(Photo by (c)Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
Far too often, animated movies are written off as overly kid-friendly, unsophisticated fluff, when the truth is the medium is capable of telling stories as mature as the most prestigious live-action dramas. Sometimes, however, an animated movie ostensibly made for children can also be spooky enough to terrify the most hardened youngsters, and even a few adults.
One of Disney’s most infamous animated movies, The Black Cauldron, opened 35 years ago and traumatized kids of all stripes, and to celebrate its anniversary, we’re taking a look back at its peers. Whether they were intentionally spooky or simply featured a couple of freaky moments that made every kid hit fast-forward, we’ve put together a list of the scariest animated movies that terrified the young audiences they were meant to entertain.
(Photo by Focus Features)
On the surface, this stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel is a silly story of a spunky, bored little girl who finds a hidden door to a secret world where everything is perfect, yet slightly off. But just like its hidden parallel dimension, Coraline is freaky and frequently plain horrifying. As soon as Coraline finds the secret door, the story begins to unfold like a horror film, ramping up its creepy atmosphere and frightening creatures. But the real terror comes the moment Coraline is given her own set of button eyes, to be sewn on by her creepy Other Mother… before she transforms into a giant spider and all hell breaks loose. Moira MacDonald summarized it for the Seattle Times: “Children who like being scared will get a kick out of this wildly creative movie; adults needn’t have a child in tow to enjoy it, too.”
(Photo by Walt Disney Productions)
A noir mystery starring mice may not necessarily seem like a film that would give you nightmares for days on end, but you would be wrong. Based on the children’s novel Basil of Baker Street — which itself was inspired by the tales of Sherlock Holmes — The Great Mouse Detective starts with a little mouse girl named Olivia celebrating her birthday with her father at home, when suddenly a one-legged bat breaks into the house and kidnaps the father. The film’s eerie atmosphere persists throughout its runtime, and even when there are moments of levity or sweetness, they’re usually followed by moments of utter terror. For many children, the bat represents their first experiences with jumpscares, as he is responsible for the two most frightening ones in the film: first, when he bursts into Olivia’s home at the beginning of the movie, and later when he leaps out of a baby carriage to abduct her. Nina Darnton wrote for The New York Times that “Small children may be afraid of some of the bad characters — the Disney Studio’s gift for creating really nasty bad guys means that they are scary — but they will love the cute, brave mice and cheer their triumphs. Adults will enjoy the wit and style.”
(Photo by Jensen Farley Pictures)
Horror and fantasy are two genres that don’t cross nearly enough, but when they do, they offer unique experiences. The Last Unicorn skews more towards fantasy, but it still packs enough spooky elements to make it a scary film for kids. Rankin/Bass may be better known for their holiday classics like the stop-motion animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but this fantasy epic — about a unicorn who discovers she is the last of her kind and embarks on a quest to discover what has happened to her kin — is full of horrific dangers. Without a doubt, the most frightening for kids was the fiery Red Bull, evil incarnate, with its deep, blood-red color and almost hollow eyes that no doubt inspired countless nightmares. Writing about the film for Time Out, Geoff Andrew explained that The Last Unicorn has “Some horrific moments (the mark of the best fairytales) and some sublimely witty lines.”
(Photo by Sony Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
Monster House is ultimately charming and fun for most, but this is, after all, the only “proper” horror film on this list, and while it’s largely kid-friendly, it’s also suitably frightening in spots, as any haunted house movie worth its salt should be. The film follows three kids who decide to explore the creepy old house in their neighborhood with a terrifying reputation. It feels like a 1980s Amblin movie, full of adventure and comedy and more than a little danger, thanks to a few intense scenes courtesy of the imaginatively rendered titular house. As L.A. Weekly’s Scott Foundas said of the film, “Monster House becomes one of those wonderfully weird adventure stories beloved of children who don’t mind getting a good old-fashioned case of the heebie-jeebies. It’s kind of a blast for adults too.”
(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures)
Ask any horror fan and they’ll tell you that Christmas and horror make for a fantastic combination, but this is one of the rare times that the two cross over in animated form, and it’s mostly a delightful treat. From the mind of Tim Burton and Henry Selick comes the story of the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, who gets tired of the same annual festivities and decides to kidnap Santa Claus and take over Christmas. As sweet and funny as it is terrifyingly gruesome, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a visual treat, even if those visuals are frequently bizarre, off-kilter, and a little macabre for the toddler set. The best example is the burlap-sack villain Ooogie Boogie, who literally refers to himself as “the boogieman” and who meets his demise when he comes apart at the seams and reveals he’s full of creepy-crawlies. As Alan Jones wrote for the Radio Times, “Only the deliciously demented imagination of Edward Scissorhands director Tim Burton could have come up with such a dark vision of the holiday season.”
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)
For decades, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang have served as an introduction to horror for kids, offering mildly creepy stories that always ended with an “Aw, shucks!” and a smile. Well, not Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, which marked the first time the gang faced a real supernatural threat as they set out to find ghosts and monsters in Louisiana. What starts as another typical Scooby-Doo adventure quickly devolves into a tale of voodoo, ghost pirates, vengeful cat demons, and of course, zombies, all tied together by a tragic backstory much darker than fans of the show would have been accustomed to. There aren’t any greedy tycoons in rubber suits here, and actual death — of werecats and humans alike — is a major element of the plot. There really isn’t anything else quite like this in the Scooby-Doo canon, and any kid going into it expecting the usual antics was in for a shock.
