(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)
As seminal dance film Save the Last Dance turns 20, we look at the best dance films ever made… and why the Julia Stiles favorite is just a bit too off-beat to make the cut.
Save the Last Dance, which turns 20 this year, has some things you probably want in a movie. A soundtrack that includes Jill Scott and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes? Yes. References to James Baldwin in the first twelve minutes? You got it. A 23-year-old Kerry Washington in one of her first adult roles, radiating the kind of charisma and power that will one day convince Pope Associates to kill and die for her? Damn right.
It also has a lot of what you’d expect to find in a dance movie, especially one about a ballet dancer. Rehearsal montages? Absolutely. Bleeding toes mangled by hours spent dancing in pointe shoes? Obviously. A dramatic final number performed in front of snooty gatekeepers? Of course.
Unfortunately, for lovers of dance, Save the Last Dance’s dance sequences themselves leave a lot to be desired: the hip hop club scenes are given short shrift, as are the moments in which the lead characters go to the Joffrey Ballet to watch a professional performance. The sequences in which Julia Stiles and her body double do ballet – and especially when they perform the climactic ballet-hip hop hybrid final number – are a reminder that while it can be hard to cast actors who can really dance (or dancers who can really act), it’s usually worth it.
As for the racial politics of the movie – suburban white girl moves to Chicago to live with her father when her mother dies, goes to a majority Black high school where students have criminal records and kids, falls for the college-bound Black boy who teaches her hip hop, and is relieved of the comforting colorblind fantasy that there’s “only one world” – it’s not so much that they’ve aged badly. In a crop of dance movies that came out between 2000 and 2006 (Center Stage, Step Up, etc.), Save the Last Dance is the most direct about race and racism, making explicit what a lot of the other movies leave implicit. But it’s hard to imagine a dance movie made in 2020 putting a gawky white ballet dancer learning hip hop – and her realization that white women enjoy privilege that plays out in their dating and social lives – at the center of its narrative. Which is a sign of how the needle has moved in the two decades since Save the Last Dance was released.
And there are still some things that the film leaves implicit, the most obvious of which is the notion that ballet is inherently white and feminine, practiced by uptight and feminine people, that it’s a form of rigid artifice. Hip hop, on the other hand, a Black artform with origins in street and social dancing, is depicted as inherently loose, cool, masculine, and real. These are stereotypes that were in place in 2001 – and that have been reinforced by films in which uptight white girls have to learn to loosen up and get down – and they persist today, making ballet and Blackness seem antithetical, especially for Black girls and women who aspire to learn ballet.
In honor of Save the Last Dance’s 20th anniversary, we’ve assembled a list of 30 essential dance movies sorted by Tomatometer, encompassing ballet, hip hop, modern, tap, ballroom, breaking, and the magic of Mike.
In order to be considered for this list, the movie had to include diegetic dancing – that is, dancing that the characters acknowledge as dancing, as opposed to a musical number in which the characters break out in song and dance. Exceptions were made for musicals that contained diegetic numbers, like A Chorus Line, which is about a Broadway audition, and Singin’ in the Rain, which is about the creation of a musical. -Chloe Angyal
Angyal is a contributing editor at MarieClaire.com and the author of Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet From Itself, which will be published by Bold Type Books on May 4.
Is this a kissing gallery? Yes, young Tomatoreader, this is our tribute to Valentine’s Day, and it’s something you should see all the way through even if you hate the holiday. You see, this is no average smooching gallery. This week’s 24 Frames looks at the most passionate, most pure, most inconceivably romantic mouth meetings from all-time movie history.
North American film fans heard the call of the elephant and stampeded to the box office to see the animated Dr. Seuss pic Horton Hears a Who, which enjoyed the largest opening weekend of the year so far. The testosterone flick Never Back Down launched to decent numbers; however, the virus thriller Doomsday was dead on arrival in its debut. But ‘toon power was able to revitalize the marketplace, sending the top 10 above the $100M mark and ahead of year-ago levels for the first time in a month.
Jim Carrey and Steve Carell lent their voices to Horton and ticket buyers responded, spending an estimated $45.1M on the Fox hit for a strong number one premiere. The G-rated tale bowed ultrawide in 3,954 locations and averaged a sturdy $11,406 per theater. The Whoville story generated the fourth best March opening ever, behind 300 ($70.9M), Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68M), and the original Ice Age ($46.3M) and also landed the fifth largest opening in history for a G-rated film.
Horton took advantage of star power, the popularity of the Seuss brand, and an open marketplace with few options for families to help it post the year’s best debut. But the film went beyond just parents and kids — the studio reports that 47 percent of the audience was non-family, with teens kicking in a significant contribution. Budgeted at $85M, the animated feature also garnered glowing reviews from most critics. Horton also bowed in 29 international markets this weekend, and captured an estimated $14.2M tally.
Animated films opening in March usually enjoy strong legs thanks to the Easter holiday and school vacations. Ice Age‘s opening weekend represented only 26 percent of its eventual $176.4M domestic final. Fox’s 2005 film Robots witnessed a 28 percent share, Meltdown played like a sequel and saw 35 percent, and last year’s Disney offering Meet the Robinsons grabbed 26 percent. Horton should follow in the same footsteps, as direct competition in the coing weeks is not too fierce, leading to possibly $150-175M from North America alone.
Trailing the animated elephant were the woolly mammoths of 10,000 BC. The not-so-accurate account of prehistoric times fell 54 percent in its second outing to an estimated $16.4M and pushed the total to $61.2M after 10 days. Given the bad reviews, negative word-of-mouth and the genre, the sharp decline was expected. The Warner Bros. title is playing almost exactly like another spring historical actioner, 2002’s The Scorpion King. The Rock starrer generated similar numbers with a $36.1M debut and $61.3M 10-day take before concluding with $90.5M. 10,000 BC should find its way to the same vicinity domestically. Overseas, the prehistoric pic collected a mighty $38M this weekend as it saw top spot debuts in the United Kingdom, Korea, and Russia and second place launches in France and Italy. The international cume has risen to $73M putting the global gross at an impressive $134M.
