The 99% Club: You’ll find it, way past 98% on the Tomatometer, but just before 100%. Inside, a coterie of cinema’s practically-finest, movies promising an experience beyond most others – movies that are almost perfect. These are the ones to warm hearts, stir the soul, call forth eruptions of laughter, and rattle your bones. To anyone who approaches to see and hear their stories, they will enthrall the audience…save the stray naysayer or two, of course.
Its members are fleeting; membership comes with no lifetime guarantee. Any additional Rotten reviews could toss the movie from the 99% Club and into the gutter that is a 98% score, to associate with the likes of Wizard of Oz and The Godfather.
You’ll notice most in the 99% Club are from this century. Movies may or may not be getting better, but they are getting reviewed more. When a work generates nearly 400 critics’ appraisals, its Tomatometer score can better endure Rotten reviews and sustain its 99% score. Classic films, by dint of having fewer reviews in written existence, can have their scores torpedoed by a single Rotten remark.
The 99% Club: On the cusp of triple-digit Valhalla. Come join in their almost-perfection.
April is shaping up to be a pretty good month for movies, leading into the proper summer movie season. But if you’re afraid of big crowds, or you just feel like lounging at home all month in your unicorn snuggie (and who doesn’t?), then Netflix has a pretty good lineup waiting for you. As usual, the month is heavily frontloaded, with most of the interesting titles coming out on April 1, but see below for the full list.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Vin Diesel, Jennifer Aniston, and Harry Connick Jr. lend their voices to Brad Bird’s animated feature debut, about a large sentient robot who finds himself lost in a small Maine town in 1958 and befriends a young boy.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Dave Franco and Abbi Jacobson star in Marja-Lewis Ryan’s drama following a woman over the course of a night as she drives her heroin-addicted brother through LA, looking for a detox center.
Available 4/6 on: Netflix
This documentary centers on the Chinese immigrant family who owned and operated the Abacus Federal Savings bank in New York, the only bank to face criminal charges in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Al Pacino and Robert De Niro headline Michael Mann’s celebrated heist movie that centers on the cat-and-mouse game between a career criminal on his last job and the detective determined to catch him.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Al Pacino offers an unforgettable performance in Brian DePalma’s iconic drama about drug kingpin Tony Montana’s rise to power and eventual downfall.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Billy Bob Thornton stars in Peter Berg’s drama based on true events about a Texas high school football team’s struggles to win the state championship.
Available 3/1 on: Netflix
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star in David Fincher’s thriller about a retiring detective who takes on a green partner in order to solve a series of grisly murders based on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi star in Benigni’s dramatic comedy about a Jewish father who concocts elaborate stories to prevent his young son from learning the truth when his family is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Joel McHale hosts this weekly series from Netflix that looks at news and pop culture from around the world, much in the same way that McHale previously did on Talk Soup.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris, and Elizabeth Olsen star in this drama about a man who agrees to drive his dying father across the country in order to develop four rolls of Kodachrome film.
Available 4/20 on: Netflix
Robert Rodriguez’s Certified Fresh adaptation of the Frank Miller comic is a dark, grisly collection of interconnected pulp fiction starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, and Mickey Rourke, and shot with a unique visual flair.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn star in this drama about a young woman who seeks out an older man with whom she shared a relationship 15 years before that got him arrested and put in jail.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Coreys Haim and Feldman, Jason Patric, and Keifer Sutherland star in this Joel Schumacher cult classic about a pair of brothers who become entangled in the world of local vampires after they move to a new town.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Amy Adams and Emily Blunt star in this comedy about a down-on-her-luck single mother who starts up a crime scene cleaning business with her sister.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Drew Barrymore, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mary-Louise Parker star in this drama about three women who set out on a road trip from New York to California together.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renée Zellweger star in Anthony Minghella’s period drama that follows an American Civil War soldier as he travels home through Confederate territory to his beloved, a preacher’s daughter struggling to keep her family farm alive.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins star in this psychological thriller about a hot-shot attorney who engages in a war of wits with the wealthy engineer he’s been tasked with defending in court for the murder of the engineer’s wife.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
The third chapter of the Terminator saga, set 10 years after T2, follows John Connor (Nick Stahl) as he attempts to evade another assassin sent from the future, this time in the form of a woman (Kristanna Loken), again with the help of a T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Eli Roth’s cult favorite horror film centers on a group of college friends vacationing in the wilderness who begin to turn on each other when one of them becomes infected with a terrible, fast-acting sickness.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, and Vincent D’Onofrio star in this period crime drama based on the true story of Cleveland mobster Danny Greene, who battled the Italian mafia for control of the city during the 1970s.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes star in this biographical look at the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer, who captured the public’s heart and helped enact sweeping changes as a political leader.
Available 4/1 on: Netflix
The new Flatliners arrives in theaters this weekend, and with it a new crop of foolhardy young scientists determined to find out what happens after we die. Of course, many filmgoers found the answer in 1990, when the first Flatliners rounded up some of the hottest young actors in Hollywood (including Kiefer Sutherland, who makes a return appearance in this edition). Thinking back to that original outing has us feeling nostalgic for the ’90s, so we decided to dedicate this feature to a look at the freshest wide domestic releases of the decade by Adjusted Tomatometer (take a look at the year-by-year lists) — and invite you to rank your own favorites along the way. It’s time for Total Recall!
