(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection.)
If we had known that The Rock was indeed cooking a biggest-star-in-the-world movie career, we would’ve stuck our noses up in there a lot sooner. Yes, we would have sniffed up those early stinkers Doom and Be Cool, because at least nestled somewhere in there was The Rundown, which featured peak Seann William Scott and a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger passing the action torch to this upstart, the man who would be Dwayne Johnson. And indeed Johnson was the action man of the mid-aughts, tacking on the likes of Walking Tall to his brawny resume. And like his action forebears, he made a curve into family comedy, releasing The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy, and Race to Witch Mountain to the delight, we assume, of some people. On a scale between Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot to Kindergarten Cop, we rate Johnson’s comedy career detour Top Dog.
But things turned around in 2010. That’s the year he jumped face first off a building into the pavement. And thus was born a new action/comedy classic: The Other Guys. Meanwhile, ’70s-style throwback Faster showed a leaner, meaner Johnson back in a hard-hitting groove. He was invited into the Fast & Furious family, helping turn Fast Five into the franchise’s first Certified Fresh entry and a global phenomenon. San Andreas, Rampage, and Skyscraper turned him into the master of disaster, while Moana and Fighting With My Family, which he also produced, are among his highest-rated movies.
Central Intelligence was the first collaboration Johnson had with Kevin Hart, which was merely the opening for the main course: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the unlikely reboot-sequel that connected with audiences and critics worldwide. He, Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan all came back for Jumanji: The Next Level, and we’re taking a look back on all of Dwayne Johnson’s movies ranked by Tomatometer!
The best football movies capture the grit, the drama, the glory, and even the absurd comedic potential of the sport. To that tight end, we’ve huddled together the 30 Essential Football Movies, as fine a lineup of critics’ choices and fan favorites as you’ll ever see.
Filling the roster are classics synonymous with football flicks (Remember the Titans, Rudy), comedies to tackle the funny bone (The Waterboy, The Replacements), industry insiders (Jerry Maguire, Draft Day), and the inspirational tearjerkers (Brian’s Song). And it’s an-all ages club, from elementary (Little Giants), to high school (Varsity Blues), to college (We Are Marshall), and, of course, the winding road to the pros (Invincible). Whether they’re set on field, in the locker room, or in the halls, these movies capture the spirit of football in its complex glory. These movies are not ranked by Tomatometer scores, but by their stature and impact inside the arena of sports cinema. So even if some critics gave these movies a hard time, the fact that they’ve been accepted by audiences and fans as film ambassadors to the football life was the true weighing factor.
So welcome to Rotten Tomatoes’ 30 Essential Football Movies. No need to review the play on this one: We guarantee you’re seeing a big dogpile of the gridiron movie greats.
From the football field to the professional wrestling arena to the big screen, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has dominated every field he’s entered — and with his latest action outing, Brett Ratner’s Hercules, flexing its way into cineplexes this weekend, we figured now would be a pretty good time to honor that success by taking a fond look back at what he’s been cooking at theaters since breaking into the movie business. Oil up those pecs, because it’s time for Total Recall!
When Dwayne Johnson moved out of the wrestling ring and into family-friendly filmmaking, many of the roles available to him tended toward the excessively kiddie end of the spectrum, a la 2010’s Tooth Fairy. But at least in terms of its outline, 2006’s Gridiron Gang would seem to have offered the best of both worlds — a wholesomely uplifting drama about a tough-as-nails probation officer who lifts L.A. kids out of their lives of juvie crime by offering them a strong example of positive male leadership. Alas, most critics felt that this Gang didn’t flash enough of the right signs during its time on the screen; although few writers argued against the movie’s undeniably admirable aims, they felt screenwriter Jeff Maguire’s script did a poor job of bringing dramatic life to a real-life situation that deserved more depth. Still, for some scribes, the ends justified the means; as Claudia Puig wrote for USA Today, “Gridiron entertains and makes a powerful point about the faults inherent in the penal system, particularly for youths with hopes of rehabilitation.”
As acting gigs go, the prospect of taking over the reins of an effects-driven franchise from Brendan Fraser probably don’t rank high on many movie stars’ wish lists — but after Journey to the Center of the Earth made more than $240 million in 2008, a sequel was pretty much a foregone conclusion, and by securing the services of Johnson and Vanessa Hudgens to round out the cast with returning young lead Josh Hutcherson, the producers of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island probably felt like they had the makings of an all-ages blockbuster waiting to happen. In financial terms, they were right — Journey 2 broke the $300 million mark — but critically speaking, the results proved a letdown, with many writers questioning the clunky mishmash of dopey plotting and Hudgens cleavage shots. For others, though, those were minor missteps worth looking past to see a good old-fashioned adventure; Beliefnet’s Nell Minow, for example, called it “A well-paced and highly entertaining family film made with good humor, panache, and imagination.”
Dwayne Johnson against Billy Bob Thornton in an action thriller about an ex-con out to avenge his brother’s death while on the lam from an aging lawman and psychotic hitman? By all rights, 2010’s Faster should have been exactly the sort of out-and-out smash that makes absolutely no bones about playing squarely to each of its participants’ strengths — especially given that it saw Johnson’s return to R-rated action after an uneven stretch of family-friendly fare. Sadly, most critics felt Faster failed to live up to its title, and audiences seemed to agree, sending the film to an ignominious $35 million total at the box office. Once again, however, our star’s work was singled out as a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing movie: “Johnson’s performance is one of seething rage camouflaging emotional scars as ugly as the physical ones,” wrote Gary Dowell of the Dallas Morning News, calling Johnson’s Driver “a grim, single-minded figure straight out of a Jim Thompson or Richard Stark novel.”
