(Photo by Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection)
Three ways to start a movie star career: Have a famous actor father, produce a Best Picture winner, or be in a hit TV series for a while before making the leap. Uh, check, check, and check for Michael Douglas, son of Kirk, producer of One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest, and star of early ’70s procedural The Streets of San Francisco.
So by the time San Francisco ended in ’77, Douglas was ready to get plastered all over the silver screen, starring in Michael Crichton’s Coma. He put out a few more like-minded high-stakes adult thrillers (The China Syndrome, The Star Chamber) before being made as an ’80s man with Romancing the Stone. The cheeky globe-trotting adventure film, directed by Robert Zemeckis and co-starring Kathleen Turner, turned him into a sex symbol, with all the women (Fatal Attraction), money (Wall Street, a Best Actor Oscar winner), and power (Black Rain) that implies.
It all came to a head in the ’90s with the supremely watchable sleaze that is Basic Instinct, which left mouths wide open, among other things. Other movies of the decade, like Falling Down and David Fincher’s The Game, are still watched today, especially for their exploration of broken-down masculinity and power.
Douglas got another taste of Best Picture gold with 2000’s Traffic (nominated, but struck down by Gladiator). This marked Douglas’ first collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh: The two would reunite for Haywire and Behind the Candelabra. He was brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the famous Dr. Hank Pym for Ant-Man, a role he reprised for the Wasp sequel. Now, we’re ranking all Michael Douglas movies by Tomatometer!
Another week, another horror film. That’s the mantra in Hollywood at the moment. Among the four new films going into wide release this weekend are Sony’s terror tale "Vacancy" which represents the fourth scary flick in three weeks to hit the multiplexes.
Also debuting are New Line’s murder drama "Fracture," the Warner Bros. romantic drama "In the Land of Women," and the British action comedy "Hot Fuzz" all looking to help moviegoers kill some time as they await the return of the webslinger.
Sony offers a new batch of frights in its latest horror pic "Vacancy" starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple stranded at a dirty motel where occupants are filmed while being brutally killed. The studio is making the right move by selling the R-rated film on concept first, and starpower second. The marketing has been creepy and effective plus the plot is different and appealing. Horror fans are likely to take interest. But moviegoers have been bombarded with scary movies so much in recent weeks that you’d think it was October. Plus the harsh rating will keep out some of the younger teens who may want in on this action. Also a wildcard will be this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech as college students may not be in the mood at this moment for a movie about senseless killings.
Most of the business will depend on marketing and the campaign has been solid. It is very difficult nowadays to set your horror flick apart from all the other ones but "Vacancy" has done it right. Competition from "Disturbia" will be a factor, but older teens and young adults who like a good scare should line up in decent spring-like numbers. "Vacancy" opens in 2,551 theaters on Friday and could pull in around $14M over three days.
Recent Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling plays an assistant district attorney prosecuting a man who murdered his wife, played by Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins, in the new courtroom thriller "Fracture." The New Line release will play to a mature adult audience which puts it in a strong position given all the films targeting teens and young adults at the moment. Both actors are well-respected, however they are not necessarily box office powers. Hopkins has done well when he’s playing a cannibal, but otherwise his track record is spotty when anchoring a film with no other major commercial draws. Reviews have been somewhat positive which could help a tad. "Fracture" debuts in about 2,400 theaters and may collect roughly $12M over the frame.
Warner Bros. goes after the ladies with the weekend’s only PG-13 entry "In the Land of Women." Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Kasdan, the romantic drama stars "The O.C."’s Adam Brody along with Meg Ryan and Olympia Dukakis in the story of a young man who learns the complexities of the other sex while caring for his ailing granny. Male appeal will be close to zero. That means that "Disturbia," which is playing very well with teenage girls, will be a major competitor here. Aside from that, there aren’t too many direct threats however the overall marketing push has not been very loud on "Women." Landing in 2,155 theaters, "In the Land of Women" might capture about $8M for the weekend.
