30 Favorite Football Movies

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 Favorite Football Movies, as fine a lineup of critics’ and popular fan choices 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 Favorite Football Movies. No need to review the play on this one: We guarantee you’re seeing a big dogpile of the gridiron movie greats. Alex Vo

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 16221%
Critics Consensus: The tropes of both football and evangelical movies are gracelessly on parade in this banal, insipid drama.
Synopsis: Grant Taylor, a Christian high-school football coach (Alex Kendrick), gets some very bad news. Besides his and his wife's (Shannen... [More]
Directed By: Alex Kendrick

#29

Lucas (1986)
73%

#29
Adjusted Score: 73392%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lucas (Corey Haim) is an unusually bright teenager whose nerdy looks and meek demeanor make him a favorite target for... [More]
Directed By: David Seltzer

#28

Go Tigers! (2001)
87%

#28
Adjusted Score: 87791%
Critics Consensus: Go Tigers! is an absorbing and evenhanded documentary that takes a perceptive look at the world of high school sports and its impact on a community.
Synopsis: "Go Tigers!" is a rare behind-the-scenes chronicling of a remarkable season for the Massillon Tiger's high school football team, played... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kenneth A. Carlson

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 92789%
Critics Consensus: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is compelling viewing even though it spoils the score of the titular college football matchup - and even if you aren't a fan of the sport.
Synopsis: In November 1968, undefeated Ivy League football teams from Harvard and Yale square off in a historic game in which... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kevin Rafferty

#26

The Longshots (2008)
41%

#26
Adjusted Score: 42342%
Critics Consensus: The Longshots means well, but it's a largely formulaic affair, rarely deviating from the inspirational sports movie playbook.
Synopsis: Curtis Plummer (Ice Cube), a down-on-his-luck former football player, becomes the new coach of the Minden, Illinois, Pop Warner football... [More]
Directed By: Fred Durst

#25

Little Giants (1994)
36%

#25
Adjusted Score: 29501%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ever since childhood, nerdy Danny O'Shea (Rick Moranis) has felt inferior to his brother, Kevin (Ed O'Neill), a former college... [More]
Directed By: Duwayne Dunham

#24

The Replacements (2000)
41%

#24
Adjusted Score: 43628%
Critics Consensus: The cliched characters and obvious outcome make all the fun and excitement amount to nothing.
Synopsis: It's late in the season; the playoffs are fast approaching; and the Washington Sentinels have just gone on strike. Scrambling... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#23

The Longest Yard (2005)
31%

#23
Adjusted Score: 38220%
Critics Consensus: This Yard has some laughs but missing from this remake is the edginess of the original.
Synopsis: Disgraced pro football quarterback Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) lands in jail, where manipulative Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) recruits him to... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 45555%
Critics Consensus: The Last Boy Scout is as explosive, silly, and fun as it does represent the decline of the buddy-cop genre.
Synopsis: Once a first-rate Secret Service agent, Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) is now a gruff private investigator whose latest gig is... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#21

School Ties (1992)
60%

#21
Adjusted Score: 62886%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When David Greene (Brendan Fraser) receives a football scholarship to a prestigious prep school in the 1950s, he feels pressure... [More]
Directed By: Robert Mandel

#20

Heaven Can Wait (1978)
87%

#20
Adjusted Score: 91552%
Critics Consensus: A throwback to the high-gloss screwball comedies of the 1940s, Heaven Can Wait beguiles with seamless production values and great comic relief from Charles Grodin and Dianne Cannon.
Synopsis: Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty), quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, is killed in an auto accident. In the afterlife, Joe... [More]
Directed By: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

#19

The Freshman (1925)
94%

#19
Adjusted Score: 96450%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In hopes of making some friends, Harold Lamb (Harold Lloyd) attends college at Tate University. But when the students notice... [More]
Directed By: Sam Taylor, Fred Newmeyer

#18

Draft Day (2014)
60%

#18
Adjusted Score: 65825%
Critics Consensus: It's perfectly pleasant for sports buffs and Costner fans, but overall, Draft Day lives down to its title by relying too heavily on the sort of by-the-numbers storytelling that only a statistician could love.
Synopsis: Sonny Weaver Jr. is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. One of pro football's most important days, NFL draft... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 77920%
Critics Consensus: American Underdog sticks to the standard inspirational sports drama playbook -- and proves once again that it can be very effective in the right hands.
Synopsis: American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stockboy at a grocery... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin

#16

Invincible (2006)
72%

#16
Adjusted Score: 77690%
Critics Consensus: As simple and authentic as the gritty South Philly invirons in which it's set in, Invincible sends a uplifting and heartfelt message packed with an athletic enthusiasm that shouldn't be missed.
Synopsis: Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the... [More]
Directed By: Ericson Core

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 85378%
Critics Consensus: Muddled overall, but perceptive and brutally realistic, North Dallas Forty also benefits from strong performances by Nick Nolte and Charles Durning. Football fans will likely find it fascinating.
Synopsis: A brutal satire of American professional football in which a veteran pass-catcher's individuality and refusal to become part of the... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#14

The Waterboy (1998)
33%

#14
Adjusted Score: 36571%
Critics Consensus: This is an insult to its genre with low humor and cheap gags.
Synopsis: Raised by his overprotective mother, Helen (Kathy Bates), Bobby Boucher Jr. (Adam Sandler) is the water boy for a successful... [More]
Directed By: Frank Coraci

#13

The Express (2008)
62%

#13
Adjusted Score: 65699%
Critics Consensus: The Express crosses the goal line as an inspirational sports drama, although fans of the genre will recognize many -- if not most -- of its clichés.
Synopsis: Born into poverty, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University's football program. Under the guidance... [More]
Directed By: Gary Fleder

#12

Gridiron Gang (2006)
42%

#12
Adjusted Score: 45981%
Critics Consensus: The role of probation officer Sean Porter fits Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson like a glove; however, the execution is so cliched, the youths' stories (based on real events), fail to inspire.
Synopsis: A counselor (The Rock) at a juvenile detention facility decides to turn the young inmates in his charge into a... [More]
Directed By: Phil Joanou