(Photo by United Artists)
If you thought animated movies featuring talking animals were all sunshine and rainbows, think again. This film based on the children’s novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH follows a field mouse as she tries to save her ill son both from his pneumonia and from the farmer whose land they live on before he plows through it. Don Bluth’s adaptation is full of truly terrifying moments involving the survivors of scientific experiments, including a rat-eating cat named Dragon. But the scene that really traumatized kids was the visit to the Great Owl, whose introduction includes a lair littered with the bones of his devoured prey, a gruesome encounter with an ill-fated spider, and a pair of creepy, glowing eyes that stared into your very soul. Bluth’s films always skewed a little darker than typical Disney fare, and this was a prime example of his aesthetic. As critic Christopher Null wrote for Filmcritic.com, “Never mind the G rating, this is scary stuff which sent my little one fleeing to another room inside of 10 minutes.”
(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)
Japanese animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki’s films have been described as beautifully made artistic wonders and visual masterpieces, but “frightening” isn’t a sensation you normally associate with his work. That being said, Spirited Away is his most haunting film, and it has more than its fair share of creepy moments that sneak up on you and make a lasting impression. The story of a girl lost in a world ruled by spirits is as whimsical as a Disney film, but it doesn’t shy away from disturbing imagery, like when young protagonist Chihiro sees her parents transformed into monstrous and endlessly hungry pigs, or when the spirit No Face begins to devour all the employees of the bathhouse in a wild frenzy. Children who toughed it out through the more frightening moments were rewarded with an enchanting, magical experience, but for some kids, that would have been a tall order.
(Photo by Avco Embassy courtesy Everett Collection)
It doesn’t take long for Watership Down to shed its “cute bunny film” facade and reveal a deeper allegory that flows red with blood. This adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel follows a group of rabbits on a perilous journey to find refuge after one of them has an apocalyptic vision about their home. For generations, Watership Down has traumatized children with haunting imagery of red-eyed rabbits ripping each other’s throats out or suffocating as they’re buried alive, and peril lies around every turn in the story. Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central summed it up succinctly: “Unsentimental and terrifying.”
(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures)
“Wait a second. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a live-action movie,” you might say, and you’d be (mostly) right, but Robert Zemeckis’ loony live-action/animated hybrid deserves a spot on this list because it features one of Disney’s scariest villains, Christopher Llloyd’s Judge Doom, who — spoiler alert — is actually a cartoon himself. When we first meet Doom, he mercilessly murders an innocent toon without flinching, dumping it into a vat of corrosive “dip.” Then comes the pivotal moment when we discover Doom’s true identity; as played by Lloyd, he already resembled a half-desiccated corpse, a cross between the evil preacher from the Poltergeist movies and the Gestapo officer from Raiders of the Lost Ark who gets his face melted off. But once he’s run over by the streamroller and pops back up, Doom is another beast altogether and the stuff of childhood nightmares.
The Black Cauldron was released on July 24, 1985.
Did we leave out one of your favorites? Don’t agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments!
2018 is finally here, and the first big release of the year is the latest (and presumably final) chapter in the Insidious franchise. It’s a PG-13 horror flick, but if you don’t think your kids could handle it — or if you don’t think they’ll particularly care for it — then we’ve got a few alternatives in mind. Read on for Christy’s take on Insidious: The Last Key and three recommendations you can watch at home instead.
Rating: PG-13, for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror and brief strong language.
The fourth and presumably last movie in the Insidious franchise (if the title is providing any clues) is better than you might expect from a January horror movie. But it’s also quite scary, with several startling jump scares and disturbing imagery throughout. If you already had reservations about going down into the basement, the latest Insidious movie will do nothing to reassure you. The great character actress Lin Shaye returns to the central role of parapsychologist Elise, who helps families purge their houses of the demons that are haunting them. But this time, she gets a call from a man living in her childhood home in small-town New Mexico, which forces her to relive the horrors she endured there from her cruel father. The physical and psychological abuse thrust upon Elise as a girl decades earlier is actually harder to watch than any spiritual frights – but those will freak you out, too. Insidious: The Last Key can be a joltingly noisy movie, but director Adam Robitel also puts you on edge through the use of silence in this dark, creepy house. Fine for viewers around 13 and older… if they dare.
If the latest Insidious is too intense for your kids (and it probably will be), here are some other haunted house movies for various ages that you and your family will enjoy:
Rating: PG, for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language.
An animated delight from producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, Monster House is about a house that is literally a monster. Three teenagers (voiced by Mitchell Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke) discover that the house across the street isn’t merely creepy and dilapidated, as it looks from the outside. It’s a living, breathing entity that chews up people and things and sometimes spits them back out again. Windows serve as eyes and a long, red carpet lashes out like a tongue. It’s possessed by a soul seeking revenge from beyond the grave, and it thrives on the energy of humans. That may sound pretty scary, and it may be too intense for very little kids. Along those lines, the stop-motion animated characters may look a tad off-kilter, given how much technology has improved over the past decade. But most younger viewers will find Monster House to be a clever and amusing adventure. The teen characters here are in constant danger but they’re resourceful and (eventually) brave, and they work together as a team. Fine for viewers around 7 and older – and perhaps a great, first scary movie to show your kids.
Rating: PG, for adult situations/language and violence.
