Juno director Jason Reitman may have an Oscar nomination under his belt, but establishment success hasn’t spoiled his taste for subversive fun.

Reitman recently spoke with MTV Movies about his next writing project, as well as giving some hints about the Diablo Cody-scripted Jennifer’s Body, which he’s producing. Asked about what he’s writing, Reitman did the screenwriter shuffle, admitting only the following:

Yeah, I’m writing something. I’m going to direct it at the end of the year. And no, I haven’t told anyone what it is yet….It’s a comedy and a drama [book adaptation]. Think ‘Thank You for Smoking,’ but instead of political, it’s corporate.

(And yes, Reitman says, “Of course, there will always be room for J.K. Simmons.”)

Moving on to Jennifer’s Body, Reitman told MTV that the production begins shooting in three weeks — and when asked to describe the “scene he can’t wait to see on the big screen,” he locked up the top box office spot for the film’s opening weekend:

Well, we’ve got Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried getting into a fight in their underwear. That’ll be fun.

Source: MTV Movies

New Line hopes to breathe some life into the North American box office with the launch of its pricey adventure film The Golden Compass which stands as the frame’s only new wide release. Directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy), the PG-13 film aims to capture a large crowd including the family audience and fans of sci-fi and fantasy. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, who proved in the summer flop The Invasion that their names only carry so much commercial weight, reunite to star in the effects-heavy film.

Working in its favor is the fact that all other studios have avoided programming their major offerings onto this weekend’s schedule. In fact it is quite rare to see two consecutive frames with only one national opener each. Media attention is concentrated on it this week and with multiplexes dumping their aging November flops, Compass will secure extra screens. The studio’s marketing push has been powerful and awareness is high which makes sense as New Line is hoping for a new fantasy franchise that can keep the cash rolling in for years to come. Teens and young adults who frequent the multiplexes the most should come out in solid numbers since they’ve seen every other worthy film already. Older adults will be a little harder to reach since holiday shopping is a major distraction on weekends right now plus reviews for Compass have not exactly been stellar.

Although the property will target many of the same folks who have dropped billions on fantasy smashes like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia, the source material is not as popular plus there is already backlash from some in the religious community for the anti-Christian material in the Philip Pullman books. Reaching the $65.6M opening of Narnia from this very weekend two years ago will be impossible. Instead, a debut closer to the $27.5M of Beowulf last month could be in order since there may be much overlap. Compass has more appeal for younger kids and females so a bigger bow should result. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, The Golden Compass might premiere to the tune of $33M this weekend.


Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass

With most of the big boys taking the weekend off from releasing films wide, indie distribs will once again seize the opportunity to platform their end-of-year pics and begin limited runs for possible kudos contenders. By law, you can’t have an awards season without at least one costume drama so Focus Features joins forces with Keira Knightley with Atonement which bows on Friday in 26 sites. The R-rated period piece also stars James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave and has already grossed $31M overseas with over two-thirds of that total coming from the U.K. since its launch there in early September.


James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in Atonement

Fox Searchlight counters in seven theaters with its teen pregnancy comedy Juno starring Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and Ellen Page in the title role. The PG-13 coming-of-age pic opened on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and is director Jason Reitman‘s follow-up to Thank You For Smoking which grossed $24.8M for Fox Searchlight in the spring of 2006. Reviews have been strong across the board for both Juno and Atonement.


Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby in Juno

After back to back stints of wearing the box office crown, the princess comedy Enchanted is now preparing to take a step back this weekend thanks to the arrival of Queen Kidman. The Disney hit will see some formidable competition for kids, but the overall drop should not be too large. A 35% slide to around $10.5M could result. That would give Enchanted a charming $83M after 19 days of play.

With girls lining up for Giselle and company, their brothers have been taking a historical adventure with the computer-animated action pic Beowulf which has been holding its own since its debut. Golden Compass will also be a threat since there is much audience overlap. But Beowulf‘s good legs suggest that a drop of 35% could be in order here as well. That would leave the Paramount project with about $5M pushing the cume up to $76M.