In an early episode of of the first season of Agent Carter, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) donned a blonde wig and sparkling dress in order to go undercover at a glitzy party. For the rest of the season, however, costume designer Giovanna Ottobre-Melton stuck with more everyday clothing for the show’s stars. With the action in season two packing up and moving from New York City to Los Angeles, Old Hollywood glamour finds its way back into the show.
A lot of research goes into the costuming of the show, with many of the costumes either being vintage pieces from the era or recreations from vintage materials. Wynn Everett, who joins the cast this season as glamorous actress-scientist Whitney Frost (inspired by Hedy Lamarr) revealed, “The way they have done this show, from the costumes to the hair to the makeup, they are so determined to stick to detail. Underneath everything we’re wearing [vintage] undergarments. One day I was like, ‘I’m just gonna wear my own undergarments,’ and I walked on set and the costume department was like, ‘Wynn, go back and put on the right bra and the right hose!’ They just are so incredibly detail oriented.”
Joining the cast this season is Reggie Austin as scientist Jason Wilkes, who is a big fan of his wardrobe, saying it’s “just out of control. Everybody gets to wear awesome things. The ’40s were a great time to wear clothes. Everyone gets to wear some really cool, chic get ups. So yeah it’s nice.”
Lesley Boone, who plays Rose, chimed in, “I mean, it’s so much fun. I feel like an actor. Everybody’s dressed up, everybody’s in the ’40s, there are all these cars. You really feel like you’re doing something, not just sitting around on set and waiting.” Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) added, “When I started off acting, this is what I thought acting was going to be. And it wasn’t. But this show, it’s hanging out, ’40s car walks by, tons of extras in costume, and you look up and down the street and you’re in the ’40s. It’s wonderful.”
One inspiration for the men this season, including Agent Sousa, was Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift in From Here To Eternity. For this season, Gjokaj says, “Daniel has a bit of a West Coast vibe going on. And he’s running the West Coast SSR, so he’s kind of, he’s the boss now. I think he gets to set whether or not there’s casual Fridays.”
Moving the action of season two from New York City to Los Angeles allowed the show to shoot in some of Los Angeles’ most iconic locations, including the Griffith Observatory, most famously used in Rebel Without A Cause. Star Hayley Atwell said that in prepping for this season, she watched the film, “knowing that we were going to shoot there, and I just wanted to see it on film again. It felt iconic, and a lot of these places Peggy probably will know about as well, so there’s this excitement of when, you know, like for me, 10 years ago when I first came out here and saw the Hollywood sign for the first time. You just think it’s so exciting, that first hit of it. And I think Peggy, who’s doesn’t really have much interest in the Hollywood world, per se, but I think it’s very much in her psyche because it’s part of the culture of her day, to have that kind of Golden Age of Hollywood.”
In this world of Old Hollywood, appearances are everything, but as Atwell points out during this era in Los Angeles’s history, “of course there’s an undercurrent of darkness, and that’s a lot to do with the gangsters and the serial killers that were kind of rife back then. It seemed to be these famous cases, and we’ve touched upon those a little bit. And I think it kind of add more of a film noir feel to it, and does make the whole thing a little bit more filmic.”
New to the cast, Kurtwood Smith, who plays War Department veteran Verson Masters, added, “I think it has a very noir feeling this year.”
Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters confirmed they watched Noir Summer on Turner Classic Movies while working on the season and found particular inspiration from Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat. They also confided that modern noir like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential were also a big influence, with Fazekas elaborating, “L.A. Confidential was a big touchstone for us even last season.”
Butters added, “When you’re talking about telling stories in the ’40s, a lot of the film noir of the ’40s takes place in L.A. And obviously, we shoot in L.A. So it had been something that we had talked about a lot. And we started to build the story around that because what’s great about that is, you have the glamour and glitz of Hollywood and you have crime and corruption right next to each other. We just started to say ‘Well, how would we get Peggy to L.A.?'”
The two-hour season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on January 19th at 9PM on ABC.
It’s the time of year to leave out milk and cookies and upgrade that home security system, because Krampus is coming to town on Friday. The Adam Scott horror/comedy brings season’s beatings to a family who unwittingly unleash a yuletide demon upon their suburban household, and inspires this week’s 24 Frames: a picture collection of December-set movie thrills. We’re also presenting choices across all genres in this gallery, because everybody gets what they want on Christmas…EVEN SATAN.
Danny DeVito has been in a pair of long-running sitcoms, produced and directed some major hit movies, and turned in notable cameos in some of the most critically adored films of all time (including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Terms of Endearment) — and all those achievements don’t even include most of his filmography, which expands this week to include his appearance in All the Wilderness. Clearly, this is the perfect time to pay tribute, and that’s exactly why we decided to (ahem) DeVote this list to the irascible, irrepressible Mr. DeVito. It’s time for Total Recall!
