The culture wars continue. Inflammatory documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has announced at the Cannes film festival that he is planning a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11, his acclaimed by some, loathed by others documentary about 9/11.

The film will come from Paramount Vantage and Overture Films, according to Variety, with a 2009 release date planned.

“Clearly, we have a movie of global appeal here,” says Vantage chief Nick Meyer. “Michael Moore is a very talented filmmaker, and this is a branded property.”

The film will pick up where its predecessor left off, exploring the continuing war in Iraq, the faltering economy, and the lumps that President Bush has taken since 2001.

“It’s a vote of confidence on Michael’s part, and a great partnership for all of us,” says Overture’s Danny Rosett. “There is a voracious appetite for this kind of commentary.”

The move to Paramount and Overture also means that Moore has left the Weinstein Co., where he made the original Fahrenheit and Sicko. The filmmaker, who is said to already be at work on the sequel, has scored with three of the top five grossing documentaries of all time, including the first Fahrenheit which is the highest grossing doc ever made domestically.

This bit of news isn’t as sexy as a breathless update on who might be starring in what, and the comments are sure to devolve into ideology-bound snark in short order, but we’re duty-bound to report the facts, ma’am, and here they are: Michael Moore appeared on CNN Monday, ostensibly to promote his latest film, "Sicko," but some unwise scheduling and three years of pent-up frustration combined to put host Wolf Blitzer in the crosshairs instead.

Unfortunately for Blitzer, Moore’s appearance on "The Situation Room" was preceded by a segment hosted by the network’s resident medical expert, Sanjay Gupta, in which Gupta accused Moore of "fudging some facts" in "Sicko." Moore, predictably, was annoyed by this — and since he was making his first appearance on CNN since the network, along with the rest of the mainstream media, scoffed at his last film, "Fahrenheit 911," Moore decided to take off the gloves and let Blitzer know exactly how he feels about not only Gupta’s segment, but the entire network.

Reactions to this story have largely fallen along party lines, which is par for the course with Michael Moore, but regardless of how you feel about the man’s message, it’s hard to argue against the notion that the cable news networks deserve to be raked over the coals for their handling of any of a number of issues — and in an era of increasingly stultified debate, it’s refreshing to see some honest emotion on one of these shows that isn’t drowned out by crosstalk or cut off by a commercial break. Follow the Cinematical link below for a link to the video.

Source: Cinematical

Disney and Pixar aim for their eighth straight number one hit together with the latest computer animated film from the industry experts, "Ratatouille."

For those looking for a higher body count in their weekend entertainment, Fox offers the actioner "Live Free or Die Hard" which stands as the ninth sequel in nine weeks this summer. In more limited national release, Lionsgate expands its Michael Moore documentary "Sicko" while Focus opens its anti-"Die Hard" pic "Evening." This weekend’s box office champ will only have a short-lived stay at number one since "Transformers" will begin its assault on the multiplexes on Monday night attacking at 8pm.

Scurrying into its usual position atop the charts, Pixar returns to capture the family audience with "Ratatouille" hoping for what could be a long run at the summer box office. The G-rated pic tells of a lovable rat with a gift for cooking that finds itself working secretly in a famous Paris restaurant with a clumsy human boy. Brad Bird ("The Incredibles," "The Iron Giant") directs and the voice cast includes Patton Oswalt, Peter O’Toole, Brian Dennehy, and Janeane Garofalo. Not the biggest names in the biz, but this one will not be sold on the starpower of actors. It is the Pixar brand name, and to an extent the Disney logo, that will bring in paying customers. Parents and children know they are guaranteed a great time so the brand will sell itself. Reviews have also been glowing across the board which will help too.

Last summer, the Disney/Pixar team saw its "Cars" drive off with $60.1M on opening weekend on its way to a $244.1M final which by the end of the year made it the second biggest blockbuster of 2006 after "Dead Man’s Chest." "Night at the Museum"’s prolonged run into 2007 allowed it to eventually surpass "Cars." Pixar’s previous toons "The Incredibles" and "Finding Nemo" both bowed at the $70M mark however. "Ratatouille" will cater to the same audience, but direct competition for families will be tougher than it was with the prior pics. Though fading fast, "Evan Almighty" and the "Fantastic Four" sequel are both PG films specifically designed to appeal to kids and should steal away close to $25M combined. But the rat film should enjoy an extended stay in North American multiplexes as word-of-mouth will be very positive and moviegoers will enjoy having a new story with new characters instead of the same old sequels all the time. Launching in over 3,500 theaters, "Ratatouille" could gross about $57M this weekend.


"Ratatouille"

Bruce Willis returns to his signature franchise after a dozen-year gap with "Live Free or Die Hard," Fox’s next big entry into the summer movie sweepstakes. Keeping with the new fad of tamer ratings, the fourth installment of the series keeps the action high but cuts back on extended shots of blood and foul language in order to secure the PG-13. The previous "Die Hards" were all R-rated with the last two being number one openers. Directed by Len Wiseman, who helmed both "Underworld" pics, "Live Free" co-stars Justin Long and finds Bruce’s John McClane character assigned to protect a computer hacker who holds the key to stopping a virtual terrorist from taking control of the country electronically.

Since today’s teenagers never felt the excitement of rushing out to the theaters to see a new "Die Hard" flick, the studio has worked hard to make it relevant to the most sought after demographic so they don’t think of this as their father’s action movie. The new rating, the high-tech plot, and the Mac-friendly Long could certainly help. Plus in a summer filled with super heroes and pirates, "Die Hard" gets retro with action not driven by effects, but by stunts. The audience should skew male and older. Plus there are die hard "Die Hard" fans that have been waiting patiently for twelve years that will be out upfront to see their hero return. Reviews have been good and the film actually delivers solid entertainment without being the type of creative disappointment that audiences have unfortunately become used to this summer. Opening Wednesday in 3,172 theaters, "Live Free or Die Hard" could generate about $31M over the three-day weekend and around $48M over the five-day debut period.


