Water, water everywhere, and not a damn way to get home. That’s this week’s gallery theme: Movies where we see people trapped on the open seas, inspired by Adrift, starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as two young lovers whose boat is incapacitated after sailing directly into a catastrophic hurricane (and with Claflin’s character suffering from a life-threatening injury). Likewise, the movies in this gallery see heroes under immense pier pressure when their boats get hijacked, destroyed, or worse of all, disappeared all together.

Note: Because a lot of movies fall under this theme, we’re not including submarine movies (Das BootBelowBlack Sea) or movies where the heroes can generally head home at any time (JawsThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou).

Geostorm: the disaster movie with the disaster to end all disasters, disaster for days, isn’t being screened in advance. Not a good sign! C’mon studios, can’t you see how nice critics are being to The Snowman? Well, if Geostorm somehow receives a particularly Rotten score, it won’t be without company as we’ll see in this week’s gallery of 24 disastrous disaster movies that got less than 50% on the Tomatometer!

“The sea was angry that day, my friends – like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.” (George 5:14)

Two releases coming out, The Shallows and Swiss Army Man, feature hapless folks stranded in the ocean, inspiring this week’s gallery: 24 more movies to convince you to stay the hell out of the water.

It’s been a while since we took a look at any of the casting rumors swirling around J.J. AbramsStar Trek XI, but we’re making up for lost time today — here’s a triple shot of Trek buzz from around the Web!

First up: Yesterday’s IESB report that Mike Vogel has been tapped to play James Kirk. Though unable to obtain official confirmation from either the studio or Vogel’s reps, the site did get the nod from the ever-popular unnamed “studio insiders,” and it’s worth noting that Vogel’s handlers at the Gersh Agency “asked…nervously where we heard the news.”

Film credits for the 28-year-old Vogel, a former model, include appearances in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Poseidon, and — perhaps most importantly — a role in Abrams’ forthcoming Cloverfield (or whatever it’s called).

Meanwhile, IGN Movies reported yesterday that Paul McGillion — best known for his role on Stargate: Atlantis — has confirmed that he has auditioned for the role of chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. McGillion issued the obligatory “great honor” statement, saying “Obviously it would be a great honour to follow in James Doohan[‘s] footsteps.” The IGN report goes on to note that Doohan’s son has tossed his hat in the ring for McGillion, calling him “a GREAT choice for the role of Scotty.”

This last bit isn’t really a casting rumor, but it’s interesting nonetheless: In a report posted yesterday at MTV Movies, Adrien Brody confirms that he was at least briefly up for the role of Spock:

“I did talk to J.J. [Abrams] about that…that would have been cool. I told my parents. They got a kick out of it. ‘I may be Spock!’ Oh, well. Could have been cool.”

There’s no denying Brody’s chops, but it’s hard to argue with Abrams’ ultimate choice of Zachary Quinto for young Spock. Aside from Quinto, the latest Trek‘s confirmed cast now includes Zoe Saldana as Uhura and Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov. With the film’s release date still over a year away, we can expect to read plenty more of these reports.

Source: IESB
Source: IGN Movies
Source: MTV Movies

He’s a Norse god with a giant hammer. Bring on the bad guys!

According to the L.A. Times, the script for "Thor" has been written by Mark Protosevich, the writer of "The Cell," "Poseidon," and this winter’s "I Am Legend."

Early word indicates that Matthew Vaughn is being courted to direct. You’ll remember Vaughn as the guy who was about to direct "X-Men: The Last Stand," but bailed and headed off to do "Stardust" instead. (He also directed "Layer Cake.")

More word on this Marvel project when it becomes available. Because if there’s one thing we can’t have enough of, it’s superhero movies.

Source: L.A. Times

Multiplexes are stocking up on popcorn, soda, and overpriced candy in anticipation of record crowds that could make this Memorial Day holiday frame the biggest weekend in box office history.

Leading the charge will be the Johnny Depp-anchored megaflick "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," the followup to last year’s number one hit and the third biggest global grosser of all-time. Ashley Judd is set to take in a little less cash with the long weekend’s other new nationwide release, the horror film "Bug." And with holdovers like "Shrek the Third" in its second round and "Spider-Man 3" in its fourth spin, the North American box office will expand greatly as moviegoers may just spend all their free time at the local moviehouse.

