The Night Before

(Photo by Sarah Shatz/©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

50 Movies With Epic Parties To Stream Right Now

In these days of six-feet-apart distancing, the idea of throwing/attending/completely humiliating yourself at a wild party is out of the question – no matter how much you might currently be fantasizing about doing just that. We here at Rotten Tomatoes have been feeling the itch for company of late too, and with that in mind decided to help bring the party home to you – with the help of some of the most out-of-control gatherings ever committed to screen. Start streaming one of the films below and – voila – you’ll be surrounded by booze, music, and friends. (Bonus: Your friends might include Kirsten Dunst, Seth Rogen, and Dave Chappelle.)

There’s something for everyone here: a ton of house parties for those looking for a Solo cup vibe; decadent bacchanals for those who want to live fancy (Romeo + JulietThe Great GatsbyMarie Antoinette); office parties for those missing their colleagues (The ApartmentOffice Christmas Party); and a sci-fi rave (The Matrix: Reloaded), a period ball (Pride and Prejudice), and some kink (Eyes Wide Shut) for good measure. (Note: We decided to leave some epic parties out, because, well, we didn’t like how the ended – looking at you Carrie and Scream.)

With that said, it’s now time to do our hair, grab something from mom’s liquor cabinet, and call an Uber – er, we mean, plonk ourselves on the couch. Party’s about to start and you don’t want to be unfashionably late.

Let us know your favorite movie party in the comments – and which movie characters you’d have on your party guest list. To see where to stream each movie, click into the title for more details. 

#46

200 Cigarettes (1999)
30%

#46
Adjusted Score: 31291%
Critics Consensus: A clumsy and scattered comedy with a poorly executed script.
Synopsis: This ensemble comedy follows an array of young people in New York City on New Year's Eve. Among the numerous... [More]
Directed By: Risa Bramon Garcia

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 95938%
Critics Consensus: Nostalgic in the best sense, Everybody Wants Some!! finds Richard Linklater ambling through the past with a talented cast, a sweetly meandering story, and a killer classic rock soundtrack.
Synopsis: In 1980 Texas, a college freshman (Blake Jenner) meets his new baseball teammates (Will Brittain, Ryan Guzman), an unruly group... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#14

Superbad (2007)
88%

#14
Adjusted Score: 96000%
Critics Consensus: Deftly balancing vulgarity and sincerity while placing its protagonists in excessive situations, Superbad is an authentic take on friendship and the overarching awkwardness of the high school experience.
Synopsis: High-school seniors Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) have high hopes for a graduation party: The co-dependent teens plan... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mottola

#13

Adventureland (2009)
89%

#13
Adjusted Score: 96967%
Critics Consensus: Full of humor and nostalgia, Adventureland is a sweet, insightful coming-of-age comedy that will resonate with teens and adults alike.
Synopsis: It's the summer of 1987, and recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) can't wait to begin his long-anticipated dream... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mottola

#12

Almost Famous (2000)
89%

#12
Adjusted Score: 95754%
Critics Consensus: Almost Famous, with its great ensemble performances and story, is a well-crafted, warm-hearted movie that successfully draws you into its era.
Synopsis: Set in 1973, it chronicles the funny and often poignant coming of age of 15-year-old William, an unabashed music fan... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#45
Adjusted Score: 37954%
Critics Consensus: It has an amusing enough premise, but Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead will just leave viewers pining for the madcap hijinks promised by the title.
Synopsis: Sue Ellen Crandell (Christina Applegate) is a teenager eagerly awaiting her mother's (Concetta Tomei) summer-long absence. While the babysitter (Eda... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Herek

#44

Beerfest (2006)
41%

#44
Adjusted Score: 44146%
Critics Consensus: Beerfest features some laugh-inducing gags, but is too long and the pacing too uneven to form a coherent, functioning comedy.
Synopsis: Two brothers (Erik Stolhanske, Paul Soter) from America happen upon a secret and centuries-old beer-games competition during a visit to... [More]
Directed By: Jay Chandrasekhar

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 51300%
Critics Consensus: Its cast of gifted comics is good for a handful of laughs, but Office Christmas Party's overstuffed plot ultimately proves roughly as disappointing as its clichéd gags and forced sentimentality.
Synopsis: When the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close her hard-partying brother's (T.J. Miller) branch, he and his chief technical officer... [More]
Directed By: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 44074%
Critics Consensus: Occasionally clever and moderately intelligent, Can't Hardly Wait also contains too many cheap laughs, recycled plotting, and flat characters.
Synopsis: School's out, and an entire graduating class -- from football stars and cool girls to complete nerds -- gathers at... [More]

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 47346%
Critics Consensus: A tiresome movie about unsympathetic college kids engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
Synopsis: Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, "Rules" centers around Partrick Bateman's younger brother and his college friends bizarre... [More]
Directed By: Roger Avary

#2
Adjusted Score: 76486%
Critics Consensus: Romy and Michele's High School Reunion has an admittedly slight premise, but it's elevated by ample heart, an infectiously playful spirit, and the buoyant chemistry of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino.
Synopsis: Ten years after their high school graduation, Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) haven't exactly accomplished everything that they... [More]
Directed By: David Mirkin

#1

Say Anything... (1989)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100654%
Critics Consensus: One of the definitive Generation X movies, Say Anything... is equally funny and heartfelt -- and it established John Cusack as an icon for left-of-center types everywhere.
Synopsis: In a charming, critically acclaimed tale of first love, Lloyd (John Cusack), an eternal optimist, seeks to capture the heart... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#40

P.C.U. (1994)
44%

#40
Adjusted Score: 43267%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Nervous high school senior Tom Lawrence (Chris Young) visits Port Chester University, where he gets a taste of politically correct... [More]
Directed By: Hart Bochner

#39

The Great Gatsby (2013)
48%

#39
Adjusted Score: 59522%
Critics Consensus: While certainly ambitious -- and every bit as visually dazzling as one might expect -- Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby emphasizes visual splendor at the expense of its source material's vibrant heart.
Synopsis: Midwest native Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) arrives in 1922 New York in search of the American dream. Nick, a would-be... [More]
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann

#30

Spring Breakers (2012)
67%

#30
Adjusted Score: 73776%
Critics Consensus: Spring Breakers blends stinging social commentary with bikini cheesecake and a bravura James Franco performance.
Synopsis: College students Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are short of the cash... [More]
Directed By: Harmony Korine

#29
Adjusted Score: 72062%
Critics Consensus: Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger add strong performances to an unexpectedly clever script, elevating 10 Things (slightly) above typical teen fare.
Synopsis: Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) is beautiful, smart and quite abrasive to most of her fellow teens, meaning that she doesn't... [More]
Directed By: Gil Junger

#28

The Night Before (2015)
69%

#28
Adjusted Score: 74217%
Critics Consensus: The Night Before provokes enough belly laughs to qualify as a worthwhile addition to the list of Christmas comedies worth revisiting, even if it isn't quite as consistent as the classics.
Synopsis: For the last 10 years, lifelong buddies Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have gathered on... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 71990%
Critics Consensus: Undeniably lowbrow but surprisingly sly, Revenge of the Nerds has enough big laughs to qualify as a minor classic in the slobs-vs.-snobs subgenre.
Synopsis: Geeky college students Gilbert (Anthony Edwards) and Lewis (Robert Carradine) are evicted from their dormitory when the Alpha Betas --... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Kanew

