Tommy Boy

(Photo by Paramount Pictures/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Brian Dennehy Movies Ranked

Brian Dennehy’s film debut was in the Burt Reynolds sports comedy Semi-Tough, a fitting start for a former university football player. His imposing size fit him well in bruising, enforcer-type roles, like in Sylvester Stallone’s F.I.S.T., with character names like Big Tom (Tommy Boy) and Big Dave (The Stars Fell on Henrietta). It was Dennehy’s second collaboration with Stallone that put him on the national stage: First Blood, playing relentless Sheriff Will Teasle, who torments John Rambo to the breaking point.

And he would memorably play another sheriff in the western Silverado. Dennehy would frequently be on the side of the law, with police roles in Gorky Park, F/X, and the Assault on Precinct 13 remake. But Dennehy’s enormous range and distinct everyman quality kept him from being typecast, along with strong theater work to rely on and hone his craft. (He won two Tony awards, including one for his Broadway performance as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in the late ’90s.) You can see his lighter side in Ron Howard’s sci-fi dramedy Cocoon, and when playing Chris Farley’s dad in Tommy Boy.

More career highlights include playing the shifty DA opposite Harrison Ford in Presumed Innocent, performing live in the network broadcast of Fail Safe with George Clooney and a whole slew of other caliber actors, and voicing Remy’s father in Pixar’s Ratatouille. In his final decade of work, Dennehy collaborated with Terence Malick on Knight of Cups, appeared in the pleasing Chekhov adaptation The Seagull, and bridged the generation gap in Andrew Ahn’s second feature, the tender Driveways.

#1

Never Cry Wolf (1983)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 101801%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Research scientist Tyler (Charles Martin Smith) is sent to the desolate Canadian tundra to find out whether the local wolf... [More]
Directed By: Carroll Ballard

#2

Driveways (2019)
99%

#2
Adjusted Score: 102787%
Critics Consensus: Understated yet powerful, Driveways is a character study anchored in fundamental decency -- and a poignant farewell to Brian Dennehy.
Synopsis: A lonely boy goes with his mother to help clean out his late aunt's house.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Ahn

#3

Fail Safe (2000)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 22154%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During the 1960s, a computer error in Nebraska unwittingly sets off a perilous chain of events leading to a Cold... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

#4

Ratatouille (2007)
96%

#4
Adjusted Score: 107378%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and stunningly animated, Ratatouille adds another delightfully entertaining entry -- and a rather unlikely hero -- to the Pixar canon.
Synopsis: Remy (Patton Oswalt), a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#5

Semi-Tough (1977)
82%

#5
Adjusted Score: 81227%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Billy Clyde Puckett (Burt Reynolds) and Marvin "Shake" Tiller (Kris Kristofferson) are professional football players who share a lush Miami... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#6

F/X (1986)
88%

#6
Adjusted Score: 90267%
Critics Consensus: Smart, twisty, and perfectly cast, the effects-assisted neo-noir F/X reminds viewers that a well-told story is the most special effect of all.
Synopsis: Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown) is a special-effects expert for low-budget Hollywood movies. As gangster Nicholas DeFranco (Jerry Orbach) prepares to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Mandel

#7

First Blood (1982)
85%

#7
Adjusted Score: 87664%
Critics Consensus: Much darker and more sensitive than the sequels it spawned, First Blood is a thrilling survival adventure that takes full advantage of Sylvester Stallone's acting skills.
Synopsis: Vietnam veteran and drifter John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) wanders into a small Washington town in search of an old... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 90112%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to an outstanding script, focused direction by Alan Pakula, and a riveting performance from Harrison Ford, Presumed Innocent is the kind of effective courtroom thriller most others aspire to be.
Synopsis: Prosecuting attorney Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy) assigns his chief deputy, the taciturn Rusty Sabitch (Harrison Ford), to investigate the rape... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 48536%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An unhappily married steelworker (Gene Hackman) turns 50 and sees a chance for a whole new life with a barmaid... [More]
Directed By: Bud Yorkin

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 84247%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Stourley Kracklite (Brian Dennehy), a driven, detail-obsessed architect, travels from America to Rome with his much younger wife, Louisa (Chloe... [More]
Directed By: Peter Greenaway

