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(Photo by New Line/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Ian McKellen Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Despite his prodigious presence in the world of acting, Ian McKellen didn’t start appearing on-screen in earnest until his mid-40s, during the 1980s. Things kicked off with 1983’s The Keep, Michael Mann’s hard-to-find WWII fantasy-thriller, with subsequent highlights including early Will Smith drama Six Degrees of Separation, a 1930s-set adaptation of Richard III, and an appearance as Death in Last Action Hero, putting that theater gravitas to good use in a decidedly bad flick.

His Oscar nomination for portraying director James Whale in 1998’s Gods and Monsters brought him to international prominence, setting the stage for one of the great career turns in movie history. In 2000, McKellen became one of comic books’ greatest villains, Magneto, in X-Men. He wouldn’t re-appear until the following year, as one of fantasy’s greatest heroes: Gandalf in 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The two roles would keep McKellen sustained for the next decade and beyond, across three more X-Men movies and five more entries nestled within Middle-Earth.

Playing the legendary detective in Mr. Holmes and putting in his time as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast are more notable recent works, along with more theater adaptations like The Dresser (opposite Anthony Hopkins, both delivering some career-best performances), as well as, er, Cats. At least he knew the nightmare cinematic hairball that was being coughed up! And now, you shall not pass until we rank all Ian McKellen movies by Tomatometer!

#40

Doogal (2006)
8%

#40
Adjusted Score: 9334%
Critics Consensus: Overloaded with pop culture references, but lacking in compelling characters and plot, Doogal is too simpleminded even for the kiddies.
Synopsis: Florence and her animal friends live in the Enchanted Village, which is under the care of Zebedee, a kindly wizard.... [More]

#39

Neverwas (2005)
14%

#39
Adjusted Score: 4692%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dr. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) begins practicing at the Millwood Psychiatric Clinic -- a mental health retreat where his deceased... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Michael Stern

#38

Cats (2019)
19%

#38
Adjusted Score: 39535%
Critics Consensus: Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.
Synopsis: A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 35099%
Critics Consensus: What makes Dan Brown's novel a best seller is evidently not present in this dull and bloated movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.
Synopsis: A murder in Paris' Louvre Museum and cryptic clues in some of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings lead to... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 27164%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Amy (Rachel Weisz), a maid in the house of wealthy Miss Swaffer (Kathy Bates), falls for a Russian stranger named... [More]
Directed By: Beeban Kidron

#35

The Shadow (1994)
35%

#35
Adjusted Score: 36882%
Critics Consensus: Bringing a classic pulp character to the big screen, The Shadow features impressive visual effects, but the story ultimately fails to strike a memorable chord.
Synopsis: Set in 1930s New York, a reformed criminal becomes a superhero. With the aid of a beautiful female friend, a... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#34

Asylum (2005)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 38021%
Critics Consensus: This catastrophic adaptation of Patrick McGrath's novel gets sillier and more implausible as it goes along.
Synopsis: An administrator's bored wife (Natasha Richardson) begins a torrid affair with an institutionalized artist (Marton Csokas) who beat his wife... [More]
Directed By: David Mackenzie

#33

The Keep (1983)
40%

#33
Adjusted Score: 40588%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A stranger (Scott Glenn) fights timeless evil in a Romanian castle occupied by a Nazi captain (Jürgen Prochnow).... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#32

Last Action Hero (1993)
40%

#32
Adjusted Score: 43846%
Critics Consensus: Last Action Hero has most of the right ingredients for a big-budget action spoof, but its scattershot tone and uneven structure only add up to a confused, chaotic mess.
Synopsis: Following the death of his father, young Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) takes comfort in watching action movies featuring the indestructible... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 50475%
Critics Consensus: Without the bite or the controversy of the source material, The Golden Compass is reduced to impressive visuals overcompensating for lax storytelling.
Synopsis: Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) lives in a parallel world in which human souls take the form of lifelong animal... [More]
Directed By: Chris Weitz

#30

Apt Pupil (1998)
53%

#30
Adjusted Score: 54557%
Critics Consensus: A somewhat disturbing movie that works as a suspenseful thriller, yet isn't completely satisfying.
Synopsis: A high-school student (Brad Renfro) forms an unhealthy relationship with a former Nazi death-camp officer (Ian McKellen).... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#29

Emile (2003)
57%

#29
Adjusted Score: 50579%
Critics Consensus: Emile benefits from a typically outstanding Ian McKellen performance, but a frustratingly circuitous approach undercuts the effectiveness of a potentially affecting story.
Synopsis: Emile (Ian McKellen), a retired professor, returns to his Canadian hometown to receive an award after decades of living in... [More]
Directed By: Carl Bessai

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 67433%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors' deeper character moments.
Synopsis: The discovery of a cure for mutations leads to a turning point for Mutants (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen,... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#27
Adjusted Score: 70453%
Critics Consensus: Though somewhat overwhelmed by its own spectacle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ends Peter Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy on a reasonably satisfying note.
Synopsis: Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#26

The Good Liar (2019)
63%

#26
Adjusted Score: 72833%
Critics Consensus: The Good Liar is less than the sum of its prestigious parts, but Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren keep the proceedings consistently watchable.
Synopsis: Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#25

Animal Crackers (2017)
64%

#25
Adjusted Score: 63632%
Critics Consensus: Animal Crackers is far from the most distinctive animated fare, but its wacky humor and zippy speed make it a decent diversion for younger viewers.
Synopsis: A family uses its magical box of animal crackers to help save a circus.... [More]

#24
Adjusted Score: 77350%
Critics Consensus: Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.
Synopsis: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a simple life with his fellow hobbits in the shire, until the wizard Gandalf (Ian... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#23