One of Tim Burton’s earliest and best films – it’s only his second feature after Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – this oozes his signature mix of playful and macabre, colorful and dark. Michael Keaton gives one of the greatest comic performances of his long and varied career as the title character: a raunchy and profane spirit-for-hire who helps a recently deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) scare the new owners out of their home. Perfect for the conspicuous consumption of the era, the new husband and wife are obnoxious yuppies (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones) who throw lavish parties for their horrible friends. Only the couple’s sullen teenage daughter (Winona Ryder in one of her key roles) can see and sympathize with the dead couple. Beetlejuice is lively and ton of fun, with the wildly detailed costumes and production design we’ve come to expect over the years from Burton’s films. Some of the humor is rather adult – especially from the hard-partying Beetlejuice himself, who visits a brothel at one point. There’s some scattered, strong language. And fundamentally, the film is about a couple coming to grips with the fact that they’re no longer alive, which may be disturbing for younger viewers. But the racier material will probably go over a lot of kids’ heads. Fine for around ages 10 and up.
Rating: PG, for adult situations/language and violence.
One of the greatest horror movies, period, but also one of the greatest haunted-house movies. Poltergeist kept me awake many a night when I was a little girl; in retrospect, I was probably too young to see it, but hey – I had permissive parents. (You guys will show better judgment, I’m sure.) But Tobe Hooper’s film, which Spielberg produced and co-wrote, is a must-see (or re-see) as a thrilling exploration of the dark side of suburbia. It features so many iconic lines and images; you’ve probably never looked at a snowy television screen the same way since. And Lin Shaye’s character in the Insidious movies definitely calls to mind the late, great Zelda Rubenstein as the brilliant and eccentric medium who famously “cleaned” the haunted house of Poltergeist. Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Beatrice Straight lead the excellent cast. A family enjoying the supposed security of Southern California tract-housing bliss finds everything upended when their youngest child, Carol Ann (the late, deeply creepy Heather O’Rourke), hears voices, then gets sucked into another dimension by a host of restless spirits. Poltergeist vividly explores childhood fears; from the toys to the closets to even the wind in the trees, nothing is safe. And the climax that reveals why the angry souls are stirring things up is truly nightmarish. A great choice for tweens and older who can handle inspired, real-world scares.
You know that fancy "motion capture animation" technique that’s been employed in The Polar Express, Monster House, and the upcoming Beowulf? Looks like Sony Imageworks is planning no less than three more projects using the technology. Some of ’em without Robert Zemeckis!
The first one out of the gate will probably be an adaptation of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. It runs about a dozen books long and it’s about a bunch of kids who can fly. Former Marvel man Avi Arad wants to turn the books into a big pricey series: "We want to bring this world to life in a way you’ve never seen before … With performance capture you are absolutely free to watch the heroes go anywhere and everywhere and manifest their powers onscreen." And yes, that’s the same James Patterson whose books became movies called Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.
According to Variety, Imageworks also has another pair of projects brewing: A Jon Favreau-directed comedy called Neanderthals and FX genius James Chen is planning a 300-like historical action epic that’s inspired by Japanese mythology. Sounds nifty.
The pretty darn slick-looking Beowulf opens on November 16th.
Bart, Lisa, and the whole gang from Springfield will charge into multiplexes across North America and much of the world this weekend in the highly anticipated animated comedy The Simpsons Movie which looks to easily conquer the box office. But competing studios do have other menu items in store for moviegoers. Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in the romantic comedy No Reservations, Lindsay Lohan headlines the grisly thriller I Know Who Killed Me, and hip hop star Big Boi tries out the world of golf comedy in Who’s Your Caddy?
Fox is aiming for hardcore followers and casual fans alike with its long-in-the-works comedy The Simpsons Movie which hits screens at midnight on Thursday night. The PG-13 film has a substantial built-in audience and should play out like a semi-sequel. To some extent it will be one of the more unpredictable openings of the summer since there is no track record of Simpsons fans leaving their TVs and paying money at the box office, however the fan base is sizable and will definitely come out upfront. Reviews have been good too so those who tuned out a decade ago and miss the Bobo years should return to try out what the feature-length entree is like.
The studio gets major points for executing what is certainly one of the best marketing campaigns of the year. From turning a dozen 7-11s into Kwik-E-Marts to the SimpsonizeMe web promotion, The Simpsons Movie has been generating substantial interest and has jumped from the entertainment pages to the front pages becoming a major pop culture event. That should lead to a powerful opening weekend, even if large drops follow. The marketplace will get crowded this weekend, however Simpsons will tower over its foes with ease. In fact its nearest competitors should only be in the teen millions so Krusty and company will get the attention of most folks. Busting into 3,922 theaters, The Simpsons Movie could open in the neighborhood of $54M.
Adam Sandler comedies typically drop by 45-50% on the second weekend depending on how well received they are. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is not exactly a fan favorite so sales could get sliced in half and fall to about $17M. That would still give the Universal comedy about $70M after ten days.
New Line enjoyed a better than expected bow for the musical Hairspray which gave the studio its best opening in two years. However its Friday-to-Saturday drop of 15% last weekend indicates that it might be a front-loaded title. Look for a 50% fall to around $14M giving the John Travolta vehicle a ten-day tally of $59M.
LAST YEAR: Universal’s summer action entry Miami Vice opened atop the charts with $25.7M on its way to $63.5M domestically and $164M worldwide. After three weeks at number one, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest slipped to second with $20.6M. Fox’s teen comedy John Tucker Must Die enjoyed a solid opening in third with $14.3M leading to a $41M final. The animated film Monster House followed with $11.7M in its sophomore frame. Rounding out the top five was rival toon The Ant Bully with a $8.4M opening on its way to a disappointing $28.1M for Warner Bros. Introducing herself to the world in limited release was Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine which went on to become a critical and commercial hit grabbing $59.9M at the box office plus four Oscar nominations.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
OK, a whole bunch of bloggers are falling all over each other to report this "speculation," but if they’re on to something, it’s a pretty big story. Well, a big story for movie geeks, anyway. Not an important news story like a fire or a basketball game, obviously.