#26
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

#25

Neighbors (2014)
73%

#25
Adjusted Score: 81521%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of bawdy humor evenly spread between its well-matched stars, Neighbors earns its R rating -- and filmgoers' laughs.
Synopsis: New parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) move to the suburbs when they welcome an infant daughter into... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 81663%
Critics Consensus: Though its heady themes are a departure from its predecessor, The Matrix Reloaded is a worthy sequel packed with popcorn-friendly thrills.
Synopsis: Freedom fighters Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) continue to lead the revolt against the Machine... [More]

#23

Wedding Crashers (2005)
76%

#23
Adjusted Score: 82402%
Critics Consensus: Wedding Crashers is both raunchy and sweet, and features top-notch comic performances from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Synopsis: Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) and John (Owen Wilson) are divorce mediators who spend their free time crashing wedding receptions. For the... [More]
Directed By: David Dobkin

#22

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
76%

#22
Adjusted Score: 82227%
Critics Consensus: Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work.
Synopsis: After Dr. Bill Hartford's (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met,... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 31911%
Critics Consensus: It has a charming sweetness about it, but Take Me Home Tonight is neither funny nor original enough to live up to the comedies it evokes.
Synopsis: Recent MIT grad Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) should be well on his way to a successful career at a Fortune... [More]
Directed By: Michael Dowse

#47

Project X (2012)
28%

#47
Adjusted Score: 33545%
Critics Consensus: Unoriginal, unfunny, and all-around unattractive, Project X mines the depths of the teen movie and found-footage genres for 87 minutes of predictably mean-spirited debauchery.
Synopsis: Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) are three anonymous high-school seniors who are determined to... [More]
Directed By: Nima Nourizadeh

#33

American Pie (1999)
61%

#33
Adjusted Score: 66633%
Critics Consensus: So embarrassing it's believable, American Pie succeeds in bringing back the teen movie genre.
Synopsis: A riotous and raunchy exploration of the most eagerly anticipated -- and most humiliating -- rite of adulthood, known as... [More]
Directed By: Paul Weitz

#32
Adjusted Score: 75833%
Critics Consensus: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising may not be strictly necessary, but it still wrings a surprising amount of humor from a recycled premise with a distaff twist.
Synopsis: Life is good for Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and pregnant wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) until the unruly sisters of Kappa... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: On the eve of his wedding to his longtime girlfriend, Debbie (Tawny Kitaen), unassuming nice guy Rick (Tom Hanks) is... [More]
Directed By: Neal Israel

#34

Old School (2003)
60%

#34
Adjusted Score: 65599%
Critics Consensus: While not consistently funny, the movie does have its moments.
Synopsis: After discovering his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) has been participating in group sex, attorney Mitch (Luke Wilson) feels his world come... [More]
Directed By: Todd Phillips

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 71041%
Critics Consensus: Its flagrantly silly script -- and immensely likable cast -- make up for most of its flaws.
Synopsis: Four pals are stuck in a rut in adulthood: Adam (John Cusack) has just been dumped, Lou (Rob Corddry) is... [More]
Directed By: Steve Pink

#6

The Apartment (1960)
93%

#6
Adjusted Score: 100882%
Critics Consensus: Director Billy Wilder's customary cynicism is leavened here by tender humor, romance, and genuine pathos.
Synopsis: Insurance worker C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lends his Upper West Side apartment to company bosses to use for extramarital affairs.... [More]
Directed By: Billy Wilder

#5

Boogie Nights (1997)
93%

#5
Adjusted Score: 97458%
Critics Consensus: Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#21

Clueless (1995)
81%

#21
Adjusted Score: 89087%
Critics Consensus: A funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.
Synopsis: Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale.... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#20

The Party (1968)
83%

#20
Adjusted Score: 84036%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While trying to tie his shoe, bumbling extra Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers) unwittingly triggers explosives that destroy the set... [More]
Directed By: Blake Edwards

#19

This Is the End (2013)
83%

#19
Adjusted Score: 91209%
Critics Consensus: Energetic, self-deprecating performances and enough guffaw-inducing humor make up for the flaws in This Is the End loosely written script.
Synopsis: In Hollywood, actor James Franco is throwing a party with a slew of celebrity pals. Among those in attendance are... [More]
Directed By: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

#4

Risky Business (1983)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 95187%
Critics Consensus: Featuring one of Tom Cruise's best early performances, Risky Business is a sharp, funny examination of teen angst that doesn't stop short of exploring dark themes.
Synopsis: Ecstatic when his parents leave on vacation for a few days, high school senior Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose... [More]
Directed By: Paul Brickman

#3

Booksmart (2019)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 119746%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, funny, and fresh, Booksmart does the seemingly impossible by adding a smart new spin to the coming-of-age comedy.
Synopsis: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high... [More]
Directed By: Olivia Wilde

#18

Blockers (2018)
84%

#18
Adjusted Score: 96713%
Critics Consensus: Blockers puts a gender-swapped spin on the teen sex comedy -- one elevated by strong performances, a smartly funny script, and a surprisingly enlightened perspective.
Synopsis: Julie, Kayla and Sam are three high school seniors who make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night.... [More]
Directed By: Kay Cannon

#17

Sixteen Candles (1984)
84%

#17
Adjusted Score: 86085%
Critics Consensus: Significantly more mature than the teen raunch comedies that defined the era, Sixteen Candles is shot with compassion and clear respect for its characters and their hang-ups.
Synopsis: With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister's upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 93134%
Critics Consensus: Sure, it's another adaptation of cinema's fave Jane Austen novel, but key performances and a modern filmmaking sensibility make this familiar period piece fresh and enjoyable.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved novel, Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) lives with her mother, father and sisters in... [More]
Directed By: Joe Wright

#50
Adjusted Score: 20715%
Critics Consensus: A derivative gross-out comedy that's short on laughs.
Synopsis: He's the biggest man on campus. He's the boss with the sauce. He's the guy all the girls want and... [More]
Directed By: Walt Becker

#49

21 and Over (2013)
27%

#49
Adjusted Score: 29878%
Critics Consensus: Though it strives to mimic The Hangover, 21 and Over is too predictable, too unabashedly profane, and too inconsistently funny to carry the torch.
Synopsis: Straight-A college student Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) has always done what's been expected of him. But when his two best... [More]
Directed By: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

#11
Adjusted Score: 95014%
Critics Consensus: The talents of director John Landis and Saturday Night Live's irrepressible John Belushi conspired to create a rambunctious, subversive college comedy that continues to resonate.
Synopsis: When they arrive at college, socially inept freshmen Larry (Thomas Hulce) and Kent (Stephen Furst) attempt to pledge the snooty... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 96009%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an excellent ensemble cast, a precise feel for the 1970s, and a killer soundtrack, Dazed and Confused is a funny, affectionate, and clear-eyed look at high school life.
Synopsis: This coming-of-age film follows the mayhem of group of rowdy teenagers in Austin, Texas, celebrating the last day of high... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 121011%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
Synopsis: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#37