"Live Free or Die Hard"

Oscar winner Michael Moore turns his wrath on the health care system in his latest documentary "Sicko." The PG-13 entry comes with the filmmaker’s usual desperate need to generate controversy in order to sell tickets. The new film does not carry with it the monstrous buzz that propelled "Fahrenheit 9/11" to a surprise number one opening three years ago. Given the subject matter, "Sicko" should skew older. Lionsgate is rolling the film out slowly instead of opening nationwide on the first weekend as it should take a little longer to get people interested in buying a ticket. The distributor is hoping that last weekend’s solo New York debut, last Saturday’s sneak previews in Moore-friendly markets, and this frame’s limited expansion to a few hundred sites will get people talking as the country heads into the Fourth of July holiday week ahead. Holiday buzz would then justify a wider rollout. Expanding to 441 theaters on Friday, "Sicko" could collect about $7M and generate a sizzling per-theater average.


"Sicko"

In the weekend’s toughest sell, acclaimed Hollywood actresses band together to define the term "chick flick" with the dying-mother drama "Evening." Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Claire Danes, and Toni Collette star in the Focus release which should see most of its business come from white adult women. The PG-13 film is trying to offer summer ticket buyers an alternative to the endless string of testosterone-fueled action sequels, but it comes up short when it comes to commercial bells and whistles. Sure there is some well-respected starpower, but comedy always sells better than drama with female-skewing pictures. And look for mothers to join their kids for "Ratatouille" which take many in the target audience out of the picture. Opening nationally in 978 theaters, "Evening" might gross about $3M this weekend.


"Evening"

Last weekend’s top earner "Evan Almighty" wasn’t exactly explosive out of the gate. This weekend will be a tough one as well since Pixar will steal away the family audience and John McClane will take away his share of summer moviegoers too. A 50% drop to about $15M would leave Universal with $60M after ten days.

"1408" scared up some strong sales last weekend in its debut. But fright flicks fall hard on the second weekend so a 55% decline would give the John Cusack thriller around $9.5M for the frame and a ten-day cume of $39M.

A similar fate could await "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" which tumbled by 66% in its sophomore session. Fox might drop down to roughly $9M boosting the 17-day total to $115M.

LAST YEAR: Warner Bros. flew into the top spot with the ultraexpensive comic flick "Superman Returns" which bowed to a not-so-muscular $52.5M over three days and $84.6M in its first five days. The Man of Steel made its way to $200.1M domestically and $390M worldwide which fell below industry expectations. Exceeding pre-release expectations was Meryl Streep‘s "The Devil Wears Prada" which bowed to $27.5M for Fox. The sleeper hit went on to gross a surprisingly strong $124.7M in North America and did exceptionally well overseas too with a global tally of $325M. Rounding out the top five were Adam Sandler‘s "Click" with $19.9M, the Disney/Pixar hit "Cars" with $14.6M, and Jack Black‘s "Nacho Libre" with $6.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

There isn’t much middle ground on Michael Moore; his bromide-laden documentaries have earned him both an enthusiastic following from many on the left and unvarnished vitriol from much of the right. But as divisive as Moore’s films can be, they’ve also been remarkable successful with audiences and critics.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is the highest-grossing doc of all time, and "Bowling for Columbine" won Moore an Oscar for best documentary. With "Sicko" (which opened Friday in New York, and made a remarkable $70,000 on one screen), Moore turns his sights on the American health care system; specifically, he posits that universal health care in Canada, France, and the U.K. offers both a greater level of service, general satisfaction, and fewer serious, potentially grievous problems than does America’s privatized model.

"Sicko" generated its share of controversy because of its last segment, during which Moore took a group of afflicted 9/11 workers to Cuba for health care; some have accused Moore of whitewashing Fidel Castro‘s human rights violations, and the U.S. Treasury department has investigated the trip to determine if it violated the U.S. embargo with Cuba. But Moore defended his stop in Havana, saying the U.S. should be doing more to help the ailing, especially those it considers its heroes.

Moore spoke with journalists at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival shortly after the film’s premiere; he discussed balancing facts with entertainment and reforming the American system — and Americans’ thinking when it comes to universal health care.

Q: You oversimplify some things, sometimes for entertainment purposes. That does make you open to more mainstream critics who see you as telling incomplete truths. You know that will happen so why do you choose to make your films this way?

Michael Moore: I’m making a movie. I have a 90 to 120 minute time-frame. What you call oversimplification I call a rocking good way to tell a story that leaves no one bored and wanting more at the end of the movie. That’s my goal

Q: Do you have any immediate and realistic solutions for the United States problems that could be implemented immediately?

Moore: One thing we really need to do is get the money out of politics and reform so that these pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies can’t buy our congress. If we took the money out we’d have a better chance of getting the bills passed and begin a pre-universal, not-for-profit healthcare. I have a list of sites on my web site. I have a list of organizations I encourage people to hook up with and bills for congress. I hope people will become active participants and do something about this. Sometimes I feel I’m in a position and I should try to initiate some engagement. I don’t really think that’s my role to do that and something gets lost in this whole discussion about the film and the festival. I’m a filmmaker and I seldom get to talk about being a filmmaker, making films or what I think about films. Instead I’m asked political questions and I’m only equipped to answer the questions so far. I try to put into my films some thing I feel but I wasn’t kidding when I said I wasn’t writing a book. I’m very careful about the facts in my film — I’m careful they’re accurate and correct. If I say, "There’s nearly 50 million people without health care," that’s a fact. You have to trust that’s a fact. But if I say, "I think part of health insurance should be eliminated," that’s a conclusion I’ve reached through the facts I’ve found. If I said things that were wrong, trust me, people could come at me from all direction but they don’t because things I state as truth are true and things I state as opinions are mine. So the only way these critics can come at me is for the opinions I express or by confusing the opinions for facts.