Film ick is reporting that Robert Zemeckis and Disney’s John Lasseter will collaborate to present Edgar Rice Burroughs’ "John Carter of Mars" as a full-bore motion-capture CGI project — not unlike the movie magic you enjoyed in "The Polar Express" and "Monster House."
You’ll recall that "Carter" has long been discussed and attached to a variety of studios and filmmakers. (I believe Jon Favreau only came pretty close to getting it off the ground.) But obviously the CG arena is one where a movie like this could really flourish. So take it all as speculation at this point, but if it turns out to be true, score another one for the movie geek bloggers of the world.
Sound the alarms! Tonight’s telecast (8pm EST) of the 64th Annual Golden Globes Awards signaled the real start of Oscar mania, so check out our list of winners…and weigh in with your own two cents on who won, who should’ve won, and who definitely should not have worn what. RESULTS IN NOW!!
Royal thesps Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker took home Best Actor nods (for "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland," respectively) as expected, and "Dreamgirls" re-cemented its still-potent Oscar power with three wins (Jennifer Hudson for Best Supporting Actress, Eddie Murphy for Best Supporting Actor, and "Dreamgirls" for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical).
"The Departed" director Martin Scorsese capitalized on his recent Awards Season favor by nabbing Best Director, while fellow nominee Clint Eastwood collected a Globe for Best Foreign Film (the Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima").
The show’s capper — presented by the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger (he used to be in the movies, right?) — awarded the Best Drama trophy to surprise pick "Babel," instantly renewing that film’s chances come Oscar time.
Find out who else won the hearts of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Monday night [scroll down for full list of winners and nominees]…
And check out Rotten Tomatoes’ Awards Tour for winners and nominees of this season’s other film awards and critics’ group picks (plus our handy-dandy Buzz chart combining Tomatometer, Awards Won, and Box Office numbers into an Oscar guide for you prognosticators)!
And the nominees for the 64th Annual Golden Globes Awards are (Winners in bold):
Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Best Animated Film
Best Supporting Actor, Drama
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Original Score
Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Aaron Eckhart for Thank You For Smoking
Chjwetel Ejiofor for Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell for Stranger Than Fiction
Best Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
Best Actress in a Drama
Best Actor in a Drama
Best Motion Picture, Drama
Best Television Series – Drama
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Patricia Arquette for "Medium"
Edie Falco for "The Sopranos"
Evangeline Lilly for "Lost"
Ellen Pompeo for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Patrick Dempsey for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Michael C. Hall for "Dexter"
Hugh Laurie for "House"
Bill Paxton for "Big Love"
Kiefer Sutherland for "24"
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Marcia Cross for "Desperate Housewives"
America Ferrera for "Ugly Betty"
Felicity Huffman for "Desperate Housewives"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "The New Adventures Of Old Christine"
Mary-Louise Parker for "Weeds"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock"
Zach Braff for "Scrubs"
Steve Carell for "The Office"
Jason Lee for "My Name Is Earl"
Tony Shalhoub for "Monk"
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
"Bleak House" (PBS)
"Broken Trail" (AMC)
"Elizabeth I" (HBO)
"Mrs. Harris" (HBO)
"Prime Suspect: The Final Act" (PBS)
Best Performance By An Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Gillian Anderson for "Bleak House"
Annette Bening for "Mrs. Harris"
Helen Mirren for "Elizabeth I"
Helen Mirren for "Prime Suspect: The Final Act"
Sophie Okonedo for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Best Performance By An Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
André Braugher for "Thief"
Robert Duvall for "Broken Trail"
Michael Ealy for "Sleeper Cell: American Terror"
Chiwetel Ejiofor for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Ben Kingsley for "Mrs. Harris"
Bill Nighy for "Gideon’s Daughter"
Matthew Perry for "The Ron Clark Story"
Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Emily Blunt for "Gideon’s Daughter"
Toni Collette for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Katherine Heigl for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Sarah Paulson for "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip"
Elizabeth Perkins for "Weeds"
Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Thomas Haden Church for "Broken Trail"
Jeremy Irons for "Elizabeth I"
Justin Kirk for "Weeds"
Masi Oka for "Heroes"
Jeremy Piven for "Entourage"
"Babel"’s back in the game as this year’s Golden Globes nominations were announced, including many expected Oscar pics — and a few smaller surprises.
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu‘s multi-lingual drama had been praised by critics (and stands Certified Fresh at 70 percent on the Tomatometer) but had not been thought of an obvious contender for awards season, let alone the nominations leader with seven Golden Globes nods. Among the noms, "Babel" is in contention for Best Picture – Drama, Best Director (Innaritu), Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and two Best Supporting Actresses (Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza).
Also representing in force this year is Martin Scorsese‘s gangster pic, "The Departed," which nabbed the second-most nominations with six, including Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and two competing Best Supporting Actors (Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson).
DiCaprio is one of the year’s double-nominees, as he faces off with himself for Best Actor for his performances as an undercover cop in "The Departed" and a mercenary in "Blood Diamond."
