Thor: Ragnarok only needed to get a 67% on the Tomatometer to improve upon The Dark World‘s score. Looks like all this franchise needed was some new zeal and New Zealand director Taika Waititi because Ragnarok is currently scoring way higher than that, which inspires this week’s gallery of 24 most improved movie sequels by Tomatometer!

Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass team are back for a third round of inspired mayhem, and even better, their latest don’t-try-this-at-home movie offering is being presented — as logic, or lack thereof, dictates — in glorious, port-a-loo-splattering 3-D.

To mark the occasion, RT and Paramount/MTV Films are giving away 5 double in-season passes to Jackass 3D, which opens November 4 in cinemas around Australia. On top of that, we’ll throw in DVD copies of Jackass: The Movie and Jackass: Number Two. Pretty sweet.

All you have to do to win is tell us, in 25 words or less, your favourite Jackass stunt, and why. Email your answers to Jackass 3D Giveaway. Be sure to include your full name and postal address for prizes.

Entries close Thursday November 4. Winners will be notified by email.


Jackass 3D is in cinemas November 4.



It’s the future, or so we keep being told, but while every second movie seems to be getting the 3D treatment in the wake of Avatar‘s world-conquering success in the format, when you see Pixar’s forthcoming Toy Story 3 — which makes outstanding use of the third dimension, in service of a great story — it’s easy to see how the horizons of cinema as we know it could well change to embrace the technology. To mark the release of the Disney-Pixar film, Rotten Tomatoes put on the 3D goggles and took a look into the near future, to bring you a preview of 10 of the must-see movies on their way over the next year…


Despicable Me

Despicable Me is the first feature co-directed by Chris Renaud, who was Oscar-nominated for his short No Time For Nuts, which starred prehistoric saber-toothed squirrel Scrat from the Ice Age series. Realizing that such supporting characters — think also the penguins of Madagascar and the Little Green Men of Toy Story — often steal the show, much of Despicable Me appears focused on Gru’s relationship with his overall-wearing popcorn-a-like minions. These creatures are sure to be a hit with the kids, while the stellar voice cast, which includes Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride and Ken Jeong, ought to keep parents amused. The crazed scenario, which lends itself to dozens of minion-launched rockets and roller-coaster 360-degree spinouts, should ensure the 3D is used to maximum effect.


Frankenweenie

If you’ve never seen Tim Burton’s 1984 short, do yourself a favor and watch it on The Nightmare Before Christmas extras. Shot in beautiful B&W that anticipates the classic Hollywood horror flavor of his later Ed Wood and offering the graveside humor of Beetlejuice and Nightmare, this has modern-day schoolboy Victor Frankenstein inspired by his science teacher’s (cult legend Paul Bartel) frog-zapping experiments to use electricity to bring back to life his dearly departed doggie Sparky. Sympathy for the monster/outsider and terrifically droll dialogue (dad Daniel Stern says to mom Shelley Duvall: “I guess we can’t punish Victor for bringing Sparky back from the dead”) are other Burton trademarks that emerged fully formed. All that said, Frankenweenie is a linear 29 minutes and didn’t reflect the filmmaker’s original intention to make it in stop motion. Now, though, Disney is giving him creative control to design the characters and expand the story so that other schoolkids learn Victor’s secret and start re-animating their dead pets. An uprising of zombie goldfish, iguanas, cats and dogs, conceptualized and made by Burton, in 3-D and in glorious black and white? Sold.


Drive Angry

Nic Cage chews the scenery and unveils absurd bouffants with pleasing regularity. But no matter how crazy his excesses in Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans or Knowing, we have a feeling we haven’t really seen the full magic of his facial frenzy and follicular follies until they’ve been realized in three dimensions. Here’s what you need to know about Drive Angry: He plays a dad tracking down those responsible for killing his daughter. It features a ’69 Dodge Charger and a ’71 Chevrolet Chevelle. Eye candy Amber Heard appears. So do David Morse and William Fichtner and a dollar’ll get you two that they’ll be playing bad guys. Tom Atkins shows up but we’re betting he’s too goddamned likable to be anything other than an old pal of Cage’s character. And just to amp up the guilty-pleasure must-see vibe: Cage told MTV in April that a) this time he “dyed the hair [our italics] lighter because I think that’s what the character should look like” and b) “There’s a supernatural element to it as well, which is keeping with what my interests are right now.” So, it’s Ghost Driver, as conceived by Patrick Lussier, director of the My Bloody Valentine remake? Schlocktastic!