#11

Cocoon (1985)
74%

#11
Adjusted Score: 76022%
Critics Consensus: Though it may be too sentimental for some, Ron Howard's supernatural tale of eternal youth is gentle and heartwarming, touching on poignant issues of age in the process.
Synopsis: Oscar-winning fantasy in which the residents of a Florida rest home get a new lease of life when they stumble... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#12

Silverado (1985)
76%

#12
Adjusted Score: 78314%
Critics Consensus: Boasting rich detail and well-told story, Silverado is a rare example of an '80s Hollywood Western done right.
Synopsis: Rambling man Emmett (Scott Glenn) assembles a group of misfit cowboys (Kevin Costner), (Kevin Kline, Danny Glover). After helping a... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#13

Gorky Park (1983)
78%

#13
Adjusted Score: 78826%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Soviet detective Arkady Renko (William Hurt) uncovers a vast network of deceit and intrigue when he investigates a triple murder... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#14

F.I.S.T. (1978)
73%

#14
Adjusted Score: 72354%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Johnny Kovak (Sylvester Stallone) works in a warehouse and grows tired of the unfair policies in place, leading him to... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#15

Foul Play (1978)
74%

#15
Adjusted Score: 76237%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Librarian Gloria Mundy (Goldie Hawn) leads a relatively uneventful life. When she looks to shake things up, she somehow winds... [More]
Directed By: Colin Higgins

#16

Best Seller (1987)
73%

#16
Adjusted Score: 73440%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Police detective and successful author Dennis Meechum (Brian Dennehy) has not been able to write since his wife's death and... [More]
Directed By: John Flynn

#17
Adjusted Score: 76776%
Critics Consensus: Baz Luhrmann's visual aesthetic is as divisive as it is fresh and inventive.
Synopsis: Baz Luhrmann helped adapt this classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy for the screen, updating the setting to a post-modern city named... [More]
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann

#18

The Seagull (2018)
67%

#18
Adjusted Score: 74097%
Critics Consensus: The latest iteration of The Seagull does little to distinguish itself from other Chekhov adaptations but provides a pleasing showcase for its sterling cast.
Synopsis: At a picturesque lakeside estate, a love triangle unfolds between the diva Irina, her lover Boris, and the ingenue Nina.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mayer

#19

10 (1979)
68%

#19
Adjusted Score: 69712%
Critics Consensus: Blake Edwards' bawdy comedy may not score a perfect 10, but Dudley Moore's self-deprecating performance makes this midlife crisis persistently funny.
Synopsis: A successful, middle-aged Hollywood songwriter falls hopelessly in love with the woman of his dreams, and even follows the girl... [More]
Directed By: Blake Edwards

#20

3 Days With Dad (2019)
64%

#20
Adjusted Score: 58787%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Members of a Roman Catholic family prepare for the death of their father.... [More]
Directed By: Larry Clarke

#21

Miles From Home (1988)
60%

#21
Adjusted Score: 26840%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After creditors make it clear they intend to foreclose on the family farm of Frank (Richard Gere) and Terry Roberts... [More]
Directed By: Gary Sinise

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 66143%
Critics Consensus: This remake has been praised by some as an expertly made B-movie, and dismissed by others as formulaic.
Synopsis: While en route to prison, a bus carrying criminals Marion (Laurence Fishburne), Beck (John Alberto Leguizamo) and Anna (Aisha Hinds)... [More]
Directed By: Jean Richet

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 56171%
Critics Consensus: Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks give it their all, but their solid performances aren't quite enough to compensate for The Next Three Days' uneven pace and implausible plot.
Synopsis: Life for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks) is miserable after she is convicted of a murder she... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

#24
Adjusted Score: 22756%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During the Great Depression, Mr. Cox (Robert Duvall) is a talented oil prospector who's yet to strike it rich. During... [More]
Directed By: James Keach

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 48249%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An awkward teen (Dustin Ingram) makes a road trip to see his favorite porn star (Kim Cattrall) in person and... [More]
Directed By: Keith Bearden

