(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Morgan Freeman. Read this sentence in his voice. That familiar sound of authoritative benevolence, that could make an intro paragraph soar like a songbird with world-weariest wings. Freeman has lent his sonorous gift for narration to dozens of documentaries, including March of the Penguins, and to several of his narrative films, like Million Dollar Baby and, to lasting generational effect, in The Shawshank Redemption.
But before the voice of God got to play God (see: Bruce and Evan Almighty), Freeman had to humbly serve the silver screen in bit and seriously secondary parts for two decades. He got his big break performing the the lead villain in Christopher Reeve’s journalism thriller Street Smart, for which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. That was released in 1987 and is where we’ll start Freeman’s filmography for this guide. Just two years later, he was on the national radar with the Best Picture-winning Driving Miss Daisy, for which he was once more nominated. The Academy has recognized his work three times since: Shawshank, Million Dollar Baby (for which he won), and Invictus.
The Daisy prestige brought in a raft of memorable roles for Freeman, including in Glory, Unforgiven, and Seven. He also seems to have a knack for being in the right comic book movie at the right time: see Red, Wanted, and his turn as Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy. We’re taking a look back on a celebrated career with this list of all Morgan Freeman movies ranked by Tomatometer!
Action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham face off this weekend in the new crime thriller War which leads a flood of new releases pouring into North American multiplexes trying to catch the final dollars of the summer movie season. The R-rated Lionsgate release finds the two playing an assassin and a federal agent, respectively, and will aim for young male audiences. Both actors have solid followings and the combination allows War to offer a two-for-one deal that will make the ticket price well worth it for many fans.
Li’s last films Fearless and Unleashed each bowed to just under $11M with averages of a little less than $6,000. Statham’s Crank opened over Labor Day weekend last year with $10.5M and an average of $4,158 over three days while during the same holiday frame in 2005 his action sequel Transporter 2 debuted to $16.5M with a $5,008 average over three days. Lionsgate has had a strong marketing push on War and should connect with male action fans. Last weekend’s top three films Superbad, Rush Hour 3, and The Bourne Ultimatum will all provide some direct competition, but a solid bow is likely. Opening in 2,271 theaters, War could premiere with about $14M this weekend.
Rush Hour 3 will race past the $100M mark this weekend and could slide by 50% to around $10.5M. That would give New Line $107M after 17 days. Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum should have a better hold and drop by 40% to roughly $12M putting the Universal smash at $185M overall with its eye on the double-century mark by Labor Day.
LAST YEAR: Buena Vista topped the charts with its football saga Invincible which bowed at number one with $17M on its way to a solid $57.8M. Will Ferrell‘s comedy Talladega Nights placed second with $8.1M while Little Miss Sunshine expanded and jumped up to third place with $7.4M. Warner Bros. opened its comedy Beerfest in fourth with $7M leading to a $19.2M final. World Trade Center rounded out the top five with $6.5M in its third frame. Two smaller films debuting far below were Universal’s Idlewild with $5.7M and New Line’s How to Eat Fried Worms with $4M. Final tallies reached $12.6M and $13M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Four new films open wide, but they may not be enough to stop the North American box office from suffering its third consecutive down weekend.
Leading the way is the Paramount sequel "Jackass: Number Two" which will enjoy the widest release by far. The rest of the films will take moviegoers back in time just as so many other recent releases have done. Focus Features unleashes Jet Li‘s martial arts epic "Fearless," MGM takes off with the World War I adventure "Flyboys," and Sony remakes the political thriller "All the King’s Men."
Four years ago, Paramount shocked the industry with the number one bow for its crude stunts flick "Jackass: The Movie" which managed to keep "The Ring" out of the top spot on the weekend right before Halloween. Its $22.8M debut and eventual $64.3M domestic take and DVD success helped to bring about a sequel, "Jackass: Number Two" which hopes to conquer the charts once again. The R-rated pic regroups the team from the hit MTV reality series including Johnny Knoxville and finds them taking part in another series of outlandish don’t-try-this-at-home antics. Males in their late teens and early twenties are the target audience here although slightly older guys who were devoted followers a half-decade ago might also be up for some nostalgia.