Click here for the full interview!

Michael Moore‘s latest doc, "Sicko," has stirred up more controversy for the Michigan muckraker. Is he onto something with his evisceration of the US healthcare system? Plus, "The 11th Hour," a climate change doc featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, and "Boarding Gate," an unconvincing, sleazy thriller starring Asia Argento and Michael Madsen — all here at Cannes!

"Sicko," Michael Moore‘s latest polemic, contains many of the same problems as his previous works: it’s a manipulative oversimplification of a complex issue. And like Moore’s other films, it also contains more than a kernel of truth and not a little entertainment as well. Screening out of competition at Cannes, "Sicko" is a screed against health care insurers in the United States. Utilizing the same style as his previous docs (onscreen interviews, stock footage, a bemused voiceover), Moore contends that the health of Americans has been compromised because of the greed and insensitivity of an industry focused on profit. This argument has plenty of weight when he points out that Americans put themselves in the hands of the government for such services as schools and police; what’s wrong with health care? And Moore dredges up a number of horror stories, including poor people ejected from hospitals because they were unable to pay, to others denied lifesaving procedures while being mired in bureaucratic red tape.

Moore is on shakier ground when he travels to Canada, Great Britain, and France, each of which provides universal health care to its citizens. He posits that citizens in these nations are perfectly satisfied with their level of care. Unfortunately, some of Moore’s utopian extrapolations in this regard don’t hold water; it was reported that at a press conference after the screening, some Canadian journalists challenged Moore’s rosy assumptions, and Moore admitted that national health care in Canada, while free, is still under-funded.


Michael Moore has a point to make about healthcare in his latest, "Sicko."

"Sicko"’s biggest (and most controversial) stunt involves bringing a group of 9/11 rescue workers, who contracted various unrelenting ailments while working at Ground Zero, to Guantanamo, where the U.S. government claims detainees are receiving health care that’s equivalent to or better than the average American. After being ignored, Moore heads for Cuba, where the relief workers are able to purchase the drugs for which they’ve been paying hundreds of dollars for pennies. This segment is troubling on several levels. Regardless of one’s thoughts on the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Moore cannot seriously believe its healthcare system is ideal. On the other hand, what does it say about the U.S. that it cannot care for its heroes?

For those who have tired of Moore’s confrontational onscreen persona, he’s largely in the background in "Sicko." This may be Moore’s most quietly angry film to date. I won’t deny I was entertained while watching "Sicko," and I don’t disagree with Moore’s central premise. However, as with "Roger & Me" and "Bowling for Columbine," Moore may get the forest right, but the trees are a bit out of place.

Moore remains a darling of Cannes (he won the Palme d’Or for "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004), and "Sicko" received a long ovation at the screening I attended. It’s also received fresh reviews in Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and Salon.


Leonardo DiCaprio talks global warming in "11th Hour."

"The 11th Hour" is the latest in the growing sub-genre of global warming documentaries. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film features a number of talking heads, including Stephen Hawking, Mikhail Gorbachev, Andrew Weil, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Each makes a similar argument in different ways: The temperature of earth is increasing because of human behavior, and we don’t have much time to rectify the situation. But the film leavens its doomsday prophesies with optimism, advancing the notion that green-friendly business could maintain economic growth while diminishing the impact to the environment. "The 11th Hour" is reasonably well done, but it often feels like a film more suited to a science class than the big screen. It also lacks the focus and wit of "An Inconvenient Truth"; that film greatly benefited from Al Gore‘s straight-ahead argument, whereas "The 11th Hour" seems a bit disjointed by comparison. Still, even if this isn’t the most cinematically compelling take on the subject of global warming, "The 11th Hour" makes a timely and important argument that should be heeded.


There’s a lot going on here at Cannes; check out our blog here.

A necessary element of a successful thriller is the ability to empathize with characters in peril; on this, and many other levels, "Boarding Gate" fails. This exercise in sleazy globetrotting stars Asia Argento as ex-hooker Sandra and Michael Madsen as Miles, her washed-up businessman ex. The pair has a twisted relationship, which involves a lot of verbal challenges and lurid mind games. Sandra is also involved with Lester (Carl Ng), with whom she conspires to take down Miles. After completing her task, Sandra goes on the run, ending up in Hong Kong where she’s pursued by… well, somebody. Do we care about her? Not really. Argento and Madsen, who have been compelling elsewhere, are so fundamentally unlikable here that it’s hard to shake the feeling that these two deserve each other; though Sandra’s nominally the protagonist, she seems as amoral as Miles. "Boarding Gate" isn’t without visual interest, but it’s also confusing and lacks any real human element. "Boarding Gate" prompted more than a few walkouts and incredulous laughs at the press screening I attended, and it also received outright pans in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

In addition, here are some other notable films that have screened at Cannes in the past few days: "L’Avocat de la Terreur," Barbet Schroeder‘s doc about a French attorney famous for representing accused war criminals and terrorists, has received strong reviews from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter; on the other hand, "Les Chansons d’Amour," Christophe Honore‘s musical, has gotten mixed notices.


