Matt Damon set a
new opening weekend record for the month of August with the top spot bow of
The Bourne Ultimatum,
the third installment in the actor’s signature spy series. The frame’s other new
releases saw more modest openings while most holdovers held up well. The wide
assortment of popular hits allowed the North American box office to soar to the
highest grossing August weekend in history.
Racing past expectations, Universal’s
The Bourne Ultimatum
scored a spectacular opening grossing an estimated $70.2M in its first weekend
in theaters. Infiltrating 3,660 locations, the PG-13 film averaged a muscular
$19,175 per venue and beat out the $52.5M bow of its predecessor
The Bourne Supremacy
by a healthy 34%. That action entry launched in July 2004 and went on to gross
$176.1M. The new entry was also directed by
and co-starred Julia
Stiles and Joan Allen.
If the estimate holds for The Bourne Ultimatum, it will become the fourth film
in five weeks to open north of $70M following
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and
The Simpsons Movie.
The string of big hits set the July box office ablaze and has now spilled over
into the final month of summer which should continue the fireworks. Plus most
films have been holding up well over the last few weeks. Of the 37 holdover
cases in the top ten during the last five weekends, only four have witnessed
declines of more than 50%. By comparison, nine had such drops over the same
five-week period a year ago.
Source: Box Office Guru
This week at the movies, we got amnesiac spies (The Bourne Ultimatum, starring Matt Damon and Julia Stiles), loser daredevils (Hot Rod, with Andy Samberg and Isla Fisher), salsa singers (El Cantante, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez), school girls (Bratz: The Movie, starring Nathalia Ramos and Jon Voight), flying canines (Underdog, starring Jason Lee and Peter Dinklage), and radio personalities (Talk to Me, starring Don Cheadle and Chjwetel Ejiofor). What do the critics have to say?
The third in a series is rarely the best — witness the critical response to the latest Shrek and Spidey installments. However, if you found the thrills and chills of The Bourne Identity and Supremacy too sedate, you’re in luck; critics say The Bourne Ultimatum is one of the most exciting, action-paced movies of the summer, and is easily the best in the series (not too shabby, considering the other two were both Certified Fresh). Yet again, Matt Damon isn’t really sure who he is or how he became such an awesome killing machine, and yet again, he’s on the run from the authorities. But in this episode, pundits say Damon really comes into his own as an action star here, and director Paul Greengrass is well on his way to becoming an auteur of commercial filmmaking. Critics say the dizzying camerawork, rapid-fire editing, and overall craftsmanship make for one wild ride. At 92 percent on the Tomatometer, this may be the ultimate Bourne.
Critics are musing: is Bratz much better than Barbie? Since 2001, the ethnically diverse dolls have built an empire based on their unique brand of girl power and lip gloss, including this film adaptation featuring four girls overcoming their differences and joining together in holy BFFness. But critics deem Bratz: The Movie a vapid and clueless enterprise, with characters who don’t seem to have any discernable characteristics beyond fashion and material wealth. And it freely employs stereotypes (girls must be skinny, boys must be dreamy, and adults are idiots) while paradoxically arguing stereotypes are bad. At 11 percent Tomatometer, these Bratz need a lesson in filmmaking.
You loved him when he was drinking Mr. Pibb with a Red Vines straw, and you loved him when he was cutting holes in boxes. But will you love Andy Samberg in Hot Rod, his feature-length debut in which he stars as an awful amateur daredevil trying to raise money for his ill stepfather? Though Samberg is singled out for his enthusiastic, mischievous charm, little else appears to impress the critics. They say Hot Rod tries for an anarchic brand of physical and lowbrow jokes, but ends up irritating and random instead, the kind of disjointed comedy that gives SNL movies its bad name. At 30 percent Tomatometer, Rod is anything but hot. (Check out our interview with Samberg and his Lonely Island pals here.)