Sony’s holiday reunion film This Christmas and Fox’s assassin thriller Hitman both witnessed larger sophomore declines so a fall of 40% each should occur this weekend. Christmas would take in just under $5M for a $42M total while Hitman should bank $3.5M for a $36M sum.

LAST YEAR: Mel Gibson scored his second straight number one opening for a historical foreign language film he directed with Apocalypto which debuted on top with $15M. The Buena Vista release went on to capture a solid $50.9M. Three-time champ Happy Feet was bumped down to second with $12.9M in its fourth frame. Sony’s romantic comedy The Holiday bowed in third with $12.8M for Sony. The Cameron DiazKate Winslet pic went on to gross $63.2M domestically and a stunning $200M worldwide. Studio stablemate Casino Royale slipped to fourth with $8.9M. Warner Bros. launched its action thriller Blood Diamond in fifth with a mediocre $8.6M on its way to $57.4M from North America and $171M globally. Opening in seventh was the studio’s other new wide release of the frame, the family comedy Unaccompanied Minors, with only $5.8M leading to a weak $16.6M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

A few weeks back I expressed some skepticism that Universal would re-cast Rachel Weisz‘s "Mummy" role with a new actress. Looks like I was wrong.

According to one very reliable source, it looks like Maria Bello will be stepping in to play the character made famous by Rachel Weisz: Evelyn O’Connell, wife to Rick O’Connell, as played by Brendan Fraser.

Universal and director Rob Cohen must be really in love with the screenplay by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Usually in a case like this they’d hire a new actress for a new role and explain Evie’s absence with some off-hand remark in the film’s opening scenes.

Nothing against Ms. Bello, of course, who was awesome in "A History of Violence," but it always feels a little weird when a new actor steps into an established character. Ah well, guess we’ll see how it all turns out. (You also know Ms. Bello from movies like "World Trade Center," "Assault on Precinct 13," and "Thank You for Smoking.")

Here’s an updated plot synopsis, by the way: "The film brings the O’Connells and their full-grown son (Luke Ford) to the forbidden tombs of China and the Himalayas, where they battle a shape-shifting mummy, a former Chinese emperor (Jet Li) cursed by a wizard (Michelle Yeoh). This second sequel will arrive in theaters next summer.

Source: Variety

Sound the alarms! Tonight’s telecast (8pm EST) of the 64th Annual Golden Globes Awards signaled the real start of Oscar mania, so check out our list of winners…and weigh in with your own two cents on who won, who should’ve won, and who definitely should not have worn what. RESULTS IN NOW!!

Royal thesps Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker took home Best Actor nods (for "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland," respectively) as expected, and "Dreamgirls" re-cemented its still-potent Oscar power with three wins (Jennifer Hudson for Best Supporting Actress, Eddie Murphy for Best Supporting Actor, and "Dreamgirls" for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical).

"The Departed" director Martin Scorsese capitalized on his recent Awards Season favor by nabbing Best Director, while fellow nominee Clint Eastwood collected a Globe for Best Foreign Film (the Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima").

"The Queen" also won for Best Screenplay, written by Peter Morgan; limited release period flick "The Painted Veil" threw its name into the public eye by winning the award for Best Score.

Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Best Comedy Actor win for "Borat" was one of the night’s highlights, with an acceptance speech that gave new meaning to the term "Golden Globes."

The show’s capper — presented by the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger (he used to be in the movies, right?) — awarded the Best Drama trophy to surprise pick "Babel," instantly renewing that film’s chances come Oscar time.

Find out who else won the hearts of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Monday night [scroll down for full list of winners and nominees]…

And check out Rotten Tomatoes’ Awards Tour for winners and nominees of this season’s other film awards and critics’ group picks (plus our handy-dandy Buzz chart combining Tomatometer, Awards Won, and Box Office numbers into an Oscar guide for you prognosticators)!

