The female crooks of Ocean’s 8 made off with an estimated $41.5 million and the top spot in their debut at the North American box office over the weekend and did it in high style.


Queen of the Crop: Ocean’s 8 Steals the Weekend

Ocean's 8 stars Sarah Paulson, Sandra Bullock, Rihanna (Warner Bros.)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

In the franchise’s return to the big screen after 11 years, Ocean’s 8 easily left the previous two weeks’ No. 1 movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, holding the box office bag, according to Box Office Mojo. The opening of the glitzy heist film with the ensemble cast led by Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and Anne Hathaway is the best, before adjusting for inflation*, of the four films that have followed the 1960 original starring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. That includes the 2001 remake starring Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and George Clooney, who produced Ocean’s 8, written and directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games).

Ocean's  Franchise Openings chart

Women made up a whopping 70 percent of the audience for the first female-fronted tentpole release of the summer, which was rated PG 13–rated came in with a lukewarm 67% Tomatometer score. It followed the familiar formula of the previous Ocean’s films, with Bullock as Danny Ocean’s just-out-of-jail sister, who assembles a posse of crime specialists — played by Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter — to plunder the New York Met Gala.

Ocean’s 8 should ultimately bring a healthy haul for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, since its production budget was a relatively modest $70 million. Its debut was the sixth-best of the year, just ahead of Ready Player One, and should only intensify Hollywood’s recent fascination with remakes featuring females in key roles. Ocean’s 8 added $12.2 million from a 12-market foreign debut.


Fresh surprise: Hereditary Scares Up a Surprising Box Office

Hereditary (A24)

(Photo by A24)

The well-reviewed horror movie Hereditary translated its glossy 93% Tomatometer score into an impressive $13 million debut, the best ever for distributor A24, which acquired the film out of Sundance in January. It finished fourth, behind holdovers Solo ($15.2 million) and Deadpool 2 ($13.6 million). Toni Collette tops the cast of the chiller, which marked the directing debut of writer Ari Aster. Horror fans, notorious for tough grading, gave it a 63% audience rating.

The weekend’s other wide opener, the action-thriller Hotel Artemis starring Jodie Foster, disappointed with $3.2 million and eighth place for Global Releasing. Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto, Sofia Boutella, and Dave Bautista co-star in the feature directing debut of writer Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3). A 44% Audience Score amplified its soft 58% Tomatometer rating.


Dino Might: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Roars to Life Overseas

 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal Pictures)

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

That rumbling you heard may have been the leaping lizards of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, who stomped their way to $151 million from 48 territories for Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment in their foreign debut. It rolls out next week in China and June 22 in the U.S. and Canada, and hopes to follow in the giant footsteps of 2015’s Jurassic World and 1993’s Jurassic Park, which together generated $2.6 billion worldwide.

Avengers: Infinity War will cross the $2 billion worldwide mark for Disney and Marvel, after adding $10.9 million from overseas this weekend.


Beyond the Top 10: Fred Rogers Documentary Charms

Fred Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor (Focus Features)

(Photo by Focus Features)

At 99%, the highest Tomatometer rating of any release this weekend belonged to Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and indie film fans got the word. The documentary about Fred Rogers, host of the long-running kids TV show Mister Rogers Neighborhood, brought in $470,000 from just 29 theaters for Focus Features, and generated a 96% Audience Score (as of this writing). It’s powerful $16,207 per-screen average was second only to well-reviewed specialty release Hearts Beat Loud, which has a 92% Tomatometer score. The Nick OffermanKiersey Clemons father-daughter drama managed $74,053 from four theaters for an $18,513 per-screen average for Gunpowder and Sky.


This Time Last Year: Wonder Woman Wows in Second Weekend

Wonder Woman (Warner Bros. Pictures)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Females fueled the box office on the second weekend in June last year as well, driving Wonder Woman to a repeat $58 million win for Warner Bros. The top 12 films brought in $139 million.


On the Vine: Pixar’s Incredibles 2 Expected to Kick Ocean’s Butt

Incredibles 2 (Disney/Pixar)

(Photo by Disney/Pixar)

Look for the animated kids film from Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird, to knock the larcenous ladies of Ocean’s 8 from the top perch next week. It will be the first release from Pixar after word of the exit of studio chief John Lasseter. Disney announced Friday that he will leave at the end of the year, following sexual harassment allegations.

Also making wide debuts will be the R-rated ensemble comedy Tag from Warner Bros., starring Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, and Jeremy Renner, and the action film from India Race 3, starring Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan. The wave of indie films continues — there will be roughly 30 released this month — continues. Rolling out Friday will be the IFC documentary Eating Animals; the R-rated John Travolta crime drama Gotti, based on the life of New York mobster John Gotti; and the Brazilian action drama Gabriel and the Mountain.


