This week, with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor hitting theaters, we thought it would be a great time to take a close look at the filmography of star Jet Li, one of the most dynamic and successful martial arts performers of recent years.

Born in Beijing, Li Lianjie was wushu champion at an absurdly young age (he was dubbed “Jet” because of his quickness and power). Retiring from competition at 17, he utilized his formidable martial arts skills in a series of epic films based upon Chinese legends. But it isn’t just his athletic grace and power that has impressed audiences; Li exudes a hard-to-quantify stoicism and intensity in his performances that lend a greater level of emotional heft than your typical martial arts master. Although his Western films haven’t enjoyed the level of popularity he received in Hong Kong, he’s still a draw, as this year’s The Forbidden Kingdom proves. Without further ado, we present Li’s best-reviewed films.


more info…

10. Once Upon a Time in China 3
(1992, 67 percent)

The third time was definitely not the charm for this venerable series. Li is back as Wong Fei Hung, and this time he’s embroiled in a whole mess of drama: he’s participating in a brutal kung fu competition, he has to stop an assassination attempt on the president, and he has to keep a whole lotta gangsters from ripping him to shreds. Critics found OUATIC 3 to be a serious letdown after the dazzling inventiveness of the first two films, and some of that might have been because of on-set tensions; Li and director Tsui Hark, who had helmed the first two installments, acrimoniously parted ways after III (they’ve since made up). Still, even at the ebb of their collaboration, Hark’s visual flair and Li’s athletic prowess elevate III above most martial arts fare. The film has a “strong blend of humor, action and drama,” wrote Doug Pratt of DVDLaser.com.


more info…

9. The Defender
(1994, 71 percent)

The Defender (aka The Bodyguard from Beijing) found Li in a quasi-remake of The Bodyguard; it was a vehicle that allowed Li to put his skills to use in a contemporary setting after a long stretch of period epics (the movie kicked off Li’s “gun-fu” period). It also allowed him to show his softer, more romantic side. Directed by Corey Yuen, The Defender is the story of Allan (Li), an elite bodyguard who’s tasked with protecting Michelle, the mistress of a rich businessman, after she’s the only witness in a brutal mob slaying. At first, Michelle bristles at being sequestered in her apartment, but soon she comes to respect Allan’s efforts to keep her safe, and romance blossoms. The Defender is loaded with shootouts, double-crossings, and some wacky humor — and even if the critics may have found the plot a bit predictable, “All this is made up for by the sheer visceral pleasure of Jet Li’s charisma,” as James Rocchi of Netflix put it. Unfortunately, audiences weren’t as forgiving, as The Defender was one of Li’s first big flops in Hong Kong.


more info…

8. Fearless
(2006, 74 percent)

If, as Li has claimed, Fearless is indeed his last wushu epic, he went out with a bang. Directed by Ronny Yu and choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping, Fearless is loosely based upon the life of martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia (also the basis for the master in Fist of Legend). Set in the early 1900s, Fearless tells the story of how Huo became one of the most famous fighters in China — before his arrogance got the best of him. After a series of personal (and near fatal) hardships, Huo is nursed back to health by a kindly woman in a remote community; it’s there that he realizes that the noble martial arts he has studied have become corrupted by brutality; he seeks to make good on his early promise, clear his family’s name, and restore China to the forefront of fighting. Though the critics found Fearless less impressive than Li’s early 1990s epics, they still found plenty of emotional and spiritual heft in addition to several excellent action scenes. “The film is about more than complex stunts and breathtaking acrobatics,” wrote Forrest Harman of the Reno Journal-Gazette. “It’s about a man who learns the pitfalls of pride and becomes a national hero in the process. And it’s a good time at the movies.”



more info…

7. The Legend of the Swordsman
(1991, 75 percent)

The Legend of the Swordsman (also known as Swordsman II was Li’s highest-grossing Hong Kong film, and following the success of the Shaolin Temple series, it cemented his status as the king of the period martial arts epic. In this sequel to 1990’s Swordsman, Li steps into the role of Ling (played in the previous installment by Sam Hui), who is relocating his martial arts school to a remote mountain locale. However, he discovers that his friends, a group of female fighters, have been attacked, and Princess Yin-Yin (on whom he’s totally crushed out) has been kidnapped, by her evil uncle, who also has a scroll that outlines plenty of killer martial arts moves. Colorful, well-photographed, with a complex plot and plenty of gravity-defying fights, Legend of the Swordsman is considered a classic of the genre by many devotes. The movie contains “dazzling photography and equally dazzling fight scenes,” said Robert Roten of Laramie Movie Scope.



more info…

6. Twin Warriors
(1993, 83 percent)

The plot of Twin Warriors (also known as Tai Chi Master) may be as old as the hills, but it continued Li’s winning streak, thanks to its electric, nimble set pieces and the able support of fellow martial arts legend (and Tomb of the Dragon Emperor co-star) Michele Yeoh. Junbao (Li) and Tienbo (Chin Sui Ho) are close friends and fellow monks who are expelled from a Shaolin temple for their troublemaking ways. Soon, they’ve gone their separate ways; Tienbo has become a powerful, despotic military head, and Li, with help from Siu Lin (Yeoh) is engaged in an uprising against him. Like many of Li’s period martial arts extravaganzas from this period, Twin Warriors is both opulent and exhilarating, and features an absolutely bonkers finale in which Tienbo literally uses an army of thousands of extras as weapons against Junbao. “Nonstop action leads to furiously ingenious set pieces shot with the traditional wire harnesses and outlandish effects,” wrote Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle.



more info…

The Legend
(1993, 89 percent)

One good turn as a Chinese folk hero deserves another, so for 1993’s The Legend (or, if you prefer the original title, Fong Sai-yuk), Li suited up as — you guessed it — Fong Sai-yuk, the legendary 18th century hero. Tempering all the sweeping melodrama here is a plot that focuses on Fong’s younger years, when he was more concerned with loafing — and chasing after an illicit affair with the Manchu governor’s daughter — than concentrating on nobler pursuits. Fortunately, his mother is around to help keep him out of trouble; unfortunately, according to legend, his mom was such a formidable warrior that she regularly broke Fong’s bones in an effort to make him nearly invulnerable. Painful as that sounds, The Legend (which satirized the Once Upon a Time in China series) extended Li’s stellar track record at the box office, proving so successful that a sequel (titled, naturally, Fong Sai-yuk II) was produced in time to reach theaters the same year.

 


more info…

Once Upon a Time in China
(1991, 89 percent)

At once entertaining, culturally significant, and massively successful at the box office, Once Upon a Time in China helped kick off the resurgence of period martial arts movies that started in the 1990s, as well as spawning a franchise that saw Li play Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung repeatedly throughout the decade, starring in the series’ second, third, and sixth installments, as well as the spoofy spinoff Last Hero in China. Though criticized for straying into outlandish territory, Once Upon a Time nonetheless explores China’s early attempts to bridge the gap between tradition and modernization, examines social taboos, and — of course — contains more than a few terrific fight scenes. “Aided immeasurably by the acrobatic skills of its brilliant star, Once Upon A Time in China delivers the kinetic goods,” wrote Bilge Ebiri of Citysearch.


more info…

3. Once Upon a Time in China II
(1992, 93 percent)

Just a year after raking in healthy box-office receipts with Once Upon a Time in China, Li returned as the legendary Wong Fei Hung in the first sequel — and managed to outdo the first installment, grossing over $30 million during its Hong Kong theatrical run. Like the first chapter in the saga, Once Upon a Time in China II combines eye-popping martial arts action with a lesson in Chinese history; this time around, the storyline is based on events that transpired around the Boxer Rebellion that took place after the first Sino-Japanese War. Don’t worry, though — even if you slept through your world history courses, you’ll still be able to enjoy watching Li whoop copious amounts of bad guy butt (including HK superstar Donnie Yen). “More concentrated and svelte than its precursor, Once Upon a Time II also has the benefit of fights staged by Master Yuen Woo-Ping that show Jet Li — another camera-age hero — to even greater advantage,” wrote J. Hoberman of the Village Voice.