Weird Science (1985)
57%

#37
Adjusted Score: 58606%
Critics Consensus: Hardly in the same league as John Hughes' other teen movies, the resolutely goofy Weird Science nonetheless gets some laughs via its ridiculous premise and enjoyable performances.
Synopsis: Teen misfits Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) design their ideal woman on a computer, and a freak... [More]
Directed By: John Hughes

#36

Marie Antoinette (2006)
57%

#36
Adjusted Score: 65198%
Critics Consensus: Lavish imagery and a daring soundtrack set this film apart from most period dramas; in fact, style completely takes precedence over plot and character development in Coppola's vision of the doomed queen.
Synopsis: An Austrian teenager (Kirsten Dunst) marries the Dauphin (Jason Schwartzman) of France and becomes that country's queen following the death... [More]
Directed By: Sofia Coppola

#35

Sisters (2015)
60%

#35
Adjusted Score: 66979%
Critics Consensus: Sisters' sharp blend of pathos and vulgarity, along with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's effervescent chemistry, are more than enough to make up for the handful of laughs this coming-of-age comedy leaves on the table.
Synopsis: When their parents decide to sell their home, siblings Maura (Amy Poehler) and Kate (Tina Fey) learn that they have... [More]
Directed By: Jason Moore

#8
Adjusted Score: 97099%
Critics Consensus: Dave Chappelle's Block Party is a raucous return to the spotlight for the comic, buoyed by witty, infectious humor and outstanding musical performances.
Synopsis: Actor, writer and comic Dave Chappelle loads up a bus with residents of his Ohio hometown and takes them to... [More]
Starring: Dave Chappelle
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#7

House Party (1990)
93%

#7
Adjusted Score: 94521%
Critics Consensus: House Party is a light, entertaining teen comedy with an infectious energy.
Synopsis: Play's parents are out of town, and he's planning the house party to end all house parties. His best friend,... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

Sofia Coppola

“I never expected to win a prize for anything for my films,” says writer-director Sofia Coppola, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2004 for Lost in Translation and whose latest, Somewhere, recently took home the Best Picture prize at the Venice Film Festival. When RT caught up with her recently, the quiet, modestly spoken Coppola seemed humbled by the attention, preferring to talk about vintage camera lenses and sound-mixing Ferrari engines rather than the Awards-season circus.

Indeed, the image that opens Somewhere — Stephen Dorff’s Hollywood drifter doing laps in his Ferrari in the desert — was the impetus for the film. “I imagine these guys with sports car collections, they have to bring it to some track outside the city to have to be able to drive them,” says Coppola, “so I imagined him in the middle of nowhere, kind of going around in circles, to introduce the state he’s in. I started with him and the Ferrari, and then I thought about the Chateau Marmont and the stories of people I knew, or things I’ve heard, around there, and sort of put them all together.”

“I pictured Stephen early on, just as kind of this lost, bad boy LA actor,” the director continues. “I just felt like he was the right guy for the part; I’d met him and I knew him over the years and I always thought he was a good actor.” It’s a subtle, affecting performance from Dorff, whose character — a bored actor adrift in the purgatory of his own fame — comprises a lot of wordless, long takes. “Stephen’s so sweet that I felt like that would help make you care about watching the character,” says Coppola. “He’s so flawed that you could easily not be interested, but I felt that he’s got so much heart that he could connect people to it.”

Curiously, Coppola shot the film using old Zeiss lenses once used by her father, Francis. It’s perhaps ironic that Coppola senior is now once of digital’s biggest advocates, and at one point had even wondered why his daughter would want to film on archaic stock. “I think he appreciates it now,” she laughs, “but I remember he and George Lucas a while back saying, ‘Oh, you have to start shooting on digital — why are you using film?'”

Well, that explains the first of her five favorite films…

Rumble Fish (1983, 70% Tomatometer)



Rumble Fish

I love that it’s an art film about teenagers. I just love the way that it’s shot — I love those old lenses, those Zeiss lenses; they have a softer feel. [Coppola and her DP, Harris Savvides, used the lenses from Rumble Fish to shoot Somewhere.] Roman [Coppola, her brother] and I are just sentimental about film.

Breathless (1960, 96% Tomatometer)



Breathless

The Godard version. [On the similarities between the moving car jump cuts in Somewhere:] I guess I was going through that whole New Wave thing… coming from a documentary background.

Sixteen Candles (1984,
87% Tomatometer)



Sixteen Candles

That was one of my favorite films when I was growing up, and I’ll still watch it every time it’s on.

Lolita (1962,
97% Tomatometer)



Lolita

I love Kubrick. I love the way he put that film together, the way it’s filmed. Just some of the shots he did there, like the reverse shot in the car window with the monster.

The Last Picture Show (1971, 100% Tomatometer)



The Last Picture Show

It’s just a beautiful film.


Somewhere is in theaters this week. Click here to read our chat with Stephen Dorff , who also talks his five favorite films.

Competition, or a lack of it, will be the deciding factor at the North American box office this weekend for the half-dozen new releases that studios are packing into already overcrowded multiplexes. Leading the way is the horror film 30 Days of Night followed by the sports comedy The Comebacks which both will be targeting the teens and young adults that Hollywood has been ignoring in recent weeks. Mature adults who already have a wide selection of serious dramas to choose from will be served up three more – Reese Witherspoon‘s Rendition, Ben Affleck‘s Gone Baby Gone, and Halle Berry‘s Things We Lost in the Fire. With far too many films aiming for the same finite audience segment, some are sure to eat into the potential of others.

Sony will monopolize the horror crowd looking for a scare before Halloween with its gorefest 30 Days of Night which tells of vampires that attack a small town in northern Alaska during its annual sunless period. The R-rated film prominently informs moviegoers in its marketing that it is based on a graphic novel hoping to tap into a little bit of the excitement generated by 300 last spring. The first eight months of this year were brutal to R-rated horror films with none reaching number one and high-profile franchise flicks like Hostel II, 28 Weeks Later, and The Hills Have Eyes 2 all failing to reach $10M on opening weekend. But the Halloween remake over Labor Day weekend changed all that and was followed three weeks later by another top spot debut from horror-action hybrid Resident Evil: Extinction. But those have died out so 30 Days stands as the only creepfest at a time when scary movies are in demand. Attacking 2,700 theaters, 30 Days of Night should easily top the charts and could bite into around $19M over the weekend.


30 Days of Night

Fox spoofs the world of sports films with its new comedy The Comebacks which will target adolescents either too young for 30 Days or uninterested in scary movies. With so many mature stories hogging up screens, the market can certainly use a dose of immature humor right about now. The Comebacks is the first viable PG-13 comedy aimed at teens since fellow sports comedy Balls of Fury launched at the end of August. After a mid-week debut, that pic bowed to $11.4M over three days and Comebacks will play to many of the same folks. And with seventeen R-rated films opening wide over the last eight weeks, there has been little to celebrate for the under-17 crowd. Sure The Comebacks looks dumb, but dumb can sell. Add in a trim running time of under 90 minutes and commercial prospects are not bad. This is disposable entertainment for 14-year-olds. It will draw attention upfront, and be forgotten two weeks from now. Thanks to a lack of direct competition, The Comebacks could debut with about $11M from 2,800 sites.