Restoration (1995)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 70465%
Critics Consensus: Restoration spins an engaging period yarn out of its bestselling source material, brought to life through the efforts of an eclectic ensemble cast led by Robert Downey Jr.
Synopsis: In order to keep one of his mistresses, Celia (Polly Walker), at arm's length, King Charles II (Sam Neill) asks... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#22

All Is True (2018)
72%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79257%
Critics Consensus: Impressively cast and beautifully filmed, All Is True takes an elegiac look at Shakespeare's final days.
Synopsis: The year is 1613, and Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 98942%
Critics Consensus: With an enchanting cast, beautifully crafted songs, and a painterly eye for detail, Beauty and the Beast offers a faithful yet fresh retelling that honors its beloved source material.
Synopsis: Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#20

Bent (1997)
73%

#20
Adjusted Score: 72645%
Critics Consensus: Bent juggles heavy topics with style, though its heavy-handedness at times feels more like exploitation than exploration.
Synopsis: In 1930s Berlin, homosexual Max (Clive Owen) sleeps with German officer Wolf (Nikolaj Waldau), only to see him killed by... [More]
Directed By: Sean Mathias

#19

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 78574%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: After an ignoble landing in Ratropolis, a pampered rodent (Hugh Jackman) enlists the help of a sewer scavenger (Kate Winslet)... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#18

Jack & Sarah (1995)
74%

#18
Adjusted Score: 73360%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his wife, Sarah (Imogen Stubbs), dies during childbirth, Jack (Richard E. Grant), an attorney, has his world thrown into... [More]
Directed By: Tim Sullivan

#17
Adjusted Score: 83239%
Critics Consensus: While still slightly hamstrung by "middle chapter" narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series.
Synopsis: Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 79846%
Critics Consensus: It sometimes moseys when it should have galloped, but The Ballad of Little Jo entertainingly upends genre formula while simultaneously highlighting its strengths.
Synopsis: After becoming pregnant outside marriage, Josephine (Suzy Amis) is thrown out by her embarrassed upper-class family. With no money, she... [More]
Directed By: Maggie Greenwald

#15

Stardust (2007)
77%

#15
Adjusted Score: 84384%
Critics Consensus: A faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of whimsy, action, and off-kilter humor of Neil Gaiman, Stardust juggles multiple genres and tones to create a fantastical experience.
Synopsis: To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#14

X-Men (2000)
82%

#14
Adjusted Score: 87754%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
Synopsis: They are children of the atom, homo superior, the next link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 83864%
Critics Consensus: Cold Comfort Farm sends up high-minded classics with a wit and impressive restraint that rivals its inspirations.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the satirical British novel, Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale), a plucky London society girl orphaned at age... [More]
Directed By: John Schlesinger

#12

X2 (2003)
85%

#12
Adjusted Score: 92700%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 89104%
Critics Consensus: Though it betrays its theatrical roots, Six Degrees of Separation largely succeeds thanks to astute direction and fine performances -- particularly from an against-type Will Smith.
Synopsis: Privileged art dealers Flan (Donald Sutherland) and Ouisa (Stockard Channing) are hosting a dinner party when Paul (Will Smith), a... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#10

Mr. Holmes (2015)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94425%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama.
Synopsis: Long-retired and near the end of his life, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) grapples with an unreliable memory and must rely... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#9
Adjusted Score: 104507%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#8

Scandal (1989)
91%

#8
Adjusted Score: 92202%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Stephen Ward (John Hurt) regularly employs attractive young women as professional party guests to impress his influential friends in the... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#7
Adjusted Score: 100587%
Critics Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
Synopsis: The future of civilization rests in the fate of the One Ring, which has been lost for centuries. Powerful forces... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#6
Adjusted Score: 102799%
Critics Consensus: Visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy.
Synopsis: The culmination of nearly 10 years' work and conclusion to Peter Jackson's epic trilogy based on the timeless J.R.R. Tolkien... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 98333%
Critics Consensus: Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don't lag far behind.
Synopsis: Once a powerful Hollywood director best known for "Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein," James Whale (Ian McKellen) is long... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#4
Adjusted Score: 103669%
Critics Consensus: The Two Towers balances spectacular action with emotional storytelling, leaving audiences both wholly satisfied and eager for the final chapter.
Synopsis: The sequel to the Golden Globe-nominated and AFI Award-winning "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "The... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#3

Richard III (1995)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98884%
Critics Consensus: This re-imagining of Shakespeare's Crookback King relocates the story in 1930 and features an indelible star turn for Ian McKellen as the monstrous and magnetic King Richard.
Synopsis: A murderous lust for the British throne sees Richard III (Ian McKellen) descend into madness. Though the setting is transposed... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 100066%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1981, epidemiologist Don Francis (Matthew Modine) learns of an increased rate of death among gay men in urban areas.... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#1

The Dresser (2015)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 93107%
Critics Consensus: The Dresser brilliantly showcases two of the most gifted actors of their generation within a thoughtful, well-executed production offering intelligent commentary on the human condition.
Synopsis: In a touring Shakespearean theatre company, backstage hand Norman is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

Following a busy holiday weekend when five new releases opened nationwide, the crowded marketplace will now face another four new films invading multiplexes everywhere.

Jim Carrey tries out the horror genre in "The Number 23," TV comedy comes to the big screen in "Reno 911!: Miami," Billy Bob Thornton longs to be in outer space in "The Astronaut Farmer," and more frights pop up in "The Abandoned." Overall ticket sales should simmer down after the record Presidents’ Day holiday weekend led by "Ghost Rider" which will fight to keep its box office crown. Meanwhile, aging Oscar contenders will compete over last-minute biz ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards which will bring some drama of its own.