The Full Top 10: June 8-10

  1. Ocean’s 8 – $42.5 million ($42.5 million domestic total)
  2. Solo: A Star Wars Story – $15.2 million ($171 million total)
  3. Deadpool 2 – $13.7 million ($278 million total)
  4. Hereditary – $13 million ($13 million total)
  5. Avengers: Infinity War – $6.8 million ($654.7 million total)
  6. Adrift – $5 million ($21.7 million total)
  7. Book Club – $4.2 million ($56.8 million total)
  8. Hotel Artemis – $3.2 million  ($3.2 million total)
  9. Upgrade – $2.2 ($9.2)
  10. Life of the Party – $2.1 million ($50.2 million total)

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

A remake scoring better than its original counterpart? Rare, but it’s been done before as seen in this week’s gallery of every movie remake that got a higher Tomatometer than the first try!

Never bet against Jamie Foxx, who plays a Las Vegas cop on a search-and-destroy mission to save his kidnapped son in new thriller Sleepless. Beware criminal crooks, or you’ll craps your pants! Yep, it’s just another day in the wild ways of Vegas, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: an all-you-can-watch buffet of best and worst movies (with at least 20 reviews) set mostly to wholly in Sin City!

Tradition holds that the only thing we’re supposed to watch on New Year’s Eve is an assortment of minor celebrities doing their best to entertain us before the ball drops in Times Square – but as any self-respecting film buff knows, there are any number of movies whose plots revolve in some way around the changing of the calendar year, and quite a few of them are a lot more entertaining than any New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. With that in mind, we’ve taken a cross-section sampling of New Year’s flicks from various genres, touching on some classics and a few surprises along the way. Break out the bubbly, because 2017 is almost here, and we’re celebrating Total Recall style!


200 Cigarettes (1999)

200-cigarettes

At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, it isn’t one of this list’s biggest critical winners, but there’s no denying the New Year’s Eve-ness of 200 Cigarettes — the entire film takes place on December 31, 1981, and follows the multitudinous narrative arcs of a group of partygoers as they prepare to assemble at a NYE bash being thrown by a neurotic New Yorker (Martha Plimpton). Despite appearances from a gaggle of familiar faces (including Christina Ricci, Janeane Garafalo, Ben and Casey Affleck, and Courtney Love), Cigarettes failed to make much of an impression during its February theatrical run, but it did enjoy the support of critics like Phil Villarreal of the Arizona Daily Star, who called it “An underrated, entertaining lark of a Tarantinoesque film.”

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About a Boy (2002) 93%

about-a-boy

While it could be argued that this 2002 Hugh Grant dramedy hit isn’t exactly a “New Year’s movie,” it’s certainly true that the holiday represents a significant turning point for the main character, Will Freeman (Grant), whose journey from shallow layabout to feeling adult human begins when he meets the luminous Rachel (Rachel Weisz) at a New Year’s Eve party. Toss in the warm-hearted Christmas finale, and About a Boy is a film with enough holiday spirit to make the cut. As Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for the L.A. Weekly, “There’s not much more to this adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel than charm — effortless, pleasurable, featherweight charm.”

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The Apartment (1960)

the-apartment

How do you follow up a masterpiece like Some Like It Hot? For Billy Wilder, the answer was simple: Reunite with Jack Lemmon for one of the most honest (and surprisingly dark) comedies of the ’60s. Lemmon leads The Apartment as C.C. Baxter, a low-level cog in the gears of a major New York City insurance company who is manipulated by his managers into letting them use his apartment for their frequent extramarital activities. Too weak-willed to challenge his superiors, Baxter trades his silence for promotions until he realizes his firm’s personnel director (Fred MacMurray) has been carrying on with the elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) for whom he’s silently been carrying a torch. This sets in motion a chain of events that culminates — on New Year’s Eve, natch — with the charmingly cynical Wilder equivalent of a happy ending. Daring for its time, The Apartment is noteworthy not only for its rock-solid script and collectively strong performances from its cast, but for the quiet truths it communicates underneath the laughs. As Roger Ebert wrote, “There is a melancholy gulf over the holidays between those who have someplace to go, and those who do not. The Apartment is so affecting partly because of that buried reason.”