The Comebacks

Leading the charge for the 30-plus crowd this weekend is Reese Witherspoon who headlines the political thriller Rendition from New Line. The R-rated drama finds the Oscar winner playing a woman whose Egyptian-born husband is captured by the CIA after being suspected of being a terrorist. Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep add to the cast. Rendition follows The Kingdom and In the Valley of Elah as military-themed films this fall with connections to the Middle East. Audiences will want only so much of this content. Witherspoon will have her starpower put to the test since she is the only major commercial star here and she is outside of her safety zone of romantic comedies. The film will play to mature adults and will have to compete not only with this weekend’s other new dramas, but also with an assortment of holdovers already playing to the same audience. Reviews have been mixed which will also make things difficult. Debuting in roughly 2,200 locations, Rendition may capture about $9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.


Reese Witherspoon and Peter Sarsgaard in Rendition

Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with the crime thriller Gone Baby Gone which stars his brother Casey in the lead role. The Miramax release also stars Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Michelle Monaghan and carries a R rating. Reviews have been good which will come as a shocker to those that look at this movie as nothing more than Daredevil getting to hop into the director’s chair. Reese, Joaquin, George, Cate, and Halle will all be cutting into the adult pie which can only expand by a certain amount. The marketing push has been highlighting the film as being from the author of Mystic River in hopes of finding those who loved that other Boston-set fall crime drama. An invite to the top five may not arrive for Ben. Opening in approximately 1,500 theaters, Gone Baby Gone could collect about $6M this weekend.


Freeman, Affleck and Monaghan in Gone Baby Gone
Yet another new option for adults looking for serious fare is the Halle BerryBenicio Del Toro starrer Things We Lost in the Fire. The Paramount release about a widow who seeks comfort from her dead husband’s drug-addicted friend will play to a mature audience and skew more female. The R-rated film has generated some good early reviews and both leads have Oscars on their shelves, but it will not be enough to compete with the other films targeting the same crowd. Berry showed in April that she can only open a picture so much when her thriller Perfect Stranger bowed to a $4,211 average even though A-lister Bruce Willis co-starred. With a not-so-wide release in about 1,000 theaters this weekend, Things We Lost in the Fire might debut with around $3M.


Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire

Freestyle Releasing has booked the few remaining empty screens out there for its teen thriller Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour. As one of the only PG-rated suspense pics ever made, the film will try to attract younger teenagers not interested in sports-themed comedies. With only 1,100 theaters, a quiet marketing campaign, no stars, and zero buzz, a weak debut of about $1M could result.


Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour

After a potent number one debut, Tyler Perry‘s hit comedy Why Did I Get Married? should suffer a big fall in its second weekend if history is any indicator. Sophomore drops for the filmmaker’s previous offerings include 50% for Diary of a Mad Black Woman, 58% for Madea’s Family Reunion, and 57% for Daddy’s Little Girls. Lionsgate should see a 50% fall to about $10M this weekend giving the ensemble relationship tale $37M in ten days.

Disney’s The Game Plan once again has no new competition for the kiddie audience. Why studios have programmed so many serious adult dramas into this month and no other good family films is anyone’s guess. A 35% dip would leave The Rock with $7M and an impressive cume of $68M after 24 days.

Both Sony’s We Own the Night and the Warner Bros. thriller Michael Clayton will have to fight extra hard in order to compete with the new releases gunning for their customers. Night looks to slide more and fall by 45% while the strongly reviewed Clayton could ease by 40% with both films grossing roughly $6M over the weekend. That would lead to ten-day totals of $20M and $21M, respectively.

LAST YEAR: Just two months after the release of the similarly-themed magician pic The Illusionist, Buena Vista still managed to score a number one bow for The Prestige which opened with $14.8M on its way to $53.1M. Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed enjoyed a strong hold and ranked second with $13.5M in its third frame. Debuting in third was Clint Eastwood‘s war saga Flags of Our Fathers with $10.2M leading to a disappointing $33.6M final for Paramount. Sony’s animated hit Open Season ranked fourth with $8.2M. Rounding out the top five was rival family film Flicka with $7.7M for Fox on its way to only $21M. Also premiering in the top ten was Sony’s Marie Antoinette with $5.4M which led to a final tally of just $16M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

If you wanted to be one of the first to see the year’s biggest confluence of star power on a single screen, you’d better start shopping for a ticket to France — Variety reports that "Ocean’s Thirteen" will be making its debut at Cannes.

It’ll be screening out of the competition, following in the recent footsteps of previous Warner Bros. productions "Troy" and "The Matrix Reloaded." The splashy debut will help raise the film’s profile — not like it needs the assistance, but every little bit counts, right? — although, as the makers of "Marie Antoinette," "Hollywood Ending," and "The Ladykillers" could tell you, opening at Cannes doesn’t always spell box-office magic.

"Ocean’s Thirteen" director Steven Soderbergh is no stranger to the festival, of course; his first film, "sex, lies and videotape," won the Palme d’Or in 1989. (This is a feat "Ocean’s Thirteen" would seem to have little hope of repeating even if it were being entered in the competition, but then again, that isn’t really the point for this type of movie.)

The star-studded sequel, slated for a June 8 opening, stars (among others) Al Pacino, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Elliott Gould, and Ellen Barkin.

Source: Variety

In this week’s Ketchup, we just can’t get enough of those tidbits from the upcoming third installments of "Spider-Man" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the live-action "Transformers."

Also, Heath Ledger can’t avoid "Dark Knight" questions while trying to promote his little indie film, and some guy’s intial reaction to "Apocalypto" somehow made headlines. Read on for more.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

New Peeks at Spidey 3 and Pirates 3!
It really stinks to have to sit and wait for movies like these ones, but as long as we keep getting a constant string of posters, trailers, set pics and photo galleries, we’re happy. Actually we’re not, but we’ll take what we can get, right?

A Young Captain Jack in "Pirates 3"?
The latest rumor swirling around about the next (and final?) "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick is that we just might get a peek at what Captain Jack Sparrow looked like … as a kid!

(More) New Transformers Pics!
I get the feeling that this is going to be a weekly occurrence until Michael Bay’s "Transformers" is finally released, but here you go: More new pics of the robo-vehicles!

A Few Random "Dark Knight" Nuggets

Poor Heath Ledger is out there on the circuit trying to promote his indie flick "Candy" — and all he’s getting are "The Dark Knight" questions! Ah well, I suppose it’s better than being unemployed, eh Heath?

"Apocalypto" Wow
Yes, "wow" says … a guy who reads AICN. Some dude with a pseudonym caught an early screening of Mel Gibson’s "Apocalypto," and get this: He LIKED IT! Stunning!

Rumors and trailers and pics, oh my!