After tackling comedy, drama, super hero flicks, and kids movies, Jim Carrey explores his darker side in the new psychological thriller "The Number 23." The Riddler reteams with his "Batman Forever" director Joel Schumacher in this R-rated story about a man obsessed with a book that seems to reveal mysteries about his own past. Virginia Madsen co-stars. Older teens and young adults will make up the target audience here and many in the horror camps will come out of curiosity too. The title is strong and the marketing has been solid so "23" will be able to make a serious challenge for the top spot. Jim Carrey’s starpower will be put to the test once again since this is not a "Bruce Almighty" or "Liar, Liar" situation. Actually, "23" might post one of the best openings of his career for a non-comedy. Maybe if it opens big, he’ll be cast in one of the next twenty-three "Saw" films. Opening in over 2,500 locations this weekend, the new Carrey film may end up grossing $23M – $2M – $3M.


Jim Carrey goes whacko due to "The Number 23."

After making a mint on "Borat," Fox looks to another raunchy comedy for some income. "Reno 911!: Miami" finds the cast of the popular Comedy Central series hitting the road to Florida for a national convention. The R-rated pic will play almost exclusively to fans of the show which while successful, is not really a runaway smash so the potential could be limited. Trailers and commercials actually look funny so a slightly wider crowd may come in. Though "23" could not be more different of a film, it will still offer plenty of competition for older teens and young adults. Moviegoers paying top dollar for a ticket are more likely to try out a Jim Carrey film, even if he’s testing out a new genre. By not screening for critics and releasing the film in the most theaters of any new release this weekend, Fox is basically hoping that those who have seen the show will come out and give this one a try. Steep declines in subsequent weeks are assured. But for the opening frame, a debut in 2,702 venues could lead to a weekend tally of around $14M for "Reno 911!: Miami."


Our favorite careening cops are ready to take on Miami.

Billy Bob Thornton plays an ex-astronaut who tends to his farm in the aptly-titled "The Astronaut Farmer" from Warner Bros. The PG-rated film co-stars Virginia Madsen who pulls double duty this weekend playing the wife to both a bad santa and a grinch. The former Mr. Jolie sells more tickets when he’s not the anchor of a film, so it could be a rough ride this weekend. Appeal to teens and young adults seems weak as the turnout could come from older adults who may also bring with them younger children thanks to the rating. With the violence of "Ghost Rider" and the debut of a trio of R-rated pics, there could be an opportunity with the family crowd. That is, if they already have seen "Bridge to Terabithia." The marketing push has not been too loud so don’t expect a high altitude here. "The Astronaut Farmer" opens in over 2,000 theaters on Friday and may find itself with about $8M.


Billy Bob has the right stuff in "The Astronaut Farmer."

Hitting theaters on a pitstop to what could be solid DVD revenue, the horror film "The Abandoned" enters the marketplace as the weekend’s other new scary movie. The R-rated film tells the story of an American woman who finds terror in Russia when she sets out to find her birth parents. Obviously, opening against Jim Carrey’s new spookfest will hurt the grosses for "The Abandoned." If it were a PG-13 film aimed at teenage girls, it could have been another story, but those over the age of 17 who want a fright will be thinking "23." Lionsgate is only launching "The Abandoned" in about 1,250 locations so a mild $3M gross could result.


No reviews, and no other photos for "The Abandoned."

Last weekend, Nicolas Cage enjoyed a record-breaking Presidents’ Day opening with "Ghost Rider" which grabbed $45.4M over the three-day portion of its holiday bow. The Marvel super hero flick opened much like 2003’s "Daredevil" which launched on the same frame and suffered a 55% drop on the sophomore session. "Ghost Rider" should see similar results as it also attracted much of its fan base last weekend and is facing the same level of competition that the Ben Affleck actioner saw in its second attack. Look for "Ghost Rider" to burn up another $20M which would lift its ten-day tally to $79M.

Disney’s "Bridge to Terabithia" should enjoy a better hold since there is little new competition for its family audience. A 30% decline would give the PG-rated fantasy around $16M for the weekend and a solid $48M after ten days. Aside from crossing his fingers for an Oscar, Eddie Murphy will see another sizable drop in sales for his comedy "Norbit." A 45% fall would give the Paramount release a $9M frame bumping the cume to $74M.

LAST YEAR: Tyler Perry‘s comedy "Madea’s Family Reunion" opened atop the charts with a powerful $30M debut for Lionsgate. The hit flick found its way to $63.3M. Holdovers rounded out the top five with Disney’s "Eight Below" dropping a spot to second with $15.9M in its sophomore frame. The Steve Martin remake "The Pink Panther" took in $11.1M and was followed by "Date Movie"’s $9.1M and the $7.2M of "Curious George." Opening to poor results were the animated film "Doogal" with $3.6M and New Line’s "Running Scared" with $3.4M. Final grosses reached only $7.6M and $6.9M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Wrestler-turned-actor The Rock suffered the worst opening of his career with the football drama Gridiron Gang, but thanks to weak competition, it was still enough to capture the number one position at the North American box office.

The new murder mystery The Black Dahlia bowed in second place with moderate results, but fellow freshmen Everyone’s Hero and The Last Kiss both failed to excite moviegoers. For the first time in over a year, only three movies were able to gross more than $5M during the frame. Overall ticket sales rose slightly from last weekend’s dismal showing, but still managed to post the second worst performance of 2006 giving the fall season a worrisome start.

For the third time in the last four weekends, football ruled the box office as Gridiron Gang topped the charts with an estimated $15M kickoff. Playing extremely wide in 3,504 theaters, the PG-13 drama averaged a decent $4,281 per site and gave The Rock the fifth number one opener of his career, but also his smallest debut ever. The action star continued to see diminishing returns on opening weekend with Gang which followed last fall’s Doom ($15.5M), 2004’s remake of Walking Tall ($15.5M), The Rundown ($18.5M) in 2003, and 2002’s The Scorpion King ($36.1M). The Rock also saw a $23.5M bow for 2005’s John Travolta flick Be Cool, but his comedic turn was only a supporting role.