The first "Jackass" bowed to a muscular $9,073 average from 2,509 playdates which at today’s ticket prices would be over $10,000. "Number Two" is not likely to match that amount though. A wider launch will dilute the average a bit and the franchise has aged and is no longer at the peak of its popularity. But since Knoxville has found more mainstream success recently with films like "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "The Ringer," the studio is hoping that some new fans will give "Two" a try. Competition for males will be fierce with last weekend’s top film "Gridiron Gang" still playing to sports-loving boys and men while Jet Li’s new film "Fearless" will
steal away dudes who dig martial arts fighting, bones cracking, and necks breaking. Male dollars will be stretched to the limit this weekend and an already sluggish marketplace will mean that there will only be so much overall traffic. Busting into over 3,000 theaters, "Jackass: Number Two" will rank number one and may open with around $23M.
Mr. Knoxville and co. are back to cheat death and reason.
Also gunning for young men with R-rated fare is Focus Features with the historical martial arts actioner "Fearless" starring Jet Li. Already a hit at cinemas in Asia, Australia, and parts of Europe, the period pic tells the true story of a legendary fighter who inspired his nation in China at the start of the twentieth century. With a bigger star in the lead, "Fearless" is sure to perform better than Tony Jaa‘s Thai actioner "The Protector" which bowed to just $5M two weeks earlier. Li has a consistently loyal fan following that is likely to turn out especially since the marketing campaign is pushing the claim that this is his final martial arts film ever. This tactic gives the pic a level of urgency, although it should not mean much to those outside of his fan base. Crossover potential to mainstream action fans is not very likely, though the actor’s pull with urban males should not be underestimated.
Still, Li has posted some impressive numbers in his career. Each of his six films from this decade has launched with an opening weekend average of at least $5,500 with five having averaged more than $6,000. His last effort "Unleashed" bowed last summer to $10.9M and a solid $5,570 average while 2004’s Chinese blockbuster "Hero" conquered the North American charts for two straight weeks bowing to an impressive $18M and $8,865 average. Foreign language films pretty much never do that in the U.S. market. "Fearless" will not duplicate the success of "Hero" which used the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" tag to attract extra biz. Plus with "Jackass" taking away many young men this weekend, only the true followers will make it out. But reviews have been very positive (the best for any new
release) and advance buzz from overseas has been encouraging too. Kicking its way into roughly 1,806 theaters, "Fearless" might debut to about $9M.
World War I bi-planes are the draw in "Flyboys," a new historical action adventure being released by MGM. The PG-13 film stars James Franco as a courageous American pilot in France who devotes his life to fighting for the Allies. With a high pricetag and no proven stars that can sell in America, this is yet another risky period film packed into the slow month of September. The "inspired by a true story" description used by half of the films in the current top ten is once again in play here. With sex and bad language kept to a minimum, "Flyboys" hopes to appeal to a broad family audience so adults can bring their kids. However, the starpower and subject matter are both lacking making this a tough sell at the box office especially since the marketplace is already filled with mediocre product. Zooming into 2,033 theaters, "Flyboys" might climb to around $7M over the weekend.
After taking a beating at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sony’s remake "All the King’s Men" enters the marketplace on Friday with more subdued expectations. The PG-13 reworking of the classic 1949 political thriller stars Sean Penn as a charismatic politician from the South who gains power and flirts with corruption in the process. The all-star cast also includes Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo, and James Gandolfini. Distributors often utilize the Toronto fest to generate buzz for their Oscar contenders right before their fall commercial openings, but in this case, it seemed to have backfired with so many reviewers panning the pic. "Men" should play exclusively to a mature adult audience as teens will yawn at the premise. The marketplace has been flooded with period dramas in recent weeks with "The Black Dahlia," "Hollywoodland," and "The Illusionist" all going after the same audience. Competition will be a major factor.
Sony is not giving its usual saturation release to "King’s Men," but instead campaigning in just 1,514 theaters this weekend hoping some positive buzz will spread. The lack of screens will keep the gross in check and the bad reviews should sting even more. Last weekend, "Dahlia" found out the hard way how far a serious film for adults can go when the critics give a thumbs down. The film’s starpower is about its only major asset right now, but will it be enough to make moviegoers risk their dollars? With negative press, an abundance of direct competition, and only a moderate amount of theaters, "All the King’s Men" could find itself with only $7M this weekend and a rocky road ahead.
In limited release, The Weinstein Co. unleashes its horror flick "Feast" in 140 theaters with special midnight shows across the country on Friday and Saturday. The latest winner from the Project Greenlight series is directed by John Gulager and finds a group of people trapped inside a bar fighting off flesh-eating creatures. Filmmaker Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") returns to the surreal with "The Science of Sleep," a new fantasy drama starring Gael García Bernal ("The Motorcycle Diaries") as a man whose dreams collide with reality. Warner Independent is opening the film on Friday in eight major U.S. markets and will expand it across the country next weekend. Miramax platforms its futuristic sci-fi toon "Renaissance" in New York and Los Angeles. Set in Paris in the year
2054, the R-rated tale is the latest film to bring the look of a graphic novel to the big screen.