Another filmmaker competing with himself for Golden Globes honors is Clint Eastwood, who is nominated twice for Best Director — first, for helming his World War II drama "Flags of Our Fathers," and again for its Japanese-language companion piece, "Letters From Iwo Jima." "Letters" is also an entrant in the Best Foreign Language category, qualifying because it was filmed in Japanese, much like another American-made film in the running — Mel Gibson‘s Mayan-language "Apocalypto."
But for all of these expected big-budget nominees, there were a few surprise picks from the film festival set. "Sherrybaby," for which Maggie Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Actress, might be the smallest pic in the running; the film debuted at Sundance and played theatrically in only thirteen theaters during its release.
Tobacco industry send-up "Thank You For Smoking," a $6.5 million project which built momentum from last year’s Toronto and Sundance fests into $38 million gross worldwide, is in the running for Best Picture – Comedy and Best Actor (Aaron Eckhart). The feature-film debut of director Jason Reitman scored well with critics and stands at an impressive 87 percent on the Tomatometer.
In a year of unusual multiple nominees, some performers racked up Globes noms with their television work as well. Helen Mirren, long-though to be the Best Actress front-runner for Brit biopic "The Queen," is up for two additional awards in the Best Actress in a Mini-series or TV Movie category where she’ll compete against herself (for performances in "Elizabeth I" and "Prime Suspect: The Final Act").
Mirren will also face off against another dual nominee, Annette Bening, in this category (Bening’s up for the TV pic "Mrs. Harris" and her film "Running With Scissors"). Thesps Chiwetel Ejiofor, Toni Collette, and Emily Blunt are also competing for both film and television Globes.
Further surprises came at the inclusion of devastatingly rotten films like the super-budget bomb of the summer, "The Da Vinci Code" (24 percent on the Tomatometer), which can now boast a Golden Globe nomination thanks to Hans Zimmer’s Original Score.
Emilio Estevez‘s ensemble piece "Bobby" is also rotten at 43 percent, yet will inexplicably vie for the Best Picture award against "Babel" (70 percent), "Little Children" (83 percent), "The Departed" (92 percent) and "The Queen" (98 percent).
Darren Aronofsky‘s sci-fi romance "The Fountain" split critics at 50 percent on the Tomatometer, but its score courtesy of "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" composer Clint Mansell captured the attentions of HFPA voters in the same category.
And that other unknown film in the running for Best Original Score? "Nomad," a Kazakh language, Kazakhstan-set historical epic starring Jason Scott Lee and Jay Hernandez that has only yet been released in Switzerland and — yep — Kazakhstan.
The 64th Golden Globes Awards will take place January 15, 2007. Read on for the full list of film nominees.
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance By An Actor in A Motion Picture – Drama
Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Best Performance By An Actor in A Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest"
Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You For Smoking"
Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Kinky Boots"
Will Ferrell, "Stranger Than Fiction"
Best Animated Feature Film
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Adriana Barraza, "Babel"
Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"
Emily Blunt, "The Devil Wears Prada"
Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"
Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Best Director – Motion Picture
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
This week at the movies, we’ve got jive talking woodland creatures ("Open Season," with Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher). We’ve got a school for Coast Guard rescue swimmers ("The Guardian," starring Kevin Coster and Kutcher again). And we’ve got a school…for scoundrels ("School for Scoundrels," starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder). Which of these flicks will get a passing grade from critics?
"Open Season," Sony Pictures Animation’s first picture, features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher as a grizzly bear and a deer, respectively, who must team up after getting stranded in the woods at the start of hunting season. Critics say that despite some impressive visuals and funny sequences, "Open Season" does little to distinguish itself from the recent glut of CG kiddie films. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, you should turn, turn, turn away from this middling "Season."
Kevin Costner makes a hopeful return to the action genre in "The Guardian," in which he plays a veteran U.S. Coast Guard officer who must mentor a cocky young upstart played by Ashton Kutcher. The film features intense training sequences, dramatic rescue scenes, and the requisite love story. Sound familiar? Critics seem to think so, calling it a cliched mix of "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Top Gun," with a predictable storyline. At 40 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Guardian" needs rescuing.
"Oh, man… Finally, a funny ‘Waterworld‘ joke!"
Director Todd Phillips brings us his latest comedy "School for Scoundrels," about a nerdy meter maid (Jon Heder) who takes confidence building classes from a smarmy instructor (Billy Bob Thornton). When the student gains the confidence to ask out his longtime crush, he discovers he must compete with the teacher for her affections. Most critics are in agreement that the real scoundrels are the screenwriters who couldn’t devise a script worthy of the considerable acting talent involved. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, "School for Scoundrels" receives a failing grade.
Also opening this week in limited release: "The Queen," a speculative drama about the reaction of Britain’s royal family after the death of Princess Di starring Helen Mirren, is at 95 percent on the Tomatometer; "The Last King of Scotland," which features an electrifying performance from Forrest Whitaker as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, is at 86 percent; "Be With Me," a three part meditation on love, hope, and destiny, is at 80 percent; "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," a coming-of-age story starring Robert Downey Jr., is at 77 percent; and "loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies," which chronicles the triumphant reunion tour of the influential cult band, is at 60 percent.
Fans of the classic "Rocky & Bullwinkle Show" probably spent 180 minutes cringing through the films "Boris & Natasha" and "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle," but that won’t stop DreamWorks Animation from bringing some more of the R&B characters to cinematic life. Get ready for "Mr. Peabody & Sherman: The Movie."
DW Press Release:
DreamWorks Animation today announced plans to bring the time-traveling adventures of "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" to the big screen. The classic stories of the beloved, bespectacled dog and his pet boy will be updated for the 21st Century as an all new computer-animated comedy feature.
