When Jem and the Holograms makes its truly outrageous way into theaters this weekend, it’ll add another entry to the long list of successful television shows that have been adapted for the big screen. Of course, just because a concept works as a series doesn’t mean it’ll pay off as a film — and although all of us here certainly wish nothing but the best for Jem and her pals on their cinematic adventures, we’re willing to concede the possibility that this will end up being another instance where a few things will be lost in translation. In that spirit, we’ve decided to dedicate this feature to some of the bumpier journeys hit shows have experienced on the way to the cineplex, so don’t touch that dial — it’s time for Total Recall!


Land of the Lost (2009) 26%

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Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, and dinosaurs — plus a loose creative affiliation with one of the most beloved live-action Saturday morning serials of the 1970s. It’s a can’t-miss proposition, right? Universal certainly seemed to think so, given that the studio ponied up $100 million and a plum June release date for 2009’s Land of the Lost. Sadly, the result — which starred Ferrell as a nincompoop paleontologist who triggers a time warp and finds himself trapped in the distant past with a college student (Anna Friel) and a gift shop owner (McBride) — didn’t even try to recapture the low-budget magic of the original series, opting instead for a satirical approach that failed to resound with filmgoers and critics alike. “With his belligerent blankness and gawky aplomb, Ferrell has made me laugh as much as any comic of his generation, but he’s not doing anything fresh in Land of the Lost,” opined a disappointed Peter Rainer for the Christian Science Monitor.

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Bewitched (2005) 24%

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Bewitched was an undeniably silly show, but its high-concept premise — about a witch who falls for an ordinary guy and tries to fit in with his suburban existence — was used to address a wide variety of themes and topics during its eight-season run. Updating the show for the 21st century really could have been a good idea, particularly with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell in the lead and Nora Ephron writing, directing, and producing, but this is one case of the road to cinematic hell being paved with good intentions — not to mention a convoluted script that added an unnecessary meta layer to the whole thing. In this version of Bewitched, Ferrell plays a washed-up actor approached to star in a film adaptation of Bewitched… whose vain attempt to secure a nobody for a co-star leads him to unwittingly cast an actual witch. It’s the kind of self-consciously aware stuff that really needs to be clever in order to work; alas, cleverness proved to be in exceedingly short supply. “If it lost every bad idea, miscast actor, wasted performance, and botched scene,” predicted the A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin, “nothing would be left but the end credits.”

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The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) 24%

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A number of long-gone television shows were adapted for the big screen in the early 1990s, with wildly varying results; for every critical and commercial hit like The Brady Bunch Movie, there were a number of duds like… well, a few of the other films on this list, actually. Somewhere in the middle sat 1993’s The Beverly Hillbillies, director Penelope Spheeris’ rather inexplicable follow-up to her triumph with Wayne’s World the previous year — although the movie made money, it was a critical disaster, with review after review rejecting the film’s aggressive attempt to update the barn-broad cornpone humor of the hit series. While Spheeris enlisted a talented cast to portray the oil-rich Clampett clan, building a roster of stars that included Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin, Dabney Coleman, and Jim Varney, and the movie even worked in a clever cameo from original Beverly Hillbillies star Buddy Ebsen as his other iconic TV character, Barnaby Jones, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the movie’s many creative flaws. “Four writers worked on the script,” noted the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum. “They all should hang their heads in shame.”

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Wild Wild West (1999) 17%

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Starting with 1995’s Bad Boys, Will Smith pretty much owned the box office for the back half of the decade, toplining an impressive string of hits that included Independence Day, Men in Black, and Enemy of the State. By 1999, he had nowhere to go but down — although no one expected him to take a tumble as fast and steep as the infamous Wild Wild West, a woeful would-be Western steampunk action-comedy that entered theaters positioned as the hit of the summer and instantly revealed itself to be just as ludicrously ungainly as the mechanized spider thing piloted by Kenneth Branagh in the final act. Based on the hit CBS series that was described as “James Bond on horseback” during its 1965-’69 run, the big-screen West aped some of the form of its predecessor (including its flights of technological fancy), but neglected to include a sensible storyline, memorable characters, or interesting dialogue; the result was one of the least-loved major releases of the year. He’d certainly go on to enjoy further cinematic successes, but after this, Hollywood understood it needed more than Will Smith and some killer special effects to cook up a hit. “Wild Wild West is a comedy dead zone,” decreed Roger Ebert. “You stare in disbelief as scenes flop and die. The movie is all concept and no content; the elaborate special effects are like watching money burn on the screen.”

