In this week’s Ketchup, cinema appears to not be a profitable business, we get a first look at the new Spock, and Michael Bay prepares to fake out the Transformers fanboys. Also, Toy Story 3 and other Pixar projects are confirmed, and Dragon Ball has its leads.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

This Just In: Movies Don’t Make Money

In marked contrast to the music business, which has spent the last seven years dealing with declining profits and assorted bad news, the 21st century has seen the film industry repeatedly setting new records for ticket receipts. The movie biz is healthy, right?

First Pictures of Zachary Quinto as Young Spock!
Say, none of you Star Trek fans would be interested in getting an early look at Zachary Quinto as Spock, would you?

Bay Prepares to Fake Out Transformers Fanboys

Michael Bay went through the wringer with the fanboys on Transformers. He addressed every concern — early designs, scripts, remaining faithful to the source material — and delivered a movie that won over most audiences, grossing nearly $320 million in America alone. But with Transformers 2 in development, Bay isn’t taking any more lip service.

Lasseter Confirms Toy Story 3 and Upcoming Pixar Projects

John Lasseter usually doesn’t reveal anything about upcoming Pixar projects. Even though Toy Story 3 has been a known project ever since Disney threatened to make it without Pixar, Lasseter always dodges it. Finally, Lasseter has once-and-for-all confirmed it and discussed turning over the original Pixar property to a new(ish) director.

Live-Action Dragon Ball Finds Its Leads
Brace yourselves, Dragon Ball fans. Twentieth Century Fox’s live-action adaptation of your beloved manga has cast its leads, and some of you are about to start screaming bloody murder.


Get ready for some exciting new clues… or not.

In Other News:

  • Kevin Dillon is set to star alongside Emma Roberts, Don Cheadle and Lisa Kudrow in DreamWorks’ live-action film Hotel for Dogs.
  • Robert Duvall has joined Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in the cast of the holiday comedy Four Christmases.
  • Matt Gerald has been cast as the lead villain in James Cameron‘s sci-fi action-adventure Avatar, set to begin filming this month.
  • New Line has hired Neil LaBute to write and Taylor Hackford to direct The Woman Next Door, a remake of the 1981 François Truffaut film La Femme D’A Côté.
  • Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Zoe Bell have joined the cast of Lionsgate’s untitled sci-fi action-thriller from Crank writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
  • Summit Entertainment is planning a remake of the Korean thriller Seven Days, with the Korean film’s production team to contribute to the remake.
  • Alden Ehrenreich will star with Maribel Verdu in Francis Ford Coppola‘s family drama Tetro.
  • Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Bartha are set to star as drug-dealing Hasidic Jews in Kevin Asch’s comic drama Holy Rollers.
  • John C. Reilly will play the lead vampire role in Cirque du Freak for director Paul Weitz, based on the bestselling children’s series by Darren Shan.
  • Shawn Levy will to direct and produce the dramedy Father Figure at Fox 2000, based on a screenplay by Mark Friedman.
  • Kathryn Hahn has been cast opposite Jeremy Piven in Paramount Vantage’s The Goods: The Don Ready Story for director Neal Brennan.
  • Kristen Stewart has signed on to star in Summit Entertainment’s thriller-romance Twilight, based on Stephenie Meyer’s young-adult novel.
  • Katherine Heigl will star in the battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy The Ugly Truth with Robert Luketic directing for Lakeshore Entertainment.

  • After Walking Hard, he’ll bite.

    Moviegoers will have plenty to choose from over the long Christmas holiday weekend as four new star-driven wide releases hit the marketplace adding to an already crowded marquee.

    The Ben Stiller fantasy pic "Night at the Museum" leads the way as the frame’s only new comedy while the Matthew McConaughey football drama "We Are Marshall" offers an inspirational story based on true events. Meanwhile, a pair of Italian Stallions hop into the director’s chair as Sylvester Stallone‘s boxing drama "Rocky Balboa" and Robert De Niro‘s espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" offer even more choices to holiday moviegoers. As is typical of this time of year, Christmas Eve will hurt the box office on Sunday as last-minute shopping and early theater closings will take their toll. But the Monday holiday will see a major recovery since Christmas Day brings forth a surge in traffic to the multiplexes.