After leaving the city for The Natural and Young Sherlock Holmes, Diner director Barry Levinson returned to Baltimore with 1987’s Tin Men, a downbeat comedy about a pair of aluminum siding salesmen (DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss) who begin a bitter, decades-long rivalry after (literally) bumping into each other during a disastrous first meeting in the ’40s. Boasting fine period detail, a terrific cast that also included Barbara Hershey, John Mahoney, and Bruno Kirby, and soundtrack work from the Fine Young Cannibals, Tin Men impressed critics like Luke Y. Thompson of New Times, who called it “Primo Levinson” and wrote, “DeVito’s rarely been more human, and Dreyfuss is at his funniest.”
Initially reluctant to film a Batman sequel, Tim Burton was eventually persuaded to return to Gotham after wresting complete creative control from Warner Bros. The result was 1992’s Batman Returns, a casting dream that found Batman (Michael Keaton, donning the cowl for the final time) facing off against Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer, resplendent in leather) and the Penguin (a scenery-chewing DeVito). Though some critics (and parents) felt the film was too dark, most reviews were positive; in fact, before Christopher Nolan came along with Batman Begins, Batman Returns was the best-reviewed film in the franchise, something Desson Thompson of the Washington Post attributed to the fact that it “comes closer than ever to Bob Kane’s dark, original strip, which began in 1939.”
DeVito and his Romancing the Stone castmates Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner teamed up for the third time in this pitch-black comedy about a wealthy married couple (Douglas and Turner) whose disintegrating marriage becomes a desperate, violent squabble over their shared possessions. Doing double duty as director and co-star, DeVito extended his directorial hot streak (begun with 1987’s Throw Momma from the Train), while Douglas and Turner took the love/hate banter they perfected during Stone and Jewel of the Nile and subtracted the love, fueling one of the most entertainingly venomous divorces in cinematic history. As Rob Vaux of the Flipside Movie Emporium put it, “For anyone who ever spent Valentine’s Day alone with a bottle of scotch, for anyone who ever watched the love of their life go stomping out the door, for anyone who ever gazed in hatred at the happy couple spooning in public? This is the movie for you.”
John Grisham has seen plenty of his books turned into movies, but in 2004, he told Entertainment Weekly that The Rainmaker was the best. It’s easy to understand why: with Francis Ford Coppola behind the cameras and an ace cast that included Matt Damon, Mickey Rourke, Jon Voight, and DeVito, it’d be hard to ask for a more skillfully assembled adaptation of the story of an idealistic young lawyer (Damon) who teams up with a resourceful paralegal (DeVito) to bring down an unscrupulous health insurance company. Although it failed to outgross many of them, it was, as Empire’s Ian Nathan argued, “A stronger bet than the previous 35 or however many Grisham movies before it.”
Before he was the Lorax, DeVito lent his pipes to Disney’s Hercules, appearing as the voice of the pugnacious satyr tasked with toughening up the titular Olympian (Tate Donovan) and assisting him in his quest to prove his worth as a true hero. Crafty and incorrigible, Phil gave DeVito the opportunity to walk away with many of the movie’s best lines — and entertained critics like Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote, “Light on its feet and continually amusing, this free-spirited show-biz version of Greek mythology ranks with the best of modern Disney animation.”
DeVito strapped on his producer’s hat for Get Shorty, a $115 million adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel about a loan shark (John Travolta) who dreams of leaving the business and turning his life story into a hit film for a big-time Hollywood star (DeVito). Sharp, funny, and stocked with an impeccable array of talented actors, including Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, and Dennis Farina, Shorty entertained critics and audiences alike — including Newsweek’s David Ansen, who pointed out, “Hollywood has been in love with mobsters since the beginning of movies. But the other side of the equation has seldom been considered. That is, until now.”
Nobody plays “gleefully unscrupulous” quite like Danny DeVito, and he was given free rein with Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone, which found him playing a shady antique smuggler whose bumbling plot to get his hands on a treasure map put him at odds with a romance novelist (Kathleen Turner), a dashing explorer (Michael Douglas), and a murderous Colombian colonel (Manuel Ojeda). Loads of swashbuckling fun in a perfectly ’80s way, Stone raised more than $86 million at the box office, spawned a sequel, and won the admiration of critics like Tim Brayton of Antagony & Ecstasy, who called it “A grand example of the rarest combination of adventure, humor, and sexual chemistry which all crackle along with abandon.”
For his first directorial effort since 1992’s Hoffa, DeVito did something altogether different: an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel Matilda, about a bright young girl (Mara Wilson) with loathsome parents (played by DeVito and Rhea Perlman) and a budding set of telekinetic abilities. Dahl’s flair for dark storytelling was a perfect fit for DeVito’s sensibilities, and the result was a modest hit greeted by appreciative reviews from critics like Rob Thomas of Madison’s Capital Times, who wrote, “DeVito gleefully preserves Dahl’s dark comic tone, which should delight both kids and parents.”
An ’80s spin on O. Henry’s Ransom of Red Chief courtesy of the Zucker/Abrams/Zucker laugh factory, Ruthless People gave DeVito one of his most marvelously grotesque roles: Sam Stone, the millionaire fashion magnate who’s planning to murder his equally off-putting wife (Bette Midler) when she’s kidnapped by a vengeful fashion designer (Helen Slater) and her doltish boyfriend (Judge Reinhold). Seeing an opportunity to have his dirty work done for him, Stone cheerfully neglects to pay the ransom, setting in motion a chain of hateful behavior. “DeVito is the mainspring of Ruthless People, the engine of murderous intensity right at the center,” observed Roger Ebert. “His passion is so palpable that it adds weight to all the other performances in the movie.”