 


more info…

2. Hero
(2004, 95 percent)

Hero was a massive success in Hong Kong when it was released in December 2002, but that didn’t stop Miramax — the studio that held American rights to the film — from sitting on it for nearly two years, delaying its release six times. It took Quentin Tarantino‘s pull to get Hero into American theaters, and when it finally debuted in August 2004, it took the box office crown for the week, earning over $18 million and a spot among the highest-grossing foreign films in U.S. history. Critics enjoyed Hero almost as much as audiences, sending it to 95 percent on the Tomatometer — but their praise wasn’t quite universal. Though the movie’s visual beauty is impossible to deny, some have taken issue with what they see as a tacit approval of totalitarianism. Don’t care about politics? Not to worry — Hero comes equipped with enough wire-assisted fighting to slake your thirst for epic martial arts action. “The simple fact of the matter is this: Hero is the best martial arts movie I have ever seen,” wrote David Cornelius of Efilmcritic.com.



more info…

1. Fist of Legend
(1994, 100 percent)

Li was already an established star when he signed on for Fist of Legend — but still, it takes more than a little chutzpah to remake a classic like Bruce Lee‘s Fists of Fury. Fortunately, the results speak for themselves; at 100 percent on the Tomatometer, Legend is not only Li’s highest-rated film, but it’s entered the pantheon of established martial arts classics. And for good reason: Although there’s plenty of good old-fashioned action, the movie also makes room for a suitably twisty plot, as well as some important themes (including an updated take on the racism that fueled the original) and fight scenes so good that they convinced the Wachowski brothers to hire choreographer Yuen Woo-ping for The Matrix. It isn’t his highest-grossing film — in fact, it was something of a box-office disappointment — but any argument for Jet Li’s status as a martial arts movie superstar should begin with Fist of Legend. “[It’s] a marvel to watch,” wrote Ryan Cracknell of the Apollo Guide.


This week, we dispense with the news and cut to the chase to bring you two huge new gift sets timed perfectly for this summer’s Bat-mania. What will earn you more geek cred: whipping out the Batman flash drive or watching the Dark Knight prologue in high definition, awash in the glory of Blu-ray?


The Batman Begins Gift Set: It’s Christmas In July!

July 18 is right around the corner, which means you’ll soon see plenty of Batman merchandise coming your way (look for the animated Batman: Gotham Knight to hit shelves this week). But if you want a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel The Dark Knight, you can have it with the Batman Begins Limited Edition. Both the 2-Disc Standard and Single-disc Blu-ray releases feature the main attraction: a sneak peek at Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight! (Edit: The six-minute opening prologue originally screened in front of I Am Legend IMAX is only available on Blu-ray; a two-minute sneak peek accompanies the standard release.)

As a refresher, said prologue opens The Dark Knight with one of many sequences shot in IMAX: a full bank heist scene. We won’t spoil it here, but there are robbers with clown masks, plenty of double-crosses, and your first extended look at Heath Ledger‘s critically acclaimed performance as the Joker.

Each version also comes with its own set of goodies, so you have a choice to make. In the standard disc release, find five collectible postcards, printed key art, $7.50 towards seeing TDK in theaters, and a 128MB branded Batman flash drive. In the Blu-ray release, you’ll get lenticular 3-D art, a comic book adaptation of the TDK prologue, and a booklet detailing the making of the TDK prologue. Our advice: given the choice, opt for Blu-ray — if only to watch the TDK prologue in as close to its intended IMAX glory as possible.

Bat-alternatives: Make it a Mummy Week

But Batman’s not the only superhero making a push on DVD this week to build buzz for his summer adventure. Get a sneak peek at The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor before it hits theaters this August by picking up the newly restored The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns. (Those cheeky folks at Universal are also releasing a special edition of Boris Karloff‘s 1932 classic, The Mummy, with a handful of commentaries and featurettes by the likes of Rick Baker, a documentary on the legacy of the Mummy, and another doc about Universal monster movies narrated by Kenneth Branagh.)

In addition to their own respective bonus materials (a combination of previously released cast and crew commentaries, plus new storyboard-to-film comparisons and features) both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns include the three-minute Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek.

Here glimpse finished footage (seen in the trailer) and unfinished wire work and fight choreography from behind-the-scenes, as well as on-set snippets with director Rob Cohen, producer Stephen Sommers, and stars Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, and Michelle Yeoh. Both Mummys, the Boris Karloff version, and a new Collector’s Edition of Van Helsing also come with a free movie coupon to see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in theaters.

Click for this week’s new releases!

The Ruins

Tomatometer: 44%

Horror fans with green thumbs might be doubly delighted by this tale of four American coeds terrorized by — yup — killer plants high atop an ancient Mayan temple. With all the tired ghost stories, J-horror remakes, and psychopaths-with-knives in recent memory, homicidal vines and makeshift amputations in a gory R-rated flick like this are almost a breath of fresh air! But while The Ruins scored surprisingly high considering its genre, anyone but true horror mavens are likely to be turned off.

Bonus Features:

If The Ruins even remotely appeals to you, then opt for the Unrated Edition for gorier scares and an alternate ending (Duh duh duhhhhn!). Featurettes on the handsomely constructed ruins set, the killer vines effects, and a feature-length commentary provide insights into the making of a modern day horror film, and a taste of the classic exploitation films that influenced the filmmakers.

(Watch a deleted scene from The Ruins here.)

Stop-Loss

Tomatometer: 65%

Director Kimberly Peirce made her feature debut with the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry; nine years later, her long-awaited sophomore effort focuses on another hot-button issue: the military practice of returning soldiers to duty after their contract has ended. Theatrically, Stop-Loss made less than half of its $25 million budget, but critics agree that the film and its controversial topic deserve further discussion, one likely to be had in a second life on DVD.

Bonus Features:

In addition to a making-of featurette and a peek into the boot camp experience of star Ryan Phillippe and his fellow cast members, Peirce lends her thoughts to 11 deleted scenes and a feature commentary (with co-writer Mark Richard) that offers further insights into why she made Stop-Loss.

Superhero Movie

Tomatometer: 13%

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s another spoof movie, from the mind behind such previous spoofs as Scary Movie 4 and Scary Movie 3. This time, writer-director Craig Mazin serves up an unfunny cocktail of the expected lame pop culture jokes and genre gags that we all see coming as soon as each “Fill in the Blank” Movie is announced. Shockingly, even the participation of producer David Zucker (Airplane!) can’t make the sight of Leslie Nielsen dry-humping a corpse hilarious.

Bonus Features:

As if we needed more Superhero Movie, the DVD comes in an Extended Edition that also proclaims itself “Longer, Funnier, and More Outrageous.” We’re sure it’s longer; it may be even more outrageous. Just don’t count on it being funnier.

The Tracey Fragments

Tomatometer: 38%

Before she melted geek hearts the world over with her pregnant teenage one-liners, Ellen Page filmed this experimental Canadian indie by film and television vet (and sometimes-Degrassi director) Bruce McDonald. Watch her wander the streets of Toronto wearing a shower curtain, losing her mind and manipulating yours in the twisty, non-linear psychological drama.