    Blasting into nearly 3,700 theaters including 72 Imax venues is the comedy "Night at the Museum" which finds Ben Stiller playing the new night watchman at New York’s Museum of Natural History where all the artifacts and statues come to life each night. Director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "The Pink Panther") leaves behind Steve Martin to work with a younger funnyman and more special effects. The PG-rated film is aiming for broad audiences hoping to bring in entire families looking for a fun time this holiday season. "Museum" also plans to score with teens and young adults as the only major comedy option for them. With "The Holiday" being the only other laugher in the top ten to register with that lucrative group, look for a solid response.

    Stiller brings considerable starpower to the film but he also gets backup from comedians like Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. Plus with the prestigious ‘and’ credit already claimed by Williams, Owen Wilson takes a sizable supporting role but is so cool that he is nowhere to be found in the credits at all. Audiences want happy and funny films during the Christmas holidays and "Night at the Museum" should post muscular numbers thanks to its starpower, lack of comedy competition, mild rating, and formidable marketing and distribution push. Fox looks to close up the books on 2006 by taking over the number one spot this weekend. Attacking 3,688 locations, "Night at the Museum" could debut to about $34M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday period.

    Ben Stiller in "Night at the Museum."

    Sylvester Stallone brings the eye of the tiger back to the multiplexes one last time in "Rocky Balboa" which got a jumpstart on the holiday weekend with its Wednesday launch. The MGM release brings the iconic boxer back to the screen in what is supposedly the end of the franchise with Stallone back in the saddle as writer and director. In this tale, Rocky is brought back into the ring when media hype prompts fans to wonder who the best boxer is of all time. The underdog story on screen mirrored the one within industry circles. How could a franchise that died 16 years ago with the poorly-received "Rocky V" find its way back into the hearts of today’s moviegoers. MGM and the "Judge Dredd" star moved forward. Today, they proudly claim one of the best reviewed films of the Christmas season and the Wednesday bow is being counted on to get die-hard fans out early so they can spread positive buzz at work and in school going into the lucrative yet overcrowded weekend period.

    With so many other films in the marketplace, and plenty with PG or G ratings aimed at luring in full families, "Rocky Balboa" will have to take its time at the box office as many moviegoers may need some convincing before spending money on the followup to the Tommy Gunn flick. Older adults are the ones who remember the excitement of the franchise, but the studio is hoping they could bring their kids with them for an uplifting tale that makes you feel good inside. "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "We Are Marshall" will be direct competitors in the feel-good genre and the latter will steal away many sports fans too. "Balboa" will have to rely on nostalgia and good word-of-mouth to carry it through round after round. Already playing in 2,752 theaters and adding more locations on Friday, "Rocky Balboa" may gross about $16M over four days and around $21M over six days.


    Stallone is back for one more round in "Rocky Balboa."

    For football fans this holiday weekend, Warner Bros. trots out another pigskin drama with "We Are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, and David Strathairn. The PG-rated film tells the true story of the football program at Marshall University in West Virginia which had to be rebuilt from scratch after a plane crash killed most of the players and coaches. Hollywood seems to have an endless line-up of sports dramas these days and since most of them become commercial successes, it’s no wonder that they keep getting churned out. Just a few months ago, moviegoers powered the football flicks "Invincible" and "Gridiron Gang" to the number one spot with bows of $17M and $14.4M, respectively. "Marshall" should play to much of the same audience and with its underdog feel-good story, the time of year will help since people are in the mood for that type of emotion.