Last weekend’s top film "Gridiron Gang" is sure to lose its first place ranking. The Rock‘s films never have very good legs on the second weekend as evidenced by the sophomore declines of his recent films – 48% for 2003’s "The Rundown," 46% for 2004’s "Walking Tall," and a horrendous 73% for last fall’s "Doom." While "Gang" was not a favorite with critics, it has been getting favorable responses from moviegoers so its drop this weekend may not be too bad. Competition for young males will be a factor with the dueling R pics "Jackass" and "Fearless," but younger boys may still be up for an uplifting football tale. "Gridiron Gang" might see a decline of 45% to around $8M giving Sony a reasonable ten-day cume of $25M.
Universal’s murder mystery "The Black Dahlia" was not too powerful in its opening last weekend and both critics and moviegoers are giving negative feedback. A 50% fall would leave the Brian De Palma flick with $5M for the frame and a weak $18M after ten days.
LAST YEAR: One A-list Hollywood blonde replaced another at the top of the charts. Jodie Foster‘s kidnapping thriller "Flightplan" flew to number one opening with a strong $24.6M. The Buena Vista release went on to gross $89.7M making it the top-grossing film in the September-October corridor for 2005. In second place, Warner Bros. expanded its animated film "Corpse Bride" nationally taking in $19.1M. The Tim Burton–Johnny Depp collaboration found its way to $53.4M. Reese Witherspoon fell from first to third with her comedy "Just Like Heaven" which collected $9.6M. Opening in fourth place with moderate results was the skating drama "Roll Bounce" which bowed to $7.6M on its way to $17.4M from less than 1,700 theaters. Close behind in fifth was the hit thriller "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" with $7.5M in its third round.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Louis Leterrier, he of "Unleashed," "Transporter 2," and the upcoming "The Incredible Hulk," was cool enough to sit down and answer some questions from the SuperheroHype.com readers, and while he didn’t divulge all that much information — it still makes for a pretty amusing interview piece.
Q: Is Lou Ferrigno really in the running to voice Hulk? (I hope not)
I’ve only met Lou once and I was star-struck. Who do you think should do the voice?
Q: Will you get (Jason) Statham a role in this film — if not Abomination perhaps someone in the military.
Q: How far are we away from a casting announcement and a release date?
Q: Is this a sequel or not? There has been alot of confusion over this. Sometimes yes, and other times no.
It’s a hard question to answer. You have to be the judge of that when you see the film."
And that’s just a portion of the rather vague Q&A session. Click here for the whole package.
With Comic-Con just underway, you can expect a lot of super-geeky news to start hitting the streets … and here’s #1: Louis Leterrier, who recently directed Jet Li in "Unleashed" and Jason Statham in both "Transporter" movies, will be in charge of "The Incredible Hulk" for Marvel Studios.
From The Hollywood Reporter: "Action director Louis Leterrier has signed on to helm "The Incredible Hulk" for Marvel Studios. Avi Arad, Kevin Feige and Gale Anne Hurd will produce the movie, which will return the monstrous superhero to his comic book roots.
Arad and Feige first met with Leterrier two years ago and were struck by his passion for the Marvel Comics universe. It was that passion that shone through recently when — after approached to gauge his interest in directing a new "Hulk" movie — Paris-based Leterrier went back to his studio and, with the help of an artist, storyboarded two action sequences and developed a take on the monster. The script is being penned by Zak Penn, whose credits include Marvel’s "X2: X-Men United" and "X-Men: The Last Stand."
The movies that scored with the critics this summer also scored with audiences. That is, the movies with the best Tomatometer scores also tended to perform well at the box office.
At the top of the list, there is a surprise and a disappointment. The surprise was "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which, at 84 percent on the Tomatometer and $97 million at the box office, was a film with slight expectations that became a runaway success. The modest disappointment was "Cinderella Man," a film that was beloved by critics (also scoring 84 percent on the Tomatometer) but took in a not-too-shabby but far-from-blockbuster $61 million in theaters.
The rest of the top five contains fewer surprises box office-wise; less predictable was the critical enthusiasm that greeted "Batman Begins" (83 percent on the Tomatometer), "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" (82 percent), and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (82 percent). Each of these films surpassed the $200 million mark (with "Sith" at $380 million), as would seemingly befit a "Star Wars" movie, a kids’ flick and a superhero story. However, what was unanticipated was the very real enthusiasm critics and audiences had for these films.