In Gridiron Gang, the charismatic actor plays a juvenile detention camp counselor who inspires delinquent kids by coaching them in football. Budgeted at about $30M, the pic played to a younger and more male audience, as expected. Studio research showed that 52% of the crowd consisted of guys and 55% was under the age of 25. Reviews were not very good.

For Sony, Gang’s top spot bow marked the tenth number one opening of the year for the studio setting a new industry record. Having already banked over $1 billion in box office this year, Sony aims to extend its record performance with promising sequels like The Grudge 2 and Casino Royale which debut in October and November, respectively. The studio has opened a whopping 18 films so far in 2006, the most of any distributor. It has placed films in the top ten in all but two weekends this year.

September is often the worst month of the year at the box office as people shift their attention to other distractions like a new school year, a new television season, and the return of NFL football. But this year, the late summer and early fall have been especially slow at theaters. Over the past two months, only one film (Talladega Nights) has managed to open north of $30M. Four films did the deed during the same period in each of the last two years while five surpassed that mark in 2003.

Universal debuted its new crime thriller The Black Dahlia in second place with an estimated $10.4M. Playing in about 1,300 fewer theaters than Gridiron Gang, the Brian De Palma-directed pic averaged a moderate $4,655 per location giving it the best average among all the weekend’s wide releases. Starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, and Hilary Swank, Dahlia played to a mature adult audience with its tale of the investigation behind the brutal murder of a Hollywood starlet in the 1940s. The $60M film needed strong reviews to score with its target audience, but was met with little support from critics. In fact, the film scored only a 30% rating on RottenTomatoes.com’s critic scale which was even lower than Gridiron Gang’s 43%.

The weekend’s two other new national releases were mostly ignored by moviegoers. Fox opened its animated baseball kidpic Everyone’s Hero to an estimated $6.2M from a very wide 2,896 theaters. Co-directed by the late Christopher Reeve, the G-rated film averaged a soft $2,124 per site. 2006 has seen nearly a dozen toons invade the multiplexes. Hero’s opening ranks as the second worst of the year for an animated pic trailing only Doogal‘s $3.6M launch in February.

Paramount quietly opened its DreamWorks romantic comedy The Last Kiss in fourth place with only $4.7M, according to estimates. Landing in a mere 1,357 theaters, the R-rated film starring Zach Braff as a soon-to-be-dad with jitters averaged a mild $3,465 per location. Reviews were mixed.

Falling from first place was the supernatural teen thriller The Covenant which grossed an estimated $4.7M as well, off 47% from its debut. With $15.7M collected in ten days, Sony’s $20M pic could end its run with $24-26M. Another former number one, Buena Vista’s football drama Invincible, placed sixth with an estimated $3.9M, down only 31%, lifting the total to $50.9M.

A pair of solid word-of-mouth hits from smaller distributors followed. Yari Film Group’s period mystery The Illusionist slipped just 17% to an estimated $3.8M in its third weekend of wide release and upped its cume to $23.3M. Fox Searchlight’s indie hit Little Miss Sunshine became the company’s second-biggest grosser of all-time this weekend taking in an estimated $3.4M, down just 22%, raising the sum to $46.4M. The distributor’s only bigger hit has been 2004’s Sideways with $71.5M thanks to a prolonged Oscar run.

The George Reeves murder mystery Hollywoodland fell sharply in its second weekend tumbling 54% to an estimated $2.7M. Suffering the worst decline in the top ten, the Focus release has taken in a disappointing $10.5M in ten days and looks headed for a quick finish with only $15-17M. Rounding out the top ten was the Jason Statham actioner Crank with an estimated $2.7M as well, down 45%, giving Lionsgate $24.4M to date.

Buena Vista offered sneak previews in 800 theaters on Saturday for its upcoming marine adventure The Guardian and drew a well-balanced audience with males slightly edging out the women with 51% of the crowd. The Ashton KutcherKevin Costner pic played to 70% capacity and will officially open on September 29 opposite Sony’s animal toon Open Season and MGM’s comedy School for Scoundrels.

Arthouses were flooded with new product this weekend as a number of films platformed in hopes of generating strong indie buzz. Lionsgate got off to a good start with its documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon which debuted in only six theaters and grossed an estimated $72,000 for a solid $12,000 average. The film expands on September 29 into more than ten additional markets.

Proving once again that he is not much of a box office draw without pirates or Hobbits around, Orlando Bloom‘s new revenge thriller Haven flopped in its debut grossing an estimated $38,000 from 24 sites for a dismal $1,588 average for Yari Film Group. Fox Searchlight also struggled with its new wedding mockumentary Confetti which debuted to an estimated $20,000 from a dozen sites for a poor $1,701 average. Both films still plan to expand this Friday with Haven widening to about 75 theaters and Confetti falling into over 130 playdates.

Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The Thai action pic The Protector grossed an estimated $2.5M in its sophomore frame falling 51% from its opening. The Weinstein Co. has kicked up $9M in ten days and should end up with only $13-15M. Nicolas Cage‘s suspense thriller The Wicker Man dropped 48% to an estimated $2.1M pushing the cume to a lukewarm $20.7M. The Warner Bros. title looks to complete its run with around $25M.

The summer’s top-grossing comedy, Tallageda Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, slipped 34% to an estimated $2M in its seventh lap and boosted its stellar total to $145M. Sony’s Will Ferrell smash could cross the $150M line before calling it quits. Paramount’s Barnyard, another late-summer hit, grossed an estimated $1.6M while also in its seventh weekend. Down 40%, the animated entry has laughed up $69.1M thus far and is headed for $72-74M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $57.4M which was down 14% from last year when Just Like Heaven debuted at number one with $16.4M; and down 4% from 2004 when Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow opened in the top spot with $15.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The studios have been hiding movies from those pesky scribes all year long, but this time they’ve outdone themselves. This week, three movies won’t be screened before getting tossed into the theaters: Neil LaBute‘s remake of "The Wicker Man," starring Nicolas Cage; "Crank," another high-octane actioner starring Jason Statham; and Mike Judge‘s "Idiocracy," a "Futurama"-esque comedy starring Luke Wilson.