    Reviews have not been too good, but that should not matter much. "We Are Marshall" is meant for sports fans and those who love stories about overcoming adversity, regardless of how predictable they may be. Sales from the heartland should be solid and with the tame rating, entire families can come out together. Plus McConaughey is a reliable draw at the box office and is believable as a quirky football coach. Still, competition will be strong and coming from all directions so a blowout will not be possible. Opening in 2,606 theaters, "We Are Marshall" could score about $14M over the Friday-to-Monday frame.


    They are Marshall.

    Countering the parade of PG flicks is the R-rated CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" directed by Robert De Niro. The Universal release stars Matt Damon as Edward Wilson, a loyal government agent who helped to create the agency during the Cold War. Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, John Turturro, and De Niro also star. "Shepherd" boasts solid starpower which could help the film have broad appeal. The subject matter appeals to the 30+ crowd, but Damon and Jolie should help to pull in twentysomethings. Teens and ethnic audiences will have minimal interest. Critics have been mixed on the film which could impact the overall turnout.

    The last few months have not been kind to star-driven period dramas aimed at adult audiences. Pictures like "Hollywoodland," "All the King’s Men," and "Bobby" have all struggled to find paying audiences with none reaching the $15M mark in total sales. "Shepherd’s" cast is what will allow it to rise above those failures. But the fight for the attention and time of mature adults will be fierce and a running time of nearly three hours will allow for one less showtime per day on every screen further cutting into its commercial potential. Infiltrating 2,217 locations, "The Good Shepherd" might capture around $13M over four days.


    Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin in "The Good Shepherd."

    With the calendar year coming to a close, things continue to get crowded in the specialty arena this weekend. Clint Eastwood‘s award-winning war drama "Letters From Iwo Jima" debuted on Wednesday in limited release ahead of a January expansion similar to what Warner Bros. did two years ago with the director’s "Million Dollar Baby" which went on to reign at the Oscars. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts star in the period romance "The Painted Veil" from Warner Independent which also platformed on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. Thursday brings the limited launches of Miramax’s "Venus" starring Golden Globe nominee Peter O’Toole and the Chinese period drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" from Sony Classics which stars Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat.


    Zhang Yimou’s "Curse of the Golden Flower."

    Last weekend, Will Smith scored a number one hit with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which continues to please audiences. Overall moviegoing should increase over the holiday weekend, but more choices for adult audiences will give Sony some competition. "Pursuit’s" four-day take could drop 25% from its three-day debut gross giving the film about $20M and a cume of $58M after 11 days.

    As a sci-fi actioner, Fox’s "Eragon" is likely to see one of the largest drops in the top ten. The dragon adventure might fall by 35% to around $15M over the four-day session leaving the studio with $46M.

    Kidpics score big points over Christmas so "Charlotte’s Web" might see many of those fans who skipped out last weekend actually show up this time. The Paramount release’s four-day tally may slip 10% from its three-day bow and bring in roughly $10M. That would give the family film a total of $27M after 11 days.

    LAST YEAR: With Christmas falling on a Sunday, the observed holiday on Monday gave the box office an expanded four-day holiday frame allowing the mega holdovers to repeat atop the charts. "King Kong" spent its second weekend at number one and grossed $33.3M over four days and was closely followed by "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $31.7M in its third adventure. The combined haul for the pair soared to $285M with much more still to come. Newcomers rounded out the top five with Jim Carrey defeating Steve Martin in the battle of the comedies. Sony’s "Fun With Dick and Jane" opened in third with $21.5M over four days while Fox’s sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" settled for fourth with $15.3M. Final tallies reached $110.3M and $82.6M, respectively. Sony also claimed fifth with "Memoirs of a Geisha" which expanded nationally and took in $10.2M over the long weekend. Also opening were Fox Searchlight’s Johnny Knoxville comedy "The Ringer" with $7.7M over four days, the Jennifer Aniston pic "Rumor Has It" with $7.5M in two days for Warner Bros., and Universal’s "Munich" with $6M in four days. The films went on to reach $35.4M, $43M, and $47.4M respectively. The debuting horror pic "Wolf Creek" opened outside the top ten with $4.9M in two days on its way to $16.2M.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

    Four new films open wide, but they may not be enough to stop the North American box office from suffering its third consecutive down weekend.