So far this year, moviegoers have been showing up in the same numbers, but have spread their dollars across a wider selection of movies than in 2007. Overall domestic box office is up 4 percent compared to the same period last year, and when factoring in the annual increase in ticket prices, total admissions are up only a slight amount. But at this point in 2007, six films had crossed the $50M mark, including three that broke the $100M barrier; this year, none have reached nine digits yet, but a whopping 10 have vaulted ahead of $50M (not including Horton, which is just days away from surpassing that mark).
The Mixed Martial Arts drama Never Back Down debuted to mediocre results and landed in third place with an estimated $8.6M from a wide 2,729 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,155, the PG-13 high school tale is the first in-house production from new distributor Summit and played to an audience of young males. Research showed that 59 percent of the audience was male and 60 percent were under 21. Never was budgeted at $20M.
Martin Lawrence’s second comedy of the year, College Road Trip, dropped a moderate 42 percent in its second weekend,, grossing an estimated $7.9M. With $24.3M collected in 10 days, the G-rated family flick should end up in the neighborhood of $45M.
Sony’s action thriller Vantage Point has been enjoying surprisingly strong legs, and slipped only 27 percent this week, to an estimated $5.4M for a solid cume of $59.2M. Rival actioner The Bank Job posted an even greater hold, sliding only 17 percent in its sophomore frame to an estimated $4.9M, giving Lionsgate $13.1M in 10 days. The high-octane pics should reach about $75M and $27M, respectively.
Universal suffered a dismal opening for its futuristic virus thriller Doomsday, which bowed to just $4.7M, according to estimates, from 1,936 theaters. The R-rated pic averaged a miserable $2,450 and should find its real audience on DVD this summer.
Will Ferrell‘s basketball comedy Semi-Pro fell 49 percent to eighth with an estimated $3M, pushing the total for New Line to $29.8M. Look for a final of roughly $35M, making it the comedian’s lowest-grossing lead performance in a wide release since 1998’s Night at the Roxbury.
Sony’s The Other Boleyn Girl dipped only 28 percent to an estimated $2.9M for a cume of $19.2M. The kidpic The Spiderwick Chronicles rounded out the top 10 with an estimated $2.4M, off 49 percent, for a $65.4M sum. Final grosses should reach $26M and $70M, respectively.
Warner Independent had a mixed weekend with its pair of limited release titles. The Naomi Watts thriller Funny Games opened in 289 theaters and grossed an estimated $520,000 for a dull $1,800 average. But its promising platform release Snow Angels added one Los Angeles site and took in an estimated $26,000 from three sites for a potent $8,667 average. The Kate Beckinsale starrer expands to the top 10 on Friday during its third session.
Three solid box office performers fell from the top 10 this weekend. Fox’s sci-fi flick Jumper dropped 42 percent to an estimated $2.1M, lifting the total to $75.8M. The $85M Hayden Christensen–Samuel L. Jackson actioner should conclude with about $80M. It’s already banked $100M overseas and counting.
The $70M adventure comedy Fool’s Gold collected an estimated $1.7M, off 38 percent, for a $65.4M sum. Warner Bros. looks to end with just under $70M. Step Up 2 the Streets, the latest teen dance drama to score with audiences, took in an estimated $1.5M, down 51 percent. With $55.4M taken in thus far, the Buena Vista release will reach close to $60M, putting it within striking distance of the $65.3M gross of 2006’s surprise smash Step Up.
The top 10 films grossed an estimated $101.3M, which was up less than 1 percent from last year — when 300 remained at number one in its second weekend with $32.9M — and up 13 percent from 2006, when V for Vendetta debuted in the top spot with $25.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Yes, gang, the House That Walt Built is brewing up Step Up 3-D.
Variety reports that Disney has inked a deal with Offspring Entertainment, the company behind the Step Up franchise, keeping the company under the Disney mantle for another three years. The move comes after Step Up 2 the Streets earned back its $20 million production budget in its opening weekend.
Of course, fancy footwork isn’t all Offspring’s got going for it; founders Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot also brought the studio titles such as Sandra Bullock‘s Premonition and the upcoming Zac Efron comedy Seventeen, not to mention the following crowded development slate:
Among the projects that Offspring is developing at Disney are “Undateable,” a comedy scripted by Jack Angelo and Sam Brown (with Fuse Entertainment also producing); “Monday, Monday,” a Flint Wainess-scripted comedy that is a teenage “Groundhog Day“; “Wish,” a live-action “Aladdin” scripted by Bill Kelly (“Enchanted“); a Jason Filardi-scripted “Topper” remake that Offspring will produce with Mandeville, with Steve Martin starring; and a Don Scott-scripted remake of “All of Me” that has Queen Latifah attached to star.
The annual convergence of the Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day holidays has lead to a unique situation this year as studios are all releasing their wide openers on Thursday hoping for strong five-day starts for their pictures. The two effects-filled movies heading up the charge are Fox’s science fiction actioner Jumper and Paramount’s fantasy adventure The Spiderwick Chronicles attacking over 3,400 theaters each. Buena Vista counters with its dance saga Step Up 2 The Streets while Universal offers the romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.
With something for everyone, and the two holidays giving a boost to overall moviegoing activity, the North American box office should be robust this weekend although it may not be able to match the record-shattering frame from a year ago. The last time Valentine’s Day fell on a Thursday was in 2002 but all five wide releases that year had traditional Friday bows. This time studios felt no need to leave business on the table on the typically strong love holiday so openings were scheduled a day earlier.
