Carrying some major buzz into the marketplace, Sony’s teen comedy Superbad hits the multiplexes this weekend aiming to bring in some big business from horny young adults looking for a spark to get rid of their end-of-summer blues. The R-rated entry comes from current comedy king Judd Apatow who directed Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin which collectively grossed a stunning $256M domestically. He takes on producing chores here but his involvement has wisely been promoted heavily in the film’s marketing campaign which really ignited earlier this summer with the release of the uncensored red-band trailer on the internet which basically put Superbad on the map.

The marketplace for teen sex comedies has had a void since the American Pie franchise switched into direct-to-DVD mode. Superbad has the goods to make itself into this generation’s must-see raunchfest with its story of three lovable nerdy high school kids on a mission to score booze for a party to impress some girls. The lethal mix of strong marketing, filmmaker starpower, and a high-quality product that actually delivers what the audience wants will lead to a potent opening weekend that should be enough to send it to the top of the charts. And with a reported $18M budget, this could very well be the summer’s least expensive number one hit. Crashing into over 2,800 theaters, Superbad might collect around $25M this weekend.


Superbad!

Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig give the suspense thriller The Invasion the most starpower of any of this weekend’s new releases. The PG-13 film finds the Oscar-winning actress playing a psychiatrist and the current Bond as her doctor pal who must team up to fight an alien entity that infects the human population around the world. This latest remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers boasts some considerable star wattage which will help it get the attention of adults. Warner Bros. is hoping to appeal to the same audience that made hits out of previous late-summer adult thrillers like The Skeleton Key ($16.1M, $5,795 average)and Kidman’s The Others ($14.1M opening, $8,397 average). With no other scary movies for mature audiences, competition should not be too fierce although The Bourne Ultimatum‘s third weekend will be a formidable foe. Landing in about 2,700 locations, The Invasion could debut with around $13M.


The two stars of The Invasion.

The Weinstein Company unleashes its Roman empire adventure The Last Legion on Friday. The PG-13 film stars Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth, and Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai. Excitement in the marketplace is not too high and the push has not been very strong so modest returns are expected at the box office. The current pair of threequels topping the charts will give Legion some major competition for the action crowd. Debuting in roughly 2,000 theaters, The Last Legion could bow to about $6M.


Ben Kingsley leads The Last Legion.

Like most summer sequels, Rush Hour 3 should lose more than half of its opening weekend audience in the sophomore session. There is no special buzz around the action-comedy to prevent a big drop and Superbad will steal away much of the young comedy crowd. A 55% decline is likely which would put Rush Hour 3 at about $22M for the weekend and $88M after ten days.

Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum looks to witness a smaller decline in its third assignment. Universal might experience a 45% drop to around $18M for a robust 17-day cume of $162M.

LAST YEAR: Opening weaker than expected, but still at number one, was the Samuel L. Jackson actioner Snakes on a Plane which bowed to $15.2M. New Line found its way to a disappointing $34M. Talladega Nights dropped to second with $13.8M while World Trade Center held steady in third with $10.9M. The dance sensation Step Up fell to fourth with $10.2M while Universal’s teen comedy Accepted debuted in fifth place with $10M. A $36.3M final resulted. MGM’s comedy Material Girls stumbled into ninth with a mere $4.6M on its way to only $11.4M. But opening powerfully in limited release was the mystery The Illusionist with less than $1M from only 51 theaters for a potent $18,195 average. The Yari Film Group release expanded nationally and enjoyed good legs going on to gross $39.9M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

New Line’s just getting the ball rolling on their highly-anticipated "His Dark Materials" series — and now they have an all-new potential trilogy to worry about. Chapter one of Cornelia Funke’s series is called "Inkheart," and it looks like Brendan Fraser and Paul Bettany have been tapped as the lead guys.

From Variety: "New Line Cinema has tapped Paul Bettany ("The Da Vinci Code") to star opposite Brendan Fraser in its family fantasy "Inkheart," to be directed by Iain Softley.

"Inkheart," which spent 19 weeks on the New York Times Children’s Chapter bestseller list, revolves around a girl whose father has the power to bring characters from books to life by reading aloud. When a villainous ruler and his band of rogues from a children’s fable kidnap the man, his daughter and her friends, both real and imaginary, must rescue him."

Mr. Softley’s previous films include "K-Pax," "Backbeat," "Hackers," and "The Skeleton Key."