#26

Knight of Cups (2015)
47%

#26
Adjusted Score: 57170%
Critics Consensus: Knight of Cups finds Terrence Malick delving deeper into the painterly visual milieu he's explored in recent efforts, but even hardcore fans may struggle with the diminishing narrative returns.
Synopsis: A Los Angeles screenwriter (Christian Bale) indulges his wild side with a stripper (Teresa Palmer), a model (Freida Pinto) and... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#27

Legal Eagles (1986)
44%

#27
Adjusted Score: 43735%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Chelsea Deardon (Daryl Hannah) is arrested for stealing artwork painted by her deceased father, and sympathetic attorney Laura Kelly (Debra... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#28

Tommy Boy (1995)
42%

#28
Adjusted Score: 43339%
Critics Consensus: Though it benefits from the comic charms of its two leads, Tommy Boy too often feels like a familiar sketch stretched thin.
Synopsis: After his beloved father (Brian Dennehy) dies, dimwitted Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) inherits a near-bankrupt automobile parts factory in Sandusky,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#29

Everyone's Hero (2006)
42%

#29
Adjusted Score: 44561%
Critics Consensus: Everyone's Hero is such a predictable and bland tale that it'll appeal mostly to little kids; others seeking something in Pixar's league are looking in the wrong ballpark.
Synopsis: A boy (Jake T. Austin) comes to a turning point in his life when he faces a critical decision: Should... [More]

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 43120%
Critics Consensus: The Song of Sway Lake benefits from alluring, evocative atmosphere, although it isn't always enough to compensate for a shaggy narrative and overall lack of focus.
Synopsis: After his father's suicide, a young record collector and his friend go to his family's lake house to claim a... [More]
Directed By: Ari Gold

#31

The Big Year (2011)
42%

#31
Adjusted Score: 44559%
Critics Consensus: Though made with care and affection for its characters, The Big Year plods along, rarely reaching any comedic heights.
Synopsis: Three men find that they have come to a turning point. Stu (Steve Martin) faces a late-life crisis, Kenny (Owen... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#32
Adjusted Score: 21577%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Prequel to the 1969 western "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in which a gang of bank robbers arrive in... [More]
Directed By: Richard Lester

#33

FX2 (1991)
44%

#33
Adjusted Score: 43505%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Former movie special effects expert Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown) has now become a maker of elaborate toys. When a police... [More]
Directed By: Richard Franklin

#34

Stolen Summer (2002)
36%

#34
Adjusted Score: 37440%
Critics Consensus: Stolen Summer feels like a sugary after-school special stretched out to feature length.
Synopsis: "Stolen Summer" chronicles the friendship of Pete O'Malley (Adi Stein) and Danny Jacobsen (Michael Weinberg). Most third graders spend their... [More]
Directed By: Pete Jones

#35

Every Day (2010)
34%

#35
Adjusted Score: 34377%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A TV writer (Liev Schreiber) grapples with a wave of personal and professional crises, including his wife's meltdown and a... [More]
Directed By: Richard Levine

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 33074%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Five years after the first "Cocoon," the friendly aliens from the planet Anterea return to Earth to rescue some incubation... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Petrie

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 34969%
Critics Consensus: Though The Ultimate Gift avoids religious speechifying like other Fox Faith films, it's dramatically inert with flat direction.
Synopsis: Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller) lives a life of wealth and privilege. When his grandfather (James Garner) dies, Jason expects to... [More]
Directed By: Michael O. Sajbel

#38

Gladiator (1992)
31%

#38
Adjusted Score: 17280%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After whipping a rival in a brawl, Chicago teen Tommy Riley (James Marshall) is asked to box in the illegal... [More]
Directed By: Rowdy Herrington

#39

She Hate Me (2004)
19%

#39
Adjusted Score: 22286%
Critics Consensus: She Hate Me can't decide if it wants to be a commentary on corporate greed or a sex farce.
Synopsis: Fired from his corporate job, a man (Anthony Mackie) agrees to impregnate his ex-fiancee (Kerry Washington) and a slew of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#40