Fox has a savvy way of taking subpar films not loved by critics and selling them successfully to the ticket buying audience. The success of recent films like Alvin and the Chipmunks, 27 Dresses and Meet the Spartans is proof. The studio is hoping to make the magic work again with the new actioner Jumper which tells of teleporting men who face off against an elite group set to destroy them. Former Jedis Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson star in the PG-13 pic directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Teens and young adults are the target audience here with males likely to slightly outnumber the gals.
The Presidents’ Day frame is often used by studios to launch effects-driven sci-fi films and audiences always turn out. Last year saw Ghost Rider bow to $52M over four days, Constantine opened to $33.6M in 2005, and Daredevil debuted to $45M in 2003. Jumper will play to most of the same people, however it boasts less starpower and its literary source is not as famous. Plus it faces more competition for the action audience with Spiderwick taking away some of the younger crowd and Fool’s Gold stealing away some women and adult couples.
Jumper lacks the goods people expect from a solid sci-fi flick and Christensen proves once again that he’s no leading man so lukewarm buzz from first-day audiences on Thursday may water down some of the weekend rush. But a strong marketing campaign will get the upfront audience to show up this weekend before the large declines set in. Invading 3,402 theaters, Jumper could open to around $30M over four days and $35M over five days.
The studio has given an extended marketing push to the film and fans of the books are likely to be curious as to how the leap to the big screen was made. Reviews have been generally positive so that should help persuade parents to give a green light to a trip to the multiplex this weekend. Enjoying the widest release of all new flicks with 3,847 theaters, The Spiderwick Chronicles might premiere with roughly $24M over four days and a five-day haul of $27M.
Martin Lawrence‘s comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins could see a similar decline due to similar reasons. Both sophomore comedies have earned a troubling C+ average grade from over 1,000 users of Yahoo Movies. Universal’s family reunion pic may drop by 30% and grab about $11.5M over the Friday-to-Monday session boosting the 11-day total to $31M.
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus should continue dropping fast at the box office but with all the loot it has already taken in, future grosses are just Disney gravy. The 3D concert pic may tumble by 50% to roughly $5M across four days and lift the stellar cume to $60M. After the third week, the numbers should shrink as U23D expands into many of the same Hannah auditoriums on February 22.
LAST YEAR: The Presidents’ Day holiday weekend box office was on fire as five new releases injected a stunning $122M in business into the marketplace over the four-day span. Nicolas Cage led the way with the comic book flick Ghost Rider which bowed to $52M over the long weekend for Sony on its way to $115.8M. Disney posted muscular results in second with its new fantasy pic Bridge to Terabithia which opened to $28.5M over the Friday-to-Monday session leading to a $82.3M final. Eddie Murphy‘s comedy Norbit dropped from first to third with $19.9M. Debuting behind it were the romantic comedy Music and Lyrics with $15.9M and the Tyler Perry pic Daddy’s Little Girls with $13.1M. Final grosses reached $50.6M and $31.4M, respectively. Bowing in sixth was the thriller Breach with $12.3M on its way to $33.2M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Worthington’s spokeswoman recently confirmed reports that he’d had to drop out of the running for Joe due to scheduling conflicts with his role in James Cameron‘s Avatar. Cameron has apparently found it difficult to finish his latest sci-fi epic, and the continual pushbacks eventually created an overlap.
So…who’s your Duke, Joe fans? According to Latino Review, producers focused their post-Worthington hunt on three actors — Chris Evans, Channing Tatum, and Matthew Fox — and now, sayeth Ain’t It Cool News (and confirmed by Variety), the search is over. Drumroll, please…
Channing Tatum, Real American Hero!
As AICN notes, Tatum got his start as “Boy in Church” in Spielberg‘s War of the Worlds, and followed it with parts in pictures such as She’s the Man and Step Up — but the buzz surrounding his work in the upcoming Stop-Loss suggests he’s made the jump to more adult roles. That won’t prevent cries of “First Marlon Wayans, now this” from rising up out of the fanboy depths, but hey, it’s G.I. Joe. Is anyone expecting Oscar-level depth here?
Well, maybe you are — and if that’s the case, Variety‘s report that Dennis Quaid has also joined the Joe cast, as “grizzled team leader Hawk,” should help you feel a little better about the direction Sommers’ squad is heading. Who couldn’t use a little extra Quaid in their day?
Carrying some major buzz into the marketplace, Sony’s teen comedy Superbad hits the multiplexes this weekend aiming to bring in some big business from horny young adults looking for a spark to get rid of their end-of-summer blues. The R-rated entry comes from current comedy king Judd Apatow who directed Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin which collectively grossed a stunning $256M domestically. He takes on producing chores here but his involvement has wisely been promoted heavily in the film’s marketing campaign which really ignited earlier this summer with the release of the uncensored red-band trailer on the internet which basically put Superbad on the map.
The marketplace for teen sex comedies has had a void since the American Pie franchise switched into direct-to-DVD mode. Superbad has the goods to make itself into this generation’s must-see raunchfest with its story of three lovable nerdy high school kids on a mission to score booze for a party to impress some girls. The lethal mix of strong marketing, filmmaker starpower, and a high-quality product that actually delivers what the audience wants will lead to a potent opening weekend that should be enough to send it to the top of the charts. And with a reported $18M budget, this could very well be the summer’s least expensive number one hit. Crashing into over 2,800 theaters, Superbad might collect around $25M this weekend.
Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum looks to witness a smaller decline in its third assignment. Universal might experience a 45% drop to around $18M for a robust 17-day cume of $162M.