Danny DeVito almost certainly isn’t the first actor that comes to mind when you think of L.A. Confidential — that honor most likely goes to Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, or Kim Basinger — but his character, publishing sleazemonger Sid Hudgens, was still crucial to the story, setting in motion some key moments in the storyline and serving as the film’s narrator. And while this might not be the definitive performance in DeVito’s career, it does illustrate his gift for choosing the right script; as Variety’s Todd McCarthy wrote, this Best Picture nominee is “An irresistible treat with enough narrative twists and memorable characters for a half-dozen films.”
Finally, here’s DeVito squaring off against Oscar the Grouch in a series of visits to Sesame Street:
It’s terrible, but there’s something hot about bad cops. They’re authoritative, powerful, within arms reach of the worst villains life can throw and, they’re only occasionally redeemable. What a challenge.
In honor of David Ayer‘s Street Kings we did a little bad-to-worse survey of the boys who soil their blue. Some of them are hot, some of them caustic, but all of them are fascinating. The cops on this list might shame those who loyally “Protect and Serve” but you know what they say, it’s hard to look away from a train wreck.
Web Smith (Wesley Snipes) is a good cop. He’s mostly clean, except for one little incident in his past, involving a drug dealer, a crib, and a small stack of bills. Web’s been walking around with this secret for a long time, and the bad news is that someone else knows about it, and it eventually gets used as leverage against him. But compared to the plans and conspiracies surrounding the murder he’s investigating, the old bribe is really just small change.
Frank Serpico was an honest cop in a sea of corruption. The entire NYPD may not have been completely corrupt, but in Serpico it sure feels like it. Even the low-level officers are on the take, and hush money from bookies and dealers is passed around between cops with such banality that when Frank refuses a bribe, his brother officers think that there is something wrong with him.
It’s one thing when a cop goes bad, seduced by the power and authority that comes with the job. But it’s something else entirely when the cop in question wasn’t good to begin with. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) becomes a police officer so that he can work as mole within the Boston PD, and feed information back to his gangster pal Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). So instead of making the streets safer, he’s just making them safer for crooks.
The only thing more frightening than a bad cop is a bad cop responsible for others. When Alonzo (Denzel Washington) takes Jake (Ethan Hawke) out on his Training Day the day looks more like a trip into a nightmarish revisioning of The Wizard of Oz than a beat cop instructional tour. Some crimes seem easy to overlook (Alonzo’s incessant drinking while driving) but others (like extortion or drug trafficking) are harder to overlook. And it’s this play between the upholding of the law and its use that makes the situation between Alonzo and his pupil such a challenging one.
Before Ray Liotta played Hank Hill in Goodfellas he used that baby face to play Officer Pete Davis in Unlawful Entry. Kurt Russell and Madeline Stowe play happy and successful couple who open their doors to Davis just in time for him to slowly devolve into a stalking, hooker-brutalizing monster. Liotta plays his cards close to his chest, alternating between irksome and alluring, conscientious and reckless, honorable and deviant, all without skipping a beat.
We meet Cobb early on in Silverado, and it’s clear than he and one of the heroes, a somewhat reformed outlaw named Paden (Kevin Kline) have a history together. Cobb comes off as menacing, and since he’s played by Brian Dennehy, you know he’s going to come back later. Sure enough he does come back, as the sheriff of Silverado, and the other members of his gang are now his deputies. But in spite of his position, Cobb isn’t much of a tyrant; he may be sheriff, but the cattle baron that’s bribing him is the one that’s really calling the shots.
After multiple turns playing crooks in Noirs from The Asphalt Jungle to The Killing, Sterling Hayden had perfected the diligent working-class villain. Who then could be more evocative as the mob-complicit Captain McCluskey in Coppola’s Godfather? Hayden’s establishment in the industry along with his kindly good looks made him an easy choice for McCluskey, and his performance in this part is short but leaves a lasting impression (on more than just the tablecloth).
Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) is corrupt on almost all levels. He’s a pill-popping, mob-affiliated DEA agent that uses his position to run his own little drug empire. He uses his own officers to rub out the competition, but he’s not above hiring a professional from time to time either. And he’s not simply ruthless; he’s crazy enough to really enjoy hurting or killing anyone that stands against him. Between this film and Romeo Is Bleeding, Gary Oldman seemed to embody the half-crazed cop role in the early 1990s.
Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) isn’t as crazy Oldman’s Stansfield in LÃ©on, but he’s working on a much larger scale. The seemingly upstanding Captain Smith asks purist recruit Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) to rat out corrupt cops, in what seems to be a genuine effort to clean up the department, but Smith is merely covering his bases. He’s also using the brutish Bud White (Russell Crowe) on a goon squad that runs mobsters out of L.A so that Smith can maintain control of the city’s drug traffic. James Cromwell is frighteningly believable as the “man in charge,” especially once we see how corrupt he really is.
