Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the third part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.
Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.
Part 7 – On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.
Part 8 – On going back to Extras.
Part 9 – On taking Andy Millman and company to America.
Part 10 – On why it’s easy to be ambitious.
Part 11 – On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.
Part 12 – On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 13 – On Karl becoming a Rotten Tomatoes film critic.
Part 14 – On The Man from the Pru and a TV spin-off for the film.
Part 15 – On Simon Pegg, British comedy and dealing with press over-exaggeration.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film. But for now, continue onto Part 13.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 13 of 15: On Karl becoming a Rotten Tomatoes film critic.

Could Karl soon be reviewing films for RT? We certainly hope so — Ricky and RT strike a deal.

Continue on Part 14: On The Man from the Pru and a TV spin-off for the film.

Part 14 of 15: On The Man from the Pru and a TV spin-off for the film.

Gervais will reteam with Stephen Merchant on The Man from the Pru — he shares his idea for a TV spinoff exclusively with RT.

Continue on Part 15: On Simon Pegg, British comedy and dealing with press over-exaggeration.

Part 15 of 15: On Simon Pegg, British comedy and dealing with press over-exaggeration.

Simon Pegg recently made some comments that started an all-out war with Gervais. Except it didn’t. Ricky laughs about the “feud,” talks about British comedy and ponders press over-exaggeration.

This concludes our Dinner and the Movies interview with Ricky Gervais. If you missed any part of it click here to start from the beginning. Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the third part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.
Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.
Part 7 – On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.
Part 8 – On going back to Extras.
Part 9 – On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 10 – On why it’s easy to be ambitious.
Part 11 – On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.
Part 12 – On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film. But for now, continue onto Part 10.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 10 of 15: On why it’s easy to be ambitious.

It’s easy to be ambitious, says Gervais, which is just as well as he’s been busy recently.

Continue on Part 11: On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.

Part 11 of 15: On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.

What can audiences expect from This Side of the Truth? Ricky explains the film.

Continue on Part 12: On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

Part 12 of 15: On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

There’s a cameo for Karl Pilkington in This Side of the Truth. Or is there? We discuss his role and his take on the film’s themes.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais finds a job for Karl Pilkington on RT, talks about his reteaming with Stephen Merchant on The Man from the Pru and continues the “feud” with Simon Pegg.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the third part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.
Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 7 – On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.
Part 8 – On going back to Extras.
Part 9 – On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film. But for now, continue onto Part 7.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 7 of 15: On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.

Could the podcast return as a live show? Gervais certainly hopes so, as he explains to RT.

Continue on Part 8: On going back to Extras.

Part 8 of 15: On going back to Extras.

Extras demands more screen time, says Gervais, as he discusses with RT where Andy Millman could go next.

Continue on Part 9: On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

Part 9 of 15: On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

Andy Millman seems destined for Hollywood, as we discuss with Ricky Gervais.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the second part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses a possible return to the podcast with a live show, and taking Andy Millman to the US in Extras. But for now, continue onto Part 4.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 4 of 15: On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.

Redemption has been a key theme for Gervais in The Office, Extras and now Ghost Town. He discusses why “comedy plus” is important.

Continue on Part 5: On how annoyance informs the podcast.

Part 5 of 15: On how annoyance informs the podcast.

The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast is one of the most popular of all time — Ricky explains why the dynamic works so well.

Continue on Part 6: On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Part 6 of 15: On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Karl Pilkington has a head like an orange, but he’s strangely brilliant. Gervais tells RT why that’s so.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses a possible return to the podcast with a live show, and taking Andy Millman to the US in Extras.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses his favourite theme, redemption, explains how the podcast dynamic works and revels in the brilliance of Karl Pilkington. But for now, continue onto Part 1.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 1 of 15: On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.

As Ricky comes to the RT office to pick up his Certified Fresh award he talks about critical success and the worth of awards.

Continue on Part 2: On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.

Part 2 of 15: On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.

Gervais’ appearance at the Emmy awards this year was one of the show’s few highlights — he discusses it with RT.

Continue on Part 3: On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

Part 3 of 15: On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

Gervais’ appearance at the Emmy awards this year was one of the show’s few highlights — he discusses it with RT.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses his favourite theme, redemption, explains how the podcast dynamic works and revels in the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Hitting the UK cinemas this week we have Ricky Gervais as a dentist who sees dead people in the comedy Ghost Town, the long awaited big screen debut for the Disney behemoth that is High School Musical 3, and on a slightly less fluffy note we have a young mother who sees her husband and son killed in a terrorist attack in Incendiary. But what did the UK critics have to say?

Ricky Gervais boasts a proud record of two hugely successful TV series with The Office and Extras, pioneering and record-breaking podcasts with Stephen Merchant and the legendary Karl ‘Head Like A ****ing Orange’ Pilkington, a range of critically acclaimed childrens books with the Flanimals, three sellout stand-up shows, and most recently a few minor, but well received roles in Hollywood films Night At The Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. But how would he fare in his first starring role as misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus, who discovers he can communicate with the dead after dying for seven minutes during a botched medical procedure? With the movie Certified Fresh at 85% on the Tomatometer, UK critics reflected what their American counterparts had said about the movie, praising Gervais for his enjoyable, sharp and witty performance as the spirit spotting teeth tyrant, which elevates the film above its possibly creaky concept into, what some of the critics are saying, one of the rom-coms of the year. Up next for Gervais is This Side Of Truth, due for release next year, a comedy in which he not only stars, but he has written, and co-directed, so we will see if we can add auteur to his already glittering CV.

If you are aged over the age of 14, you may find the whole High School Musical phenomenon slightly bewildering, but with ticket pre-sales for the threequel, the first cinematic outing for the smash hit series, breaking box-office records, there is no denying that Disney have a monster on their hands. Teen heartthrobs Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens reprise their roles as Troy and Gabriella, in the final year at East High School, with university looming, the couple have to face up for a possible future apart. UK critics praised the movie for its slick production, feel good factor, and positive messages, but on the whole the jaded critics felt underwhelmed by it’s saccharine lightweight nature, predictable plot and sanitised vision of high school life. But even at a Rotten 58% on the Tomatometer, we’ve no doubt that the critical reception for HSM3 will have no bearing whatsoever on its box office takings come half term week.

Incendiary is directed by Sharon Maguire who previously helmed Bridget Jones Diary and is an adaptation of a novel by Chris Cleave. The novel was notable for its release on 7/7/05, the day of the London bombing atrocities, as it also deals with a terrorist bomb plot in London. Michelle Williams stars as a young mother who’s life is torn apart when her son and husband are killed in a bomb blast at the Arsenal football stadium, who seeks solace in her grief with Ewan McGregor‘s reporter character. The critics have praised Williams’ earnest portrayal as the mourning mother in the well-natured drama, but on the whole the movie has been dismissed for its unrealistic portrayal of modern London, far-fecthed nature and cliché ridden plot. At 26% on the Tomatometer, Incendiary is more of a misfire than a blast off.