LAST YEAR: Opening weaker than expected, but still at number one, was the Samuel L. Jackson actioner Snakes on a Plane which bowed to $15.2M. New Line found its way to a disappointing $34M. Talladega Nights dropped to second with $13.8M while World Trade Center held steady in third with $10.9M. The dance sensation Step Up fell to fourth with $10.2M while Universal’s teen comedy Accepted debuted in fifth place with $10M. A $36.3M final resulted. MGM’s comedy Material Girls stumbled into ninth with a mere $4.6M on its way to only $11.4M. But opening powerfully in limited release was the mystery The Illusionist with less than $1M from only 51 theaters for a potent $18,195 average. The Yari Film Group release expanded nationally and enjoyed good legs going on to gross $39.9M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Another wide assortment of summer offerings will hit the multiplexes across North America this weekend. The action-comedy sequel Rush Hour 3 leads the way as the main course and will be joined by side dishes like the fantasy adventure Stardust, the family comedy Daddy Day Camp, and the horror flick Skinwalkers. The third mega-opening in a row should keep overall ticket sales abnormally high for this time of year.
Six years and one week after the last installment opened, Rush Hour 3 hits theaters from coast to coast hoping to recapture the magic that made its two predecessors shatter industry expectations. Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, and director Brett Ratner have all reteamed (with some handsome raises) for a story about the world’s biggest organized crime syndicate whose secrets are hidden in Paris. The first Rush Hour smashed the September opening weekend box office record with a $33M launch in 1998. Rush Hour 2 set a new August opening record in 2001 with its $67.4M debut which it held until last weekend’s The Bourne Ultimatum arrived. Together, Carter and Lee have arrested $367M domestically and $575M worldwide with their pair of cross-cultural buddy cop hits.
But a lot of time has passed since the last Rush Hour film and some fans may have lost interest in a formula that can easily get tired the third time around. The new pic should play mostly to existing fans and will not create too many new ones. Still, Rush Hour 3 does offer the most ethnic starpower of any film this summer so business from multicultural moviegoers should be very strong. Jason Bourne’s second weekend will provide ample competition for the action crowd, then again Rush Hour 2 had to deal with the second weekend of Planet of the Apes which opened the week before with a similarly potent $68.5M which at the time was the second biggest opening in history. So Chan and Tucker can handle the pressure. Expect those who like this dish to come back for a third helping for what should be the final big bow of the summer season. Crashing into more than 3,100 theaters, Rush Hour 3 could speed to about $61M this weekend.
Fox’s hit toon The Simpsons Movie, already the third highest grossing animated film of the year after the ogre threequel and the rodent comedy, should stabilize this weekend after its hefty sophomore slump of two-thirds. A 50% decline would give Homer and pals around $12.5M for the weekend and a 17-day total of $153M.
LAST YEAR: Will Ferrell stayed put at number one with the hit comedy Talladega Nights despite a 53% drop to $22.1M in its second lap for Sony. Buena Vista raced past expectations with its teen sensation Step Up which bowed in the number two spot with a stellar $20.7M on its way to $65.3M. Paramount’s 9/11 drama World Trade Center debuted in third with $18.7M over three days and $26.5M over five days. The Oliver Stone pic went on to gross a solid $70.3M. The studio’s animated film Barnyard slipped only 39% in its sophomore session to $9.7M taking fourth place. Opening to mild results in fifth was the thriller Pulse with $8.2M on its way to $20.3M for The Weinstein Co. Sony crashed and burned in ninth with the kidpic Zoom which bowed to just $4.5M leading to a weak $11.6M final.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
If you watched "Live Free or Die Hard" and thought, "Gee, what I’d really like to see is Mary Elizabeth Winstead with less clothing and more dancing," this item is for you: Variety is reporting that Winstead will star in "Make It Happen," a project referred to as "a dance movie set in the world of burlesque."
"Happen" will be directed by Darren Grant, most recently seen behind the cameras for "Diary of a Mad Black woman," and the script comes courtesy of Duane Adler, screenwriter of "Step Up" and "Save the Last Dance" (turns out they’re two separate movies — we’re as surprised as you).
In the film, which will be released by The Weinstein Company, Winstead won’t just be shaking her moneymaker. There’s a plot arc here, people! As Variety reports:
Winstead plays a small-town woman who moves to Chi with dreams of entering the Chicago School of Dance but winds up working in a burlesque club. According to a plot description provided by TWC, the club "proves to be a place of conflict and self-discovery."
"Make It Happen" starts filming this August, and is presumably scheduled for a 2008 release.
Movie studios are offering something for every age group over the Columbus Day holiday weekend. Mature adults will go undercover with Martin Scorsese‘s cop thriller "The Departed," twentysomethings looking for a scare get the horror prequel "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," while teenagers have a chance to laugh with the new comedy "Employee of the Month."
Meanwhile, last weekend’s number one film – the animated comedy "Open Season" – will continue to play to young children during a frame when a large percentage of students will have no class on Monday. The top ten will try to crack the $100M mark for the first time in nearly two months thanks to the variety of good product.
Ranking dead last among Hollywood’s big six studios in year-to-date market share, Warner Bros. has a lot of catching up to do in the fourth quarter if it wants to prevent snapping its five-year streak of billion-dollar-plus box office years. So this weekend, it hands the ball off to Scorsese who delivers what critics are calling one of his best films ever with "The Departed." The R-rated picture stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. Overflowing with starpower, the Boston-set film is an American remake of the award-winning Hong Kong blockbuster "Infernal Affairs" which finds an Irish cop going undercover into the underworld and a mob mole infiltrating the police department.
