The biggest thrills of the Saw movies are their surprise endings, which seem to keep audiences guessing even more than M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest creations. That’s why the producers of the Saw sequels are starting there and working backwards.

“We just basically locked down the ending about a month ago so it’s working off of what happens from there,” said Oren Koules. “There’s nothing guaranteed. It’s really Mark [Burg] and I looking at each other and saying, ‘Okay, this story works, let’s go.’ When it doesn’t, we won’t go. We’ll miss a year, we’ll miss two years. It’s two things: If we have a story that works and the fans want to see it. It’s such a simple equation. Right now we’re working on some things on V. There’s nothing definitive.”

Burg may even have plans to make Saw V and VI at the same time, though coming up with two shocking, surprising scripts for one epic shoot may not be possible (especially now with the WGA in full effect). This plan also hinted at which characters from Saw IV might become the focus of a Saw V.

“It was an idea of ours to try and keep the cast together because it’s really difficult with Scott [Patterson] doing a TV series and other people doing other shows that we’re going to try to. I’d say it’s not out of the question but it’s going to be really hard for us to get the screenplay to Saw VI where we want it to be to be able to do it.”

If Saw V does go ahead, it looks like Jigsaw will remain a factor. Despite having his head on a morgue scale on the posters for Saw IV, Koules wants actor Tobin Bell back for “as many as he wants.”

The boys know that they won’t always be making a Saw movie a year. They’re prepared to accept their fate when the grosses go down. “I think we’ll all know,” said Koules. “As of the tracking, as of today and as of everything else right now, we’re still rolling. Listen, we’re surprised. There’s going to be a day we wake up, we don’t have a $25 million weekend, we have a $4 million weekend. We’re fine. We own the films. We’re okay.”

Two new star-driven Hollywood comedies face off at the box office this weekend in an attempt to unseat Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix from the top spot. Adam Sandler headlines the gay marriage pic I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry while John Travolta goes one step further starring as a heavy-set mom in the musical Hairspray. For the first time in nearly a month, no new release gets an early midweek headstart.

Adam Sandler is back for his annual trip to blockbusterland in Chuck and Larry starring with Kevin James and Jessica Biel. The PG-13 film reunites Sandler with director Dennis Dugan (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore)
and tells the story of two heterosexual firefighters who pretend to be married to each other to take advantage of the financial benefits. The former Saturday Night Live star only does one film per year and each comedy has a specific well-defined plot. That has led to a string of hits at the box office as fans so far have not had too much of him. Earlier this year, Eddie Murphy reached $34.2M with Norbit‘s opening while Will Ferrell bowed to $33M with Blades of Glory. Chuck should go a little higher.

The former wedding singer has scored $100M blockbusters in each of the last five years and aims to extend the streak to six with his latest summer offering. Last June, his comedy Click bowed to $40M on its way to $137.3M while 2005’s The Longest Yard debuted to $47.6M over three days before heading to a $158.1M final. Sandler is one of the most reliable box office draws in the business and his usual fan following, skewing a bit more male, should be back again this time. Reviews have been bad as usual but should not factor in much. Potter and Transformers will still provide some competition for young males and females may be swayed more to Hairspray. Universal’s marketing push has been on par with past films from the actor and Sandler has been hitting up all the standard talk shows for his yearly sales pitches. Tying the knot in 3,492 theaters, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry could open to about $37M.


The happy couple

John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken,
Amanda Bynes, and newcomer Nicole Blonsky join forces for the lavish musical Hairspray, the 2007 movie version of the popular Broadway version of the 1988 cult film from John Waters. The new PG-rated pic has earned glowing praise from critics which will certainly help its cause in a summer full of action hits aimed at young males. Hairspray will skew more female and could appeal to multiple generations given the broad range of stars from teen queens to middle-aged sex symbols.

New Line does not have an easy sell here. However the studio was wise to program the release into the second half of summer knowing that audiences may be all actioned out by now and looking for something different. Musicals rarely hit the big screen during the summer although in 2001 Moulin Rouge opened wide to $13.7M and a $6,019 average leading to a respectable $57.4M gross. Hairspray hopes to become a hit like Chicago and Dreamgirls, rather than a dud like Rent or The Producers. Broadway musicals don’t always translate well onto the big screen but starpower often helps to make them click with moviegoers. Hairspray boasts a solid line-up of Hollywood stars and with strong reviews should
attract a good following at the box office. Dancing into more than 3,000 theaters, the Adam Shankman-directed film could collect about $19M this weekend.


Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray

A space team is sent on a mission to repair the dying sun in Fox Searchlight’s futuristic thriller Sunshine which launches in limited release in ten theaters on Friday. Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans, and Cillian Murphy star in this latest film from director Danny Boyle which expands to more cities in the weeks ahead.


Something resembling sunshine in Sunshine

Warner Bros. will take on the two new comedies and try for a second weekend on top with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Had the film opened on a Friday and concentrated its whole audience into three days, the dropoff would easily have been more than 60%. However, the Wednesday launch last week softened the Friday-to-Sunday tally so a smaller decline should result. The biggest foe will actually be Potter himself as the seventh and final book in the wildly popular series will go on sale early Saturday prompting millions of fans to invest their time into reading rather than munching on popcorn in front of a big screen. A 55% drop would give Phoenix around $35M for the frame and a mammoth 12-day cume of $210M.