The film will be directed by Rob Minkoff, marking his first animated feature since he helmed the blockbuster "The Lion King." Minkoff has since directed such live-action hits as "Stuart Little" and its sequel, "Stuart Little 2." "I’ve always loved "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" and am thrilled to direct them in their big screen debut," stated Minkoff, who developed the pitch for the film with longtime producing partner Jason Clark.
Produced by animation legend Jay Ward, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" featured the world’s most intelligent dog, Mr. Peabody, and — in a unique role reversal — his pet boy, Sherman. The series of short segments premiered in 1959 as part of Ward’s classic "Rocky & Bullwinkle" series and quickly became a favorite of viewers, young and old. In each of their 90+ adventures, the duo steps into Mr. Peabody’s "WABAC Machine" to be transported back in time to a pivotal moment in history. There, Mr. Peabody would use his genius to literally save the "day," while imparting an entertaining, often hilarious, and always "punny" history lesson to Sherman and, thus, the audience.
Bullwinkle Studio’s Tiffany Ward (daughter of the late Jay Ward) and Classic Media’s Eric Ellenbogen will executive produce the project. Producer Jason Clark ("Stuart Little," "Monster House") will oversee development with Minkoff, and Andrew Kurtzman ("Down Periscope," "Camp Nowhere") will write the screenplay. DreamWorks Animation executive Chris Kuser shepherded the deal.
In making the announcement, DreamWorks Animation Head of Creative Development & Production Bill Damaschke said, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" has the kind of cross-generational appeal that is a cornerstone of DreamWorks Animation. Older fans remember and still delight at their adventures, while new generations of fans are discovering them on the Cartoon Network. Thanks to Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine, the story possibilities are as endless as time itself and we are looking forward to exploring them for the big screen."
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg added, "One of the most gratifying relationships in my 20-plus year career of making animated movies has been that of working with Rob Minkoff on "The Lion King." I’ve waited more than a decade to have an opportunity to work with him again, so I could not be more excited to welcome him to DreamWorks Animation."
Tiffany Ward stated, "DreamWorks Animation and director Rob Minkoff, are the perfect team to bring my dad’s beloved characters to the big screen."
A pair of well-received (and mildly spooky) animated films are primed to make their theatrical comebacks … and in 3-D, no less. Sony’s "Monster House" will pop back in on October 6th, while Disney’s cult classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas" arrives on October 20th. (Did I mention that they’re both in 3-D now?)
From The Hollywood Reporter: "Sony Pictures is high on 3-D. The company will re-release its summer animated film "Monster House" for a two-week 3-D engagement before Halloween. Set to bow Oct. 6, the film, from exec producers Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, will have a two-week 3-D engagement on Real D screens nationwide. Sony plans to release the film on more than 100 screens in advance of its DVD release, set for Oct. 24. "Monster" will come off the limited screens before Buena Vista unveils "Tim Burton‘s The Nightmare Before Christmas" on Oct. 20. "Now we get the opportunity to see ‘Monster’ in 3-D in the theater to remind people what a good movie it is before the DVD comes out," Sony’s president of distribution Rory Bruer said."
I still haven’t seen "Monster House," so this sounds like a perfect excuse to do so — and (like most of you) I really love "Nightmare," so that ticket purchase is a no-brainer.
Samuel L. Jackson‘s much-talked-about thriller Snakes on a Plane landed in first place at the North American box office this weekend, but lacked the kind of bite that was expected given all the media attention and internet buzz that surrounded the film.
The weekend’s two other new releases Accepted and Material Girls targeted teens and met with only mild-to-moderate results. However, the indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine flexed some muscle in its national expansion jumping into the top ten in its fourth weekend of release. Former number one Talladega Nights raced past the $100M mark while Pirates of the Caribbean cruised past the $400M milestone this weekend. However, the late-summer slowdown took its toll on the box office as for the first time in fourteen weeks, the top ten failed to top $100M.
Following months of online buzz which translated into tons of national publicity, Snakes on a Plane finally arrived in theaters and collected an estimated $15.3M over the weekend including about $1.4M in Thursday night preview grosses. Taking off in an ultrawide 3,555 theaters, the R-rated film averaged a mediocre $4,290 per site. Of the 62 films in history that have opened in 3,500 or more theaters, 61 have grossed more than Snakes on opening weekend. Only last summer’s Herbie: Fully Loaded fared worse with $12.7M from 3,521 sites following a Wednesday bow. Snakes also suffered the second lowest gross for a number one opener this year after Glory Road‘s $13.6M top spot bow in January.
Since no film before it had generated the same type of grassroots hype, expectations varied greatly leading into the frame with most believing it would at least surpass the $20M mark. The New Line release finds Jackson playing an FBI agent escorting a key witness on a commercial airliner when deadly snakes are let loose. The studio did not screen the film for the media ahead of the release. Fans on the internet have been talking up the picture since last year creating a cult fan following which no one knew how to measure when it came to box office sales. Ultimately, Snakes did not appear to have had much appeal outside of its core fan base of young men. With a budget of only $30M, Snakes on a Plane should still end up being a moneymaker for New Line after worldwide DVD sales are tallied. However, hopes for a new franchise seem to have been crushed.
After two weeks in pole position, Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished close behind in second place this weekend with an estimated $14.1M in its third lap. The Sony release dropped only 36% and showed good legs. On Thursday, Talladega became the eleventh film of the year to cross the $100M mark and has pushed its total to $114.7M after 17 days. Snakes led all films at the box office on Friday, but Ricky Bobby raced ahead on both Saturday and Sunday.