10th and Wolf (2006)
19%

#40
Adjusted Score: 18287%
Critics Consensus: A scattered mob movie that employs every mafia cliche and fails to establish an identity of its own.
Synopsis: While serving in the military, a Marine sergeant (James Marsden) believes his family's ties to organized crime are a thing... [More]
Directed By: Bobby Moresco

#41

Righteous Kill (2008)
18%

#41
Adjusted Score: 23638%
Critics Consensus: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro do their best to elevate this dowdy genre exercise, but even these two greats can't resuscitate the film's hackneyed script.
Synopsis: Detectives Thomas Cowan (Robert De Niro) and David Fisk (Al Pacino), 30-year veterans of the NYPD, investigate the murder of... [More]
Directed By: Jon Avnet

#42

Summer Catch (2001)
8%

#42
Adjusted Score: 10082%
Critics Consensus: A cliched and predictable sports comedy that's mostly devoid of excitement or laughs, Summer Catch is strictly bush-league.
Synopsis: A coming-of-age romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Local boy Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze... [More]
Directed By: Michael Tollin

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

Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster returns to the big screen this weekend in the vigilante thriller The Brave One which has its sights set on an easy top spot debut. The frame’s only other wide openers, the comedy Mr. Woodcock and the fantasy adventure Dragon Wars, bring with them less buzz and look to make less of a dent into the North American box office.

Gunning for her third number one hit in as many years, Foster takes a darker role starring as a woman who takes the law into her own hands after her fiancé is brutally beaten and killed in the Warner Bros. drama The Brave One. The R-rated film from director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) co-stars Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, and Mary Steenburgen and should play to an adult audience. Cross-gender appeal is strong here so this will not play out like a chick flick or a woman-in-peril film. Foster is one of very few women in Hollywood bankable enough to open pictures consistently year after year and she tends to pick projects with commercial viability in the first place. Gone are the Nell days.

The Brave One should play to the same crowd that came out for two other September thrillers led by fortysomething white women – Foster’s own Flightplan from 2005 and Julianne Moore‘s The Forgotten from a year earlier. Flightplan took off with $24.6M and a $7,193 average while Forgotten bowed to $21M and a $6,773 average. Brave carries a harsher R rating but that should not affect the grosses too much since most of the interest will come from those over 16 anyway. A more narrow release in 2,755 theaters will have an impact though. Marketing has been top notch and Foster has been making so many promotional appearances that you’d think her name were Hillary. Despite a bad title, The Brave One should still score a strong opening weekend in the number one spot and could gross about $22M over three days.




Jodie Foster is The Brave One.

Seann William Scott and Billy Bob Thornton compete over who has the best three names in the biz in the new comedy Mr. Woodcock. The PG-13 film finds a young man whose life is traumatized when his mother decides to marry his old nemesis, the junior high gym teacher. The New Line release does offer up some starpower from the two leads plus Susan Sarandon as the remarrying mom. Hopes are for a wide age range to take interest. But the buzz around the picture is not too strong and it is not exactly at the top of the must-see list at this moment for teens and young adults. The Thornton-Sarandon crowd will be hard to reach with Jodie and Russell out there with high profile flicks for mature adults. Crashing into over 2,200 locations, Mr. Woodcock could debut with about $6M.


Billy Bob Thornton is Mr. Woodcock.

The forces of good and evil go at it once again in the new fantasy adventure Dragon Wars from Freestyle Releasing. The PG-13 pic hopes to tear young males away from their PlayStations, but with zero starpower and a light marketing push the grosses and averages will not fly too high. After a big wave of good summer action movies targeted this demo, a series of bad ones went after young guys too in recent weeks. That leaves little space at the multiplexes. Debuting in a curiously wide 2,000 theaters, Dragon Wars could collect about $4M this weekend.


The Korean sci-fi/thriller Dragon Wars a.k.a. D-War

Audiences have been upbeat on the Russell CroweChristian Bale Western 3:10 to Yuma and its older skew should mean that the sophomore drop will not be too fierce. Plus competition for adult men is not very formidable. A 40% decline to $8.5M could result giving Lionsgate about $28M after ten days.

Halloween‘s freefall means it will be out of theaters by the time trick-or-treating begins. A 55% drop would lead to a $4M frame and a 17-day tally of $50M. Superbad should continue its strong run with a 40% dip to $3M which would boost Sony’s total to $109M.