The title for Abel Ferrara‘s completely unredeemable drama is perfect: unambiguous, straightforward, and completely without explanation. This Bad Lieutenant abuses his power in the most unrelenting and disturbing ways, offering us only slivers of insight into his conscience. (Perhaps this is because he only has a sliver of a conscience.) In addition to watching Keitel wantonly abuse his authority by randomly pulling guns on cops and citizens alike, you can actually catch him smoking stolen crack, naked. In fact, you only need to see the poster art to get the idea — and to see proof he’d been working out. He may not be working on a grand scale, but his behavior is so shocking that you can’t imagine any cop being worse that this.
That’s our list of the 10 most corrupt cops in the movies. Who would you add to the list? And do you think any cop is more corrupt than Kietel in Bad Lieutenant?
If you want Cinematical’s take on the subject, check out their Cinematical Seven feature on Out of Control Cops.
In this week’s Ketchup, Kirsten Dunst talks about the woes of blue-screen theatrics, Robert Downey Jr. discusses his "Iron Man" pedigree, and the new "Magneto" director comes with plenty of superhero experience.
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Will the friendly neighborhood webslinger reclaim the holy grail of the movie biz – the opening weekend box office record?
After attacking most major markets around the world throughout this week, Sony’s global assault hits North America on Friday with "Spider-Man 3," the much-anticipated super hero sequel which ushers in a new summer movie season with a bang. And it could indeed be a record bang.
Director Sam Raimi returns with his illustrious cast including Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the new mega-budgeted tentpole film following up on a pair of Spidey films that together grossed an eye-popping $1.6 billion worldwide earlier this decade. In the new PG-13 adventure, Peter Parker tries to take his relationship with his galpal Mary Jane to the next level just as three new villains enter the scene looking for some love and affection of their own from Spider-Man. James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and everyone’s favorite lady in the water Bryce Dallas Howard co-star. The new saga features the super foes Sandman, Venom, and the New Goblin.
With an official production cost of $258M (and some speculate that it is actually higher), Spider-Man 3 stands as the most expensive movie yet to hit theaters. But despite the enormous pricetag, and not to mention the extravagant marketing tab, the super sequel stands a chance of approaching $1 billion in global box office this summer with tons more cash coming from video, television, and merchandising. So the eye-popping budget almost seems justified.
Sony staked its claim to the first weekend of May over a year ago and competing studios took the warning by making sure they did not program anything worthy against it, or even on the weeks before and after its opening. That puts "Spider-Man 3" in the enviable position of having the entire marketplace all to itself for a full two weeks before the next summer sensation, "Shrek the Third," hits the marketplace. Spidey should easily have over $250M in the bank before the ogre pic opens giving the super hero a mammoth headstart in the annual race for the summer crown.
The lack of competition will be key this weekend in "Spider-Man 3"’s attempt to break the all-time opening weekend record set last summer by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" which exploded to $135.6M over a regular Friday-to-Sunday period. As big as that bow was, there was still a potent $60M spent on the rest of the top five films that weekend. This frame, look for the films in the two through five slots to collect only a third of that amount. The advantage the Venom flick has over the last "Pirates" is that the current marketplace is so dead that multiplexes will be handing over every possible screen. Whereas a July film might only get three or four screens at a venue, a tentpole release in early May can spread like black alien goo to a fifth, sixth, or seventh screen at the same multiplex since there’s absolutely nothing else of value to waste auditoriums on. This increases the grossing potential significantly.
Running time will not be an issue as "Spider-Man 3" actually runs about 10 minutes shorter than "Dead Man’s Chest." Thanks to the weak marketplace (last weekend was the worst frame in seven months), Sony has booked a record 4,253 locations for its bow this weekend breaking the previous high of 4,163 theaters for the launch of 2004’s "Shrek 2." The studio is not reporting its total print count, but based on other megablockbusters of its type, it can be safely estimated that over 8,000 total screens will offer up this new super hero flick. Possibly over 9,000. By comparison, the second "Pirates" hit set sail in 4,133 theaters with over 8,500 prints while "Star Wars Episode III" took off with over 9,400 prints in North America in mid-May 2005.
The marketing campaign has been running on overdrive with numerous red carpet premieres around the world over the last two weeks. The push seems to be helping as "Spider-Man 3" has surpassed the opening day marks of its two older brothers in every market. The event film grossed a stunning $29.2M on its first day in 16 territories on Tuesday breaking the all-time opening day record in ten of them including France, Italy, Hong Kong, Egypt, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The tally was more than the first-day grosses in the same countries of the first two "Spidey" films combined. By Sunday the juggernaut will be playing in a stunning 107 markets across the globe. North American audiences may follow suit and push "3" ahead of the then-record $114.8M opening of the first Peter Parker pic from five years ago this very weekend. That same size audience turning out this weekend at today’s ticket prices would unload about $130M domestically.