Oliver Stone‘s 9/11 drama World Trade Center enjoyed a good hold in its second weekend grossing an estimated $10.8M. Down a moderate 42%, the Paramount release upped its total to $45M after 12 days. The $65M film looks to reach about $70M domestically.
Universal’s new teen comedy Accepted bowed in fourth place with an estimated $10.1M from 2,914 theaters. The PG-13 film about a high school senior who forms the fictitious S.H.I.T. (South Harmon Institute of Technology) after being rejected by every other college averaged a mild $3,470 per location. Budgeted at $23M, Accepted appealed mostly to a teen and young adult audience with studio research showing that a whopping 74% of the crowd was under 25. Males slightly outnumbered females with 52% of the audience.
Last weekend’s surprise hit Step Up fell an understandable 52% in its second session taking in an estimated $9.9M for fifth place. Buena Vista’s low-budget dance drama has captured a robust $39.4M in ten days and could end its run with a terrific $60M. At the beginning of August, no one thought that Step Up would score a bigger opening than Snakes on a Plane. The animated comedy Barnyard followed with an estimated $7.5M dropping only 23%. The strong hold for the Paramount release helped boost the cume to $46M after 17 days.
Boasting the best per-theater average in the top ten by far was indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine which expanded nationally and grossed an estimated $5.7M. Fox Searchlight’s dysfunctional family comedy averaged a stellar $8,213 from 691 locations after widening from 153 playdates last weekend. Cume to date stands at $12.8M with much more to come. The distributor reported that the Greg Kinnear–Steve Carell pic is broadening its audience beyond just the arthouse crowd and is now playing well in mainstream multiplexes in suburban markets. Sunshine will double its theater count on Friday with over 1,400 runs and will add a few hundred more the following weekend for the Labor Day holiday frame.
Disney’s unstoppable smash Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ranked eighth this weekend with an estimated $5M in its seventh voyage. Down only 31%, the Johnny Depp adventure broke the quadruple-century mark and pushed its cume to $401.1M in North America making it the seventh biggest domestic blockbuster ever trailing the $403.7M of 2002’s Spider-Man. Worldwide, the Pirates sequel cruised past the $900M mark this weekend and will break through the $1 billion barrier soon allowing it to join only Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the ten-digit club.
Opening quietly in ninth place were sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff with their comedy Material Girls which debuted with only $4.6M, according to estimates. Playing in 1,509 theaters, the MGM release averaged just $3,062 per site. The PG-rated story about wealthy sisters who must cope with being bankrupt opened much like Hilary Duff’s recent films Raise Your Voice ($4M in October 2004) and The Perfect Man ($5.3M in June 2005).
Rounding out the top ten was the horror entry Pulse with an estimated $3.5M, off 57%, for a ten-day total of just $14.7M. The Weinstein Co. should reach a mere $20M with this one.
There was plenty of activity in limited release over the weekend. Yari Film Group opened its period mystery The Illusionist in 51 theaters and grossed an estimated $925,000 for a powerful $18,137 average. The Edward Norton–Paul Giamatti starrer earned strong reviews and will add more theaters on Friday before expanding nationwide on September 1.
Fox Searchlight saw more modest results with its new relationship pic Trust the Man which debuted to an estimated $176,000 from 38 locations for a moderate $4,632 average. Playing in eight cities, the R-rated story stars Billy Crudup, David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Trust will widen to more than 100 theaters on Friday. Reviews have been mixed.
Four summer movies dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Lionsgate’s horror film The Descent fell 47% to an estimated $2.5M putting its total at $22.3M. The chicks-in-a-cave thriller should end with $27-29M. Sony’s Tim Allen flop Zoom declined 47% to an estimated $2.4M increasing its sum to a puny $9M. A horrendous final total of around $15M seems likely.
Universal’s $135M cop pic Miami Vice dropped 50% to an estimated $2.4M in its fifth frame and lifted its sum to $59.8M. A disappointing $65M final seems likely. The $75M animated film Monster House grossed an estimated $1.9M, down 42%, for a cume of $67.3M. Sony should end up with a respectable $72M.
Among holdovers in limited release, ThinkFilm’s critically-acclaimed drama Half Nelson added one theater and grossed an estimated $57,000 from three sites for a solid $19,067 average. The existing pair of theaters in Manhattan suffered almost no decline from last weekend and continued to sell out most of their weekend shows. Cume stands at $148,000 and the film debuts on Friday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
The global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth became the highest-grossing film in company history for Paramount Classics this weekend. Al Gore‘s environmental pic took in an estimated $246,000 from 221 theaters and upped its total to $22.4M. The distributor’s previous top grosser was last summer’s Hustle & Flow with $22.2M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $86.5M which was down 7% from last year when The 40-Year-Old Virgin debuted at number one with $21.4M; and down 10% from 2004 when Exorcist: The Beginning opened in the top spot with a robust $18.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Despite a pair of newcomers close behind in its rearview mirror, Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished in first place for the second consecutive weekend to retain its North American box office trophy.
The frame’s biggest shocker came in second place with the stellar debut of the teen dance drama Step Up which flew past expectations to edge out Oliver Stone‘s high-profile 9/11 film World Trade Center which opened with solid results in third place. The new horror film Pulse launched in fifth place with mediocre results while Tim Allen‘s family film Zoom imploded with a disastrous bow in seventh place.