LAST YEAR: The Rock‘s football drama Gridiron Gang from Sony led a batch of new films with a debut of $14.4M which was good enough to clinch first place. Opening in second and playing to a more mature adult audience was The Black Dahlia with $10M for Universal. Final grosses reached $38.4M and $22.5M. Bowing poorly in third was the baseball toon Everyone’s Hero with $6.1M for Fox on its way to just $14.5M. Sony’s teen thriller The Covenant dropped from first to fourth with $4.8M while Paramount’s The Last Kiss opened quietly in fifth with $4.6M leading to a $11.6M final.

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

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

Wrestler-turned-actor The Rock suffered the worst opening of his career with the football drama Gridiron Gang, but thanks to weak competition, it was still enough to capture the number one position at the North American box office.

The new murder mystery The Black Dahlia bowed in second place with moderate results, but fellow freshmen Everyone’s Hero and The Last Kiss both failed to excite moviegoers. For the first time in over a year, only three movies were able to gross more than $5M during the frame. Overall ticket sales rose slightly from last weekend’s dismal showing, but still managed to post the second worst performance of 2006 giving the fall season a worrisome start.

For the third time in the last four weekends, football ruled the box office as Gridiron Gang topped the charts with an estimated $15M kickoff. Playing extremely wide in 3,504 theaters, the PG-13 drama averaged a decent $4,281 per site and gave The Rock the fifth number one opener of his career, but also his smallest debut ever. The action star continued to see diminishing returns on opening weekend with Gang which followed last fall’s Doom ($15.5M), 2004’s remake of Walking Tall ($15.5M), The Rundown ($18.5M) in 2003, and 2002’s The Scorpion King ($36.1M). The Rock also saw a $23.5M bow for 2005’s John Travolta flick Be Cool, but his comedic turn was only a supporting role.

In Gridiron Gang, the charismatic actor plays a juvenile detention camp counselor who inspires delinquent kids by coaching them in football. Budgeted at about $30M, the pic played to a younger and more male audience, as expected. Studio research showed that 52% of the crowd consisted of guys and 55% was under the age of 25. Reviews were not very good.

For Sony, Gang’s top spot bow marked the tenth number one opening of the year for the studio setting a new industry record. Having already banked over $1 billion in box office this year, Sony aims to extend its record performance with promising sequels like The Grudge 2 and Casino Royale which debut in October and November, respectively. The studio has opened a whopping 18 films so far in 2006, the most of any distributor. It has placed films in the top ten in all but two weekends this year.

September is often the worst month of the year at the box office as people shift their attention to other distractions like a new school year, a new television season, and the return of NFL football. But this year, the late summer and early fall have been especially slow at theaters. Over the past two months, only one film (Talladega Nights) has managed to open north of $30M. Four films did the deed during the same period in each of the last two years while five surpassed that mark in 2003.

Universal debuted its new crime thriller The Black Dahlia in second place with an estimated $10.4M. Playing in about 1,300 fewer theaters than Gridiron Gang, the Brian De Palma-directed pic averaged a moderate $4,655 per location giving it the best average among all the weekend’s wide releases. Starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, and Hilary Swank, Dahlia played to a mature adult audience with its tale of the investigation behind the brutal murder of a Hollywood starlet in the 1940s. The $60M film needed strong reviews to score with its target audience, but was met with little support from critics. In fact, the film scored only a 30% rating on RottenTomatoes.com’s critic scale which was even lower than Gridiron Gang’s 43%.

The weekend’s two other new national releases were mostly ignored by moviegoers. Fox opened its animated baseball kidpic Everyone’s Hero to an estimated $6.2M from a very wide 2,896 theaters. Co-directed by the late Christopher Reeve, the G-rated film averaged a soft $2,124 per site. 2006 has seen nearly a dozen toons invade the multiplexes. Hero’s opening ranks as the second worst of the year for an animated pic trailing only Doogal‘s $3.6M launch in February.