Although the new tale has little competition on its second weekend, its spider legs may not be as strong as those of the previous webslinger films. The first two were very big crowdpleasers with many calling the second installment the better film. Expectations are sky high for the new one. Yes, the threequel is a fun thrill ride worthy of kicking off the summer popcorn season and boasts impressive action sequences and effects. But its weak script and cram-a-ton-of-stories-into-one-film feel will not make many fans think of it as the best "Spidey" yet. It becomes so much of a super hero soap opera by its midpoint that it won’t have the same word-of-mouth as the previous ones. While that will have no effect on the opening weekend gross, it could eat into repeat business down the road. Last summer’s "X-Men: The Last Stand" opened powerfully to $122.9M over the four-day Memorial Day frame but tumbled down to $16.1M by its third weekend.
When franchises hit the third installment, pressure mounts to offer something new to the table so casual fans don’t lose interest. What "Spider-Man 3" has going for it is the buzz that has circulated (naturally or artificially – you decide) about how this could be the final "Spider-Man" film for Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst together. That succeeds in giving the film a sense of urgency in that fans feel that this might be the last party for the beloved trio. Add in the magazine covers, talk show appearances, and globe-trotting premieres and Spider-Man has truly conquered pop culture this week which will make movie fans not want to be the only goofballs on Monday who didn’t see the can’t-miss blockbuster.
Advance ticketing has been running at a record pace. Movietickets.com has reported that sales are ahead of "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point in the advance sales cycle and three times better when compared to "Spider-Man 2." Add in Thursday night midnight shows, and the higher-priced Imax venues where tickets run as much as $15 in New York City, and the grossing potential climbs even higher.
"Spider-Man 3" stands an excellent chance of setting a new industry record for the biggest opening in history. The marketing assault has been amazing, audience anticipation is sky high, competition is zero, and every screen out there is dumping its spring trash in favor of the Sandman flick. Towering over its foes, "Spider-Man 3" might swing into the friendly neighborhood of $140M over the Friday-to-Sunday span this weekend.
Who would dare go head-to-head against Spider-Man this weekend? The Hulk of course! Eric Bana joins forces with Drew Barrymore in the poker drama "Lucky You" which Warner Bros. is quietly dropping into the marketplace. Offered as a counter-programming option for adult women, the much-delayed film from director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "8 Mile") tells of a hardcore card shark who juggles rocky relationships with his need to win a tournament. The PG-13 film could not have asked for a more unlucky frame. Although countering super hero films with chick flicks can be a good move ("My Best Friend’s Wedding" vs. "Batman & Robin," "The Devil Wears Prada" vs. "Superman Returns"), this time this film just doesn’t have the goods. Buzz is low, reviews are bad, and Drew just isn’t the draw she used to be. Plus "Spider-Man 3" boasts plenty of female appeal so the choice will be simple for most women. Not likely to find full houses in its 2,525 theaters, "Lucky You" looks to settle for a distant second place showing with about $7M this weekend.
Elsewhere in the land of single-digit millions, "Disturbia" will end its three-week reign atop the charts. The Paramount thriller has been enjoying good legs with second and third weekend declines of 42% and 31%, respectively. This time the fall should be harder since "Spidey" will appeal to the exact same audience. A 45% drop would give "Disturbia" about $5M for the session and a solid 24-day cume of $59M.
The supernatural thriller "The Invisible" probably burned through much of its audience on opening weekend so a 50% drop to around $4M could result. That would give Buena Vista $13M after ten days. Fellow sophomore "Next" starring Nicolas Cage should collapse as well as moviegoers showed no interest last weekend. A 50% decline should lead to a $3.5M frame and a dismal ten-day total of only $13M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
I was wondering when we’d start getting smacked with all the poker movies … and here comes one! Curtis Hanson‘s "Lucky You" stars Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, and Robert Duvall. It looks pretty cool to me, and it opens on September 8th. Check out the trailer right here.
"Huck Cheever is a blaster—a player who goes all out, all the time. But in his personal relationships, Huck plays it tight, expertly avoiding emotional commitments and long-term expectations. When Huck sets out to win the main event of the 2003 World Series of Poker—and the affections of Billie Offer, a young singer from Bakersfield—there is one significant obstacle in his path: his father, L.C. Cheever, the poker legend who abandoned Huck’s mother years ago."
Co-starring Debra Messing, Jean Smart, and Charles Martin Smith, "Lucky You" also has a pretty impressive screenwriters’ pedigree. It was written by Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") and Eric Roth ("Munich").
Fans of Philip Pullman’s "His Dark Materials" series have reason to rejoice this morning: New Line Cinema has given an official greenlight and production date to "The Golden Compass," which will be brought to the big screen by Oscar-nom Chris Weitz.
Thanks to ComingSoon.net for the New Line press release:
"New Line Cinema has officially greenlit production on "The Golden Compass," the highly anticipated adaptation of the first of author Philip Pullman’s bestselling "His Dark Materials" trilogy, it was announced today by New Line’s Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. Production on the $150 million-budgeted film is scheduled to begin September 4 in the UK, with Oscar-nominated writer/director Chris Weitz ("About a Boy," "Antz") at the helm.
"’The Golden Compass’ is the most ambitious film that New Line has undertaken since ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ trilogy, and we have assembled a remarkable creative team, headed by Chris Weitz, to bring it to fruition," commented New Line’s Shaye and Lynne.