After rejecting a seemingly endless line of period dramas including "Hollywoodland," "The Black Dahlia," "Flyboys," and "All the King’s Men," adult audiences should be ready to throw its support behind a modern-day action thriller juiced up with major stars worth paying top dollar for. If the cast isn’t enough to seal the deal, glowing reviews from critics across the board should have a big impact on driving in traffic. In fact, reviews are among the best of any wide release hitting theaters this year. DiCaprio and Damon appeal to a wide age group so expect strong numbers from young adults. And Jack is that rare star who can flirt with age 70 but still be relevant to the iPod generation. With $100M blockbusters in each of the last four decades, the Oscar-winner is a perennial favorite and his films are
Warner Bros. has backed "The Departed" with a solid marketing campaign which is effectively exciting ticket buyers. No R-rated film has hit the $30M mark on opening weekend in nearly a year so that could once again be the ceiling on this film’s short-term potential. Appeal to both men and women is substantial, although as is typical at this time of year, business from males may be affected by football and the baseball playoffs. But word-of-mouth is likely to be very positive so look for the pic to remain a contender for weeks to come. With a colossal amount of starpower, sensational reviews, and a Monday holiday helping Sunday night sales,
the Leo vs. Matt flick should be able to generate plenty of excitement with audiences this weekend. "The Departed" opens in 3,017 theaters on Friday and could gross about $27M over the frame.
Moviegoers that don’t get starstruck, but instead want some gore and violence in their weekend entertainment, can opt for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning." The prequel to the 2003 remake of the 1974 horror classic is an R-rated tale with Jordana Brewster ("The Fast and the Furious", "Annapolis") as its only star. Horror remakes usually do not rely on stars anyway, but on the brand name of a popular terrorfest. Budgets are relatively low with most of the money going towards production values rather than talent. Three years ago, the previous "Massacre" posted powerful numbers bowing to $28.1M in mid-October on its way to a brutal $80.1M. It opened the door to many other moneymaking remake hits like "Dawn of the Dead," "The Amityville Horror," and "The Omen" which each went on to gross over $50M.
"Beginning" will play to hardcore genre fans that are older teens and young adults. But look for some older horror aficionados to take a curious peek too. The marketplace is primed and ready for its arrival as there has not been a major horror hit since June’s "Omen" pic hit cinemas. Add in the fact that Halloween is around the corner prompting audience demand for the genre to rise and a large turnout should be expected. Excitement does not seem to be reaching the same height that this installment’s predecessor had, so an opening in the high 20s may not result. Plus Leo, Matt, and even bad boy Jack will be drawing away many twentysomethings this weekend. Buzzing through victims in over 2,800 theaters, "The Texas Chainsaw Massace: The Beginning" could scare up around $19M this weekend.
The classic love triangle storyline is set in a Walmart-like super store in the new Lionsgate comedy "Employee of the Month." The PG-13 pic stars Dane Cook and Dax Shepard as co-workers competing for the attention of the hot new sales clerk, played by Jessica Simpson, who only dates those who win the coveted employee prize. The comedy should play to a teen and young adult audience and with the weekend’s other new films being R flicks, Month could score some points with the under-17 crowd. Teenage girls have especially been neglected this fall. Why would they care about 1940s murder mysteries, moronic stunt films, or Sean Penn as a flamboyant politician? Two hunky young dudes fighting over the former Daisy Duke could make for the most interesting film to grab their attention since "Step Up."
Still, "Employee of the Month" will have its work cut out for it. Many older teens and young adults will be drawn away by "Departed" and "Chainsaw" and Ashton Kutcher fans are still checking out "The Guardian." Starpower is not too high, but teenagers in need of a laugh will not have many other options. Opening in 2,579 theaters, "Employee of the Month" could debut with around $10M.
Sony’s animated comedy "Open Season" enjoyed a healthy start to its run last weekend and will face no new competition during the sophomore frame. Plus with the Columbus Day school holiday, the Martin Lawrence – Ashton Kutcher toon should remain a popular (and only) option for young children. A 30% drop would give "Season" about $16M over the weekend and a sturdy ten-day cume of $46M.
Buena Vista’s Coast Guard adventure "The Guardian" did moderately well in its debut last weekend, but adult audiences will be pulled away by the starpower of "The Departed" this weekend. The studio has been reporting strong exit polls so word-of-mouth could prevent a large falloff. A 40% decline would give "Guardian" about $11M for the weekend and $34M in ten days.
"Jackass: Number Two" will face some stiff competition from the weekend’s two new R-rated films so a 45% drop could be in order. That would leave the Paramount hit with $8M and an impressive 17-day total of $64M allowing the comedy sequel to surpass the gross of the 2002 original in under three weeks.
LAST YEAR: New films invaded the box office over the Columbus Day frame taking four of the top five slots. Leading the way was the acclaimed claymation pic "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" with a $16M debut. The DreamWorks film enjoyed good legs and ended up with $56.1M domestically plus the Oscar for Best Animated Film. Jodie Foster‘s two-time chart-topper "Flightplan" held up well in its third weekend grossing $10.8M for Buena Vista. Cameron Diaz opened her new comedy "In Her Shoes" in third place with $10M on its way to $32.9M for Fox. Universal followed with the sports betting film "Two For the Money" with a $8.7M bow and Sony opened its drama "The Gospel" in fifth with $7.5M. Final grosses reached $22.9M and $15.8M, respectively. Lions Gate saw its new comedy "Waiting" launch in seventh place with just $6M leading to a $16.1M final. Opening with strong results in limited release were the acclaimed dramas "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "The Squid and the Whale" which both earned rave reviews and kudos during awards season. Their domestic grosses reached $31.6M and $7.4M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Yes, that’s right: The newest "Die Hard" entry, tentatively (we hope) entitled "Live Free or Die Hard," has begun production in Baltimore — a city that has a really awesome aquarium, should you ever spend a weekend there.
From WJZ.com: "The production company for the fourth ‘Die Hard’ film, tentatively titled "Live Free or Die Hard," has setup shop in Baltimore for a weeklong shoot, starting Saturday.