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I Spy (2002) 16%

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It broke new racial ground, but in terms of its concept, I Spy was pretty standard stuff — the secret agent adventures of an undercover tennis player (Robert Culp) and his trainer (Bill Cosby) as they traipsed around the world stopping bad guys. The secret of its Emmy-winning success was the abundant chemistry between Culp and Cosby — not to mention the sharp writing. All of the above was lost in translation when the show made its way to theaters in 2002, despite a small army of screenwriters and the star power of Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy. The problem, according to Ed Park of the Village Voice: “Though ample time is spent mingling Murphy’s jabberjaw locutions and Wilson’s curveball spaciness, the film leaves only the bitter reek of a botched chemistry experiment.”

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The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) 14%

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A thinly disguised spinoff of the 1975 film Moonrunners, the hit CBS series The Dukes of Hazzard was never regarded as, shall we say, particularly intelligent entertainment. It was harmlessly cheesy fun, the rootin’ tootin’ adventures of some good ol’ boys who never meant no harm and were just makin’ their way the only way they knew how — which was, unfortunately just a little bit more than the law would allow. In other words, it should have been relatively easy to make an entertaining Dukes movie in 2005, especially with an eclectic cast that included Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Burt Reynolds, and an exuberantly short-shorted Jessica Simpson. Alas, although it broke $100 million at the box office, the Dukes movie was lambasted by critics like Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post, who lamented it as “So loud, so long, so dumb.”

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The Avengers (1998) 5%

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Super-producer Jerry Weintraub has blockbuster powers beyond most mere mortals, but not even his magic box-office touch was enough to take a big-budget adaptation of the ‘60s British series The Avengers and turn it into a hit movie nearly 30 years after the show’s final airdate. It definitely wasn’t for lack of effort: Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman signed on to play secret agents John Steed and Emma Peel, while Sean Connery co-starred as the villainous weather-controlling madman Sir August de Wynter. But not even the finest cast could have altered the public’s indifference toward a movie based on a property many filmgoers were barely familiar with, and the project was also a fairly odd fit for director Jeremiah Chechik, whose previous credits included National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The result was a bruising flop whose failure helped speed Connery’s looming retirement and prompted David Bianculli of the New York Daily News to moan, “This Avengers film is so horrendously, painfully and thoroughly awful, it gives other cinematic clunkers like Ishtar and Howard the Duck a good name.”

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The Mod Squad (1999) 3%

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During its 1968-73 run on ABC, The Mod Squad was not only a moderate hit, it could be argued that the show was actually important: with its hippies-solving-crimes formula and a focus on multicultural storylines, it helped make the counterculture safe for mainstream American audiences. But it was also very much a product of its time (example: the cringeworthy promo tagline “One White, One Black, One Blonde”), and when MGM decided to give the Squad a new look with 1999’s Scott Silver-directed movie, the results were disastrous. Despite an attractive cast led by Claire Danes, Giovanni Ribisi, and Omar Epps, the updated Mod Squad petered out at 4 percent on the Tomatometer, thanks to what the Palo Alto Weekly’s Jim Shelby called “a pristine example of incoherent storyline mixed with poor editing and limp writing.”

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McHale's Navy (1997) 3%

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The McHale’s Navy TV series was so successful that midway through its run, it spawned a 1964 theatrical effort that managed to sell tickets despite the obvious fact that it was little more than a 90-minute episode of the show. Thirty years later, none of the above should have indicated to any rational person that the world was waiting for a goofy McHale’s update starring Tom Arnold, Tim Curry, and David Alan Grier, but that’s still what we got in 1997. Fresh off the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie and in the midst of a banner year that also included the Tim Allen/Kirstie Alley vehicle For Richer or Poorer, director Bryan Spicer assembled an alleged comedy following the exploits of the original McHale’s son (played by Arnold) who’s drawn out of retirement in order to combat the world’s second-best terrorist (Curry). The finished product, as Liam Lacy decreed for the Globe and Mail, was “A useless movie. Not funny, suspenseful, moving or even offensive enough to want to torpedo. Just devoid of any conceivable value.”