Screening tomorrow: "Death Proof!"

Tomorrow, we’ll be catching screenings of Quentin Tarantino‘s "Death Proof," "A Mighty Heart," starring Angelina Jolie, and Gus Van Sant‘s "Paranoid Park." Check back for more of RT’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival.

The Brothers Weinstein and Lionsgate Films have teamed up to deliver Michael Moore‘s expose on the U.S. health care system on June 29th.

The last time these folks got together to distribute a documentary, it was "Fahrenheit 9/11," which grossed over $220 million worldwide. Lionsgate will distribute the flick domestically, while the Weinsteins will cover the prints and marketing and all that jazz.

"Sicko" will hit theaters on June 29th, the same weekend you can see "Live Free or Die Hard," "Ratatouille," and "Death at a Funeral." All movies that could use a little health care.

Source: Variety

A pair of new family films aimed at kids will duke it out for the top spot this weekend while a bumbling reporter from the former Soviet Union will cause a commotion for a more adult crowd.

Disney unleashes "The Santa Clause 3," Paramount counters with its own kidpic "Flushed Away," and Fox lets loose its outrageous comedy "Borat." Together, the three new releases should provide some zing to the North American box office.

Kris Kringle takes on Jack Frost in Disney’s latest family pic "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" which the studio hopes will win the weekend’s battle of the kidpics. With a tame G rating, the Tim Allen film finds the former "Home Improvement" star trying to get back to his winning ways at the box office with a new chapter of his most successful franchise. Martin Short joins the cast as Frost. Allen crapped out at the multiplexes this past summer when his kidpic "Zoom" crashed and burned with only $4.5M on opening weekend. He needs to prove that he can still sell tickets.

The studio has had great luck with its "Santa Clause" franchise and its launching pad of early November. The first film in 1994 bowed to $19.3M on its way to $144.8M while the 2002 sequel opened to $29M heading to a $139.2M final. The gimmick just isn’t as interesting anymore. However, this time of year is typically active for the family audience and there could be room for both new pics to find their audiences. Still many of the same people will be torn between the two and will not have time to see both. Disney and Paramount would have been wise to open their films at least a week apart instead of on top of each other. Opening in more than 3,000 theaters, "The Santa Clause 3" could debut with about $22M.


Tim Allen is back for a third "Santa Clause."

Parents looking for another kind of battle this weekend can pick the claymation film "Flushed Away" which presents a pampered pet mouse against a slimey sewer rat having fun in each other’s world. The PG-rated film is produced by DreamWorks and released by its new parent Paramount. Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, and Kate Winslet provide their voices. "Flushed Away’s" biggest challenge, of course, will be from stiff competition from the opening of an established franchise film like "Clause 3." Reviews have been quite good so the studio is hoping that many adults will find "Flushed" to be the more original and entertaining choice and choose it instead. DreamWorks scored a $16M bow last fall for the critical darling "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and could approach the same territory here. The marketing push for the new film has been stronger, but the competition will cancel out that added benefit. Opening in roughly 3,250 locations, "Flushed Away" might debut to about $16M.


Hugh Jackman provides the voice of Roddy in "Flushed Away."

Sacha Baron Cohen hits theaters on Friday in one of the season’s most-talked-about films, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." Box office expectations are all over the map for Fox’s R-rated comedy and it’s anyone’s guess how it will play out as there is no real film in history it can be compared to. The studio has executed a brilliant marketing campaign over the past several months with teaser posters of the fake journalist sparking curiousity with those not familiar with the character from Britain’s "Da Ali G Show" which has also found a home in the U.S on HBO. The Toronto International Film Festival screening brought the buzz to a whole new level with its outrageous red carpet premiere, projector snafus, and overwhelmingly warm response. Publicity stunts this fall with Kazakh government officials also helped "Borat" leap from the entertainment page to the front page reaching an audience that would otherwise be tough to reach. Reviews have been glowing with many critics calling it the funniest film in years.

The studio is releasing "Borat" in moderate national release with 837 theaters hoping to keep the product limited in the beginning. Sell outs combined with the expected positive word-of-mouth should fuel even more excitement justifying an expansion next week. The "Ali G" crowd will be out in full force so strong business should result from young men. That means that the second weekend of "Saw III" will provide some tough competition. Reports indicate that awareness is not too high in the middle of the country, but that should not be the case with the college crowd. Young adults want bold envelope-pushing films to see like the "Jackass" pics and "Borat" will play to much of that crowd. But is this only a blue-state film? Some thought that would be the case for 2004’s "Fahrenheit 9/11" before it opened to a surprising first place finish with $23.9M from only 868 theaters.


A scene of cultural learnings in "Borat."

"Borat’s" humor has the potential to go beyond the immature set and play to CNN-watching adults. Many will be offended and will never be converted. But a very strong average is assured this weekend and long-term success is likely too since there will be no other movie out there that comes close to resembling this picture. For the opening weekend, "Borat" might gross around $11M for an average north of $10,000.

"Saw III" should be the only holdover likely to still put a dent into the box office. Second weekend declines for the previous installments in the franchise were 39% for the first pic and 47% for last year’s "Saw II." Even with no competition for the horror crowd, a hefty drop should occur. Look for the third torture flick to get sliced in half which would give it around $17M for the frame and $61M in ten days.