Paramount quietly opened its DreamWorks romantic comedy The Last Kiss in fourth place with only $4.7M, according to estimates. Landing in a mere 1,357 theaters, the R-rated film starring Zach Braff as a soon-to-be-dad with jitters averaged a mild $3,465 per location. Reviews were mixed.

Falling from first place was the supernatural teen thriller The Covenant which grossed an estimated $4.7M as well, off 47% from its debut. With $15.7M collected in ten days, Sony’s $20M pic could end its run with $24-26M. Another former number one, Buena Vista’s football drama Invincible, placed sixth with an estimated $3.9M, down only 31%, lifting the total to $50.9M.

A pair of solid word-of-mouth hits from smaller distributors followed. Yari Film Group’s period mystery The Illusionist slipped just 17% to an estimated $3.8M in its third weekend of wide release and upped its cume to $23.3M. Fox Searchlight’s indie hit Little Miss Sunshine became the company’s second-biggest grosser of all-time this weekend taking in an estimated $3.4M, down just 22%, raising the sum to $46.4M. The distributor’s only bigger hit has been 2004’s Sideways with $71.5M thanks to a prolonged Oscar run.

The George Reeves murder mystery Hollywoodland fell sharply in its second weekend tumbling 54% to an estimated $2.7M. Suffering the worst decline in the top ten, the Focus release has taken in a disappointing $10.5M in ten days and looks headed for a quick finish with only $15-17M. Rounding out the top ten was the Jason Statham actioner Crank with an estimated $2.7M as well, down 45%, giving Lionsgate $24.4M to date.

Buena Vista offered sneak previews in 800 theaters on Saturday for its upcoming marine adventure The Guardian and drew a well-balanced audience with males slightly edging out the women with 51% of the crowd. The Ashton KutcherKevin Costner pic played to 70% capacity and will officially open on September 29 opposite Sony’s animal toon Open Season and MGM’s comedy School for Scoundrels.

Arthouses were flooded with new product this weekend as a number of films platformed in hopes of generating strong indie buzz. Lionsgate got off to a good start with its documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon which debuted in only six theaters and grossed an estimated $72,000 for a solid $12,000 average. The film expands on September 29 into more than ten additional markets.

Proving once again that he is not much of a box office draw without pirates or Hobbits around, Orlando Bloom‘s new revenge thriller Haven flopped in its debut grossing an estimated $38,000 from 24 sites for a dismal $1,588 average for Yari Film Group. Fox Searchlight also struggled with its new wedding mockumentary Confetti which debuted to an estimated $20,000 from a dozen sites for a poor $1,701 average. Both films still plan to expand this Friday with Haven widening to about 75 theaters and Confetti falling into over 130 playdates.

Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The Thai action pic The Protector grossed an estimated $2.5M in its sophomore frame falling 51% from its opening. The Weinstein Co. has kicked up $9M in ten days and should end up with only $13-15M. Nicolas Cage‘s suspense thriller The Wicker Man dropped 48% to an estimated $2.1M pushing the cume to a lukewarm $20.7M. The Warner Bros. title looks to complete its run with around $25M.

The summer’s top-grossing comedy, Tallageda Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, slipped 34% to an estimated $2M in its seventh lap and boosted its stellar total to $145M. Sony’s Will Ferrell smash could cross the $150M line before calling it quits. Paramount’s Barnyard, another late-summer hit, grossed an estimated $1.6M while also in its seventh weekend. Down 40%, the animated entry has laughed up $69.1M thus far and is headed for $72-74M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $57.4M which was down 14% from last year when Just Like Heaven debuted at number one with $16.4M; and down 4% from 2004 when Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow opened in the top spot with $15.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we have De Palma‘s latest thriller ("The Black Dahlia"), Zach Braff whining about growing up ("The Last Kiss"), The Rock teaching young criminals about the reformative nature of football ("Gridiron Gang"), and the late Christopher Reeve‘s brainchild ("Everyone’s Hero"). What do the critics have to say?

Everyone is dressed to kill (Hilary Swank as a femme fatale!) in Brian De Palma‘s latest thriller "The Black Dahlia," but the movie is decidedly coming up snake eyes for critics. While his movie captures the tawdry atmosphere of the ’40s, the story is so convoluted and, in retrospect, so flimsy, the phrase "looks great, less filling" comes to mind. That several of the lead characters are miscast doesn’t help, either. Critics agree De Palma has overreached in his ambitious adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel, as "The Black Dahlia" currently sits at 44% on the Tomatometer.