    Leading the way is the Paramount sequel "Jackass: Number Two" which will enjoy the widest release by far. The rest of the films will take moviegoers back in time just as so many other recent releases have done. Focus Features unleashes Jet Li‘s martial arts epic "Fearless," MGM takes off with the World War I adventure "Flyboys," and Sony remakes the political thriller "All the King’s Men."

    Four years ago, Paramount shocked the industry with the number one bow for its crude stunts flick "Jackass: The Movie" which managed to keep "The Ring" out of the top spot on the weekend right before Halloween. Its $22.8M debut and eventual $64.3M domestic take and DVD success helped to bring about a sequel, "Jackass: Number Two" which hopes to conquer the charts once again. The R-rated pic regroups the team from the hit MTV reality series including Johnny Knoxville and finds them taking part in another series of outlandish don’t-try-this-at-home antics. Males in their late teens and early twenties are the target audience here although slightly older guys who were devoted followers a half-decade ago might also be up for some nostalgia.

    The first "Jackass" bowed to a muscular $9,073 average from 2,509 playdates which at today’s ticket prices would be over $10,000. "Number Two" is not likely to match that amount though. A wider launch will dilute the average a bit and the franchise has aged and is no longer at the peak of its popularity. But since Knoxville has found more mainstream success recently with films like "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "The Ringer," the studio is hoping that some new fans will give "Two" a try. Competition for males will be fierce with last weekend’s top film "Gridiron Gang" still playing to sports-loving boys and men while Jet Li’s new film "Fearless" will
    steal away dudes who dig martial arts fighting, bones cracking, and necks breaking. Male dollars will be stretched to the limit this weekend and an already sluggish marketplace will mean that there will only be so much overall traffic. Busting into over 3,000 theaters, "Jackass: Number Two" will rank number one and may open with around $23M.


    Mr. Knoxville and co. are back to cheat death and reason.

    Also gunning for young men with R-rated fare is Focus Features with the historical martial arts actioner "Fearless" starring Jet Li. Already a hit at cinemas in Asia, Australia, and parts of Europe, the period pic tells the true story of a legendary fighter who inspired his nation in China at the start of the twentieth century. With a bigger star in the lead, "Fearless" is sure to perform better than Tony Jaa‘s Thai actioner "The Protector" which bowed to just $5M two weeks earlier. Li has a consistently loyal fan following that is likely to turn out especially since the marketing campaign is pushing the claim that this is his final martial arts film ever. This tactic gives the pic a level of urgency, although it should not mean much to those outside of his fan base. Crossover potential to mainstream action fans is not very likely, though the actor’s pull with urban males should not be underestimated.

    Still, Li has posted some impressive numbers in his career. Each of his six films from this decade has launched with an opening weekend average of at least $5,500 with five having averaged more than $6,000. His last effort "Unleashed" bowed last summer to $10.9M and a solid $5,570 average while 2004’s Chinese blockbuster "Hero" conquered the North American charts for two straight weeks bowing to an impressive $18M and $8,865 average. Foreign language films pretty much never do that in the U.S. market. "Fearless" will not duplicate the success of "Hero" which used the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" tag to attract extra biz. Plus with "Jackass" taking away many young men this weekend, only the true followers will make it out. But reviews have been very positive (the best for any new
    release) and advance buzz from overseas has been encouraging too. Kicking its way into roughly 1,806 theaters, "Fearless" might debut to about $9M.


    Jet Li inviting us to his last Martial Arts flick.

    World War I bi-planes are the draw in "Flyboys," a new historical action adventure being released by MGM. The PG-13 film stars James Franco as a courageous American pilot in France who devotes his life to fighting for the Allies. With a high pricetag and no proven stars that can sell in America, this is yet another risky period film packed into the slow month of September. The "inspired by a true story" description used by half of the films in the current top ten is once again in play here. With sex and bad language kept to a minimum, "Flyboys" hopes to appeal to a broad family audience so adults can bring their kids. However, the starpower and subject matter are both lacking making this a tough sell at the box office especially since the marketplace is already filled with mediocre product. Zooming into 2,033 theaters, "Flyboys" might climb to around $7M over the weekend.