LAST YEAR: Disney led the frame with its non-Pixar digital toon "Chicken Little" which debuted to a cool $40M. The animated film went on to gross $135.4M. Opening with strength in the runnerup spot was Universal’s war drama "Jarhead" with $27.7M on its way to $62.7M. "Saw II" dropped to third with $16.9M in its second weekend. Fourth place went to "The Legend of Zorro" with $10M while Meryl Streep‘s "Prime" rounded out the top five with $5.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Following the rather unpleasant Mel Gibson controversy of the last few weeks, the Hollywood rumor mill is starting to swirl: Is Disney looking to "unload" Gibson’s "Apocalypto" on another distributor?

According to Roger Friedman at Fox News: "Mel Gibson’s movie "Apocalypto," which Disney was supposed to release on Dec. 8, is "being shopped" to other potential distributors, sources tell me. One potential distributor for "Apocalypto" is Lions Gate, an independent company with a history of rescuing distressed projects. In the past they’ve picked up Kevin Smith‘s "Dogma" and Michael Moore‘s "Fahrenheit 9/11" when Miramax was prevented from putting them out by their own agreements with Disney."

According to David Poland at Movie City News, the report is "FALSE, as Confirmed By Both Sides Of The "Report"."

As of this moment, Disney is still planning to release "Apocalypto" on 12/8.

Detectives Crockett and Tubbs shot their way to number one in North America with the cop thriller Miami Vice which finally managed to knock the megablockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest out of the top spot.

The new teen comedy John Tucker Must Die debuted well but the animated entry The Ant Bully got squashed in its opening weekend. Overall, the box office saw a summer slowdown as the top ten films attracted the weakest sales since early May.

Universal hit the top of the charts with its big-budget actioner Miami Vice which opened with an estimated $25.2M. Starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell as the famous South Florida cops from the hit 1980s television series, the R-rated film averaged a strong $8,340 from 3,021 theaters. The debut was in line with the opening of director Michael Mann‘s last film Collateral which was also an R-rated actioner and bowed to $24.7M in August 2004. That film, which starred Tom Cruise and Foxx, eventually squeaked past the $100M mark domestically. The studio reported that the audience for Miami Vice was older, multicultural, and evenly split between men and women. Studio research showed that a high 62% of the crowd was age 30 and older, 51% was male, and 52% was non-white. Reviews were mixed for the $135M production.

After three weeks of ruling the box office, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest dropped to second place but still posted strong results grossing an estimated $20.5M. The Disney smash dropped only 42% and propelled its cume to a staggering $358.4M after just 24 days. More records were looted by Captain Jack Sparrow. Chest became the fastest film in history to sail past the $350M mark doing so on Saturday in only 23 days. Shrek 2 held the record previously with 26 days in 2004. The Pirates sequel also stands as the top-grossing movie ever for its studio surpassing the $339.7M of 2003’s Finding Nemo.

The middle film in the swashbuckling adventure trilogy vaulted to number 11 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind the $370.3M of 2004’s The Passion of the Christ. Pirates has also put an end to the industry’s seven-year streak of the top-grossing summer film coming out of the month of May. Johnny Depp and friends have completely dominated the moviegoing world this month as no other film since has opened north of $30M. The last time the month of July saw only one $30M+ opener was ten years ago when Independence Day ruled the mid-summer box office in 1996. Dead Man’s Chest looks to smash the $400M mark in the weeks ahead.

Teenagers pushed the high school comedy John Tucker Must Die into the number three spot with an estimated opening of $14.1M. Bowing in 2,560 theaters, the PG-13 film about a group of young women who get revenge on the guy secretly dating all of them averaged a solid $5,498 per site. However, sales plunged a disturbing 24% on Saturday from a strong Friday turnout indicating there could be trouble ahead. Still, with no pricey stars, Tucker should become a nice little hit for Fox. The studio’s divide-and-conquer marketing approach seems to have worked. Television spots aimed at females focused on the revenge-on-a-cheating-boy angle while those targeting males showed off the title character’s ability to juggle three chicks.

Sony’s digital toon Monster House dropped 48% in its second weekend to an estimated $11.5M and raised its total to $43.9M after ten days. The $75M film looks to find its way to a relatively good $65-70M.

Warner Bros. stumbled with the opening of its rival kid toon The Ant Bully which finished the weekend in fifth place with an estimated $8.1M. Playing in 3,050 locations, the PG-rated adventure about a boy who enters the world of insects averaged a weak $2,670 per location. Big-time Hollywood stars Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Nicolas Cage provided the voices, but audiences were not swayed. Bully’s opening weekend couldn’t even beat the second weekend of Monster House. The kidpic market will get even more crowded on Friday when Paramount launches its own animated film Barnyard targeting the exact same family audience once again.

Sixth place was too close to call with a pair of films claiming an estimated $7M in ticket stubs this weekend. Universal’s comedy You, Me and Dupree fell 45% in its third weekend and boosted its 17-day cume to a solid $59M.

However, M. Night Shyamalan‘s bedtime story Lady in the Water followed its weak opening weekend with a steep 61% crash and gave Warner Bros. a feeble $32.1M in ten days. By comparison, ten-day totals for the filmmaker’s last films have been $85.6M for 2004’s The Village and $117.7M for 2002’s Signs. Lady, which is not even in the same ballpark, has not excited audiences and it could stumble to a final tally of about $45M making its entire total smaller than the opening weekend of his last film.

It’s been a difficult summer for Warners. First, its costly ocean liner actioner Poseidon flopped grossing $100M less than its production budget. Then Superman Returns, the most expensive movie ever, did not live up to expectations. Now the studio is suffering a double blow with Lady and Ant Bully both being ignored by moviegoers. Of course, overseas box office and worldwide home video will add more revenue, but expensive marketing campaigns will make it hard for these films to become moneymaking ventures. The studio’s other summer film The Lake House has enjoyed a respectable run though, grossing $51M.