For viewers of a certain age, Disney’s Witch Mountain movies — adapted from Alexander Key’s classic novels — rank among the studio’s better live-action efforts, although it would be hard to argue the notion that the films’ acting and/or special effects offered room for improvement. So when director Andy Fickman took the helm for a franchise reboot in 2009, with Johnson attached to play a cab driver who ends up acting as reluctant protector for a pair of mysterious kids (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) on the run from a cruel Defense Department goon (Ciarán Hinds), it didn’t seem altogether out of the question that they might produce compelling results. Unfortunately, Race to Witch Mountain wasn’t quite the sequel-starter the studio seemed to be hoping for; although it did decent business, racking up more than $145 million in worldwide grosses, many critics were let down by the movie’s lack of depth and reluctance to explore the poignant, intelligent themes in Key’s books. As tends to be the case with even his worst-reviewed films, however, Johnson earned praise for his charismatic performance. “The star of this movie universe is undeniably Dwayne. His cinematic charisma is as big as his biceps,” wrote Film.com’s Christine Champ. “Hard and soft in all the right spots, he’s a badass hero with heart, armed with world-weary one-liners and wicked comic timing.”
Michael Bay movies are frequently derided for their general insensitivity — to character development, to all notions of filmmaking subtlety, to the art of storytelling, to viewers’ eardrums — but if ever a movie seemed like it might call for that treatment, it should have been Pain & Gain, which adapts the true-life story of a group of Miami gym rats (Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie) whose thirst for wealth leads them to make a series of spectacularly ill-advised decisions, including kidnapping, theft, and murder. Unfortunately, Bay’s insensitivity hampered him here, too; in the eyes of many critics, his decision to treat the story as a sort of gaudy action comedy felt wrong, given that it’s a movie about horrible things that happened to real people. Set that aside, however, and you might just enjoy Pain & Gain on its own merits: “Might this be the best Michael Bay film ever?” asked Tara Brady for the Irish Times. “We know what you’re thinking. But we mean it in a good way.”
By 2008, Steve Carell’s work as Michael Scott on NBC’s The Office had elevated him to the ranks of comedy’s preeminent doofuses, so he was a natural choice to step into Don Adams’ hallowed shoe phones when Warner Bros. decided to put together a modernized film adaptation of the classic 1960s TV spy comedy Get Smart. Alas, in spite of Carell’s suitably bumbling turn as clueless spy Maxwell Smart — and the presence of a strong supporting cast that included Alan Arkin as Smart’s exasperated chief, Anne Hathaway as the inexplicably amorous Agent 99, and Dwayne Johnson as the impossibly smooth Agent 23 — Smart left many critics cold. For others, the key to enjoyment was lowered expectations; as Susan Tavernetti argued for Palo Alto Weekly, “You’ll have a better time if you don’t expect this re-imagined work to resemble the original. The phone shoe does fit Carell, and he wears it well.”
It’s got a one-word title and a tough-lookin’ Dwayne Johnson behind the wheel of a truck, but Snitch isn’t your average Rock action thriller. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, it’s actually something of a message movie, starring Johnson as the anguished father of a boy (Rafi Gavron) whose trumped-up drug-dealing charges could send him to prison for at least 10 years — unless Dad follows through on a hastily struck deal with the US Attorney’s office, the terms of which require him to infiltrate a local drug kingpin with no support from law enforcement. With Johnson in the lead, the temptation to turn Snitch into a typically overdriven action flick had to have been high, and it’s to Waugh’s credit that he actually practices a modicum of restraint; unfortunately, many critics felt that left the movie stranded in a rather dull no-man’s-land between thoughtful drama and brainless thrills. Still, it wasn’t without its admirers; as Tom Russo wrote for the Boston Globe, “Nobody is going to confuse a Dwayne Johnson movie with Les Misérables. But Snitch gets a decent amount of drama (and action, of course) out of the argument that there’s paying for a crime, and then there’s overpaying.”
Retooled into an action franchise that just happened to include lots of cars, the Fast & Furious series roared into its sixth installment with a lot more momentum than most similarly persistent film properties, and although the reviews for Fast & Furious 6 weren’t quite as kind as they’d been for Fast Five, critics were still generally on board for another round of Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker wreaking extralegal mayhem in order to bring down a truly nasty bad guy. The heavy this time around is Shaw (Luke Evans), whose nefarious plot stretches beyond your average multi-national criminal ring; in fact, he’s gone and — you guessed it — made things personal for our heroes. “Some of the action sequences are insane,” enthused the Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy. “No, really. Absurd, impossible, physics defying, triage-required stuff. No matter. That’s the foolish rush of a franchise that must go faster and faster and furiouser and furiouser.”
It’s a formula as old as film: Take a big, strong guy, give him a more averagely built comedic foil, and stand back while the laff-a-minute hijinks fly. Kind of a cheap cinematic trick, but one that still tends to work pretty well; why, just take a look at The Rundown, which throws Johnson and Seann William Scott together in an action caper about a retiring bounty hunter (Johnson) who’s wheedled into hunting down his boss’s twerpy wayward son (Scott) in a Brazilian rainforest where he’s managed to tick off an unscrupulous mining kingpin (Christopher Walken) while pursuing some treasure. It’s the kind of movie that delivers the expected beats at the expected moments, but thrives on the charisma of its stars; as James Berardinelli wrote for ReelViews, “The Rundown offers everything a good movie of this sort should: plenty of suspenseful action, a few good laughs, and a share of obligatory ‘reluctant buddy’ bonding.”