Hysterical anticipation for the return of Captain Jack Sparrow will help Disney become a much richer studio. After the cliffhanger ending of last summer’s "Dead Man’s Chest," "At World’s End" is ready to bring all those fans back once again for another ticket purchase. Its spot at the top of the charts this weekend, and probably next weekend too, is guaranteed so the real question is will the new "Pirates" film break the all-time opening weekend record set just three weeks ago by "Spider-Man 3"?

If the ultimate answer ends up being no, that won’t necessarily be a bad thing or anything to be disappointed by. "At World’s End" is having a different type of debut so it will not be an apples-to-apples comparison. Firstly, the new high seas adventure begins its run with 8pm shows on Thursday night which are being aggressively advertised. "Dead Man’s Chest" grossed a scorching $9M from its Thursday night shows which began at midnight so with the earlier time, the treasure chest will be much more full. But the night-before shows will pull millions of dollars of sales from hardcore fans out of the official weekend period of Friday-to-Sunday thus diluting the three-day take. "Spider-Man 3" began with midnight shows on Thursday night so those numbers were all concentrated within the official opening weekend tally.

Also, "At World’s End" will face tremendous competiton, something Spidey did not have to deal with. The rest of the top five is likely to steal away over $80M during the three-day portion of the holiday weekend. For the latest webslinger’s bow, the next four films in the market made less than $16M. And although "Pirates" will secure thousands of screens, it will still enter a box office where close to 15,000 auditoriums will already be booked up with the third servings of "Shrek" and "Spider-Man." It will be tougher for "Pirates" to land that sixth or seventh screen within a megaplex.

But working in Sparrow’s favor is the Monday holiday which will make Sunday perform more like a Saturday which will certainly help its quest for new records. Also overall anticipation for the franchise seems to be higher than it was for Peter Parker. MovieTickets.com reported that advance sales for "At World’s End" is beating both "Spider-Man 3" and "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point in their sales cycles. Plus "Pirates" has the highest female appeal for any action movie franchise out there which is a key contributor to its immense grosses. This one will bring in everyone and with all Americans having extra time off, there will be plenty of time for people to eventually find a showtime that’s not sold out.

Reviews have been mixed for the latest "Pirates" and its running time with trailers is close to three hours. But the two biggest openings of all-time were also long pics at about two-and-a-half hours in length each without trailers so multiplexes will find a way to dump underperforming titles (and there are plenty to choose from) and make room for Davy Jones and his gang. Friday-to-Monday starts for those smashes were $161.4M for "Spider-Man 3" and $153.8M for "Dead Man’s Chest." Seizing screens in over 4,000 theaters, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" might open to about $162M over four days and roughly $183M from Thursday to Monday.


"Hey Professor, what’s another word for pirate treasure?"

The daring folks at Lionsgate will open their own film nationally on Friday challenging the triumvirate of threequels. The horror flick "Bug" stars Ashley Judd as a lonely waitress who thinks that insects (spiders that bite teenage photographers maybe?) are out to get her. The R-rated film will try to court the fright crowd not interested in ahoy matey shenanigans, but will find an incredibly tough time floating in this weekend’s marketplace. There is nothing about "Bug" that tells fans that they should pay top dollar now instead of renting the DVD a mere three months down the road. Judd’s starpower has been on the decline for years. She’s not that hot star from "Double Jeopardy" anymore. And marketing the film as being from the director of "The Exorcist" will do little as well. Opening in 1,661 theaters, "Bug" might crawl to about $6M over four days.


"Bug," going for that coveted 4th spot in the weekend box office.

Dropping to the runnerup spot with what could be one of the largest grosses ever for a second-place film will be the animated blockbuster "Shrek the Third" which is coming off of the third largest debut in box office history. "Shrek 2" had mostly the same release pattern in 2004 and saw its four-day Memorial Day weekend tally dip only 12% from its three-day opening weekend figure. The holiday is one of the busiest times for families at the multiplexes so kidpics typically hold up very well. As the third chapter in the series, audience erosion should be faster for the new ogre film. Plus with "Pirates" set to launch with such astonishing numbers, "Shrek the Third" can’t help but be pushed aside by the competition. Still a 35% drop would give Paramount a stunning $80M over four days and would make the 11-day total skyrocket to $230M.