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Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) 60%

assault-on-precinct-13

Jean-François Richet’s remake of John Carpenter’s 1976 thriller retains the same basic gist of the original — a straight-arrow cop (Ethan Hawke) joins forces with a crook (Laurence Fishburne) to defend his shuttered precinct against a gang of criminals — while moving the action to New Year’s Eve. Not exactly the most festive way to spend the last night of the year, but the updated Assault on Precinct 13 proved entertaining for critics like Daniel Etherington of Film4, who called it “A dark, exciting and enjoyable action-thriller for adolescent boys of all ages.”

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Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) 81%

better-luck-tomorrow

Think you’ve been to some pretty terrible New Year’s Eve parties in your day? Just be glad you weren’t invited to the bloody beatdown that transpires during the climax of Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow. A desperately grim look at the lives of overachieving suburban teens, Luck drops its protagonists into a downward spiral of drugs, crime, violence, and jealousy… and when that midnight kiss finally comes, it’s less a celebration of the new year than a doomed attempt to cling to some sense of normalcy. “It’s not a perfect work,” admitted Tom Long of the Detroit News, “but it is so filled with energy, angst, talent, authenticity and passion that it stands heads above most supposed youth-culture releases.”

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Boogie Nights (1997) 93%

boogie-nights

The next time you’re stuck at a dud of a New Year’s Eve party, sitting around eating bad pizza and waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square, just remember: It could always be worse. You could, for instance, have been a guest at the shindig thrown by Little Bill (William H. Macy), the Boogie Nights character who rings in 1980 by killing his wife and her boyfriend — and then turns the gun on himself. For the rest of the movie’s characters, this ugly incident is only the beginning of a long descent into the seamy side of the early ’80s; for Nights itself, however, it’s one of a handful of harrowing sequences in a film that established writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson as a star while delivering an unexpectedly sweet message. As Jeffrey M. Anderson of Combustible Celluloid wrote, “If it weren’t for the porn, drugs, and violence, this would be an ideal movie to take the kids to. It’s all about belonging, and sticking with your family.”

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End of Days (1999) 11%

end-of-days

The last few months of 1999 were a strange time, what with all the Y2K hysteria and general end-of-the-century hoopla the human race seems to fall prey to every hundred years. But for sheer loud, loopy weirdness, none of it held a candle to End of Days, the Peter Hyams action thriller that gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jericho Cane, the retired cop who ends up battling Satan (played, in a bit of perfect casting, by Gabriel Byrne) for control of the womb of Christine York (Robin Tunney), the woman prophesied to conceive the devil’s child on New Year’s Eve, 1999. One of two movies founded on eschatological fantasy that year (the other, Stigmata, also starred Byrne), End of Days benefited from a new Guns N’ Roses song on the soundtrack, as well as a scene in which Schwarzenegger’s character launches a grenade at Satan. Sadly, critics were unmoved; as James Sanford of the Kalamazoo Gazette described it, watching Days is “sort of like listening to that old Toto album tucked away somewhere in your music collection. You remember thinking you used to like this kind of stuff, but you can’t quite recall why.”

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The Godfather, Part II (1974) 96%

godfather-ii

One of the most critically and commercially successful sequels of all time, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II traces the bloody decline of the Corleone clan through a series of double crosses, power plays, and the inexorable corruption of power. At its crux is the infamous “kiss of death” scene that unfolds at a New Year’s Eve party hosted by doomed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista: while other partygoers are enjoying the festivities, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) confronts his treacherous brother Fredo (John Cazale) — who tried to have him assassinated at the beginning of the film — with the bone-chilling kiss and the words “I know it was you, Fredo; you broke my heart.” The shattering of the brothers’ bond represents a point of no return for Michael, and watching it unfold against the backdrop of a celebration of hope and renewal makes it even more heartwrenching — one more reason Godfather Part II is, in the words of Dan Jardine of the Apollo Guide, “The mother of all sequels.”

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The Gold Rush (1925) 100%

gold-rush

Like most holidays, New Year’s Eve is meant to be spent with friends and family — and in the movies, any character who spends the evening alone is more than likely feeling pretty melancholy. Charlie Chaplin’s 1925 classic The Gold Rush provides a particularly poignant example with its classic New Year’s Eve sequence, in which Chaplin is duped into believing the object of his affection will be stopping by his poverty-stricken cabin to celebrate, only to be stood up — and eventually fall asleep at his table, dreaming he’s the life of the party after all. Calling it “the outstanding gem of all Chaplin’s pictures,” Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times wrote, “Here is a comedy with streaks of poetry, pathos, tenderness, linked with brusqueness and boisterousness.”