Sanctum

We didn’t include Avatar 2 on this list because — duh — it’s a given we want to see it. But before that we’re keen to venture into the Sanctum, whose production James Cameron has been overseeing in Australia this year. The lean $30m film, which uses the Avatar cameras, is based on the real-life experience of Andrew Wight, an Aussie adventurer who led an underwater caving expedition that got trapped in a subterranean hell-maze for two days after a flash flood blocked the entrance to the system. Wight has since produced Cameron’s Aliens of the Deep and Ghosts of the Abyss and is producing and writing Sanctum, with the film directed by compatriot Alistair Grierson, who proved his action and suspense chops with low-budget WWII flick Kokoda. RT saw some 3D proof-of-concept footage a few months back and can testify that visual immersion in the dark depths triggered all sorts of spine-tingling fear.


Piranha 3D

We love the 1978 original but recognize it as a cheap-ass cash-in on Jaws that just happened to be awesome because Roger Corman put Joe Dante behind the camera with a script from John Sayles. While it’d be a bit much to hope for the same winning combination of scares, schlock and spoof from director Alexandre Aja (High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes weren’t exactly laugh riots) and writers Josh Stohlberg and Peter Goldfinger (Good Luck Chuck, Sorority Row) what is guaranteed are a lot of in-your-face piranha attacks. And with Eli Roth playing the MC of a wet T-shirt contest, you can count on at least some bad-taste laughs with the carnage. A couple of fun facts: the first Piranha spin-off was sequel Piranha II: The Spawning, which was the feature debut of 3Dmeister James Cameron, and there was a 1995 TV movie remake called Piranha, which marked Mila Kunis’ first major role.


Jackass 3D

Have stunt pranks gone out of style? Before you answer, think right back to the start of cinema. Okay, so Mack Sennett and Buster Keaton seldom upended themselves in full portable toilets to get a laugh. But the point is that stupid stuff that might kill people always has an audience. The Jackass crew, led by Johnny Knoxville, have reunited for this, perhaps the final frontier for the franchise — at least until technology is developed that actually beams the madmen into your living room so they can spray you with bodily fluids or drive a nail through your scrotum. So, embrace Jackass 3D, we say. Having Johnny, Bam and the gang figuratively in your face might be the safest way to vicariously experience a lot of otherwise pretty painful stuff. As for the aesthetics of the thing, director Lance Bangs told TimesOnline a few weeks back: “It’s utterly crazy. Everything in 3D looks as brightly coloured as candy. I’m a cameraman on it, and it’s amazing to watch the footage being turned 3D, like watching everything through a viewfinder.” For those who’d sniff that acclaimed music-vid director Bangs and Jackass co-creator Spike Jonze should have — you know — grown up by now would do well to note they’ve made this while also creating The Lazarus Effect, an HBO documentary about Aids patients in Zambia. Make sure you see that, too.


The Adventures of Tintin

It’s not quite Dylan goes electric, but The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret of The Unicorn sees Steven Spielberg finally embrace digital. That he’s doing it at WETA in 3D motion capture with Peter Jackson producing and with a beloved period comic character makes the possibilities of the playground all the more intriguing. The cast features Jamie Bell and Daniel Craig but also Gollum hisself Andy Serkis and Britcom stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The scriptwriters include Edgar Wright and Dr. Who and Coupling‘s Stephen Moff. All this means there’s the distinct whiff of Belgian-American-British-Kiwi comedy-action genius at work. If you factor in that Spielberg and Tintin creator Herge fell for each other back in 1981, and that the latter believed the former was the only filmmaker who could do his creation justice, this will be 30 years in the making when it premieres late next year.