#11

Undefeated (2011)
96%

#11
Adjusted Score: 99636%
Critics Consensus: It covers familiar sports documentary territory, but Undefeated proves there are still powerful stories to be told on the high school gridiron.
Synopsis: Since its founding in 1899, Manassas High School in North Memphis has never had a football team win a playoff... [More]
Starring: Bill Courtney
Directed By: Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin

#10

The Longest Yard (1974)
79%

#10
Adjusted Score: 81827%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts tough and funny, and led by a perfectly cast Burt Reynolds, The Longest Yard has an interesting political subtext and an excellent climax -- even if it takes too long to get there.
Synopsis: An ex-football star doing time is forced by the warden to organize a team of inmates to play against his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Aldrich

#9

Varsity Blues (1999)
43%

#9
Adjusted Score: 43807%
Critics Consensus: This is a predictable football movie that lacks intensity.
Synopsis: In West Canaan, Texas, high school football reigns supreme. When starting quarterback Lance Harbor (Paul Walker) turns up injured, the... [More]
Directed By: Brian Robbins

#8

Any Given Sunday (1999)
52%

#8
Adjusted Score: 56365%
Critics Consensus: Sometimes entertaining, but overall Any Given Sunday is a disappointment coming from Oliver Stone.
Synopsis: Four years ago, DAmato's (Al Pacino) Miami Sharks were at the top. Now, his team is struggling with three consecutive... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#7

We Are Marshall (2006)
49%

#7
Adjusted Score: 53201%
Critics Consensus: Matthew McConaughey almost runs We Are Marshall to the end zone, but can't stop it from taking the easy, feel-good route in memorializing this historic event in American sports.
Synopsis: In 1970, Marshall University and the small town of Huntington, W.Va., reel when a plane crash claims the lives of... [More]
Directed By: McG

#6

Jerry Maguire (1996)
84%

#6
Adjusted Score: 89318%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by dazzling performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, as well as Cameron Crowe's tender direction, Jerry Maguire meshes romance and sports with panache.
Synopsis: When slick sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience, he pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#5

The Blind Side (2009)
66%

#5
Adjusted Score: 73724%
Critics Consensus: It might strike some viewers as a little too pat, but The Blind Side has the benefit of strong source material and a strong performance from Sandra Bullock.
Synopsis: Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#4

Brian's Song (1971)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 47325%
Critics Consensus: Buoyed by standout performances from James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, Brian's Song is a touching tale of friendship whose central relationship transcends its standard sports movie moments.
Synopsis: Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) are teammates on the mid-1960s Chicago Bears. At a time... [More]
Directed By: Buzz Kulik

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 87950%
Critics Consensus: An acute survey of the football-obsessed heartland that succeeds as both a stirring drama and a rousing sports movie.
Synopsis: A small, turbulent town in Texas obsesses over their high school football team to an unhealthy degree. When the star... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 76827%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#1

Rudy (1993)
78%

#1
Adjusted Score: 81348%
Critics Consensus: Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.
Synopsis: Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

(Photo by Claudette Barius/©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)

All Matthew McConaughey Movies Ranked

“Alright alright alright!” Only one man in Hollywood could fully embody the laidback cool of that now-famous catchphrase: Matthew McConaughey. The actor broke into the scene with the landmark stoner comedy Dazed and Confused, and for a while there looked like he was good to just coast on his twangy bro-charm and ample shirtless scenes. Occasional dramas like Amistad and Frailty gave him acting cred, which some would say was squandered on a string of duds like Fool’s Gold, Failure to Launch, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – the mediocrity cresting with the 0% Surfer, Dude.

Then came the McConaissance.

It all started with 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer: He entered one side a laughing stock, and came out the other a bona fide movie legend. The hits followed: Magic Mike, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, and an honest-to-God Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. And there was that critically-lauded turn in HBO’s True Detective. Before 2011, McConaughey had notched six Certified Fresh films over 20 years; this past decade, he’s racked up nine. See where they all place, including his latest The Gentlemen, as we rank the best Matthew McConaughey movies (and the worst) by Tomatometer! Alex Vo

#45

Surfer, Dude (2008)
0%

#45
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Steve Addington (Matthew McConaughey) is a professional surfer and beach bum who lives to ride the waves. Content simply to... [More]
Directed By: S.R. Bindler

#44

Larger Than Life (1996)
11%

#44
Adjusted Score: 9505%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jack Corcoran (Bill Murray) is a struggling motivational speaker who lives by the mantra "Get over it!" When he learns... [More]
Directed By: Howard Franklin

#43

Fool's Gold (2008)
11%

#43
Adjusted Score: 15920%
Critics Consensus: With little chemistry among the performers, humorless gags, and a predictable storyline, Fool's Gold fails on every level.
Synopsis: Treasure hunter Ben "Finn" Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) has sunk his marriage to Tess (Kate Hudson) and his trusty boat in... [More]
Directed By: Andy Tennant

#42
Adjusted Score: 17756%
Critics Consensus: The Next Generation has the fortune of starring early-career Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger, but it services neither headliner well in a convoluted and cheap-looking slasher that doesn't live up to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre legacy.
Synopsis: After leaving their prom early, innocent Jenny (Renée Zellweger) and three other teenagers crash their car in the backwoods of... [More]
Directed By: Ken Henkel, Kim Henkel

#41

The Dark Tower (2017)
15%

#41
Adjusted Score: 36344%
Critics Consensus: Go then, there are other Stephen King adaptations than these.
Synopsis: Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O'Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known... [More]
Directed By: Nikolaj Arcel

#40

The Sea of Trees (2015)
17%

#40
Adjusted Score: 19553%
Critics Consensus: Dull, maudlin, and fundamentally empty, The Sea of Trees extinguishes the contributions of a talented cast and marks a depressing low point in director Gus Van Sant's career.
Synopsis: After traveling to Japan's Aokigahara Forest, a troubled teacher (Matthew McConaughey) meets a mysterious stranger (Ken Watanabe) who takes him... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 19866%
Critics Consensus: Instead of being light and charming, this romantic comedy is heavy-handed and contrived in its execution. Also, it's too unoriginal.
Synopsis: While celebrating her newest and most lucrative account -- the wedding of Internet tycoon Fran Donelly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) -- Mary... [More]
Directed By: Adam Shankman