Newcomer Dakota Blue Richards has been cast in the lead role of Lyra Belacqua. Richards landed the role after filmmakers conducted an extensive casting search throughout England, during which they saw more than 10,000 young girls. Open calls were held in Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter, and Kendal, before Richards was chosen from the Cambridge call for an audition and subsequent screen test.
"Dakota made what should have been an extremely difficult decision quite easy," says writer/director Weitz. "We wanted a completely new face for Lyra, but I was surprised that any young girl, especially one without training, could light up the screen as Dakota does."
Pullman adds, "I’m delighted with the casting of Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra. As soon as I saw Dakota’s screen test, I realized that the search was over. Dakota has just the combination of qualities that make up the complicated character of this girl, and I very much look forward to seeing the film take shape, with Dakota’s Lyra at the heart of it."
Helping to bring "The Golden Compass" to the big screen will be an all-star production team that includes Oscar-winning production designer Dennis Gassner ("Road to Perdition," "Big Fish"), Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth Myers ("L.A. Confidential," "Emma"), and Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Mike Fink ("X-Men," "X2: X-Men United," "Road to Perdition").
"The Golden Compass" is being produced by Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment and Weitz’s Depth of Field production company. Paul Weitz (an Oscar nominee for "About a Boy") and Andrew Miano will serve as executive producers on the film. Bill Carraro will also serve as a producer on the film.
Based on the bestselling and award-winning Pullman novels, the "His Dark Materials" trilogy is comprised of "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass." It revolves around a young girl who travels to the far north to save her best friend. Along the way, she encounters shape-shifting creatures, witches, and a variety of otherworldly characters in parallel universes."
In addition to the facts laid down in the press release, we also have a potentially juicy piece of casting news from the guys at IGN FilmForce: "According to England’s Daily Mail, (Nicole) Kidman has been offered the key part of Mrs. Coulter — scientist, socialite, and conspirator. With the actress’s good looks, charm, and intensity, she could be just right for the part; apparently Pullman himself has endorsed her for the role. As of yet, however, there’s no word — official or otherwise — that Kidman has accepted the part."
Hmmm, guess I better take a visit to the library….
Today is the opening day for "Superman Returns," which can mean only one thing: Sequel Talk. Over the course of several cast & crew interviews, IGN FilmForce was able to collate a variety of sequel-centric responses, and the general concensus seems to be this: If Bryan Singer‘s on board, so is everybody else.
Kevin Spacey: "Well, I think they’re probably gonna wait and see what happens. There’s certainly discussion about doing a second one, and I would love to do a second one, if Bryan is at the helm.
Screenwriter Dan Harris: "If there is a sequel with Bryan involved we will do it."
Meanwhile the executives at WB are thinking "Hell yes, there’ll be sequels. Someone get Brett Ratner on the phone!"
"Superman Returns" opens today. Enjoy.
"It’s the Australian West," he said. "We’ve tried to reclaim it for ourselves."
"The Proposition," opened in limited release in the U.S. on May 5 after an enthusiastic response at the Toronto and Sundance film festivals.
In the film, set in the Outback in the late 1800s, Charley Burns (Guy Pearce) is captured by the authorities, and given an ultimatum by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone): if he slays his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) within a week, his younger brother Mikey will be set free. If not, Mikey dies.
"The Proposition" is filled with sharp supporting performances by the likes of Emily Watson and John Hurt, as well as some startling cinematography, a haunting score by Nick Cave (who wrote the screenplay), and fascinating characters, whose capacities for good and evil deeds shift convincingly.
Australia’s colonial history leant itself to a lot of potential for drama, from the harshness of the climate to the settlers’ condescending, often violent attitudes toward the Aboriginal population. Hillcoat said he wanted to make a film that was true to history but also worked dramatically.
"It’s been a dream to do a film out in the elements like that and trying to tackle that part of our history because it hasn’t really been seen on the screen like that," he said.
Hillcoat said he was inspired by revisionist Westerns of the 1970s, and films that displayed a realistic, sometimes harsh frontier, like Robert Altman‘s "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," Sam Peckinpah‘s "The Wild Bunch," and Terrence Malick‘s "Days of Heaven."
"What I loved about Peckinpah and Altman and Malick is there’s a link to reality, and what the times were, a kind of truthfulness about what it would have been like back then," he said.
For years, Hillcoat had wanted Cave to do the score for such a Western in an Australian setting. They agreed that Cave would have a go at the script, but Hillcoat thought it would be a loose outline that would later be fashioned into a screenplay. Over a matter of a few weeks, Cave came up with the scenario.
"Once he started, out it came, the story of the brothers and the central conflict that we could hang all this stuff on," he said. "Nick surprised me and himself."
When Pearce got the script, he thought it was something special.
"It was so beautifully written," he said. "It was so poetic and so evocative, which is very rare. It was very easy for my imagination to be fueled and to get a sense of what it was they were trying to tell."
Pearce was also attracted to the moral complexity of the story.
"Obviously the scenario is quite extreme and rather harrowing," he said. "It almost seems like an impossible task to contemplate how one might choose one brother over another or one family member over another, particularly when it comes to having to kill [someone]."
The moral ambiguity and violence in the script, as well as the plan to shoot the film in the Outback, made the film a tough sell, Hillcoat said.