The creative team behind 2004’s cult hit "Shaun of the Dead" is back with its take on cop buddy flicks with "Hot Fuzz." The R-rated action comedy finds an overachieving London cop being transferred to a seemingly peaceful countryside village before stumbling upon a series of mysterious killings. Young men will make up the core audience. But through video and cable, "Shaun" has built up a loyal fan following which is likely to give this new entry a try. Add in positive buzz from its blockbuster release in the U.K. earlier this year (it’s already grossed $48M outside of North America) plus glowing reviews from U.S. critics and it is sure to pack a punch in the per-theater average race. Holding it back will be the moderate wide release in 825 locations. In 2004, "Shaun" debuted in 607 sites and grossed $3.3M for a solid $5,487 average. "Hot Fuzz" should be hotter and could arrest about $6M this weekend.
Following its surprisingly potent number one opening, Shia LaBeouf‘s thriller "Disturbia" will face some hefty competition from "Vacancy" which also goes after those seeking a scary flick. A 45% drop could be in order giving the Paramount title around $12M for the frame and a ten-day tally of $39M.
Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy "Blades of Glory" looks set to break through the $100M mark this weekend. A 35% decline would give the Paramount release about $9M for the frame and $102M after 24 days. Disney’s animated film "Meet the Robinsons" has been holding up very well and with another weekend of mostly R-rated new entries, look for another slim dip. The 3D toon might slide by just 25% to roughly $9M boosting the cume to $84M. An invitation to the century club is in the mail.
LAST YEAR: Spooky flick "Silent Hill" topped the charts opening to a strong $20.2M on its way to $47M for Sony. The Weinstein Company’s spoof hit "Scary Movie 4" tumbled 58% in its second weekend to $16.8M for the runnerup spot. Debuting in third was the Michael Douglas actioner "The Sentinel" with $14.4M before finishing with $36.3M for Fox. The studio’s toon sequel "Ice Age: The Meltdown" followed with $13.3M in its fourth frame while competing animated entry "The Wild" rounded out the top five with $8.3M. The weekend’s other new release, the Hugh Grant comedy "American Dreamz," bowed poorly in ninth with $3.7M on its way to just $7.2M for Universal.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Tom Cruise climbed into his usual number one spot at the box office with his heavily-hyped spy sequel Mission: Impossible III, however ticket sales fell below most industry expectations as the debut was not spectacular.
The weekend’s other new releases, the horror flick An American Haunting and the kid drama Hoot, both generated lukewarm openings. But thanks to a weak early May in 2005, the overall marketplace still beat out last year for the seventh consecutive frame.
Paramount claimed the top spot with MI3 which invaded a staggering 4,054 theaters collecting an estimated $48M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The third installment in the decade-old franchise averaged a potent $11,846 per venue. But Tom Cruise’s box office muscles were expected to lift the tally much higher given all the factors that were working in the $150M film’s favor. The newest Mission pic obviously had plenty of starpower but with its early May bow, it had virtually no competition in the multiplexes to deal with. Plus the studio’s marketing hype was deafening, the pic opened in the second highest number of theaters in history for a live-action film (behind Spider-Man 2‘s 4,152), and even the reviews were mostly favorable. That was a welcome bonus as critics are rarely kind to big-budget action sequels.
According to studio research, MI3 connected with the same audience that the previous two did. Men made up 56% of the crowd and 64% were age 25 or older. Joining Cruise in the PG-13 film’s cast were Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Openings for other high-profile action films debuting on the first weekend of May include $68.1M for 2001’s The Mummy Returns, $85.6M for 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and $51.7M for 2004’s Van Helsing. MI3 didn’t even reach the level of Van Helsing. In fact, its opening gross was even weaker than that of Mission: Impossible 2 which launched over Memorial Day weekend six years ago with $57.8M over three days, $70.8M over four days, and $91.8M over its six-day Wednesday-to-Monday span. Even with higher ticket prices, a Friday bow, and hundreds of more theaters, MI3 still failed to reach the heights of MI2. Adjusting for inflation, MI3’s opening was the weakest among the Ethan Hunt flicks. The first Mission bowed to $74.9M over its six-day holiday frame in May 1996 including $45.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.
Instead, the new J.J. Abrams-directed IMF saga opened in the same neighborhood as other recent star-driven spy films like last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M), 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5M), and 2002’s James Bond film Die Another Day ($47.1M). Although opening near the $50M mark over three days is an impressive feat, Cruise’s new film was backed by one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in recent memory. The highly-paid star/producer attended premieres all around the world, popped up on major talk shows and magazine covers, and press coverage, not surprisingly, was non-stop.