And the nominees for the 64th Annual Golden Globes Awards are (Winners in bold):

Best Original Song

44% Bobby
80% Dreamgirls
76% Happy Feet
23% Home of the Brave
66% Pursuit of Happyness

Best Supporting Actress, Drama



Adriana Barraza for Babel
Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal
Emily Blunt for Devil Wears Prada
Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi for Babel

Best Animated Film



76% Cars
76% Happy Feet
74% Monster House



Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy

Annette Bening for Running with Scissors
Toni Collette for Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles for Dreamgirls
Meryl Streep for Devil Wears Prada
Renée Zellweger for Miss Potter

Best Supporting Actor, Drama

Ben Affleck for Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson for Departed
Brad Pitt for Babel
Mark Wahlberg for Departed



Best Screenplay

Todd Field, and Tom Perrotta for Little Children
Guillermo Arriaga Jordan for Babel
Patrick Marber for Notes on a Scandal
William Monahan for Departed
Peter Morgan for The Queen

Best Foreign Language Film

65% Apocalypto
93% Letters From Iwo Jima
94% Lives of Others
97% Pan’s Labyrinth
90% Volver



Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat for The Painted Veil
Clint Mansell for The Fountain
Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel
Carlo Siliotto for Nomad
Hans Zimmer for The Da Vinci Code



Best Director

Clint Eastwood for Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood for Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears for Queen
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel
Martin Scorsese for Departed

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Aaron Eckhart for Thank You For Smoking
Chjwetel Ejiofor for Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell for Stranger Than Fiction

Best Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy

91% Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
76% Devil Wears Prada
80% Dreamgirls
92% Little Miss Sunshine
86% Thank You For Smoking

Best Actress in a Drama

Penélope Cruz for Volver
Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal
Maggie Gyllenhaal for Sherrybaby
Helen Mirren for The Queen
Kate Winslet for Little Children

Best Actor in a Drama

Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio for Departed
Peter O’Toole for Venus
Will Smith for Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland

Best Motion Picture, Drama

70% Babel
44% Bobby
93% Departed
82% Little Children
98% Queen

Best Television Series – Drama

"24"
"Big Love"
"Grey’s Anatomy"
"Heroes"
"Lost"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Patricia Arquette for "Medium"
Edie Falco for "The Sopranos"
Evangeline Lilly for "Lost"
Ellen Pompeo for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Patrick Dempsey for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Michael C. Hall for "Dexter"
Hugh Laurie for "House"
Bill Paxton for "Big Love"
Kiefer Sutherland for "24"

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

"Desperate Housewives"
"Entourage"
"The Office"
"Ugly Betty"
"Weeds"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Marcia Cross for "Desperate Housewives"
America Ferrera for "Ugly Betty"
Felicity Huffman for "Desperate Housewives"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "The New Adventures Of Old Christine"
Mary-Louise Parker for "Weeds"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock"
Zach Braff for "Scrubs"
Steve Carell for "The Office"
Jason Lee for "My Name Is Earl"
Tony Shalhoub for "Monk"

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

"Bleak House" (PBS)
"Broken Trail" (AMC)
"Elizabeth I" (HBO)
"Mrs. Harris" (HBO)
"Prime Suspect: The Final Act" (PBS)

Best Performance By An Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Gillian Anderson for "Bleak House"
Annette Bening for "Mrs. Harris"
Helen Mirren for "Elizabeth I"
Helen Mirren for "Prime Suspect: The Final Act"
Sophie Okonedo for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"

Best Performance By An Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

André Braugher for "Thief"
Robert Duvall for "Broken Trail"
Michael Ealy for "Sleeper Cell: American Terror"
Chiwetel Ejiofor for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Ben Kingsley for "Mrs. Harris"
Bill Nighy for "Gideon’s Daughter"
Matthew Perry for "The Ron Clark Story"

Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Emily Blunt for "Gideon’s Daughter"
Toni Collette for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Katherine Heigl for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Sarah Paulson for "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip"
Elizabeth Perkins for "Weeds"

Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Thomas Haden Church for "Broken Trail"
Jeremy Irons for "Elizabeth I"
Justin Kirk for "Weeds"
Masi Oka for "Heroes"
Jeremy Piven for "Entourage"

"Babel"’s back in the game as this year’s Golden Globes nominations were announced, including many expected Oscar pics — and a few smaller surprises.

Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu‘s multi-lingual drama had been praised by critics (and stands Certified Fresh at 70 percent on the Tomatometer) but had not been thought of an obvious contender for awards season, let alone the nominations leader with seven Golden Globes nods. Among the noms, "Babel" is in contention for Best Picture – Drama, Best Director (Innaritu), Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and two Best Supporting Actresses (Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza).


Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in "Babel"

Also representing in force this year is Martin Scorsese‘s gangster pic, "The Departed," which nabbed the second-most nominations with six, including Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and two competing Best Supporting Actors (Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson).

DiCaprio is one of the year’s double-nominees, as he faces off with himself for Best Actor for his performances as an undercover cop in "The Departed" and a mercenary in "Blood Diamond."


DiCaprio in "The Departed"

Another filmmaker competing with himself for Golden Globes honors is Clint Eastwood, who is nominated twice for Best Director — first, for helming his World War II drama "Flags of Our Fathers," and again for its Japanese-language companion piece, "Letters From Iwo Jima." "Letters" is also an entrant in the Best Foreign Language category, qualifying because it was filmed in Japanese, much like another American-made film in the running — Mel Gibson‘s Mayan-language "Apocalypto."

But for all of these expected big-budget nominees, there were a few surprise picks from the film festival set. "Sherrybaby," for which Maggie Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Actress, might be the smallest pic in the running; the film debuted at Sundance and played theatrically in only thirteen theaters during its release.


Gyllenhaal in "Sherrybaby"

Tobacco industry send-up "Thank You For Smoking," a $6.5 million project which built momentum from last year’s Toronto and Sundance fests into $38 million gross worldwide, is in the running for Best Picture – Comedy and Best Actor (Aaron Eckhart). The feature-film debut of director Jason Reitman scored well with critics and stands at an impressive 87 percent on the Tomatometer.

Sacha Baron Cohen‘s "Borat," the comedic sensation of 2006, was rewarded as well with two nominations (Best Picture – Comedy and Best Actor).

In a year of unusual multiple nominees, some performers racked up Globes noms with their television work as well. Helen Mirren, long-though to be the Best Actress front-runner for Brit biopic "The Queen," is up for two additional awards in the Best Actress in a Mini-series or TV Movie category where she’ll compete against herself (for performances in "Elizabeth I" and "Prime Suspect: The Final Act").


Mirren in "The Queen"

Mirren will also face off against another dual nominee, Annette Bening, in this category (Bening’s up for the TV pic "Mrs. Harris" and her film "Running With Scissors"). Thesps Chiwetel Ejiofor, Toni Collette, and Emily Blunt are also competing for both film and television Globes.

Further surprises came at the inclusion of devastatingly rotten films like the super-budget bomb of the summer, "The Da Vinci Code" (24 percent on the Tomatometer), which can now boast a Golden Globe nomination thanks to Hans Zimmer’s Original Score.


"The Da Vinci Code": Golden Globe winner?

Emilio Estevez‘s ensemble piece "Bobby" is also rotten at 43 percent, yet will inexplicably vie for the Best Picture award against "Babel" (70 percent), "Little Children" (83 percent), "The Departed" (92 percent) and "The Queen" (98 percent).

Darren Aronofsky‘s sci-fi romance "The Fountain" split critics at 50 percent on the Tomatometer, but its score courtesy of "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" composer Clint Mansell captured the attentions of HFPA voters in the same category.