"It was incredibly hard to finance because of the tone and the script," he said. "The financers knew it was a logistical risk to go out there and build sets in that kind of territory. By the time the money got together and we finally had everyone ready to go, we had slid into the beginning of the summer."
Trouble struck early when Hillcoat and several members of the crew were involved in a serious car accident, in which their vehicle hit some rough terrain and rolled over three times.
"They’d thought I had broken my neck," he said. "Twenty-four hours later, I greeted the key cast that had arrived on a charter flight. I had a neck brace and black eyes. That was just the beginning."
The environment posed many serious challenges; temperatures reached well into the 100s, and many scenes were shot at night because the cameras were too hot to touch. The week after production, fierce winds leveled the majority of the sets. So as rough as the conditions were, things could have been worse, Hillcoat said.
"Luck has a major part when it has to do with the developments," he said. "Those strong winds could have come at any moment when we were shooting, so we were lucky."
And the difficulty of the shoot created both a sense of camaraderie among the cast members and a greater feeling for the material.
"All that stuff adds to what you’re doing," Pearce said "The environment really informs what you’re doing. The environment and the world that these people live in and the level of survival is far more extreme than what we know it to be today, [although] certainly [it is] for some cultures, not for others. It was a real fascinating sort of journey to enter into that."
"It was one of those situations where everyone knew it was going to be quite extraordinary," Hillcoat said. "Everyone kind of bonded rather than tore each other apart."
Much of the good feeling on the set came from Hillcoat’s method of directing, Pearce said.
"He really knows what he wants, and what he wants is very true and honest performances," he said. "He’s very open to having you find that very true and honest place. He certainly doesn’t limit you in your honest interpretation of the work. He’s my kind of director."
And in getting to the truth of the material, the film often depicts some very graphic floggings, shootings, and spearings. But Pearce said it’s the tone of the film, the sudden but inevitable flare-ups, that make the violence seem more shocking.
"Some say, ‘Oh, the film is violent.’ I think on some level, people are inadvertently complimenting the film by saying that, because we’re talking about the fact that it actually is effective," he said. "There are plenty of films out there that are violent, where people run around with machine guns and shoot the hell out of everybody, and there’s no aftermath. To me, that’s disrespectful in film. It’s just like a video game.
"To me, this feels complete in the addressing of violence: You have the lull before the storm, you have the really horrific storm, and you have the cleanup afterwards," he continued. "There’s probably less violence in this film than in the majority of other films. It’s just that when it happens, it feels real."
The violence feels more real because of the setting, Pearce said.
"It’s kind of a looming violence," he said. "We know that this world is a harsh and dangerous one, and it’s one that’s fraught with all sorts of difficulties in regards to surviving. You feel quite troubled at the idea that potentially anything violent could happen. It’s that looming violence that adds up for people when they watch it."
Regardless, Pearce said he feels American audiences will find a lot in the story that will resonate.
"I feel it should particularly appeal to Americans because on some level, there’s a similar frontier environment, [with] people really being out of place and trying to make a home in such a harsh environment that’s not their own," he said. "And really, the story’s about human emotion rather than necessarily a historical document."
Those complex emotions are in some ways incongruous with the idea of the Western in film, with exception of the 1970s anti-Westerns, Hillcoat said.
"Your sympathies keep swinging between some of the characters, and that’s very unusual because normally the American West is put into very black and white terms," he said.
And Hillcoat said he feels that dealing in black and white is a problem in today’s political climate, one that "The Proposition" refutes.
"Life isn’t like that," he said. "I know Bush is trying to tell everyone life is like that. Part of the mood of all that in a political context [is] empire building and the consequences of violence. I’m hoping it will ring a chord here [in the U.S.]."
And it has certainly made a big impression on Pearce; he said the film, from the cinematography to the music to his co-stars’ performances make "The Proposition" a particularly special film for him.
"It’s by far my favorite film that I’ve ever been in," he said. "Look, that’s not to take anything away from ‘Memento‘ or ‘L.A. Confidential,’ because I think they’re both extraordinary pieces of work. But there’s something about this that moves me in a way I haven’t felt before.
"I have to be fair, because I haven’t watched the other [films] for a couple years," he continued. "[But] there’s something so raw. Maybe it means more to me because it’s an Australian story."
Still, Pearce said, "It’s a story about human emotions, so it doesn’t really matter where it’s set."
Following a hotly-contested bidding war, New Line Cinema stood victorious with the film rights to Nicci French’s "Land of the Living," a fairly intense-sounding story of horror, survival, and … skepticism. Celebrated author James Ellroy is attached to adapt Ms. French’s novel into screenplay form.
Says Variety: "New Line Cinema beat out several bidders to acquire screen rights to the Nicci French novel "Land of the Living," with James Ellroy set to write the script.
Deal was near seven figures both for the rights to the book and Ellroy’s script fees. Novel was published two years ago but gained steam when Ellroy pitched his take on the novel and to do his first adaptation of a book other than his own.
Story concerns a promiscuous woman who’s captured and tortured by a serial killer. After surviving the ordeal, she has to figure out what happened because cops and even her friends think she fabricated the story."