"Spider-Man 3" will drop another notch to third and should definitely see much of its audience get swiped by Depp and company given how much overlap there is between the audiences for the two franchises. "X2: X-Men United," another Marvel super hero sequel that opened on the first weekend of May, saw its four-day Memorial Day weekend gross drop by only 24% in 2003 when "Bruce Almighty" was the new opener. "Spider-Man 3" has more direct action competition and less fan support so a larger decline is likely. The Venom flick could drop 35% and post a four-day gross of about $19M which would boost the webslinger’s cume to $308M.

LAST YEAR: Mutants were all the rage as "X-Men: The Last Stand" towered over the competition with a record Memorial Day opening of $122.9M over four days. The Fox super hero saga went on to collect $234.4M domestically, making it the third biggest grosser of the summer, and over $455M worldwide. Tom Hanks ranked second with "The Da Vinci Code" which fell sharply but still took in $42.4M over the long holiday weekend for Sony. Paramount followed with the DreamWorks toon "Over the Hedge" with $35.3M in its sophomore round. Action entries "Mission: Impossible III" and "Poseidon" rounded out the top five with $8.9M and $7.1M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Attacking theaters on the same May 18 date as the original ogre toon from six years ago, "Shrek the Third" stomps into the marketplace this weekend ready to seize the box office crown.

No other studio dared to challenge this mid-May event film which has much of the scene all to itself. Add in the third weekend of "Spider-Man 3" and multiplexes will surely be active with ticket sales ready to surge from last weekend’s levels.

Mike Myers
, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Banderas all return to lend their voices to "Third" and are joined by old and new faces like John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Eric Idle, Rupert Everett, and Justin Timberlake. In the new PG-rated film, the not-so-jolly green giant embarks on a quest to find himself a replacement to become the heir to the throne of Far Far Away and finds all sorts of comedic misadventures along the way.

The first two "Shrek" pics also opened on the weekend before the lucrative Memorial Day holiday frame and went on to show terrific legs. "Shrek 2" bowed on a Wednesday and grossed a whopping $108M over its three-day period on its way to becoming the number three domestic blockbuster of all-time with $436.7M. It was so well-loved and interest in a new chapter began almost immediately with moviegoers of all ages. With its blend of colorful and zany antics for kids plus sophisticated humor for adults, the franchise has been able to stomp on all its animated competitors to become king of the toons. In fact the next biggest openings in history for animated films are claimed by "The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," and "Ice Age: The Meltdown" which all launched in the $68-71M range.

In the much-talked-about ‘Battle of the Threes’ this month, each tentpole is trying to outdo the previous one and is slipping itself into theaters a couple of hours earlier each time. "Spider-Man 3" launched like most blockbusters do with Thursday night midnight shows, but "Shrek the Third" is offering its night-before showtimess at 10pm while next week "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" will take it one step further on the plank by starting its first showings at 8pm on Thursday evening. Though uncommon, the practice has been seen before. Night-before showtimes for previous summer tentpoles included 10pm for 2003’s "The Matrix Reloaded," 10pm for 1997’s "The Lost World," and even 6pm for 1996’s "Independence Day" which practically gave it a whole new opening day.

With 4,122 theaters this weekend, "Shrek" should be able to dominate the marketplace with ease especially since the only real threat, "Spider-Man 3," is fading fast and summer movie fans are looking for something else to eat popcorn in front of. Competition should actually be less for "Third" than for its predecessor. The second chapter faced $53.8M from the rest of the top ten on its debut frame. This weekend, even with higher ticket prices, that figure will be hard to reach since most of the top ten will consist of feeble grosses. That gives "Third" a nice environment to enter, even if trailers and commercials are not as funny this time around.