Also worth checking out this week…

Chocolate — A tough, uncompromising, real stunt, Thai Kung Fu flick, with a slushy plot but badass fight scenes. 69% on the Tomatometer.

Quote Of The Week

“Committed acting, cast chemistry and the odd touching moment just about save you from checking whether this was actually produced by Bernard Matthews.”

Incendiary. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

It’s that time of year again: Right before the fancy awards are doled out, all the different critics’ groups chime in with their favorite flicks of the year. Here we have the picks from the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) for your perusal.

NY FILM CRITICS ONLINE AWARDS FOR 2006

New York Film Critics Online is composed of major reviewers in the New York area who work exclusively for online publications or for print/broadcast media with a strong online presence. The twenty-six members (NYFCO.ORG) met at O’Neal’s Restaurant, 49 W 64 Street in Manhattan on December
10th, 2006, and voted for these awards:

Picture — "The Queen"

Director — Stephen Frears – "The Queen"

Screenplay — Peter Morgan – "The Queen"

Cinematography — Dick Pope – "The Illusionist"

Actor — Forest Whitaker – "The Last King of Scotland"

Actress — Helen Mirren – "The Queen"

Supporting Actor — Michael Sheen – "The Queen"

Supporting Actress — Jennifer Hudson – "Dreamgirls" & Catherine O’Hara – "For Your Consideration" (tie)

Ensemble Cast — "Little Miss Sunshine"

Debut as Director — Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris – "Little Miss Sunshine"

Breakthrough Performer — Jennifer Hudson – "Dreamgirls"

Film Score — Philip Glass – "The Illusionist"

Documentary Feature — "An Inconvenient Truth"

Animated Feature — "Happy Feet"

Foreign Language Picture — "Pan’s Labyrinth"

Humanitarian Award — Deepa Mehta ("Water") for taking risks to create films about the difficulties of social change in India especially as it affects women.

Ten Best Pictures (Alphabetical)
"Babel"
"The Fountain"
"Inland Empire"
"Little Children"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Pan’s Labyrinth"
"The Queen"
"Thank You For Smoking"
"Volver"
"Water"

It’s time again to celebrate the best that indie-land has to offer. The Spirit Award nominees are out, with "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Half Nelson" leading all contenders with five nods each, including best feature.

The family dysfunction on-the-road comedy "Sunshine" was also nominated for Best Director (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris), Supporting Male (Alan Arkin and Paul Dano) and Best First Screenplay (Michael Arndt). Meanwhile, "Half Nelson," a drama about a troubled inner-city teacher, received nods for Best Director (Ryan Fleck), Male Lead (Ryan Gosling), Female Lead (Shareeka Epps), and Best First Screenplay (Anna Boden and Fleck).


"Wait… we might both win Spirit Awards?"

The other nominees for Best Feature are "American Gun," "The Dead Girl," and "Pan’s Labyrinth." In the Best Director category, the nominees also include Robert Altman for "A Prairie Home Companion," Karen Moncrieff for "The Dead Girl," and Steven Soderbergh for "Bubble."

In addition to Gosling, the Male Lead nominees are Aaron Eckhart ("Thank You For Smoking"), Edward Norton ("The Painted Veil"), Ahmad Razvi ("Man Push Cart"), and Forest Whitaker ("American Gun"). In addition to Epps, the others up for the Female Lead award are Catherine O’Hara ("For Your Consideration"), Elizabeth Reaser ("Sweet Land"), Michelle Williams ("Land of Plenty"), and Robin Wright Penn ("Sorry, Haters").


"Pan’s Labyrinth": Do fauns qualify for Spirit Awards?

The Spirit Awards, formerly the Independent Spirit Awards, recognize films made on budgets of less than $20 million. The winners will be announced on Feb. 24, a day before the Academy Awards.

For a complete list of the nominees, click here. Also, check out RT’s interview with "Little Miss Sunshine" directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris here.

ELSEWHERE IN INDIE NEWS THIS WEEK:

"Tears" Finally Makes It To Theaters

The brightly colored, highly stylized Thai western "Tears of the Black Tiger" will open in January, six years after its premiere at Cannes. The film has been acquired by Magnolia from Miramax; "Tears" played on the festival circuit before landing in the company’s vault.

Swiss Oscar Selection Gets Distributor

The North American rights for "Vitus," Switzerland’s candidate for the Foreign Film Oscar, have been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. The film, starring Bruno Ganz and Teo Gheorghiu, tells the tale of a child prodigy and his complex relationship with his parents.

Top Reviewed Limiteds

Opening last week in limited release: "Backstage," a dark examination of celebrity, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer with 10 reviews; "The History Boys," a tale of hypercompetitive English schoolboys adapted from Alan Bennett, is at 62 percent with 50 reviews; and "Opal Dream," a coming-of-age tale about a little girl with imaginary friends in the Australian outback, is at 57 percent with 14 reviews.

Top Performing Limiteds

In last week’s indie box office battle, Pedro Almodovar‘s "Volver" grossed an average of $17,071 on 30 screens, beating out the Bollywood drama "Dhoom 2," which averaged $15,540 on 63 screens. "The History Boys" opened on seven screens with a $14,400 average, while the Jean-Luc Godard classic "Two Or Three Things I Know About Her…" and the Slamdance-approved documentary "Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story" both opened on one screen apiece to earn $10,764 and $5,034, respectively. Last week’s top indie "Bobby" dropped to 15th place after expanding from two to 1,667 screens, dropping its per-screen average from $34,519 to $2,914.


"The History Boys": No threat to the Hell’s Angels.

Thanks to Nick Hershey for his contribution to this story.

Movie fans feasted on tasty leftovers over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend as the top two films atop the charts remained unchanged from last week. The penguin toon Happy Feet held onto the number one spot while the James Bond actioner Casino Royale followed in second place once again.

Both films enjoyed solid sophomore frames and grossed nearly $100M in combined ticket sales over the Wednesday-to-Sunday period. Several new films that opened were treated like side dishes with audiences finding some of them to be unappetizing. Among the better performers were the action thriller Deja Vu and the family comedy Deck the Halls which finished the weekend in third and fourth places, respectively. Overall, the multiplexes were bustling as the top ten matched last year’s holiday performance which was impressive given the lack of a Harry Potter-type juggernaut on this year’s movie menu.

Sitting on top of the North American box office for a second straight weekend was Happy Feet which danced up an estimated $37.9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and an impressive $51.5M over the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday holiday span. That propelled the cume for the Warner Bros. blockbuster to $100.1M after only ten days giving the studio a great start for its pricey $100M kidpic. In a year overstuffed with animated films, the penguin film joins Ice Age: The Meltdown and Cars as the only toons to spend back-to-back weeks at number one in 2006. The three-day gross slipped a scant 9% from its opening weekend indicating solid word-of-mouth and possibly good legs ahead.