The Fast and the Furious franchise seemed to be petering out after 2006’s Tokyo Drift, but things got back on track with 2009’s The Fast and the Furious — which in turn set up 2011’s Fast Five, the fifth installment that turned the series into the sequel-churning heist thriller factory it’s become. Aside from jump-starting FF‘s creative prospects, Five also gave Johnson the part he may have been born to play: government agent Luke Hobbs, the bounty hunter-turned-U.S. Marshal who goes bicep-for-bicep against series mainstays Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. This time around, even critics — who’d always been notoriously recalcitrant where the Fast and Furious movies were concerned — climbed on board, including Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald, who applauded it as “Embarrassingly fun, the sort of speedy, senseless, violence-crammed action flick that virtually defines the summer season, with superheroes who aren’t gods or crusaders in tights but guys in T-shirts and jeans who can drive cars really fast.”
In case you were wondering, here are Johnson’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:
1. Fast & Furious — 84%
2. Gridiron Gang — 82%
3. Fast Five — 82%
4. The Game Plan — 70%
5. Get Smart — 67%
6. The Rundown — 67%
7. Snitch — 62%
8. Walking Tall — 61%
9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island — 60%
10. G.I. Joe: Retaliation — 49%
Finally, here’s Mr. Johnson’s famous catch phrase:
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.
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.
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
Moviegoers will have plenty to choose from over the long Christmas holiday weekend as four new star-driven wide releases hit the marketplace adding to an already crowded marquee.
The Ben Stiller fantasy pic "Night at the Museum" leads the way as the frame’s only new comedy while the Matthew McConaughey football drama "We Are Marshall" offers an inspirational story based on true events. Meanwhile, a pair of Italian Stallions hop into the director’s chair as Sylvester Stallone‘s boxing drama "Rocky Balboa" and Robert De Niro‘s espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" offer even more choices to holiday moviegoers. As is typical of this time of year, Christmas Eve will hurt the box office on Sunday as last-minute shopping and early theater closings will take their toll. But the Monday holiday will see a major recovery since Christmas Day brings forth a surge in traffic to the multiplexes.
Blasting into nearly 3,700 theaters including 72 Imax venues is the comedy "Night at the Museum" which finds Ben Stiller playing the new night watchman at New York’s Museum of Natural History where all the artifacts and statues come to life each night. Director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "The Pink Panther") leaves behind Steve Martin to work with a younger funnyman and more special effects. The PG-rated film is aiming for broad audiences hoping to bring in entire families looking for a fun time this holiday season. "Museum" also plans to score with teens and young adults as the only major comedy option for them. With "The Holiday" being the only other laugher in the top ten to register with that lucrative group, look for a solid response.
Stiller brings considerable starpower to the film but he also gets backup from comedians like Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. Plus with the prestigious ‘and’ credit already claimed by Williams, Owen Wilson takes a sizable supporting role but is so cool that he is nowhere to be found in the credits at all. Audiences want happy and funny films during the Christmas holidays and "Night at the Museum" should post muscular numbers thanks to its starpower, lack of comedy competition, mild rating, and formidable marketing and distribution push. Fox looks to close up the books on 2006 by taking over the number one spot this weekend. Attacking 3,688 locations, "Night at the Museum" could debut to about $34M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday period.
Sylvester Stallone brings the eye of the tiger back to the multiplexes one last time in "Rocky Balboa" which got a jumpstart on the holiday weekend with its Wednesday launch. The MGM release brings the iconic boxer back to the screen in what is supposedly the end of the franchise with Stallone back in the saddle as writer and director. In this tale, Rocky is brought back into the ring when media hype prompts fans to wonder who the best boxer is of all time. The underdog story on screen mirrored the one within industry circles. How could a franchise that died 16 years ago with the poorly-received "Rocky V" find its way back into the hearts of today’s moviegoers. MGM and the "Judge Dredd" star moved forward. Today, they proudly claim one of the best reviewed films of the Christmas season and the Wednesday bow is being counted on to get die-hard fans out early so they can spread positive buzz at work and in school going into the lucrative yet overcrowded weekend period.
With so many other films in the marketplace, and plenty with PG or G ratings aimed at luring in full families, "Rocky Balboa" will have to take its time at the box office as many moviegoers may need some convincing before spending money on the followup to the Tommy Gunn flick. Older adults are the ones who remember the excitement of the franchise, but the studio is hoping they could bring their kids with them for an uplifting tale that makes you feel good inside. "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "We Are Marshall" will be direct competitors in the feel-good genre and the latter will steal away many sports fans too. "Balboa" will have to rely on nostalgia and good word-of-mouth to carry it through round after round. Already playing in 2,752 theaters and adding more locations on Friday, "Rocky Balboa" may gross about $16M over four days and around $21M over six days.
For football fans this holiday weekend, Warner Bros. trots out another pigskin drama with "We Are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, and David Strathairn. The PG-rated film tells the true story of the football program at Marshall University in West Virginia which had to be rebuilt from scratch after a plane crash killed most of the players and coaches. Hollywood seems to have an endless line-up of sports dramas these days and since most of them become commercial successes, it’s no wonder that they keep getting churned out. Just a few months ago, moviegoers powered the football flicks "Invincible" and "Gridiron Gang" to the number one spot with bows of $17M and $14.4M, respectively. "Marshall" should play to much of the same audience and with its underdog feel-good story, the time of year will help since people are in the mood for that type of emotion.