Reviews have been weaker than last time and repeat business over the long-term should not be as strong for Paramount which hardly has its name anywhere on the new product. Its subsidiary DreamWorks still has its brand name everywhere on the film. Regardless, the marketing has been as powerful as ever with McDonalds coming on board as a promotional partner after years of being in bed with Disney exclusively. Comedies do so well at the box office and business should come from the family audience as well as from teens and young adults looking for fun weekend entertainment. Hoping to set a new benchmark for animated openings, "Shrek the Third" could haul in about $115M from Thursday night through Sunday.


Will the "Third" time charm?

Peter Parker busted onto the scene with a record-shattering opening weekend two weeks ago, but gravity has kicked in since. The second weekend drop of 62% showed that the film absorbed much of its potential upfront and that repeat business isn’t really a factor. This week, Monday sales were only $3.6M (down 65% from last Monday) while Tuesday stood at $3.5M (off 57%). With "Shrek" stepping in to steal away all the attention, "Spider-Man 3" is sure to suffer another large decline. Some multiplexes will open up those fifth and sixth Spidey screens and turn them into ogre auditoriums. Still, as the studio knew a year ago when tentpole release dates were set, a silver medal is guaranteed this weekend. "Spider-Man 3" may fall by more than 50% to about $27M and boost its 17-day cume to an impressive $280M.

Sophomores "28 Weeks Later" and "Georgia Rule" will get bumped down a notch this weekend. Like for all horror sequels, a second weekend drop of less than 50% would be shocking for the Fox zombie pic. A 55% tumble for "Weeks" would put it at $5M pushing the ten-day tally to a modest $18M. Universal’s multi-generational dramedy is playing to older women who do not exactly rush out on opening weekend so a smaller decline will result. "Georgia Rule" could dip by 40% to around $4M giving the Jane Fonda flop only $13M in ten days.

LAST YEAR: Sony shot to the top of the charts with the global launch of "The Da Vinci Code" which seized control of the number one spot with a massive $77.1M bow. The Tom Hanks smash went on to gross $217.5M domestically and a colossal $753M worldwide. Paramount debuted its DreamWorks toon "Over the Hedge" in the runnerup spot with $38.5M and went on to collect $155M from North America and $330M globally. Rounding out the top five were "Mission: Impossible III" with $11.3M, "Poseidon" with $9.2M, and "RV" with $5M. Lionsgate offered horror audiences "See No Evil" and was met with $4.6M on its way to a weak $15M total.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

In what must be a first at the box office, an aerobics queen takes on killer zombies in a vicious battle for the silver medal during what no doubt will be another mammoth weekend for "Spider-Man 3."

Fox unleashes its horror sequel "28 Weeks Later," Universal counters with its femme-driven star vehicle "Georgia Rule," Lionsgate tosses in the comedy "Delta Farce," and MGM releases yet another laugher with "The Ex." Meanwhile, back in New York City, the webslinger will attempt to swing to a massive quarter-billion-dollar cume by the end of its second weekend.

As the second of ten sequels hitting theaters over the May-June corridor, "28 Weeks Later" is the follow-up to the cult hit zombie chiller "28 Days Later" which lit up theaters four years ago. Danny Boyle shifts from the director’s chair to the executive producer’s office as Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes the helm. "Days" was very well-received which explains why a sequel was greenlit. In the new installment, the killer virus infects people once again as London tries to repopulate and madness ensues. The built-in audience will help the R-rated "Weeks" right out of the gate.

Its predecessor bowed to $10.1M from only 1,260 theaters for a potent $7,986 average on its way to a solid $45.1M final. Through video and cable, it found an even larger fan base and many will give "Weeks" a try. However working against it is of course competition from "Spider-Man 3" which has a hold on fans of comics and sci-fi. Plus 2007 has seen 1,001 horror films flood theaters causing recent fright fatigue. Casual fans of scary movies may pass on "Weeks" if they’re trying to stay away from blood and gore. Fox’s marketing has been clever and effective and the target audience is excited. Plus reviews have been very positive which will help a bit too since most horror films nowadays are either not screened for critics in advance or earn poor marks. Attacking over 2,000 theaters, "28 Weeks Later" might scare up around $13M this weekend.