Sony’s Wayans brothers comedy Little Man placed eighth with an estimated $5.1M, down 54%, and raised its sum to a decent $50.2M. Meryl Streep followed with the sleeper hit of the summer, The Devil Wears Prada, which grossed an estimated $4.8M. Off only 35%, the Fox hit pushed its total to $106.7M.

Crumbling 61% to an estimated $3.9M in its sophomore session, Kevin Smith‘s Clerks II rounded out the top ten and put its ten-day cume at $18.5M. The inexpensive $5M production should continue to fade fast, but looks to end with around $25M making it a nice little moneymaker for MGM and The Weinstein Company. Smith’s last summer film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back dropped a hefty 53% in its second weekend in 2001 although the Labor Day holiday frame helped to cushion the blow.

Opening in platform release to sensational results was Fox Searchlight’s indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine which bowed to an estimated $357,000 from only seven theaters for an eye-popping $50,980 average. Since its Wednesday launch in New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated comedy starring Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin has grossed $449,000. Sunshine was the hottest film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and the distrib is now looking to turn it into a strong word-of-mouth hit for moviegoers numbed by all the mindless popcorn films of the summer. Reviews were outstanding and the road comedy will continue to expand in the weeks ahead. The distributor plans to widen to ten cities and about 60 theaters this Friday, 175 playdates the following weekend, and a full national release in over 600 sites on August 18.

Also debuting this weekend was Woody Allen’s latest film Scoop with an estimated $3M from 538 locations for a good $5,582 average. The Focus release stars Scarlett Johannson and Hugh Jackman and earned mixed reviews from critics.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Superman Returns fell 49% to an estimated $3.8M in its fifth mission and reached a cume of $185.8M. After 33 days of release last summer, Warner Bros. collected a similar $183.1M with its other super hero revival Batman Begins. However, the Caped Crusader posted a stronger $6M frame, ranked higher with a fifth place finish, and was enjoying smaller weekly declines on its way to $205.3M. With a reported production budget north of $240M, Superman Returns is on a course to end its domestic run with roughly $195M and will need some sort of special re-release in order to cross the double-century mark.

Fox also grabbed an estimated $3.8M with its super hero comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend which tumbled 56% in its second weekend. With a weak $16.4M in ten days, the Uma ThurmanLuke Wilson comedy should find its way to only $25M.

Disney watched Pixar’s durable toon hit Cars become the second highest-grossing film of the year this weekend. The G-rated smash fell 50% to an estimated $2.5M boosting its cume to $234.6M surpassing the third X-Men flick. Add in the recent Pirates sequel and the Mouse House can now claim the two biggest box office hits of 2006 with no other films in the near future looking to get in their way.

Al Gore‘s global warming hit An Inconvenient Truth became only the fourth documentary in box office history to cross the $20M mark this weekend. The Paramount Vantage title took in an estimated $773,000 in its tenth frame, off 23%, to lift its cume to $20.2M. The only docs to score better have been Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2M), March of the Penguins ($77.4M), and Bowling for Columbine ($21.6M).

The top ten films grossed an estimated $107.3M which was up a scant 2% from last year when Wedding Crashers climbed to number one in its third weekend with $20M; but down 22% from 2004 when The Village opened in the top spot with $50.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Moviegoers grabbed their remote controls and flocked to the multiplexes this weekend to see Adam Sandler‘s latest comedy Click which became the comedian’s eighth number one hit thanks to its $40M opening, according to estimates.

Sony launched the PG-13 film in 3,749 theaters and averaged a healthy $10,670 per location. It was the second best opening of the year for a live-action comedy after the $40.2M bow of Scary Movie 4 in April. With this latest film, the funnyman has become the only actor to score $30M+ openings in each of the last five years proving what a consistent box office draw he continues to be. A-listers like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Jim Carrey cannot claim the same feat.

In Sandler’s latest vehicle, he plays a man who gets a magical remote control that gives him power over all others around him. Frank Coraci, who directed the comedian’s 1998 hits The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy, helmed this latest pic which co-starred Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, and David Hasselhoff. Sony’s $83M production played to a broad audience. According to studio research, 51% of the crowd was female and 50% were under 25. Sandler has always been a strong draw with young guys, but with his role as a husband and father in Click, the actor was able to appeal evenly across the board to all four quadrants.

Reviews were poor, as expected, but audiences didn’t seem to care. Click is a marketing-driven film and starpower and concept sold it to those looking for some harmless summer laughs. The opening was right in the middle of the $37-43M range that five of Sandler’s previous comedies have debuted in. With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, Click could very well go on to become the star’s seventh $100M blockbuster.

Following its two-week run in the top spot, the animated comedy Cars slipped to second place but displayed solid staying power. The G-rated film eased only 33% to an estimated $22.5M pushing the 17-day total to $155.9M. The decline was smaller than the third-weekend drops experienced by the most recent Disney/Pixar films The Incredibles (47% in November 2004) and Finding Nemo (39% in June 2003). Despite opening weaker, Cars is now holding up better and continues to benefit from word-of-mouth from family audiences. After 17 days of release, Cars is running 12% behind the pace of Incredibles and 19% behind Nemo. Competition for kids from Superman and Pirates in the weeks ahead will be fierce, but the racing toon could still drive to a final domestic haul of over $240M making it bigger than any other film released up to this point in the year.

After a stellar opening, the Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre stumbled 57% and placed third with an estimated $12.1M. Paramount has grossed a solid $52.7M in ten days and is heading for the $70-80M range. Nacho cost $35M to produce.