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Car 54, Where Are You? (1994) 0%

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It’s hardly remembered as a TV classic today, but Car 54, Where Are You? was an Emmy-winning hit during its two-season run on NBC from 1961-’63, and its premise — centering on the goofy misadventures of a pair of Bronx cops (played by Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynne) — should have been fairly easy to bring to the big screen. Unfortunately, something unfunny happened along the way, and Tapeheads director Bill Fishman’s adaptation was doomed well before it even arrived in theaters. In fact, the movie version of Car 54 — with David “Buster Poindexter” Johansen and future Scrubs star John C. McGinley subbing in for Ross and Gwynne — moldered in the studio’s vault for years before finally puttering into cineplexes in 1994. Ultimately, it needn’t have bothered; despite appearances from original stars Al Lews and Nipsey Russell, the results proved a thoroughly misbegotten effort to update the show’s campy laughs. “Some movies are so bad they warrant special attention,” warned the Chicago Tribune’s Jim Petrakis. “Car 54, Where Are You is one of them.”

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Touted as the first great horror movie of the year, The Witch offers a visceral exploration of black arts and superstition in a bloody tale set within 17th century New England. The film inspires this 24 Frames gallery of the most iconic witches from movie history.

Two promising new comedies target different age groups and look to close off a red hot March box office with strong opening weekend sales.

Paramount offers the Will Ferrell pic "Blades of Glory" while Disney goes after the kids with the animated flick "Meet the Robinsons." Together, the pictures should help the marketplace surge and allow the top ten to cross the $100M mark for the fifth consecutive frame. The box office has not seen this kind of streak since last summer. Smaller films entering the multiplexes include the action pic "The Lookout" from Miramax and Universal’s uplifting drama "Peaceful Warrior."

Comedy king Will Ferrell skates into theaters everywhere looking for another gold medal with his newest laugher "Blades of Glory." The PG-13 film finds the funnyman and Jon Heder playing rival figure skaters who must team up as a pair in order to compete again. Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Jenna Fischer, and Craig T. Nelson co-star. "Blades" boasts the two main ingredients to a successful comedy hit – a bankable star and a unique concept. Add in the very funny commercials and trailers and Paramount is well-positioned to score its second number one hit of the year joining fellow star-driven comedy "Norbit." Both pics were produced by DreamWorks.

Ferrell left the competition in the dust last summer with "Talladega Nights" which bowed to a robust $47M on its way to a $148M final. "Blades" doesn’t have as big of a marketing push or the prime summer play period so its opening will not soar as high. But the former "Saturday Night Live" star will again prove that he is a reliable draw. The industry had some doubts in 2005 when both "Bewitched" and "Kicking and Screaming" failed to reach $65M. Ferrell’s 2004 hit "Anchorman" debuted to $28.4M and "Blades" should play out like that one, only bigger. Teens and young adults will be the driving force plus there is plenty of cross-gender appeal. Though the marketplace is crowded with many options, there aren’t too many direct threats. "Wild Hogs," the only major comedy, is getting old as is "300" which most high school and college students have already seen. Spinning into over 3,000 theaters, "Blades of Glory" should finish in first place and win about $37M over the weekend.


Ferrell and Heder in "Blades of Glory."

Disney uses its patented moves to go after the family audience with its latest animated offering "Meet the Robinsons." With most digital toons these days being of the PG variety, "Robinsons" carries a G rating which it hopes will help convince parents to buy tickets for even the youngest of their children. The story follows an orphan boy who befriends a kind family and features the voices of Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck, and Adam West. In the cartoon world, films sell best when they are comedies and feature popular comedians in central roles. "Robinsons" at least has the first factor working for it.

The marketing has been strong and trailers have been funny. But unlike the studio’s last film for kids, "Bridge to Terabithia," this time competition will be a force. "TMNT" and "The Last Mimzy" will only be in their second weekends and are set to steal away about $20M worth of business from the same target audience. Luckily, the weekend’s two other new films will attract different segments of the moviegoing crowd. "Meet the Robinsons" does not have the firepower to reach the heights of Pixar pics. Rather, it may bring out the same size audience as last fall’s "Open Season" which bowed to $23.2M from an ultrawide 3,833 locations. "Meet the Robinsons" bows in roughly 3,200 sites but could exploit its studio’s brand name to deliver a similar gross of about $23M.


Let’s "Meet the Robinsons."

Years after leaving the sitcom world of NBC’s "3rd Rock From the Sun," Joseph Gordon-Levitt anchors the heist thriller "The Lookout." The R-rated Miramax release comes from writer-turned-rookie-director Scott Frank and co-stars Jeff Daniels. Starpower is seriously lacking here and that will hurt its box office prospects. Reviews have been good, but the target audience of young adults have "Blades of Glory," "300," and "Shooter" to choose from and all of them offer more for the money. With only so much marketing and distribution strength behind it, the film will have a tough time just getting an invite to the top ten. "The Lookout" debuts in about 1,000 theaters on Friday and could collect about $4M over three days.