#38

Tiptoes (2003)
20%

#38
Adjusted Score: 13664%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Carol falls in love with Steven without knowing much about him, but when she finds herself pregnant, it forces him... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Bright

#37

Serenity (2019)
21%

#37
Adjusted Score: 33186%
Critics Consensus: A high-concept mystery with a twist, Serenity isn't what it appears to be at first -- unfortunately, it's also not anywhere near as clever or entertaining as it thinks.
Synopsis: Baker Dill is a fishing boat captain who leads tours off of the tranquil enclave of Plymouth Island. His peaceful... [More]
Directed By: Steven Knight

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 25322%
Critics Consensus: Despite its sportsmanlike swagger, Two for the Money's aimless plot isn't worth betting on.
Synopsis: A former college athlete (Matthew McConaughey) joins forces with a sports consultant (Al Pacino) to handicap football games for high-rolling... [More]
Directed By: D.J. Caruso

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 29374%
Critics Consensus: The few comic gags sprinkled throughout the movie fail to spice up this formulaic rom-com.
Synopsis: A young man (Matthew McConaughey) continues to live at the home of parents who, in desperation to push him out... [More]
Directed By: Tom Dey

#34
Adjusted Score: 32831%
Critics Consensus: A retread of A Christmas Carol, featuring Matthew McConaughey in a retread of his Dazed and Confused role, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past lacks originality, humor, and any semblance of charm.
Synopsis: Celebrity photographer Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) lives life in the fast lane, committed to bachelorhood and simultaneous relationships with multiple... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 32178%
Critics Consensus: A queasy mishmash of poignant drama and slapstick fantasy, Angels in the Outfield strikes out as worthy family entertainment.
Synopsis: Foster kid Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) loves the Anaheim Angels, even though they're the worst team in the major leagues. His... [More]
Directed By: William Dear

#32

Sahara (2005)
38%

#32
Adjusted Score: 45604%
Critics Consensus: A mindless adventure flick with a preposterous plot.
Synopsis: Seasoned adventurer Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) sets out for the African desert with his sarcastic companion (Steve Zahn) in search... [More]
Directed By: Breck Eisner

#31
Adjusted Score: 47309%
Critics Consensus: Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are charming together, but they can't overcome How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days' silly premise and predictable script.
Synopsis: An advice columnist, Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson), tries pushing the boundaries of what she can write about in her new... [More]
Directed By: Donald Petrie

#30

Reign of Fire (2002)
42%

#30
Adjusted Score: 46852%
Critics Consensus: Reign of Fire gains some altitude with its pyrotechnic action and a smolderingly campy Matthew McConaughey, but the feature's wings are clipped by a derivative script and visual effects that fizzle out.
Synopsis: In present-day London, 12-year-old Quinn watches as his mother wakes an enormous fire-breathing beast from its centuries-long slumber. Twenty years... [More]
Directed By: Rob Bowman

#29

Gold (2016)
41%

#29
Adjusted Score: 55105%
Critics Consensus: Gold boasts an impressively committed performance from Matthew McConaughey, but it's just one glittering nugget in an otherwise uneven heap of cinematic silt.
Synopsis: Kenny Wells, a prospector desperate for a lucky break, teams up with a similarly eager geologist and sets off on... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Gaghan

#28

The Paperboy (2012)
45%

#28
Adjusted Score: 49824%
Critics Consensus: Trashy and melodramatic, The Paperboy is enlivened by a strong cast and a steamy, sordid plot, but it's uneven and often veers into camp.
Synopsis: In 1969 Florida, reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) returns to his hometown to write a story about death-row inmate Hillary... [More]
Directed By: Lee Daniels

#27

We Are Marshall (2006)
49%

#27
Adjusted Score: 53201%
Critics Consensus: Matthew McConaughey almost runs We Are Marshall to the end zone, but can't stop it from taking the easy, feel-good route in memorializing this historic event in American sports.
Synopsis: In 1970, Marshall University and the small town of Huntington, W.Va., reel when a plane crash claims the lives of... [More]
Directed By: McG

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 59184%
Critics Consensus: Free State of Jones has the noblest of intentions, but they aren't enough to make up for its stilted treatment of a fascinating real-life story.
Synopsis: In 1863, Mississippi farmer Newt Knight serves as a medic for the Confederate Army. Opposed to slavery, Knight would rather... [More]
Directed By: Gary Ross

#25

The Beach Bum (2019)
57%

#25
Adjusted Score: 63282%
Critics Consensus: The role of a lifetime for Matthew McConaughey, The Beach Bum is set apart by Harmony Korine's distinctive style, but that isn't always enough to offset the unfocused story.
Synopsis: Moondog is a fun-loving, pot-smoking, beer-drinking writer who lives life on his own terms in Florida. If he can put... [More]
Directed By: Harmony Korine

#24

White Boy Rick (2018)
57%

#24
Adjusted Score: 65272%
Critics Consensus: Solid work from the cast - particularly a scene-stealing Matthew McConaughey - helps White Boy Rick make up for a number of missed opportunities in the script.
Synopsis: Rick Wershe is a single father who's struggling to raise two teenagers during the height of the crack epidemic in... [More]
Directed By: Yann Demange

#23

The Newton Boys (1998)
64%

#23
Adjusted Score: 65377%
Critics Consensus: The Newton Boys uses a sharp cast and absorbing period detail to help make up for the frustrations of a story puzzlingly short on dramatic tension.
Synopsis: Seeking an escape from poverty, sibling Texas farmers (Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke) gain notoriety as daring 1920s bank... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#22

EDtv (1999)
64%

#22
Adjusted Score: 64355%
Critics Consensus: If it's not as ambitious as The Truman Show in satirizing the voyeuristic nature of television, EdTV is an amiable, witty comedy with fine performances from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Synopsis: In a desperate attempt to boost ratings, a cable channel decides to document the life of someone on a daily... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#21

Contact (1997)
68%

#21
Adjusted Score: 70792%
Critics Consensus: Contact elucidates stirring scientific concepts and theological inquiry at the expense of satisfying storytelling, making for a brainy blockbuster that engages with its ideas, if not its characters.
Synopsis: In this Zemeckis-directed adaptation of the Carl Sagan novel, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) races to interpret a possible message... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#20