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Holiday Inn (1942)

Holiday-Inn2

Odds are, you’ve had a little more to drink than you should on New Year’s Eve. You’ve probably danced, too — and you may have even fallen in love. But you probably haven’t done it with as much style as Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), the jilted song-and-dance man who spies Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) across a dance floor and spends the holiday providing a drunken kickoff to one of the more entertaining love triangles in cinematic history. Over the course of a year’s worth of holidays — including a pair of New Year’s celebrations — Ted tussles for Linda’s affections with his on-again, off-again partner, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby). Holiday Inn generally isn’t considered Crosby or Astaire’s best film, but its 100 percent Tomatometer rating should tell you everything you need to know about just how solid both stars’ filmographies really are. “Call it old-fashioned or old Hollywood fluff,” wrote Christopher Varney of Film Threat, “Holiday Inn is a sweet, pleasant slice of another time in pop entertainment.”

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The Cannes Film Festival started this week, and as always, the associated film market has led to an unusual amount of high profile movie announcements, making for a very sensational Weekly Ketchup. Included in this week’s top stories are two remakes (Cliffhanger and Fright Night), three movie adaptations of TV shows, yet another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie and confirmation that Martin Scorsese will indeed direct a biopic of Ol’ Blue Eyes.

#1 MARTIN SCORSESE’S SINATRA PROJECT OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED

A year ago this week, the Weekly Ketchup reported Nancy Sinatra’s negotiations with Universal Pictures on a biopic of her father, crooner and actor Frank Sinatra, that she hoped Martin Scorsese would direct. This week, the project was finally officially announced by Universal Pictures, with Scorsese indeed attached to direct. Titled Sinatra, the script will be written by Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams, All of Me), whose last theatrical release was way back in 1992 with Sneakers. Although no actor is as yet officially signed to star as Frank Sinatra, one of the producers acknowledged that the top contender is indeed Leonardo DiCaprio, who has obviously emerged as Scorsese’s favorite actor in recent years, starring in Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and the upcoming Shutter Island. However, there is also a rumor that Universal is hot on the idea of Johnny Depp possibly starring as Sinatra, following their happiness with his performance in Public Enemies. There are many different elements of Frank Sinatra’s life that seem to be movie-friendly, including his status as one of the most successful singers of the 20th century, his career as an actor, his friends in the Rat Pack, his many romantic conquests, his friendship with J.F.K. and the alleged ties to the mafia. Producer Cathy Schulman said about the scope of the movie that it will be an “unconventional biopic that will touch on all phases of Sinatra’s life.”

#2 QUENTIN TARANTINO MIGHT MAKE A PREQUEL TO INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS?

At the end of a lengthy New York Times piece this week about his upcoming WWII action movie Inglourious Basterds, director Quentin Tarantino mentioned briefly a subplot about African-American soldiers stuck behind enemy lines that had to be excised from the lengthy script, saying that “I have a half-written prequel ready to go if this movie’s a smash.” Of course, it should be noted that Tarantino has talked a lot in the past about other spin-off movies, like a Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction prequel called The Vega Brothers and possible Kill Bill sequels that have as yet not been realized, so this brief reference to an Inglourious Basterds prequel might need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, it’s also been well publicized that the reason Inglourious Basterds took so many years to get started was that the original script was a massive one that Tarantino kept adding to and revising, so he might indeed nearly have his prequel halfway close to being ready for another movie.

#3 AMERICAN GLADIATORS: YOU WILL BELIEVE MASSIVELY MUSCLED PEOPLE CAN HIT EACH OTHER WITH FOAM BATS

The creator of the long-running international television franchise American Gladiators has announced plans to bring the concept to the big screen, teaming up with a producer formerly of Legendary Pictures (The Dark Knight, Watchmen). The goal of the project is to “create an action story that takes place inside the world” of American Gladiators. That’s still quite a vague description, considering what the show is. On American Gladiators, athletic contestants are matched up against flamboyantly named stars of the show (with names like Nitro, Blaze and Laser) in a variety of different physical challenges, such as running a gauntlet, or attempting to stay on top of a precarious platform, while the stars of the show use things like foam bats to knock them around. So, when the producer says he wants to give us an action movie set in that “world,” would the movie acknowledge that American Gladiators is basically a game show? Or is he talking about imagining the challenges as having some sort of dramatic, fictional framework, like, say Running Man? American Gladiators currently has no writer or director attached.

#4 50 CENT IS HYDE TO FOREST WHITAKER’S JEKYLL?