Jeff Daniels and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "The Lookout."

In an unorthodox approach, Universal will be releasing the inspirational drama "Peaceful Warrior" in 615 theaters this weekend but most moviegoers will actually be getting free tickets through a promotion with Best Buy. The PG-13 film starring Nick Nolte was given a limited release last summer and grossed more than $1M from just over 40 theaters. Universal will report box office grosses that include regular paid sales plus full ticket prices for each free admission. With $15M worth of free tickets allocated for opening weekend, it will be unlikely that the paid portion will make up a sizable amount. Film fans who visit the promotional web site can get up to ten complimentary tickets each. However, the studio should get some extra buzz that it could benefit from when the DVD is released a few months down the road.


Nick Nolte and Scott Mechlowicz in "Peaceful Warrior."

The Ninja Turtles ruled the box office last weekend in "TMNT," but will face a formidable foe in Disney’s "Meet the Robinsons" which will play to the same audience. A 40% drop would give the animated actioner $14M for the frame and $43M after ten days. Warner Bros has also been raking in the dough with its stylish war epic 300 which has been holding up surprisingly well. Another 40% fall will put the R-rated battle pic at $12M boosting the cume to $180M after 24 days. Mark Wahlberg‘s "Shooter" could decline by 45% to $8M giving Paramount a ten-day total of $27M.

LAST YEAR: Smashing the March opening weekend record set four years earlier by its predecessor, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" shot straight to number one with a colossal $68M debut. The Fox juggernaut went on to gross $195.3M domestically and a towering $657M worldwide giving the "Ice Age" duo over $1 billion in global grosses. Dropping to second was "Inside Man" with $15.4M. Warner Bros. launched its urban drama "ATL" in third with $11.6M on its way to $21.2M. Rounding out the top five were "Failure to Launch" with $6.5M and "V for Vendetta" with $6.3M. The horror flick "Slither" creeped into eighth place with a $3.9M opening leading to a $7.8M final. Sony claimed the year’s most notorious flop with "Basic Instinct 2" which bowed to $3.2M on its way to a pathetic $5.9M before sweeping the Razzie Awards.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Comedy superstar Will Ferrell scored his first-ever number one opening in a lead role with the stronger-than-expected debut of his latest hit Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby which left all competitors in the dust at the North American box office.

Solid opening weekend results came from the animated comedy Barnyard: The Original Party Animals in second place and the horror film The Descent in fifth, but the Robin Williams thriller The Night Listener failed to find much of an audience in its debut. Overall, the marketplace was healthy and showed substantial improvement over the first weekend of August from the last two summers.

Sony crossed the finish line in first place for the industry-leading eighth time this year with the turbo-charged opening of Talladega Nights which grossed an estimated $47M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Playing in a massive 3,803 theaters, the PG-13 film about a legendary NASCAR driver averaged a fantastic $12,359 per location. Will Ferrell has collected more than his share of second place trophies. The former Saturday Night Live star has opened at number two numerous times in recent years with films such as Kicking and Screaming, Bewitched, Anchorman, Elf, and Old School. Elf climbed into first place in its second weekend, and Ferrell has had supporting roles and cameos in number one openers from other stars. But Talladega Nights marks the first time he has anchored a top spot debut, and he did it decisively.

Reviews were generally positive for the racing comedy, which co-starred John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Michael Clarke Duncan, and the weekend gross was roughly three times the take of its closest competition. Sony backed the $73M film with a lavish marketing campaign which involved promotional support from numerous corporate sponsors. Even veteran talk show host Larry King turned his daily chat session on opening night into a one-hour commercial for the film by interviewing Ferrell and Reilly in character as Ricky Bobby and his racing pal Cal Naughton Jr.

Talladega reached a broad audience with young males standing out slightly, as expected. Studio research indicated that 53% of the audience was male and that 52% was under 25. Aside from being Ferrell’s biggest opening weekend ever, the film also generated the third best bow ever in the month of August. Only 2001’s Rush Hour 2 and the following year’s Signs did better with debuts of $67.4M and $60.1M, respectively. Those two pics also launched on the first frame of the month which studios still look at as a good weekend for programming a high-profile summer film on. By this point, most of the season’s tentpole films have played out, but there is still enough summer playing time ahead to have long-term success.

