They’ve been a long time coming, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are reaching the climax with Fifty Shades Freed, opening wide this Friday. And if history is any indication (Grey and Darker are 25% and 10% respectively on the Tomatometer), Freed won’t be hitting the spot with critics, prompting this week’s gallery of the most Rotten movie trilogies ever.
For the first time in three weeks, studios will pack a Friday with plenty of new releases as four films open or expand nationwide giving the box office chart a major shakeup. Leading in the polls and getting the widest release is The Bucket List starring Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Challenging Hollywood’s old guard are three younger agents of change. Ice Cube campaigns for a spot in the top five with the comedy First Sunday, Jason Statham heads up the adventure tale In the Name of the King, and some cartoon vegetables headline the kidpic The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Hoping to play the spoiler is the indie smash Juno which once again expands into wider release. The films should each play to different audiences which will help the overall marketplace expand.
After spending the last decade directing flops, Rob Reiner hopes to score his first number one hit in over fifteen years with The Bucket List which features the Academy Award-winning actors Nicholson and Freeman on screen together for the first time. The PG-13 pic tells the story of two dying old men who set out to fulfill their last wishes before taking the big trip upstairs. Financing a major film anchored by two men who celebrated their 70th birthdays last year is not something Hollywood studios typically do. It’s usually seen as a risky endeavor. But Warner Bros. is counting on mature adults, men and women alike, to take interest and come out to see two legends on the big screen together.
Hurting Bucket‘s chances are the mixed reviews it’s been getting from critics. The target audience for this particular movie will definitely be affected by what reviewers have to say. Also, the picture has come up almost empty-handed during awards seasons so it has less marketing tools in its arsenal than the handful of acclaimed adult dramas touting their awards and nominations. In limited release, Bucket scored muscular per-theater numbers over the last two frames averaging $20,989 and $20,424 from only 16 locations. Co-star drawing power will not shoot this film up to the opening weekend levels of recent Jack flicks like The Departed or Anger Management. But even his less flashy films generate solid debut numbers due to his loyal fan following. Kicking its way into 2,911 theaters, The Bucket List could debut with about $15M.
First Sunday comes a week before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame which historically has been a good time for films led by black casts. Cube’s pictures usually are dependable when it comes to drawing a crowd. However his last two releases, the Sony sequels Are We Done Yet? and XXX: State of the Union, were not exactly major hits. Plus the story of stealing from church may not go down well with some folks. Breaking into roughly 2,000 theaters, First Sunday might open with around $12M.
After enjoying the second three-week box office reign of his career (the first being his other turn as Ben Gates), Nicolas Cage will see National Treasure: Book of Secrets drop down a couple of spots in the standings. The Buena Vista smash could fall by 40% to about $12M boosting the overall total to $187M which would make it one of the top ten blockbusters of 2007. Also hopping into that list will be fellow PG-rated holiday hit Alvin and the Chipmunks. Fox’s family comedy looks to slide by 35% this weekend to roughly $10M giving the singing chipmunks a robust $189M to date.
Scary movies from last weekend’s top five should witness larger declines. Will Smith‘s I Am Legend which is the highest grossing zombie movie of all-time may fall by 45% to about $8.5M for a $240M cume. The supernatural thriller One Missed Call should depreciate faster and fall 50% to around $6M giving Warner Bros. a respectable $21M after ten days.
LAST YEAR: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was ruled by the urban dance drama Stomp the Yard which generated a powerful $25.9M debut over the four-day extended frame. The Sony hit went on to finish with a solid $61.4M. Holdovers filled up the rest of the top five led by three-time champ Night at the Museum with $21.8M over the long weekend. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness followed with $10.7M with Dreamgirls in fourth with $10.3M and Hilary Swank‘s Freedom Writers ranking fifth with $8.8M over four days. Three new releases opened lower on the charts. Universal’s action drama Alpha Dog bowed to $7.4M on its way to $15.2M. Debuting in more theaters but with smaller grosses were Buena Vista’s horror pic Primeval with $6M and MGM’s kidpic Arthur and the Invisibles with $5.7M. Final grosses reached $10.6M and $15.1M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
While sitting on a Comic Con panel, Frank Miller was asked about the hold-up on Sin City 2. (Numerous times, probably.) And it looks like the celebrated author / artist / filmmaker is laying the blame solely at the feet of the Weinstein brothers.