Transformers should also have a decent hold since no new action entries are hitting the multiplexes. The Paramount/DreamWorks release might fall by 45% to roughly $20M boosting the total to a towering $262M. Disney and Pixar also look to see a good hold for Ratatouille. The animated rodent comedy may slide by 35% to $12M for a sum of $165M to date.

LAST YEAR: For the third straight weekend, Johnny Depp‘s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest led the field and grossed $35.2M boosting the 17-day total to a staggering $321.9M. Sony’s animated film Monster House debuted in second place with $22.2M and was followed by fellow freshman Lady in the Water from Warner Bros. which disappointed with a $18M launch. Final domestic tallies reached $73.5M and $42.3M, respectively. Rounding out the top five were the comedies You, Me and Dupree with $12.8M and Little Man with $11M. Another pair of comedies debuted outside the top five. MGM’s Clerks II bowed to $10.1M on its way to $24.1M, while Fox’s My Super Ex-Girlfriend opened to only $8.6M leading to a $22.5M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

RT’s Jen and Matt were treated to a razzle-dazzle evening on Monday night for a press presentation of Bill Condon‘s upcoming Motown showbiz musical, "Dreamgirls." They braved torrential rains to arrive at a tent located just outside the famous Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles, where guests were greeted at the door by throngs of waiters offering trays of martinis and wine — but would freely flowing libations be enough to melt the hearts and tough opinions of the media?

"Dreamgirls" is Condon‘s latest project and his next attempt at the film musical following the Oscar coup of 2002, "Chicago," which Condon scripted. This time Condon directs as well as scripts, with a screenplay adapted from the original book of its Broadway run, with additional dialogue and four new songs from composer Henry Krieger. Like "Chicago," "Dreamgirls" is another backstage musical, this time set in the world of 1960s Motown, and follows the rise and fall of a girl group, The Dreamettes — with pop star Beyonce Knowles as Deena, Broadway actress Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell, and "American Idol" finalist Jennifer Hudson in her acting debut as Effie. Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover and Jamie Foxx add star power to the cast.

Despite a star-studded line-up and Oscar-winning talent at the helm, "Dreamgirls" is a musical — and in the wake of such Broadway-to-screen flops as last year’s "Rent" and "The Producers," Condon and Co. may need the help of marketing magic to avoid similar pitfalls.

Hence, the "Dreamgirls" press event. Monday night’s lavish presentation by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures was a rarity among media events; not a conventional set visit by any means, it was more of an open house that offered a glimpse into the movie-in-the-making with star appearances, behind-the-scenes peeks, and a feeling of exclusivity. Throw in fabulous hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, and there was no way this publicity experiment could fail.

For the first hour (coincidentally, plenty of time for guests to get a good buzz going), the few hundred attendees were free to nosh, imbibe, and wander around various booths set up, each hosted by a key figure in the production of "Dreamgirls." Production designer John Myhre (up for an Oscar this Sunday for "Memoirs of a Geisha") held court in front of a giant background informing passers-by who exactly he was, and he sat in a director’s chair with his name on it, waiting for guests to approach and engage him in conversation. Also manning posts were costume designer Sharen Davis (Oscar-nominated last year for "Ray"), composer Henry Krieger (who wrote the original Broadway soundtrack), and choreographer-to-the-stars Fatima Robinson (whose credits include co-directing the music video for the Black Eyed Peas’ "My Humps" and choreographing videos for the late Aaliyah, but whom we will always remember for composing dance routines for the Backstreet Boys).

Bill Condon eventually got up on a small stage and gave a brief synopsis of the film — contrary to other people’s denials, he admits "Dreamgirls" is loosely based on the history of girl group The Supremes. He discussed how much he is enjoying working on the project and introduced the composer of the original Broadway musical, Henry Krieger, who has written four new songs just for the film. Krieger expressed his absolute joy of having the chance to work on the film and said this was a dream come true.

Condon then introduced choreographer Robinson; costume designer Davis; director of photography Tobias Schliessler; editor Virginia Katz; and lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. Finally Keith Robinson ("Fat Albert"), who plays the character of C.C., popped up on stage for a wave. It was a nice touch to have each of these people give a short greeting and express their enthusiasm about the movie.

At this point Condon presented a short clip from the film with Jamie Foxx and two other actors singing ‘Steppin’ to the Bad Side’. After a brief twenty seconds or so the clip finished, and Condon ushered attendees next door into the Orpheum Theater, where the audience would (surprise!) witness the filming of the rest of the song!

Inside the ornate Orpheum Theater a camera crew had been set up, music playback started, and stars Knowles, Hudson, and Rose filed out onstage in full costume — red sequined gowns and big ’60s coifs. They lip-synched to the track in character as the Dreamettes, backing James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy) while a dozen background dancers filled three tiers behind them. Though Murphy didn’t show up, his stand-in was actually quite charismatic and for the short four minute song we could almost imagine the spectacular, flashy "Steppin’ to the Bad Side" as a scene in the film.