Finishing far back in second place, but still enjoying an impressive debut, was Paramount’s animated comedy Barnyard with an estimated $16M. The PG-rated toon bowed in 3,311 locations and averaged a solid $4,844 per theater. The opening was better than The Ant Bully‘s $8.4M from last weekend, but did not reach the $22.2M debut of Monster House from two weeks ago. Barnyard was produced by Nickelodeon Movies for just over $50M and played mostly to kids and parents. Audience research showed that 75% of the crowd was made up of families with males and females represented evenly. With two other cartoons in the top ten, and with Pirates still pulling in every age group, the opening performance of Barnyard was commendable.

The year’s biggest blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest dropped 47% to an estimated $11M boosting its domestic treasure to a stunning $379.7M. That puts the Johnny Depp adventure sequel at number eight among all-time domestic blockbusters surpassing the $377M of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Pirates also managed to bump Mel Gibson‘s The Passion of the Christ off the all-time top ten list. Overseas, Disney scored another colossal gross taking in $57M from 47 markets to rule the international box office for the fifth straight frame. That sent the offshore cume soaring to $392M and the worldwide haul to $771.7M making it the top-grossing global hit of 2006 after just one month of release. Pirates could certainly be on its way to the one billion dollar mark with another installment in the franchise on deck for a May 2007 release.

Audiences rejected Miami Vice which tumbled a horrendous 62% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.7M. With $45.7M in ten days, the Universal action thriller is on course to end with $65-70M. That would give Vice a domestic gross of about half of its $135M production budget. Good news did, however, come from the U.K. where the cop pic debuted at number one this weekend.

Opening in fifth place was the new horror entry The Descent with an estimated $8.8M from 2,095 locations. The R-rated fright flick about a six-pack of young ladies trapped in an underground cave full of flesh-eating creatures averaged a solid $4,200 per venue. Reviews were unusually positive for the genre and distributor Lionsgate pitched The Descent in its advertising as being from the studio that brought audiences Saw and Hostel. But the opening was far short of the $18.3M and $19.6M that those low-budget hits opened to. Still, with a modest pricetag of its own, the cave exploration flick looks to make a few bucks theatrically and dig up a bigger audience when released on DVD.

Fox’s teen comedy John Tucker Must Die dropped 58% in its second weekend to an estimated $6.1M. With $28.6M in ten days, the revenge flick should find its way to the neighborhood of $40M. Sony’s animated scarefest Monster House followed close behind with an estimated $6M, off 49%, for a $57M cume. Competing toon The Ant Bully fell 54% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.9M. Warner Bros. has collected just $18.2M in ten days and should conclude with an underwhelming $25-27M.

A pair of films tied for ninth place with an estimated $3.6M each. Universal’s comedy You, Me and Dupree declined 49% and upped its sum to $66.8M. Miramax’s new Robin Williams thriller The Night Listener bowed in 1,367 locations and averaged a weak $2,634 per site.

Opening with healthy but not spectacular results in platform release was the teen drama Quinceanera which grossed an estimated $97,000 from only eight sites for a $12,125 average. The R-rated tale of a Mexican-American girl’s impending coming-of-age party won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was snapped up by Sony Classics. Quinceanera will expand beyond New York and Los Angeles in the weeks ahead.

Three comedies and a bedtime story dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Fox’s hit fashion industry pic The Devil Wears Prada held up well once again in its sixth frame with an estimated $3.1M, off 35%, lifitng the cume to a stellar $112.7M. It was the Meryl Streep film’s fourth consecutive weekend with a drop of less than 40%. Produced for just $35M, Devil should find its way to a fabulous $120-125M making it one of the more profitable hits of the summer.

On the other hand, the Warner Bros. suspense thriller Lady in the Water has been falling by more than 60% each frame and took in an estimated $2.7M in its third scare. Down a steep 62%, the M. Night Shyamalan pic has grossed only $38.7M in 17 days and looks to drown with a mere $42-44M overall. The production budget was reportedly in the $75M range.