And where the heck has Brendan Fraser been hiding lately? Aside from "Crash," he’s been on extended vacation or something…

This weekend Samuel L. Jackson looks to seize control of the muthaf*ckin’ box office with his new muthaf*ckin’ film "Snakes on a Plane" which invades theaters on a wave of internet buzz.

It should be a smooth trip to number one for the action thriller which will face competition from the teen comedies "Accepted" and "Material Girls" plus the expansion of the indie darling "Little Miss Sunshine." After two weeks in the top spot, Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy "Talladega Nights" will decelerate and lose pole position, but will have the distinction of crossing the celebrated $100M mark.

All eyes are on Sam Jackson this weekend as his much-blogged-about action vehicle "Snakes on a Plane" makes its way into theaters. The R-rated film presents an old fashioned good guy versus bad guy story with the former Mace Windu playing an FBI agent assigned to escort a key witness to a mob murder on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles. When the crime boss masterminds a plan to unleash poisonous snakes mid-flight, all hell breaks loose. New Line has no ambitions of winning Oscars here. "Snakes" is pure entertainment aimed at giving fans a thrill ride for two hours. No advance screenings are being held for the media which is usually a sign that the studio believes that the reviews will only trash the picture so why waste the time and money?

No R-rated film this year has broken the $30M mark on opening weekend. In fact, in the past two years, only a pair of R pics have opened north of that mark – last year’s duo of "Saw II" with $31.7M and "Wedding Crashers" with $33.9M. "Snakes" will be relying on an adult male audience for its ticket sales with older teens and twentysomethings being the driving force. Jackson may also be able to pull in African American audiences given his stature and the type of role he is playing. Typically, the Oscar-nominated actor does not have much box office muscle when anchoring a film solo. But the buzz and media coverage surrounding "Snakes" has almost made it into a franchise.

With so many on the internet buzzing about the movie since the beginning of the year, uploading their own trailers and "Snakes"-related videos, and pushing for more violence and profanity, the fans have gotten a sense of empowerment. They feel like they have been part of the filmmaking process and you can be sure that they will be out when the film opens to see the final product. And since everyone knows that the film will be cheesy and that there are no press screenings, expectations are not too high. Without all the hoopla, this film would only be seen as action movie number ten that Hollywood churns out for the summer season. New Line is taking the step of launching "Snakes" a day early on Thursday night with showtimes starting at 10pm.

August has been a great month for these types of action films for young males. Three years ago, the studio opened the R-rated horror flick "Freddy vs. Jason" to $36.4M while a year later, Fox found a $38.3M bow for its PG-13 sci-fi pic "Alien vs. Predator." Jackson’s film lacks a franchise following, although the hype has generated a sizable built-in audience of its own. "Snakes" will come and go quickly from theaters. A strong start should be followed by massive erosion, but with a reported budget of only $30M, it can’t lose money. Plus Jackson has done a commendable job hitting the trail and promoting his new flick. Attacking over 3,300 theaters, "Snakes on a Plane" could open with around $28M this weekend.

Universal is hoping that those too young for "Snakes," but who are still looking for some late-summer fun, will line up for its new comedy "Accepted." The PG-13 film stars Justin Long as a high school senior rejected by every college he applies to who then decides to make up his own fake university. The under-25 set is the target audience here with teens who can relate to the character’s nightmare making up the bulk of the crowd. Recent young-skewing hits like "Step Up" and "John Tucker Must Die" have proven that no-star vehicles with an interesting concept can lure in solid numbers on opening weekend. Those films debuted to $14.3M and $20.7M, respectively. Studios have done a poor job satisfying teenagers in recent weeks with their big ticket items which has only helped these low-cost pictures. "Accepted" will certainly have to face "Snakes" taking away older guys and "Step Up" in its second weekend stealing away the gals. But the concept is a good one and with so many young people getting ready to head back to campus, memories of rejection letters will come flying back. Marketing materials register some laughs too and appeal to both genders is there. Entering over 2,700 locations, "Accepted" could open with around $12M this weekend.