    The real star of "Flyboys": the CGI.

    After taking a beating at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sony’s remake "All the King’s Men" enters the marketplace on Friday with more subdued expectations. The PG-13 reworking of the classic 1949 political thriller stars Sean Penn as a charismatic politician from the South who gains power and flirts with corruption in the process. The all-star cast also includes Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo, and James Gandolfini. Distributors often utilize the Toronto fest to generate buzz for their Oscar contenders right before their fall commercial openings, but in this case, it seemed to have backfired with so many reviewers panning the pic. "Men" should play exclusively to a mature adult audience as teens will yawn at the premise. The marketplace has been flooded with period dramas in recent weeks with "The Black Dahlia," "Hollywoodland," and "The Illusionist" all going after the same audience. Competition will be a major factor.

    Sony is not giving its usual saturation release to "King’s Men," but instead campaigning in just 1,514 theaters this weekend hoping some positive buzz will spread. The lack of screens will keep the gross in check and the bad reviews should sting even more. Last weekend, "Dahlia" found out the hard way how far a serious film for adults can go when the critics give a thumbs down. The film’s starpower is about its only major asset right now, but will it be enough to make moviegoers risk their dollars? With negative press, an abundance of direct competition, and only a moderate amount of theaters, "All the King’s Men" could find itself with only $7M this weekend and a rocky road ahead.


    Sean Penn’s politician wins over his constituents, but not the critics.

    In limited release, The Weinstein Co. unleashes its horror flick "Feast" in 140 theaters with special midnight shows across the country on Friday and Saturday. The latest winner from the Project Greenlight series is directed by John Gulager and finds a group of people trapped inside a bar fighting off flesh-eating creatures. Filmmaker Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") returns to the surreal with "The Science of Sleep," a new fantasy drama starring Gael García Bernal ("The Motorcycle Diaries") as a man whose dreams collide with reality. Warner Independent is opening the film on Friday in eight major U.S. markets and will expand it across the country next weekend. Miramax platforms its futuristic sci-fi toon "Renaissance" in New York and Los Angeles. Set in Paris in the year
    2054, the R-rated tale is the latest film to bring the look of a graphic novel to the big screen.

    Last weekend’s top film "Gridiron Gang" is sure to lose its first place ranking. The Rock‘s films never have very good legs on the second weekend as evidenced by the sophomore declines of his recent films – 48% for 2003’s "The Rundown," 46% for 2004’s "Walking Tall," and a horrendous 73% for last fall’s "Doom." While "Gang" was not a favorite with critics, it has been getting favorable responses from moviegoers so its drop this weekend may not be too bad. Competition for young males will be a factor with the dueling R pics "Jackass" and "Fearless," but younger boys may still be up for an uplifting football tale. "Gridiron Gang" might see a decline of 45% to around $8M giving Sony a reasonable ten-day cume of $25M.

    Universal’s murder mystery "The Black Dahlia" was not too powerful in its opening last weekend and both critics and moviegoers are giving negative feedback. A 50% fall would leave the Brian De Palma flick with $5M for the frame and a weak $18M after ten days.

    LAST YEAR: One A-list Hollywood blonde replaced another at the top of the charts. Jodie Foster‘s kidnapping thriller "Flightplan" flew to number one opening with a strong $24.6M. The Buena Vista release went on to gross $89.7M making it the top-grossing film in the September-October corridor for 2005. In second place, Warner Bros. expanded its animated film "Corpse Bride" nationally taking in $19.1M. The Tim BurtonJohnny Depp collaboration found its way to $53.4M. Reese Witherspoon fell from first to third with her comedy "Just Like Heaven" which collected $9.6M. Opening in fourth place with moderate results was the skating drama "Roll Bounce" which bowed to $7.6M on its way to $17.4M from less than 1,700 theaters. Close behind in fifth was the hit thriller "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" with $7.5M in its third round.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

    This week at the movies, we’ve got antisocial behavior ("Jackass: Number Two," with Johnny Knoxville and the gang), hell-raising politicos ("All The King’s Men," starring Sean Penn), fearless warriors ("Fearless," starring Jet Li), and flying aces ("Flyboys," starring James Franco). What do the critics have to say?