The slender decline was similar to the turkey weekend drops of 2004’s National Treasure and 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas which slipped only 9% and 5%, respectively, when Thanksgiving fell on their second weekends. All three films carried PG ratings, played to broad audiences, opened at number one, and retained their box office crown over the turkey holiday. Treasure captured half of its eventual $173M domestic total in the first ten days while Grinch’s share was a similar 53%. If Happy Feet can stay strong throughout the holiday season, it could find its way to $175-190M.

Holding steady in the number two spot was Agent 007 in Casino Royale which collected an estimated $31M over three days and $45.1M over five days. Off only 24%, that pushed the ten-day domestic haul for the Sony release to a stellar $94.2M. Although Casino opened softer than the last film in the series — 2002’s Die Another Day starring Pierce Brosnan — it enjoyed a better sophomore hold. Die dropped 34% in its second weekend to a matching $31M over the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving holiday banking $101.4M in ten days.

Casino is also benefiting from encouraging buzz and could be on its way to grossing $150-160M from North America coming close to the $160.9M of Die which holds the franchise record. Even if the new Daniel Craig film does not set a new franchise benchmark for domestic sales, it still means that the risky casting change has paid off with today’s audiences still finding Bond to be a relevant film series. Overseas, Casino Royale continued to open at number one in every market it invaded this weekend and watched its international cume soar to $128.2M as its worldwide gross zoomed to an eye-popping $222.4M in under two weeks. The studio expects Casino Royale to outperform the $432M global gross of Die Another Day to become the biggest Bond ever.

Holiday moviegoers looking for something new to see powered the Denzel Washington crime thriller Deja Vu into third place with an opening weekend of $20.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Directed by Tony Scott (Crimson Tide, Top Gun), the PG-13 film averaged a sturdy $6,704 from 3,108 sites for Buena Vista. The studio made a bold move when it programmed Deja Vu’s launch to be just five days after the opening of Casino Royale which would also pull in action fans. Since its Wednesday bow, Deja Vu has grossed a strong $29M.

Washington proved once again that he is one of Hollywood’s most reliable and consistent box office draws. Seven of the last eight films he has headlined have opened with $20M or more. Few A-listers can make that claim. In his new film, the Oscar-winning actor plays a ATF agent who uses new government technology to try to alter the past in order to prevent a ferry explosion that kills over 500 innocent people in New Orleans. It was the first Hollywood film shot in the city after Hurricane Katrina. Reviews were generally positive.

Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick battled their way into fourth place with the new holiday comedy Deck the Halls which opened to an estimated $12M. Fox launched the film in 3,205 locations and averaged a decent $3,744 per site. Since its Wednesday launch, the PG-rated family film has taken in $16.9M. That puts Deck below the openings of recent live-action Thanksgiving weekend kidpics like last year’s Yours, Mine, and Ours and 2004’s Christmas with the Kranks. Those comedies debuted to five-day tallies of $24.3M and $30.8M. Competition was tough for Deck which had to deal with Happy Feet, The Santa Clause 3, and Flushed Away stealing away $54M over the three-day span from the same audience.

Dropping 29% to an estimated $10.4M in its fourth trek was Fox’s Borat which joined the century club over the weekend. November’s only non-penguin film to reach number one has now taken in $109.3M. Jumping up 21% from last weekend thanks to the holiday was Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 which followed close behind with an estimated $10M. The Tim Allen pic has collected $67.2M to date and is running 29% behind the pace of its 2002 predecessor.

Sony’s Will Ferrell comedy Stranger Than Fiction ranked seventh with an estimated $6M, down 9%, for a $32.7M total. The animated tale Flushed Away slipped 12% to an estimated $5.8M and has grossed $57.4M thus far.

Two new films rounded out the top ten with less-than-spectacular results. MGM released The Weinstein Co. pic Bobby and grossed an estimated $4.9M from 1,667 theaters for a mild $2,945 average. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, the R-rated film examines the lives of several people on the day that Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. The all-star cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Happy Feet star Elijah Wood. Bobby opened in two theaters a week earlier and expanded nationally on Thanksgiving Thursday. The distributor chose not to open nationwide on the typical Wednesday date since that day marked the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cume to date is $6.2M

Opening poorly in tenth place was the sci-fi romance The Fountain with an estimated $3.7M from 1,472 for a weak $2,531 average. Darren Aronofsky (pi, Requiem for a Dream) directed the PG-13 film which stars Hugh Jackman (another voice from the chart-topping penguin pic) and Aronofsky’s real-life girlfriend Rachel Weisz in a tale of a man’s search to cure his wife’s illness. Over five days, Fountain collected only $5.4M.

Another Thanksgiving turkey came in the form of the comedy Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny which failed to find paying customers and finished outside of the top ten. The Jack Black comedy took in an estimated $3.1M from 1,919 theaters for a wimpy $1,621 average. The R-rated pic was targeted at young men and saw a soft $5.2M bow over the Wednesday-to-Sunday holiday span.

The film industry satire For Your Consideration expanded from 23 to 623 theaters this weekend and grossed an estimated $2M. With a mediocre $3,186 average, the Warner Independent release upped its cume to $3.1M.

Fox Searchlight debuted its comedy The History Boys and grossed an estimated $101,000 from seven theaters for a solid $14,389 average. Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play, the R-rated film bowed in six U.S. theaters on Tuesday and added one Canadian location on Friday. Cume to date stands at $142,000 and the distributor will expand to four additional markets on December 8.

Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Paramount Vantage’s Babel fell 33% to an estimated $1.9M pushing the cume up to a decent $15.2M. The Brad Pitt pic may finish in the $17-19M range although it could go further if it secures major award nominations. Another film generating Oscar buzz followed as Martin Scorsese’s The Departed shot up an estimated $1.8M in its eighth weekend, down 30%, boosting the cume to $116.8M. With a production cost of $90M, the acclaimed director’s top-grossing film should reach the $120M mark domestically.

The horror sequel Saw III scared up an estimated $1.5M, down 48%, for a strong $78M to date. The $12M Lionsgate hit looks to end with about $80M or a bit less than Saw II’s $87M from last year. After Dark’s Horror Fest concluded its limited five-day theatrical run with $2.6M from 488 theaters last week for a solid $5,328 average.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $142.7M over three days which was dead even with last year when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire remained at number one with $54.7M; and down 2% from 2004 when National Treasure stayed in the top spot with $32.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The following is what happens when you mix roundtable interviews, ground-breaking comic filmmakers, and nerdly fanboy journalists one press day in October for the ensemble Hollywood satire, “For Your Consideration.”

Q: What makes the creative form of scenario and improv so appealing?

Christopher Guest: Well, I think beginning with a film I worked on called “This is Spinal Tap” —

[Applause breaks in from nerd at table; Guest is humbly surprised.]

Nerdly Journalist: Oh seriously, come on! Journalistic integrity is going out the window today.

CG: [Deadpan] Wow.