Sony’s Little Man fell 51% to an estimated $2.5M in its fourth outing and pushed its cume to $55.1M. The Wayans brothers pic cost $64M to produce and should end its domestic run with a respectable $58-60M. Fox’s super hero comedy flop My Super Ex-Girlfriend stumbled 73% in its third flight and grossed an estimated $1.1M. With $20.2M in the bank, look for a disappointing $22M finish.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight expanded its hit indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine from seven to 58 theaters in the top dozen markets and grossed an estimated $1.5M. That resulted in a muscular $25,169 average and a $2.2M total. The distributor will add 17 more cities on Friday and widen nationally the following weekend on the heels of strong word-of-mouth momentum.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $115.7M which was up 18% from last year when The Dukes of Hazzard debuted at number one with $30.7M; and up 23% from 2004 when Collateral opened in the top spot with $24.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Fans of bad movies have The Stinkers and The Razzies to look forward to every year, and now that the latter organization has announced their winners, we can put this issue to bed and enjoy the next ten months of cinematic ineptitude.

2005 Razzie Awards Winners

Worst Picture: "Dirty Love"
Worst Actor: Rob Schneider, "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo"
Worst Actress: Jenny McCarthy, "Dirty Love"
Worst Supporting Actor: Hayden Christensen, "Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith"
Worst Supporting Actress: Paris Hilton, "House of Wax"
Worst Screen Couple: Will Ferrell & Nicole Kidman, "Bewitched"
Worst Sequel: "Son of the Mask"
Worst Screenplay: Jenny McCarthy, "Dirty Love"
Worst Director: John Asher, "Dirty Love"

Yeah, so apparently they really hated the fish-in-a-barrel-ish "Dirty Love." For the rest of the winners/losers, head on over to the Razzies site.

For those of us who loved "Anchorman" and semi-suffered through "Kicking & Screaming," "Bewitched," and "The Producers" while waiting for the Will Ferrell we know and love, well, here comes a movie (and the trailer) you’ll want to keep an eye out for. It’s "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," and it hits theaters on August 4th.

"The film tells the story of NASCAR stock car racing sensation Ricky Bobby whose "win at all costs" approach has made him a national hero. He and his loyal racing partner, childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr., are a fearless duo — dubbed "Thunder" and "Lightning" by their fans for their ability to finish so many races in the #1 and #2 positions, with Cal always in second place. When a flamboyant French Formula One driver, Jean Girard, challenges the "Thunder" and "Lightning" for the supremacy of NASCAR, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight Girard for the right to be known as racing’s top driver."

Written and directed by frequent Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay, "Talladega" also stars John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Leslie Bibb, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Gary Cole.

Courtesy of their official site come the annual Razzie Awards Nominations … or as I like to call them: The Amazingly Obvious Fish in a Barrel Nominations in Which We Savage People We Don’t Like, Regardless of the Quality of Their Work. Oh, and it seems the Razzers have decided to branch out an include a "Most Tiresome" category, which I happen to find pretty ironic.

26th Annual Golden Raspberry (RAZZIE®) Award Nominations

WORST PICTURE

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Dirty Love
The Dukes of Hazzard
House of Wax
Son of the Mask

WORST ACTOR

Tom Cruise / War of the Worlds
Will Ferrell / Bewitched and Kicking & Screaming
Jamie Kennedy / Son of the Mask
The Rock / Doom
Rob Schneider / Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

WORST ACTRESS
Jessica Alba / Fantastic Four and Into the Blue
Hilary Duff / Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and The Perfect Man
Jennifer Lopez / Monster in Law
Jenny McCarthy / Dirty Love
Tara Reid / Alone in the Dark

MOST TIRESOME TABLOID TARGETS
(New Category, Saluting the Celebs We’re ALL Sick & Tired Of!)
Tom Cruise & His Anti-Psychiatry Rant
Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Oprah Winfrey‘s Couch, The Eiffel Tower & “Tom’s Baby”
Paris Hilton and…Who-EVER!
Mr. & Mrs. Britney, Their Baby & Their Camcorder
The Simpsons: Ashlee, Jessica & Nick

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Hayden Christensen / Star Wars III: No Sith, He’s Supposed to Be Darth Vader?!?!
Alan Cumming / Son of the Mask
Bob Hoskins / Son of the Mask
Eugene Levy / Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and The Man
Burt Reynolds / The Dukes of Hazzard and The Longest Yard

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Carmen Electra / Dirty Love
Paris Hilton / House of Wax
Katie Holmes / Batman Begins
Ashlee Simpson / Undiscovered
Jessica Simpson / The Dukes of Hazzard

WORST SCREEN COUPLE

Will Ferrell & Nicole Kidman / Bewitched
Jamie Kennedy & ANYBODY Stuck Sharing the Screen with Him / Son of the Mask
Jenny McCarthy & ANYONE Dumb Enough to Befriend or Date Her / Dirty Love
Rob Schneider & His Diapers / Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Jessica Simpson & Her “Daisy Dukes” / The Dukes of Hazzard