What’s odd about this batch of unscreened films is that two of them are directed by established helmers. They include the generally blameless Judge, the man behind such beloved creations as "Beavis and Butthead" and "Office Space," and LaBute, whose filmography is a bit darker ("In the Company of Men," "Your Friends and Neighbors") but has never been uninteresting. Even stranger, "Idiocracy" is opening in limited release, but is bypassing the normal release pattern by playing outside of New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area.


No, these aren’t the sad movie critics waiting in vain to see "The Wicker Man"….

So we’re going to play that increasingly popular party game: Guess the Tomatometer! (If the studios continue to stop screening movies beforehand, GTT may replace the NFL and Nascar as one of the most popular games in America.) But we’ll make it easier for you with some super unscientific calculations. The average Tomatometer of the movies not screened for critics is just under 15 percent; Basically, we’ve taken the average Tomatometer of unscreened films plus the average Tomatometer of the key participants’ films divided by two. By factoring in the combined Tomatometers of LaBute, and stars Cage and Ellen Burstyn, we’re guessing "The Wicker Man" will wind up around 42 percent. Utilizing Judge’s and Wilson‘s Tomatometers, "Idiocracy" may wind up in the area of 38 percent. And since the directors of "Crank" are relative newcomers, we’ll use Statham, Amy Smart, and Dwight Yoakam to guesstimate that "Crank" will end up around 32 percent. Feel free to knock as many points off as you feel is necessary.


…and no, this is not a metaphor for what the studios think those mean ol’ critics will do to the opening weekend grosses.

Films Not Screened For Critics In 2006 (Best To Worst Tomatometer Score):
————————————————
69% — Snakes on a Plane
28% — Silent Hill
27% — Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion
23% — Phat Girlz
16% — Grandma’s Boy
15% — Underworld: Evolution
11% — The Benchwarmers
10% — Ultraviolet
10% — When a Stranger Calls
7% — Date Movie
7% — Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
6% — Material Girls
6% — See No Evil
5% — Doogal
5% — BloodRayne
5% — Stay Alive
0% — Zoom

This week at the movies, we’ve got Oliver Stone paying tribute to the heroes of 9/11 ("World Trade Center," starring Nicolas Cage); two youngsters trying to start a dance dance revolution ("Step Up," starring Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum); a school for young superheroes ("Zoom," starring Tim Allen and Courteney Cox); and an evil website ("Pulse," starring Kristen Bell). What do the critics have to say?

Oliver Stone has never been the subtlest of directors, nor has he shied away from controversy or conspiracy-mongering. So it’s something of a surprise to critics that with his latest, "World Trade Center," he has tackled a subject (the 9/11 attacks) rife with talk of dark machinations and created a straightforward, apolitical tale of heroism. Based on a true story, "World Trade Center" stars Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as a pair of Port Authority police officers who became trapped in the ruins of the World Trade Center while attempting to rescue others. Critics say the narrow human focus is one of the strengths of the film, along with its stunning visuals and an old-fashioned sense of resilience and heroism. At 70 percent on the Tomatometer, "World Trade Center" may be a cut below Paul Greengrass‘ 9/11 film "United 93" (90 percent), but it’s a worthy examination of a day that will live in infamy. It’s also Stone’s best-reviewed film since "Nixon."


Nicolas Cage as real-life officer John McLoughlin in "World Trade Center"

"Step Up" tells the story of a hip-hop dancer from the wrong side of the tracks (Channing Tatum) and a privileged ballerina (Jenna Dewan) who overcome their differences to make beautiful music together on the dance floor. Sound familiar? It should, if you’ve seen "Saturday Night Fever," "Save the Last Dance," or "Dirty Dancing." Perhaps the Bee Gees presciently spoke for the critics of "Step Up" when they sang, "You should be dancing," for the scribes say the film is at its best in its electrifying dance sequences, but dramatically flat otherwise. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics are putting this baby in a corner.


"Step Up": Do fries come with that shake?

The studios apparently believe "Pulse" is pretty lifeless, and that "Zoom" is full of cinematic gloom. What else could explain the fact that the Kristen Bell J-horror remake and the Tim Allen superhero comedy, respectively, were not screened for critics? It’s time to bust out those crystal balls and guess those Tomatometers, people.


"Sometimes when we touch/ the horror’s just too much"

Also in theaters this week, in limited release: "Half Nelson," starring Ryan Gosling as a troubled inner city teacher, is at a whopping 95 percent on the Tomatometer; the Czech surrealist horror film "Lunacy" is at 80 percent; "House of Sand," a visually remarkable Brazilian epic, is at 80 percent; "Conversations With Other Women," a tale of a romantic reunion starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, is at 70 percent; "The Trouble With Men and Women," a low-budget Brit relationship drama, is at 50 percent; "Poster Boy," a drama about the gay son of a senator, is at 43 percent; and "The Ordeal," a dark Belgian horror import, is at 43 percent.

Recent Oliver Stone Movies:
———————————–
16% — Alexander (2004)
50% — Comandante (2003)
48% — Any Given Sunday (1999)
51% — U-Turn (1997)
74% — Nixon (1995)

Recent Nicolas Cage Movies:
————————————
61% — Lord of War (2005)
59% — The Weather Man (2005)
42% — National Treasure (2004)
82% — Matchstick Men (2003)
90% — Adaptation (2002)

Films Not Screened For Critics In 2006 (Best To Worst Tomatometer Score):
————————————————
28% — Silent Hill
27% — Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion
24% — Phat Girlz
16% — Grandma’s Boy
15% — Underworld: Evolution
11% — The Benchwarmers
10% — Ultraviolet
10% — When a Stranger Calls
7% — Date Movie
7% — Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
6% — See No Evil
5% — Doogal
5% — BloodRayne
5% — Stay Alive

The Disney/Pixar animated film Cars raced past the competition to finish in first place at the North American box office. Though it did not open as strong as some of its predecessors, the toon easily outdistanced everything else in the current marketplace outselling the second place film by a three-to-one margin.