Reviews have not been too good, but that should not matter much. "We Are Marshall" is meant for sports fans and those who love stories about overcoming adversity, regardless of how predictable they may be. Sales from the heartland should be solid and with the tame rating, entire families can come out together. Plus McConaughey is a reliable draw at the box office and is believable as a quirky football coach. Still, competition will be strong and coming from all directions so a blowout will not be possible. Opening in 2,606 theaters, "We Are Marshall" could score about $14M over the Friday-to-Monday frame.
Countering the parade of PG flicks is the R-rated CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" directed by Robert De Niro. The Universal release stars Matt Damon as Edward Wilson, a loyal government agent who helped to create the agency during the Cold War. Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, John Turturro, and De Niro also star. "Shepherd" boasts solid starpower which could help the film have broad appeal. The subject matter appeals to the 30+ crowd, but Damon and Jolie should help to pull in twentysomethings. Teens and ethnic audiences will have minimal interest. Critics have been mixed on the film which could impact the overall turnout.
The last few months have not been kind to star-driven period dramas aimed at adult audiences. Pictures like "Hollywoodland," "All the King’s Men," and "Bobby" have all struggled to find paying audiences with none reaching the $15M mark in total sales. "Shepherd’s" cast is what will allow it to rise above those failures. But the fight for the attention and time of mature adults will be fierce and a running time of nearly three hours will allow for one less showtime per day on every screen further cutting into its commercial potential. Infiltrating 2,217 locations, "The Good Shepherd" might capture around $13M over four days.
With the calendar year coming to a close, things continue to get crowded in the specialty arena this weekend. Clint Eastwood‘s award-winning war drama "Letters From Iwo Jima" debuted on Wednesday in limited release ahead of a January expansion similar to what Warner Bros. did two years ago with the director’s "Million Dollar Baby" which went on to reign at the Oscars. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts star in the period romance "The Painted Veil" from Warner Independent which also platformed on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. Thursday brings the limited launches of Miramax’s "Venus" starring Golden Globe nominee Peter O’Toole and the Chinese period drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" from Sony Classics which stars Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat.
Last weekend, Will Smith scored a number one hit with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which continues to please audiences. Overall moviegoing should increase over the holiday weekend, but more choices for adult audiences will give Sony some competition. "Pursuit’s" four-day take could drop 25% from its three-day debut gross giving the film about $20M and a cume of $58M after 11 days.
As a sci-fi actioner, Fox’s "Eragon" is likely to see one of the largest drops in the top ten. The dragon adventure might fall by 35% to around $15M over the four-day session leaving the studio with $46M.
Kidpics score big points over Christmas so "Charlotte’s Web" might see many of those fans who skipped out last weekend actually show up this time. The Paramount release’s four-day tally may slip 10% from its three-day bow and bring in roughly $10M. That would give the family film a total of $27M after 11 days.
LAST YEAR: With Christmas falling on a Sunday, the observed holiday on Monday gave the box office an expanded four-day holiday frame allowing the mega holdovers to repeat atop the charts. "King Kong" spent its second weekend at number one and grossed $33.3M over four days and was closely followed by "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $31.7M in its third adventure. The combined haul for the pair soared to $285M with much more still to come. Newcomers rounded out the top five with Jim Carrey defeating Steve Martin in the battle of the comedies. Sony’s "Fun With Dick and Jane" opened in third with $21.5M over four days while Fox’s sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" settled for fourth with $15.3M. Final tallies reached $110.3M and $82.6M, respectively. Sony also claimed fifth with "Memoirs of a Geisha" which expanded nationally and took in $10.2M over the long weekend. Also opening were Fox Searchlight’s Johnny Knoxville comedy "The Ringer" with $7.7M over four days, the Jennifer Aniston pic "Rumor Has It" with $7.5M in two days for Warner Bros., and Universal’s "Munich" with $6M in four days. The films went on to reach $35.4M, $43M, and $47.4M respectively. The debuting horror pic "Wolf Creek" opened outside the top ten with $4.9M in two days on its way to $16.2M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
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 Thornton–Jon Heder comedy School for Scoundrels which opened to an estimated $9.1M. Playing in 3,004 theaters, the PG-13 film about a young loser who seeks advice from an older pro on how to get women averaged a mild $3,032 per site. Reviews were not too encouraging for the MGM release.
Jet Li‘s Fearless dropped a steep 56% in its second weekend and placed fifth with an estimated $4.7M. The action star’s "final" martial arts epic has grossed $17.8M in ten days and looks headed for about $26M. Each of Li’s last five films also fell by more than half on its sophomore frame.
Sony’s football drama Gridiron Gang fell 52% to an estimated $4.5M pushing its cume to $33.2M. Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten for the fourth consecutive weekend was the sleeper hit The Illusionist with $2.8M, off only 15%, for a total of $31.5M for Yari Film Group. MGM’s fighter pilot adventure Flyboys tumbled 61% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.3M. With only $9.9M in ten days, a final take of around $14M seems likely.