Last week, Universal announced plans for a modern retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Keanu Reeves, which is a separate project from the one involving director Guillermo del Toro’s take on a more faithful adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella. Those plans seemed like a good way of keeping the Jekyll and Hyde synergy in house, but director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, King of New York) is taking on Universal anyway with a third project. (Confused yet?) Titled Jekyll and Hyde, this will be Ferrara’s own modern retelling of the story, starring Forest Whitaker as Dr. Jekyll and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Mr. Hyde, the violent man Jekyll becomes after ingesting a potion. Filming is expected to start in the late summer of 2009 on this independent, international production. If the Whitaker/50 Cent movie makes it to theaters first, will there still be interest enough later for two more Jekyll/Hyde movies?

#5 CLIFFHANGER TO GET A STAR TREK-LIKE REBOOT?

With both box office and critical success, Star Trek is to 2009 what Iron Man was to 2008, and in the same way that many comic book movies in the last year have been quick to compare themselves to Iron Man, it looks like Star Trek is now the movie that many of the remake projects will cite as an example. The first movie to try this angle is, quite surprisingly, a remake of Cliffhanger, the 1993 movie starring Sylvester Stallone as a mountain climber who gets involved with a heist of a plane full of cash that crashed up in the Rocky Mountains. Here is the exact quote from producer Neil Moritz, “just as they rebooted Star Trek, we’re going to do the same with Cliffhanger.” Neil Moritz is the same producer who hopes to remake the classic John Carpenter action movie, Escape from New York, and he is most famous as the producer of both the Fast and the Furious and xXx movie franchises. The Cliffhanger “reboot” is aiming to film in 2010, focusing on the adventures of a group of “young” climbers, which I guess is code for saying it won’t star Sylvester Stallone, and there is no screenwriter attached yet. The problem with producers randomly comparing their remakes to the reboot of Star Trek is that there has to be some sort of long-established franchise to begin with. However, there was only one Cliffhanger movie, and it’s not like Cliffhanger has a huge legion of fans like Star Trek does. So, word to all those remake producers out there… unless you’re truly taking on one of the biggest franchises in pop culture history, lay off with the “we’re just like Star Trek” claims, okay?

#6 KEVIN SPACEY TO PLAY SLEAZY LOBBYIST JACK ABRAMOFF IN CASINO JACK

Now that W. has come and gone, a procession of movies about scandals in the Bush administration appears to be about ready to start, with Kevin Spacey signing on to star as Bush associate, lobbyist and convicted defrauder Jack Abramoff in a film called Casino Jack (formerly Bagman). Although Abramoff’s extensive career included time as a Hollywood producer (Red Scorpion, Red Scorpion 2) and the aforementioned friendship with George W. Bush, Casino Jack will apparently focus on Abramoff’s fraudulent treatment of four Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars which led to Abramoff pleading guilty and currently serving prison time until December, 2011. Casino Jack was written by Norman Snider (cowriter of Rated X, Dead Ringers) and will be directed by George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl, The Man from Elysian Fields), and filming of the independent production starts in Toronto later this month.

#7 WARNER BROS TURNING PRIMEVAL

With the Jurassic Park franchise pretty much defunct following the death of author Michael Crichton, there’s an open opportunity out there for a new dinosaur franchise (depending on the success or failure Land of the Lost). Warner Bros and producer Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend, Constantine) have picked up the movie rights to the popular British television series Primeval about a covert group investigating dinosaurs and creatures from the future that have begun coming to the present through wormhole time portals. Although Akiva Goldsman is best known as a screenwriter, for Primeval, he is looking to hire another writer. Other upcoming projects Akiva Goldsman has at Warner Bros include the DC Comics adaptations Jonah Hex and The Losers.

#8 WHO WILL BE HERE TO KICK ASS AND CHEW BUBBLEGUM CRISIS?

Production companies from six different countries (Japan, Australia, Canada, China, Singapore and the United Kingdom) are teaming up on a $30 million live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese Anime TV series Bubblegum Crisis, aiming for a 2012 release. Bubblegum Crisis is the story of four young female tech-equipped mercenaries called the Knight Sabers who unite to take on the Boomers, machines with artificial intelligence that are being used to violently oppress the world. The movie will be ultimately be filmed in Australia, and will be preceded by a reality TV series to find young cast members to star in the movie alongside “A-list” actors. There’s no word yet about who is writing Bubblegum Crisis and the co-production is looking for a director as well.