Tyrese Gibson flexed some muscle with his new actioner Waist Deep which opened impressively in fourth with an estimated $9.5M from just 1,004 theaters. The Focus Features release averaged a sizzling $9,414 per location. Reviews for the kidnapping drama were mostly negative, but audiences responded to the starpower and the action.

Slamming on the brakes, the action sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift suffered the worst decline in the top ten crashing 62% to an estimated $9.2M in its sophomore frame. With $42.6M in its tank, Universal’s $75M franchise pic has been performing exactly like another of the studio’s recent June action sequels – 2004’s Vin Diesel pic The Chronicles of Riddick. That film opened to a similar $24.3M, dropped 61% in the second frame, and generated a ten-day cume of $42.5M before finishing with $57.6M. Tokyo Drift should cross the finish line near the $60M mark as well.

The franchise’s last installment, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, performed in the same way tumbling 63% in its second lap so Drift’s huge drop was expected. Overseas, the latest street racing pic remained at number one in the United Kingdom for a second straight weekend and pushed its international gross to $15.6M from a dozen countries. The studio projected number one openings this weekend in Indonesia, Finland, Portugal, Romania, and Trinidad. Japan, expected to be a big market for Tokyo Drift, does not open until September 18.

The Keanu ReevesSandra Bullock romance The Lake House enjoyed a reasonably good second date grossing an estimated $8.3M dropping 39%. After ten days, the Warner Bros. drama has taken in $29.2M and looks headed for the neighborhood of $60M. Lake bowed at number two in the U.K. this weekend with an estimated $1.5M from 343 locations. The film’s international roll-out will be spread out over the coming months.

Holding up well in seventh place was another film targeting adult women, The Break-Up starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. The Universal release grossed an estimated $6.1M, off only 38%, for a $103.7M cume. The unromantic comedy became the seventh film of 2006 to cross the $100M mark. Eight films had joined the century club at this point last year.

Fox’s kidpic sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties dropped just 35% in its second weekend and collected an estimated $4.8M. With a mere $16M in ten days, the PG-rated film looks to reach a disappointing $30M domestically or less than half of the $75.4M of its 2004 predecessor.

The year’s two highest-grossing films rounded out the top ten. Fox’s X-Men: The Last Stand took in an estimated $4.4M, down 44%, pushing its cume to $224.1M. The Da Vinci Code grossed an estimated $4M, off only 24%, giving Sony $205.5M to date. Collectively, the top five summer films have grossed $861.6M trailing last summer’s corresponding blockbusters by 5% at this same point in the season.

Two summer hits fell from the top ten over the weekend. Paramount’s release of the DreamWorks animated film Over the Hedge grabbed an estimated $2.7M this weekend. Off 37%, the PG-rated toon boosted its total to $144.5M and should reach around $152M by the end of its run. Fox’s remake of The Omen has had no legs and tumbled another 63% to an estimated $2.1M this weekend. The $25M film has scared up a solid $52M and looks to end with about $55M.

Paramount Vantage kept expanding its global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which widened from 403 to 514 theaters this weekend and grossed an estimated $1.9M. Averaging a decent $3,762 per site, the Al Gore pic has upped its sum to $9.5M and counting. Further expansions are planned for the coming weeks.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Nosy moviegoers just couldn’t stay away from a high-profile lovers quarrel as the anti-romantic comedy The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston surprised the industry this weekend by opening at number one, shoving the comic book juggernaut X-Men: The Last Stand into second place in only its second weekend.

The mutant sequel was widely expected to remain atop the North American charts. The only other new face in the top ten was the global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which expanded and jumped into the number nine slot while still in limited release. Overall, the box office remained healthy with the top four choices gobbling up most of the business.

Jen and Vince attracted millions of fans to theaters with The Break-Up which debuted with an estimated $38.1M over the weekend beating all expectations. Universal launched the date movie in 3,070 locations and averaged a stellar $12,395 giving the studio its best opening yet this year. It was also the third biggest debut ever for a romantic comedy trailing the $43.1M of Hitch and the $39.9M of 50 First Dates which both premiered just days before Valentine’s Day. Women fueled the business for Break-Up. Studio research showed that a whopping 67% of the audience was female while the crowd was evenly split between those over and under the age of 30. Vaughn and Aniston play a couple that breaks up, but still decides to live in the same condo together.

Produced for $52M, The Break-Up sparked lots of media attention over the past year because of Aniston’s split from ex-husband Brad Pitt and her new relationship with Vaughn. Curiosity seemed to attract the former Friends star’s core audience of young women while men were far less interested. Universal’s marketing pushed the starpower and the lack of any other new wide releases kept the attention on Break-Up. Plus, the marketplace has not offered any star-driven films aimed at women in several weeks. Critics, however, gave little support with many panning the film finding it lacking in both romance and comedy. Aniston scored the second biggest opening of her career after 2003’s Bruce Almighty ($68M) while Vaughn enjoyed his third largest after 1997’s The Lost World ($72.1M) and last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M). The Break-Up, however, marks new career highs for each actor in a leading role.

After a record-breaking Memorial Day weekend opener, X-Men: The Last Stand crumbled in its second weekend plunging 67% to second place with an estimated $34.4M. After ten days of release, the mutant sequel has hauled in a staggering $175.7M domestically. Most industry watchers had expected the super hero pic to remain at number one this weekend, but a stronger-than-expected opening by Break-Up coupled with a larger-than-expected decline for X-Men led to a second place finish. Given that loyal fans all rushed to the theaters on the debut frame and the added holiday boost, a steep drop was widely anticipated, but a drop of two-thirds was especially high. Subsequent weeks should stabilize a bit, but based on its trajectory, the third X-Men film looks to be headed to a domestic tally of $230-240M which would still make it the biggest hit of the trilogy.