Yet another period drama The Black Dahlia followed with an estimated $2.1M, down 54%, giving Universal only $20.7M to date. Rounding out the top ten with the biggest cume on the list was indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine with an estimated $2M, off 28%, for a total of $53.2M for Fox Searchlight. The acclaimed comedy has now matched megablockbusters Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Da Vinci Code, and Cars by spending seven consecutive weekends in the top ten.
A pair of critically-acclaimed dramas about world leaders opened to fantastic results in limited release. Miramax launched its Helen Mirren starrer The Queen on Saturday and grossed an estimated $123,000 from just three New York theaters for a potent two-day average of $41,000. The story of Queen Elizabeth II after the death of Princess Diana was double-screened at a pair of the arthouse venues and opened a day later than usual since on Friday it screened as the opening night film of the New York Film Festival. Mirren won the Best Actress prize at the Venice International Film Festival and is considered a major contender for an Oscar nod.
Also a likely Academy Award nominee, but for the Best Actor trophy, was Forest Whitaker whose new film The Last King of Scotland debuted powerfully with an estimated $143,000 over three days from only four venues in New York and Los Angeles. The Fox Searchlight release finds Whitaker playing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the early 1970s. Since its Wednesday launch, Scotland has grossed $172,000 in five days and will expand into the top ten markets on Friday before spreading nationally on October 20.
Posting a respectable debut in moderate national release was the football drama Facing the Giants which collected an estimated $1.4M from 441 theaters for a mild $3,150 average. The PG-rated pic about a coach who finds inspiration from God was released by Destination Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Warner Independent Pictures expanded its Michel Gondry pic The Science of Sleep from 14 to 221 theaters nationwide and grossed an estimated $1.2M. Averaging a solid $5,475 per location, the R-rated drama lifted its sum to $1.7M. Lionsgate widened its doc The U.S. vs. John Lennon grossing an estimated $210,000 from 57 sites for a moderate $3,684 average. Cume stands at $361,000.
Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Sony’s big fall flop All the King’s Men crumbled 56% in its second weekend to an estimated $1.6M giving the political drama a puny $6.3M in ten days. Rejected by audiences, the Sean Penn flick should finish its run quickly with a horrendous $9M. The studio’s supernatural teen thriller The Covenant fell 59% to an estimated $1.3M and upped its total to $22.2M. A $25M final should result for the $20M production. Fox’s baseball toon Everyone’s Hero got crushed by the arrival of Open Season and sank 79% to an estimated $1M. With a modest $13.2M thus far, the animated film could end up with only $15M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $82.2M which was up 15% from last year when Flightplan remained at number one with $14.8M; but down 17% from 2004 when Shark Tale opened in the top spot with a fierce $47.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Ashton Kutcher fans get two chances to see (or hear) their favorite star this weekend as the Hollywood prankster takes on reigning box office champ "Jackass: Number Two" by voicing a mule deer in the animated comedy "Open Season" and going up against Kevin Costner in the action drama "The Guardian."
Hollywood’s umpteenth computer-animated feature film of the year hits multiplexes on Friday in the form of "Open Season." The PG-rated pic features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Kutcher and finds a domesticated grizzly bear being dropped into the wilderness right before the start of hunting season. Young kids usually eat up these fish-out-of-water comedy toons and this Sony release should play to the same family audience. The target demographic has had an endless line of movies this year featuring talking animals getting into wacky situations, but since the current marketplace is lacking any major offering for children, "Open Season" should score as the first animated hit of the new school year. The studio is saturating the market with screens giving the film the fourth widest bow ever for a non-DreamWorks toon, and the second widest in Sony history for any film after 2004’s webslinger sequel. With no competition and solid funnyman starpower behind the mics, a strong number one bow could result. "Open Season" makes its way into 3,833 theaters and may debut with around $24M this weekend.
For those who would rather see the "Punk’d" star’s face, Buena Vista sets sail with its Coast Guard thriller "The Guardian" which finds Kutcher playing a young and cocky swimming champ who butts heads with his unorthodox teacher played by Kevin Costner. Directed by Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive," "Collateral Damage"), the PG-13 film has broad appeal with each star pulling in his respective generation. Cross-gender appeal is also present with the military-like storyline doing the job for males and the hunky actors attracting the ladies. Disney offered successful sneak previews two weeks ago to get some word-of-mouth spreading before the official debut. The studio will try to lure in the same audience that spent a solid $22.1M on the John Travolta–Joaquin Phoenix firefighter drama "Ladder 49" two autumns ago. Launching in over 3,000 theaters, "The Guardian" might debut with about $18M.
Following his commercial success with the male-driven comedy hits "Road Trip," "Old School," and "Starsky & Hutch," Todd Phillips returns to theaters with "School for Scoundrels" which finds Billy Bob Thornton squaring off against "Napoleon Dynamite"’s Jon Heder for the affection of a young gal. MGM’s PG-13 film about an awkward young misfit who enlists the help of an expert on getting the ladies should aim for an audience of teens and young adults, plus fans of the "Bad Santa" star’s rogue ways. Starpower is not very high here. Films anchored by the former Mr. Jolie usually don’t explode on opening weekend as evidenced by the recent debuts of "The Bad News Bears" ($11.4M), "The Ice Harvest" ($3.7M), and "The Alamo" ($9.1M). Competition for young males will be tough, but if "School" can connect with teen girls as a funny romantic comedy, then it has a chance of doing some respectable numbers. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "School for Scoundrels" might debut with about $12M.