"28 Weeks Later"

For those looking to avoid zombies and super heroes in their weekend entertainment, Universal offers the dramedy "Georgia Rule" starring Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, and Felicity Huffman. The R-rated story tells of a teenage girl dumped at her grandmother’s house for the summer by her alcoholic mother which leads to the uncovering of family secrets. Just in time for Mother’s Day weekend, "Georgia" will play almost exclusively to women as men will have to be dragged against their will. However, moviegoers from a broad age group should turn out since the cast boasts stars of different generations. The one troublespot could be the rating though. Lohan arguably still has pull with teenage girls who may be left out because of the MPAA’s tag. But the film’s two uses of the F word are essential to the story as are the adult themes so the R was unavoidable.

"Georgia Rule" should play to the same audience that the studio saw for previous chick flicks like Diane Keaton‘s "Because I Said So" ($13.1M opening, $5,195 average), Meryl Streep‘s "Prime" ($6.2M, $3,405), and Debra Messing‘s "The Wedding Date" ($11.1M, $6,566). Reaching the $23.1M debut of Fonda’s last film "Monster-in-Law" is not likely however since it won’t crossover into other demographic groups like the J. Lo pic did. The weekend’s new releases will not provide too much competition which means that the universal appeal of the webslinger sequel will be the main enemy. Bad reviews will eat into sales from mature adults, but many from the "Desperate Housewives" crowd will still make a trip out to this chick flick. "Georgia Rule" enters 2,523 theaters on Friday and could walk away with about $13M.


"Georgia Rule"

Larry the Cable Guy stars in the new military comedy "Delta Farce" which also hits theaters on Friday. The PG-13 film from Lionsgate finds three hapless men being mistaken for Army recruits who are sent to Iraq but mistakenly dropped in Mexico. Not since "Best Defense" has a film of this type been such an unwelcome entry in the marketplace. Young males are the only group likely to show interest and with Spidey in only his second swing, few will find this new comedy worth paying top dollar for. Plus starpower is lacking and none of the cast members are known for anchoring box office hits. Larry’s self-titled film last spring bowed to just $6.9M and this one will probably slump even lower. Opening in about 1,800 locations, "Delta Farce" will probably shoot up around $4M.


"Delta Farce"

Zach Braff and Amanda Peet play a thirtysomething New York couple with a new baby in the new romantic comedy "The Ex" marketed by The Weinstein Company and distributed by MGM. In the PG-13 pic, the likable duo moves to Ohio where Braff’s character gets a job at her father’s ad agency where he butts heads with his wife’s former fling from high school. Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, and Donal Logue co-star. "The Ex" will be targeting the date crowd and young women, but will have rough sailing. "Georgia Rule" will already be tapping into the female moviegoing base and Spidey is attracting his share of women and young adults too. The promotional push has not been too forceful either so the film may end up with just the die-hard "Scrubs" fans. Mixed reviews won’t help either. Also, Braff and Peet are not box office anchors who sell lots of tickets. Sure "Garden State" was an indie hit with $26.8M in 2004, but that was a word-of-mouth platform release that made its money over time and not a commercial Hollywood comedy. Debuting in 1,009 theaters, "The Ex" might gross roughly $3M this weekend.


"The Ex"

None of these new films will come close to defeating the mighty "Spider-Man 3" which will enjoy its second comfortable box office win in a row. But a steep fall is likely. The first webslinger flick opened at the beginning of May five years ago and dropped by only 38% on the second weekend which was phenomenal. But like most sequels, especialy third-parters, "Spider-Man 3" attracted so much of its total audience upfront that rapid erosion is assured. The previous record-holder for the biggest opening weekend, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," fell by 54% in its second adventure last July while its summer counterpart "X-Men: The Last Stand" tumbled by a troubling 67% in its sophomore frame. Of course that was coming off of a Memorial Day holiday opening so the decline was larger than normal.

"Spider-Man 3" has already been taking a hit during the week dropping to $10.3M on Monday and $8M on Tuesday. Those numbers come close to what "The Matrix Reloaded" took in on the same days after its colossal opening weekend in mid-May 2003. That sci-fi pic crashed 60% in its second weekend despite its sophomore frame being helped by a holiday. Luckily for the Sandman flick the competition this weekend will not be too menacing. "Spider-Man 3" could still fall by more than 55% to about $65M this weekend which would boost the domestic haul to a mammoth $247M in only ten days.