U-571 (2000)
68%

#20
Adjusted Score: 71014%
Critics Consensus: Excellent cinematography and an interesting plot accompanied by a talented cast and crew make U-571 a tense thriller.
Synopsis: When a German U-571 submarine with a sophisticated encryption machine onboard is sunk during a World War II battle at... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Mostow

#19

A Time to Kill (1996)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 70090%
Critics Consensus: Overlong and superficial, A Time to Kill nonetheless succeeds on the strength of its skillful craftsmanship and top-notch performances.
Synopsis: Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a heartbroken black father who avenges his daughter's brutal rape by shooting the... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#18

Sing (2016)
71%

#18
Adjusted Score: 82845%
Critics Consensus: Sing delivers colorfully animated, cheerfully undemanding entertainment with a solid voice cast and a warm-hearted -- albeit familiar -- storyline that lives up to its title.
Synopsis: Dapper Koala Buster Moon presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. An eternal optimist, and a... [More]
Directed By: Garth Jennings

#17

Interstellar (2014)
73%

#17
Adjusted Score: 88809%
Critics Consensus: Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp.
Synopsis: In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#16

Boys on the Side (1995)
74%

#16
Adjusted Score: 74755%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After breaking up with her girlfriend, a nightclub singer, Jane (Whoopi Goldberg), answers a personal ad from Robin (Mary-Louise Parker),... [More]
Directed By: Herbert Ross

#15

Frailty (2002)
75%

#15
Adjusted Score: 79094%
Critics Consensus: Creepy and disturbing, Frailty is well-crafted, low-key horror.
Synopsis: Set in present day Texas, "Frailty" centers on the FBI's search for a serial killer who calls himself "God's Hands."... [More]
Directed By: Bill Paxton

#14

The Gentlemen (2020)
75%

#14
Adjusted Score: 93872%
Critics Consensus: It may not win writer-director Guy Ritchie many new converts, but for those already attuned to the filmmaker's brash wavelength, The Gentlemen stands tall.
Synopsis: Mickey Pearson is an American expatriate who became rich by building a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#13

Amistad (1997)
77%

#13
Adjusted Score: 80651%
Critics Consensus: Heartfelt without resorting to preachiness, Amistad tells an important story with engaging sensitivity and absorbing skill.
Synopsis: In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#12

Magic Mike (2012)
78%

#12
Adjusted Score: 87614%
Critics Consensus: Magic Mike's sensitive direction, smart screenplay, and strong performances allow audiences to have their beefcake and eat it too.
Synopsis: By day, Mike (Channing Tatum) makes ends meet any way he can -- handyman jobs, detailing cars or designing furniture.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 91319%
Critics Consensus: Funny, self-referential, and irreverent to a fault, The Wolf of Wall Street finds Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio at their most infectiously dynamic.
Synopsis: In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s,... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#10

Killer Joe (2011)
80%

#10
Adjusted Score: 86362%
Critics Consensus: Violent, darkly comic, and full of strong performances, Killer Joe proves William Friedkin hasn't lost his touch, even if the plot may be too lurid for some.
Synopsis: A cop (Matthew McConaughey) who moonlights as a hit man agrees to kill the hated mother of a desperate drug... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#9

Tropic Thunder (2008)
82%

#9
Adjusted Score: 91907%
Critics Consensus: With biting satire, plenty of subversive humor, and an unforgettable turn by Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder is a triumphant late Summer comedy.
Synopsis: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), pampered action superstar, sets out for Southeast Asia to take part in the biggest, most-expensive war... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#8
Adjusted Score: 86517%
Critics Consensus: Thirteen Conversations About One Thing is an intelligent and poignant look at lives intersecting.
Synopsis: A man approaching middle age decides to change his life. A rising young attorney's plans are thrown into disarray as... [More]
Directed By: Jill Sprecher

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 90049%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't offer any twists on the predictable courtroom thriller formula, but with a charming Matthew McConaughey leading its solid cast, The Lincoln Lawyer offers briskly enjoyable entertainment.
Synopsis: Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a charismatic defense attorney who does business out of his Lincoln Continental sedan. Mick spends... [More]
Directed By: Brad Furman

#6

Bernie (2011)
88%

#6
Adjusted Score: 95259%
Critics Consensus: Richard Linklater's Bernie is a gently told and unexpectedly amusing true-crime comedy that benefits from an impressive performance by Jack Black.
Synopsis: Assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is one of the most-beloved residents in the small Texas town of Carthage.... [More]
Directed By: Richard Linklater

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 95765%
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

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 103710%
Critics Consensus: Dallas Buyers Club rests squarely on Matthew McConaughey's scrawny shoulders, and he carries the burden gracefully with what might be a career-best performance.
Synopsis: In mid-1980s Texas, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is stunned to learn that he has AIDS. Though told that he... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

#3

Lone Star (1996)
92%

#3
Adjusted Score: 94689%
Critics Consensus: Smart and absorbing, Lone Star represents a career high point for writer-director John Sayles -- and '90s independent cinema in general.
Synopsis: In the Texas border town of Frontera, Sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) digs up the past when he finds an... [More]
Directed By: John Sayles

#2

Mud (2013)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 103447%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by a strong performance from Matthew McConaughey in the title role, Mud offers an engaging Southern drama that manages to stay sweet and heartwarming without being sappy.
Synopsis: While exploring a Mississippi River island, Arkansas boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey),a fugitive... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Nichols

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 110575%
Critics Consensus: Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation with an absorbing -- and bravely melancholy -- story that has something to offer audiences of all ages.
Synopsis: Young Kubo's (Art Parkinson) peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now... [More]
Directed By: Travis Knight

Moviegoers are in for a feast as studios will unleash a wide menu of new options on Friday trying to reach holiday patrons on the weekend before Santa comes to town. Disney leads the way with its adventure sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets which is getting the widest launch by far of the five new films. The Nicolas Cage actioner will face off against other star-driven movies like Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp‘s Sweeney Todd. Comedy comes in the form of Walk Hard while romance pops up in P.S. I Love You. With so many choices, there should be something for everyone allowing the overall box office to remain healthy. Plus with Christmas Eve falling on a Monday, Sunday sales will be stronger than usual giving the weekend numbers an added boost.