NJ: I was hoping Nigel was gonna be here, but that’s just me…

CG (continues): We really had a lot of fun doing that movie and it occurred to us that that particular format was something where we could…be funny, and when I did Waiting for Guffman, it occurred to me that maybe we could try that again. So we did three in that format; this one is a departure because it’s a narrative and it’s not done as documentary, but there’s something about improvisation — the spontaneity of it — which sparks the actors that we work with here, and there’s a different feel, the comedy is different. It’s fun.

Q: And the scenarios are creeping a little bit longer each time, right?

CG: No, no, they’re not.

Eugene Levy: Well, a little longer than the first one.

CG: Well the first one may have been…15 pages, this is maybe 20 something pages, but that’s about it.

And the movie within this movie was scripted, in fact. Otherwise…

Q: What was the decision to go with the narrative film?

CG: Why? Well I think we’d done three, and we said that we felt like moving to a different area, and it’s a big challenge to make something narrative, because the whole way of shooting is different, the editing, the narrative — it’s way different, it’s much more difficult, actually. So we wanted to try it.


A still from “Home For Purim,” the film-within-a-film

Q: It seems like you’re the only ones taking on this particular sub-genre, the improvisational structure. Is there any reason — are you just particularly gifted, or are other people passing up an opportunity?

EL: Well, he is particularly gifted, this is true! There are people who are gifted in this area but again, I think it was the success of Spinal Tap that showed how exciting and fun and smart and great a movie this kind of work is. And it’s true, with improvisation you do get a spontaneity that affects performance, because you don’t know what’s gonna come out of somebody’s mouth, so your reactions couldn’t be more honest. You can’t rehearse these things.

CG: These aren’t rehearsed, in fact, I explain to people that when we shoot, the people understand their backstories, we know what happens in every scene, but there is no rehearsal. But I would say, to your question, that this is not something just everyone can do, this is not just — any actor can waltz into a movie and do this. So the people in these films are really the best at this kind of work, it is fairly limited.

Q: In FYC, of the many targets that you take on, this (junket) process is one of them. How do you feel about this process?

CG: Well, that’s come up. Obviously in the movie we don’t literally do junkets per se, but we do different interviews in the movie. As with anything, the people — you would notice that — but of course we’re talking about actors and managers and directors and producers and every possible person, talk show host…but this process, after the fact, is a very surreal one — especially since we just did this in the movie. But I worked for two years on this film, and you talk about it five hundred times. And I have had people —- it’s obviously more fun to have people in a comedy movie asking stupid questions; if they’re asking intelligent questions, there’s not fun in the thing. Or Eugene playing a smart agent, there’s no fun. Or, you know, a good director.

So I have been in situations where you sit down, and you’ve worked hard on a movie, and the person will say, “What’s your favorite color?” And you think, you have to be kidding. There must be something else, just think of something else. And just a few months ago, one of the first interviews on this, it was a phoner, and someone said, “What was it like working on the movie?” “Oh, it was fun…” “Do you have any pets?” And I was really taken aback. “Well I do…” They had run out, they’d just run out, after one question, they’d run out of ideas. No one would believe this if you showed this in the movie, they’d think this is too, too stupid.

Q: So who are your favorite Brady Bunch characters?

CG: Yeah. I never saw The Brady Bunch, I’ve never seen a Brady Bunch — that was Fred’s improvisational line, but I’ve actually literally never seen one.

Q: Both of you are talented at creating unique characters. How do you come up with them?

EL: Well, I don’t know how Chris does it —

CG: I don’t know he does it…

EL: It’s not something that you’re thinking about for a long, long time. Even when we’re — and I have the advantage of co–scripting these things — you kind of know the character you’re writing but you don’t know what he’s necessarily going to look like, or sound like, or who the character is. For me, it’s honestly getting into makeup and wardrobe, particularly makeup, which has been a history with me going back to SCTV, a lot of times it’s not till you get into makeup and look in the mirror that the character just happens, and the voice happens, and it all becomes…but that’s really the way it works for me.

CG: Well, different actors work in different ways, some people it can be people that they’ve seen over the past 20 years, one person’s voice, one person’s shoes, one person’s clothes, it begins to meld into a character eventually. And then you get what you get.

EL: Everyone works differently. I’m not even sure how Catherine O’Hara comes up finally with her characters and looks or how long she thinks —

CG: That’s personal. That’s private!


Jane Lynch and Fred Willard as infotainment talking heads

Q: For you (CG) it seems based on Nigel, Corky st. Clair, and the director in For Your Consideration, hair plays a big part…

CG: Hair? I can talk about some hair! Well I think this is a major hair movie. If they do give a hair award, this might be a good…Hair is a good thing to work with, it says so much about a person, but I wouldn’t say that it was the predominant thing for my character in this case.

NJ: Well the first time that I saw him come out in the eraserhead hairdo, I was laughing…

CG: Well that’s good! But from my standpoint, looking at this I’d say…in fact, the shoes, I think were the very first thing! Months before we shot, I saw someone wearing those shoes, and I said, “What’s the story here?” And I made sure that we got a pair of those shoes. That was the first sort of physical thing. I knew that I wanted him to have a big belly, so we had these fat suits made. And then it’s gradual; then clothes, because fat people wear certain clothes…and the hair was a process. I would send Eugene these Polaroids, by email or whatever, of different things I was thinking about, and really it was quite radically different than what it ended up being. I think the first one was, it was hard to describe — it was quite short —

EL: All I know is that each Polaroid that you sent me with the advancement of your look kind of lowered the mental bar. It gave me an indication as to where I might be looking.

CG: I think in these movies, these comedies and comedians are different than looking at a conventional movie, in a conventional movie a movie star’s gonna want to look the best they can look, they’re a movie star, they don’t want to look like a schmuck. And in ours, you know, you want to take the IQ down, and you want to take the rest of the whole thing down because it’s more fun.

NJ: Getting back to the cast, and the specialness of the cast, you’ve kept the same group of people together now for quite some time. Were you just really lucky in the casting, how did you pick these people?

CG: Well, it really goes again back to Spinal Tap; Fred Willard is in Spinal Tap, and Harry, Michael, Rob Reiner and I wrote, did that movie, and you’re looking for people who can improvise, it begins with that. So again, it’s not just a wide range of actors as when you’re casting a regular movie you look and you can say there could be a thousand actors who can play a certain part. This suddenly gets limited to a very small group of people. Eugene and Catherine from SCTV, doing great work there —

EL: — at Second City, and Fred from Second City —

CG: — and Fred Willard, Don Lake is from Second City, Mike Hitchcock is from a group called the Groundlings — these people have backgrounds in this, they can do this kind of work. We’re lucky to keep them together.

EL: And as these things kind of expanded, people would be brought in — Jennifer Coolidge, who I did not know was from the Groundlings, all I know is I did American Pie with her and she was so…she just had such a great look, and I wasn’t familiar with her work but she just hit me in such a big way.