Megamind

Flawed supervillains are the new black for 3D animation in 2010. Following Despicable Me‘s Gru comes the titular baddie, voiced by Will Ferrell, whose claim to be an evil genius is somewhat laughable given his every plan to take over Metro City has been thwarted by Metro Man, a superhero with the voice of Brad Pitt. Megamind’s goofy attempts to be more than a clichéd nogoodnick — alligator pits are sooooo last year — and show-downs with the insufferably right-on superhero promise fun visuals. Same goes for a Superman-mocking opener which sees eight-day-old Megamind jettisoned from his home planet just before it’s sucked into a black hole. Having Tina Fey and Jonah Hill on board for supporting vocals adds to the expectation of a breezy good time.


Tron Legacy

Back in 1982, the last 3D revival was getting underway, with in-your-face gimmick adding to the schlocky fun of Parasite and Friday the 13th Part III. But that year’s truly inventive visuals — even above and beyond the towering likes of Blade Runner and The Thing — were showcased in Tron. It was the first movie to make extensive use of computer animation — primarily in scenes involving the light vehicles — which was interspersed with backlit animation and an ingenious new take on rotoscope techniques. The technology and distinct look of Tron anticipated the revolution we’ve experienced recently thanks to digital effects, motion-capture and 3D. So, it’s only fitting that Tron: Legacy will most likely set the post-Avatar benchmark for visual immersion. The storyline — Kevin Flynn’s son disappears into the same virtual world that claimed his dad all those years ago — feels unforced and the seamlessness continues with the return of key cast members Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. What has changed in the record-setting 28 years between original and sequel is the ability to realize filmmakers’ wildest imaginings in three-dimensions. Strapping yourself in before the light cycles start racing may be a good idea.


Sucker Punch

We’ve steered clear of 3D conversions with this list because experience has so far shown that movies conceived and shot in the format work better than those that have it applied in retrospect. That said, Zack Snyder’s films are perhaps in a class of their own. No matter whether you loved or hated it, parts of 300 had astounding visual depth and the same goes for Watchmen. You can imagine were those films converted they’d look as though they’d been conceived for 3D. Which brings us to Sucker Punch. This action-fantasy gives riot-gal Baby Doll five days in which to escape a mental asylum with her posse of kick-ass femmes or otherwise face lobotimization. That this “Alice In Wonderland with machine guns” is set in the 1950s and blurs the lines of reality with parallel world narratives means that Snyder’s got a huge palate with which to work. Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish (pictured), Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino represent for the chicks, while Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn, Robin Hood’s Oscar Isaac and Black Dynamite‘s Michael Jai White hold down the fort for the dudes. Sucker Punch is a six-year labor of love for Snyder and it marks the first time he has worked on a feature that he originated (along with writer Steve Shibuya) so we look forward to seeing what the man does when freed of the confines of remake or adaptation.


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

In this week’s Ketchup, we have more guessing games regarding who will be Batman’s other foe in "The Dark Knight," music and pics from the "Transformers" movie, and "Evan Almighty"’s rapidly ascending budget, which even the power of God may not be enough to save.

Also, a beloved "Harry Potter" character does a disappearing act, and Orlando Bloom may not return for a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean." Read on for more.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

Who’s Playing Two-Face in "Batman" Sequel?

Christopher Nolan has confirmed Two-Face will be one of the villains in "The Dark Knight," his follow-up to "Batman Begins," and IGN FilmForce is trying to determine who will play the role.

"Transformers" Music, Optimus Prime Headshot, and More Set Photos Emerge
Cinematical has a nice roundup of various "Transformers"-related happenings from around the web, including news on the theme song, a first look at Optimus Prime’s head, and a photo from the set!

Steve Carell’s "Evan Almighty" — At $225M, An Unholy Mess?