Some high profile indies pop into limited release this weekend. Fox Searchlight launched its Idi Amin pic "The Last King of Scotland" in four theaters on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and has already been receiving early Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker‘s portrayal of the Ugandan dictator. Coincidentally, a year ago this same weekend, "Capote" debuted and fueled its own Best Actor buzz which sustained itself throughout awards season leading to a trophy for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews for "Scotland" have been good and for Whitaker, have been electric.
Miramax gets its Oscar campaign going, but for the Best Actress prize, with its Helen Mirren film "The Queen" which opens in New York City on Saturday after it officially opens the New York Film Festival on Friday evening. Mirren has already taken home the top actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in the dark days after the death of Princess Diana. The PG-13 film is directed by Stephen Frears ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Dangerous Liaisons") and has ranked number two at the U.K. box office for the last two weeks.
First Look Studios takes audiences back to Queens in 1986 with its coming-of-age drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, and Rosario Dawson. The R-rated film won awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and bows in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
Last weekend, "Jackass: Number Two" flexed its muscles at the box office with a better-than-expected $29M launch. The Paramount film’s predecessor dropped 44% in its second weekend in the fall of 2002, but the sequel may drop harder. A 50% decline would still give the Johnny Knoxville flick about $15M for the weekend and a strong ten-day cume of $51M.
Jet Li‘s "Fearless" also drew upon a built-in audience of young men last weekend setting itself up for a sizable sophomore drop. The Focus title might also lose half of its business and take in roughly $5M. That would give the martial arts saga $18M after ten days. Sony’s "Gridiron Gang" held up well last weekend despite tough competition. Another 35% fall could be in order giving The Rock a $6M frame and a $34M total after 17 days.
LAST YEAR: For the second straight weekend, Jodie Foster‘s airline thriller "Flightplan" topped the box office with $14.8M dropping only 40% from its bow. Opening in second place was the sci-fi actioner "Serenity" which grossed $10.1M on its way to $25.4M for Universal. Warner Bros. followed close behind with $10M for its animated comedy "Corpse Bride." The revenge thriller "A History of Violence" expanded nationally and placed fourth with $8.1M and a solid $6,047 average which was the best in the whole Top 20. Opening in fifth was the Jessica-Alba-in-a-bikini pic "Into the Blue" with only $7.1M leading to a weak $18.5M final for Sony. Disney debuted its historical golf drama "The Greatest Game Ever Played" to the tune of $3.7M. A $15.3M final gross resulted.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Young men returned to theaters in droves and powered the crude new stunts sequel Jackass: Number Two to the number one spot with the biggest opening weekend of any film in the past seven weeks. The martial arts actioner Fearless debuted impressively in second place playing to young men as well, but the new older-skewing period dramas Flyboys and All the King’s Men were mostly ignored.
Holdovers enjoyed small declines as the overall marketplace bounced back after two dismal weeks, even though ticket sales failed to reach last year’s levels for the third consecutive weekend.
Paramount scored a major victory with the chart-topping performance of Jackass: Number Two which grossed an estimated $28.1M in its first weekend in theaters. Crashing into 3,059 locations, the R-rated comedy averaged a stellar $9,188 per theater. Its predecessor, Jackass: The Movie, was a surprise number one hit in October 2002 with a $22.8M bow from 2,509 theaters and a similar $9,073 average. It went on to gross a fantastic $64.3M from a slim $5M budget. Number Two was produced for just under $12M and looks to become another highly profitable title for the studio proving that the franchise is still alive and well. The films are based on the popular MTV prank series.
With six historical films in the top ten, young movie fans were not in the mood to learn about yesterday and instead chose the immature and outrageous antics of present day jokester Johnny Knoxville and pals. Studio research showed that young men were the core audience, as expected. Those under the age of 25 made up a hefty 70% of the crowd and males accounted for 65%. Jackass also delivered the second biggest opening of the year for an R film trailing the $29M bow of March’s Inside Man. Critics were surprisingly upbeat with their reviews of Number Two.
Jet Li‘s Fearless flew into the number two spot over the weekend opening to an estimated $10.6M from 1,808 theaters with a solid $5,843 average. The PG-13 film about China’s most famous fighter from a century ago was marketed as the action star’s final martial arts picture ever and helped to get his loyal fan base out into the theaters. The Focus release marks Li’s seventh consecutive film to debut with an opening weekend average of more than $5,000. Critics were quite pleased with the Mandarin-language picture. Fearless opened in Hong Kong and most of Asia early this year and has kicked its way into other major markets like Australia, New Zealand, and France in recent weeks.
Dropping from first to third was The Rock‘s football drama Gridiron Gang which grossed an estimated $9.7M in its second play. The Sony sports flick held up exceptionally well considering the weekend’s formidable competition for male dollars and slipped only 33%. The Rock’s movies usually fall by at least 45% in their sophomore frames. After ten days, the $30M feel-good film has grossed $27.2M and should rush past the $50M mark domestically. Even though Gridiron began with the weakest opening ever for the actor, it looks to become his highest grossing film since 2002’s The Scorpion King ($90.5M) thanks to strong legs and positive word-of-mouth.
MGM’s Flyboys took off in fourth place with an estimated $6M from 2,033 theaters. The PG-13 pic about American fighter pilots during World War I averaged a mild $2,957 per theater. Starring James Franco, the adventure film skewed older as a very high 73% of the audience was over the age of 30. Men made up 59% of the crowd and reviews were not too favorable. Flyboys is the third consecutive period drama in as many weeks that has failed to excite today’s moviegoing public following disappointing results from competing Los Angeles-based murder mysteries The Black Dahlia and Hollywoodland.