Could it be that Grindhouse threw a monkey wrench into future Weinstein production plans? Sheer speculation on my part, but I’d have thought a Sin City sequel would be a no-brainer by this point. Then again, both Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez are presently hard at work on other projects — to say nothing of the large number of busy actors who’d be needed. So there’s probably enough "blame" to go around, really.
According to Dark Horizons, Mr. Miller "confirmed that he and Robert Rodriguez have a script ready – an adaptation of A Dame to Kill and some of the book’s other short stories — but left the cryptic hint that the Weinstein’s themselves are part of the hold up — likely tying into the fledgling distributor’s lack of success so far at the box-office."
OK, so the Weinsteins didn’t exactly set the world on fire with Grindhouse, Miss Potter, Bobby, The Matador, Derailed, Pulse, Breaking and Entering, Harsh Times, DOA: Dead or Alive, The Gathering, Unknown, The Ex, Nomad, School for Scoundrels, Black Christmas, Arthur and the Invisibles, or Factory Girl — but they’re doing OK with 1408 and Sicko. Plus they’ve got some treats in store (Grace Is Gone is excellent, The Mist sounds great so far) for later this year. And maybe someday they’ll actually release Killshot, Teeth and Rogue and make a few dollars off of ’em. Still it’s tough to feel bad for the guys who put money behind Who’s Your Caddy? and Hannibal Rising. Then again, Clerks 2 was pretty darn funny.
Anyway, yeah: Sin City 2. As the highway signs sometimes say: Expect delays.
Source: Dark Horizons
Back in the psychedelic ’60s, The Beatles got animated for the film "Yellow Submarine." Four decades later, it’s the competition’s turn. The Rolling Stones have licensed 12 of their songs for an animated film to be produced by Luc Besson, who is on an animation kick since "Arthur and the Invisibles."
"We did another animated film called Ruby Tuesday with the Rolling Stones," he said.
Unlike "Yellow Submarine," the Stones are not characters in this film. Their song will just provide the musical interludes. Eat your heart out Elton John, Alan Menken, Phil Collins and all the other Disney regulars.
"It’s an animated film with 12 songs of the Rolling Stones," said Besson. It’s going to be great."
Per IMDB, "Ruby Tuesday" is about a "single mother in New York looking for happiness" and is currently filming. At the helm are French animation brothers Gaetan and Paul Brizzi ("DuckTales: The Movie," "Fantasia/2000").
Stomping into the number one spot over the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was the college dance drama "Stomp the Yard," which grossed an estimated $22M in its opening weekend to push three-week champ "Night at the Museum" into second place. Exceeding even the loftiest of expectations, the PG-13 step dancing pic averaged a loud $10,726 from only 2,051 theaters.
Over the past 22 months, only "Borat" has reached the top spot with fewer theaters. With Monday being a holiday, studios will release complete four-day weekend estimates then. "Stomp the Yard" was budgeted at only $14M and generated two-thirds of its business this weekend from African American moviegoers, according to studio research.
After ruling the box office for three weeks, the effects-driven comedy "Night at the Museum" slipped to second place but still posted healthy numbers grossing an estimated $17.1M. Fox has now collected a hefty $185.8M and saw its weekend tally decline by only 28%. Sliding only 29% was Will Smith‘s Golden Globe-nominated turn in "The Pursuit of Happyness" with an estimated $9.1M in its fifth frame. Sony has banked $136.5M while the popular Museum-Pursuit duo has grossed a stunning $322M together.