Few doubt that Steve Carell is an outsized comic talent. But the Los Angeles Times is suggesting that his current project, "Evan Almighty," is getting a reputation for its outsized budget, one that could ultimately run as high as $225 million, which would make it the costliest comedy of all time.

"Harry Potter" Sleight-Of-Hand: Dobby’s Disappearing Act

Looks like someone’s cast a nasty disappearing spell (written outum scripto!) on "Harry Potter" creature Dobby, since the CGI-powered timid house elf won’t be seen in "Order of the Phoenix."

Bloom Out For "Pirates 4?

Is Will Turner, Orlando Bloom’s character in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, marked for death? According to WENN (via Cinescape), the script for the fourth "Pirates" movie is in the works, and it may sanction the demise of Jack Sparrow’s young sidekick.

Update: The rumors about Orlando Bloom have been highly exaggerated.


"And for your next miracle, you will make a pissed-off studio happy."

In Other News:

  • Peter Berg is set to direct the Will Smith superhero film "Tonight, He Comes," becoming the project’s fourth director.
  • Amber Tamblyn will star in the indie thriller "Blackout," about three people trapped in a hospital elevator that turns into a harrowing experience.
  • Julia Roberts is set to star in "Eat, Pray, Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of the same name.
  • James Cameron will co-write a produce "James Cameron’s Sanctum," a live-action drama about a father and son deep-sea diving team that will be filmed in high-definition 3-D. Gary Johnstone will direct the movie for Rogue Pictures.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly will join Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s adaptation of "Sweeney Todd," the musical thriller set in Victorian England.
  • Filmimg for the movie "Dallas" has been put on hold as the entire cast, except for John Travolta as J.R. Ewing, is being replaced.
  • Fox 2000 has acquired Kim Barker’s script "All About Steve," with Sandra Bullock slated to star in and produce the film.
  • Genius Products, the home video subsidiary of the Weinstein Co., has acquired North American rights to "Dirty Sanchez: The Movie," AKA the Welsh version of "Jackass."
  • Finally, New Line Cinema acquired film rights to "Snitch," a script inspired by true events detailed in a PBS "Frontline" documentary.

Still on board for "Dallas."

Could there be a third "Jackass"? Johnny Knoxville says that — while there is nothing definitive in the works per se — he plans to shoot some footage that may grow into a second sequel.

Knoxville hinted to iF Magazine (via Dark Horizons) that, like "The Godfather," "Lord of the Rings," and "The Apu Trilogy," there could indeed be a third installment in the stunt/public embarrassment series. While he’s satisfied with the conclusion of the second "Jackass," there are some scenes he still wants to film.


Had enough of these guys? Me neither.

"There’s some stuff I’m still wanting to shoot, and we might shoot in November," Knoxville said. "It’s not for a three, it’s just because it’s something I really want to do, and I said I was gonna do it, and then I could not not do it."

And, if that’s the case, cast member Dave England said it will be more of the same.

"’Jackass’ is what it is, to turn it into something else would just bum people out," England was quoted as saying.

"Jackass: Number Two" opened at number one at the box office, and, to the surprise of even the cast members, garnered surprisingly good reviews. It’s currently at 61 percent on the Tomatometer.

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.


Jet Li inviting us to his last Martial Arts flick.

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.


The real star of "Flyboys": the CGI.

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.


Sean Penn’s politician wins over his constituents, but not the critics.

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 BurtonJohnny 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

This week at the movies, we’ve got antisocial behavior ("Jackass: Number Two," with Johnny Knoxville and the gang), hell-raising politicos ("All The King’s Men," starring Sean Penn), fearless warriors ("Fearless," starring Jet Li), and flying aces ("Flyboys," starring James Franco). What do the critics have to say?

For some, the perilous, grotesque antics of the "Jackass" posse offer inarguable proof of America’s cultural decline, if not a bellwether of the Apocalypse. For others (Critical Consensus included)… well, what can I say? Wasabi snooters? Off-road tattoo? Gets me every time. Now, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O and the rest are back with "Jackass: Number Two," a film that promises to be as puerile as its title. But guess what? It’s getting pretty good reviews! The critics say this latest collection of stoopid stunts and bad behavior maintains a certain warped integrity in addition to its sophomoric laughs. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Jackass" may be worth a ride, provided you can stomach this stuff. And it’s better-reviewed than its predecessor (49 percent).