Also debuting this weekend, the horror remake The Omen scared up a solid debut since its Tuesday launch and the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion also posted healthy numbers in its opening. Overall, the box office remained stronger than last year’s thanks to an assortment of popular films offering something for everybody. Six films reached double-digit millions this weekend as the marketplace displayed great breadth in its product offering.

Crossing the finish line with an estimated $62.8M in ticket sales, Cars easily topped the charts this weekend giving Disney and Pixar their seventh number one hit together. Playing at an ultrawide 3,985 theaters, the G-rated story of a cocky race car who learns that winning isn’t everything averaged a musclar $15,759 per site. The opening did, however, put an end to the decade-long streak that Pixar enjoyed where every film debuted bigger than the previous one. The company’s last entry The Incredibles bowed to $70.5M from 3,933 theaters for a $17,917 average in November 2004 while the previous smash Finding Nemo opened to $70.3M from 3,374 venues for a $20,821 average in May 2003.

Cars did not reach the $70M mark that those two hits surpassed on opening weekend and instead performed just like Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. which launched with $62.6M in November 2001. However, the new automotive adventure enjoyed higher ticket prices and 748 more theaters yet still reached the same figure. Among all animated films, the Cars opening ranks fifth all-time behind Shrek 2 ($108M), The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Ice Age: The Meltdown which bowed to $68M this past March. Cars did generate the second largest June opening ever behind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which exploded two years ago with $93.7M.

One reason Cars did not surge higher may have been that the marketplace has suffered through a glut of computer animated films this year. Not long ago, the arrival of a digital toon was an event as it only happened once or twice a year. Nowadays with weaker entries like Doogal and The Wild hitting theaters, and more studios jumping into the game, the novelty has worn thin. Over the Hedge and Ice Age have been satisfying families over the past two months grossing a stellar $322M combined. Also not helping matters was the film’s lengthy 116-minute running time which is considerably longer than the typical 90-minute length that most young kids are used to sitting through.

Directed by Pixar veteran John Lasseter (Toy Story, Toy Story 2), Cars features the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, and Larry the Cable Guy. Disney pumped in lots of marketing to push its first major entry in the summer sweepstakes and hopes to keep audiences coming back for more with the July 7 release of its Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.

With more and more school children starting their summer vacations every day, mid-week grosses should be strong in the weeks ahead for Cars. Reviews have been good so many fans may end up catching the film in the weeks ahead. The Incredibles went on to reach a final domestic haul of $261.4M which was almost four times its opening weekend. Nemo had even stronger legs finding its way to $339.7M, or about five times its debut. Given its start out of the gate, Cars still looks set to zoom well past the $200M mark in North America.

Following its surprise top spot debut last weekend, the Vince VaughnJennifer Aniston comedy The Break-Up dropped a sizable 48% in its sophomore frame and placed second with an estimated $20.5M. With an impressive $74.1M in only ten days, the Universal release looks to reach the neighborhood of $120M by the end of its domestic run. It was produced for $52M. Overseas, The Break-Up opened in Australia and New Zealand with a combined $2.2M from 230 locations, helped by local appearances by the film’s stars. It ranked number one in both countries on Thursday and Friday, but was bumped by Cars on Saturday and Sunday thanks to the Pixar flick’s strong matinee business with children. Most other major international markets will open after the World Cup.


X-Men: The Last Stand
dropped a hefty 54% in its third weekend and grossed an estimated $15.6M. The super hero hit upped its cume to $201.7M after 17 days and became the top-grossing film of 2006. Fox’s franchise flick is still on course to surpass the $214.9M of its predecessor to become the highest grossing X-Men installment.

Opening right on the heels of the mutants was the studio’s remake of The Omen which took in an estimated $15.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Fox launched the R-rated thriller with a much-hyped Tuesday debut on 6/6/06 grossing a stunning $12.6M in its first day. That made it the largest Tuesday gross ever for any film. The son-of-the-devil pic settled in to more normal grosses on subsequent days and collected a hefty $20.3M over the Tuesday-to-Thursday mid-week period giving The Omen a strong six-day opening tally of $35.7M. Reviews were not too favorable.

Starring Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, and Mia Farrow, the new religious chiller played more to today’s younger horror audience than to the older fans who were spooked by the 1976 original. Studio research showed that 52% of the audience was female and a very high 63% was under the age of 25. Fox estimated that the production cost for the new Damien pic was in the mid-$20M range. The studio’s decision to open the film globally on the devilish date was central to the marketing campaign and made it an event film rather than yet another remake of a horror classic. But with sales eroding over the course of the week, The Omen could be in for some steep declines in the weeks ahead.

The animated comedy Over the Hedge experienced its largest drop yet thanks to the arrival of Cars falling 50% to an estimated $10.3M. The Paramount release has collected a solid $130.3M thus far. Tied for fifth place, Sony’s religious thriller The Da Vinci Code dropped 45% to an estimated $10.3M pushing its domestic total to $189M.

Opening in seventh place with respectable results was Robert Altman’s latest film A Prairie Home Companion with an estimated $4.7M from only 760 theaters. Averaging a solid $6,146 per location, the PG-13 film about the backstage drama behind a country music reunion show featured an all-star ensemble cast including Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, and Lindsay Lohan. Prairie, which earned mostly positive reviews, was released by Picturehouse and played to a mature adult audience.