Paramount expanded its hit musical "Dreamgirls" from 852 to 1,907 theaters and climbed a notch into fourth place with an estimated $8.1M. Off only 6%, the DreamWorks production has taken in $65M thus far with the $100M mark expected to be broken in the near future. "Dreamgirls" is considered the frontrunner to win the Golden Globe award for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical on Monday night and is looking to secure several Oscar nominations next week which the studio hopes will allow the pic to have legs. But after four weeks of incredible averages, the PG-13 film saw its per-theater average slide to $4,259 from its nationwide release.
The studio also expanded its urban high school drama "Freedom Writers" from 1,360 to 2,179 sites and ranked fifth with an estimated $7.1M. The gross dipped by only 24% for the Hilary Swank flick while the average tumbled by 53%. Total stands at $18.4M.
Three of the top five films over MLK weekend featured predominantly African American casts while "Freedom" boasted a multicultural school saga. For the Hollywood film industry, it was a rare sight. However between the King frame and Black History Month, a handful of studios have discovered how to tap into the sizable African American moviegoing audience with the right films in the January-February corridor.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón followed in sixth with his futuristic drama "Children of Men" which grossed an estimated $6.4M, down 37%, for a $21.4M total to date. The Clive Owen thriller was given 299 more theaters, but suffered a slowdown as its average dropped 49% in only its second weekend of wide play. "Children" has also grossed $32.5M overseas.
Three new releases followed but ticket buyers were not too excited about any of them. The drug dealer drama "Alpha Dog" bowed in seventh place with an estimated $6.1M from 1,289 locations for a respectable $4,765 average. Justin Timberlake, who conveniently announced his breakup with Cameron Diaz just days before the film opened, stars in the ensemble cast of the R-rated drama.
The serial killer pic "Primeval" debuted close behind in eighth place with an estimated $6M from 2,444 theaters. Despite having the widest release in the freshman class, the R-rated chiller averaged a weak $2,450 for Buena Vista. MGM released The Weinstein Company’s kidpic "Arthur and the Invisibles" but bombed with an estimated $4.3M from 2,247 playdates for a poor $1,914 average. The PG-rated adventure featured both live action and animation plus featured the voices of Madonna, Snoop Dogg, and Robert De Niro. Audiences had no interest.
Rounding out the top ten was De Niro’s spy thriller "The Good Shepherd" with an estimated $3.9M, down 39%, for a $54.3M cume.
Sony Classics widened its Chinese historical epic "Curse of the Golden Flower" from 55 sites in limited release to 1,234 theaters nationwide and collected an estimated $2M. That gave the Zhang Yimou drama a flimsy average of only $1,624 with a total to date of $4.4M. Moviegoers were more in the mood for dancers stomping than daggers flying.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $90.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday period which was off 3% from last year when "Glory Road" opened at number one with $13.6M; and down 20% from 2005 when "Coach Carter" debuted on top with $24.2M over three days.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Can Ben Stiller and his living artifacts four-peat at the top of the North American box office, or will one of the new releases take the crown over the four-day Dr. Martin Luther King holiday weekend? Ticket buyers will decide.
Leading the freshman class is the dance drama "Stomp the Yard" which could have breakout potential. Also opening are the fantasy pic "Arthur and the Invisibles," the drug dealer pic "Alpha Dog," and the horror flick "Primeval." With so many schools closed on Monday, the new films are targeting students of all ages who will have extra time on their hands.
The west and east coasts meet in "Stomp the Yard," a story of a Los Angeles student enrolled in an Atlanta university who uses his unique style to help his fraternity compete in a step dancing contest. The PG-13 film is short on starpower, but makes up for that with terrific marketing which is the real ingredient that will put asses into the seats. Sony has cut exciting trailers and commercial spots which should spark lots of interest with teens and young adults. Plus, MLK weekend is the perfect time to open a black college film since interest will be high for this particular subject matter. African American students will especially be out in solid numbers. However, the opening of Justin Timberlake‘s "Alpha Dog" could take away some of the young adult crowd.