And that other unknown film in the running for Best Original Score? "Nomad," a Kazakh language, Kazakhstan-set historical epic starring Jason Scott Lee and Jay Hernandez that has only yet been released in Switzerland and — yep — Kazakhstan.

The 64th Golden Globes Awards will take place January 15, 2007. Read on for the full list of film nominees.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

"Babel"
"Bobby"
"The Departed"
"Little Children"
"The Queen"

Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture – Drama

Penelope Cruz, "Volver"
Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Sherrybaby"
Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Kate Winslet, "Little Children"

Best Performance By An Actor in A Motion Picture – Drama

Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Departed"
Peter O’Toole, "Venus"
Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"
Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"Dreamgirls"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Thank You For Smoking"

Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

Annette Bening, "Running With Scissors"
Toni Collette, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Beyonce Knowles, "Dreamgirls"
Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"
Renee Zellweger, "Miss Potter"

Best Performance By An Actor in A Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest"
Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You For Smoking"
Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Kinky Boots"
Will Ferrell, "Stranger Than Fiction"

Best Animated Feature Film

"Cars"
"Happy Feet"
"Monster House"

Best Foreign Language Film

"Apocalypto" (USA)
"Letters From Iwo Jima" (USA/Japan)
"The Lives of Others" (Germany)
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Mexico)
"Volver" (Spain)

Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Adriana Barraza
, "Babel"
Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"
Emily Blunt, "The Devil Wears Prada"
Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"

Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Ben Affleck, "Hollywoodland"
Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"
Jack Nicholson, "The Departed"
Brad Pitt, "Babel"
Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed"

Best Director – Motion Picture

Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers"
Clint Eastwood, "Letters From Iwo Jima"
Stephen Frears, "The Queen"
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, "Babel"
Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Guillermo Arriaga, "Babel"
Todd Field & Tom Perrotta, "Little Children"
Patrick Marber, "Notes on a Scandal"
William Monahan, "The Departed"
Peter Morgan, "The Queen"

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplat, "The Painted Veil"
Clint Mansell, "The Fountain"
Gustavo Santaolalla, "Babel"
Carlo Siliotto, "Nomad"
Hans Zimmer, "The Da Vinci Code"

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

"A Father’s Way" – "The Pursuit of Happyness"
Music by: Seal and Christopher Bruce
Lyrics by: Seal

"Listen" – "Dreamgirls"
Music & Lyrics by: Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler, Beyonce Knowles

"Never Gonna Break My Faith" – "Bobby"
Music & Lyrics by: Bryan Adams, Eliot Kennedy, Andrea Remanda

"The Song of the Heart" – "Happy Feet"
Music & Lyrics by: Prince Rogers Nelson

"Try Not To Remember" – "Home of the Brave"
Music & Lyrics by: Sheryl Crow

It’s that time of year again: Right before the fancy awards are doled out, all the different critics’ groups chime in with their favorite flicks of the year. Here we have the picks from the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) for your perusal.

NY FILM CRITICS ONLINE AWARDS FOR 2006

New York Film Critics Online is composed of major reviewers in the New York area who work exclusively for online publications or for print/broadcast media with a strong online presence. The twenty-six members (NYFCO.ORG) met at O’Neal’s Restaurant, 49 W 64 Street in Manhattan on December
10th, 2006, and voted for these awards:

Picture — "The Queen"

Director — Stephen Frears – "The Queen"

Screenplay — Peter Morgan – "The Queen"

Cinematography — Dick Pope – "The Illusionist"

Actor — Forest Whitaker – "The Last King of Scotland"

Actress — Helen Mirren – "The Queen"

Supporting Actor — Michael Sheen – "The Queen"

Supporting Actress — Jennifer Hudson – "Dreamgirls" & Catherine O’Hara – "For Your Consideration" (tie)

Ensemble Cast — "Little Miss Sunshine"

Debut as Director — Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris – "Little Miss Sunshine"

Breakthrough Performer — Jennifer Hudson – "Dreamgirls"

Film Score — Philip Glass – "The Illusionist"

Documentary Feature — "An Inconvenient Truth"

Animated Feature — "Happy Feet"

Foreign Language Picture — "Pan’s Labyrinth"

Humanitarian Award — Deepa Mehta ("Water") for taking risks to create films about the difficulties of social change in India especially as it affects women.