Talladega Nights held onto the number one spot with an estimated $23M in its second weekend of release dropping an understandable 51%. The $73M Sony hit raced to a total of $91.2M after ten days of release and could find its way to the $140M mark.
Getting high marks in the runnerup spot was Buena Vista’s Step Up which surprised the industry with a sizzling $21.1M opening weekend, according to estimates, from 2,467 theaters. The PG-13 pic about a trained ballerina who joins forces with a tough street dancer averaged a sturdy $8,539 per location and was powered primarily by teenage girls and young women. The surprise muscle of Step Up played out much like the bow of another late-summer film targeting teen girls – 2000’s Bring It On. That pic debuted at number one with $17.4M, spent two weeks at the top, and found its way to $68.4M followed by a pair of non-theatrical sequels keeping the franchise alive to this day.
Oliver Stone’s 9/11 drama World Trade Center finished in third place grossing an estimated $19M over the weekend and $26.8M since debuting on Wednesday. Averaging a solid $6,431 from 2,957 theaters over the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the Paramount release stars Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as cops buried underneath the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. Reviews were mostly positive for the $65M film and word-of-mouth so far seems positive. Studio research showed that 91% of those polled called the disaster drama "excellent" or "very good".
While young moviegoers were lining up for Step Up, World Trade Center skewed mostly to a mature adult audience with 65% of the crowd being over the age of 25. Females made up 55% of the audience. With good reviews, positive buzz, and almost no interesting films for adults opening in the coming weeks, World Trade Center could hold up well in the weeks ahead.
Paramount’s animated comedy Barnyard dropped only 36% in its second weekend to an estimated $10.1M for fourth place. With $34.1M in the bank after ten days, the toon could find its way to about $60M. The PG-rated film’s budget was under $50M.
The suspense thriller Pulse debuted in fifth with an estimated $8.5M from a launch in 2,323 sites. Averaging a mild $3,640 per location for The Weinstein Co., the PG-13 film made only a small dent in the overall box office.
Disney took in an estimated $7.2M with its summer tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest lifting its incredible total to a towering $392.4M. The Johnny Depp smash fell just 35% and now sits at number seven on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind Spider-Man which hauled in $403.7M in 2002. Overseas, there’s still no stopping Pirates which vaulted its international total to $463M pushing the global gross to a stunning $855M.
Sony’s Tim Allen family pic Zoom crashed and burned in its debut grossing a measly $4.6M in its opening weekend. Playing in 2,501 theaters, the PG-rated film about an old super hero recruited to train a bunch of kids averaged an embarrassing $1,839 per venue.
The horror flick The Descent dropped 48% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.6M and pushed its ten-day tally to a decent $17.5M. The Lionsgate release should dig up $25-27M by the end of its run. Universal’s action remake Miami Vice suffered another steep drop falling 56% to an estimated $4.5M for a $55.1M total. The animated pic Monster House rounded out the top ten with an estimated $3.3M, off 46%, giving Sony $63.7M to date.
Four more films were tossed right out of the top ten this weekend. Fox’s high school comedy John Tucker Must Die fell 52% to an estimated $3M in its third frame. With a solid $35.7M, the low-budget teen hit should finish with around $40M. Fellow comedy You, Me and Dupree grossed an estimated $1.9M, down 48%, and has collected $70.8M to date. Universal’s $54M pic is set to reach an impressive $74M.
Not-so-impressive results came from The Ant Bully with an estimated $1.8M and The Night Listener with an estimated $1.4M. Tumbling 55%, the Warner Bros. toon has taken in just $22.4M and will stumble to about $25M. Miramax’s Robin Williams thriller has grossed a puny $6.3M for Miramax and could end up with only $8M.
With Hollywood’s summer season of blockbusters coming to an end, plenty of activity was brewing over the weekend with limited release titles. ThinkFilm opened its critically-acclaimed indie Half Nelson in just two New York theaters but grossed a stellar $55,000, according to estimates. The R-rated drama about an inner city teacher with an addiction to crack averaged a potent $27,475 and expands to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. on August 25.
Sony Classics premiered the Brazilian drama The House of Sand in five locations in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $33,000 for a moderate $6,600 average. The distributor’s teen pregnancy drama Quinceanera widened from eight to 27 theaters in its second weekend and grossed an estimated $138,000 giving the Sundance award winner a mild $5,111 average. Total to date stands at $278,000.
Indie darling Little Miss Sunshine witnessed another powerful expansion widening from 58 to 153 locations for a weekend estimate of $2.6M and a sizzling average of $16,993. Fox Searchlight reported that audiences in the new cities are responding to the stellar word-of-mouth while theaters in existing markets are holding up remarkably well. The weekend decline among holdover theaters was only 17%. With $5.6M in the bank, look for Little Miss Sunshine to pop into the top ten next weekend when it expands into 600 playdates nationwide and remain there with a wider push into 1,500 locations the following frame. So far, the dysfunctional family comedy has performed even better than the distributor’s spring indie hit Thank You for Smoking as well as its 2004 hit Garden State which was released at this same time and in similar fashion. Those films went on to gross $24.7M and $26.8M, respectively.
Paramount Vantage’s global warming film An Inconvenient Truth became the third biggest documentary of all time over the weekend. Al Gore‘s success story took in an estimated $367,000 in its 12th weekend and lifted its cume to $21.9M surpassing the $21.6M of 2002’s Oscar-winning doc Bowling for Columbine.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $105.9M which was up 6% from last year when Four Brothers debuted at number one with $21.2M; but down 12% from 2004 when Alien vs. Predator opened in the top spot with a robust $38.3M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com