Nicolas Cage hit a career high in 2004 with National Treasure which bowed to $35.1M on its way to $173M, his highest gross ever. Now Disney and superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer reteam for the PG-rated sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets which aims to target the same broad audience that made the first such a big hit. The rating and the studio’s name help to attract families and younger kids while Cage and the action element bring in teens and young adults. Competition from I Am Legend‘s second weekend will cut into some of the action business, but history has shown that two high-profile action movies can indeed survive at the same time. Secrets delivers the entertainment that the target audience is looking for and the marketing push has been strong. The built-in fan base knows what it’s getting so expect a big opening. Reviews will be mostly irrelevant. Invading over 3,500 theaters, National Treasure: Book of Secrets might take in about $44M this weekend.


Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Capping off a landmark year that saw his films Knocked Up and Superbad gross a combined $270M, Judd Apatow ends 2007 by waving his producing and writing wands around Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Like the two previous hits, this Sony title carries the R rating thanks to envelope-pushing humor that audiences crave. John C. Reilly headlines the pic as a rock star who lives an up and down life. Normally a Reilly-led film would fail miserably at the box office since he has no track record of anchoring successful films. However, it is the Apatow name that provides the starpower here and so older teens and young adults should come out in solid numbers. There are no other comedies for that demographic right now plus a trim running time of 96 minutes will ensure plenty of showtimes.
Positive reviews will help too. Some may find the film through word-of-mouth so a prolonged run looks to be in order. Opening in over 2,500 theaters, Walk Hard may gross around $15M this weekend.


John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer in Walk Hard

Universal will find out this weekend what means more at the box office, starpower or subject matter. The studio opens Charlie Wilson’s War, a new comedy-drama starring Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman about a covert U.S. operation that supplied weapons and training to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. The topic is just about the last thing audiences want to pay to see on the big screen right now as evidenced by the horrendous grosses for other politically-themed dramas dealing with the Middle East.

To find success, the studio is using two tactics. It is pushing the comedy element to show ticket buyers that they will not be in for a serious lecture, and it is promoting the A-list stars heavily. Hanks and Roberts have sold billions of dollars worth of tickets worldwide and this is their first pairing. The R-rated film will appeal mostly to older adults which means there will still be plenty of potential over the next two weeks. The final gross will not rely entirely on the opening weekend results. With Roberts delivering a very flattering line about the Golden Globes in the film, it was no surprise that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association returned the favor by honoring War with five Globe nods including Best Picture – Comedy or Musical. Those nominations have become a key element in the marketing. Reviews have been strong too. Launching in roughly 2,500 theaters, Charlie Wilson’s War could collect about $14M over the weekend.


Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War

Setting a new record for most throats sliced open in a Hollywood musical, Paramount and DreamWorks give a moderate national roll-out to Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Directed by Tim Burton, the R-rated film stars Johnny Depp in the title role along with new mom Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Musicals are often tough sells at the box office but Depp-Burton concoctions almost always score big bucks. Like most song-and-dance pics, Sweeney Todd should skew slightly more female but appeal seems broader across many age groups.

Although Paramount is marketing the revenge flick like a 3,000-theater bow, it is only going into about 1,000 locations this weekend. That should lead to sold out
shows and a very high average. Plus with so many other films releasing at the same time, getting second and third screens within multiplexes will be difficult. The gruesome pic should bring out hard-core fans first and then reach a more mainstream crowd after Christmas when seeing blood and gore will not be as bad of a thing. Positive reviews and four Globe nominations will also help to convince audiences, but the starpower of Depp and Burton is the film’s biggest asset. Look for a debut of around $10M this weekend followed by good legs in the coming weeks.


Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd

Following his career-making turn in one of the year’s most memorable hits 300, Gerard Butler turns to the world of flimsy grosses in the romantic drama P.S. I Love You starring opposite two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. The weekend’s only new PG-13 film will play to an adult female audience which may be a bit tough to reach this weekend. Holiday activities will provide a distraction as will Tom, Julia, and Johnny who will steal away much of the potential of P.S. Negative reviews will only help keep ticket buyers away. Overall excitement is not too high and starpower is certainly low. Most fans who bought tickets for the Spartan actioner will be elsewhere this weekend. P.S. I Love You opens in about 2,200 locations and could gross about $5M this weekend.


Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You

Will Smith has dominated the box office since last Friday’s explosive launch for his sci-fi thriller I Am Legend. However, the sophomore frame is likely to see a steep fall for a number of reasons. Competition will be a big factor with the freshman class stealing away different audience segments. The Batman factor will also be gone since fans of the Caped Crusader either have already seen the trailer for The Dark Knight with Legend last week, or are watching it online whenever they want. Plus sci-fi films typically attract the bulk of the business upfront leading to a large sophomore drop. A 60% tumble for I Am Legend could result giving the Warner Bros. pic about $31M for the weekend and $133M after ten days.

Alvin and the Chipmunks is in a much better position since all kids will be out of school for the rest of the year. Business this week, all next week, and the session before New Year’s will be sizzling. National Treasure will take away some ticket sales, but with so many R-rated films filling up screens, parents will keep looking at the Chipmunks as the only game in town for small children. Alvin and the Chipmunks could decline by 40% and collect around $27M over the weekend pushing the ten-day total to a sensational $80M.

LAST YEAR: Ben Stiller and Robin Williams rocked the box office with the action comedy Night at the Museum which debuted powerfully in first place with $42.2M over the four-day holiday frame with Christmas Day falling on a Monday. Fox found itself with a megahit as the effects-driven pic topped the charts for
three straight weeks, ended up with a mammoth $250.9M domestically, and even conquered overseas multiplexes with an eye-popping $574M worldwide haul. Will Smith‘s uplifting drama The Pursuit of Happyness dropped a spot to second with a strong $22.6M over four days. Opening with muscle in third was Sylvester Stallone‘s Rocky Balboa with $17M over the four-day weekend and a potent $26.7M across its six-day debut period. The MGM release became a solid hit for the franchise earning great reviews plus an impressive $70.3M. Universal followed with its new CIA thriller The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, and Robert De Niro which launched with $14.1M on its way to $59.9M. The kidpic Charlotte’s Web ranked fifth with $9.6M in its sophomore session. Opening in eighth place with mild results was the football drama We Are Marshall with $8.6M over four days for Warner Bros. The Matthew McConaughey flick ended up scoring $43.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

If you’ve been itching for a good rental, you’re in luck — even the gambles this week are near Fresh on the Tomatometer! Quentin Tarantino fans already know to look for his Death Proof on shelves today; you’re also in store for a wide variety of new discs, from a director-approved epic (Troy) to a critically-lauded Hong Kong gangster pic (Triad Election), with a British horror-comedy (Severance) and a landmark documentary box set (The Up Series ) to boot.