#9 RACHEL WEISZ HAS A BIG WEEK WITH NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT THREE NEW MOVIES

Rachel Weisz’s agent was extremely busy in the last ten days, with the British actress being attached to three movies. First off, there is the “indie political thriller” based upon a true story, The Whistleblower (technically announced last week, but well, it’s close enough). Weisz will star as a Nebraska cop who becomes an United Nations peacekeeper, and exposes a sex trafficking scandal in post-war Bosnia. Weisz will also star in Face Value, a biopic of famed MGM star Hedy Lamarr (not Hedley). Rather than focusing on her career as a Hollywood star, Face Value will instead tell the little-known story of Lamarr’s side career as a scientist and inventor, responsible for creating a new way of “frequency hopping” that was a precursor to modern wireless communications. Charlize Theron was once in talks for the role, but Rachel Weisz seems a much better choice as she actually bears a striking resemblance to Hedy Lamarr. Face Value will be directed by Amy Redford (Robert’s daughter), who made her directorial debut with The Guitar, which debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Finally, Weisz is also to star with Hugh Jackman and Robert Pattinson (Twilight) in Unbound Captives, a western drama that actress Madeleine Stowe has long been working on as her directorial debut (which she also cowrote with her husband). The long road to getting Unbound Captives made included a time in which it was a 20th Century Fox production which would have been directed by Ridley Scott and starred Russell Crowe, but Stowe backed out of the lucrative deal ($5 million) because there was no promise that she would be anything other than the film’s screenwriter. Rachel Weisz will be taking the lead role that Stowe was originally planning to play, a woman whose family is attacked by a Comanche war party in 1859, leading to her husband’s death and the kidnapping of her two children (Pattinson will play her son). Hugh Jackman will be playing a frontiersman who rescues Weisz’s character, and assists her in finding her missing children. Production of Unbound Captives is expected to start by late 2009.

#10 VALENTINE’S DAY: THE MOST STAR STUDDED HOLIDAY MOVIE IN YEARS?

When New Line Cinema put together the cast for their Valentine’s Day ensemble comedy, they sort of hit the jackpot: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper and Ashton Kutcher are all in final negotiations to costar. Valentine’s Day is an anthology of five loosely-connected stories set on the romantic holiday in Los Angeles, revolving around a cast of characters that includes a soldier on leave from Iraq (Roberts), a flower shop owner (Kutcher) who can’t choose between his girlfriend (Alba) and his best friend (Garner), a talent agency assistant (Hathaway), a publicist (Biel) with bad romantic luck, and a retiree (MacLaine) who reveals an old affair to her husband. The director tasked with assembling these many different threads into one coherent movie is Garry Marshall, an old pro at the romantic comedy game (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, the two Princess Diaries movies). Katherine Fugate (cowriter of The Prince & Me) wrote the original script, which was rewritten by the writing team of Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (Never Been Kissed, He’s Just Not That Into You). Surprisingly, the budget is still relatively modest, estimated to be in the mid-$30 million range. There’s no word yet on when filming starts, but presumably the goal is to get this movie in theaters by February 14, 2010.

ROTTEN IDEA OF THE WEEK: REMAKING Fright Night

Way before Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and before the movie even), the concept of a comedic horror movie about teenagers investigating vampires was realized just about perfectly by 1985’s Fright Night. Unfortunately, someone at DreamWorks has decided that they think that little gem of a movie needs to be remade for the 21st century, so they are teaming up with the producer of another 1980s remake project (Angel Heart). In Fright Night, a teenage boy suspects that his new neighbor is a vampire, so he enlists the help of the local late night horror host (played absolutely perfectly by the late Roddy McDowell) whose TV persona is that of a vampire hunter. The remake aims to “keep the comedy-horror tone while modernizing the effects,” which is a bit strange since Fright Night was hardly an “eye candy” type movie. The main problem I see with trying to make Fright Night today is that for the most part, the era of the “late night horror host” has passed us by. As seen in the recent documentary American Scary, it is true that there are still some horror hosts still out there doing their thing, but the phenomenon is nothing today like it was 25 years ago. The Fright Night remake has no writer or director yet.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message. Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.

In This Week’s Ketchup, an exuberant reviewer praises an early screening of "300," "Jaws" may have a direct-to-video fifth entry, and "Iron Man" already seems to merit a trilogy.

Also, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" writer is fixing to pen a fourth, and Daniel Radcliffe seems to favor a grim fate for "Harry Potter." Read on.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

Early (and Exuberant) Reaction to "300"
One of AICN’s regular "scoopers" was able to squeeze his way into an early screening of Zack Snyder’s "300" — and it seems like the high-octane, mega-testosteroned action epic blew the kid’s mind in a big way.

This Can’t Be the Plot Synopsis for "Jaws 5," Can It?

I’ll advise you to take this whole story with a few grains of salt, but let’s just dive right in: There just might be a direct-to-video "Jaws" sequel on the way — and if it’s boasting the same plot divulged over at Filmrot.com, then we may be in for a flick on par with "Jaws: The Revenge."