Hilary and Haylie Duff graduate from the world of breath mint commercials to feature films in "Material Girls" from director Martha Coolidge ("Real Genius," "The Prince and Me"). The PG-rated film finds the sisters playing heiresses to a cosmetics fortune who stumble upon bankruptcy. Anjelica Huston co-stars. The MGM release will play primarily to a female audience of teens and pre-teens. Males interested in buying tickets should number about three. "Material Girls" is not getting too big of a push and with "Step Up" doing so well with the same demographic, it will be an uphill battle attracting business. Once a potent asset, Hilary has lost much of her pull at the box office with recent clunkers like "Raise Your Voice" and "The Perfect Man" landing poor debuts of only $4M and $5.3M, respectively.. The Duffs may end up taking a lesson from the Olsen twins whose own film "New York Minute" opened a week after the bow of 2004’s surprise teen girl hit "Mean Girls" and ended up being squashed with a weak $6M debut from over 3,000 theaters. "Material Girls" will enter only 1,509 playdates and could settle for an opening of just $4M.

After three weeks of sparkling results in limited release, Fox Searchlight’s comedy sensation "Little Miss Sunshine" expands nationally into 694 locations from its current run in 153 sites. Last weekend, the R-rated dysfunctional family pic averaged a stunning $17,014 which is one of the best showings in recent years for a film playing in 100-200 locations. With strong reviews and positive word-of-mouth, "Sunshine" should jump into the top ten this weekend and could gross about $5M pushing its cume into double-digit millions.

Searchlight also debuts its next indie flick "Trust the Man" which opens in 37 theaters in selected cities on Friday. The R-rated dramedy stars Billy Crudup, David Duchovny, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, and Eva Mendes and tells the story of two New York couples going through relationship troubles. Moore’s real-life husband Bart Freundlich directs. "Trust the Man" has garnered mixed reviews from critics and will expand nationwide on September 8.

Also opening in limited release, but attracting more glowing praise from critics, is the dramatic thriller "The Illusionist." Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel star in the PG-13 film which finds a turn-of-the-century magician battling wits with a Vienna cop. Two weeks after the limited bow, Yari Film Group will expand "Illusionist" wide over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

A variable that could affect moviegoing behavior this weekend could be all the current stories in the news this week that have connections to major films in release. Tapes of 911 calls from victims of the World Trade Center disaster have been released after nearly five years. New terror plots aboard commercial planes have dominated the headlines lately, and a new arrest in the Jonbenet Ramsey case has brought attention back to little girls in beauty pageants. How this news coverage will affect the grosses for films like "Snakes on a Plane," "Little Miss Sunshine," and "World Trade Center" is anyone’s guess. But at a time of year when moviegoing typically slows down anyway, some potential ticket buyers may decide to look elsewhere for their weekend entertainment.

Will Ferrell’s "Talladega Nights" looks to race past the $100M mark by the end of its second full week in theaters. The Sony hit won’t win a third box office crown, but it should remain in the top five and drop 45% to about $12M. That would give the racing comedy $113M in 17 days making it the comedian’s second biggest hit ever, in a leading role, behind "Elf" which took in $173.4M.

Last weekend’s surprise smash "Step Up" is not afraid of "Snakes on a Plane" which is likely to tap into an older and more male audience. Instead, Buena Vista’s dance drama will see its competition come from "Accepted" and "Material Girls." Word-of-mouth for "Step Up" has been encouraging with the film averaging a solid B+ from over 5,500 users of Yahoo Movies. Still, teen pics tend to fall fast so a 50% decline would give the film around $10M for the weekend and a stellar ten-day total of $40M.

Paramount’s "World Trade Center" got off to a healthy start at the box office and is also generating positive buzz from moviegoers. Competition is not too fierce this weekend for adults looking for mature fare so a 35% drop would give the Oliver Stone movie roughly $12M and a cume of $46M after 12 days.

LAST YEAR: The surprise comedy hit "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" debuted at number one with a better-than-expected weekend opening of $21.4M. Universal’s R-rated smash displayed strong legs in the weeks ahead and ended up scoring $109.3M. Settling for second place in its first flight was the DreamWorks thriller "Red Eye" with a solid $16.2M on its way to $57.9M. Rounding out the top five were holdovers "Four Brothers" with $12.5M, "Wedding Crashers" with $8M and "The Skeleton Key" with $7.7M. The frame’s two other new releases were mostly ignored by moviegoers. Disney’s animated pic "Valiant" bowed to $5.9M for eighth place while Fox’s action drama "Supercross" crashed into 15th place with a dismal $1.3M opening weekend. Final tallies reached $19.5M and $3.1M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Another frame packed with four new national releases is led by Oliver Stone‘s 9/11 drama "World Trade Center" from Paramount. A trio of lower profile pics round out the weekend – Sony’s family adventure "Zoom," Buena Vista’s teen drama "Step Up," and The Weinstein Company’s horror flick "Pulse." Despite all the new entries, Will Ferrell will try to win the box office title for the second consecutive time with his comedy "Talladega Nights" which has been racing well ahead of its competition since opening last weekend.

Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Maria Bello star in the high-profile story of courage "World Trade Center" which Paramount debuted on Wednesday. The PG-13 film tells the real life story of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, two Port Authority cops who were trapped in the rubble of the Twin Towers on September 11. Rather than focus on any villains, "WTC" only tells the story of ordinary men put into extraordinary circumstances and how their families coped. Mature adults will make up the primary audience. Teen appeal seems limited. Since the box office is currently lacking choices for older adults, the Oliver Stone film will not face much direct competition. Men and women will be equally drawn to this emotionally-charged story of heroism.

There will be many moviegoers that will find it to be too soon for a film about a tragedy just approaching its fifth anniversary. However, curiousity will bring out others looking for an uplifting story about that fateful Tuesday morning. "WTC" should appeal to many of the same people who turned out for 2004’s "Ladder 49." That film featured Cage’s "Face/Off" nemesis John Travolta as a noble firefighter and just told a tale about American heroes doing the right thing for each other, and not really dwelling on any enemy. "Ladder" bowed to $22.1M over three days.

Center will also be compared to April’s United 93 which was the first Hollywood film to tackle 9/11. With a subdued release in under 1,800 locations, that pic opened well with $11.5M and a solid $6,395 average. "WTC" has more theaters, more starpower in front of and behind the camera, and is not as grim. Reviews have mostly been good which will help. Long-term prospects are encouraging since the rest of August has nothing major for mature adults. Now playing in 2,803 theaters, "World Trade Center" might open with about $18M over the weekend and around $24M over five days.

Tim Allen plays an ex-super hero who is called upon to train a group of slacker kids in Sony’s new family film "Zoom." The PG-rated pic will have plenty of competition as it marks the fourth consecutive week that studios have rolled out movies aimed at young ones. Only this time, it isn’t a toon. Allen has always been a consistent draw in this genre, most notably in his "Santa Clause" movies which sees its third installment this coming holiday season. Earlier this year, he starred in the Disney remake "The Shaggy Dog" which bowed to $16.3M in March. "Zoom," which co-stars Courteney Cox and Chevy Chase, will not reach that level as it is not generating as much excitement. Plus the volume on the marketing push has been typical of a mid-August opener. Flying into 2,501 theaters, "Zoom" might debut with around $9M.

Hollywood seems to have written a new rule stating that 9/11 films must be counter-programmed with teen-girl pics that explore popular extracurricular activities. "United 93" opened against the gymnastics comedy "Stick It," and now "WTC" will face Buena Vista’s "Step Up" which finds a ballerina and a tough street dancer locking hips. The PG-13 film will play primarily to young females and the studio is hoping to score another low-cost hit like Disney’s April comedy which debuted to a better-than-expected $10.8M. "Step Up" lacks marquee stars, but does offer some faces that add value when it comes to the Clearasil crowd. The bad boy meets good girl formula is once again tested and little crossover to older patrons is likely. Competition for teens and young adults is ample so a breakout bow may not surface, but a respectable showing is likely. Dancing into 2,100 theaters, "Step Up" could debut to around $8M.

Supernatural beasties attack us innocent humans through cell phones and email in the new horror flick "Pulse." The PG-13 film is aimed at teens that have seen every other film and want some quick thrills before heading back to school. With no major stars, and a concept that is far from intriguing, the Weinstein Co. release should be in for some modest dollars over the weekend. "The Descent" will be "Pulse’s" major foe, but like most fright flicks, the chicks-in-a-cave movie should tumble down further on the charts in its second weekend. "Step Up" and "Talladega Nights" will also be distracting teens. Opening in 2,326 theaters, "Pulse" might scare up about $8M this weekend.

In foreign film releases, Yash Raj Films opens the all-star Bollywood film "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" (Never Say Goodbye) in top markets across North America. Shot in New York, the Hindi-language film explores the breakdown of marital bonds. Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro ("Central Station") headlines "The House of Sand" which Sony Classics platforms in New York and Los Angeles this Friday. The story of three generations of women in the barren lands of northern Brazil played at the Tribeca Film Festival and will roll out into more cities throughout the rest of summer.