Paramount’s spy sequel Mission: Impossible III grossed an estimated $3M, down 35%, giving the Tom Cruise actioner $127.5M to date. Robin Williams saw his family comedy RV dip 38% to an estimated $2M in its seventh weekend giving Sony $65M. Rounding out the top ten was Poseidon with an estimated $1.8M, down 47%, for a $54.9M cume for Warner Bros.

Although the summer season is lacking a $300M+ megahit like last year’s Star Wars Episode III, the most popular films are still pulling in the same amount of business. The collective gross of the top five summer films so far is $722.6M which is up 2.4% from this same point a year ago. However, it is still a far cry from the mammoth $907M that 2004’s five biggest summer hits grossed at this stage two years ago led by the Shrek and Harry Potter sequels.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Paramount Vantage’s global warming hit An Inconvenient Truth widened from 77 to 122 theaters and grossed an estimated $1.5M in its third frame. Though no longer in the top ten, it did still post a strong per-theater average of $12,077. The Al Gore film has taken in just under $4M from its limited release and will expand to about 400 runs nationwide this Friday.

The Lionsgate horror entry See No Evil got hacked 58% to an estimated $860,000 for a cume of $14M. A $15M final seems likely. Lindsay Lohan‘s teen comedy Just My Luck tumbled by two-thirds to an estimated $295,000. The Fox title has grossed a disappointing $16.2M to date and should finish up with only a little more.

Opening this weekend in limited release was the documentary The Heart of the Game which follows a girls high school basketball team and its coach. The Miramax title grossed an estimated $12,200 from just three theaters for a decent $4,068 average.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $146.4M which was up 9% from last year when Mr. & Mrs. Smith debuted at number one with $50.3M; but off 3% from 2004 when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remained in the top spot with $34.9M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

After some furious debate over David Germain‘s discussion of films "not screened for critics," RT takes a look at the Tomatometers and respective B.O. performances of the flicks withheld from critics so far this year.

Films Not Screened For Critics In 2006:
————————————————
29% — Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion (Feb. 24)
17% — Grandma’s Boy (Jan. 6)
16% — Underworld: Evolution (Jan. 20)
10% — When a Stranger Calls (Feb. 3)
9% — Ultraviolet (Mar. 3)
8% — Date Movie (Feb. 17)
7% — BloodRayne (Jan. 6)
6% — Stay Alive (Mar. 24)
5% — Doogal (Feb 24)
4% — Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (Mar. 24)
Average Tomatometer not screened for critics: 11%

As Germain noted, this is becoming a common trend; in 2006, 10 films have already been withheld from those mean old scribes, with "The Benchwarmers" and "Phat Girlz" joining that illustrious list this week. Apparently, the whole of the studio system is terrified that the following exchange will take place within the coveted teen and young adult demographic:

Teen No. 1: "Man, am I ever stoked to be first in line to see ("Date Movie"/ "Underworld: Evolution"/ "The Benchwarmers," etc.)! This film will certainly be off the chain! Oh look, there’s my friend!"

Teen No. 2 (running, looking frantic): "Bad news, homie. David Denby, Andrew Sarris, AND Stephanie Zacharek all dissed ("Date Movie"/ "Underworld: Evolution"/ "The Benchwarmers," etc.). They say it’s really stupid."

Teen No. 1: "Curses! I’m getting out of the line for this movie, and I shall not be seeing it on its opening weekend. Dear fellow, perchance is ‘The Best of Youth‘ still playing in the local arthouse?"

The phrase "critic-proof" has entered the lexicon for a reason: it perfectly sums up a certain type of move, one that the studios still feel is necessary not to screen.

And what do the critics have to say about these films? Unsurprisingly, the average is an 11 percent on the Tomatometer. Of the twenty worst reviewed wide releases of the year so far, these ten films occupy the top slots. Still, that doesn’t mean too much; "Big Momma’s House 2" was screened for critics, got a six percent on the Tomatometer, and still made a lot of money. So while the films that aren’t screened are by no means cinematic gems, there’s an excellent chance they will make lots of money regardless.

When the staff of Rotten Tomatoes is not meticulously analyzing the films of Bergman, Ozu, and Bresson, we’ve been known to watch (and unironically enjoy) such critically drubbed flicks as "Stealth," "Black Knight," and the collected works of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Some movies aren’t "good" per se, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have potential audiences. Studios should know this better than anyone; they made the movies.

See Also:
"Not Screened For Press" Trend Growing in 2006

This week’s wide releases will take us on a journey. We’ll walk a couple blocks ("16 Blocks," "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party"), take a dip in the ocean ("Aquamarine") and feel the rays of the sun ("Ultraviolet"). And the critics will be our guide.

With the first two "Lethal Weapon" films, Richard Donner perfected a certain kind of action-buddy template, and he gives it another try in "16 Blocks." Bruce Willis and Mos Def star in this tale of a cop who must transport a witness across town to testify in court, but must make it past a bunch of bad guys first. Critics say the film is a solid action picture with interesting characters, but it’s still a little too formulaic. It’s currently at 49 percent on the Tomatometer, well below Donner’s best-reviewed action film ("Superman," 94 percent) and Willis’ ("Die Hard," 92 percent).

We’ve missed you, Dave Chappelle. We were deeply concerned when you went on hiatus. We were afraid we’d lost the comedy voice of a generation. We needn’t have worried, say critics. "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party" is a raucous return to the spotlight, and Dave’s incisive, observational wit appears to be as sharp as ever. Directed with style by Michel Gondry and featuring exceptional musical performances by some of hip-hop’s heaviest hitters (including — will wonders never cease — the reunited Fugees), this is one swingin’ "Party." It currently stands at 93 percent on the Tomatometer, and if that number holds, "Block Party" will be the best reviewed wide release of the year. It’s also nearly 50 points higher than Chappelle’s career Tomatometer of 44 percent. Heck, even he makes fun of "Half Baked.")