Star Bruce Willis once again plays NYPD detective John McClane, who battled European terrorists in an L-A high-rise in "Die Hard" (1988), drug-world terrorists at DC’s Dulles airport in "Die Hard 2" (1990) and the brother of the lead terrorist from the first film in "Die Hard With a Vengeance."
In his latest battle, Willis takes on techno-terrorists who are trying to shut down the nation’s computer systems on the Fourth of July.
‘Die Hard 4’ is bringing a vote of confidence to Maryland, which is fast becoming the new Hollywood. In 2004 the John Travolta flick ‘Ladder 49‘ was filmed in Baltimore, and earlier this year the Disney Studios film ‘Step Up‘ was shot on location in Charm City."
Click here for the full article.
(Wow, "Ladder 49" AND "Step Up"??? Baltimore IS the New Hollywood!)
Tumbleweeds blew through North American theaters this weekend as movie fans forgot that there were films playing at their local cinemas. For the first time in three years, no film managed to generate at least $10M in weekend ticket sales. The new supernatural teen thriller "The Covenant" was able to top the charts while the murder mystery "Hollywoodland" debuted in the runnerup spot. The overall top ten crawled to its worst performance in three years as not a single wide release was able to generate at least $4,000 per theater.
Limping into first place with a not-so-impressive debut was "The Covenant" with an estimated $9M from 2,681 theaters. The Sony thriller averaged a sluggish $3,357 per playdate, but was big enough to lead the pack over such a weak frame. Budgeted at only $20M, the PG-13 pic features a group of young prep school warlocks who unleash supernatural powers when evil strikes. It was the studio’s ninth number one opening of 2006, but also the worst gross for a number one film since "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" debuted this very weekend in 2003 with a puny $6.7M.
Most of the box office deficit when compared to last year can be blamed on the mediocre debut of "Covenant" which took in less than one-third of the $30.1M bow the studio saw in 2005 this weekend with its last post-Labor Day scarefest "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." The rest of the top ten this weekend grossed a combined $40.4M which was almost identical to the $40.6M from the corresponding films from last year.
Opening in second place was the crime thriller "Hollywoodland" with an estimated $6M from only 1,548 theaters for Focus. The R-rated tale examining the investigation behind the death of Superman actor George Reeves averaged a mild $3,881 per site. That was good enough to be the best average among all wide releases. Starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, and Ben Affleck, "Hollywoodland" received mixed reviews from critics, but did manage to win the best actor prize over the weekend at the Venice International Film Festival for Affleck’s portrayal of Reeves.
Bowing in fourth place was Thai action star Tony Jaa‘s "The Protector" with an estimated $5M from 1,541 sites. Averaging a lukewarm $3,265, the R-rated pic from The Weinstein Co. generated an opening weekend average similar to the $3,449 figure that Jaa’s "Ong Bak" posted last year when it opened to $1.3M from only 387 theaters.
Action star Jason Statham‘s "Crank" dropped a hefty 54% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.8M pushing its cume to $19.9M. After ten days, the Lionsgate release is running slightly ahead of the $17.2M that Statham’s 2002 film "The Transporter" made during the same time period, but behind the $30.3M of its sequel from last year. Look for "Crank" to finish up with $27-30M. Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten was the Edward Norton-Paul Giamatti mystery "The Illusionist" which dipped just 25% to an estimated $4.6M. Yari Film Group has collected $18.1M thus far.
Following close behind with an estimated $4.4M was Fox Searchlight’s "Little Miss Sunshine" which dropped 42%. Total to date is a solid $41.6M. Nicolas Cage‘s suspense thriller "The Wicker Man" fell 57% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.1M. With only $17.5M in ten days, the Warner Bros. release looks on course to reach a disappointing $25M.
"Talladega Nights," the highest-grossing film since Johnny Depp’s "Pirates" sequel set sail, dropped 51% in its sixth lap to an estimated $3M boosting Sony’s total to $142.2M. Rounding out the top ten was Paramount’s hit toon "Barnyard," the only major kidpic in release, which grossed an estimated $2.6M. Off 47%, the PG-rated comedy has grossed a healthy $66.9M to date.
Three August releases dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Paramount’s "World Trade Center" took in an estimated $2.5M, down 46%, for a $67.1M sum. The $65M Nicolas Cage drama should end with a solid $71-74M final. Universal’s teen comedy "Accepted" collected an estimated $2.5M as well, off 45%, and upped its total to $32.3M. A $35-37M final grade is in store for the $23M production.
Buena Vista’s surprise hit dance drama "Step Up" dropped 45% in its fifth weekend to an estimated $2.5M. With $61.6M in the bank, the teen pic looks to finish with around $65M.
The top ten films grossed a puny estimate of $49.4M which was down 30% from last year when "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" debuted at number one with $30.1M; and down 16% from 2004 when "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" opened in the top spot with $23M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Moviegoers had football on their minds for the second straight weekend as Disney’s true-life NFL tale "Invincible" remained atop the North American box office over the long Labor Day holiday weekend finishing off another summer movie season. New releases "Crank" and "The Wicker Man" opened in second and third, respectively, while the critically acclaimed films "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Illusionist" both scored strong per-theater averages in moderate release. The holiday frame marked the first weekend in six long months where no new film debuted with at least $15M. Hollywood was happy to close the books on a summer movie season that was slightly better than than last year’s.
Retaining its first-place position, Mark Wahlberg‘s "Invincible" grossed an estimated $15.2M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend and remained the most popular movie in North America. After 11 days of release, the feel-good drama about a 30-year-old bartender who earned a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles starting lineup has grossed a solid $37.8M and could be headed for the neighborhood of $60-70M.