Here’s the complete list of the summer’s fresh wide releases:
84% — Cinderella Man ($61.5M)
84% — The 40-Year-Old Virgin ($97M)
83% — Batman Begins ($205M)
82% — Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($380M)
82% — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($204M)
81% — The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ($39M)
81% — Red Eye ($57M)
81% — The Constant Gardener ($27.7M)
81% — Hustle & Flow ($22.1M)
77% — Crash ($55.4M)
73% — Wedding Crashers ($205.5M)
73% — George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead ($20.4M)
72% — War of the Worlds ($233.3M)
68% — Sky High ($62.3M)
66% — Unleashed ($24.4M)
61% — Mr. and Mrs. Smith ($185.6M)
Check out the rest of our coverage:
– Summer Tomatometer Wrap-up: Box Office Down, Tomatometer Up
This week we have a movie about international intrigue ("The Constant Gardener"), a mercenary ("The Transporter 2"), the problems of time travel ("A Sound of Thunder"), and a cop who goes back to school "Underclassman").Which one will get the best marks from the critics?
Director Fernando Meirelles‘ first film, "City of God," was a marvel, as it examined the lives of the poor in Rio de Janeiro while simultaneously being exhilarating entertainment. So what does he do for an encore? "The Constant Gardener," a film that critics say manages to be both exiting and a thoughtful, angry diatribe against neo-colonialism in Africa. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, tells the story of a mild-mannered British diplomat who finds himself in the midst of an international conspiracy. If, at 79 percent on the Tomatometer, it falls a tad below "City of God" (93 percent), the scribes still think it’s one of the smartest films of the summer.
Jason Statham is back in his signature role, as "The Transporter 2" continues the story of the ex-special-forces-agent-turned-mercenary, and the critics are as divided on the sequel as they were on the original. While some say the latest installment is absurd and riddled with plot holes, others say it’s got enough excitement to keep action fans satisfied. It’s currently at 50 percent on the Tomatometer; the original was a shade better, at 51 percent.
The sound you hear may be thunder, or it may be the pounding of critics’ keyboards to pan "A Sound of Thunder," a new science fiction film based on a short story by Ray Bradbury. Starring Edward Burns and Ben Kingsley, the movie examines the potentially devastating effects of time travel on the course of history. The critics say the film has all the negative trappings of 1950s B-movies; with cheesy dialogue and way more fi than sci, "A Sound of Thunder" is at nine percent on the Tomatometer.
What was high school like for you? At my school, there was a car theft ring, and all of a sudden there was this new, popular guy at my school, who I was stunned to find out later was an undercover cop. As you may have guessed, "Underclassman," starring the very likable Nick Cannon, is not the height of realism, critics say. But, even worse, it is not original at all, copping riffs from "Beverly Hills Cop" and "21 Jump Street." The critics are giving this one a flunking grade; at zero on the Tomatometer, "Underclassman" won’t make it out of summer school.
Two of this week’s wide releases, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Red Eye," would appear to have little in common. One is a comedy that mixes sentimentality with the profane, and the other is a Hitchcockian thriller aboard a plane. Yet both films are among the best reviewed of the year.
"The 40 Year-Old Virgin," starring Steve Carell as a dork with all the wrong moves, is currently the best reviewed wide release of the year, at 90 percent on the Tomatometer. "Red Eye," Wes Craven‘s thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, is also soaring; at 83 percent, it’s the fourth-best reviewed film of the year. "Red Eye" is just behind "Cinderella Man," at 84 percent, and "Batman Begins" at 83 percent. Rounding out the top five is "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," at 82 pecent.