"Aquamarine" tells a fish-out-of-water story — or, better yet, a mermaid-out-of-the-ocean story. A couple of teenage girls discover a mermaid who, like Ariel before her, is looking for love, preferably on dry land. As you can probably guess, the target audience for this movie is ichthyologists. Sorry, I meant teenage girls. Critics say that demographic will dig it to an acceptable degree, but their parents and the fellas will be feeling a bit seasick. At 50 percent on the Tomatometer, "Aquamarine" is a tad soggy.

Extensive exposure to ultraviolet rays can be very harmful, particularly to the eyes. So the people behind the futuristic action flick "Ultraviolet" did the critics a favor by not screening the film for them. Whether it’s harmful for audiences, we can’t say at this point. Just be warned.

Speaking of which, it’s time to announce the winners of last week’s Guess the Tomatometer contest. Mizzoucritic was one point off in his/her evaluation of "Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion," which landed at 32 percent, and lovelykeira came the closest to "Doogal"’s score of six percent. So the next time we’re in Mizzou’s neck of the woods, we’ll get dinner at Shakespeare’s Pizza to celebrate. Go Tigers.

Recent Bruce Willis Movies:
—————————————-
33% — Hostage (2005)
78% — Sin City (2005)
5% — The Whole Ten Yards (2004)
36% — Tears of the Sun (2003)
39% — Rugrats Go Wild (2003)

Recent Dave Chappelle Movies:
———————————————
75% — Undercover Brother (2002)
7% — Screwed (2000)
31% — 200 Cigarettes (1999)
35% — Blue Streak (1999)
25% — Half Baked (1998)

Recent Richard Donner Movies:
——————————————–
12% — Timeline (2003)
57% — Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
46% — Conspiracy Theory (1997)
14% — Assassins (1995)
66% — Maverick (1994)

Tyler Perry‘s follow-up to "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Madea’s Family Reunion" had no trouble leaping to the top of the box office in its first weekend, handily satisfying its target demographic (and without any help from the film critics, tyvm). The flick snagged an estimated (and rather impressive) $30.2 million from 2,200 theaters, while fending off a pair of underperforming newcomers and a handful of hangers-on.

Aside from the #1 spot, the top five was populated by older titles, with Disney’s "Eight Below" ($15.7m weekend, $45.1m total) coming in a distant second and spots 3 through 5 belonging to "The Pink Panther" ($11.3m weekend, $61m total), "Date Movie" ($9.2m weekend, $33.9m total), and "Curious George" ($7m weekend, $43.1m total), respectively.

A pair of new releases debuted rather inauspicously in Madea’s wake: Weinsteins’ "Doogal" managed $3.6 million from 2,300 theaters while the action thriller "Running Scared" scared up an anemic $3.1 million from 1,600 theaters.

Next weekend sees the release of three big titles: WB’s action flick "16 Blocks," Fox’s tweenie comedy "Aquamarine," and Screen Gems’ futuristic thriller "Ultraviolet." Also opening on about 800 screens is Rogue’s "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party."

For a closer look at the weekend numerals, make a stop at the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

A low-level hood searches desperately for a hot gun ("Running Scared"). A cute pooch battles the forces of evil ("Doogal"). The irrepressible Madea holds a family reunion ("Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion"). It can only mean one thing — this week’s wide releases!

Paul Walker has spent 2006 getting out of tight spots. In "Eight Below," he and a pack of sled dogs had to escape the cold of Antarctica, and now in "Running Scared," he has to find a lost firearm used in a hit or face the consequences from his Mafioso bosses and the cops. It’s a pretty cool setup; heck, it made for a tense, involving picture when Kurosawa tried it in "Stray Dog." But critics say director Wayne Kramer, who debuted with the kinetic "The Cooler," is on shakier ground with this one; they say it’s got a weak twist and far too brutal violence. "Running Scared" currently stands at 37 percent on the Tomatometer.

Speaking of running scared, apparently the people responsible for both "Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion" and "Doogal" are terrified that critics will poison the coveted opening weekend box office with bad reviews. These two films weren’t screened for critics, joining an infamous list that includes last week’s "Date Movie." So without further ado, Critical Consensus would like to give mad props to Roadhg67, who correctly guessed that "Date Movie" would have a Tomatometer of 10 percent. Roadhg67, you are a genius. Let’s see if the rest of you are as smart as Mr. or Ms. Hg67: Guess the Tomatometer for "Madea" and "Doogal."

Recent Paul Walker Movies:
—————————————
71% — Eight Below (2006)
20% — Into the Blue (2005)
25% — Noel (2004)
37% — 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
12% — Timeline (2003)

Disney’s family adventure flick "Eight Below" narrowly defeated the spoof comedy "Date Movie" over the 4-day holiday weekend, grossing an estimated $25 million from over 3,000 theaters. Close behind in second place, the Alyson Hannigan-led rom-com spoof tallied about $22 million from just under 3,000 theaters.

Last week’s #1 movie, "The Pink Panther," dropped to third place but snagged another $21 million, which puts its grand total at about $47 million. Fourth place went to Universal’s feature-length version of "Curious George," which added $15 million to its $33 million total, while "Final Destination 3" rounded out the top 5 by pulling in another $12 million, which gives the horror sequel a grand total of about $38 million.

Debuting not all that impressively was Sony’s "Freedomland," which arrived in 7th place with a 4-day tally of about $7 million from 2,300 theaters.

Three new wide releases hit the scene next weekend: New Line’s action flick "Running Scared," the Weinstein’s animated comedy "Doogal," and the return of Tyler Perry in Lionsgate’s "Madea’s Family Reunion."

As always, you can visit the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page for a closer look at the weekend numbers.

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