The makings of a love triangle. Eckhart, Johansson, and Hartnett in "Black Dahlia."

Growing up is hard to do, but do they have to make yet another movie about it? That’s what critics are asking with "The Last Kiss," the English language remake of the Italian movie "L’Ultimo Bacio." Starring Zach Braff ("Garden State"), the movie follows four buddies in their late twenties at various stages of their lives. While the dialogue is particularly strong, courtesy of Oscar winner Paul Haggis ("Crash"), the movie brings nothing particularly new to its premise that hasn’t been done before, and better, in other movies such as Barry Levinson’s "Diner." "The Last Kiss" has a Tomatometer of 45%.

"Gridiron Gang" is one of those inspirational tales about triumphing over adversity that you’ve probably seen a million times, except this one stars former wrestler The Rock as the probation officer who reforms young criminals through football. The movie is as clichéd as you might expect, and most of the critics say the sappy nature of this tale, compounded by predictability, makes "Gridiron" (39% Tomatometer rating) a fumble.


Remember the Titans! The Gridiron gang after a victory.

"Everyone’s Hero," the animated tale directed partially by the late Christopher Reeve, has its heart in the right place, but critics say this bland cartoon won’t appeal to anyone besides tiny tots. It sits at 38% on the Tomatometer.

In Guess the Tomatometer for "The Covenant" last week, ‘havoc_012’ hit the bull’s-eye with a guess of 3%.

Recent De Palma Directed Movies:
——————————–
49% — Femme Fatale (2002)
24% — Mission to Mars (2002)
33% — Snake Eyes (1998)
67% — Mission:Impossible (1996)

Recent The Rock Movies:
————————
29% — Be Cool (2005)
19% — Doom (2005)
25% — Walking Tall (2004)
69% — The Rundown (2003)

Following the worst box office weekend in three years, Hollywood has nowhere to go but up. It hopes.

Four new pictures enter wide release on Friday led by the sports drama "Gridiron Gang" from Sony which is gunning for its tenth trip to the number one spot this year. Universal goes after an older crowd with the crime thriller "The Black Dahlia," Fox aims for kids with the animated film "Everyone’s Hero," and Paramount tries to court the adult date crowd with "The Last Kiss." Overall, the North American marketplace should bounce back from last weekend’s horrible showing, but only by a small margin.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson hopes to score the fifth number one opening of his career this weekend with the football saga "Gridiron Gang." The PG-13 film finds the wrestler-turned-actor playing a juvenile camp officer who assembles a pigskin squad in order to give lost kids some hope in life. Sony is targeting one of the most reliable moviegoing segments with "Gang" – urban youth. With a young and multicultural cast, plus a star in the lead role, this new film hopes to appeal to the same crowd that made hits out of other sports flicks like "Remember the Titans" and "Coach Carter." Of course, the star this time is not an Oscar-caliber actor. "Gang’s" marketing push has been strong and an ultrawide release will make the product available everywhere.


Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in "Gridiron Gang."

The Rock provides solid starpower, although his box office muscle in recent years has delivered openings in a very narrow range. Pics like "The Rundown," "Walking Tall," and "Doom" have all debuted within the $15-19M range. "Gridiron Gang’s" rating should open the doors to a wider audience and with the start of the NFL and college football seasons, the subject matter is very relevant at this time of year. Plus with a dead marketplace featuring choices that are exciting nobody, teens and young adults should find this one the only film worth rallying behind. Charging into 3,504 locations, "Gridiron Gang" will have no problem conquering the box office and could score around $17M this weekend.