Death Proof


Tomatometer: 71%

The day has come! Quentin Tarantino‘s diesel-fueled half of Grindhouse is the first of the two to be released in extended versions (look for Robert Rodriguez‘s zombie outbreak film Planet Terror in October), making this our most anticipated DVD release of the week. Watch 25 additional minutes of the scarred and psychotic Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalking two set of lovely ladies in his “death proof” muscle car; this extended version screened in competition at Cannes and includes more of QT’s signature snappy dialogue, plus Arlene’s (Vanessa Ferlito) full lapdance scene set to the smoky sounds of the Coasters’ “Down in Mexico.” Although we’ll have to wait for an inevitable super-duper Grindhouse DVD edition to peep all those awesome fake trailers, this one’s got a second disc full of behind-the-scenes featurettes (Stunts on Wheels, Finding Quentin’s Girls, Introducing Zoe Bell, and more).


Troy The Director’s Cut Unrated


Tomatometer: 55%

Wolfgang Peterson‘s $180 million epic aimed to bring Homer’s battle tome The Iliad to the big screen in grand measure, and it certainly did so with sweeping combat scenes and plenty of good old fashioned Trojan intrigue. But critics wanted more heart to go with the beautiful beefcake landscape of Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana; accordingly, emotional resonance is one improvement that Peterson claims to have added to his unrated director’s cut. In a brief introduction to the new edition, the director also promises over 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage and hints at more sex and violence. While this does extend the original runtime of two hours and 43 minutes to a whopping 201-minute marathon, sword-and-sandal enthusiasts should appreciate the TLC Peterson’s shoved into the version of Troy that he’d “always envisioned.”


Severance


Tomatometer: 64%

A corporate team-building getaway turns into a deliciously funny nightmare when the Palisades Defense sales team starts getting killed one by one; critics call the Brit horror-comedy a mix between The Office and Hostel!


Triad Election

Tomatometer: 95%

Hong Kong director Johnnie To serves up Godfather-esque gangster drama with his continuation of 2005’s Election. This time, new Triad boss Lok is plotting his own sly re-election, but a new rival wants to set the family towards legit business; bloody double-crossings ensue. While many critics thoroughly enjoyed the film’s prequel, most praise Triad Election as an equal, if not better, film.


The Up Series (Seven Up/7 Plus Seven/21 Up/28 Up/35 Up/42 Up/49 Up


Tomatometer: N/A

Fans of Michael Apted‘s Up series should salivate at the chance to own all seven installments of the remarkable documentary series in one box set. What started in 1964 to track the socio-economic paths of young Britons (checking in on the same set of kids every seven years) has now taken viewers into the middle ages of its subjects. Special features include a 42 Up commentary track and an exclusive interview by Roger Ebert of Apted (who has continued to film the series between directing Hollywood flicks like Gorillas in the Mist, Nell, and the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).


Other Safe Bets This Week

The Boss of It All

Tomatometer: 76%

Controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville) gets considerably more accessible with this comedy about a company owner who hires an actor to play his firm’s nonexistent boss. Also interesting is von Trier’s pioneering use of the “Automavision” system to film, in which he set only the camera position and then let a computer select framing settings (“tilt, pan, and zoom”) at random. Oh, that Lars!

Deliverance Deluxe Edition

Tomatometer: 93%

The 1972 cautionary camping classic is given the deluxe treatment with this new edition, rife with newly filmed cast and crew interviews, a “vintage” 1972 behind-the-scenes featurette titled The Dangerous World of Deliverance, and a new commentary by director John Boorman.


Commando Director’s Cut

Tomatometer: 69%

Beside being the first writing credit of Heroes co-exec producer Jeph Loeb, 1985’s Commando starred California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger the first of many gun-toting brawn-fests. As the improbably-named John Matrix, Ahnuld smells bad guys coming, wields circular saws like Frisbees, and delivers so-bad-its-good puns left and right. A thirteen-year-old Alyssa Milano stars as his feisty kidnapped daughter. Theme song by Power Station.


Beyond the Gates

Tomatometer: 82%

Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones (This Boy’s Life, Basic Instinct 2) shot on location to film this fictionalized account of an English teacher (Hugh Dancy) and a priest (John Hurt) trying to protect refugees during the Rwandan genocide.


Wall Street

Tomatometer: 83%

Besides giving you another look at Michael Douglas‘s Oscar-winning performance as the venomous, utterly quotable corporate raider Gordon Gekko, this 20th anniversary edition boasts a new commentary (and deleted scene commentaries) by director Oliver Stone and two featurettes (Greed is Good and Money Never Sleeps – The Making of Wall Street).

Mixed Picks


Gracie

Tomatometer: 59%

Loosely based on Elisabeth Shue‘s childhood (and directed by her husband, Davis Guggenheim), this girl soccer flick proved touching enough for some critics but also a tad predictable.


Zoo

Tomatometer: 56%

If you don’t already know what this experimental doc is about (or haven’t heard of the infamous real-life incident on which it is based), suffice to say this film gives a whole new meaning to being an animal lover…


We Are Marshall

Tomatometer: 19%

This feel-bad, then feel-good Matthew McConaughey football pic is fine, but can a little pigskin drama make the grief of tragedy go away?


Lucky You

Tomatometer: 28%

Don’t let the title mislead — at 28 percent, this oft-delayed poker drama, starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore, is probably more of a gamble than it’s worth.

Until next week, happy renting!