In Other News:

  • Joe Carnahan is considering directing a remake of "Bunny Lake is Missing," a thriller that could be the next starring vehicle for Reese Witherspoon.
  • Dennis Quaid has joined the cast of "The Express", Universal Pictures’ drama about the late football star Ernie Davis, the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy.
  • Filippo Bozotti ("Marie Antoinette," "The Sopranos") will play a penniless European playboy in "The Great Pretender," and will also co-produce the film.
  • Director Chris Kentis will re-team with his "Open Water" producer Laura Lau for "Indianapolis," an adaptation of the Douglas Stanton book "In Harm’s Way."
  • Writer/director Jon Avnet is close to completing the script of "I Kill," a serial-killer thriller based on the Italian bestseller of the same name.
  • Nina Jacobson has signed a producing deal with DreamWorks Studios, giving the studio a first look at her projects over a three-year term.
  • Timothy Olyphant has reportedly landed the title role in the video game adaptation "Hitman," Vin Diesel having previously been attached to star in the role.
  • George Clooney and partner Grant Heslov are close to acquiring screen rights to John Grisham‘s non-fiction novel "The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town," about the true case of a wrongly-convicted Oklahoma man.

Perfecting the role of "brat."

With Halloween just around the corner, moviegoers rushed out to see the new horror sequel Saw III which enjoyed the biggest opening for the franchise and easily dominated the North American box office.

The weekend’s other new release, the political thriller Catch a Fire, fared worse and opened outside of the top ten. With little new competition for older adults or families, holdover films in the top ten playing to those two audience segments witnessed good holds and dropped by less than 40% each. Overall, the marketplace was about even with last year’s when the second Saw dominated the charts.

Saw III ripped into theaters and cut up an estimated $34.3M in ticket sales in its debut frame scoring the biggest opening for an R-rated film in nearly two and a half years. The brutal Jigsaw pic crushed the competition averaging a brutal $10,830 from 3,167 theaters and grossed more than the next four films combined. Lionsgate continued to grow its low budget October franchise. The first Saw opened this weekend in 2004 to $18.3M and reached $55.2M while its sequel bowed a year later to $31.7M on its way to $87M. Saw III, which was reportedly produced for only $12M, is already off to a stronger start with an opening that was 8% bloodier than its predecessor’s. The distrib also set new company records for both widest release and biggest opening weekend gross.

The latest installment of the Saw series got off to a potent start on Friday grossing $14.4M before tumbling 21% on Saturday to $11.4M. A Friday-to-Saturday drop is not uncommon for heavily-hyped horror sequels. Sunday sales are estimated to dip only 25% to $8.5M. No R pic has opened this well since Brad Pitt‘s epic Troy with $46.9M in May 2004. Based on the history of the franchise with Halloween providing a boost, but subsequent weekends dropping hard, the torture trilogy could boost its combined domestic tally to a stunning $230M. Combined production budgets amount to less than one-tenth of that figure. Lionsgate has no plans to shut down its cash machine and is developing Saw IV for a Halloween 2007 release.

For the third consecutive weekend, Martin Scorsese‘s mob hit The Departed was the nation’s second most popular film and grossed an estimated $9.8M. Dipping only 27% in its fourth frame, the Warner Bros. release has now made off with a sturdy $91.1M and looks headed for at least $125M domestically thanks to its terrific legs. The Departed is the studio’s second biggest film of 2006 after the $200M of the megabudgeted Superman Returns.

Falling from first to third place was the dueling magicians tale The Prestige with an estimated $9.6M, off a respectable 35%. After ten days, the Buena Vista release has collected $28.8M and seems headed towards the $50-55M range. In its sophomore frame, the Hugh JackmanChristian Bale thriller still averaged a solid $4,220 per theater.

Clint Eastwood‘s war drama Flags of Our Fathers added more guns to its run with 314 additional theaters, but still slumped 38% in its second weekend to an estimated $6.4M. After ten days, the $90M Paramount release has taken in just $19.9M and did not hold up as well as previous films from the Oscar-winning director. In their second weekends of wide release, Mystic River dropped only 25% in October 2003 while Million Dollar Baby dipped just 31% in February 2005. Plus, neither film had a major expansion of screens. Flags saw its per-theater average fall 47% from last weekend to only $2,900. The World War II pic seems headed for a poor finish of around $40M. Overseas prospects also do not seem too bright as American military pics are not the most popular exports to come out of Hollywood.

Still the top-grossing movie for kids for the fifth straight weekend was Sony’s Open Season with an estimated $6.1M, down only 25%, for a robust $77.4M cume. Fox’s horse drama Flicka dropped a reasonable 35% in its second weekend to an estimated $5M as it faced no new competition for family audiences. With $14.1M in ten days, the PG-rated film could finish up with a respectable $26-28M and do better on DVD early next year. Universal’s Man of the Year dropped 32% to an estimated $4.7M giving the Robin Williams comedy $28.9M to date.

Sony rounded out the top ten with the final three flicks. The horror sequel The Grudge 2 scared up an estimated $3.3M, down 57%, to put its total at $36M after 17 days. The Kirsten Dunst period piece Marie Antoinette tumbled an alarming 47% in its second weekend grossing an estimated $2.9M. With a mere $9.8M in ten days, the Sofia Coppola pic should conclude with a disappointing $14-16M.

The studio also expanded its dysfunctional family comedy Running with Scissors from eight theaters in limited release last weekend to 586 locations nationally this weekend. Following its potent platform lauch, the Annette Bening film performed to moderate results nationwide with an estimated $2.6M for a mediocre $4,352 average. Cume to date stands at $2.9M for Scissors which was not well-liked by critics.

Focus Features’ apartheid thriller Catch a Fire opened to weak results in moderate national release bowing to an estimated $2M from 1,306 theaters for a mild $1,541 average. Directed by Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), the PG-13 film stars Tim Robbins and Derek Luke and earned mostly positive reviews. Fire tried to perform like the distributor’s Africa-set thriller from last fall, The Constant Gardener. That film also boasted good reviews, some starpower, and a similar number of theaters. But Gardener opened in early September over the Labor Day holiday frame with a three-day bow of $8.7M from 1,346 theaters for a solid $6,444 average. Its timing could have played a big part in the more successful debut since there are usually very few serious movies for adults at the end of summer. Fire opened at the end of a two-month period that followed a string of ten fall films aimed at older adult moviegoers.

An internationally-set film that did connect with moviegoers was the Brad PittCate Blanchett drama Babel which debuted in New York and Los Angeles in only seven theaters but grossed an estimated $366,000 for a colossal $52,258 average. The R-rated film was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams, Amores Perros) and followed separate stories in Morocco, Mexico, and Japan which become interlinked. Reviews were very good and the film won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Despite each of the seven locations playing the film on two or three screens, Babel still sold out numerous shows over the weekend. Paramount Vantage will expand the film on Friday into 13 new markets for a total of about 35 theaters and go national on November 10 into about 1,200 total playdates.