LAST YEAR: Tom Cruise topped the charts with "Mission Impossible: III" which dropped 48% in its second weekend to $25M. Opening in second place was the pricey disaster film "Poseidon" which debuted to $22.2M for Warner Bros. on its way to a disappointing $60.7M domestically. Worldwide, the Kurt Russell starrer grossed $182M. Robin Williams placed third with "RV" which eased by less than 10% to $10M in its third weekend. Lindsay Lohan stumbled into fourth with her new comedy "Just My Luck" which opened to a weak $5.7M on its way to $17.3M for Fox. Rounding out the top five was the horror flick "An American Haunting" with $3.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

No stranger to horror-style movies ("Wrong Turn") and TV shows ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Eliza Dushku has signed on to star in "Mamba," a teen-oriented thriller that sounds a lot like "Jumanji" meets "Stay Alive."

From IGN FilmForce and Variety: "Hottie Eliza Dushku, not seen on the big screen since 2003’s "Wrong Turn," will star alongside "Poseidon" actor Mike Vogel in the new teen-centric thriller "Mamba."

Dushku and Vogle, says industry mag Variety, will headline the flick which follows a group of surfers who find an old satanic board game called Mamba. As you might imagine, when a person loses in the game, they die a terrible death… do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Filming will reportedly begin Monday in northern Spain’s Basque Country and continue for the next eight weeks. The director is newbie Spanish helmer Alvaro de Arminan."

Click here
for the full report.

Commanding character actor Andre Braugher is the latest to join the cast of "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," but Fox isn’t telling us who the guy’s playing!

From Variety by way of IGN FilmForce: "Braugher dropped out of a supporting role in an "ER" story arc in order to join the Marvel-Fox sequel, reports Variety. Forest Whitaker will replace Braugher on the long-running medical series. Braugher was most recently seen in the short-lived FX series "Thief," as well as the captain of the doomed title ship in this summer’s "Poseidon."

"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" is in pre-production, gearing up for an Aug. 28 start date in Vancouver under the direction of Tim Story."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Comic book genius David S. Goyer (he wrote the "Blade" trilogy and "Batman Begins") will be dusting off his computer and getting busy on Marvel’s big-screen rendition of "Thor" — in addition to the work he’s already done on "Captain America" and "The Flash."

From Newsarama, by way of ComingSoon.net: "It was previously announced that the legendary Norse Thunder deity would hammer his way to the big screen with the help of screenwriter Mark Protosevich ("Poseidon," "The Cell"). It is unclear if Goyer is rewriting Protosevich’s script or starting from scratch.

Thor is part of Marvel’s independent production slate of feature films expected to be financed with Marvel’s $525 million revolving film financing facility and distributed under the company’s overall distribution arrangement with Paramount Pictures."

Just a simple little tidbit to keep the Potterites happy: Come next July, you’ll be able to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," fifth in the monumentally popular series, on your choice of traditional movie screen -or- as part of the mega-massive IMAX experience.

From The Hollywood Reporter: "Imax Corp. on Wednesday said Warner Bros. Pictures’ fifth installment of the "Harry Potter" franchise will bow on its giant screens simultaneously with conventional cinemas in July 2007. Toronto-based Imax said "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the third "Harry Potter" to be digitally remastered for its giant screens, will open day-and-date on Imax screens on July 13, 2007. The first two "Harry Potter" films released in Imax theaters earned a combined $34 million at the boxoffice. The latest "Harry Potter" is the 13th Warner Bros. picture to be released on Imax’s international network.

(I recently saw "Poseidon" on IMAX, which might help to explain why I liked the movie.)

Despite the arrival of four new films cluttering the multiplexes, the Disney/Pixar animated film Cars remained the most popular movie in North America for a second straight weekend.

Among the freshman class, both the comedy Nacho Libre and the actioner The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift opened with impressive numbers targeting young male moviegoers. The Keanu ReevesSandra Bullock romance The Lake House appealed to adult women and saw a respectable showing while the kid sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties opened poorly. With so much new product entering the marketplace, most holdovers suffered large declines.