It was only fitting that Disney topped the box office charts as the summer came to an end. Since the summer movie season kicked off on May 5 with "Mission: Impossible III," Buena Vista has grossed $786M at the multiplexes beating out all other studios. Disney’s success was powered by the summer’s two highest grossing hits, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" ($414.2M) and "Cars" ($242M), but also included surprise late-summer winners like "Invincible" and "Step Up." It was a drastic turnaround from last summer when the Mouse House’s biggest film was "Herbie: Fully Loaded" with $66M.
Opening in second place was action star Jason Statham‘s new thriller "Crank" with an estimated $13M over four days from 2,515 theaters. Averaging a commendable $5,169 per site, the R-rated film features a poisoned hitman who will die if he can’t keep his adrenaline up constantly. The Lionsgate release opened better than Statham’s 2002 film "The Transporter" ($9.1M in three days) but did not reach the $20.1M bow of his action sequel "Transporter 2" which ruled the Labor Day frame a year ago. That number one hit carried a commercially friendly PG-13 rating and kicked its way into 800 more theaters. Over the Friday-to-Sunday span, "Crank" grossed $10.3M and averaged $4,095.
Nicolas Cage opened his new suspense thriller "The Wicker Man" close behind in third place with an estimated $11.7M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Monday holiday session. The Warner Bros. remake about a cop who investigates a missing girl averaged a mediocre $4,210 from 2,784 theatrs over four days. The PG-13 film grossed $9.6M in three days for a mild average of $3,448. Cage appeared twice in the top ten as his previous film "World Trade Center" finished further down in ninth place.
Two smaller films successfully expanding into national release followed and scored the best averages among all the wide releases. Fox Searchlight’s road comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" ranked fourth for the weekend with an estimated $9.7M over four days with $7.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion. It was the second weekend in a row that actor Greg Kinnear had two films in the top five. He plays a supporting role in "Invincible" as well. "Sunshine" averaged a strong $6,071 from 1,602 theaters over four days pushing its total to $35.8M and counting. At its current rate, it should eventually surpass "Miami Vice" as the top-grossing R-rated film to come out of the summer.
Rookie distributor Yari Film Group did an excellent job expanding its period mystery "The Illusionist" into national release and jumped into fifth place with an estimated four-day gross of $8M. Expanding from 144 to 971 theaters, the Edward Norton–Paul Giamatti drama scored the best average in the top ten with a sturdy $8,261 per venue. Cume now stands at $12.1M. The distributor scored excellent averages during its two weeks in limited release allowing positive word-of-mouth to spread for a film that was not easy to sell at a time when there were plenty of good choices for mature adults. Another 400 theaters will be added on Friday.
A trio of comedies followed. Sony’s Will Ferrell hit "Talladega Nights" grossed an estimated $7.7M over four days and lifted its cume to a stellar $138.4M making it the top-grossing comedy of the summer. Paramount’s animated pic "Barnyard" took in an estimated $6.4M pushing its total to $63.6M. The teen flick "Accepted" placed eighth and collected an estimated $5.9M giving Universal $29.4M to date.
Rounding out the top ten were the 9/11 drama "World Trade Center" with an estimated $5.8M over four days and the dance saga "Step Up" with $5.5M, according to estimates. Paramount’s Oliver Stone film has taken in a solid $63.7M thus far while Buena Vista’s surprise hit has taken in $58.4M.
Opening quietly outside of the top ten was the street basketball drama "Crossover" with an estimated $4.5M over four days from a moderate release in 1,023 theaters. Sony averaged a decent $4,399 over the long weekend on the $6M film which played mostly to a young urban audience.
Platforming to muscular numbers was the IFC Films doc "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" which grossed an estimated $42,000 from solo houses in New York and Los Angeles for a potent $20,832 average. The unrated expose that examines the ratings board of the MPAA will continue to expand throughout September.
Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The raunchy comedy "Beerfest" tumbled to an estimated $4.6M over four days giving Warner Bros. only $14.8M in 11 days. A $20M final seems likely. Universal’s OutKast pic "Idlewild" took in an estimated $2.9M in its sophomore session giving the music-driven film only $9.9M in 11 days. Look for a $14M conclusion. New Line’s buzzworthy action-horror pic "Snakes on a Plane" has scared up just over $31M to date and is set to end with a final domestic gross close to its $35M production budget.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $89M over four days which was down 3% from last year when "Transporter 2" debuted at number one with $20.1M; but up 19% from 2004 when "Hero" remained in the top spot with $11.5M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Samuel L. Jackson‘s much-talked-about thriller Snakes on a Plane landed in first place at the North American box office this weekend, but lacked the kind of bite that was expected given all the media attention and internet buzz that surrounded the film.
The weekend’s two other new releases Accepted and Material Girls targeted teens and met with only mild-to-moderate results. However, the indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine flexed some muscle in its national expansion jumping into the top ten in its fourth weekend of release. Former number one Talladega Nights raced past the $100M mark while Pirates of the Caribbean cruised past the $400M milestone this weekend. However, the late-summer slowdown took its toll on the box office as for the first time in fourteen weeks, the top ten failed to top $100M.
Following months of online buzz which translated into tons of national publicity, Snakes on a Plane finally arrived in theaters and collected an estimated $15.3M over the weekend including about $1.4M in Thursday night preview grosses. Taking off in an ultrawide 3,555 theaters, the R-rated film averaged a mediocre $4,290 per site. Of the 62 films in history that have opened in 3,500 or more theaters, 61 have grossed more than Snakes on opening weekend. Only last summer’s Herbie: Fully Loaded fared worse with $12.7M from 3,521 sites following a Wednesday bow. Snakes also suffered the second lowest gross for a number one opener this year after Glory Road‘s $13.6M top spot bow in January.