The Weinstein Company got off to a solid start with its political documentary Shut Up and Sing which took in an estimated $51,000 from four theaters for an impressive $12,750 average. The R-rated film follows the musical trio The Dixie Chicks and how their lives were affected by remarks against President George W. Bush. Reviews were very favorable.

Among notable holdovers in limited release, Miramax’s The Queen continued its slow but steady expansion widening again from 99 to 152 locations in its fifth session. The acclaimed Helen Mirren pic grossed an estimated $1.9M, averaging a strong $12,638, and lifted its cume to $6.3M. Parent company Disney saw its Halloween treat The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D hold in 168 special engagements and took in an estimated $1.8M. Down 45% from its debut, the Tim Burton animated pic has grossed $5.9M in ten days and averaged $10,815 for the frame.

A pair of October titles fell from the top ten this weekend. Fox’s The Marine dropped 48% to an estimated $2M in its third assignment and pushed its sum to $15.5M. Look for a weak $18-20M finish for the John Cena actioner. New Line saw its fright flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning tumble bringing its cume to $38M to date. The horror prequel will struggle to get to $40M giving it half of the $80.1M of 2003’s Chainsaw remake.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $84.6M which was up a scant 2% from last year when Saw II debuted at number one with $31.7M; but off 5% from 2004 when The Grudge remained in the top spot with $21.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Three well-reviewed dramas fought over the weekend box office crown, but it was a pair of dueling magicians that North American moviegoers chose first as The Prestige opened at the top of the charts. Close behind was the mob thriller The Departed which remained strong in its third weekend while Clint Eastwood‘s new war saga Flags of our Fathers settled for a third place debut.

The weekend’s two other new releases targeted young females and found their way into the top ten as well. The family drama Flicka stumbled in wide release while the period pic Marie Antoinette did respectable business in moderate release. Overall ticket sales fell from last weekend, but were still up sharply versus a year ago.

Leaving behind their super hero tights, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale topped the box office with The Prestige which opened to an estimated $14.8M. Averaging a strong $6,496 from 2,281 theaters, the PG-13 pic about two turn-of-the-century magicians who compete for tricks and the heart of a young woman was directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins). Bale reteamed with Nolan after playing the Caped Crusader while Jackman took three turns playing Wolverine in the X-Men films. The Prestige scored good marks from critics and co-starred Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, and David Bowie. With ample starpower, the period drama beat out its rivals to win the weekend and won a decisive victory over fellow freshman Flags which was expected to make a more competitive play for the number one spot. The Prestige also grossed an estimated $1M from international bows this weekend in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

Remaining in second place for the second straight weekend was Martin Scorsese‘s smash hit The Departed which dipped only 28% to an estimated $13.7M. After 17 days, the Leonardo DiCaprioMatt Damon crime saga has taken in a potent $77.1M and is on a course to reach $110-120M or more depending on how long its sturdy legs last. The Warner Bros. release averaged an impressive $4,551 from 3,005 theaters in its third mission and is already the fall season’s top-grossing film. Overseas, Departed grossed an estimated $5.1M from 13 markets boosting its international cume to $25.3M. It ranks number one in the United Kingdom and Australia. The global gross for the Jack Nicholson mob pic has broken through the $100M mark with many more countries still to open. The undercover saga infiltrates Italy and Spain on Friday, and rolls into Brazil, France, and Germany in the weeks ahead followed by Japan in January.

Clint Eastwood, who beat Scorsese at the Oscars in 2005, saw his newest directorial effort Flags of our Fathers lose out in its box office battle against his old rival. The World War II pic debuted to an estimated $10.2M from 1,876 theaters to claim third place. Averaging a good, but not spectacular, $5,437 per location, the Paramount release played to a much older male crowd. Studio research showed that a whopping 80% of the audience was over the age of 30 while men made up 55%. Reviews were good, but critics were not as supportive as they were for Eastwood’s last two films Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River.

Budgeted at $90M, Flags was easily the filmmaker’s most ambitious project to date and told of the American soldiers who were photographed in Iwo Jima during the final years of the war. Eastwood pics are not known for their powerful openings as his fans typically take their time coming to theaters to see his films. It would be pointless to compare the box office of Flags to Baby since the latter was rolled out over time during Oscar season and didn’t open nationally until its seventh weekend right after it scored seven Academy Award nominations. However, it would be fair to compare Flags to Mystic which debuted nationally in its second frame to the tune of $10.4M from 1,467 theaters for a more potent $7,120 average. With less starpower and somewhat weaker reviews, the war tale generated an opening weekend average that was 24% smaller than River’s. Still, the road ahead for Flags could be durable as an encouraging 90% of those polled found it to be "excellent" or "very good".

Warner Bros. found itself with a piece of all three of the weekend’s top films serving as a co-producer on each film. The studio is handling both The Prestige and Flags overseas. The latter pic was co-financed with DreamWorks which is handling it domestically through its new parent Paramount.

The fall season’s only kids hit Open Season remained a strong contender grossing an estimated $8M for fourth place. Down only 28%, the animated Sony title has boosted its cume to $69.6M and now looks like it has a chance to flirt with the $100M mark and become the second biggest film in the September-October corridor after The Departed.

Opening in fifth place with not-so-impressive results was the girl-and-her-horse drama Flicka which bowed to an estimated $7.7M from a very wide 2,877 theaters for a weak $2,676 average. Fox’s PG-rated family film performed a bit below the $9.2M opening of last year’s Dreamer, another story of a young girl and her steed, which galloped into theaters this very weekend playing to the same audience. The budget for Flicka was only $14M.

Tied for fifth place was last weekend’s number one film The Grudge 2 which also scared up an estimated $7.7M, but tumbled a steep 63% in its sophomore frame. Sony’s horror sequel has taken in $31.4M in ten days which is less than half of the $70.7M that its 2004 predecessor grossed over the same period. The first Grudge held up much better dropping 44% in its second weekend despite facing the powerful launch of the first Saw pic. Budgeted at $20M, The Grudge 2 looks to reach $40-45M domestically.

Faring better in its second term was Robin Williams with his political comedy Man of the Year which declined a moderate 43% to an estimated $7M. Universal has collected a ten-day cume of $22.5M and is heading for $35-40M by the end of its campaign.

Sofia Coppola‘s Marie Antoinette got off to a solid start in moderate national release opening to an estimated $5.3M from 859 locations for a sturdy per-theater average of $6,170. The Kirsten Dunst starrer about the former Queen of France played to a young female audience and scored the second best average in the top ten after chart-topper The Prestige. Critics were not too kind to the PG-13 pic.

Dropping to ninth was the horror prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning with an estimated $3.8M, down 49%, lifitng the total up to $36M. Fox’s action pic The Marine rounded out the top ten with an estimated $3.7M, off 48%, giving the John Cena flick just $12.5M after ten days. A $20M final seems likely.

Disney released its modern classic The Nightmare Before Christmas in special 3D engagements this weekend and posted strong numbers from limited release. The Tim Burton concoction grossed an estimated $3.3M from only 168 theaters for a sizzling $19,536 per venue. The film originally opened in October of 1993 and grossed a solid $50M.