    For some, the perilous, grotesque antics of the "Jackass" posse offer inarguable proof of America’s cultural decline, if not a bellwether of the Apocalypse. For others (Critical Consensus included)… well, what can I say? Wasabi snooters? Off-road tattoo? Gets me every time. Now, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O and the rest are back with "Jackass: Number Two," a film that promises to be as puerile as its title. But guess what? It’s getting pretty good reviews! The critics say this latest collection of stoopid stunts and bad behavior maintains a certain warped integrity in addition to its sophomoric laughs. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Jackass" may be worth a ride, provided you can stomach this stuff. And it’s better-reviewed than its predecessor (49 percent).


    I want those #&^%@* snakes out of this #&^%@* ball crawl!

    "All The King’s Men" has everything that makes for a compelling movie. It’s got a great cast (Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Anthony Hopkins, among others). It’s based on a great novel (by Robert Penn Warren). It’s got great cinematography. Unfortunately, critics say, the superlatives end there. Loosely based on the life of populist Louisiana Governor Huey "The Kingfish" Long, "All The King’s Men" tells the story of a small town rabble-rouser’s ascent in politics and descent into shady morality. Critics say the film is too bombastic to work, with too many vague characters and an over-the-top performance from Penn. The film received a muted reception in Toronto; it currently stands at 15 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s well below the 1949 Oscar-winning original film (94 percent).


    Sean Penn makes Howard Dean seem pretty chill.

    Jet Li has come to personify a specific film subgenre: the historical martial arts epic. "Hero" and the "Once Upon a Time in China" movies were marked by sweeping visuals and Li’s remarkable athleticism. But the star says he’s no longer making that type of picture; if that’s the case, critics say "Fearless" makes for one heck of a swan song. The film tells the tale of a great martial arts master who looks inward after succumbing to his own ego and the murder of his family. The scribes say "Fearless" is quite a show, with remarkable action sequences and an interesting philosophical undercurrent. "Fearless" is currently at 70 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s Li’s third consecutive fresh American release, following "Unleashed" (68 percent) and "Hero" (94 percent).


    "Fearless": I had no idea people wore baseball hats in China in the early 1900s!

    "Flyboys" tells an old-fashioned tale of courage and heroism with the latest in CG technology; unfortunately, critics say, the technology ends up overshadowing everything else. The film tells the story of a group of Americans who volunteered to fly in WWI alongside the French. According to the critics, "Paths of Glory" this ain’t; they note that the CG effects are excellent, and the dogfights are exciting, but the story and the characters are far less involving. At 37 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flyboys" doesn’t soar.


    "And another thing… None of you better be making any wisecracks about ‘The Pink Panther!’"

    Also in theaters this week in limited release: "American Hardcore," a documentary about the life and death of the louder-faster punk rock style, is at 100 percent; "The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros," a coming of age tale set in Manila, is at 100 percent; "Jesus Camp," a documentary about evangelical Christian campers, is at 93 percent; "Old Joy," a meditative tale of eroding friendship starring indie darling Will Oldham, is at 88 percent; "Solo Con Tu Pareja," the debut of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" helmer Alfonso Cuaron, is at 80 percent; "The Science of Sleep," Michel Gondry‘s latest head trip starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, is at 69 percent; the "Project Greenlight"- approved horror flick "Feast" is at 57 percent; and "Renaissance," a visually remarkable French noir, is at 50 percent.


    "I wish I could be as carefree and wild/ But I got cat class and I got cat style."