Cars was once again the box office champion and grossed an estimated $31.2M in its second weekend boosting its ten-day cume to a stellar $114.5M. Though taking home another trophy, the G-rated film experienced a disturbing decline of 48% from last weekend which was much higher than the sophomore drops of previous Disney/Pixar toons. The last film from the companies, The Incredibles, dipped only 29% while 2003’s Finding Nemo eased 34%. Each bowed to about $70M and raced to over $143M in ten days. Cars opened last week about $10M weaker and is now eroding faster which means it is not likely to come close to the lofty heights reached previously. After ten days, Cars is running 20% behind the pace of Nemo and Incredibles. The talking automobile flick will still try to reach the $200M mark before running out of gas.

Opening a few notches behind in second place was the wrestling comedy Nacho Libre with an estimated $27.5M from 3,070 theaters. Averaging a muscular $8,962 per ring, the Paramount release stars Jack Black as a cook who moonlights as a flamboyant wrestler and was directed by Napoleon Dynamite’s Jared Hess. The $35M film appealed to young guys with studio data showing that 53% of the audience was male and 55% was under the age of 25. Nacho Libre began its weekend a bit early with 10pm preview shows on Thursday night which helped propel Friday’s opening day to a solid $11M. The PG-rated film dropped 14% to $9.4M on Saturday however, which could indicate a bumpy ride ahead.

Universal raced into third place with its street racing sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift which opened with an estimated $24.1M. The PG-13 pic debuted in 3,027 locations and averaged a strong $7,947 average. The studio generated a strong performance considering this was the third time around for the franchise and that most of the stars of the first two Furious films were nowhere to be found. Young guys were the driving force behind the $75M Drift which like its predecessors appealed to a multicultural audience. According to studio data, 58% of the audience was male, 60% was under 25, and 71% was non-white.

Lucas Black and Bow Wow led the mostly unknown cast as fans responded more to the fast cars and racing attitudes than to starpower. The studio’s decision to include Vin Diesel‘s cameo in the television commercials also may have sparked interest from fans of the franchise. Tokyo Drift did not open as well as the first two pics in the series, but that was expected. In 2001, The Fast and the Furious opened to $40.1M on its way to $144.5M while its 2003 sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious debuted to $50.5M leading to a $127.2M tally. Tokyo Drift also opened in eight international markets this weekend grossing an estimated $7.5M from 825 theaters including number one openings in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand. Japan, where the film is set, will open in September.

A dozen years after exciting audiences in Speed, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock reunited in the romantic drama The Lake House which debuted in fourth place with an estimated $13.7M. The Warner Bros. release averaged a respectable $5,166 from 2,645 theaters. The PG-rated film was a remake of the Korean drama Il Mare and told the story of a man and a woman from two different years who communicate and fall in love through letters they send to each other in a magical mailbox at a lake house. Reviews were not very good and both stars routinely see bigger openings for their films.

Universal’s The Break-Up dropped 53% in its third weekend and took fifth place with an estimated $9.5M boosting the 17-day cume to $91.9M.

Fox took up the next three spots on the chart starting with its kidpic sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties which flopped in its debut grossing an estimated $7.2M. Playing in 2,945 theaters, the PG-rated comedy averaged a weak $2,445 per venue. The first Garfield opened to $21.7M in June 2004 on its way to $75.4M domestically and a stellar $198M worldwide forcing the studio to dip into the well again with a new story. Bill Murray returned to voice the fat cat in Kitties which brought the characters to England for another adventure, but most families did not show much interest.

The year’s top-grossing domestic hit, X-Men: The Last Stand, tumbled another 56% in its fourth outing and grossed an estimated $7.2M. With a stellar $215.5M in the bank, the mutant sequel became the top-grossing installment of the super hero trilogy surpassing the $214.9M of X2: X-Men United from 2003. The horror remake The Omen placed eighth with an estimated $5.4M conveniently making its decline 66.6%. The top ten’s only R-rated pic has now grossed $46.9M to date for Fox.

Sony’s The Da Vinci Code followed with an estimated $5M, off 52%, pushing the domestic cume to $198.5M. Overseas, the Ron HowardTom Hanks vehicle uncovered another $15.2M this weekend as the international sum surged to $480M. The world’s biggest blockbuster of the year has now taken in an incredible $678.5M globally. Rounding out the top ten was the animated pic Over the Hedge with an estimated $4M, off 60%, for a $138.8M total.