I want those #&^%@* snakes out of this #&^%@* ball crawl!

"All The King’s Men" has everything that makes for a compelling movie. It’s got a great cast (Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Anthony Hopkins, among others). It’s based on a great novel (by Robert Penn Warren). It’s got great cinematography. Unfortunately, critics say, the superlatives end there. Loosely based on the life of populist Louisiana Governor Huey "The Kingfish" Long, "All The King’s Men" tells the story of a small town rabble-rouser’s ascent in politics and descent into shady morality. Critics say the film is too bombastic to work, with too many vague characters and an over-the-top performance from Penn. The film received a muted reception in Toronto; it currently stands at 15 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s well below the 1949 Oscar-winning original film (94 percent).


Sean Penn makes Howard Dean seem pretty chill.

Jet Li has come to personify a specific film subgenre: the historical martial arts epic. "Hero" and the "Once Upon a Time in China" movies were marked by sweeping visuals and Li’s remarkable athleticism. But the star says he’s no longer making that type of picture; if that’s the case, critics say "Fearless" makes for one heck of a swan song. The film tells the tale of a great martial arts master who looks inward after succumbing to his own ego and the murder of his family. The scribes say "Fearless" is quite a show, with remarkable action sequences and an interesting philosophical undercurrent. "Fearless" is currently at 70 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s Li’s third consecutive fresh American release, following "Unleashed" (68 percent) and "Hero" (94 percent).


"Fearless": I had no idea people wore baseball hats in China in the early 1900s!

"Flyboys" tells an old-fashioned tale of courage and heroism with the latest in CG technology; unfortunately, critics say, the technology ends up overshadowing everything else. The film tells the story of a group of Americans who volunteered to fly in WWI alongside the French. According to the critics, "Paths of Glory" this ain’t; they note that the CG effects are excellent, and the dogfights are exciting, but the story and the characters are far less involving. At 37 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flyboys" doesn’t soar.


"And another thing… None of you better be making any wisecracks about ‘The Pink Panther!’"

Also in theaters this week in limited release: "American Hardcore," a documentary about the life and death of the louder-faster punk rock style, is at 100 percent; "The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros," a coming of age tale set in Manila, is at 100 percent; "Jesus Camp," a documentary about evangelical Christian campers, is at 93 percent; "Old Joy," a meditative tale of eroding friendship starring indie darling Will Oldham, is at 88 percent; "Solo Con Tu Pareja," the debut of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" helmer Alfonso Cuaron, is at 80 percent; "The Science of Sleep," Michel Gondry‘s latest head trip starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, is at 69 percent; the "Project Greenlight"- approved horror flick "Feast" is at 57 percent; and "Renaissance," a visually remarkable French noir, is at 50 percent.


"I wish I could be as carefree and wild/ But I got cat class and I got cat style."

Recent Johnny Knoxville Movies:
—————————————–
41% — The Ringer (2005)
0% — Daltry Calhoun (2005)
15% — The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
54% — Lords of Dogtown (2005)
52% — A Dirty Shame (2004)

Recent Jet Li Movies:
—————————–
68% — Unleashed (2005)
94% — Hero (2004)
26% — Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
14% — The One (2001)
49% — Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Recent Dean Deviln-Produced Movies:
————————————————-
90% — Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)
54% — Cellular (2004)
47% — Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
61% — The Patriot (2000)
25% — Godzilla (1998)

This week we’ve got some magic in ordinary dwellings (M. Night Shyamalan‘s "Lady in the Water" and "Monster House") and some funny couples ("My Super Ex-Girlfriend," with Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, and Kevin Smith‘s "Clerks II," featuring Jay and Silent Bob). What do the critics have to say?