"Iron Man" Will be a Trilogy
Not all that surprising, really, but cool nonetheless: Jon Favreau’s upcoming "Iron Man" movie is intended to be the first flick in a series of three. Sounds good to me!

"Pirates of the Caribbean" Writer to "Try" to Pen a 3rd Sequel

With "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" only a few short months away, fans have started speculating about the possibility of a fourth "Pirates" adventure. Well, here’s what screenwriter Terry Rossio has to say about that.

Does Daniel Radcliffe Have a Death Wish for "Harry Potter"?

Do anything long enough and it’ll probably get a little tiresome — even if that something is playing the world’s most popular underage wizard.


Apparently, somebody finds scenes like this exciting.

In Other News:

  • Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum") will direct the big-screen adaptation of John Grogan’s bestseller "Marley & Me," with filming to start in April.
  • Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have acquired film rights to Mark Bowden‘s Atlantic Monthly article "Jihadists in Paradise," about the rise of the Philippine Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
  • ThinkFilm has acquired North American distribution rights to "The Last Confederate: The True Story of Robert Adams," a true account of Confederate Captain Robert Adams and his love of a northern woman during the Civil War. Julian Adams, a descendent of Capt. Adams directed, produced and co-stars in the film.
  • William H. Macy and Meg Ryan will team up for "The Deal," an adaptation of Peter Lefcourt’s comedic novel about Hollywood.
  • Finally, next to receive the music biopic treatment is Milli Vanilli, the notorious lip synching pop duo of the late 80s/early 90s. Jeff Nathanson will write the script for Universal Pictures, and reportedly will portray the duo in a sympathetic light.

BFFs!

Martin Scorsese scored the best opening of his career, and his first number one film in fifteen years, with the star-studded gangster thriller "The Departed," which led the North American box office over the Columbus Day holiday weekend.

Moviegoers also showed interest in the horror prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning which debuted in second place, as well as the new comedy Employee of the Month which bowed in fourth with respectable results. The new releases helped to boost attendance at multiplexes as the top ten set a new record for the holiday frame selling just a bit less than $100M worth of tickets.

Starpower ruled the box office this weekend as the ultraviolent pic The Departed starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson opened convincingly at number one grossing an estimated $27M in its first outing. The Warner Bros. release averaged a vicious $8,954 from 3,017 theaters and set a new opening weekend record for acclaimed director Scorsese beating the $10.3M bow of his 1991 Robert De Niro thriller Cape Fear, which also happened to be the filmmaker’s last top spot opener. The 63-year-old director usually sees more narrow releases for his films. His last picture The Aviator took off in limited release before expanding nationally over Christmas weekend in 2004 with 1,796 theaters while his previous pic Gangs of New York bowed in 1,504 locations. Both were set in the past, starred DiCaprio, and released by Miramax. The Departed marked Scorsese’s first film ever to debut in more than 2,000 theaters.

A remake of 2002’s award-winning Hong Kong blockbuster Infernal Affairs, The Departed finds Nicholson as a crime boss who sends a mole (Damon) into the Boston police force. DiCaprio plays an undercover cop infiltrating the crime syndicate. Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg co-star in the R-rated feast. Critics drenched the pic with praise giving it some of the best reviews of the year. Starpower combined with strong reviews and a solid marketing push from Warner Bros. contributed to a powerful turnout from movie fans. Departed brought badly-needed good news to the distributor which is struggling through a year full of costly misfires. It ranks dead last among Hollywood’s big six studios in 2006 market share and has only generated two other number one debuts this year – V for Vendetta and Superman Returns.

Produced for a hefty $90M, The Departed does seem to have a promising road ahead of it. Not only have critics been giving it high marks, but so have ticket buyers. The gangster film has earned an encouraging A- grade from over 2,000 users on Yahoo Movies. Plus it has given DiCaprio only the third number one opener of his career and his first since Titanic set sail on its record-shattering voyage in 1997. Damon has enjoyed several top spots debuts in recent years most notably with his Bourne and Ocean’s flicks. Meanwhile, Nicholson proved once again why he remains the biggest box office draw of his generation.

Opening with strength in second place was another violent R-rated film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which bowed to an estimated $19.2M. Scaring audiences in 2,820 theaters, the New Line franchise pic averaged a strong $6,791 per venue. The opening was below the $28.1M debut of the 2003 remake of Chainsaw Massacre which went on to gross a terrific $80.1M. However, Beginning was never expected to reach the same neighborhood and with its relatively low $16M production cost, it should easily be yet another profitable horror film.