Last weekend’s box office champ "Talladega Nights" hopes to retain its crown in its second lap. The Will Ferrell hit is sure to see a large decline, but competition for teens and young adults is not too fierce. A 50% drop would leave Sony with about $23M for the session and a solid ten-day cume of $92M. Paramount’s "Barnyard" may fall by 40% and rake in around $9.5M pushing its total to $33M after ten days. The Johnny Depp megasmash "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" could drop by another 40% to $6.5M lifting its jaw-dropping total to $392M.

LAST YEAR: Director John Singleton scored a top spot debut with his revenge thriller "Four Brothers" which debuted with $21.2M. Paramount found its way to $74.5M with the Mark Wahlberg drama. Opening in second was the Kate Hudson suspense thriller "The Skeleton Key" with $16.1M on its way to $47.8M for Universal. Falling from first to third was the comedy "The Dukes of Hazzard" with $13M dropping a steep 58% from its bow. Rival comedy "Wedding Crashers" held up much better easing 26% in its fifth frame to $11.8M. Opening in fifth place with $9.6M was Sony’s comedy sequel "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" which ended its run with just $22.3M. The weekend’s other new release, the military drama "The Great Raid," opened modestly in tenth with only $3.4M on its way to $10.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

IGN FilmForce notes a 007-related Variety report, and it’s news of the casting … variety: Up & coming actor Isaach de Bankole, seen recently in flicks like Stay and The Skeleton Key, has snagged a role in the next 007 adventure.

From IGNFF: "Variety reports that Ivory Coast-born actor Isaach de Bankole has joined the cast of Casino Royale as Obanno, one of the clients of the villainous Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).

De Bankole will next be seen as one of the villains in Michael Mann‘s big-screen version of Miami Vice.

The Bahamian stint of filming on Casino Royale is now over and production has moved back to Prague, with principal photography reportedly set to wrap there in late May."

New Line Cinema has hired director Iain Softley ("The Skeleton Key") to helm its big-screen adaptation of the best selling children’s fantasy novel Inkheart, it was announced today by New Line Production President Toby Emmerich.

Based on the novel by Cornelia Funke, "Inkheart" is a timeless adventure tale of imagination that centers on Meggie, a young girl whose father has a secret ability to bring characters from books to life when he reads them aloud. But when a power-hungry villain from a rare children’s fable kidnaps Meggie’s father to bring others out of the boundaries of fiction, she and a disparate group of friends both real and magic embark on the kind of adventure she has only read about in books to save him and set things right.

Softley, who most recently directed "The Skeleton Key," has previously helmed such films as "K-Pax," "The Wings of the Dove," and "Hackers."

Funke will serve as a producer on the project, while the book has been adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire.

New Line’s Executive Vice President of Production Mark Ordesky and New Line Senior Vice President of European Production Ileen Maisel are overseeing the project for the studio. It is being planned as an Easter 2007 release.

Steve Carell‘s "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" unzipped approximately $20.6 million from over 2,800 theaters during its debut weekend, making it the second R-rated comedy (after "Wedding Crashers") to make a big splash this summer.

Debuting in second place was the airborne thriller "Red Eye," which snagged $16.5 million from nearly 3,100 theaters, thereby making leading lady Rachel McAdams the new "it" girl of the summer.

Holding on in third place was last weekend’s leader, "Four Brothers," which added an estimated $13 million to its $43.6 million total. Fourth place was awarded to the still-popular "Wedding Crashers," which jammed another $8.2 million into its overstuffed pockets ($178 million all told). Rounding out the top 5 was last weekend’s "The Skeleton Key," which tallied $7.2 million for a total just over $30 million.

Two other newcomers, Disney’s "Valiant," and Fox’s "Supercross," didn’t fare so well, grossing $6 million from 2,000 theaters and $1.3 million from 1,600 theaters, respectively.

Next weekend’s wide releases include the subterranean thriller "The Cave," Terry Gilliam‘s "The Brothers Grimm," and the romantic comedy "Undiscovered."

As always, feel free to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page for a closer look at the weekend numbers.

John Singleton‘s action drama "Four Brothers" opened in 2,500 theaters to a better-than-expected $20.7 million in its first weekend, handily beating a trio of other newcomers. One of its main competitors was the Kate Hudson bayou thriller "The Skeleton Key," which unlocked nearly $15.8 million (from about 2,800 theaters) in a comparatively slow weekend at the box office.

Still hanging around in third place was WB’s "The Dukes of Hazzard," which added another $13m to its $57.5 total gross. Fourth place went to the powerful "Wedding Crashers," which grossed just over $12 million, adding to its total gross just over $164 million(!) Rounding out the top five was "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," which made $9.4 million in just over 3,100 theaters.

