robert Patrick (Walk the Line, Ladder 49, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) joins the cast as Jess Aarons’ father.
Together Jess and Leslie create the world of Terabithia, an imaginary kingdom filled with all manner of magical beings. While the real world of family and school may be filled with challenges, in Terabithia, Jess and Leslie rule as King and Queen.
Brimming with fantastical creatures, palaces and beautiful forests – the kingdom of Terabithia will be brought to life by the creative wizards at the Academy Award winning visual effects facility Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand. Weta Digital is responsible for effects in the Academy Award winning "Lord of the Rings" films and King Kong and is co-owned by a team of Academy Award winners including director Peter Jackson, effects specialist Richard Taylor and editor Jamie Selkirk.
The film marks the big screen directorial debut of famed Academy Award nominee and Emmy-Award winning animator Gabor Csupo (Rugrats in Paris, The Wild Thornberrys Movie). Former Production President of Universal Pictures Hal Lieberman (Around the World in 80 Days, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) produces with Lauren Levine (I am David), and the author’s son David Paterson (Love Ludlow), who wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Katherine Paterson, with revisions by Jeff Stockwell and Kevin Wade.
The talented team of filmmakers includes two-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Fugitive), Production Designer Robert Gillies (The World’s Fastest Indian, Boogeyman), Costume Designer Barbara Darragh (River Queen, The Frighteners) and film editor John Gilbert ("The Fellowship of the Ring").
Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia is a timeless classic from one of the world’s most renowned children’s book authors.
Ms Paterson is the author of 14 novels, numerous non-fiction and essays for children and young people including Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, both winners of the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1978 and 1981. Her novels have sold over 5 million copies since 1978 and are published in over two dozen languages worldwide.
Bridge to Terabithia will film on location in West Auckland, New Zealand including the rural forest areas of Riverhead and Puhoi. The company will film for 10 weeks and production will conclude in early April 2006, with Walt Disney Pictures planning an early 2007 release.
Ghost House Pictures, home of director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert, and movies like "Boogeyman" and "The Grudge," will produce a family-friendly spooky movie based on the classic tale of "The Monkey’s Paw."
Inspired by a pitch from rookie screenwriters Dave Kajganich and Tom McAlister, the movie will cover the familiar story of "a father who brings home an artifact rumored to make any wish come true, but misfortune begins to befall the family with every desire granted."
The classic tale was written by W.W. Jacobs in 1902, but modern audiences are probably most familiar with the "Monkey’s Paw" story by way of, you guessed it, Homer Simpson.
Horror maven Wes Craven ("Scream," "Cursed") will executive produce the indie thriller "Waiting," written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, the team behind the surprisingly profitable "Boogeyman" from a few months back. Described by Variety as "in the vein of ’70s horror staples like "Don’t Look Now" and "Rosemary’s Baby," story follows a woman who believes she is being haunted by the ghost of her deceased child," the production will most likely get underway soon after a director is hired. Craven also has another project on his plate: the remake of his own "The Hills Have Eyes," which will be directed by Alexandre Aja ("High Tension").
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).
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).