CG: I saw her in her show at the Groundlings, a live show, and she was spectacular.

EL: Parker Posey did not come out of improvisation, but there’s an honesty in her performance that obviously I think Chris saw when he was interviewing her the very first time that proved to him that she could probably do it. His instructions were, you don’t have to be funny, don’t try to be funny, just try and do the character work, be the character. But it’s an interesting aspect with this cast, because the balance of funny, and kind of real, and empathy is a really weird blend in these movies and it’s a very select group of people that are able to do this, improvise through character.


Director Guest on the set of “For Your Consideration”

Q: When it comes down to it, is all comedy about failure?

CG: Well, it’s about versions of failure; as I was saying before, you don’t make comedies about people who do things well. Going back to silent films with Laurel and Hardy, they’re totally incompetent, each one thinks the other one’s stupid, they’re breaking things, they’re falling down, things are falling on them. There is no movie if they just move a piano and its just they move it and they deliver it and they leave. Something has to happen. So ultimately, I think that’s true, and in this case we want to go a step farther and in this film Catherine O’Hara — Catherine is one of not many actresses that can pull off both sides of this, where she’s incredibly funny but can also shift into an emotional area that surprises people and it’s just amazing, that transition. So I think there’s some poignancy at the end, which is very important.

Q: Tragedy is also about failure…

CG: Yeah, but it’s not funny!

So we’ve worked in comedy, and to be able to touch on both areas is more interesting to us than just a series of jokes and then you go home.

Q: How do you approach your editing process?

CG: Well, most films will cut while they’re shooting, so you have an editor assembling scenes; nothing happens until I finish shooting and I sit down with Robert Leighton, the editor, and we work for, we look at the material. I haven’t even seen the material. Most people watch dailies, and they only have 20 minutes of dailies to watch; there are two hours every night so I can’t even watch it, because I need to go to sleep. But I sit with him and watch for 6 weeks, and then we spend the next ten months editing. It has to adhere to the story, we’re not creating something that’s completely different, it is the movie. It’s a very different process.

Q: Do you just work on one thing at a time?

CG: Oh, no. I think most people do, most people — certainly film directors — have multiple things in development, ’cause things fall out and change. I can’t personally do that, I have one thing that I do, period. Other actors are working in different things until we do this, but I have one thing, there’s not a drawer filled with A, B, C. And I finish it, and typically people say, “What’s next?” And I say, “Nothing.” And then they look at you like, “Well, what do you mean?” and I say, I need to take time to think what the next one is, which could be a year, and has been in the past.

Q: What is your shooting schedule like?

CG: 27 days. Which is so much less than a regular movie…obviously the schedule for a typical film can be 80 days, whatever…this is, they’ve all been, roughly within a few days of each other. But I edit for almost a year. So it’s almost the complete inverse; most people, they’ll be an assembly of a movie within a week after shooting a regular movie, and the director can look at it and they start their process which is much less time til the movie comes out.

Q: The film within a film evokes the 30s and 40s melodrama. Why did you choose to set that against the very modern Hollywood foibles?

CG: Well, we picked these two writers — Michael McKeon and Bob Balaban play these two writers who are these kind of hack writers that write these bad plays and teach at a community college. We just thought it was a funny idea that they would, the pretension of them saying, well it would clearly be to them more important to them if it was period, because that has some class involved. Costumes, so that makes it better. We have Jews in the South, that’s kind of arcane. And we have a gay couple, so they cram everything into it, basically. There was something funny to us about that idea, of really overloading this, it’s very melodramatic, and yet they can’t write.

EL: They teach at Staten Island.

CG: They teach on Staten Island, which if you’re not from New York, it’s one of the boroughs.

EL: And their big claim is that they’ve written 38 plays, one more than William Shakespeare.

CG: That’s in their backstory. And we write all the names of the plays they’ve written, so they knew all the plays they’ve written, they knew the whole…

Q: Considering the depiction of the Love It/Hate It critics in the movie, what do you really think of movie critics? And do you read reviews of your own movies?

CG: I don’t read reviews, I don’t watch anything about show business, I don’t read any showbiz periodicals, I don’t read any calendar sections about anything, I don’t watch any showbiz shows. So that really was taken from, someone made a tape for me of a bunch of, a montage, of some other…things…and it’s not based on anything that exists. And I love the name of the show — cause that could be a show, very simple, Love it/hate it — but I don’t personally read those things.

NJ: In that culture of shows which you don’t watch — the snipey, who’s looking good on the red carpet kind of thing — the elephant in the room that nobody talks about is…plastic surgery in Hollywood, and you obviously take that on…

CG: That’s right. Yes.

[pause]

NJ: Are you worried about a backlash, or…?

CG: Meaning what, what would happen? Death? What would happen?

EL: Some plastic surgeon is not gonna want to work on you…

Q: Are you guys smelling Oscar for this?

CG: Well there’s a good question.

NJ: Peter Travers of Rolling Stone mentioned Catherine [O’Hara] for an Oscar, and it’s kind of funny that it’s this little Oscar buzz movie with at least one prominent critic mentioning it.

EL: Well, that’s kind of what it is, that’s what it’s about. Somebody mentions a thing, and now you’re mentioning it, and it just perpetuates the —

CG: Until you said that, I wouldn’t have known that because I don’t read that, so it’s even weirder that we’ve made a movie about that but I don’t know…seriously, it’s weird, because I don’t go on the internet and start looking at things, I’m living in this strangely insulated…

EL: And somebody else mentioned as well, that there was an internet, uh…

CG: …and someone mentioned that you mentioned, actually, which is weird.

"For Your Consideration" director Christopher Guest told RT he doesn’t read reviews, trade publications, or infotainment television. But he does make some darn funny movies with some of the most talented improv players around. Read on for snippets from the interview with Guest and co-scripter Eugene Levy.

On their one-day press stop in San Francisco a few weeks back, "For Your Consideration" co-writers Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy (both of whom also star) sat with a group of journalists to talk up the new ensemble pic, the latest in a successful run of quasi-improvised comedies ("Waiting For Guffman," "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind").


Christopher Moynihan, Harry Shearer, Catherine O’Hara and Parker Posey on the set of the film-within-a-film, "Home for Purim"

Rotten Tomatoes was on hand with an assembly of fellow internet and newspaper writers, including among them a few overzealous fans of Guest and Levy’s filmography. Levy, popularly known as the dad from "American Pie," and Guest, infamously more straight-faced in person than any of his onscreen personas (a little more Harlan Pepper than Corky St. Clair), answered questions about their unusual filmmaking process, their talented cast of regulars, and their latest provocation of plastic surgery abuse in Hollywood. And of course, how about those Oscar prospects?


The Roundtable Begins

Q: What makes the creative form of scenario and improv so appealing?

Christopher Guest: Well, I think beginning with a film I worked on called "This is Spinal Tap" —

[Applause breaks in from nerd at table; CG surprised.]