Bonus Features:

Watch the making-of featurette (a film-school lesson in itself, considering McDonald combines non-linear storytelling, flashbacks, and literal fragments on the screen) and interviews with MacDonald and Page, plus entries from the Tracey Re:fragmented contest, where contestants could download and remix footage from the film with their own, or re-edit the film itself.

Jet Li’s Fearless: Unrated Director’s Cut

Tomatometer: 73%

Jet Li‘s “last” martial arts epic opened to modest success in 2006 and may already occupy a spot in your video collection, but there’s a new reason to seek it out this week on DVD: the Director’s Cut features 30 more minutes of footage, including scenes with Michelle Yeoh that were deleted from the original release cut. Li plays Huo Yuanjia, the real-life martial arts master who took on the world’s best fighters, helped revive the practice of wushu in turn-of-the-century China, and whose life gained mythological status long after his death.

Bonus Features:

Three versions of Ronny Yu‘s film come in the new release: the original U.S. theatrical cut (104 minutes), an internationally-released version (110 minutes), and the full director’s cut featuring scenes with Yeoh and Thai fighter Somluck Kansing (140 minutes).

Fastlane: The Complete Series

Tomatometer: 73%

If you were watching television in 2002, then you might remember the series Fastlane. If not, here’s the premise: two hotshot cops (Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy) are recruited to bring down bad guys in L.A. with the help of a smokin’ supervisor (Tiffani Thiessen) and a “candy store” of impounded cars, guns, and cash — Miami Vice meets The Fast and the Furious. With creator McG (Charlie’s Angels) to guide it, how could this show go wrong? (Cut to the end of Season One, when the show was cancelled. I guess huge car chases, elaborate sets, and over $2 million an episode was too rich for WB and Fox’s blood.)

Bonus Features:

The fact that Fastlane is available for the first time since airing is a bonus in itself. Watch all 22 episodes for their mix of hot bodies, fast rides, and pure adrenaline, plus see guest stars like Jay Mohr, Krista Allen, Ali Landry, Robert Forster, Bill Duke, Naomi Campbell, and Mischa Barton. Featurettes and bloopers are also included in the six-disc release.

‘Til next week, happy viewing!

Exciting announcements abound this week (Fearless Director’s Cut! A new Little Mermaid movie! Gossip Girl on DVD!) while Nicolas Cage’s treasure-hunting adventure sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, tops new releases.


Jet Li’s Extended Fearless Comes to Region 1!

Jet Li‘s “final” wu-shu epic — not to be confused with regular old action films and Hollywood fluff like The Forbidden Kingdom, in which he continues to star — was a modest success with American audiences when it opened in 2006. But the original cut, which featured an additional 35 minutes of footage and an entire subplot starring Michelle Yeoh, was never released in the U.S. ….until now! Universal has announced the July debut of Jet Li’s Fearless: The Director’s Cut, which will include the original theatrical, unrated, and 141-minute director’s cuts along with deleted scenes and a featurette. Look for the two-disc release this July 8.

More dirty hidden images headed our way…

Similarly exciting news, different demographic: they’re making a new Little Mermaid movie! Prequel tale The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning will hit shelves August 26 and tell the story of how Ariel — redhead, ocean princess, collector of whose-its and whatz-its galore — became the girl she was, before she turned into a dissatisfied, soul-trading teenager who longed to become human, get legs, find love, etc.

OMG, kids!

The best show you won’t admit to watching (unless you’re a fourteen-year-old girl, in which case it’s mandatory viewing) is coming to DVD this August! See what’s got the Facebook generation abuzz by checking out the soapy goings-on among the posh Manhattan private school crowd. Extra features slated for the 5-disc package include unaired scenes, a gag reel, featurettes, and a download of the first source novel, as read by Christina Ricci. Like we said, OMG!

OMFG, nerds!

Lastly, earning the exclamation “OMFG” is news that Criterion has moved forward with their long-awaited release of the most notorious film not currently available on DVD: Salo. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s anti-Fascist tale of moral and physical degradation was told in such graphic detail that the film was banned in many countries; out of print for years, DVDs of Salo had been going for hundreds of dollars in recent years. Criterion now shares details of the two-disc August release, which will include a documentary about the film, a documentary about the final scene, new interviews, and more.

Click for this week’s new releases!

National Treasure: Book of Secrets


Tomatometer: 32%

Audiences just can’t get enough of globe-hopping treasure hunters, can they? Nicolas Cage‘s sequel to 2004’s Indiana Jones-ripping National Treasure eclipsed the success of its predecessor and is set to continue the trend as it comes to DVD this week. Cage reprises his role as Ben Gates, who now must defend his great-great-grandfather’s reputation, kidnap the President, find a city of gold, and uncover the titular tome.

Bonus Features:

The two-disc release includes commentary by director Jon Turtletaub and John Voight, deleted scenes, and tons of featurettes. Perhaps one of them explains why Oscar-winner Helen Mirren signed on for a part as Mama Gates, Ben’s historian mother.

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead



Tomatometer: 60%

Horror master George A. Romero gambled on his own storied zombie franchise in his most recent horror film, shot largely with handheld cameras in a cinema verite style — which could have been called “The Blair Witch Zombie Project.” Shot documentary-style by a gaggle of college kids who find themselves documenting a zombie outbreak, Diary provides expected levels of gore and suspense, heavily tempered by Romero’s own political bent.

Bonus Features:

Bonus menu highlights are five user-submitted short films that won a place on the DVD.


Night of the Living Dead


Tomatometer: 95%

Romero’s first cult hit is also returning to DVD this week in an all-new restored and remastered cut. The 40th Anniversary release features cast and crew commentaries, the “Last Interview with Duane Jones,” a gallery of stills, a DVD-ROM screenplay, and more.


Strange Wilderness

Tomatometer: 00%

Giving the miserable thriller One Missed Call a run for its money as the worst-reviewed film of 2008 is this “comedy”; it’s got fewer reviews in and made far less money, but the Tomatometer remains the same: double zeroes! When the hosts of a nature show become desperate for ratings, they go into the wild in search of Bigfoot.

Bonus Features:

Will a full menu of deleted scenes and featurettes make this worth your while? We doubt it.


The Flock

Tomatometer: N/A

This Richard Gere starrer was slated for theatrical release once upon a time — and really, haven’t we seen plenty of terrible thrillers come and go already this year? (Deception, we’re looking at you.) Director Andrew Lau, whose Infernal Affairs inspired Marty Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed, makes his English language debut with this sex crime suspense flick, which makes its way straight to DVD this week.

Bonus Features:

Nothing says “bonus” like a supporting performance by Avril Lavigne, right?


The Muppet Show – Season Three

Tomatometer: N/A

“It’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight!” Season Three of The Muppet Show is available this week in a splendid four-disc collection, a must-own for any fan of Kermit and co.

Bonus Features:

Featuring the likes of Gilda Radner, Cheryl Ladd, Raquel Welch, and Sylvester Stallone, the expansive release has bonus material like the 1968 documentary “Muppets on Puppets,” vintage Muppet commercials, and an all new featurette in which key players reminisce on the origins of characters like Miss Piggy (watch a clip below).


‘Til next week, happy viewing!