At the end of the performance, Jamie Foxx came out on stage and briefly expressed his enjoyment working on the film and said that it was great to see a project that made Eddie Murphy enthusiastic. A moment later Foxx invited everyone back to the hospitality tent, indicating that the show was over, and the crowd was ushered out of the Orpheum mere minutes after they had entered.

Back at the tent, Beyonce and her entourage made their way through the tent greeting people, occasionally stopping for a quick interview with various reporters. A few minutes after she left, Hudson, Rose and Foxx came in and did the same.

The stars made their appearances and left, leaving the leftover crowd of media and industry folk to mill about on their own. We took our cue to exit, and spent time next door at the Broadway Bar to reflect over what we’d seen.

"Dreamgirls" promo poster, picked up at the presentation

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

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

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

Filmjerk.com’s Early Report chimes in with its weekly dosage of release date alterations, MPAA ratings, and running time tweaks. This week we get some news on "Bambi 2," "Stuart Little 3," "The Producers," "The Notorious Bettie Page," and the very first rumblings of a "Fantastic Four" sequel release date.

""The Fantastic Four 2" (Twentieth Century Fox): Despite being one of the worst reviewed movies of the year, this summer’s superheroes will return thanks to huge box office. Look for the sequel to open July 4, 2007

"The Notorious Bettie Page" (Picturehouse): Gretchen Mol stars as the titular 1950s pinup in this bio-pic from the director of "American Psycho," now opening in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco on April 14

"Flight 93" (Universal Pictures): Paul Greengrass’s real-time drama about the passengers of the hijacked 9/11 plane which eventually crashed in a Pennsylvania field will open in theatres April 28

And MPAA-wise, here’s a few nuggets:

"Bloodrayne" (Romar Releasing): R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity

"Bambi II" (Buena Vista Home Entertainment): G

"Aeon Flux"
(Paramount Pictures): PG-13 for sequences of violence and sexual content

"The Producers" (Universal Pictures): PG-13 for sexual humor and references

"Stuart Little 3: Call Of The Wild" (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): G"

Check out Filmjerk’s weekly Early Report for a lot more of the early scoop.

FilmJerk.com’s Early Report delivers an all-new handful of MPAA decisions, release date alterations, and screen count updates … and it looks like those of you dying to see that Project: Greenlight horror flick may have to wait a little longer.

"The Producers: The Movie Musical" (Universal Pictures): The big screen adaptation of Mel Brooks‘ Tony Award winning musical adaptation of his 1968 comedy film will now open in limited release on December 16 before expanding nationwide on January 13

"Munich" (Universal Pictures): Steven Spielberg‘s drama about a Mossad agent who hunts down those responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre will now open in 500 theatres on December 13 before expanding into 1800 theatres nationwide on January 6

"Slither" (Universal Pictures): James Gunn, the screenwriter who brought us "Tromeo and Juliet," the "Dawn of the Dead" remake and the "Scooby Doo" movies, makes his directorial debut with this horror film, now set to open in theatres March 31

"Feast" (Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company): The latest Project Greenlight film, a horror film directed by the son of B-movie icon Clu Gulager, has been delayed from its January 20 release. No new release date has been set"

To keep up-to-date on all the newest changes, be sure to check out FJ’s Early Report at the start of the week!

The smash-hit Broadway musical that was based on a cult-classic Mel Brooks comedy … is now a movie again! This December sees the release of the all-new "The Producers," a musical comedy with an all-star cast and a first-time movie director. See the international trailer right here!

Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, and Will Ferrell star in the highly anticipated comedy/musical, which is based on the Tony Award-winning production of the same name. It’s the story of two scheming stage producers who hatch a plan to create the world’s biggest Broadway flop — a project that would hopefully prove more profitable than a hit ever would.

Although she’s new to feature films, director Susan Stroman is the very definition of a celebrated director. She’s won 5 Tonys, 5 Drama Desk Awards, and about two dozen others accolades.

Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, the all-new "Producers" hits theaters on December 23rd.

Uma Thurman ("Kill Bill") will play the role of Ulla, the Swedish secretary, in the new film version of "The Producers," the New York Post’s Page Six reports. Nicole Kidman was the first choice of Mel Brooks, but she backed out, and Charlize Theron was also reportedly considered. The film stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, and will begin filming in February.

Citing a scheduling conflict, Nicole Kidman has bowed out of Mel Brooks’ big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical "The Producers." Her rep tells Variety that she "wouldn’t have enough time to rehearse the intricate song and dance routines in ‘The Producers‘ before she heads into her next film, the Oz-set ‘Eucalyptus,’ opposite fellow Aussies Russell Crowe and Geoffrey Rush." In the movie, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprise their roles as the shady producer and accountant, respectively, who try to defraud investors by putting on a show about Hitler, hoping it will bomb with the audience so they can pocket the extra cash. Kidman was to play their Swedish bombshell secretary. She is currently filming "Bewitched," the film adaptation of a 1960 sitcom about an actor who enlists a witch to play his on-screen wife.

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