WORST REMAKE OR SEQUEL
Bewitched
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
The Dukes of Hazzard
House of Wax
Son of the Mask

WORST DIRECTOR
John Asher / Dirty Love
Uwe Boll / Alone in the Dark
Jay Chandrasekhar / The Dukes of Hazzard
Nora Ephron / Bewitched
Lawrence Guterman / Son of the Mask

WORST SCREENPLAY

Bewitched
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Dirty Love
The Dukes of Hazzard Written
Son of the Mask

My apologies to the Razz Crew, but I think they could put a lot more effort into their nominations. And maybe learn to tell the difference between "bad performances" and "stuff we just feel like ranting about." (And perhaps stop nominating one person for multiple performances, because then it just becomes obvious that you’re gunning for someone. Example: They hated Ferrell in the witch comedy and the soccer flick, but they loved his work in "The Producers?" Phooey.)

Am I too harsh? Are the Razzies really cool and I’m just a crotchety old whiner? Quite possible.

John Horn of the LA Times delivers an interesting article on the sad state of affairs over at Sony Pictures. Seems that, aside from "Hitch," none of Sony’s releases have found an overly receptive audience this year. (For those keeping score, Sony’s 2005 releases include "Stealth," "xXx: State of the Union," "Lords of Dogtown," "Bewitched," and that "Deuce Bigalow" sequel.) Also, it seems that "Fun With Dick & Jane" is a merciless money-pit, and that alleged "Sinbad" movie starring Keanu Reeves and "Stealth" director Rob Cohen? Yeah, that project’s dead now.

"Light romantic comedies are not supposed to be expensive, grueling endeavors, but the filming of "Fun With Dick and Jane" was anything but fun for Sony Pictures.

Months over schedule and millions over budget, the remake of the 1977 caper comedy had a revolving door of top-dollar screenwriters constantly reworking its script. A year after the Jim Carrey movie began filming, director Dean Parisot had to go back behind the cameras, reshooting some 30 pages of new dialogue. The movie missed its planned summer release and will now come out in December."

Also, "the studio pulled the plug on "The 8th Voyage of Sinbad," a planned expensive spectacle that was to pair "Matrix" star Keanu Reeves with director Cohen. While Cohen’s "The Fast and the Furious" and the first "XXX" movie were global smashes, his $135-million "Stealth" was a summer flop, grossing just $32.1 million in domestic theaters and generating a Sony loss of almost $50 million."

Check out the full LA Times article right here.

Over the past few days, we’ve tried to counter the common misconception that this summer’s cinematic fare was bereft of quality. However, that doesn’t mean the season was without some stinkers, at least critically speaking.

The most rotten movie of the summer was "Supercross: The Movie," which won praise from two percent of the critics. "Undiscovered," the title of which was often used derisively in reviews, stood at four percent. Rounding out the top five were "The Perfect Man" (six percent) "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" (10 percent), and "Honeymooners" (12 percent). The most rotten limited release of the summer was the Aussie slasher flick "Undead."

Here’s the 20 most rotten films of the summer, in ascending order:

2% — Supercross: The Movie
4% — Undiscovered
6% — The Perfect Man
10% — Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
12% — Honeymooners
13% — Stealth
14% — Rebound
14% — The Cave
17% — Monster-In-Law
17% — The Dukes of Hazzard
20% — The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D
23% — House of Wax
23% — Valiant
23% — Undead
25% — Bewitched
25% — Fantastic Four
27% — 9 Songs
28% — Mindhunters
28% — Pretty Persuasion
28% — The Baxter

Check out the rest of our coverage:
Summer Tomatometer Wrap-up: Box Office Down, Tomatometer Up
Summer Tomatometer Wrap-up #2: The Best of the Wide Releases
Summer Tomatometer Wrap-up #3: The Best of the Limited Releases

No, it didn’t break any records … but no, it didn’t exactly underperform, either. No matter how you look at it, Steven Spielberg‘s "War of the Worlds" zapped a healthy chunk of change from our pockets during the July 4th weekend. Three-day frame: $64.5 million. Throw in the Monday holiday and the figure rises to $77.6 million. Toss the Wednesday opening and Thursday into the mix and you’re looking at a "War" chest worth just over $113 million.