After two weeks of rule by Jodie and Milla, the boys come charging back in what could be a fierce fight for the number one spot. Jamie Foxx heads up the Middle East political thriller The Kingdom while The Rock targets a kinder and gentler audience with his family comedy The Game Plan. With little to no overlap in customers, both films should have room to breathe. Also debuting but in a moderate national release is the Morgan Freeman pic Feast of Love.

After scoring four consecutive $100M grossers this summer, Universal aims for another trip to the number one spot with its new military drama The Kingdom. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx leads the cast playing an agent with the FBI that assembles a talented team of experts to go to Saudi Arabia against government orders to investigate a suicide bomber’s attack against Americans. Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, and Jeremy Piven co-star in the R-rated pic. The studio is hoping to reconnect with the same audience that powered its 2005 Iraq War drama Jarhead to a strong $27.7M bow. It’s even used Kanye West‘s music in its advertising just as it did two years ago.

The Kingdom is part of a handful of fall flicks to deal with political issues in the Middle East. As one of the first ones out of the gate, it may not suffer from the backlash against this genre that may eventually be created. Marketed as a revenge picture featuring Americans fighting back against those who wronged us, the Peter Berg-directed film should tap into a certain segment of the audience that will find comfort in this type of fare. But competition for adults will be a factor especially considering how seven of the top eight films last weekend were rated R. Reviews have been mixed, however starpower is ample which should compensate. Infiltrating more than 2,700 theaters, The Kingdom might open with approximately $19M this weekend.


Jamie Foxx and co. in The Kingdom.

A superstar quarterback’s life is thrown into disarray when he meets the daughter he never knew he had in Disney’s The Game Plan starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The PG-rated entry enters multiplexes in the early weeks of the football season and at a time when there are zero options for families meaning the timing could not be better. The concept should sell to moms, dads, and kids alike. Plus, the studio found great success with this format two years ago when it put muscular action star Vin Diesel into the family comedy The Pacifier and drove $30.6M worth of business into theaters on opening weekend.

Of course Diesel, Ice Cube, and other macho men have been showing their softer side in kidpics lately so the idea is not totally new. The studio’s sneak previews last weekend helped to get more buzz out there with the target demo and with the lack of direct competition, Game Plan should have smooth sailing with parents and children. The marketing push has been effective as Disney has proven with films like Wild Hogs that it can sell just about any type of star-driven comedy to the public. Charging into about 2,800 locations, The Game Plan could grab around $17M this weekend.


The Rock stars in The Game Plan.

Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, and Selma Blair star in the new drama Feast of Love which quietly enters the marketplace on Friday as the frame’s third new wide opener. Directed by Robert Benton, the R-rated collection of intertwining stories set in Oregon will play exclusively to a mature adult audience. MGM has not been pushing the film too much and the release is not very wide so the film’s potential is limited. Women should outnumber men by a small margin. Landing in about 1,200 sites, a $2M debut could result.


Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear in Feast of Love.

The Tommy Lee Jones drama In the Valley of Elah will expand to roughly 700 theaters nationwide on Friday as it enters its third weekend of release and will try to pop into the top ten. The Paul Haggis-directed pic got off to a solid start by platforming in nine theaters to a $14,840 average. However, things slowed down considerably last weekend during its expansion to 317 playdates which eroded its average down to $3,996. The Warner Independent title struggled as it moved into more major markets and this weekend should see its average get diluted further. A weekend tally of about $2M seems likely.


Tommy Lee Jones in Elah.

A mighty tumble awaits current box office champ Resident Evil: Extinction which is coming off of the biggest bow in the series. The first two Evil pics each suffered a steep 62% drop in the second weekend. A similar drop should result for this third chapter giving Extinction about $9.5M for the frame and $38M in ten days.

The Dane CookJessica Alba comedy Good Luck Chuck is also following up on a solid debut. Most of the fans of the actors probably came out upfront so a 50% fall to around $7M seems likely. That would give Lionsgate a ten-day cume of $24M.

LAST YEAR Sony topped the charts with its animated offering Open Season which debuted to an impressive $23.6M on its way to $85.1M. Ashton Kutcher voiced the number one film and starred on-screen opposite Kevin Costner in the second place pic The Guardian which opened to $18M. the Buena Vista release went on to collect $55M. Jackass: Number Two fell two spots to third with $14.6M losing half of it audience. Launching in fourth was the Billy Bob Thornton comedy School for Scoundrels with $8.6M for MGM on its way to $17.8M. Jet Li‘s Fearless rounded out the top five with $5M for Focus.

Jodie Foster will find herself in the middle of a catfight over the number one spot this weekend. The star of current chart-topper The Brave One will face challenges from Milla Jovovich‘s new action sequel Resident Evil: Extinction, Jessica Alba‘s romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck, and the Amanda Bynes college laugher Sydney White. With adult-skewing dramas ruling the box office over the past couple of weeks, teens and young adults should be out in full force this weekend thanks to the selection of new options.

Deadly viruses and killer zombies are back in Sony’s Extinction, the latest and final chapter in its video game-inspired action-horror franchise. The series has been a popular one with the first Resident Evil opening to $17.7M in March 2002 and its sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse debuting to a stronger $23M in September 2004. Each averaged about $7,000 over the debut frame. The R-rated Extinction will play to the converted and is not likely to generate any new fans. In fact, some will drop out thinking a third helping is a bit too much. Still the built-in audience of young adults and gamers plus a solid marketing push guarantee a top spot launch. Attacking over 2,700 locations, Resident Evil: Extinction could capture roughly $20M over the three-day debut period.


Milla Jovovich fights a zombie in Resident Evil: Extinction

Dane Cook plays a dude whose every ex-girlfriend ends up engaged to the next guy she dates in the romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck. Jessica Alba co-stars in the R-rated release from Lionsgate which will use starpower to attract an audience of older teens and young adults. Last October Cook teamed up with another Jessica, Simpson that time, in the PG-13 comedy Employee of the Month which bowed to $11.4M. The marketing on Chuck has been good and cross-gender appeal seems solid too, although the rating could cut into business from younger teens who will certainly want to see this picture. Falling into 2,612 theaters, Good Luck Chuck may gross about $12M this weekend.


Jessica Alba and Dane Cook in Good Luck Chuck

Amanda Bynes headlines the college comedy Sydney White playing a freshman caught between the popular sorority sisters and her nerdy pals. The PG-13 film will aim itself squarely at teens and college students and should skew a bit more female. Hollywood has had a tough time reaching young females recently with flops like Nancy Drew ($6.8M opening), Bratz ($4.2M), and Gracie ($1.4M) all stalling. Sydney will try to appeal to the same crowd that powered Bynes’ comedy She’s the Man to $10.7M in March 2006. However the marketing push is not as strong and the release will not be as wide so the three-day take will be softer. The marketplace’s current lack of offerings for this audience creates a great opportunity for a good marketable film to come in a loot some cash. But Sydney just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to score a big opening. Pledging in over 1,900 theaters, Sydney White could debut with around $6M.


Amanda Bynes in Sydney White

Last weekend, David Cronenberg‘s latest crime thriller Eastern Promises enjoyed a limited release bow that was basically a carbon copy of his last film A History of Violence which opened to $515,992 from 14 theaters in September 2005 for a potent $36,857 average. Focus is now matching History‘s sophomore weekend expansion pattern by widening Promises to 1,404 locations nationwide. History in its second session expanded to 1,340 sites and grossed $8.1M for a solid $6,047 average. Reviews and buzz for Promises is just as good so a similar performance could be in the works. Ticket prices are slightly higher, but so are the number of films also targeting an adult audience. In fact, the top five this weekend should boast mostly R-rated fare. For this weekend, look for Eastern Promises to take in about $8M.