Ten Best Pictures (Alphabetical)
"Babel"
"The Fountain"
"Inland Empire"
"Little Children"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Pan’s Labyrinth"
"The Queen"
"Thank You For Smoking"
"Volver"
"Water"

It’s time again to celebrate the best that indie-land has to offer. The Spirit Award nominees are out, with "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Half Nelson" leading all contenders with five nods each, including best feature.

The family dysfunction on-the-road comedy "Sunshine" was also nominated for Best Director (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris), Supporting Male (Alan Arkin and Paul Dano) and Best First Screenplay (Michael Arndt). Meanwhile, "Half Nelson," a drama about a troubled inner-city teacher, received nods for Best Director (Ryan Fleck), Male Lead (Ryan Gosling), Female Lead (Shareeka Epps), and Best First Screenplay (Anna Boden and Fleck).


"Wait… we might both win Spirit Awards?"

The other nominees for Best Feature are "American Gun," "The Dead Girl," and "Pan’s Labyrinth." In the Best Director category, the nominees also include Robert Altman for "A Prairie Home Companion," Karen Moncrieff for "The Dead Girl," and Steven Soderbergh for "Bubble."

In addition to Gosling, the Male Lead nominees are Aaron Eckhart ("Thank You For Smoking"), Edward Norton ("The Painted Veil"), Ahmad Razvi ("Man Push Cart"), and Forest Whitaker ("American Gun"). In addition to Epps, the others up for the Female Lead award are Catherine O’Hara ("For Your Consideration"), Elizabeth Reaser ("Sweet Land"), Michelle Williams ("Land of Plenty"), and Robin Wright Penn ("Sorry, Haters").


"Pan’s Labyrinth": Do fauns qualify for Spirit Awards?

The Spirit Awards, formerly the Independent Spirit Awards, recognize films made on budgets of less than $20 million. The winners will be announced on Feb. 24, a day before the Academy Awards.

For a complete list of the nominees, click here. Also, check out RT’s interview with "Little Miss Sunshine" directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris here.

ELSEWHERE IN INDIE NEWS THIS WEEK:

"Tears" Finally Makes It To Theaters

The brightly colored, highly stylized Thai western "Tears of the Black Tiger" will open in January, six years after its premiere at Cannes. The film has been acquired by Magnolia from Miramax; "Tears" played on the festival circuit before landing in the company’s vault.

Swiss Oscar Selection Gets Distributor

The North American rights for "Vitus," Switzerland’s candidate for the Foreign Film Oscar, have been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. The film, starring Bruno Ganz and Teo Gheorghiu, tells the tale of a child prodigy and his complex relationship with his parents.

Top Reviewed Limiteds

Opening last week in limited release: "Backstage," a dark examination of celebrity, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer with 10 reviews; "The History Boys," a tale of hypercompetitive English schoolboys adapted from Alan Bennett, is at 62 percent with 50 reviews; and "Opal Dream," a coming-of-age tale about a little girl with imaginary friends in the Australian outback, is at 57 percent with 14 reviews.

Top Performing Limiteds

In last week’s indie box office battle, Pedro Almodovar‘s "Volver" grossed an average of $17,071 on 30 screens, beating out the Bollywood drama "Dhoom 2," which averaged $15,540 on 63 screens. "The History Boys" opened on seven screens with a $14,400 average, while the Jean-Luc Godard classic "Two Or Three Things I Know About Her…" and the Slamdance-approved documentary "Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" both opened on one screen apiece to earn $10,764 and $5,034, respectively. Last week’s top indie "Bobby" dropped to 15th place after expanding from two to 1,667 screens, dropping its per-screen average from $34,519 to $2,914.