    Recent Johnny Knoxville Movies:
    —————————————–
    41% — The Ringer (2005)
    0% — Daltry Calhoun (2005)
    15% — The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
    54% — Lords of Dogtown (2005)
    52% — A Dirty Shame (2004)

    Recent Jet Li Movies:
    —————————–
    68% — Unleashed (2005)
    94% — Hero (2004)
    26% — Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
    14% — The One (2001)
    49% — Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

    Recent Dean Deviln-Produced Movies:
    ————————————————-
    90% — Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)
    54% — Cellular (2004)
    47% — Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
    61% — The Patriot (2000)
    25% — Godzilla (1998)

    Katherine Heigl, best known for her current work on TV’s "Grey’s Anatomy," will step into Judd Apatow‘s "Knocked Up," replacing former leading lady Anne Hathaway, who bailed on the flick due to "creative differences."

    Hollywood Reporter: "Katherine Heigl is set to star opposite Seth Rogen in Universal Pictures’ "Knocked Up," Judd Apatow’s follow-up to "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Apatow, who wrote the script and is directing, produces with Shauna Robertson and Clayton Townsend. The story centers on the unexpected pregnancy and other consequences of a man’s one-night stand. Heigl steps into the role vacated by Anne Hathaway, who left because of creative reasons."

    Ms. Heigl has also appeared in "The Ringer," "Valentine," and a whole lot of other bad movies.

    OK, so "King Kong" didn’t exactly storm out of the gates following its release last Wednesday, but the lovestruck gorilla enjoyed a rather impressive 3-day weekend all the same. The monkey’s mega-movie grabbed just over $50 million over the weekend, giving it a total tally of $66.2 million from over 3,500 screens.

    Variety‘s Ben Fritz sums up the Kong-quest rather nicely: "The big ape is already catching a second wind.

    Swinging to a respectable weekend after a weaker-than-expected start on Wednesday, "King Kong" grossed $50.1 million Friday-Sunday; five-day cume was $66.2 million. "King Kong" averaged $14,055 per play at 3,568 locations.

    Universal is pinning its hopes on "Kong’s" strongest stat: a 40% jump from Friday to Saturday. That’s significantly better than any of the "Lord of the Rings" pics, all of which also opened Wednesday a week before Christmas.

    "This movie is setting its own pattern," asserted Marc Shmuger, U vice chairman in charge of worldwide marketing and distribution. "It’s a new one for those of us in the business and who study it. Who knows where it could go?""

    Pulling in at second place, with a pretty impressive $31.1m second weekend, is Disney’s "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which has now earned $112.5m from the moviegoers. Third place went to the newly-arrived ensemble comedy "The Family Stone," which netted $12.7m from 2,400 theaters.

    Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of old pals: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" ($5.9m, $252.5m total) and "Syriana" ($5.4m, $22.3m total).

    Next week sees the arrival of five new wide releases: "Fun with Dick and Jane" and "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" on Wednesday, "The Ringer" on Friday, and "Rumor Has It" and "Wolf Creek" on Sunday … which means there will be a little for something for everyone at the multiplexes.

    As always, you can check out a closer look at the weekend numbers by visiting the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

    Who knew that when a RT Forums thread popped up last month — drawing suspiciously eerie parallels between upcoming Johnny Knoxville flick, "The Ringer," and a recent Special Olympics episode of "South Park" — our boards would spawn the beginnings of a national media war between "Ringer" scribe Ricky Blitt and "South Park" creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

    When the promos first came out for "The Ringer," we thought there was something familiar in the story of a man who pretends he’s mentally disabled in order to win the Special Olympics…because last season on "South Park" episode "Up the Down Steroid," little Eric Cartman did the very same thing. When it was suggested on the RT Forums that Parker and Stone should sue the writer of "The Ringer" for copyright infringement, it was only a matter of time before Ricky Blitt spoke up not only to defend himself, but to claim the Special Olympics idea was his — and that Parker and Stone were the intellectual property thieves. Click here to read Blitt’s postings.