Eastern Promises

In the arthouse scene, which is quickly getting more crowded with each passing week, Brad Pitt rolls in as both actor and producer in the Old West drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Warner Bros. is unleashing the R-rated pic in only 15 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Austin hoping to generate a strong average and positive word of mouth. Pitt already scored the Best Actor trophy for his portrayal of the famous outlaw at the Venice International Film Festival and is making a bid for kudos attention over the months ahead. Reviews have been mostly positive and an expansion is planned for the coming weeks.


The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

After a less-than-spectacular number one opening, Jodie Foster‘s revenge thriller The Brave One will try to fend off competition for its mature adult audience from the expansion of Eastern Promises. The frame’s three newbies should play to other audience segments. A 45% drop would give Warner Bros. about $7.5M for the weekend and a ten-day cume of $25M which would be about how much Foster’s last starring vehicle Flightplan grossed in only its first three days.

3:10 to Yuma posted a solid hold last weekend and this time a similar drop could result. The Lionsgate release might dip by 35% to around $6M raising the total to $37M after 17 days.

LAST YEAR: Johnny Knoxville and his partners in crime landed a big number one opening for Jackass: Number Two which bowed to $29M. The Paramount sequel went on to collect $72.8M. Focus debuted in second with another R-rated film aimed at young men, the Jet Li actioner Fearless, which grossed $10.6M. The historical pic reached $24.6M. Sony’s football drama Gridiron Gang dropped two spots to third with $9.5M in its sophomore frame. Opening poorly in fourth was the action flick Flyboys with only $6M for MGM on its way to $13.1M. The animated film Everyone’s Hero rounded out the top five with $4.7M. Premiering to dismal results was the Sean Penn vehicle All the King’s Men (the third new release to take place in the past) with $3.7M for Sony. It quickly ended its run with a poor $7.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham face off this weekend in the new crime thriller War which leads a flood of new releases pouring into North American multiplexes trying to catch the final dollars of the summer movie season. The R-rated Lionsgate release finds the two playing an assassin and a federal agent, respectively, and will aim for young male audiences. Both actors have solid followings and the combination allows War to offer a two-for-one deal that will make the ticket price well worth it for many fans.

Li’s last films Fearless and Unleashed each bowed to just under $11M with averages of a little less than $6,000. Statham’s Crank opened over Labor Day weekend last year with $10.5M and an average of $4,158 over three days while during the same holiday frame in 2005 his action sequel Transporter 2 debuted to $16.5M with a $5,008 average over three days. Lionsgate has had a strong marketing push on War and should connect with male action fans. Last weekend’s top three films Superbad, Rush Hour 3, and The Bourne Ultimatum will all provide some direct competition, but a solid bow is likely. Opening in 2,271 theaters, War could premiere with about $14M this weekend.


Statham and Li compare wireless signals in War.

Scarlett Johansson plays the nanny to the family from hell in The Nanny Diaries, the big-screen adaptation of the popular novel. The PG-13 film co-stars Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti and will have some trouble appealing to moviegoers outside of its core white female demo. Critics have not been too supportive which will only hurt the film’s chances at the turnstiles. Nanny will be lucky to gross in its entire domestic run what last summer’s The Devil Wears Prada collected in just its opening weekend. As the lead, Johansson does not provide too much starpower so many will wait to catch this on DVD later. Debuting in about 1,800 theaters, MGM’s The Nanny Diaries could open to around $7M this weekend.


Johansson scaring young children in The Nanny Diaries.

One of the year’s biggest blockbusters overseas finally makes it to U.S. shores. Universal’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday targets families in the final days before students go back to the land of homework. The G-rated entry finds the popular British character winning a trip to France and of course, stumbling into all kinds of odd situations along the way. Having already grossed $189M internationally, Holiday doesn’t really need much success in North America to be a moneymaker, but it would like some more gravy on top. Competition is light, however the marketing push has not been too powerful so a modest debut could result. Falling into 1,580 venues, Mr. Bean’s Holiday might open with about $6M.


Bean up to his usual tricks in Holiday.

A struggling journalist tries to make a major news item out of the story of a homeless man who used to be a boxer in the new drama Resurrecting the Champ. Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett star in the PG-13 flick which lacks major buzz as it steps into the box office ring. Starpower is also weak in this one and paying audiences will be hard to find. Yari Film Group is releasing Champ in 1,602 theaters and could find itself with about $3M this weekend.


Resurrecting the Champ

Jon Voight stars in the Mormon massacre pic September Dawn which Slowhand Releasing will quietly unleash into about 850 theaters. Neither Voight nor Mormons are part of successful box office formulas and the marketing push has been minimal in this case so no big dollar amounts are expected. A three-day take of about $1.5M could be in the works.


Jon Voight in September Dawn.

Coming off of a spectacular opening weekend, Sony’s Superbad hopes to make it two in a row on top. The R-rated film’s only main competitor for young men will come from War as the frame’s other new releases either target different audience segments or will barely be a blip on the radar. A 45% drop to about $18M would give Superbad a ten-day tally of $70M.

Rush Hour 3 will race past the $100M mark this weekend and could slide by 50% to around $10.5M. That would give New Line $107M after 17 days. Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum should have a better hold and drop by 40% to roughly $12M putting the Universal smash at $185M overall with its eye on the double-century mark by Labor Day.

LAST YEAR: Buena Vista topped the charts with its football saga Invincible which bowed at number one with $17M on its way to a solid $57.8M. Will Ferrell‘s comedy Talladega Nights placed second with $8.1M while Little Miss Sunshine expanded and jumped up to third place with $7.4M. Warner Bros. opened its comedy Beerfest in fourth with $7M leading to a $19.2M final. World Trade Center rounded out the top five with $6.5M in its third frame. Two smaller films debuting far below were Universal’s Idlewild with $5.7M and New Line’s How to Eat Fried Worms with $4M. Final tallies reached $12.6M and $13M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Ashton Kutcher ambushed the top two spots at the North American box office this weekend playing an animated mule and a Coast Guard rookie in Open Season and The Guardian, respectively. Both films enjoyed strong openings pumping in a combined $40M and helped the marketplace beat last year’s levels for the first time in four weeks. The weekend’s other new wide release, the comedy School for Scoundrels, saw more modest results with a fourth place bow.

Sony claimed its usual position atop the charts with the animated comedy Open Season which brought in an estimated $23M in ticket sales over the weekend. Hunting moviegoers in an ultrawide 3,833 theaters, the PG-rated film about funny forest animals fighting off hunters averaged a strong $6,001 per site. Open Season marked the first venture from the studio’s new in-house animation division which will compete in the years ahead with dominant players in CG toons like Pixar and DreamWorks. Martin Lawrence and Kutcher led the voice cast.

Sony research showed that 77% of the crowd consisted of parents with children under the age of 12, while girls were a bigger force making up 56% of the audience. A high 89% marked the film "excellent" or "very good". With strong exit polls and the Columbus Day school holiday coming up next week, the $85M film hopes to last throughout the month of October. For the studio, it was Sony’s record eleventh number one opening of the year. Of the company’s twenty film releases in the first nine months of 2006, half have debuted north of $20M.