"Stomp" should appeal to the same audiences that delivered bigger-than-expected openings for "Drumline" ($12.6M opening, $6,865 average), "ATL" ($11.6M, $7,212), and "You Got Served" ($16.1M, $8,341). The urban youth of America possesses tremendous spending power and Hollywood has just woken up to this in recent years financing low cost flicks that return handsome profits through theatrical and DVD sales. "Stomp" also offers an appealing story relevant to today’s young people and looks to join this list. Stepping into 2,051 theaters, "Stomp the Yard" could collect about $16M over four days this weekend.
The weekend’s only new kidpic comes in the form of the French production "Arthur and the Invisibles," a groundbreaking feature which mixes live-action with animation in a fantasy tale. The PG-rated film from The Weinstein Co. is directed by action professional Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element," "Joan of Arc") and features the voices of Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna. With so many young children across the country having a long school holiday, "Arthur" should get some play as the only new option for parents who have taken enough trips to the Museum. Of course "Happily N’Ever After" flopping last weekend shows that family audiences will not come out for just anything. With about 2,500 theaters, it is the widest of the new titles which could help it get into double digit millions over the extended frame. The marketing push has been admirable too. MLK weekend has often seen better-than-expected results for debuting kiddie flicks like "Kangaroo Jack," "Racing Stripes," and "Hoodwinked." "Arthur and the Invisibles" may carve out its share of the pie and gross roughly $11M over the four-day period.
Pop music king Justin Timberlake joins an ensemble cast which includes Emile Hirsch, Sharon Stone, and Bruce Willis in the gritty drama "Alpha Dog." Directed by Nick Cassavetes, the R-rated film tells of a drug dealer who kidnaps the younger brother of a friend who owes a debt. The Universal release is based on true events and will target older teens and twentysomethings. The marketing makes the film look slick and cool plus JT provides a built-in audience of fans that can be tapped into.
However, two main obstacles are in the way – the rating and competition from "Stomp the Yard." A large portion of Timberlake’s fans are young teens and they will have a hard time buying tickets. Plus, "Stomp" will be distracting the urban youth with its slick look and milder PG-13 rating. On top of that, the studio’s release is not too wide. These factors should curtail the potential of "Alpha." Critics have given solid support which may help a little, although Time Out New York boldly calls the pic the worst movie of the year in its zero-star review. Opening in about 1,200 theaters, "Alpha Dog" might bite down on around $8M over the long weekend.
Every horror film since Halloween has flopped and the streak looks to continue with "Primeval" from Buena Vista. The R-rated film about a news crew hunting down a killer boasts no starpower and lacks a compelling plot worthy of the ten-dollar bills of genre fans. Marketing support has been weak and awareness is not very high. The fright flick seems to have the same potential as last month’s "Turistas" which bowed to a weak $3.6M and $2,282 average. "Primeval" will open wider with about 2,000 theaters and has an extended four-day session so a gross of roughly $6M could result followed by steep drops.
Zhang Yimou has seen solid but not spectacular averages for his latest Chinese epic "Curse of the Golden Flower" which has already grossed $2.2M from its limited release in about 60 theaters. Its average of $6,104 last weekend will drop considerably as it expands nationwide into about 1,200 playdates. The Mandarin-language period piece seems to be going too wide too fast and with all the choices in the multiplexes, Sony Classics may find it difficult to get multiplex crowds into all those new seats. "Curse" will try to play to fans of the "Hero" director, but Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li are no Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi at the American box office. A $4M gross over the long weekend could result.
Ben Stiller and Will Smith have been inseparable blockbuster brothers atop the box office charts for the last three weeks. But the weekend’s new releases should finally cause a breakup. Stiller’s runaway smash "Night at the Museum" has been holding up incredibly well against any competition that has come its way and will attempt to become the first film since 2003’s "The Return of the King" to remain number one for four consecutive weekends. The only thing standing in its path is a possible teen explosion for "Stomp." "Museum’s" four-day holiday gross could slip 25% from last weekend’s three-day figure giving the Fox hit about $18M and a remarkable cume to date of $187M.