Nerdly Journalist: Oh seriously, come on! Journalistic integrity is going out the window today.

CG: [Deadpan] Wow.

NJ: I was hoping Nigel was gonna be here, but that’s just me…

CG (continues): We really had a lot of fun doing that movie and it occurred to us that that particular format was something where we could…be funny, and when I did Waiting for Guffman, it occurred to me that maybe we could try that again. So we did three in that format; this one is a departure because it’s a narrative and it’s not done as documentary, but there’s something about improvisation — the spontaneity of it — which sparks the actors that we work with here, and there’s a different feel, the comedy is different. It’s fun.


Christopher Guest behind the scenes on the set of "FYC"

On Working the Press

Q: In FYC, of the many targets that you take on, this (junket) process is one of them. How do you feel about this process?

CG: Well, that’s come up. Obviously in the movie we don’t literally do junkets per se, but we do different interviews in the movie. As with anything, the people — you would notice that — but of course we’re talking about actors and managers and directors and producers and every possible person, talk show host…but this process, after the fact, is a very surreal one — especially since we just did this in the movie.

But I worked for two years on this film, and you talk about it five hundred times. And I have had people —- it’s obviously more fun to have people in a comedy movie asking stupid questions; if they’re asking intelligent questions, there’s not fun in the thing. Or Eugene playing a smart agent, there’s no fun. Or, you know, a good director.

So I have been in situations where you sit down, and you’ve worked hard on a movie, and the person will say, "What’s your favorite color?" And you think, you have to be kidding. There must be something else, just think of something else. And just a few months ago, one of the first interviews on this, it was a phoner, and someone said, "What was it like working on the movie?" "Oh, it was fun…" "Do you have any pets?" And I was really taken aback. "Well I do…" They had run out, they’d just run out, after one question, they’d run out of ideas. No one would believe this if you showed this in the movie, they’d think this is too, too stupid.

On Comedy

Q: When it comes down to it, is all comedy about failure?

CG: Well, it’s about versions of failure; as I was saying before, you don’t make comedies about people who do things well. Going back to silent films with Laurel and Hardy, they’re totally incompetent, each one thinks the other one’s stupid, they’re breaking things, they’re falling down, things are falling on them. There is no movie if they just move a piano and its just they move it and they deliver it and they leave. Something has to happen. So ultimately, I think that’s true, and in this case we want to go a step farther and in this film Catherine O’Hara — Catherine is one of not many actresses that can pull off both sides of this, where she’s incredibly funny but can also shift into an emotional area that surprises people and it’s just amazing, that transition. So I think there’s some poignancy at the end, which is very important.

Q: Tragedy is also about failure…

CG: Yeah, but it’s not funny!

So we’ve worked in comedy, and to be able to touch on both areas is more interesting to us than just a series of jokes and then you go home.


Actor Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer) and his agent, Morley Orfkin (Levy)

Guest, On His Filmmaking Style

Q: Do you just work on one thing at a time?

CG: Oh, no. I think most people do, most people — certainly film directors — have multiple things in development, ’cause things fall out and change. I can’t personally do that, I have one thing that I do, period. Other actors are working in different things until we do this, but I have one thing, there’s not a drawer filled with A, B, C. And I finish it, and typically people say, "What’s next?" And I say, "Nothing." And then they look at you like, "Well, what do you mean?" and I say, I need to take time to think what the next one is, which could be a year, and has been in the past.

Q: What is your shooting schedule like?

CG: 27 days. Which is so much less than a regular movie…obviously the schedule for a typical film can be 80 days, whatever…this is, they’ve all been, roughly within a few days of each other. But I edit for almost a year. So it’s almost the complete inverse; most people, they’ll be an assembly of a movie within a week after shooting a regular movie, and the director can look at it and they start their process which is much less time til the movie comes out.


Jane Lynch and Fred Willard skewer entertainment television as talking heads Cindy and Chuck

On Movie Critics and Hollywood

Q: Considering the depiction of the Love It/Hate It critics in the movie, what do you really think of movie critics? And do you read reviews of your own movies?

CG: I don’t read reviews, I don’t watch anything about show business, I don’t read any showbiz periodicals, I don’t read any calendar sections about anything, I don’t watch any showbiz shows. So that really was taken from, someone made a tape for me of a bunch of, a montage, of some other…things…and it’s not based on anything that exists. And I love the name of the show — cause that could be a show, very simple, Love it/hate it — but I don’t personally read those things.

NJ: In that culture of shows which you don’t watch — the snipey, who’s looking good on the red carpet kind of thing — the elephant in the room that nobody talks about is…plastic surgery in Hollywood, and you obviously take that on…

CG: That’s right. Yes.

[pause]

NJ: Are you worried about a backlash, or…?

CG: Meaning what, what would happen? Death? What would happen?

Eugene Levy: Some plastic surgeon is not gonna want to work on you…


On Oscar Nominations

Q: Are you guys smelling Oscar for this?

CG: Well there’s a good question.

NJ: Peter Travers of Rolling Stone mentioned Catherine [O’Hara] for an Oscar, and it’s kind of funny that it’s this little Oscar buzz movie with at least one prominent critic mentioning it.

EL: Well, that’s kind of what it is, that’s what it’s about. Somebody mentions a thing, and now you’re mentioning it, and it just perpetuates the–

CG: Until you said that, I wouldn’t have known that because I don’t read that, so it’s even weirder that we’ve made a movie about that but I don’t know…seriously, it’s weird, because I don’t go on the internet and start looking at things, I’m living in this strangely insulated…

EL: And somebody else mentioned as well, that there was an internet, uh…

CG: …and someone mentioned that you mentioned, actually, which is weird.

Click here to read the full interview.

Happy Turkey Day! A crowded marketplace gets even more packed as six new films open or expand nationally over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

New films bowing on Wednesday include the action pic Deja Vu, the Christmas comedy Deck the Halls, the rock music comedy Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, and the sci-fi romance The Fountain.

Expanding nationwide are the political drama Bobby and the ensemble comedy For Your Consideration. Despite all the new releases, last weekend’s two big openers – the animated penguin flick Happy Feet and the James Bond adventure Casino Royale – will try to hold onto their positions atop the charts. With something for everyone, the overall holiday box office should be robust.

Nearly a dozen years after teaming up for the hit submarine thriller Crimson Tide, Denzel Washington, director Tony Scott, and superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer join forces once again for Deja Vu. The PG-13 pic finds the Oscar-winning actor playing an ATF agent investigating the bombing of a New Orleans ferry which kills over 500 innocent people. To make this stand out from other scripts, a sci-fi element is added that gives investigators the possibility of preventing the tragedy from ever happening in the first place. Bruckheimer and Scott know how to please action-seeking movie fans. From Top Gun, to Tide, to Enemy of the State, the duo has scored many blockbusters over the past two decades.