In this week’s Ketchup, Sam Raimi discusses possible options for a fourth "Spider-Man," the cast of "Iron Man" is looking rather sharp in the first cast photo, and the Disney brain trust makes a wise business decision.

Also, "Transformers" unleashes a slick TV spot for those not already excited enough, and "Kill Bill" may have two more sequels on the way. Read on.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

Sam Raimi Discusses "Spider-Man 4" Villains

A whole bunch of new bad guys might be on their way … but still no love for The Lizard?

First "Iron Man" Cast Photo!

The guys who are in charge of early marketing for Marvel’s "Iron Man" have been keeping us pretty busy over the last few weeks. And now comes a rather cool new cast photo.

Disney Halts DTV Sequels! Hooray!

Good news all around. Plus, get this: Disney CCO John Lasseter has called the upcoming Tinkerbell movie "unwatchable." Ouch.

Powerful New "Transformers" Ad

You guys know I’ve just recently come around on this "Transformers" flick. I was pretty skeptical at first, but with each new trailer and promo spot, I’m getting just a little more geeked for the movie…

Is Tarantino Preparing Two "Kill Bill" Sequels?

Well, according to one source he sure seems to be … maybe.


A little more of this Kiddo wouldn’t hurt.

In Other News:

  • Laurence Fishburne and indie production company A-Mark have acquired rights to Paulo Coelho’s spiritual adventure novel "The Alchemist," with Fishburne having completed a screenplay, and also planning to direct.
  • Shoreline Entertainment has set Jeremiah Chechik to direct the adaptation of Kem Nunn’s novel "Pomona Queen."
  • Stephen St. Leger and James Mather will write and direct "The Lost Squad," based on the Devil’s Due comic written by Chris Kirby and drawn by Alan Robinson.
  • George Hickenlooper will adapt and direct Colin MacKinnon’s espionage thriller "Morning Spy, Evening Spy," with Todd Traina producing.
  • Mos Def will star in and executive produce the drama "Bobby Zero," with brothers Markus and Mason Canter writing and directing.

Let’s hope he gets a quality remake.

By now you’ve probably heard that Christina Ricci has joined the "Speed Racer" cast, but it looks like Fox and the Wachowski Brothers have found their "Racer X" villain. Fans of the TV series "Lost" will no doubt applaud the signing of…

Matthew Fox as the "Speed Racer" baddie. (Movie fans will recognize Fox from his appearances in "We Are Marshall" and "Smokin’ Aces.") Sources indicate that Mr. Fox will do the movie while on his summer break from "Lost." Additionally, Australian actor Kick Gurry is in talks to play a hippie mechanic named "Sparky."

Fox and Gurry join a cast that includes Ricci, Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, and John Goodman. "Speed Racer" should be hitting theaters next summer.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Ben Stiller ruled Christmas weekend for the second time in two years with his new effects-driven comedy "Night at the Museum" which opened at number one with an estimated $30.8M, according to figures released by Fox.

The PG-rated pic averaged a muscular $8,358 from an ultrawide release in 3,685 theaters including Imax venues. Two years ago, Stiller topped this same holiday weekend with "Meet the Fockers" which bowed to $46.1M in three days and $70.5M over five days.

Fox did not report a four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday gross for "Museum," but the comedy should be able to collect more than $40M over that period. According to official studio figures, Friday bowed to $12.4M, Saturday saw a slight 3% increase to $12.8M, and Sunday is projected to tumble 56% to $5.6M. The overall box office always falls sharply on Christmas Eve, but enjoys a vibrant rebound on Christmas Day when moviegoers have more time to visit their local multiplex.

Most studios reported three-day estimates and many will also report four-day estimates on Monday, Christmas Day.

Sony saw its Will Smith drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" fall one notch to second place with an estimated $15M over three days. The true-life tale dropped 44% from its opening weekend and raised its ten-day cume to $53.3M.

Opening in third place was Sylvester Stallone‘s "Rocky Balboa" with an estimated $12.5M in three days and $22.2M over the five days since its Wednesday debut. The MGM pic averaged a respectable $4,143 over the Friday-to-Sunday period from 3,017 locations.

Oscar winners Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie saw their new CIA thriller "The Good Shepherd" bow in fourth place with an estimated $10M from 2,215 theaters for a good $4,505 average over three days. Directed by Robert De Niro, the frame’s only new R-rated pic played to an adult audience with studio data showing that the audience was 73% over the age of 30 and 53% male. Universal projected that the four-day tally will reach $13.9M.

In fifth place was Paramount’s family film "Charlotte’s Web" with an estimated $8M over three days, off 30%, for a cume of $26.8M after ten days. Fox’s fantasy adventure "Eragon" followed stumbling 69% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.2M. The dragon tale has taken in $37.6M in ten days.

The football drama "We Are Marshall" opened in seventh place with an estimated $6.6M from 2,606 venues for a lukewarm $2,548 average for Warner Bros. The studio’s penguin film "Happy Feet" followed in eighth with an estimated $5.1M, down 39%, for a $159.1M sum.

Sony’s "The Holiday" dropped 38% to an estimated $5M giving the Cameron DiazKate Winslet film $35.1M to date. New Line rounded out the top ten with "The Nativity Story" which climbed up 1% to an estimated $4.7M raising its total to $31.4M.

In limited release, Warner Independent opened "The Painted Veil" in four theaters and grossed an estimated $47,000 in three days for a strong $11,750 average. Since its Wednesday launch, the Edward Norton period pic has collected $68,000 and on Friday the distributor will expand to 37 locations.

Miramax’s Peter O’Toole pic "Venus" bowed to an estimated $36,000 from three venues for a promising $12,079 average. Cume since Wednesday stands at $42,000.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got living history hijinks ("Night at the Museum," starring Ben Stiller), the Italian Stallion’s return ("Rocky Balboa," starring Sylvester Stallone), a tragedy-to-triumph pigskin drama ("We Are Marshall," starring Matthew McConaughey), and the dark early days of the CIA ("The Good Shepherd," starring Matt Damon). What do the critics say?