Smith has done pretty well for himself too with "The Pursuit of Happyness" which should see another solid turnout over MLK weekend. A 20% drop would give Sony a four-day tally of $10M boosting its total to a stellar $137M.
Since it opened nationally on Christmas Day, "Dreamgirls" has been posting the best per-theater averages of any wide release. Now, Paramount will more than double the run and expand the Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical from 852 to about 1,800 theaters. The Jamie Foxx–Beyonce Knowles musical is the favorite to take home that honor, plus other statues, and the studio wants to make sure the product is available everywhere once the wins occur. Plus, films with African American casts routinely do very well over the King frame so a jump in sales is assured. For the four-day period, "Dreamgirls" may climb to around $11M putting the cume at $68M. If it wins the Globe for Best Picture and secures a sizable number of Oscar nominations the following week, the total domestic take could certainly surpass the $100M mark as it did for "Chicago" four years ago. The Richard Gere musical reached a similar $63.8M at the end of the weekend it went fully national into 1,841 locations and went on to a sensational $170.7M final total.
LAST YEAR: Disney kicked off the first of what would be many hit sports flicks in 2006 with the basketball drama "Glory Road" which opened at number one over MLK weekend with $16.9M over four days. The live action film barely beat out the animated comedy "Hoodwinked" which also grossed $16.9M over the Friday-to-Monday period, but was about $50,000 shy of the number one spot. The duo reached $42.6M and $51.2M, respectively. Third place also was held by a new release. Paramount’s Queen Latifah comedy "Last Holiday" bowed to a solid $15.5M on its way to $38.4M. Rounding out the top five were former number ones "The Chronicles of Narnia" with $12.8M and "Hostel" with $11.4M over the long weekend. Fox’s romance "Tristan & Isolde" found few lovers in its debut opening to $7.6M on its way to just $14.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got a kid who ventures into a magical world ("Arthur and the Invisibles," with voice work from Robert De Niro and Madonna), a frat dance-off ("Stomp the Yard," starring Meagan Good), a lavish tale set during the Tang Dynasty ("The Curse of the Golden Flower," starring Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li) and a ripped-from-the-headlines teen crime pic ("Alpha Dog," starring Bruce Willis and Justin Timberlake). What do the critics have to say?
Written by Nick Hershey and Alex Vo
"Arthur and the Invisibles" is a partially animated children’s film from director Luc Besson. Ten-year-old Arthur must find a passage to a magical world populated by tiny little beings called Minimoys in order to save his grandfather’s home. Critics say that the story tries to do too much, and the film wastes the big-name voice talent on a predictable script (including Robert De Niro, Madonna, and Snoop Dogg). In addition, they note that while the animation is interesting, it doesn’t hold up to the current CG standard. At 28 percent on the Tomatometer, "Arthur and the Invisibles" may not be something to see.
"Look how you’ve grown! You’re as tall as my ex-boyfriend now."
Two rival fraternities compete for the allegiance of a street dancer from Los Angeles in "Stomp the Yard." "Stepping" is the latest dance, and "Yard" has plenty of pep, thanks to appealing performers like Columbus Short and Meagan Good. But critics say that while "Stomp" contains impressive musical and dance numbers, it loses its momentum during the intervening soap opera-style subplots. At 27 percent on the Tomatometer, "Stomp" doesn’t quite go the extra yard.
"Let’s stomp the desert!"
You wouldn’t expect it from a Yimou Zhang movie, but "The Curse of the Golden Flower" is something not to be over-thought, but simply watched. Critics say the film goes to great lengths to visually mesmerize the audience, with enormous sets lavished in gold and silk, jade and brocade, and exquisitely bloody swordfights. But they also say the story is melodramatic. Really melodramatic. At 63 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s both a blessing and a curse.
Apparently they had Jell-O shots in the Tang Dynasty.
Like a Hollywood remake of a Larry Clark movie, "Alpha Dog" is a glossy yet unflinching look into a violent and hedonistic teenage community. Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone play scene-chewing figures of authority, but critics say it’s Justin Timberlake who’s noteworthy, and the relationship his and Anton Yelchin’s character develop is the emotional tether that holds "Alpha Dog" together. The scribes say that while some of the techniques director Nick Cassavetes employs are a bit over the top, he’s able to draw good performances out of the cast. At 63 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Dog" has bite.