The biggest summer hits continued to keep pace with last year’s. The collective gross for the top five summer releases reached $797.3M which was down less than 1% from the $802.5M from this point a year ago.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Robert Altman‘s A Prairie Home Companion fell 43% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $2.6M giving the Picturehouse release a ten-day tally of $8.8M. Look for a finish in the vicinity of $15M. The hit family comedy RV held up well during its seven-week run in the top ten, but this weekend the Robin Williams pic crashed 74% and grossed an estimated $500,000. With $66.4M in its tank, the Sony release is not expected to collect much more.

The Tom Cruise spy sequel Mission: Impossible III tumbled 61% in its seventh mission to an estimated $1.2M putting its cume at $130M. The Paramount sequel is the highest-grossing summer kick-off film since 2003’s X2, but with a $150M budget and a deafening amount of marketing hype, it has to be considered somewhat disappointing for the studio. The first two Mission pics grossed $181M in 1996 and $215.4M in 2000. MI3 should end its campaign with around $132M. Overseas, the Ethan Hunt film has grossed more than $200M to date.

The summer season’s second big offering Poseidon continued to sink dropping 66% in its sixth weekend to an estimated $620,000. The $160M Warner Bros. disaster film has taken in only $56.5M from North America making it one of the biggest underachievers of the summer. However, like most effects-driven action films, Poseidon is doing much better internationally where it grossed another $9M from 41 countries this weekend to boost the overseas take to $70.8M. Korea and Japan continue to be the most successful markets for the ocean liner pic with grosses that far outdistance those in key European territories.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $134.7M which was up 6% from last year when Batman Begins debuted at number one with $48.7M; and up 5% from 2004 when Dodgeball opened in the top spot with $30.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

It had to happen eventually — after a flurry of excited positive reviews following this month’s sneak press screening of "Superman Returns," the first voice of dissent has emerged, courtesy of internet critic Dave Poland.

Poland, drinking the "Superman" hater-ade in his Movie City News column, "20 Weeks of Summer," was less than impressed by Bryan Singer‘s revival of the beloved Man of Steel. In his list of the worst movies so far of Summer 2006, "Superman Returns" ranks 5th (slightly better than "Mission: Impossible III," just a little worse than "X-Men: The Last Stand").

Some snippets of Poland’s critique:

"It’s terribly cast, poorly conceived, extremely light on action, features a romance that is not remotely romantic, doesn’t feature a single memorable, ‘gosh, that was great’ repeat-to-your-friends moment in a positive way (the blunder bits start early and often)…"

"The casting of Kate Bosworth is looking as faulty as the casting of Emmy Rossum and Jacinda Barrett in Poseidon. In fact, aside from Frank Langella, who gets nothing to do anyway, there is barely a single good casting decision."

"It’s not a hideous piece of crap. It really is about a step behind X-Men: The Last Stand, equally poorly directed, equally missing complexity, equally not up to the standards of the first two films, but with less interesting characters and absolutely zero sense of humor about itself."


Dave Poland: Bryan Singer’s own critical Lex Luthor?

Poland also takes some choice shots at fellow writer, The Hollywood Reporter’s Anne Thompson:

"In this case, it will be interesting to see whether what I am calling ‘The Anne Thompson Rule’ is in effect. What that means is that Anne often shoots from the organ just below the hip when it comes to movies that may have a strong female appeal and, truth be told, I am always looking over one shoulder when she gets on that tear."

Critical pan aside, Poland agrees that "Superman Returns" will make mucho bucks at the box office, although he predicts it "will be crushed by Pirates of The Caribbean II and played out completely before August 1."

After posting his review, Poland experienced such a backlash of criticism that he wrote a lengthy response in his "Hot Blog," wherein he defends himself and raises some interesting questions about the state of current entertainment media ("Is it only people who work for papers with a circulation over 500,000 that are entitled to their opinion?"). Click here to read his blog.

"Superman Returns" hits theaters June 28, and currently sits at a 92% Unofficial Tomatometer (with 13 sneak reviews).

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