The R-rated dysfunctional family pic Running with Scissors got off to a potent start opening in only eight theaters but grossing an estimated $225,000. The Sony release averaged a muscular $28,125 and expands nationally on Friday. Reviews were mixed for the Annette Bening pic.

Miramax’s The Queen kept growing and jumped 49% to an estimated $1.5M thanks to an expansion from 46 to 99 playdates. With a stellar average of $15,333 in its fourth frame, the successful widening continued and boosted the total for the acclaimed Helen Mirren film to $3.8M.

Four more fall films fell from the top ten this weekend. Buena Vista’s Coast Guard actioner The Guardian took in an estimated $3.6M in its fourth mission, down 39%, for a $46.5M total. The Ashton KutcherKevin Costner pic should conclude with a decent $50-55M. The Jessica Simpson comedy Employee of the Month dropped 45% to an estimated $2.9M giving Lionsgate $23.9M to date. Look for a final tally of around $30M.

The historical epic One Night with the King took in an estimated $2.2M in its sophomore frame, down 46%, pushing the ten-day total to just $7.5M. The 8X release may reach about $12M. Paramount’s $12M comedy Jackass: Number Two has grossed a sensational $71.1M thus far after dropping 54% to an estimated $1.5M this weekend. The bold stunts sequel should end up with $74M and lots of profits for its studio.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $82M which was up a healthy 25% from last year when Doom debuted at number one with $15.5M; but down 14% from 2004 when The Grudge opened in the top spot with $39.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Hollywood sure loves to dwell on yesteryear. Another wave of historical films hits the multiplexes on Friday led by the World War II drama "Flags of our Fathers" directed by Clint Eastwood.

Going back another half-century is the Hugh JackmanChristian Bale thriller "The Prestige." Kirsten Dunst rewinds even further to the 18th century playing the title role in "Marie Antoinette." Moviegoers who want to stick to the today’s times get to ride the family film "Flicka" which also is added into the mix this weekend. Overall, the North American box office should simmer down after two weeks of red-hot action thanks to a quartet of new releases that does not seem to be exciting the public too much.

What happens when two-time Oscar winners Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg join forces to produce a film? You get the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. production "Flags of our Fathers" which chronicles the famous battle at Iwo Jima and the notoriety that followed for the soldiers photographed hoisting the American flag. The R-rated film is low on starpower boasting a cast featuring Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, and Jesse Bradford. Clearly it will be subject matter and the director that will draw in audiences. "Flags" is likely to become the oldest-skewing film in the marketplace. Young adults should not show too much interest and female appeal will be limited as well for this war story. Competition for adult men will be tough given the start of the World Series and the continuation of all sorts of live football all weekend long on television.


Clint Eastwood’s WWII epic "Flags of Our Fathers."

But loyal Eastwood fans will probably find the time for "Flags" this weekend and some reviews have been good. Critics have not been giving the type of support this time that they gave in recent years to "Million Dollar Baby" and "Mystic River" giving it a lesser sense of urgency. Plus a fall season full of period films really doesn’t need more of them. A narrow release will curtail box office potential too. This weekend, it could turn out to be a rematch where Eastwood will square off against Martin Scorsese whose "The Departed" is proving to be an exciting option, set in modern times, for ticket buyers.The New York-based filmmaker wants revenge after losing to Dirty Harry at the Academy Awards a year and a half ago. "Mystic River" opened wide in October 2003 to an average just north of $7,000. Paramount’s "Flags of our Fathers," which debuts in roughly 1,800 locations, could reach the same vicinity and collect about $13M this weekend.

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play dueling magicians at the turn of the 20th century in "The Prestige." The current Caped Crusader reteams with director Christopher Nolan in this PG-13 period drama which co-stars Scarlett Johansson as, you guessed it, the beautiful young woman both men desire. Michael Caine also appears in another Alfred-like role. The Buena Vista film’s biggest challenge will be to convince audiences that this is not that Edward Norton film they just saw a few weeks ago. While "The Illusionist" was not a big blockbuster, it was very well-liked by moviegoers and has had some of the best legs of 2006. Those who paid to see it may not be in the mood for another one so soon. Just ask Mr. Capote. Starpower in "The Prestige" is good, but the two leads do not usually sell well outside of their comic book flicks. "The Departed" and "Flags of our Fathers" will steal away adult audiences providing ample competition, but "The Prestige" does have more female appeal than Clint’s war tale so adult couples that have seen Leo vs. Matt already might give Wolverine vs. Batman a try. Opening in over 2,000 theaters, "The Prestige" could debut with around $10M.


Michael Caine and Hugh Jackman, in that other 19th century magician movie.

The weekend’s only family offering comes on horseback in the form of "Flicka." 27-year-old Alison Lohman stars as a stubborn 16-year-old girl who befriends a steed against the wishes of her dad on a scenic Wyoming ranch. The PG-rated film should mostly appeal to girls and play to the same crowd that spent $9.2M this weekend a year ago for the bow of another girl-and-her-horse flick, "Dreamer." Business will be stronger in the heartland than in large urban centers. Fox is giving "Flicka" the widest release by far of any of this weekend’s new openers so the sheer size of the distribution will give it some traction, even if the average limps a bit. "Open Season," which is still strong going into its fourth hunt, will be the only real threat to business. While bad girls might line up for "Marie Antoinette" this weekend, the good girls will get to ride with "Flicka" which will gallop into over 2,000 more theaters. Opening in 2,876 sites, the horse flick could take in around $10M this weekend.


Alison Lohman and Tim McGraw in "Flicka."

Spidergirl Kirsten Dunst tosses on a fancy wig to play the famous queen of France in "Marie Antoinette," written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Booed last May at the Cannes Film Festival, the PG-13 film is a biopic aimed squarely at teenage girls and young women with a story of a bold gal with a strong head on her shoulders, for most of the time. The studio is marketing the film in a hip way hoping to appeal to young people. "Marie" should skew heavily female as interest from guys will be weak. Dunst will have a chance to test her starpower as the only big-name actor in the cast. Her date movie "Wimbledon" did not fare too well in the Fall of 2004 with a $7.1M opening from over 2,000 theaters. Reese Witherspoon‘s "Vanity Fair" bowed to $4.8M from just over 1,000 playdates by appealing to a similar audience. "Marie Antoinette" will launch in only 859 theaters on Friday limiting its box office potential. A weekend gross of about $5M could result.


Kirsten Dunst is "Marie Antoinette."

Last weekend’s box office champ "The Grudge 2" has seen its audience get frightened away during the week as the Sony thriller dropped to second place on Monday and third on Tuesday. A hefty tumble of 55% could result giving the spookfest about $9M for the weekend and a ten-day sum of $33M.

On the other hand, Warner Bros. has been enjoying great legs from its mob thriller "The Departed" which eased only 29% in its second mission. "Flags of our Fathers" and "The Prestige" will eat into its adult audience, but the Martin Scorsese hit should continue to remain a very popular moviegoing option. A 30% fall to about $13M might lead "The Departed" back into the top spot this weekend unless one of the newbies breaks out. Regardless, that would push the cume to a stellar $76M.