Industry watchers must now wonder – was there too much marketing? Were audiences sick and tired of hearing and seeing Tom Cruise everywhere? Did they really want to spend money seeing even more of him? Media-saavy moviegoers voted with their dollars and those who seemed to have had enough chose to stay away. The MI3 hype machine brought back memories of Sony’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle from three years ago. That action sequel also arrived in theaters on a disturbingly loud wave of promotion revolving around its flamboyant stars and Demi Moore‘s relationship with Ashton Kutcher which was constantly covered on the airwaves. Despite the pricey marketing investment, Throttle debuted weaker than expected with $37.6M and crumbled 63% in its sophomore frame.
Paramount was pleased with the international results for Mission: Impossible III as the actioner took in an estimated $70M over the weekend opening in almost all major markets around the world except for Japan. The spy sequel blanketed the globe with roughly 9,500 theaters in 55 markets putting its worldwide opening weekend tally at $118M. The ratio between sales outside and within North America remained the same as with previous Mission pics. The 1996 original grossed 61% of its $465M global tally overseas while MI2 took in 60% of its $538M internationally. This weekend, 60% of MI3’s dollars came from abroad.
With no major competition for the family audience, the Robin Williams comedy RV enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 32% to an estimated $11.1M. The Sony release dropped one notch following its top spot bow and has grossed a solid $31M to date. In just ten days, RV has already become the second biggest live-action grosser for Williams in the past seven years after the $67.4M of 2002’s Insomnia. Look for the $50M road trip flick to end its journey in the neighborhood of $60M.
Opening in third place was the supernatural thriller An American Haunting which scared up an estimated $6.4M in ticket sales in its first three days. The PG-13 film averaged a decent $3,825 from 1,668 theaters. Reviews were mostly negative for the Donald Sutherland–Sissy Spacek starrer about a possessed young woman in the 1800s. Distributor Freestyle Releasing’s weekend estimate included an unusually low Saturday-to-Sunday decline of less than 5%. Final grosses released on Monday could see the figure come down.
The gymnastics comedy Stick It tumbled 49% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.5M giving Buena Vista $18M in ten days. Look for the teen pic to reach $27-29M which is commendable for its genre. After a solid takeoff last weekend, the 9/11 hijack thriller United 93 declined a substantial 55% in its sophomore frame and grossed an estimated $5.2M. After ten days, Universal’s $15M pic has collected $20.1M and should find its way to roughly $30M domestically.
Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown dropped 45% to an estimated $4M in its sixth frame to boost its cume to $183.3M. Crumbling 58% in its third spook was Sony’s fright flick Silent Hill which grossed an estimated $3.9M lifting the cume to $40.8M.
The spoof sequel Scary Movie 4 fell 52% to an estimated $3.8M and brought its total to $83.7M. The Starbucks-promoted kid drama Akeelah and the Bee enjoyed a respectable second weekend hold dropping 43% to an estimated $3.4M. After ten days, the Lionsgate release has still only grossed $10.7M and seems likely to finish close to $20M.
Opening to dismal results with an estimated $3.4M from 3,018 theaters was the kid drama Hoot from New Line. The PG-rated story of a group of boys who set out to save endangered owls averaged a pitiful $1,127 per location. Fans of the best-selling book apparently avoided the film adaptation and critics for the most part were unimpressed.
A handful of films opened in limited release to mixed results. Warner Independent debuted the Chinese epic The Promise in 213 theaters but grossed only $271,000 according to estimates for a poor $1,272 average. The Golden Globe-nominated adventure was China’s official submission to this year’s Oscars and is reportedly that country’s most expensive film ever made. U.S. critics were not very pleased.
Sony Classics bowed its indie comedy Art School Confidential which grossed an estimated $142,000 from a dozen sites in New York and Los Angeles averaging a strong $11,833 per site. The Terry Zwigoff-directed film expands to nearly 800 theaters in most major markets on Friday. ThinkFilm debuted its Edward Norton starrer Down in the Valley to an estimated $26,000 from three New York houses for a solid $8,770 average. The film widens to three more cities on Friday before gradually expanding throughout May.