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Don Cheadle is one of the best actors in Hollywood today. In his latest, Talk to Me, Cheadle gives a performance that some pundits are calling Oscar-worthy — while noting his co-star, Chjwetel Ejiofor, is no slouch as well. Cheadle plays proto-shock jock Petey Green, an ex-con who brought freshness, humor, and irreverence to the medium during the tumultuous and heady late 1960s. While some pundits note that the film has some bumpy patches – often a problem for biopics — they say the performances and energy are strong enough to overlook most flaws. At 79 percent on the Tomatometer, the Certified Fresh Talk to Me is a movie worth talking about.
Hector Lavoe isn’t widely known with the American public. And that probably won’t change much with the release of El Cantante, a biopic based on the late Puerto Rican salsa singer’s life. Marc Anthony stars as Lavoe, but it’s the life of Lavoe’s wife (played by Jennifer Lopez) that, for better or worse, you’ll remember the most vividly from the movie. Critics call Lopez’s scenery-chewing a vanity acting job, as the rest of the movie is too loosely loose structure, creating a vacuum of character and narrative focus. And while El Cantante revels in biopic clichés, it never bothers revealing why Hector Lavoe was even worthy of an inspiring biopic in the first place. At 26 percent Tomatometer, El Cantante hits a sour note.
“Never fear — Underdog is here!” So went the rallying cry of everyone’s favorite super-pooch back in the day. Now? It appears the people behind Underdog have plenty to fear from critics, since the film wasn’t screened before hitting theaters. The usually-dependable Jason Lee and Peter Dinklage star in the tale (or is it tail?) of a mutt who, after an experiment, gains superpowers. Kids, after you’re done taking Fido for a stroll around the block, Guess the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: Summer ’04, a riveting tale of a summer holiday gone awry, is at 92 percent on the Tomatometer; Blame it on Fidel, a Parisian coming-of-age tale about a young girl and her radical activist parents, is at 92 percent; Them, a tense and existential horror flick from France, is at 81 percent; The Willow Tree, a Bergman-esque Iranian drama of a man coming to grips with death, is at 80 percent; Colossal Youth, a sprawling drama about urban life in Portugal, is at 71 percent; Becoming Jane, a biopic of Jane Austen’s early life, is at 62 percent; and The Ten, an anthology of comic vignettes based on the Ten Commandments, is at 57 percent.
Matt Damon aims to gun down his competitors and rule the North American box office this weekend with The Bourne Ultimatum, the third in the popular spy series, which opens on Friday aiming to sell more tickets than the frame’s four other new wide releases combined. The Universal release reteams the actor with director Paul Greengrass who helmed the last installment in the franchise The Bourne Supremacy which bowed to $52.5M in July 2004 on its way to a stellar $176.1M domestic cume. The Bourne series has been very well-received and fans do not seem sick of it yet so expect most to return for this new threequel.
Ultimatum has three major advantages over Supremacy – 500 more theaters, slightly higher ticket prices, and less competition from action flicks. Three years ago when the last Bourne bowed on top, the next three films on the charts were all action titles gobbling up a similar $53.5M between them. This time, Hollywood has taken a break with comedies and wizardry filling up the top five so audiences should be ready for an action-packed film from a reliable brand name. As is often the case with the third part in a franchise, there will be some who feel they saw this twice before and don’t need to spend money yet again for the same entertainment. And others will feel that the summer’s eleventh sequel will be a bit too much.
However, ticket sales from adults over 25 should be solid since Ultimatum‘s serious tone counters the wave of immature films flooding the marketplace. Plus critics
are showering the new Bourne with praise which will help convince those with some doubt. Invading 3,661 locations, Universal could possibly score its biggest
opening in four years with The Bourne Ultimatum which might bow to around $55M this weekend.
LAST YEAR: Will Ferrell raced to the top spot with the comedy Talladega Nights which bowed to an impressive $47M. The Sony release went on to gross $148M. Debuting far back in second place was the animated film Barnyard with $15.8M to kick off a leggy run that resulted in a $72.6M final for Paramount. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest placed third with $11M followed by Miami Vice which tumbled by 60% in its second weekend to $10.2M. Lionsgate opened its horror flick The Descent with $8.9M on its way to $26M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Picturehouse led the pack of acquisitions at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, nabbing North American rights to "El Cantante," the biopic of Salsa singer Hector Lavoe starring Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony.