For a moment, it appeared that M. Night Shyamalan would join the top tier of contemporary directors. "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs" were commercial and critical hits, establishing a winning combination of spooky, twisty plots and spiritual quests. But now, after the lukewarm critical reaction to "The Village," and the absolute drubbing that his latest, "Lady in the Water," is taking, it’s looking like Shyamalan may be adrift. (The fact that "Water" star Bryce Dallas Howard‘s dad was piloting the craft when Fonzie jumped the shark is purely coincidental.) The film tells the story of a super (Paul Giamatti) at a drab apartment complex who discovers a mythical creature (Howard) living beneath the swimming pool. Though its description makes "Lady" sound like a simple fairy tale, critics say the film is needlessly complex, ponderous, and pretentious. At 22 percent on the Tomatometer, "Lady in the Water" is out to sea.


Ignoring the sound advice of his co-stars, Paul Giamatti’s characters continue to drink and dial.

On every street, there’s one house that’s just a little creepy, a place that inspires trepidation and even fear among the neighborhood kids. In "Monster House," there’s a residence that actually attacks people. The critics say this CG film, featuring the voices of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nick Cannon, and Steve Buscemi, is technically excellent and effective as a funny, scary funhouse ride of a movie. But perhaps it’s a little too effective; more than a few of the scribes say the movie may be way too scary for younger viewers. Still, at 66 percent on the Tomatometer, this "House" may be a prime piece of real estate.


Yes, children…. mortgage payments are scary.

"My Super Ex-Girlfriend" has a pretty amusing premise: A guy is on the outs with his girlfriend, but she’s a superhero, and uses her powers to thwart his budding romance with a coworker. Plus, director Ivan Reitman and stars Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson are pretty adept at light comedy. So what’s the problem? Well, the critics say the movie never quite transcends its premise. While the scribes say the leads are solid and the script does a decent job of poking fun at the superhero genre, the execution is ultimately too flat to make this material soar. "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is at 45 percent on the Tomatometer.


It appears Uma has seen "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" one too many times.

If it wasn’t for Bruce Springsteen, Kevin Smith would likely be the voice of New Jersey. His "Clerks" changed the landscape of indie cinema in the 1990s; its DIY aesthetic inspired hundreds of other kids in the suburbs with demented minds and big dreams to pick up a camera and document their existential crises. In "Clerks II," he revisits Dante and Randal, those lovable, potty-mouthed slackers, who’ve barely changed a lick in a decade (aside from the release of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the presence of Rosario Dawson, which at least gives them something new to talk about). The critics say that while "Clerks II" will not break any new ground, it will please the legions of Kevin Smith acolytes with its witty, ribald humor. At 70 percent on the Tomatometer, "Clerks II" may be worth a stop, though it’s still a cut below the original, at 85 percent.


Buncha savages in this town.

Also in theaters this week in limited release: Ryuhei Kitamura‘s "Azumi" is at 57 percent on the Tomatometer; "Shadowboxer," starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren, is at 44 percent; and the bloody indie "Mad Cowgirl" is at 17 percent.

Recent M. Night Shyamalan Movies:
———————————————
43% — The Village (2004)
75% — Signs (2002)
67% — Unbreakable (2000)
83% — The Sixth Sense (1999)
38% — Wide Awake (1998)

Recent Kevin Smith Movies:
————————————
41% — Jersey Girl (2004)
51% — Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
68% — Dogma (1999)
93% — Chasing Amy (1997)
49% — Mallrats (1996)

If it’s possible to take a big step backwards after starring in "The Dukes of Hazzard," then you just know Johnny Knoxville will find a way to do it. Case in point: There’s a sequel to "Jackass: The Movie" coming out soon, and there’s even a trailer to prove it.

From ComingSoon.net: "This sequel to the 2002 hit, based on the infamous MTV series in which Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, and company regularly put their health and dignity on the line in an attempt to shock and amuse, gets the old gang back together for another round of gross, alarming, and funny hi-jinks."

The trailer’s here. Official site here.

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