Among holdovers, Fox Searchlight expanded its widow drama Water from five to 36 theaters and grossed an estimated $188,000 for a $5,222 average. The ten-day total stands at $270,000 and this Friday the Deepa Mehta film will widen to about 60 sites. The distributor’s indie sensation Thank You for Smoking collected an estimated $1.1M, off 40%, for a $20M cume.
Three April releases were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. The Michael Douglas political thriller The Sentinel took a big hit from MI3 and crashed 62% to an estimated $3M putting its 17-day cume at $30.9M. Fox should find its way to about $36M. Disney’s underperforming toon The Wild slumped 46% to an estimated $2.6M. With only $32M in the bank, the animated film looks to conclude with $36-38M. Sony, on the other hand, has generated solid numbers for its sports comedy The Benchwarmers which grossed an estimated $2M this weekend. Down 54%, the Rob Schneider–David Spade film has taken in $55.6M thus far and is set to end with just under $60M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.7M which was up a healthy 24% from last year when Kingdom of Heaven opened at number one with $19.6M; but off 4% from 2004 when Van Helsing debuted in the top spot with $51.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com
Sony rode a press blackout to first place with their video game horror flick "Silent Hill." The gothic creepfest earned an estimated $20.2 million from 2,900 theaters, handily knocking last week’s champ, "Scary Movie 4," into second place.
Chapter numero cuatro in the seemingly endless spoof series, "Scary Movie 4" grabbed another $17 million, placing its total somewhere in the range of $67.7 million. Debuting in 2,800 theaters (and third place) was Fox’s secret service thriller "The Sentinel," with $14.7 million.
Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of animated animal-fests: "Ice Age: The Meltdown" ($12.8 million weekend, $168 million total) and "The Wild" ($8.1 million weekend, $22 million total), respectively.
Arriving next weekend are the last four flicks before May kick-starts the "summer" movie season: Lionsgate’s family drama "Akeelah and the Bee," Sony’s slapsticker "RV," Disney’s tween-sports flick "Stick It," and Universal’s inevitably controversial 9/11 drama, "United 93."
For a more thorough examination of this past weekend’s box office results, please do click by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.
This week at the movies we’ve got a Secret Service agent on a mission ("The Sentinel"), an "American Idol"- skewering political satire ("American Dreamz") and a very creepy town ("Silent Hill"). What do the critics have to say?
A Secret Service agent is determined to save the president from an assassination attempt. It’s a setup that has worked successfully before ("In the Line of Fire"), but critics say "The Sentinel" isn’t sharp enough to make good on its premise. Michael Douglas stars as the agent who falls into a web of intrigue, and Kiefer Sutherland, who’s getting pretty good at foiling conspiracies, plays his protege. Critics say the film is slick, but a bit too convoluted to really work. At 26 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Sentinel" is not very well-fortified.
What is "American Dreamz?" Is it a comedy? A satire? An ambitious attempt to capture the zeitgeist of our politically divided, entertainment-craving times? More to the point, is Paul Weitz‘s latest any good? In parts, the critics say, but not as a whole. "American Dreamz" tells the story of a recently re-elected, now intellectually curious president (Dennis Quaid) who makes a guest appearance on a popular TV singing competition where would-be songbirds and would-be terrorists convene. The critics say "American Dreamz" is a bit too ambitious for its own good, and lacks the sharp bite to really work as satire. At 38 percent on the Tomatometer, this one may not be the stuff that "Dreamz" are made of.
We’re guessing that the people behind "Silent Hill" would consider the little girl on the poster to be the perfect movie critic for one reason: she’s got no mouth. And there isn’t anything for the critics to say, because, like a bunch of other movies this year (all of which have turned out to be critical duds), "Silent Hill" was not screened for the scribes. Kids, you know what that means: Guess the Tomatometer! And while you’re at it, get a glimpse of the film in the Rotten Tomatoes’ "Silent Hill" photo gallery.
WeinsteinCo’s Scary Movie 4 made a huge pile of cash over the holiday weekend, demolishing Panic Room‘s $30 million Easter haul from a few years back. The silly sequel scared up an amazing $41 million from more than 3,600 screens — and yes, Scary Movie 5 will be hitting theaters at this time next year. (Shocker, eh?)