“El Cantante,” or “The Singer,” tells the tragic tale of troubled Puerto Rican musician Lavoe (Anthony) and his steadfast wife Puchi (Lopez), who navigated the ups and downs of stardom together through the 60s, 70s and 80s. It’s a big, flashy biopic driven by the infectious sounds of Lavoe’s Salsa songs – a pure vanity project, as Anne Thompson aptly writes – and what’s more, J.Lo and Marc Anthony went from just friends to husband-and-wife during pre-production on the film. Add to that a built-in audience, fans of Lavoe and the Nuyorican Salsa movement, and Picturehouse’s reported $6 million buy seems a smart move. The Leon Ichaso-directed flick is expected to hit theaters next summer.
Canadian actress Sarah Polley had her directorial debut, “Away From Her,” premiere in the prestigious Gala program at TIFF; festival buzz pegged it as a hot ticket film. So it came as some surprise when it was picked up – not surprise that it sold, but that genre distributor Lionsgate was the one to seal the deal. “Away From Her” stars Julie Christie as a woman whose loving, longstanding marriage is threatened by her increasing mental deterioration due to Alzheimer’s disease, adapted from a short story by author Alice Munro. Lionsgate plans a spring 2007 release, expected to emulate the year-long Oscar campaign of last year’s winner, “Crash.”
Another planned spring release is “The Prisoner: Or How I Tried To Kill Tony Blair,” from the director of “Gunner Palace.” The visually-enhanced documentary tells the true story of an Iraqi journalist and his two brothers who were held at Abu Graib for nine months, interrogated, and eventually released by the American government. Netflix’s new distribution arm, Red Envelope, bought the pic; with plans to add footage to the now-60-minute film, “The Prisoner” will likely see theaters next spring.
Audiences can also look forward to seeing short film compilation "Paris, Je T’aime" early next year. First Look Pictures purchased North American rights mid-week, as the pic, a seventeen-part ode to Paris dedicated to each one of the cities’ neighborhoods, screened here after debuting in Cannes. Among the many international stars and directors involved are Steve Buscemi, Elijah Wood, Natalie Portman, Bob Hoskins, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Nick Nolte, Ludivine Sagnier, and Maggie Gyllenhaal; and Alfonso Cuaron, Walter Salles, Gurinder Chadha, Nobuhiro Suwa, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, and the Coen brothers.
The Weinstein Co. snatched up two very different pics earlier in the fest. “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show,” which follows the actor and four comedians on a 30-day stand-up tour, sold for $2.5 million; teen slasher pic “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” was a pricier deal at $3.5 million, despite a lack of recognizable cast members.
Hong Kong director Johnny To had three films in the festival, as his Triad intrigues “Election” and “Election 2” screened together as a Vanguard double feature and “Exiled” played in the Special Presentations category. “Exiled,” received well both at Venice and at Toronto, was sold to Magnolia Pictures and will be released sometime next year.
A number of films closed deals even before the festival began, including the Morgan Freeman starrer, “10 Items Or Less” (THINKFilm); Michael Apted’s 18th century pic, “Amazing Grace” (Samuel Goldwyn Films/Roadside Attractions); “Dixie Chicks – Shut Up And Sing” (The Weinstein Co.); and Werner Herzog’s “Rescue Dawn” (MGM).
Many more festival films are expected to close distribution deals out of their Toronto screenings. Pics by established directors are likely to sell, like Paul Verhoeven’s WWII thriller “Black Book” and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s samurai drama “Hana.” American pics with stars like the Joan Allen-Jessica Lange “Bonneville” and the Reese Witherspoon-Christina Ricci “Penelope” are also expected to make deals, despite garnering less than stellar, mixed reviews.
For our full Tomatoes in Toronto festival coverage, click here!