"The History Boys": No threat to the Hell’s Angels.

Thanks to Nick Hershey for his contribution to this story.

Despite a pair of newcomers close behind in its rearview mirror, Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished in first place for the second consecutive weekend to retain its North American box office trophy.

The frame’s biggest shocker came in second place with the stellar debut of the teen dance drama Step Up which flew past expectations to edge out Oliver Stone‘s high-profile 9/11 film World Trade Center which opened with solid results in third place. The new horror film Pulse launched in fifth place with mediocre results while Tim Allen‘s family film Zoom imploded with a disastrous bow in seventh place.

Talladega Nights held onto the number one spot with an estimated $23M in its second weekend of release dropping an understandable 51%. The $73M Sony hit raced to a total of $91.2M after ten days of release and could find its way to the $140M mark.

Getting high marks in the runnerup spot was Buena Vista’s Step Up which surprised the industry with a sizzling $21.1M opening weekend, according to estimates, from 2,467 theaters. The PG-13 pic about a trained ballerina who joins forces with a tough street dancer averaged a sturdy $8,539 per location and was powered primarily by teenage girls and young women. The surprise muscle of Step Up played out much like the bow of another late-summer film targeting teen girls – 2000’s Bring It On. That pic debuted at number one with $17.4M, spent two weeks at the top, and found its way to $68.4M followed by a pair of non-theatrical sequels keeping the franchise alive to this day.

Oliver Stone’s 9/11 drama World Trade Center finished in third place grossing an estimated $19M over the weekend and $26.8M since debuting on Wednesday. Averaging a solid $6,431 from 2,957 theaters over the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the Paramount release stars Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as cops buried underneath the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. Reviews were mostly positive for the $65M film and word-of-mouth so far seems positive. Studio research showed that 91% of those polled called the disaster drama "excellent" or "very good".

While young moviegoers were lining up for Step Up, World Trade Center skewed mostly to a mature adult audience with 65% of the crowd being over the age of 25. Females made up 55% of the audience. With good reviews, positive buzz, and almost no interesting films for adults opening in the coming weeks, World Trade Center could hold up well in the weeks ahead.

Paramount’s animated comedy Barnyard dropped only 36% in its second weekend to an estimated $10.1M for fourth place. With $34.1M in the bank after ten days, the toon could find its way to about $60M. The PG-rated film’s budget was under $50M.

The suspense thriller Pulse debuted in fifth with an estimated $8.5M from a launch in 2,323 sites. Averaging a mild $3,640 per location for The Weinstein Co., the PG-13 film made only a small dent in the overall box office.

Disney took in an estimated $7.2M with its summer tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest lifting its incredible total to a towering $392.4M. The Johnny Depp smash fell just 35% and now sits at number seven on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind Spider-Man which hauled in $403.7M in 2002. Overseas, there’s still no stopping Pirates which vaulted its international total to $463M pushing the global gross to a stunning $855M.

Sony’s Tim Allen family pic Zoom crashed and burned in its debut grossing a measly $4.6M in its opening weekend. Playing in 2,501 theaters, the PG-rated film about an old super hero recruited to train a bunch of kids averaged an embarrassing $1,839 per venue.

The horror flick The Descent dropped 48% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.6M and pushed its ten-day tally to a decent $17.5M. The Lionsgate release should dig up $25-27M by the end of its run. Universal’s action remake Miami Vice suffered another steep drop falling 56% to an estimated $4.5M for a $55.1M total. The animated pic Monster House rounded out the top ten with an estimated $3.3M, off 46%, giving Sony $63.7M to date.