    The "South Park" guys, of course, insist they’ve never heard of Blitts, let alone pilfered his idea. But in his posts, Blitt tells a different story: that back in 1999, the comedy writer pitched his fake-retard-cons-Special Olympics story to Parker and Stone’s production company (through a third party producer), although he ended up going forward with the Farrelly brothers (resulting in "The Ringer"). Blitt backs his claims with some evidence, as it does appear his idea was in studio development since at least 2000, with the "South Park" episode airing in 2004.

    As promised in his RT posts, Blitt went nationwide with his claims this week with articles in Entertainment Weekly and Variety. "Ringer" producer Peter Farrelly has also chimed in, calling Parker and Stone "creepy" just for airing the Special Olympics storyline knowing that "The Ringer" was forthcoming. They, for the record, have adamantly denied copying Blitt’s idea and chalk the story similarities up to different people having the same idea at the same time.

    Fox Searchlight will release "The Ringer" nationwide December 23.

    While the concept might sound more than a little tacky (a con man poses as a mentally handicapped man to defraud the Special Olympics), the officials for the actual games find no problem and take no offense with "The Ringer," the new Johnny Knoxville comedy set for release on December 23rd.

    As reported by Variety: "The trickiest end-of-the-year marketing campaign isn’t for an Oscar contender.

    Fox SearchlightFox Searchlight faces a daunting marketing challenge with the long-simmering Farrelly brothers laffer "The Ringer," a feel-good comedy about … a guy pretending to be mentally challenged to enter the Special Olympics.

    Pic, which stars Johnny Knoxville and is directed by Barry Blaustein, hits theaters the Friday before Christmas amid all the year-end kudos heavyweights.

    As with most pics in the Farrelly ouevre, auds can expect the usual quotient of suggestive quips and bawdy behavior. But Searchlight also promises a comedy that’s uplifting as well, and has been playing up the pic’s endorsement by the Special Olympics.

    That org’s Web site exhorts viewers to "grab your popcorn and head to your local theater" to see "The Ringer," which it describes as "off-the-wall, irreverently indelicate and yet … inspirational."

    It’s not the first time the Farrellys have trod down this path, having dealt with the intellectually and physically challenged in "Dumb and Dumber," "There’s Something About Mary" and "Shallow Hal." Still, the biggest affliction in the most recent Farrelly production, "Fever Pitch," was being a fan of the Boston Red Sox.

    Special Olympics spokeswoman Kirsten Suto says the org endorsed "The Ringer" to help dispel negative stereotypes, particularly among young people. "We’re working hand-in-glove with Fox Searchlight," she adds."

    Interested in seeing a movie in which Johnny Knoxville poses as a handicapped person so he can scam the Special Olympics? Then be sure to check out the all-new trailer for "The Ringer," which is accessible right here.

    "When Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) finds himself running dead last in the corporate rat race, he sinks to an all time low…he attempts to rig the Special Olympics by pretending to be intellectually challenged. But, Barker is completely out-classed by his fellow Olympians, who are not only better athletes; they’re just plain better people. And they’re on to him. But rather than rat-out the rat, they join forces with him to once and for all beat Jimmy, the cocky reigning champion of the annual games. With a work-out regime uniquely their own, they train Barker to go for the gold and, in the process, show him what’s at the heart of a true winner."

    Penned by "Family Guy" writer Ricky Blitt, co-produced by the Farrelly Brothers, and directed by Barry Blaustein ("Beyond the Mat"), "The Ringer" is currently scheduled for release on "TBD," which means your guess is as good as Fox Searchlight’s.

    The funky fresh movie website Latino Review was wise enough to send a correspondent over to ShoWest, and he returned with a truckload of slick new posters. Among the brand spankin’ new one-sheets you’ll find "Aeon Flux," "The Legend of Zorro," "The Skeleton Key," "A Scanner Darkly," "The Ringer," and a a whole bunch more. Check out the impending marketing artwork by clicking here.

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