"Step 1: Cut a hole in a box."
Looks like we’re starting the year off right: we’re just two weeks into 2007, and already we’ve got a movie that wasn’t screened for critics. It’s called "Primeval," and it’s about a serial killer that has claimed more than 300 victimsm. It’s probably mediocre. Guess that Tomatometer.
Nope, it ain’t ‘The Searchers.’
Also opening this week in limited release: the compelling Holocaust documentary "Verdict on Auschwitz" is at 100 percent; "God Grew Tired of Us," a powerful doc about the Lost Boys of Sudan, is at 93 percent; "Ever Since the World Ended," a mockumentary about post-apocalyptic San Francisco, is at 75 percent; and "Tears of the Black Tiger," a heavily stylized Thai western, is at 73 percent.
Luc Besson-Directed Films:
50% — Angel-A (2007)
30% — The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
68% — The Fifth Element (1997)
81% — Leon The Professional (1994)
86% — La Femme Nikita (1990)
The evidently schizophrenic filmmaker Luc Besson interrupted an interview about his retirement to tell folks that, well, if "Arthur and the Minimoys/Invisibles" does well at the box office, then he’ll come back to direct a sequel.
From Production Weekly: "Luc Besson is reconsidering returning behind the camera despite a recent interview announcing his retirement from directing. If the adaptation of his novel “Arthur and the Minimoys” finds an audience he will begin work on adapting the second book, “Arthur And The Forbidden City,” for the big screen with a shooting start date as early as June. The film will be released on December 13 in France and stars the voices of Madonna, Snoop Dogg and David Bowie for the English version and Mylene Farmer, Alain Bashung and Marc Lavoine in the French version."
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Make note, world — Sean Combs, hip-hop producer, aspiring actor, and professional celeb extraordinaire — is making a change. As of this month, when the entertainer will coincidentally be hosting MTV’s Video Music Awards, the artist formerly known as Puff, Puff Daddy, Puffy Combs, and most recently, P. Diddy, has officially dropped the ‘P’ and will henceforth be known only as ‘Diddy.’ Diddy, who has cited as his reason a desire to be ‘a little bit more personal’ with his fans, has also made the important decision to speak solely in the third person. While he feels it necessary to make this recent name-change in order to usher in ‘the age of Diddy’ for his upcoming album and miscellaneous entrepreneurial endeavors – including his Sean John clothing label, his Justin restaurant chain, the Making the Band 2 reality show, and of course, Bad Boy Records – Diddy’s acting exploits in films like Monster’s Ball, Death of a Dynasty, and the upcoming prequel, Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power, will remain credited to that other persona – Sean Combs.
In other multi-monikered celeb news, pop queen Madonna celebrated her 47th birthday in the hospital after falling from a new horse at her English estate, breaking her hand, collarbone, and cracking three ribs. The 80’s poster girl/sometimes actress/children’s author/Kabbalah enthusiast, and of course, Mrs. Guy Ritchie, has an upcoming album scheduled for release this November and lends her voice to the upcoming Luc Besson-helmed animation fantasy, Arthur and the Minimoys.
In an act of collective sympathy for Jude Law‘s betrayed fiancée, Sienna Miller, nude pics of the cheating Alfie star have been circling the internet — accompanied by salacious jibes at the publicly apologetic philanderer’s package. The photos, snapped while Law was changing out of swim gear at his mom’s house, have unsurprisingly garnered snickers from female viewers, and sympathy from male supporters.
Meanwhile, Law and Miller have been seen stepping out together, fueling speculation that the home-wrecked couple are back together and patching up their nanny-interrupted engagement. The duo each have a film scheduled for release this winter, as he stars in the Old South politics remake, All the King’s Men, and she appears opposite Heath Ledger in the period romance, Casanova.