Denzel is a bankable star, especially in a law enforcement role in an action film. His recent openings for gritty action pics include $29M for this year’s Inside Man, $22.8M for 2004’s Man on Fire, and $22.6M for 2001’s Training Day. Deja Vu should play to most of the same fans, however its biggest challenge will come from competing action film Casino Royale which is still new and getting positive marks. A holiday frame as big as Thanksgiving will usually expand to handle both choices so there may be room to breathe, but there will certainly be some adults interested in both who only get time to see one. Buena Vista’s marketing push has been solid and reviews are even favorable. Debuting in 3,108 theaters, Deja Vu might open to around $23M over three days and about $34M over the long Wednesday-to-Sunday period.

Fox offers up a new Christmas comedy for family audiences with Deck the Halls starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick. The PG-rated pic finds two dads with two different styles of holiday cheer going to battle over Christmas light decorations. The studio is hoping to pick up business from family audiences that are in a holiday mood and have already seen Tim Allen‘s The Santa Clause 3. But Happy Feet, which opened only five days before Deck, will be a major competitor since it is a more high profile kidpic with a louder marketing campaign. Deck looks to play to the same audience as last Thanksgiving’s Yours, Mine and Ours which debuted to $17.5M with $24.3M over five days. Deck has the starpower to grab some attention, but will have more direct competition. Landing in 3,023 sites, Deck the Halls might collect around $14M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and roughly $19M over five days.

Funnyman Jack Black goes into vanity-project mode with the new comedy Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny which teams him with his musical partner Kyle Gass. The New Line release will appeal mostly to young males but with its R rating, many younger fans will have trouble buying a ticket. The rating should serve as a major strike against its commercial potential. Female appeal also does not seem too high so Destiny will play to a very specific audience. Expanding beyond Tenacious D fans will be difficult. Black’s last starring role was in the summer wrestling comedy Nacho Libre which opened to $28.3M thanks in part to its PG rating which let all the 12-year-olds in.

Films like Let’s Go To Prison and Harsh Times learned in recent weeks that R-rated films aimed at young men can struggle at the box office. Both of those bowed to about $2M each. Pick has more starpower which should help its cause plus the busy turkey frame when college guys are all out of class. Those not busy playing their PlayStation 3, might rock out with JB and KG. Opening in 1,919 locations, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny may debut with about $8M and $13M over five days.

The good thing about having an endless line of stars like in the political drama Bobby is that the studio can have a different actor plug the film on every major talk show simultaneously. That’s what MGM is finding out this week with the Emilio Estevez picture which expands nationally on Thursday from two exclusive engagements to 1,667 sites from sea to shining sea. Last weekend, the R-rated story behind the day that Robert Kennedy was assassinated averaged a potent $34,519 per theater from its solo houses in New York and Los Angeles. But how will it play across all 50 states? Certainly Bobby will appeal to an older crowd that remembers the 1960s and to a smart upscale audience not looking for Bond or Denzel to save the day. Reviews have generally been good, but critics have not been overwhelming in their praise. As a national candidate, Bobby could collect about $7M over three days and about $10M over five days.

Movie fans in search of the fountain of youth get to try out The Fountain, a time-travel adventure from writer/director Darren Aronofsky (pi). Hugh Jackman stars as a man determined to save the woman he loves, played by Rachel Weisz, and will cross a thousand years of time in order to do so. If marketing support is any indicator, this PG-13 entry is a low priority for Warner Bros. Awareness is not very high and its target audience of adults has many other options to choose from. Critics have not been too supportive either. Debuting in 1,472 theaters, The Fountain could open with around $4M and a five-day tally of $6M.

Also expanding nationally after a strong start in limited play is the film industry comedy For Your Consideration which widens from 23 to 623 locations on Wednesday. The Warner Independent release enters a very crowded marketplace and will find it tough to bring in ticket buyers outside of the Christopher Guest fan club. Last weekend, the PG-13 film posted a stellar $16,174 average, but even acclaimed films like Babel have found out that gunning for smart adult audiences is one hard task. Look for a weekend gross of about $3M.

Last weekend’s two chart-toppers will try to fend off competition from the new releases to hang on to their gold and silver medals. Warner Bros. may sit at the head of the dinner table once again with its animated penguin hit Happy Feet which narrowly won the weekend race last frame. Kid movies always do well over Thanksgiving and this should be no exception. Holdover films have ruled the holiday all decade long with 1999’s Toy Story 2 being the last new release to open at number one over this particular holiday weekend.

With so many films opening or expanding over the turkey frame, direct competition for Feet will only come from Deck the Halls and The Santa Clause 3 which should see its weekend gross rise as most Christmas-themed films do over Thanksgiving. A 25% drop for Happy Feet would give the toon about $31M over three days and a ten-day cume of $91M.

The James Bond actioner Casino Royale might slip a little more in its sophomore frame. In 2002, Die Another Day dropped 34% against no new competition in its second session which was also the turkey holiday. Casino will face a serious direct threat from Deja Vu, however it seems to be pleasing audiences more than Die did. That could lead to a similar 35% decline to around $26M giving the new Daniel Craig adventure $88M in ten days.

Fox looks to crack the $100M mark with Borat this weekend. The raunchy comedy is phasing out at the box office, but non-frequent moviegoers may take a trip this weekend to catch up on one of the most-talked-about films of the year. A 35% drop to around $9.5M could occur giving Borat a hefty $107M in 24 days.

LAST YEAR: Wizard power ruled the turkey frame as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire remained at number one with $54.7M over three days falling 47% from its debut. That gave Warner Bros. a staggering $201M in only ten days. Fox’s Johnny Cash film Walk the Line held steady in second place with $19.2M but slipped only 14% from its opening. Paramount opened its holiday family comedy Yours, Mine, and Ours in third place with $17.5M in three days and $24.3M over the long five-day holiday period. It reached $53.4M overall. Disney’s Chicken Little placed fourth with $12.6M, down 15% in its fourth frame. Sony’s musical Rent rounded out the top five bowing to $10M and $17.1M over five days. A final gross of $29.1M resulted. Other new releases over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend posted more modest numbers. New Line’s comedy Just Friends opened to $9.2M on its way to $32.6M. Lionsgate launched the drama In The Mix to $4.4M leading to a $10.2M end. And the caper pic The Ice Harvest debuted to $3.7M on its way to only $9M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got holiday mischief ("Deck the Halls," starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito), a phenomenon known as déjà vu ("Déjà Vu," starring Denzel Washington), a spiritual journey through time ("The Fountain," starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz), and a mystical guitar pick ("Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny," starring Jack Black and Kyle Gass). What do the critics have to say?

The holiday season is nearly upon us, which means another poorly-reviewed seasonal comedy is hitting theaters. In "Deck the Halls," Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito star as next-door neighbors competing to hang the shiniest star upon the highest bough — or at least out-decorate each other. Practical jokes and one-upmanship ensue. The critics have made a list of the film’s problems and checked it twice, and they say it’s too juvenile to pull off the combination of slapstick and family togetherness it’s attempting. At 13 percent on the Tomatometer, "Deck the Halls" has coal in its stocking.