There have been 82 wide releases in 2005 (we’re not including films that start in limited release and slowly move wide, like "Kung Fu Hustle" and "March of the Penguins"). Here’s the list of the best reviewed so far:
Best Reviewed Films of the Year with Wide Release Debuts
(Does not include films with platform releases)
1. The 40-Year Old Virgin – 90%, 102 Reviews
2. Cinderella Man – 84%, 171 Reviews
3. Batman Begins – 83%, 217 Reviews
4. Red Eye – 83%, 101 Reviews
5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – 82%, 229 Reviews
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 82%, 185 Reviews
7. The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants – 82%, 105 Reviews
8. Hustle & Flow – 81%, 121 Reviews
9. Sin City – 78%, 212 Reviews
10. Crash – 77%, 154 Reviews
11. Pooh’s Heffalump Movie – 76%, 68 Reviews
12. Wedding Crashers – 74%, 151 Reviews
13. George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead – 73%, 146 Reviews
14. War of the Worlds – 72%, 218 Reviews
15. Hitch – 68%, 168 Reviews
16. Sky High – 67%, 103 Reviews
17. Unleashed – 66%, 109 Reviews
18. Coach Carter – 65%, 122 Reviews
19. Robots – 63%, 164 Reviews
20. Fever Pitch – 63%, 163 Reviews
Kick on over to Yahoo! Movies for your first peek at Jason Statham in "The Transporter 2," which, as anyone with working eyeballs can plainly see, is the sequel to "The Transporter." Directed by Louis Leterrier ("Unleashed"), this sequel is about a bodyguard / chauffeur / professional butt-kicker who finds himself protecting a small boy from several nasty people with guns.
Freaky French filmmaker Luc Besson is on board as a producer, and the screenplay comes courtesy of Robert Mark Kamen ("The Karate Kid" trilogy). Joining Mr. Statham in his second go-round of hyper-unrealistic action sequences are Amber Valletta ("Hitch"), Jeff Chase ("The Rundown"), and Hunter Clary as "the little kid."
Needless to say, "Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith" was the number one movie at the box office this weekend … and it absolutely demolished a few records in the process. "Sith" grossed just over $158 million in its first four days of release as it debuted on over 9,000 screens.
Weekend-wise, "Sith" scored $108 million between Friday and Sunday, which means that "Spider-Man" still holds the opening weekend record with its $114 million haul. But the sixth and final chapter of George Lucas‘ space saga snagged several box office records, including biggest single day, biggest midnight screening tally, biggest opening day, biggest two-, three- and four-day total, and fastest to $100 million (3 days, tied with "Spider-Man" and "The Matrix Reloaded"). It also broke the record for quickest to $150m, too. Worldwide the prequel has grossed just over $303 million!
As for the other films presently playing in the multiplexes, second place went to the romantic comedy "Monster-in-Law," which pulled in $14 million in its second weekend. The Will Ferrell family flick "Kicking & Screaming" grossed $10.5m for third place, and the top five were rounded out by "Crash" ($5.5m) and "Unleashed" ($3.8m). For a closer look at the box office tallies, feel free to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.
Despite total box office numbers being down (once again), that didn’t stop the critically lambasted Jane Fonda/Jennifer Lopez comedy "Monster-in-Law" from grabbing the top spot with a better-than-expected haul of $24 million on 3,400 screens. Also debuting in fine financial form was the Will Ferrell sports comedy "Kicking & Screaming," which effortlessly earned second place with a tally of $20.8 million on approximately the same number of screens.
Knock $10 million off of #2 and you have the third place winner, Jet Li‘s "Unleashed," which made $10.5 million on just under 2,000 screens. Rounding out the top five were last weekend’s "Kingdom of Heaven," which grossed $9.6 million (to bring its grand total to $35 million), and "Crash," which continues to do quiet-yet-strong business on less than 1,900 screens. The racially charged Lions Gate drama made $7.2 million, bringing its total to just under $20 million.
The final flick to make its debut this weekend was the long-delayed FBI thriller "Mindhunters," which debuted in 10th place and was able to gross only $2 million on 1,000 screens. This coming Thursday sees the release of a quiet little arthouse flick that just may be able to make some solid coin. It’s called "Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith." As always you can dig deeper into the filmic finance by visiting the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page!
"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" will dominate headlines next week, but this week, it’s all about kicking and screaming in one form or another. First off, Jet Li does a lot of kicking and screaming, as well as punching, in the action drama "Unleashed," co-starring recent Oscar winner Morgan Freeman. Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda do their fair share of screaming and baring their claws at each other as potential in-laws in the comedy "Monster-in-Law." There’s also a lot of screaming in "Mindhunters," a thriller starring Val Kilmer, LL Cool J and Christian Slater. Last, but not least, there’s the soccer comedy where Will Ferrell and elementary school kids do a lot of "Kicking and Screaming." Let’s see which of these films critics will be kicking around and screaming at.