Kutcher’s face and body showed up in the weekend’s number two film, the Coast Guard action drama The Guardian, which opened with an estimated $17.7M. Also starring Kevin Costner, the Buena Vista release averaged a solid $5,451 per theater from 3,241 sites. The starpower helped bring in moviegoers who in turn liked the film. The Guardian earned an impressive CinemaScore grade of A-. Studio research showed that 50% of the crowd was in the 26-49 age bracket while males outnumbered the ladies with 53% of the audience. For Costner, who has not been a major box office force in over a decade, it was actually his best opening since Waterworld‘s $21.2M debut in 1995. Kutcher has seen many films debut in the same ballpark like The Butterfly Effect with $17.1M, Just Married with $17.5M, and Guess Who with $20.7M.

Falling an understandable 52% from its top spot debut, Jackass: Number Two finished the weekend in third place with an estimated $14M. With $51.5M in ten days, the $12M production should deliver $70-75M for Paramount plus healthy DVD revenue down the road. The first Jackass film grossed $42.1M in its first ten days on its way to a $64.3M cume in 2002.

Earning passing grades in fourth place was the Billy Bob ThorntonJon Heder comedy School for Scoundrels which opened to an estimated $9.1M. Playing in 3,004 theaters, the PG-13 film about a young loser who seeks advice from an older pro on how to get women averaged a mild $3,032 per site. Reviews were not too encouraging for the MGM release.

Jet Li‘s Fearless dropped a steep 56% in its second weekend and placed fifth with an estimated $4.7M. The action star’s "final" martial arts epic has grossed $17.8M in ten days and looks headed for about $26M. Each of Li’s last five films also fell by more than half on its sophomore frame.

Sony’s football drama Gridiron Gang fell 52% to an estimated $4.5M pushing its cume to $33.2M. Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten for the fourth consecutive weekend was the sleeper hit The Illusionist with $2.8M, off only 15%, for a total of $31.5M for Yari Film Group. MGM’s fighter pilot adventure Flyboys tumbled 61% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.3M. With only $9.9M in ten days, a final take of around $14M seems likely.

Yet another period drama The Black Dahlia followed with an estimated $2.1M, down 54%, giving Universal only $20.7M to date. Rounding out the top ten with the biggest cume on the list was indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine with an estimated $2M, off 28%, for a total of $53.2M for Fox Searchlight. The acclaimed comedy has now matched megablockbusters Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Da Vinci Code, and Cars by spending seven consecutive weekends in the top ten.

A pair of critically-acclaimed dramas about world leaders opened to fantastic results in limited release. Miramax launched its Helen Mirren starrer The Queen on Saturday and grossed an estimated $123,000 from just three New York theaters for a potent two-day average of $41,000. The story of Queen Elizabeth II after the death of Princess Diana was double-screened at a pair of the arthouse venues and opened a day later than usual since on Friday it screened as the opening night film of the New York Film Festival. Mirren won the Best Actress prize at the Venice International Film Festival and is considered a major contender for an Oscar nod.

Also a likely Academy Award nominee, but for the Best Actor trophy, was Forest Whitaker whose new film The Last King of Scotland debuted powerfully with an estimated $143,000 over three days from only four venues in New York and Los Angeles. The Fox Searchlight release finds Whitaker playing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the early 1970s. Since its Wednesday launch, Scotland has grossed $172,000 in five days and will expand into the top ten markets on Friday before spreading nationally on October 20.

Posting a respectable debut in moderate national release was the football drama Facing the Giants which collected an estimated $1.4M from 441 theaters for a mild $3,150 average. The PG-rated pic about a coach who finds inspiration from God was released by Destination Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Warner Independent Pictures expanded its Michel Gondry pic The Science of Sleep from 14 to 221 theaters nationwide and grossed an estimated $1.2M. Averaging a solid $5,475 per location, the R-rated drama lifted its sum to $1.7M. Lionsgate widened its doc The U.S. vs. John Lennon grossing an estimated $210,000 from 57 sites for a moderate $3,684 average. Cume stands at $361,000.

Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Sony’s big fall flop All the King’s Men crumbled 56% in its second weekend to an estimated $1.6M giving the political drama a puny $6.3M in ten days. Rejected by audiences, the Sean Penn flick should finish its run quickly with a horrendous $9M. The studio’s supernatural teen thriller The Covenant fell 59% to an estimated $1.3M and upped its total to $22.2M. A $25M final should result for the $20M production. Fox’s baseball toon Everyone’s Hero got crushed by the arrival of Open Season and sank 79% to an estimated $1M. With a modest $13.2M thus far, the animated film could end up with only $15M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $82.2M which was up 15% from last year when Flightplan remained at number one with $14.8M; but down 17% from 2004 when Shark Tale opened in the top spot with a fierce $47.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Ashton Kutcher fans get two chances to see (or hear) their favorite star this weekend as the Hollywood prankster takes on reigning box office champ "Jackass: Number Two" by voicing a mule deer in the animated comedy "Open Season" and going up against Kevin Costner in the action drama "The Guardian."

Also opening nationally is the Billy Bob ThorntonJon Heder comedy "School For Scoundrels" while some potential Oscar contenders debut in the arthouses.

Hollywood’s umpteenth computer-animated feature film of the year hits multiplexes on Friday in the form of "Open Season." The PG-rated pic features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Kutcher and finds a domesticated grizzly bear being dropped into the wilderness right before the start of hunting season. Young kids usually eat up these fish-out-of-water comedy toons and this Sony release should play to the same family audience. The target demographic has had an endless line of movies this year featuring talking animals getting into wacky situations, but since the current marketplace is lacking any major offering for children, "Open Season" should score as the first animated hit of the new school year. The studio is saturating the market with screens giving the film the fourth widest bow ever for a non-DreamWorks toon, and the second widest in Sony history for any film after 2004’s webslinger sequel. With no competition and solid funnyman starpower behind the mics, a strong number one bow could result. "Open Season" makes its way into 3,833 theaters and may debut with around $24M this weekend.


Ashton Kutcher, in his other film, "Open Season."

For those who would rather see the "Punk’d" star’s face, Buena Vista sets sail with its Coast Guard thriller "The Guardian" which finds Kutcher playing a young and cocky swimming champ who butts heads with his unorthodox teacher played by Kevin Costner. Directed by Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive," "Collateral Damage"), the PG-13 film has broad appeal with each star pulling in his respective generation. Cross-gender appeal is also present with the military-like storyline doing the job for males and the hunky actors attracting the ladies. Disney offered successful sneak previews two weeks ago to get some word-of-mouth spreading before the official debut. The studio will try to lure in the same audience that spent a solid $22.1M on the John TravoltaJoaquin Phoenix firefighter drama "Ladder 49" two autumns ago. Launching in over 3,000 theaters, "The Guardian" might debut with about $18M.


Kevin Costner to the rescue in "The Guardian."

Following his commercial success with the male-driven comedy hits "Road Trip," "Old School," and "Starsky & Hutch," Todd Phillips returns to theaters with "School for Scoundrels" which finds Billy Bob Thornton squaring off against "Napoleon Dynamite"’s Jon Heder for the affection of a young gal. MGM’s PG-13 film about an awkward young misfit who enlists the help of an expert on getting the ladies should aim for an audience of teens and young adults, plus fans of the "Bad Santa" star’s rogue ways. Starpower is not very high here. Films anchored by the former Mr. Jolie usually don’t explode on opening weekend as evidenced by the recent debuts of "The Bad News Bears" ($11.4M), "The Ice Harvest" ($3.7M), and "The Alamo" ($9.1M). Competition for young males will be tough, but if "School" can connect with teen girls as a funny romantic comedy, then it has a chance of doing some respectable numbers. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "School for Scoundrels" might debut with about $12M.


Thornton, Heder, and that Real World chick again in "School For Scoundrels."