Four more films were tossed right out of the top ten this weekend. Fox’s high school comedy John Tucker Must Die fell 52% to an estimated $3M in its third frame. With a solid $35.7M, the low-budget teen hit should finish with around $40M. Fellow comedy You, Me and Dupree grossed an estimated $1.9M, down 48%, and has collected $70.8M to date. Universal’s $54M pic is set to reach an impressive $74M.

Not-so-impressive results came from The Ant Bully with an estimated $1.8M and The Night Listener with an estimated $1.4M. Tumbling 55%, the Warner Bros. toon has taken in just $22.4M and will stumble to about $25M. Miramax’s Robin Williams thriller has grossed a puny $6.3M for Miramax and could end up with only $8M.

With Hollywood’s summer season of blockbusters coming to an end, plenty of activity was brewing over the weekend with limited release titles. ThinkFilm opened its critically-acclaimed indie Half Nelson in just two New York theaters but grossed a stellar $55,000, according to estimates. The R-rated drama about an inner city teacher with an addiction to crack averaged a potent $27,475 and expands to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. on August 25.

Sony Classics premiered the Brazilian drama The House of Sand in five locations in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $33,000 for a moderate $6,600 average. The distributor’s teen pregnancy drama Quinceanera widened from eight to 27 theaters in its second weekend and grossed an estimated $138,000 giving the Sundance award winner a mild $5,111 average. Total to date stands at $278,000.

Indie darling Little Miss Sunshine witnessed another powerful expansion widening from 58 to 153 locations for a weekend estimate of $2.6M and a sizzling average of $16,993. Fox Searchlight reported that audiences in the new cities are responding to the stellar word-of-mouth while theaters in existing markets are holding up remarkably well. The weekend decline among holdover theaters was only 17%. With $5.6M in the bank, look for Little Miss Sunshine to pop into the top ten next weekend when it expands into 600 playdates nationwide and remain there with a wider push into 1,500 locations the following frame. So far, the dysfunctional family comedy has performed even better than the distributor’s spring indie hit Thank You for Smoking as well as its 2004 hit Garden State which was released at this same time and in similar fashion. Those films went on to gross $24.7M and $26.8M, respectively.

Paramount Vantage’s global warming film An Inconvenient Truth became the third biggest documentary of all time over the weekend. Al Gore‘s success story took in an estimated $367,000 in its 12th weekend and lifted its cume to $21.9M surpassing the $21.6M of 2002’s Oscar-winning doc Bowling for Columbine.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $105.9M which was up 6% from last year when Four Brothers debuted at number one with $21.2M; but down 12% from 2004 when Alien vs. Predator opened in the top spot with a robust $38.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

A few months ago we reported that Fox Searchlight was creating its own "teen-centric" movie division, and now Variety brings us the word on the "Fox Atomic" line-up. It includes a remake of a classic teen-sex-com, a spoofy sports comedy, and a follow-up to Danny Boyle’s "28 Days Later."

Variety reports that "In active development at the division are the following projects: "28 Weeks Later," a follow-up to Fox Searchlight’s 2002 genre hit, to be produced by Danny Boyle, Alex Garland and Andrew Macdonald, and scripted by Garland; "The Comeback," a spoof of inspirational sports movies, written by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson ("Not Another Teen Movie"); "Revenge of the Nerds," an updating of the classic ’80s pic, to be produced by McG, Adam Brody and Bret Harrison, and written by Adam Goldberg; "Unaffiliated," a sorority comedy written by Mindy Kaling ("The Office"); and the next comedy from Jason Reitman, the writer-director of "Thank You for Smoking.""

So why the need for an exclusively teen/young adult-oriented studio arm? "Fox Atomic’s mandate is to produce and acquire up to eight pics a year, focusing on a mix of genres. It will also develop new-media content for the Internet, mobile devices and other emerging technologies."

OK, I still don’t get it. But that "28 Days Later" sequel better not be some warmed-up, limp-noodle, PG-13 affair. That’s all I’m saying.

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