A pair of not-so-strong sophomores followed. The animated baseball flick Everyone’s Hero grossed an estimated $4.8M, down just 22%, and raised its ten-day tally to $11.6M. Fox could finish with around $25M. Universal’s crime thriller The Black Dahlia crumbled 56% to an estimated $4.4M dropping from second place to sixth. The $60M Brian De Palma entry has taken in just $17.3M and might end up with a disappointing $25M as well.
Sony saw low voter turnout for its political thriller All the King’s Men which was defeated in a landslide this weekend opening to a poor $3.8M, according to estimates. Averaging a weak $2,510 from 1,514 locations, the PG-13 film stars Sean Penn as an outspoken politician who runs for governor of Louisiana. Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins and James Gandolfini co-star. The studio had high hopes for this remake of a Best Picture Oscar winner, but instead met with awful reviews across the board from critics which helped to fuel negative buzz. Only older adults had interest as studio research showed that a whopping 75% of the audience was 35 or older and 53% were women. All the King’s Men is just the latest in a series of historical films that Hollywood has been rolling out this fall that have had moviegoers yawning.
The supernatural chiller The Covenant dropped only 31% to an estimated $3.3M with a sum of $20.3M for Sony. For the fourth consecutive weekend, the long-lasting hits The Illusionist and Little Miss Sunshine ranked back-to-back on the charts. Yari Film Group’s Vienna-set mystery eased a scant 10% to an estimated $3.3M pushing its total to $27.5M. Fox Searchlight’s comedy smash slipped just 13% to an estimated $2.9M lifting the cume to $50.3M.
In limited release action, Warner Independent saw stellar results from its surreal drama The Science of Sleep which bowed to an estimated $347,000 from only 14 theaters for a sparkling $24,786 average. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the R-rated film scored good reviews and will expand to over 200 theaters on Friday in most major markets. Miramax saw a so-so start for its animated noir Renaissance which debuted to an estimated $10,000 from a pair of solo engagements in New York and Los Angeles for a mild $5,200 average.
Four more pictures were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. Two-time chart-topper Invincible grossed an estimated $2.6M in its fifth session. Off 36%, the Mark Wahlberg football pic has collected a solid $54.8M to date and might end up with around $60M for Buena Vista. The Zach Braff comedy The Last Kiss grossed an estimated $2.5M, down 45%, putting its ten-day total at a puny $8.5M. A final take of roughly $15M seems likely.
The murder mystery Hollywoodland fell 46% in its third frame to an estimated $1.5M for Focus. With only $12.9M in the bank, look for a weak $16M conclusion to its case. Lionsgate’s action thriller Crank tumbled 56% to an estimated $1.2M for a $26.6M cume. The Jason Statham pic should reach about $29M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $76.8M which was down 9% from last year when Flightplan debuted at number one with $24.6M; but up a healthy 38% from 2004 when The Forgotten opened in the top spot with $21M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Four new films open wide, but they may not be enough to stop the North American box office from suffering its third consecutive down weekend.
Leading the way is the Paramount sequel "Jackass: Number Two" which will enjoy the widest release by far. The rest of the films will take moviegoers back in time just as so many other recent releases have done. Focus Features unleashes Jet Li‘s martial arts epic "Fearless," MGM takes off with the World War I adventure "Flyboys," and Sony remakes the political thriller "All the King’s Men."
Four years ago, Paramount shocked the industry with the number one bow for its crude stunts flick "Jackass: The Movie" which managed to keep "The Ring" out of the top spot on the weekend right before Halloween. Its $22.8M debut and eventual $64.3M domestic take and DVD success helped to bring about a sequel, "Jackass: Number Two" which hopes to conquer the charts once again. The R-rated pic regroups the team from the hit MTV reality series including Johnny Knoxville and finds them taking part in another series of outlandish don’t-try-this-at-home antics. Males in their late teens and early twenties are the target audience here although slightly older guys who were devoted followers a half-decade ago might also be up for some nostalgia.
The first "Jackass" bowed to a muscular $9,073 average from 2,509 playdates which at today’s ticket prices would be over $10,000. "Number Two" is not likely to match that amount though. A wider launch will dilute the average a bit and the franchise has aged and is no longer at the peak of its popularity. But since Knoxville has found more mainstream success recently with films like "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "The Ringer," the studio is hoping that some new fans will give "Two" a try. Competition for males will be fierce with last weekend’s top film "Gridiron Gang" still playing to sports-loving boys and men while Jet Li’s new film "Fearless" will
steal away dudes who dig martial arts fighting, bones cracking, and necks breaking. Male dollars will be stretched to the limit this weekend and an already sluggish marketplace will mean that there will only be so much overall traffic. Busting into over 3,000 theaters, "Jackass: Number Two" will rank number one and may open with around $23M.
Mr. Knoxville and co. are back to cheat death and reason.
Also gunning for young men with R-rated fare is Focus Features with the historical martial arts actioner "Fearless" starring Jet Li. Already a hit at cinemas in Asia, Australia, and parts of Europe, the period pic tells the true story of a legendary fighter who inspired his nation in China at the start of the twentieth century. With a bigger star in the lead, "Fearless" is sure to perform better than Tony Jaa‘s Thai actioner "The Protector" which bowed to just $5M two weeks earlier. Li has a consistently loyal fan following that is likely to turn out especially since the marketing campaign is pushing the claim that this is his final martial arts film ever. This tactic gives the pic a level of urgency, although it should not mean much to those outside of his fan base. Crossover potential to mainstream action fans is not very likely, though the actor’s pull with urban males should not be underestimated.