Some high profile indies pop into limited release this weekend. Fox Searchlight launched its Idi Amin pic "The Last King of Scotland" in four theaters on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and has already been receiving early Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker‘s portrayal of the Ugandan dictator. Coincidentally, a year ago this same weekend, "Capote" debuted and fueled its own Best Actor buzz which sustained itself throughout awards season leading to a trophy for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews for "Scotland" have been good and for Whitaker, have been electric.


Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

Miramax gets its Oscar campaign going, but for the Best Actress prize, with its Helen Mirren film "The Queen" which opens in New York City on Saturday after it officially opens the New York Film Festival on Friday evening. Mirren has already taken home the top actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in the dark days after the death of Princess Diana. The PG-13 film is directed by Stephen Frears ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Dangerous Liaisons") and has ranked number two at the U.K. box office for the last two weeks.

First Look Studios takes audiences back to Queens in 1986 with its coming-of-age drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, and Rosario Dawson. The R-rated film won awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and bows in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.

Last weekend, "Jackass: Number Two" flexed its muscles at the box office with a better-than-expected $29M launch. The Paramount film’s predecessor dropped 44% in its second weekend in the fall of 2002, but the sequel may drop harder. A 50% decline would still give the Johnny Knoxville flick about $15M for the weekend and a strong ten-day cume of $51M.

Jet Li‘s "Fearless" also drew upon a built-in audience of young men last weekend setting itself up for a sizable sophomore drop. The Focus title might also lose half of its business and take in roughly $5M. That would give the martial arts saga $18M after ten days. Sony’s "Gridiron Gang" held up well last weekend despite tough competition. Another 35% fall could be in order giving The Rock a $6M frame and a $34M total after 17 days.

LAST YEAR: For the second straight weekend, Jodie Foster‘s airline thriller "Flightplan" topped the box office with $14.8M dropping only 40% from its bow. Opening in second place was the sci-fi actioner "Serenity" which grossed $10.1M on its way to $25.4M for Universal. Warner Bros. followed close behind with $10M for its animated comedy "Corpse Bride." The revenge thriller "A History of Violence" expanded nationally and placed fourth with $8.1M and a solid $6,047 average which was the best in the whole Top 20. Opening in fifth was the Jessica-Alba-in-a-bikini pic "Into the Blue" with only $7.1M leading to a weak $18.5M final for Sony. Disney debuted its historical golf drama "The Greatest Game Ever Played" to the tune of $3.7M. A $15.3M final gross resulted.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Young men returned to theaters in droves and powered the crude new stunts sequel Jackass: Number Two to the number one spot with the biggest opening weekend of any film in the past seven weeks. The martial arts actioner Fearless debuted impressively in second place playing to young men as well, but the new older-skewing period dramas Flyboys and All the King’s Men were mostly ignored.

Holdovers enjoyed small declines as the overall marketplace bounced back after two dismal weeks, even though ticket sales failed to reach last year’s levels for the third consecutive weekend.

Paramount scored a major victory with the chart-topping performance of Jackass: Number Two which grossed an estimated $28.1M in its first weekend in theaters. Crashing into 3,059 locations, the R-rated comedy averaged a stellar $9,188 per theater. Its predecessor, Jackass: The Movie, was a surprise number one hit in October 2002 with a $22.8M bow from 2,509 theaters and a similar $9,073 average. It went on to gross a fantastic $64.3M from a slim $5M budget. Number Two was produced for just under $12M and looks to become another highly profitable title for the studio proving that the franchise is still alive and well. The films are based on the popular MTV prank series.

With six historical films in the top ten, young movie fans were not in the mood to learn about yesterday and instead chose the immature and outrageous antics of present day jokester Johnny Knoxville and pals. Studio research showed that young men were the core audience, as expected. Those under the age of 25 made up a hefty 70% of the crowd and males accounted for 65%. Jackass also delivered the second biggest opening of the year for an R film trailing the $29M bow of March’s Inside Man. Critics were surprisingly upbeat with their reviews of Number Two.

Jet Li‘s Fearless flew into the number two spot over the weekend opening to an estimated $10.6M from 1,808 theaters with a solid $5,843 average. The PG-13 film about China’s most famous fighter from a century ago was marketed as the action star’s final martial arts picture ever and helped to get his loyal fan base out into the theaters. The Focus release marks Li’s seventh consecutive film to debut with an opening weekend average of more than $5,000. Critics were quite pleased with the Mandarin-language picture. Fearless opened in Hong Kong and most of Asia early this year and has kicked its way into other major markets like Australia, New Zealand, and France in recent weeks.

Dropping from first to third was The Rock‘s football drama Gridiron Gang which grossed an estimated $9.7M in its second play. The Sony sports flick held up exceptionally well considering the weekend’s formidable competition for male dollars and slipped only 33%. The Rock’s movies usually fall by at least 45% in their sophomore frames. After ten days, the $30M feel-good film has grossed $27.2M and should rush past the $50M mark domestically. Even though Gridiron began with the weakest opening ever for the actor, it looks to become his highest grossing film since 2002’s The Scorpion King ($90.5M) thanks to strong legs and positive word-of-mouth.

MGM’s Flyboys took off in fourth place with an estimated $6M from 2,033 theaters. The PG-13 pic about American fighter pilots during World War I averaged a mild $2,957 per theater. Starring James Franco, the adventure film skewed older as a very high 73% of the audience was over the age of 30. Men made up 59% of the crowd and reviews were not too favorable. Flyboys is the third consecutive period drama in as many weeks that has failed to excite today’s moviegoing public following disappointing results from competing Los Angeles-based murder mysteries The Black Dahlia and Hollywoodland.

A pair of not-so-strong sophomores followed. The animated baseball flick Everyone’s Hero grossed an estimated $4.8M, down just 22%, and raised its ten-day tally to $11.6M. Fox could finish with around $25M. Universal’s crime thriller The Black Dahlia crumbled 56% to an estimated $4.4M dropping from second place to sixth. The $60M Brian De Palma entry has taken in just $17.3M and might end up with a disappointing $25M as well.

Sony saw low voter turnout for its political thriller All the King’s Men which was defeated in a landslide this weekend opening to a poor $3.8M, according to estimates. Averaging a weak $2,510 from 1,514 locations, the PG-13 film stars Sean Penn as an outspoken politician who runs for governor of Louisiana. Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins and James Gandolfini co-star. The studio had high hopes for this remake of a Best Picture Oscar winner, but instead met with awful reviews across the board from critics which helped to fuel negative buzz. Only older adults had interest as studio research showed that a whopping 75% of the audience was 35 or older and 53% were women. All the King’s Men is just the latest in a series of historical films that Hollywood has been rolling out this fall that have had moviegoers yawning.

The supernatural chiller The Covenant dropped only 31% to an estimated $3.3M with a sum of $20.3M for Sony. For the fourth consecutive weekend, the long-lasting hits The Illusionist and Little Miss Sunshine ranked back-to-back on the charts. Yari Film Group’s Vienna-set mystery eased a scant 10% to an estimated $3.3M pushing its total to $27.5M. Fox Searchlight’s comedy smash slipped just 13% to an estimated $2.9M lifting the cume to $50.3M.

In limited release action, Warner Independent saw stellar results from its surreal drama The Science of Sleep which bowed to an estimated $347,000 from only 14 theaters for a sparkling $24,786 average. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the R-rated film scored good reviews and will expand to over 200 theaters on Friday in most major markets. Miramax saw a so-so start for its animated noir Renaissance which debuted to an estimated $10,000 from a pair of solo engagements in New York and Los Angeles for a mild $5,200 average.