Holding steady in third place once again this weekend was the animated film Over the Hedge which slipped only 24% to an estimated $20.6M in its third outing. After 17 days, Paramount has collected an impressive $112.4M with the DreamWorks production. After three weeks of having the family market virtually to itself, Hedge will face some stiff competiton next weekend when Disney and Pixar race into theaters with Cars.

Losing a reasonable 43% of its audience in its third weekend, The Da Vinci Code ranked fourth with an estimated $19.3M. That pushed the 17-day total to a stunning $172.7M making the religious thriller the year’s third biggest domestic hit behind Fox’s Ice Age and X-Men sequels. Overseas, Da Vinci continues to lead the box office for the third straight weekend delivering sizzling results. The Ron Howard-directed smash grossed an estimated $51M, down 44% from last weekend, boosting the international tally to a towering $409M. With a sensational $582M in global grosses (70% of which is from outside North America), The Da Vinci Code will shatter the $600M mark by the end of the week.

The top four films ruled the weekend accounting for 88% of all money spent on the top ten films. All other players in the marketplace grossed under $5M each.

Dropping only 33% and finishing fifth for the frame was the spy sequel Mission: Impossible III with an estimated $4.7M which pushed Paramount’s domestic cume to $122.7M. For the fourth consecutive weekend, the ocean liner disaster film Poseidon followed right behind Tom Cruise’s actioner and dropped 40% to an estimated $3.4M. Warner Bros. has taken in just $51.7M thus far.

For the first time in five years, the month of May ended without any of its releases hitting the $200M mark. But while none of this year’s early summer contenders has come close to last year’s Star Wars Episode III which had amazingly smashed through the $300M mark at this point, collectively the hits have managed to measure up to 2005. The aggregate gross of the top five May films this year is $635M which is up 2% from this same point a year ago. Instead of flocking to one giant megahit, moviegoers have been spreading the same amount of money across a collection of popular films.

Sony’s hit kidpic RV continued to hold up well slipping only 21% in its sixth weekend to an estimated $3.3M. The Robin Williams film has taken in $61.8M to date. Lionsgate witnessed a surprisingly strong hold for its horror entry See No Evil which dipped 26% and grossed an estimated $2M. Total stands at $12.4M.

Proving that it is more than just a blue-state hit, Al Gore‘s global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth expanded into major markets and hit the top ten grossing an estimated $1.3M from only 77 theaters. The Paramount Vantage release averaged a stunning $17,299 over the weekend and raised its cume to $1.9M after bowing last week in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. This Friday, Truth widens to the Top 25 markets with about 150 total theaters before going national on June 16 in 450-600 locations.

The PG-rated film has quickly nabbed the title of must-see summer doc this year and hopes to follow in the footsteps of last year’s March of the Penguins and 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11 as non-fiction films that crossed over to become pop culture events. Those films rank as the top-grossing documentaries ever with $77.4M and $119.2M, respectively. This weekend, the former Vice President’s environmental pic became the first film of the year to enter the top ten while playing in fewer than 200 theaters.

Rounding out the top ten was Lindsay Lohan‘s comedy Just My Luck with an estimated $825,000, down a steep 58%, for a cume to date of $15.6M.

Break-Up and Inconvenient Truth bumped two spring films out of the top ten. Universal’s controversial 9/11 thriller United 93 dropped 43% to an estimated $464,000 after spending five weeks in the top ten. The $15M film has grossed $30.6M to date and should collect a bit more before ending its theatrical run. Fox’s animated sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown has spent eight of its ten weekends in the top ten and is now headed for the finish line grossing over $191M to date. The PG-rated hit remains the top-grossing film of 2006 thus far and has unearthed more than $625M worldwide.

Opening this weekend in limited release was the Lionsgate sports drama Peaceful Warrior which took in an estimated $77,000 from ten sites for a solid $7,700 average. Also debuting, but with weaker results, was the Korean action film Typhoon with an estimated $48,000 from 24 theaters. The Paramount Vantage release attacked nine markets and averaged a dull $2,009.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $127.9M which was up 2% from last year when Madagascar climbed into the number one spot with $28.1M; but down 30% from 2004 when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened in the top slot with a June record $93.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The academy is revamping its rules for documentaries, Variety reports. Prior to the change, documentaries that were broadcast on television within nine months of theatrical release were disqualified; those rules eliminated Michael Moore’s "Fahrenheit 9/11" from consideration. Many documentaries are financed by television, and the new rules reflect those agreements.

"Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore’s scathing documentary against the current administration, was voted Favorite Motion Picture, with Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" taking the award for Favorite Drama Motion Picture at the 31st People’s Choice Awards on Sunday. "Shrek 2" was also a big winner, taking the top honors in the Favorite Comedy, Favorite Animated, and Favorite Sequel categories. Johnny Depp won for Favorite Male Movie Star, and Julia Roberts won for Favorite Female Movie Star. See the complete list here.

Lefty filmmaker Michael Moore‘s next film project will be a survey of the healthcare industry, the Los Angeles Times writes. According to the Times, "At least six of the nation’s largest firms have already issued internal notices to their workforces, preparing them for potential ambushes." The film, with the working title of "Sicko," may be released in 2006. Moore has drawn fire from some drug companies for some of his tactics, which allegedly include hiring actors to play pharmaceutical salesmen. Moore said he has had much support from people who want to expose what he says takes advantage of poor citizens. The controversial Academy Award winning director last film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," is the highest grossing documentary of all time.

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