LAST YEAR: The Rock cooked up a number one opening with his sci-fi actioner "Doom" which opened with $15.5M. Universal’s video game-inspired flick fell apart quickly and found its way to only $28M. Debuting in second place was the less expensive family film "Dreamer" with $9.2M on its way to a stronger $32.8M final for DreamWorks. The Spielberg studio also claimed the third spot with the leggy kidpic "Wallace and Gromit" with $8.6M, off only 26% in its third weekend. Sony’s horror pic "The Fog" fell from first to fourth with $6.7M. Warner Bros. saw a weak opening for its Charlize Theron drama "North Country" which grossed just $6.4M. Cume reached a mere $18.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got a complex tale of heroism (Clint Eastwood‘s "Flags of Our Fathers," starring Ryan Phillippe), a story of dueling magicians (Christopher Nolan‘s "The Prestige," starring Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, and Hugh Jackman), a yarn about a girl and her horse ("Flicka," starring Alison Lohman and Tim McGraw), and a post-punk-scored period piece about the least punk human being ever (Sofia Coppola‘s "Marie Antoinette," starring Kirsten Dunst). What do the critics have to say?

Is America a great country? Yes. Do the soldiers who fought in WWII, the Greatest Generation, deserve our utmost praise for their sacrifices? Without a doubt. Is the truth often more complicated than the myth? Definitely. Clint Eastwood‘s latest, "Flags of Our Fathers," tells the story of that famous photo of the servicemen raising the flag atop Iwo Jima, and the trials and tribulations their celebrity caused. Critics say the film is so rich with historical information and inherent drama that it’s occasionally a little too much, but strong performances and Eastwood’s sure directorial hand keep things on track. At 69 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flags" may not reach the heights of Eastwood’s last film, "Million Dollar Baby" (92 percent), but it’s still flying pretty high. (Check out our feature on Clint’s filmography here.)


Clint Eastwood pays tribute to the Greatest Generation.

With "Memento," Christopher Nolan made a name for himself by holding his secrets close to the vest to the bitter end. Now comes "The Prestige," in which the director again serves up a brain-teaser, this time involving a pair of public manipulators in their own right. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman star as bitterly competitive magicians in turn-of- the-century London who play a deadly game of one-upmanship. While some scribes say the movie is uneven in spots, "The Prestige" is winning praise for its remarkable production design, sharp performances, and more than enough cinematic sleight-of-hand to keep audiences interested. At 68 percent, this is Nolan’s worst reviewed film, and it’s still getting its share of prestige.


"Headlines don’t sell papes. Newsies sell papes."

There is no shortage of stories involving adolescents and their beloved equine friends, from Steinbeck‘s "The Red Pony" to "The Black Stallion" to last year’s "Dreamer." Critics say "Flicka," itself a remake, is a strong and affecting entry into this sub-genre. The film stars Alison Lohman as a 16-year-old who loves her untamed horse and the freedom of the open range, and Tim McGraw as her father, a man with different ideas about her future. Some critics say "Flicka" is an old-fashioned, solid family drama with a notable lack of schmaltz, but others say the material is too well-trodden to really hit home. At 60 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flicka" ain’t Secretariat, but it’s not ready for the glue factory, either.


"Flicka": Full of horsing around!

In the song "Natural’s Not In It," the socialist British post-punk band Gang of Four sarcastically lamented "the problem of leisure / what to do for pleasure," words that are especially resonant if you’re a teenage monarch ruling a country you know little about, and your subjects are calling for your head. Sofia Coppola‘s long-awaited (and already controversial) "Marie Antoinette" tells the story of the queen (Kirsten Dunst), her inattentive husband, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman), her gossipy, silver-tongued court, and all the empty fun she had before she gets her head chopped off. Critics say Coppola’s film offers a wealth of visual riches and makes Marie’s hardships somewhat empathetic, but they’re split over its apparent lack of substance, as well as the anachronistic use of music by the likes of New Order, the Strokes, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this is definitely a cut (pun intended) below Coppola’s last feature, "Lost in Translation" (95 percent), but it’s still a pretty tasty piece of cake.


"A new royal family / A wild nobility / We are the family."

Also opening this week in limited release: "51 Birch Street," a documentary exploring the hidden lives of the filmmaker Doug Block’s parents, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; "Requiem," a German tale of epilepsy/demonic possession, is at 100 percent; Tim Burton‘s stop motion anti-holiday classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas," getting a re-release, is at 96 percent; "Sweet Land," a sweeping tale of the American immigrant experience, is at 93 percent; "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple," a documentary about cult leader Jim Jones and his flock, is at 92 percent; "Hair High," a perverse animated comedy about a strange high school, is at 63 percent; "Sleeping Dogs Lie," Bobcat Goldthwait‘s sweet, taboo-busting rom-com, is at 59 percent; and "Running with Scissors," a tale of therapy and growing pains starring Annette Bening and Gwyneth Paltrow, is at 17 percent.

Recent Clint Eastwood-Directed Movies:
————————————————-
92% — Million Dollar Baby (2004)
86% — Mystic River (2003)
56% — Blood Work (2002)
78% — Space Cowboys (2000)
50% — True Crime (1999)

Recent Kirsten Dunst Movies:
————————————–
28% — Elizabethtown (2005)
62% — Wimbledon (2004)
7% — Kaena: The Prophesy (2004)
93% — Spider Man 2 (2004)
93% — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Recent Christian Bale Movies:
————————————
59% — The New World (2005)
84% — Batman Begins (2005)
85% — Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)
72% — The Machinist (2004)
68% — Laurel Canyon (2003)

For those of you who have been following Rotten Tomatoes’ coverage of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, one major question may have crossed your mind: When will I get to see these movies? Well, some of them will be screened in the coming months, but for many others, their status is still up in the air.

A few of the out-of-competition films, like "The Da Vinci Code," "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Over the Hedge," and "An Inconvenient Truth," have already been released in the U.S. But many others, including Ken Loach‘s Palme D’Or winner "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," and Richard Kelly‘s critically-derided "Southland Tales," do not have American distribution dates as of yet.


"The Wind That Shakes the Barley"

Here’s a brief list of the tentative release dates for films screened at Cannes (in and out of competition):

A Scanner Darkly — July 7
Clerks II — July 21
Babel — Oct 6, 2006
Marie Antoinette — Oct. 13
Fast Food Nation — Oct. 18
Volver — Oct. 20
Borat — Nov. 3
Bug — Dec. 22
Pan’s Labyrinth — Fall 2006


"Pan’s Labyrinth"

As for some of the other notable Cannes films, Tartan will distribute "Red Road," "Princess," and "The Page Turner;" IFC will distribute "Destricted;" Magnolia Pictures will distribute "The Host;" and the Weinstein Company will distribute "Buenos Aires 1977."


"The Page Turner" ("La Tourneuse de Pages")

In addition, Sony Pictures Classics acquired the rights for the in-production animated film "Persepolis," Picturehouse will distribute "La Vie En Rose," and Studio Canal sold distribution rights to Wong Kar-Wai‘s first English-language film, "My Blueberry Nights."

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