It’s a great idea for a movie: what if all the cool stuff in a museum came to life after visiting hours? In "Night at the Museum," Ben Stiller stars as a less-than-competent security guard at the Museum of Natural History who inadvertently triggers an ancient curse, bringing to life the prehistoric people, animals, and dinosaur skeletons of the exhibits. Sounds kinda like a cross between "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" and "Jumanji," right? Unfortunately, critics say the gags in "Night at the Museum" are often shrill and noisy, despite a frighteningly funny cast that includes Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, and Ernest Borgnine. But as family fare goes, the whimsy of "Museum"’s CG-enhanced antics may pass the time easily enough. At 54 percent on the Tomatometer, this one may not be a "Night" to remember.


With the train a-comin’, "Envy," "Duplex," and "Along Came Polly" flashed before his eyes…

Forget prizefighting — Rocky’s only a few years shy of cashing social security checks. And his eponymous movie series has made nearly as many ill-advised comebacks as Evander Holyfield. So it’s something of a surprise — nay, a shock — that critics are praising "Rocky Balboa" as not only a return to form, but the best film in the series since the original. Sylvester Stallone — who else? — stars as the retired champ, lured back into the ring with the promise of testing his mettle against a younger fighter (played by real life pugilist Antonio Tarver). Pundits say the moribund series is back in fighting shape, for the back-to-basics "Rocky Balboa" is a gritty, poignant underdog story that redeems one of American cinema’s most iconic characters. At 77 percent on the Tomatometer, this one may still be a notch below the original "Rocky" (96 percent), but it gets to wear a new title belt: Certified Fresh.


"Certifiiiiiied Fressssssssh!"

After "Remember the Titans," "Invincible," and "Facing the Giants" you’d think there wouldn’t be enough material for another inspirational football movie. You’d be wrong. "We Are Marshall" tells the heartbreaking true story of the Marshall football program. In 1970, a plane crash claimed the lives of 75 coaches and players; the film, starring Matthew McConaughey, is about the football team’s (and the entire community’s) resurrection. Alas, good intentions can only go so far; critics say "Marshall" is all too typical of its genre, with schmaltz and clichés taking the place of the messiness that must have surrounded the story’s real-life circumstances. "We Are Marshall" currently stands at 44 percent on the Tomatometer.


McConaughey tackles 1970s football drama; 1970s fashion tackles him.

In "The Good Shepherd," director Robert DeNiro takes us on a fictional tour of the dark history of the CIA, from its inception at the end of WWII to the Bay of Pigs debacle. And, critics say, he takes his time. "Shepherd" stars Matt Damon as reserved Yale grad Edward Wilson, a man who works his way up the ladder at the agency but slowly loses his soul in the process. The scribes say the film boasts wonderful production values and an outstanding cast (which includes DeNiro himself, Joe Pesci, and Alec Baldwin), but underuses many others (Angelina Jolie in particular, as Wilson’s wife). Worse, critics complain that despite the film’s nearly three-hour runtime, there is little action to be had and virtually no pace-quickening intrigue, making this a mind-numbingly long spy flick in which not a lot happens. At 44 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Shepherd" could have used more guidance.


Like that tango in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," only with less Brad Pitt.

Also opening this week in limited release: "The Case of the Grinning Cat," a graffiti-strewn French documentary, is at 100 percent; Clint Eastwood‘s Oscar hopeful "Letters from Iwo Jima," which sees the WWII battle from a Japanese perspective, is at 93 percent; "Venus," the tale of a May-December friendship starring Peter O’Toole, is at 87 percent; "The Painted Veil," based upon W. Somerset Maugham’s novel and starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, is at 77 percent; "The Curse of the Golden Flower," Zhang Yimou‘s period piece starring Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat, is at 56 percent; "Matthew Barney: No Restraint," a doc about the avant-garde artist/filmmaker and Bjork spouse, is at 56 percent.


Will "Curse" lift its way into Fresh territory?

Rocky Movies:
———————
95% — Rocky (1975)
67% — Rocky II (1979)
67% — Rocky III (1982)
45% — Rocky IV (1985)
22% — Rocky V (1990)

Recent Ben Stiller Movies:
——————————–
51% — Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny (2006)
27% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
38% — Meet the Fockers (2004)
69% — Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Recent Matt Damon Movies:
———————————-
92% — The Departed (2006)
39% — The Brothers Grimm (2005)
74% — Syriana (2005)
82% — The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
55% — Oceans Twelve (2004)

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.

Ben Stiller in "Night at the Museum."

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.


Stallone is back for one more round in "Rocky Balboa."

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.


They are Marshall.

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.


Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin in "The Good Shepherd."

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.


Zhang Yimou’s "Curse of the Golden Flower."

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

While out drumming up some publicity for his new drama "We Are Marshall," director McG (I think his real name is Joe McGinty McNichol or something) was (of course) asked about the status of his upcoming "Hot Wheels" movie, and here’s what he had to say…

(And in case you didn’t know it yet, yes, someone is making a movie out of "Hot Wheels.")

From McG via ComingSoon.net: "That’s something I’m going to produce, it doesn’t feel right for me as a director at this time. I’m going to produce it. We just have a take on that, it’s the story of a kid trying to reconcile with his father. It’s a kid who steals his dad’s racecar and ends up going through a sort of "Back to the Future" portal into this world, and he has to reconcile his relationship with his father. It’s very "Stand By Me" and it should be a good family movie, but it’s not for me as a director at this time. I mean, it’s the biggest toy in history. It’s not a joke."

Click here for the rest of the article.

Interesting; the "Hot Wheels" movie is being approached like a "Stand By Me" sort of story. Uh huh.

David Strathairn is going to be a very busy man. Variety reports the respected character actor is joining the cast of the Paul Greengrass-helmed "The Bourne Ultimatum," as well as the fantasy film "The Spiderwick Chronicles."

In the third of the "Bourne" films, which star Matt Damon as a secret agent with a mysterious past, Strathairn will play the leader of a secret group pursuing Damon’s character. "Spiderwick," directed by Mark Waters, tells the story of a group of children who move into a mansion, thereby discovering a book which leads to adventure. The film also stars Freddie Highmore and Sarah Bolger.

In addition, Strathairn will star in the football film "We Are Marshall" and Wong Kar-Wai‘s first English language film, "My Blueberry Nights."