Will Ferrell has become a highly bankable star after the enormous success of the family comedy "Elf." He returns to the big screen, this week, targeting the same demographic with "Kicking and Screaming," a soccer comedy in which he plays a father who tries to coach his son’s little league soccer team to the championship. Oscar winner Robert Duvall co-stars as his competitive father who coaches an opposing team. "Elf" was not only a surprising box office hit, but it was also a surprisingly well-reviewed film, scoring an outstanding 84% on the Tomatometer. "Kicking and Screaming," unfortunately, isn’t able to achieve that level of adoration with critics. While it’s likable enough, they think it’s a formulaic family film with only intermittent laughs. As of this writing, it scores a mixed 44% on the Tomatometer, which just happens to be Ferrell’s average Tomatometer.
Fresh from the commercial success of "Shall We Dance," J-Lo (a.k.a. Jennifer Lopez) will do battle with Jane Fonda (a.k.a. J-Fo to certain critics) in "Monster-in-Law," a comedy about an ex-news anchor (Fonda) who tries to scare off her son’s fiancé (Lopez) by being the mother-in-law from hell. You’ll have to watch the film to see whether or not Fonda’s character is successful, but the film is doing quite well at scaring off the critics. Stale, silly, and stupid are just a few of the adjectives used by critics to describe the film. It scored a moldy 17% on the Tomatometer, significantly lower than Lopez’s average of 37%. She hasn’t had a Fresh movie since 1998’s "Out of Sight."
A group of fallen stars no longer able to open movies by themselves – Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, and Christian Slater – hopes that their combined drawing power can attract audiences to "Mindhunters." Directed by Renny Harlin, well known for mindless action films like "Cliffhanger," "Mindhunters" is about a group of eight endangered FBI profilers who must find the serial killer amongst themselves. Despite being promoted as a psychological thriller, critics say it didn’t take long for the mindless action movie typical of Harlin to rear its ugly head. It scored 34% on the Tomatometer. That’s 10% lower than Harlin’s average Tomatometer of 45%.
Critics have a better reaction to Jet Li’s newest actioner "Unleashed," co-starring Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins and Kerry Condon. Li plays a man who was raised in captivity and trained to be a killing machine by a ruthless mobster (Hoskins) since childhood. When a turf war between two rival mob families left him under the care of a kind family (Freeman and Condon), he slowly regains his humanity. Freeman and Hoskins add credibility and respect to the film, something sorely lacking in previous American productions headlined by Li. The result is Li’s best reviewed American film. In addition to the spectacularly choreographed and bone-crunching fight scenes, critics applaud the filmmakers’ effort to tell an interesting story, even if the emotional scenes are not entirely successful. "Unleashed" scores a marginally Fresh 61% on the Tomatometer. Jet Li’s previous five American productions have averaged only 37%.
Before "Star Wars" opens next week, check out "Unleashed" if you’re in the mood for an action film with a fascinating premise – it’s the only new wide release critics are not kicking around or screaming at.
"Officially" starting the Summer Movie Season with somewhat of a fizzle are a pair of wide release newcomers and a handful of hangers-on. Ridley Scott‘s "Kingdom of Heaven" took the #1 spot by a healthy margin, although total box office numbers continue to lag as compared to last year. "Heaven" grossed an estimated $20 million on 3,200 screens, which was more than enough to give it the top spot, despite hauling in less cash than anticipated. In second place …
… was Elisha Cuthbert‘s horror remake "House of Wax," which grossed about $12.2 million at 3,100 theaters. Dropping 57% from its opening weekend was Disney’s "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," which made $9.1m in its sophomore session. In fourth place was New Line’s race-relations drama "Crash," which pulled in a fairly impressive $9.1m on less than 1,900 screens. In fifth was the Nicole Kidman / Sean Penn political thriller "The Interpreter," which added another $7.5m to a box office total that presently stands at $54m total. Next Friday sees a quartet of releases that will try to make a quick killing before "Revenge of the Sith" overtakes the multiplexes: the Will Ferrell soccer comedy "Kicking & Screaming" and the J. Lo / Jane Fonda concoction "Monster-in-Law" open in wide release, while the crime thrillers "Mindhunters" and "Unleashed" open semi-wide. As always you can get a closer look at the box office numbers by visiting the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page!
Critics of the film’s marketing have said that the idea for the film and the poster, which depicts Li lying on the ground defending himself against a foot stepping on his head, as being racist against Chinese.
In the series of questions and answers Li states that the misunderstanding might be "… because the people who say this have not yet seen this movie so they don’t really know the idea behind the film. But believe me this film does not insult me".
Li goes on to answer additional questions about his ONE Foundation, a charitable non-profit organization he is setting up to aid in the victims of natural disasters as well as discuss his upcoming project with helmer Ronny Yu and celebrated choreographer Yuen Woo Ping.