Still going pretty darn strong in second place was Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown, which added another $20 million to its (impressively) grand total of $147 million. Third place went to another returnee: Sony’s The Benchwarmers fell 49% to snag $10 million in its second weekend, giving it a total haul of about $36 million.
Disney’s unkindly-reviewed The Wild debuted in 4th place, pulling in just under $10 million from 2,800 theaters, while the dance-hall drama Take the Lead took the fifth spot with $6.7 million (and a $22.5 million total).
For a closer look at the weekend numbers, pop on over to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.
Fans of Kiefer Sutherland‘s TV spy show "24" were delighted to see him signed to another three years; now they can look forward to seeing Jack Bauer take down bad guys in a "24" movie.
Sutherland, who won a Golden Globe for his role as CTU’s hotshot counter-terrorism agent, told MTV that plans are in the works for a "24" film, and that a script is being written this very moment with a rather wide open window as far as plot, time and the restrictions of death go. If written as a prequel, fans may see the return of dearly departed characters that have died over the course of the show’s five seasons.
Sutherland stars in "The Sentinel," out April 21
The star also gave assurances that a "24" movie does not necessarily mean the end of the series, which has been granted another three seasons; a big screen version may be released in tandem with ongoing airings of the upcoming episodes.
According to Sutherland, production may begin as early as next summer.
From MTV.com: ""I actually believe that they can co-exist," Sutherland said of the two projects. "The series can go and the films can go — or film — can go."
Leaving open the possibility of several big-screen Bauer missions, the veteran star then explained that the first "24" flick will not be 24 hours long but will instead offer a Reader’s Digest-like summary of a whole new day from hell. "The ’24’ movie would be a two-hour representation of a 24-hour day," revealed the actor, who also stars in the similarly themed drama "The Sentinel" later this month. "That would be the first time that we would not do something in real time, but the characters would obviously all be derivative of the show.""
The rich pact, which is set to begin in June, calls for the actor to continue on the hit Fox drama for three more years and includes a two-year development deal for Kiefer Sutherland‘s soon-to-be-launched production banner.
Details on the deal were sketchy, but sources pegged the acting portion alone at more than $40 million for the three seasons, which could make Sutherland the highest-paid actor in a drama series.
While the deal with Sutherland locks him in for three additional years beyond the current fifth season of "24," the 20th TV/Imagine TV-produced show so far has been picked up for one additional season.
Under the pact, Sutherland also will be elevated from a co-executive producer to executive producer on "24" next season alongside Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Howard Gordon and Evan Katz.
The development portion of the deal is said to include overhead and a development fund for Sutherland’s company. Sutherland will hire a development executive and will begin to develop and executive produce projects for television as well the Internet and wireless devices.
Sutherland called his past five years on the show "one of the most creative and rewarding experiences in my career."
In its fifth season, "24" is enjoying some of its best ratings and critical notices. The show, which introduced the now-hot serialized thriller genre, also has become a DVD best-seller and has spawned a mobile phone series.
Sutherland’s performance on "24" has earned him a Golden Globe award and four Emmy nominations.
And there’s sketchy talk of a 24 movie for somewhere down the road, but I wouldn’t exactly hold my breath waiting for it.
Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas play Secret Service agents on opposite ends of the law in "The Sentinel," the latest flick from "S.W.A.T." director Clark Johnson. Click right here for the trailer, especially if you’re a fan of stuff like "24" and "The Fugitive."
"Pete Garrison is the most decorated agent in the history of the Secret Service – the president’s last line of defense. But now, wrongly suspected of targeting the president for assassination, Garrison has become the Service’s worst nightmare. As he uses his formidable skills to try and prove his innocence and find the real assassin, Garrison is tracked by his equally adept former protege."
(Yes, "Sledge Hammer" himself as the president!)
"24’s producers have begun plotting a film franchise for Bauer. Sutherland (who stars with Michael Douglas in the thriller "The Sentinel," out April 21) is itching to pull the trigger. ”It can be an amazing series of movies,” he says. ”One of the things I’ve experienced making this show is that an audience can handle a lot more than we thought when we started — the tension, the anxiety…. If we could [compress] all the energy we spread over 24 hours of programming and put that into 2, I think we’d knock your socks off.”"