Needless to say, the Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller handily snatched the #1 box office spot. Hanging on with impressive tenacity is "Batman Begins," which grossed $18.7 over the four-day weekend ($154m total), while third place went to the also rather buoyant "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," which added over $12.5 million to a total tally of $146m.

Fourth place went to "Bewitched," which pulled in an extra $10.8 million, and "Herbie: Fully Loaded," which added $10.5m to its bottom line. Aside from "War of the Worlds," the only other wide release newcomer was the Martin Lawrence kids’ comedy "Rebound," which landed in 7th place with a $6 million weekend.

Next Friday sees the release of two new heavyweights, the Fox comic-book adaptation "Fantastic Four," and the Jennifer Connelly thriller "Dark Water."

As always, please feel free to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page for a closer look at the weekend monetary numerals.

For the second weekend in a row, Christopher Nolan‘s "Batman Begins" claimed the #1 spot at the weekend box office races. The superhero flick pulled in over $26 million in its second weekend, giving it a healthy margin of victory over the competition.

Debuting in second place with a $20 million haul was the Nicole Kidman / Will Ferrell romantic comedy "Bewitched," which bowed in more than 3,100 theaters, while another holdover, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," snagged third place with $16.8 million. Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of newcomers: "Herbie: Fully Loaded" tallied just under $13 million from 3,500 venues, while George Romero‘s "Land of the Dead" pulled in just over $10 million at 2,200 theaters.

Next week sees the release of two more hopefuls, one a heavy hitter (Steven Spielberg‘s "War of the Worlds") and the other … not so much (Martin Lawrence‘s kid’s basketball comedy "Rebound").

For a closer look at the total weekend tallies, be sure to visit the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

This week’s three wide releases have some things in common: they’re all updates of stuff we’ve seen before, and they all deal with the supernatural. Which will cast a spell over the critics: a car that can love, a witch, or thoughtful, perceptive (but still bloodthirsty) zombies?

George A. Romero’s "Night of the Living Dead" is one of the masterworks of modern horror films, a movie so copied and so influential that, like "2001" or "Metropolis," it may be difficult to fully understand a world without it. Romero’s subsequent "Dead" works, "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead," have maintained a level of quality and integrity where other horror series have retreated to camp and gore. "Land of the Dead," which depicts a bleak future of class conflict and zombies who can think and communicate, is winning high praise in some circles, but at 40 percent, the majority of critics feel it’s a step down for one of the genre’s masters.

Another week, another TV remake: "Bewitched," starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, avoids some of the pratfalls of recent rehashings by adding a self-reflexive, show-within-a-film plotline, but it’s still basically the story of a witch who gets married to an average Joe. Actually, “average” is a good adjective in this case; critics are less than, ahem, bewitched by this one, with only 36 percent under its spell. The plot involves a pompous actor’s attempt to restart his career by starring in an update of "Bewitched." Hilarity ensues when the actress who takes the Elizabeth Montgomery role is actually a witch. Or rather, occasional hilarity ensues.

From "Turbo Teen" to "Knight Rider" to the forthcoming "Cars," it’s clear that Americans have a thing for anthropomorphizing their fictional automobiles. And one of the original attempts to do this (excepting such non-classics as "My Mother the Car," of course) was "Herbie the Love Bug." Well, that loveable VW is back in "Herbie: Fully Loaded," starring Disney remake queen Lindsay Lohan. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, there’s a reason the movie isn’t being called "Fully Lauded." Critics say while this tale of rescuing the famed bug from the scrap heap and taking on NASCAR might appeal to kids (really little kids), there’s not a whole lot under the hood, it’s low on gas, parents could use a pit stop from this juvenilia, insert auto maintenance cliché here.

Other "Dead" movies by George A. Romero:
86% – Day of the Dead
100% – Dawn of the Dead
100% – Night of the Living Dead

Frequent background funnyman Steve Carell has stolen scenes in "Anchorman," "Bruce Almighty," and "Bewitched" — which means it’s high time the guy got a movie of his very own! If you’re likely to agree, then head on over to Quicktime Movie Trailers to check out the rather amusing trailer for "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

Starring alongside the virginal Mr. Carell are Catherine Keener ("Full Frontal"), Paul Rudd ("Clueless"), and Seth Rogen ("Donnie Darko"). "Virgin" was co-written and directed by Judd Apatow, known to comedy fans as the man behind TV series like "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared." Mr. Carell’s first starring vehicle hits theaters on August 19th.

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