Miramax’s long-delayed "The Great Raid" just managed to crack the top ten by grossing about $3.3 million from nearly 820 theaters.

In milestone news, Christopher Nolan‘s "Batman Begins" became only the third movie this year to gross over $200 million, after "Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith" and "War of the Worlds."

Next week sees the arrival of another cinematic foursome: the bike-racing flick "Supercross" opens on Wednesday, while Steve Carell in "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," Wes Craven‘s airplane thriller "Red Eye," and Disney’s animated adventure "Valiant" will wait until next Friday.

As always, please stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page for a closer look at the weekend stats.

This week at the movies gives us four brothers with vigilante justice on their minds, a woman who discovers the frightening secrets of an old house on the bayou, a band of brothers on a mission to save their own, and the latest in sophisticated, lofty humor from Rob Schneider. What do the critics have to say?

What is "Four Brothers"? Is it a neo-western? A blaxploitation update? A family drama? A tough-minded action flick with gritty humor? Critics say it’s all these things and more. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, and Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000), John Singleton’s film tells the tale of four adoptive brothers who grudgingly reunite to avenge their adoptive mother’s murder. At 68 percent on the Tomatometer, critics say "Four Brothers" is not without its flaws, but that it’s rough and inspiring just the same. And it’s helping Singleton’s combined Tomatometer, currently at 64 percent.

Naomi Watts, Jennifer Connelly, Nicole Kidman…. A big-time actress starring in relatively generic horror flick has been something of a trend in the past few years. Now Kate Hudson gives it her best shot in "The Skeleton Key." Big scares in the Big Easy was the plan, and with a distinguished cast (Gena Rowlands, John Hurt), this one may have looked like helta skelta on the delta. Unfortunately, it seems like this gumbo is a little undercooked; critics say the atmosphere is there, but the execution is less than spellbinding. At 36 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Skeleton Key" could use some more meat on its bones.

The Greatest Generation has been the subject of some great films, from "The Great Escape" to "Saving Private Ryan." "The Great Raid," starring Benjamin Bratt, tells the story of a remarkable rescue of POWs in the Philippines. But critics say a great story does not make for a great movie; for all its noble intentions, this one is overlong and not as compelling as its subject matter requires.

Cats and dogs, Yankees and Red Sox, Rob Schneider and movie critics — some things are just natural enemies. Recently, Monsieur Schneider, star of "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," has been publicly dissing some of the scribes for their assessment of his work. He might have listened to the advice of a humorist who slightly exceeds his stature (Mark Twain): "Never pick a fight with someone who buys his ink by the barrel." At a staggering eight percent on the Tomatometer, the latest installment of the "Deuce" saga is unsurprisingly getting pummeled. And it’s lower on the Tomatometer than "The Hot Chick" (at 22 percent! I can’t believe it either!)

Recent Rob Schneider Movies
————————————
22% — The Hot Chick (2002)
29% — The Animal (2001)
24% — Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999)

Recent John Singleton-Directed Movies:
———————————————
37% — 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
67% — Baby Boy (2001)
69% — Shaft (2000)
89% — Rosewood (1997)
46% — Higher Learning (1994)

WB’s big-screen adaptation of "The Dukes of Hazzard" had no problem tackling the #1 spot at the weekend box office, pulling in nearly $30.6 million from over 3,700 theaters. Granted, it was the only movie opening in wide release, but WB has to be pleased with the initial three-day haul.

Holding firm in second place is New Line’s surprise smash "Wedding Crashers," which added another $16.5 million to its $144m total. Tim Burton‘s "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" dropped down to thrd place with a haul of $10.5m ($169m total), while fourth and fifth place went to Disney’s "Sky High" ($9m weekend; $32m total) and the rom-com "Must Love Dogs" ($7.4m, $26m total).

Cracking into the top ten in documentary style is the nature film "March of the Penguins," which landed in the number six spot after adding an additional 1,500 theaters to the release pattern. The penguins marched to a tune of $7.1 million, and their total tally to date is $26.4 million!

There’s no shortage of wide release titles come next Friday; moviegoers can choose between the raunchy stylings of "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," John Singleton’s action drama "Four Brothers," the cajun thriller "The Skeleton Key," or the wartime drama "The Great Raid."

As always, feel free to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page for a closer looks at the late-summer movie numbers.

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