The new film benefited from a lack of scary movies in the current marketplace, but the road ahead should be tough with a pair of horror sequels set to attack the box office in the coming weeks. The Grudge 2 launches this Friday the 13th while Saw III will be unleashed on the weekend before Halloween. The new Leatherface frightfest performed just like another of New Line’s horror franchise pics from this year, Final Destination 3, which debuted to $19.2M in February on its way to a $54.1M final. The two scary movies have delivered the best openings for its distributor over the past year.

Sony’s hit toon Open Season fell from first to third place but managed to show good legs easing only 32% to an estimated $16M in its second hunt. Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten, the PG-rated pic has upped its ten-day cume to a solid $44.1M and could continue to post impressive holds in the weeks ahead as there is little competition for its family audience until November. Look for Open Season to reach $80-85M from North America. Though impressive, Sony Pictures Animation’s debut venture still does not seem like it will reach the heights of other non-sequel non-summer digital toons like Ice Age ($176.4M), Shark Tale ($160.8M), Robots ($128.2M), or even 1998’s Antz ($90.7M).

The new Lionsgate comedy Employee of the Month opened in fourth place with an estimated $11.8M from 2,579 theaters. Averaging a respectable $4,575 per venue, the PG-13 film stars Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, and Dax Shephard and tells of a love triangle among workers at a superstore. Reviews, not surprisingly, were mostly negative.

Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner dropped three spots with their Coast Guard actioner The Guardian which collected an estimated $9.6M in its second mission. Down 46%, the Buena Vista release has collected $32.4M in ten days and should find its way to $50-55M domestically.

The fall season’s top-grossing hit Jackass: Number Two dropped 56% in its third weekend to an estimated $6.4M pushing its stellar total to $62.7M in 17 days. Later this week, the Paramount sequel will fly past the $64.3M of its 2002 predecessor. The MGM comedy School for Scoundrels tumbled 60% to an estimated $3.4M in its sophomore frame. With $14M in ten days, the Billy Bob ThorntonJon Heder pic should wind up with around $20M.

The Rock‘s football flick Gridiron Gang followed with an estimated $2.3M, down 50%, for a $36.6M total to date for Sony. Jet Li was close behind in ninth place with Fearless which fell 56% to an estimated $2.2M putting its sum at $21.7M for Focus. Rounding out the top ten was the durable period mystery The Illusionist which slipped only 33% and took in an estimated $1.8M. Yari Film Group has taken in a respectable $34.1M after its eighth weekend, the last six of which were spent in the top ten.

In limited release, ThinkFilm launched its unrated sex romp Shortbus in only six arthouses but grossed an estimated $121,000 for a potent $20,108 average. Playing in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver, the John Cameron Mitchell-directed film will expand to ten more markets next weekend.

New Line premiered its Kate WinsletJennifer Connelly pic Little Children in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $108,400. The suburban drama averaged a sturdy $21,680 and will expand over the weeks ahead.

Among holdovers expanding in limited release, Miramax’s The Queen reigned supreme taking in an estimated $401,000 from eleven theaters for a stunning $36,455 second weekend average. The acclaimed Helen Mirren drama widened from its three-theater debut in New York and has grossed $634,000 to date with a promising road ahead.

Fox Searchlight’s Idi Amin tale The Last King of Scotland expanded from four theaters in two markets to 30 sites in 14 markets and grossed an estimated $300,000. With a solid $10,000 average this weekend, the Forest Whitaker pic will invade 20 new markets on Friday expanding its dictatorship into more of North America. Cume to date is $541,000 after 12 days.

The Michel Gondry flick The Science of Sleep held steady in 221 theaters but dropped 39% to an estimated $680,000 in its third dream. Warner Independent averaged a mild $3,077 and pushed the cume to just $2.7M.

Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Fox Searchlight’s word-of-mouth hit Little Miss Sunshine grossed an estimated $1.3M in its eleventh weekend, down 36%, and pushed its total to a stellar $55M. Acquired at the Sundance Film Festival in January for a hefty $10.5M, the dysfunctional family comedy has become the second biggest grosser ever for the distributor and looks to end its run close to the $60M mark. That would also make it the second highest grossing R-rated film of the summer after the $63.4M of Miami Vice which cost tons more to produce and market.

MGM’s World War I adventure Flyboys crashed 56% in its third flight and took in an estimated $1M. With only $11.8M in 17 days, the James Franco flop should finish up with under $14M. The Black Dahlia, another of this fall’s historical dramas to be rejected by moviegoers, has collected just over $22M to date. Budgeted at $60M, the Universal release should close its case with a mere $24M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $99.7M which was up 23% from last year when Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit debuted at number one with $16M; and up 5% from 2004 when Shark Tale remained in the top spot for a second time with $31.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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