Since no film before it had generated the same type of grassroots hype, expectations varied greatly leading into the frame with most believing it would at least surpass the $20M mark. The New Line release finds Jackson playing an FBI agent escorting a key witness on a commercial airliner when deadly snakes are let loose. The studio did not screen the film for the media ahead of the release. Fans on the internet have been talking up the picture since last year creating a cult fan following which no one knew how to measure when it came to box office sales. Ultimately, Snakes did not appear to have had much appeal outside of its core fan base of young men. With a budget of only $30M, Snakes on a Plane should still end up being a moneymaker for New Line after worldwide DVD sales are tallied. However, hopes for a new franchise seem to have been crushed.
After two weeks in pole position, Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished close behind in second place this weekend with an estimated $14.1M in its third lap. The Sony release dropped only 36% and showed good legs. On Thursday, Talladega became the eleventh film of the year to cross the $100M mark and has pushed its total to $114.7M after 17 days. Snakes led all films at the box office on Friday, but Ricky Bobby raced ahead on both Saturday and Sunday.
Oliver Stone‘s 9/11 drama World Trade Center enjoyed a good hold in its second weekend grossing an estimated $10.8M. Down a moderate 42%, the Paramount release upped its total to $45M after 12 days. The $65M film looks to reach about $70M domestically.
Universal’s new teen comedy Accepted bowed in fourth place with an estimated $10.1M from 2,914 theaters. The PG-13 film about a high school senior who forms the fictitious S.H.I.T. (South Harmon Institute of Technology) after being rejected by every other college averaged a mild $3,470 per location. Budgeted at $23M, Accepted appealed mostly to a teen and young adult audience with studio research showing that a whopping 74% of the crowd was under 25. Males slightly outnumbered females with 52% of the audience.
Last weekend’s surprise hit Step Up fell an understandable 52% in its second session taking in an estimated $9.9M for fifth place. Buena Vista’s low-budget dance drama has captured a robust $39.4M in ten days and could end its run with a terrific $60M. At the beginning of August, no one thought that Step Up would score a bigger opening than Snakes on a Plane. The animated comedy Barnyard followed with an estimated $7.5M dropping only 23%. The strong hold for the Paramount release helped boost the cume to $46M after 17 days.
Boasting the best per-theater average in the top ten by far was indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine which expanded nationally and grossed an estimated $5.7M. Fox Searchlight’s dysfunctional family comedy averaged a stellar $8,213 from 691 locations after widening from 153 playdates last weekend. Cume to date stands at $12.8M with much more to come. The distributor reported that the Greg Kinnear–Steve Carell pic is broadening its audience beyond just the arthouse crowd and is now playing well in mainstream multiplexes in suburban markets. Sunshine will double its theater count on Friday with over 1,400 runs and will add a few hundred more the following weekend for the Labor Day holiday frame.
Disney’s unstoppable smash Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ranked eighth this weekend with an estimated $5M in its seventh voyage. Down only 31%, the Johnny Depp adventure broke the quadruple-century mark and pushed its cume to $401.1M in North America making it the seventh biggest domestic blockbuster ever trailing the $403.7M of 2002’s Spider-Man. Worldwide, the Pirates sequel cruised past the $900M mark this weekend and will break through the $1 billion barrier soon allowing it to join only Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the ten-digit club.
Opening quietly in ninth place were sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff with their comedy Material Girls which debuted with only $4.6M, according to estimates. Playing in 1,509 theaters, the MGM release averaged just $3,062 per site. The PG-rated story about wealthy sisters who must cope with being bankrupt opened much like Hilary Duff’s recent films Raise Your Voice ($4M in October 2004) and The Perfect Man ($5.3M in June 2005).
Rounding out the top ten was the horror entry Pulse with an estimated $3.5M, off 57%, for a ten-day total of just $14.7M. The Weinstein Co. should reach a mere $20M with this one.
There was plenty of activity in limited release over the weekend. Yari Film Group opened its period mystery The Illusionist in 51 theaters and grossed an estimated $925,000 for a powerful $18,137 average. The Edward Norton–Paul Giamatti starrer earned strong reviews and will add more theaters on Friday before expanding nationwide on September 1.
Fox Searchlight saw more modest results with its new relationship pic Trust the Man which debuted to an estimated $176,000 from 38 locations for a moderate $4,632 average. Playing in eight cities, the R-rated story stars Billy Crudup, David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Trust will widen to more than 100 theaters on Friday. Reviews have been mixed.
Four summer movies dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Lionsgate’s horror film The Descent fell 47% to an estimated $2.5M putting its total at $22.3M. The chicks-in-a-cave thriller should end with $27-29M. Sony’s Tim Allen flop Zoom declined 47% to an estimated $2.4M increasing its sum to a puny $9M. A horrendous final total of around $15M seems likely.
Universal’s $135M cop pic Miami Vice dropped 50% to an estimated $2.4M in its fifth frame and lifted its sum to $59.8M. A disappointing $65M final seems likely. The $75M animated film Monster House grossed an estimated $1.9M, down 42%, for a cume of $67.3M. Sony should end up with a respectable $72M.
Among holdovers in limited release, ThinkFilm’s critically-acclaimed drama Half Nelson added one theater and grossed an estimated $57,000 from three sites for a solid $19,067 average. The existing pair of theaters in Manhattan suffered almost no decline from last weekend and continued to sell out most of their weekend shows. Cume stands at $148,000 and the film debuts on Friday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
The global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth became the highest-grossing film in company history for Paramount Classics this weekend. Al Gore‘s environmental pic took in an estimated $246,000 from 221 theaters and upped its total to $22.4M. The distributor’s previous top grosser was last summer’s Hustle & Flow with $22.2M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $86.5M which was down 7% from last year when The 40-Year-Old Virgin debuted at number one with $21.4M; and down 10% from 2004 when Exorcist: The Beginning opened in the top spot with a robust $18.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com