Four more pictures were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. Two-time chart-topper Invincible grossed an estimated $2.6M in its fifth session. Off 36%, the Mark Wahlberg football pic has collected a solid $54.8M to date and might end up with around $60M for Buena Vista. The Zach Braff comedy The Last Kiss grossed an estimated $2.5M, down 45%, putting its ten-day total at a puny $8.5M. A final take of roughly $15M seems likely.

The murder mystery Hollywoodland fell 46% in its third frame to an estimated $1.5M for Focus. With only $12.9M in the bank, look for a weak $16M conclusion to its case. Lionsgate’s action thriller Crank tumbled 56% to an estimated $1.2M for a $26.6M cume. The Jason Statham pic should reach about $29M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $76.8M which was down 9% from last year when Flightplan debuted at number one with $24.6M; but up a healthy 38% from 2004 when The Forgotten opened in the top spot with $21M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tag Cloud

composers action-comedy political drama Paramount Plus Emmys Summer Disney Plus Photos Reality Competition 2015 Biopics Apple TV Plus blaxploitation Epix Tubi Music all-time fresh Freeform Sundance Now NYCC anime dark anthology 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Election Cartoon Network slasher The Walt Disney Company feel good Disney streaming service VH1 Rock Fox Searchlight TIFF Hallmark dceu Amazon Prime Video rotten BET Awards ESPN classics green book screen actors guild YouTube franchise Mary Tyler Moore mockumentary PBS dc award winner slashers Logo indiana jones Star Trek Winter TV 007 serial killer 73rd Emmy Awards cinemax versus child's play The Academy Vudu based on movie leaderboard posters Black Mirror south america Stephen King Winners spanish language Lifetime Dark Horse Comics Rom-Com science fiction Brie Larson live event Adult Swim Pixar RT History spain latino fast and furious Alien Creative Arts Emmys archives video on demand strong female leads Sundance live action TV One BBC America criterion Endgame Lifetime Christmas movies Ellie Kemper See It Skip It Spectrum Originals revenge streaming movies 45 rt labs Bravo Mudbound rom-coms theme song ABC Family teaser sequel blockbusters E! social media scary movies Awards Apple TV+ Avengers Neflix biography Animation Netflix Christmas movies zero dark thirty basketball space VOD golden globes CNN television PaleyFest ABC WGN nature Character Guide Pride Month mission: impossible new star wars movies monster movies new zealand cults olympics parents TNT Lionsgate pirates of the caribbean Discovery Channel cats Binge Guide travel FOX book singing competition IFC Films obituary cancelled television films harry potter Countdown Teen popular Action jamie lee curtis The CW Wes Anderson Broadway comic book movie scary hispanic kaiju Paramount MCU Image Comics transformers Emmy Nominations scorecard concert stand-up comedy breaking bad video Tomatazos black comedy The Walking Dead Awards Tour Crackle HFPA Comics on TV australia Amazon Prime Shondaland saw Red Carpet chucky Reality comic book movies Marvel Studios 2019 Set visit elevated horror BAFTA Grammys justice league Holiday TV movies crime drama venice sag awards DC Universe HBO Max Musicals Writers Guild of America Funimation festival twilight french Turner Classic Movies quibi rt labs critics edition Calendar Crunchyroll Shudder cancelled TV series aliens 2020 mob indie Exclusive Video vampires supernatural richard e. Grant international BET comics discovery Thanksgiving Lucasfilm Pop RT21 93rd Oscars remakes cancelled TV shows IMDb TV Disney Channel critic resources 72 Emmy Awards king arthur BBC witnail asian-american Family reviews psychological thriller comic politics OWN nbcuniversal godzilla name the review Mary Poppins Returns AMC Plus Acorn TV documentaries kong WarnerMedia Superheroes Arrowverse Sundance TV GLAAD talk show reboot Apple docudrama Rocketman Legendary ViacomCBS American Society of Cinematographers Prime Video SXSW Captain marvel young adult Horror festivals superman TBS 99% Trophy Talk nfl MTV spider-man technology a nightmare on elm street Schedule Baby Yoda canceled art house LGBT Superheroe what to watch spinoff Universal zombie NBC spanish Drama GIFs DGA screenings spy thriller Travel Channel james bond japanese adaptation universal monsters comic books Holidays Pacific Islander hollywood scene in color Food Network ITV Western jurassic park Video Games Year in Review 79th Golden Globes Awards romantic comedy Box Office Trivia suspense dexter 24 frames 1990s The Witch natural history target Song of Ice and Fire President gangster Cosplay Spring TV best X-Men Sci-Fi Pirates die hard legend docuseries HBO Fall TV 2021 Starz mcc black genre Tags: Comedy Comic-Con@Home 2021 Hallmark Christmas movies dramedy The Purge Ovation Tumblr joker boxing kids adenture robots YouTube Red rotten movies we love Fantasy casting golden globe awards CW Seed directors ghosts finale children's TV First Reviews El Rey know your critic binge Chernobyl A24 news crime thriller batman lord of the rings Hulu National Geographic dreamworks rt archives 20th Century Fox Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Peacock cancelled vs. PlayStation new york 2016 satire 2018 Heroines crime Television Critics Association BBC One 21st Century Fox Fargo Christmas E3 sopranos Pet Sematary true crime war dragons First Look toronto Podcast TV Land Best and Worst Syfy cops cooking Sneak Peek APB HBO Go king kong Interview ID Polls and Games Star Wars trailers FXX aapi italian SDCC free movies wonder woman toy story Hollywood Foreign Press Association comedies laika marvel comics prank deadpool Tarantino thriller telelvision worst Opinion GoT The Arrangement series YouTube Premium History documentary royal family Rocky Netflix women Film Festival DC streaming service Nickelodeon boxoffice medical drama DirecTV FX on Hulu cartoon TCM hist unscripted japan Masterpiece Comedy Central Academy Awards VICE Amazon game show worst movies Marathons Film biopic Universal Pictures USA New York Comic Con IFC movies Marvel Television halloween tv Paramount Network Turner TLC Watching Series historical drama Instagram Live ABC Signature diversity sitcom CBS All Access superhero Mindy Kaling San Diego Comic-Con Extras Pop TV dogs debate Nat Geo foreign game of thrones Kids & Family 4/20 zombies hidden camera critics Oscars Premiere Dates adventure halloween tv talk Infographic high school Cannes animated TV renewals Comedy Esquire A&E YA Certified Fresh romance Elton John Marvel MSNBC christmas movies Anna Paquin Trailer NBA Showtime TCA Women's History Month heist movie sequels stop motion period drama TCA Awards CMT miniseries crossover renewed TV shows spider-verse football Hear Us Out AMC Tokyo Olympics Disney Britbox TruTV Musical Ghostbusters marvel cinematic universe 2017 comiccon 71st Emmy Awards Martial Arts OneApp movie book adaptation TCA Winter 2020 mutant emmy awards hispanic heritage month Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Sony Pictures Disney+ Disney Plus Walt Disney Pictures Comic Book Mary poppins FX Spike DC Comics Super Bowl LGBTQ independent police drama streaming Quiz trophy CBS facebook cars Amazon Studios Fox News Valentine's Day Black History Month 90s werewolf blockbuster stoner USA Network ratings TV disaster TCA 2017 Warner Bros. SundanceTV canceled TV shows doctor who Columbia Pictures razzies Classic Film Country psycho Nominations Television Academy Mystery sports Toys