Still, Li has posted some impressive numbers in his career. Each of his six films from this decade has launched with an opening weekend average of at least $5,500 with five having averaged more than $6,000. His last effort "Unleashed" bowed last summer to $10.9M and a solid $5,570 average while 2004’s Chinese blockbuster "Hero" conquered the North American charts for two straight weeks bowing to an impressive $18M and $8,865 average. Foreign language films pretty much never do that in the U.S. market. "Fearless" will not duplicate the success of "Hero" which used the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" tag to attract extra biz. Plus with "Jackass" taking away many young men this weekend, only the true followers will make it out. But reviews have been very positive (the best for any new
release) and advance buzz from overseas has been encouraging too. Kicking its way into roughly 1,806 theaters, "Fearless" might debut to about $9M.
World War I bi-planes are the draw in "Flyboys," a new historical action adventure being released by MGM. The PG-13 film stars James Franco as a courageous American pilot in France who devotes his life to fighting for the Allies. With a high pricetag and no proven stars that can sell in America, this is yet another risky period film packed into the slow month of September. The "inspired by a true story" description used by half of the films in the current top ten is once again in play here. With sex and bad language kept to a minimum, "Flyboys" hopes to appeal to a broad family audience so adults can bring their kids. However, the starpower and subject matter are both lacking making this a tough sell at the box office especially since the marketplace is already filled with mediocre product. Zooming into 2,033 theaters, "Flyboys" might climb to around $7M over the weekend.
After taking a beating at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sony’s remake "All the King’s Men" enters the marketplace on Friday with more subdued expectations. The PG-13 reworking of the classic 1949 political thriller stars Sean Penn as a charismatic politician from the South who gains power and flirts with corruption in the process. The all-star cast also includes Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo, and James Gandolfini. Distributors often utilize the Toronto fest to generate buzz for their Oscar contenders right before their fall commercial openings, but in this case, it seemed to have backfired with so many reviewers panning the pic. "Men" should play exclusively to a mature adult audience as teens will yawn at the premise. The marketplace has been flooded with period dramas in recent weeks with "The Black Dahlia," "Hollywoodland," and "The Illusionist" all going after the same audience. Competition will be a major factor.
Sony is not giving its usual saturation release to "King’s Men," but instead campaigning in just 1,514 theaters this weekend hoping some positive buzz will spread. The lack of screens will keep the gross in check and the bad reviews should sting even more. Last weekend, "Dahlia" found out the hard way how far a serious film for adults can go when the critics give a thumbs down. The film’s starpower is about its only major asset right now, but will it be enough to make moviegoers risk their dollars? With negative press, an abundance of direct competition, and only a moderate amount of theaters, "All the King’s Men" could find itself with only $7M this weekend and a rocky road ahead.
In limited release, The Weinstein Co. unleashes its horror flick "Feast" in 140 theaters with special midnight shows across the country on Friday and Saturday. The latest winner from the Project Greenlight series is directed by John Gulager and finds a group of people trapped inside a bar fighting off flesh-eating creatures. Filmmaker Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") returns to the surreal with "The Science of Sleep," a new fantasy drama starring Gael García Bernal ("The Motorcycle Diaries") as a man whose dreams collide with reality. Warner Independent is opening the film on Friday in eight major U.S. markets and will expand it across the country next weekend. Miramax platforms its futuristic sci-fi toon "Renaissance" in New York and Los Angeles. Set in Paris in the year
2054, the R-rated tale is the latest film to bring the look of a graphic novel to the big screen.
Last weekend’s top film "Gridiron Gang" is sure to lose its first place ranking. The Rock‘s films never have very good legs on the second weekend as evidenced by the sophomore declines of his recent films – 48% for 2003’s "The Rundown," 46% for 2004’s "Walking Tall," and a horrendous 73% for last fall’s "Doom." While "Gang" was not a favorite with critics, it has been getting favorable responses from moviegoers so its drop this weekend may not be too bad. Competition for young males will be a factor with the dueling R pics "Jackass" and "Fearless," but younger boys may still be up for an uplifting football tale. "Gridiron Gang" might see a decline of 45% to around $8M giving Sony a reasonable ten-day cume of $25M.
Universal’s murder mystery "The Black Dahlia" was not too powerful in its opening last weekend and both critics and moviegoers are giving negative feedback. A 50% fall would leave the Brian De Palma flick with $5M for the frame and a weak $18M after ten days.
LAST YEAR: One A-list Hollywood blonde replaced another at the top of the charts. Jodie Foster‘s kidnapping thriller "Flightplan" flew to number one opening with a strong $24.6M. The Buena Vista release went on to gross $89.7M making it the top-grossing film in the September-October corridor for 2005. In second place, Warner Bros. expanded its animated film "Corpse Bride" nationally taking in $19.1M. The Tim Burton–Johnny Depp collaboration found its way to $53.4M. Reese Witherspoon fell from first to third with her comedy "Just Like Heaven" which collected $9.6M. Opening in fourth place with moderate results was the skating drama "Roll Bounce" which bowed to $7.6M on its way to $17.4M from less than 1,700 theaters. Close behind in fifth was the hit thriller "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" with $7.5M in its third round.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
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 Kutcher–Kevin 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.
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.
"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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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