Moviegoers opting for a trip back to the 1940s instead of a football pic can choose Brian De Palma‘s "The Black Dahlia" which Universal opens on Friday. The R-rated thriller stars Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart as Los Angeles cops investigating the mysterious death of a young woman chopped in half and disemboweled. Scarlett Johansson and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank take the token female roles. Just as with "Hollywoodland" which bowed last weekend, "Dahlia" will play to an older adult audience interested in LA-based crime noir pics from the mid twentieth century. Unlike with the younger-skewing "Gridiron Gang," reviews will play a big part in the success or failure of "Dahlia." This one needs more support from critics than it’s getting in order to become a commercial winner. Starpower is certainly there, but the subject matter may not pique the interest of adults across all 50 states. Add in competition for the target audience plus an overall slowdown in moviegoing activity and it may be hard for the studio to break even on this one. "The Black Dahlia" enters 2,224 theaters and might collect around $9M this weekend.


Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart are on the case in "The Black Dahlia."

Following this summer’s "Superman Returns" and last week’s George Reeves mystery "Hollywoodland," the Man of Steel spotlight now turns to the late Christopher Reeve whose final project, the animated sports tale "Everyone’s Hero," makes its way into theaters on Friday. With voices provided by Rob Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, and William H. Macy, the G-rated flick tells of a boy on a mission to retrieve Babe Ruth’s stolen bat. Reeve co-directed with Colin Brady and Dan St. Pierre. Fox will be looking to attract kids and Little League coach parents with "Hero." The film is not registering too high on the priority lists of children. But the studio does have one thing working in its favor – the current marketplace has nothing major for children. And don’t expect the other new releases to appeal to the family crowd either. Opening surprisingly wide in 2,896 theaters, "Everyone’s Hero" could score around $7M this weekend.


The animated Babe Ruth in Christopher Reeve’s "Everyone’s Hero."

TV stars Zach Braff of NBC’s "Scrubs" and Rachel Bilson of Fox’s "The O.C." join forces on the big screen in "The Last Kiss" which Paramount inherited from its DreamWorks tie-up. The R-rated remake of an Italian film about a man in the early stages of a mid-life crisis also stars Casey Affleck, Blythe Danner, and Tom Wilkinson. The marketing push behind "Kiss" has been lacking so look for the romantic dramedy to become a small blip on the box office radar this weekend. Adult women will make up the primary audience making period pics "Dahlia" and "Hollywoodland" direct competitors. Consumer excitement is pretty low for "The Last Kiss" which heads into only 1,100 theaters. A weekend gross of roughly $4M could result.


Zach Braff and that chick from "The Real World" in "The Last Kiss."

The new fall season brings a flood of activity in limited-release action. Balcony Releasing got the frame started on Wednesday with its New York opening of the political doc "Al Franken: God Spoke" which adds a second Manhattan venue on Friday. The raunchy softball comedy "Artie Lange’s Beer League" opens on Friday in about 175 theaters. With Ralph Macchio in the cast, the R-rated Echo Bridge release should find itself stuck in six-digit territory. Yari Film Group unleashes the Cayman Islands-set drama "Haven," which stars Orlando Bloom and Bill Paxton, into 24 theaters across the country.

The mockumentary wedding comedy "Confetti" bows in a dozen sites from Fox Searchlight. American troops in Iraq are the focus of the Focus Features documentary "The Ground Truth" which attacks eight theaters. Lionsgate offers up its own non-fiction flick "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" in six playdates examining the Beatles icon’s rage against the establishment.

Sony’s ninth number one of the year "The Covenant" looks to get booted out of the top spot by the studio’s tenth chart-topper. A 50% drop would give the teen thriller about $4.5M for the frame and a modest ten-day cume of $15M. "Hollywoodland" lacked strength in its debut and will now face a direct hit from "Dahlia" so a 45% decline could be in order. That would give Focus around $3.5M over the weekend putting the total at a weak $11M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Reese Witherspoon captured the number one spot with her latest comedy "Just Like Heaven" which grossed $16.4M on its way to $48.3M for DreamWorks. Sony’s surprise suspense hit "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" lost half its business and dropped to second with $14.9M in its sophomore frame. Nicolas Cage bowed in third with his new actioner "Lord of War" with $9.4M. The Lions Gate release reached $24.1M. Steve Carell enjoyed his fifth week in the top five with "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" which laughed up $6M. The horror pic "Cry Wolf" bowed poorly in fifth with only $4.4M leading to a $10M finish.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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