"Ok, the first one to cause rolling blackouts wins."

Denzel Washington rejoins director Tony Scott in "Déjà Vu" as an ATF agent who goes back in time to stop the murder of a woman he subsequently falls in love with. And while the movie’s high-concept angle is riling some critics, others are falling in love with Tony Scott’s unique visual twist on time travel. So either it’s an original take on a familiar concept or it’s about as believable as Keira Knightley the bounty hunter… At 59 percent, the pundits seem to favor the latter.


"So how do you say ‘deja vu’ in Aramaic?"

Beautiful and transcendent or muddled and pretentious? Darren Aronofsky‘s "The Fountain" is dividing the critics right down the middle. This philosophical, time-jumping sci-fi tale stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as a couple in Conquistador-era Spain, the present, and in a space-age future who are obsessed with death and rebirth. "The Fountain" overflows with ideas and images, and while some critics praise the film’s striking visual flair and Aronofsky’s audacity, others say it’s ultimately too incoherent to pull off the "2001"-esque meditation it strives for. "The Fountain" currently stands at 39 percent on the Tomatometer.


Mosh pits have not evolved much in 500 years.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass set out to unleash the Greatest Movie in the World when "Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny" hits theaters this week, but the critics have had a tough time figuring out if they’ve actually done it. The facts are smudged in this would-be biopic telling the story of the formation of The D and their quest to find a magical guitar pick that’ll transform them into rock gods. When the reviews are good The D look set to rock the world, but when they’re bad the word ‘cerebral’ pops up only in reference to what this movie is not. "Pick" currently stands at 48 percent on the Tomatometer.


"Eins, zwei, drei, Hasselhoff!"

"Bobby" and "For Your Consideration" opened in limited release last week, and now both are going wide. Emilio Estevez‘s "Bobby," an Altman-esque tale of the night of Robert Kennedy’s assassination starring half the population of California, is at 51 percent on the Tomatometer, and the Hollywood-skewering "For Your Consideration," Christopher Guest‘s latest ensemble comedy, is at 52 percent. Also opening this week in limited release are "Opal Dream," a coming-of-age tale about a little girl with imaginary friends in the outback, is at 80 percent, and "The History Boys," a tale of hypercompetitive English schoolboys adapted from Alan Bennett, is at 61 percent.


"The History Boys": the UK’s least intimidating street gang.

Finally, while it may be a bit early to call dreday as consistent a hitmaker as is Dr. Dre himself, it is worth noting that he came the closest to guessing the Tomatometer for "Let’s Go to Prison" (8 percent), making it his second consecutive Guess victory in a row. Watch out for player haters, dreday.

Thanks to Joe Utichi for his help on this article.

Recent Denzel Washington Movies:
——————————————-
88% — Inside Man (2006)
81% — The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
39% — Man on Fire (2004)
66% — Out of Time (2003)
79% — Antwone Fisher (2002)

Recent Jack Black Movies:
———————————
37% — Nacho Libre (2006)
84% — King Kong (2005)
35% — Shark Tale (2004)
6% — Envy (2004)
90% — School of Rock (2003)

In what was a very close race for box office supremacy, the dancing penguin cartoon Happy Feet narrowly edged out a strong debut for the new James Bond actioner Casino Royale for the number one spot in North America this weekend.

Final numbers will be released on Monday after all Sunday ticket sales are counted up, but the animated adventure is still expected to lead by a slim margin. If estimates hold, the frame will mark only the second time in box office history that two films have opened with over $40M each on the same weekend. The potent pair also helped to push the top ten to its highest level in four months.

The mighty penguins of Happy Feet flexed their muscles and took over the number one spot this weekend opening to an estimated $42.3M. Warner Bros. launched the computer-animated film in an ultrawide 3,804 locations and averaged a stellar $11,125 per theater. The PG-rated pic finds a young penguin named Mumble trying to find his place in the world and features the voices of Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman. The studio is estimating a optimistically slim Saturday-to-Sunday decline of only 14%.

Happy Feet was backed by a massive marketing campaign and beat out the openings of other recent computer-animated kids movies like DreamWorks’ Over the Hedge ($38.5M), Disney’s Chicken Little ($40M), and Fox’s Robots ($36M). However, it did not reach the Pixar territory of Cars ($60.1M) and The Incredibles ($70.5M). But with competing kids movies The Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away still in the top five, Happy Feet performed as well as expected given the choices that the target audience has. With the Thanksgiving school holidays approaching, the $100M penguin pic should enjoy a robust sophomore frame.

After a four-year hiatus, Sony and MGM restarted the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale and generated an impressive $40.6M over the weekend, according to estimates, settling in for a close second place finish. The Daniel Craig starrer generated the best per-theater average among all wide releases with a potent $11,823 from 3,434 sites. It was the second biggest opening ever for the franchise trailing the $47.1M bow of the last installment, 2002’s Die Another Day. Casino was never expected to reach the heights of Die since it had a new and mostly unknown star in the lead and no famous co-star like Halle Berry to add more ammunition. Casino did attract rave reviews from critics which helped to sell the idea of a non-Pierce Brosnan Bond film to an American audience that was unfamiliar with Craig.

Brosnan’s first Bond film Goldeneye, which opened on the same weekend in 1995 and was also directed by Martin Campbell, bowed to $26.2M from 2,667 theaters for a $9,826 average. At today’s ticket prices, that would translate to an opening weekend average of roughly $13,000. Brosnan’s future Agent 007 flicks would each post larger openings so Craig, who is contracted for at least two more films, could follow suit and see even bigger grosses in the years ahead as audiences become more comfortable with him. The next adventure is already slated for a November 7, 2008 launch.

Sony’s research showed that Casino Royale’s audience was 55% male and 57% 25 and older. Around the world, Bond dominated the box office with even greater results opening at number one in 27 markets with an estimated $42.2M overseas. The U.K. led the field with a spectacular $25.6M bow.

Following its two-week reign over the U. S. and A., Borat dropped to third place collecting an estimated $14.4M in its third weekend of release. Down 49% from last weekend, the Fox comedy has lifted its cume to a stellar $90.5M in 17 days and could cross the century mark by Thanksgiving Day. Budgeted at only $18M (plus the cost of litigating its many current lawsuits), Borat looks to finish in the neighborhood of $125M domestically.

The two new films topping the charts helped to give most holdover films some hefty declines. Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 dropped 52% to an estimated $8.2M in its third weekend for a cume to date of $51.6M. After two weeks in third place, the animated pic Flushed Away got hit hard by the dancing penguins and dropped to fifth with an estimated $6.8M. Down a steep 59%, the Paramount/DreamWorks venture raised its sum to $48.8M.

The Will Ferrell comedy Stranger Than Fiction had a tough sophomore frame grossing an estimated $6.6M, off 51%, to give Sony a ten-day total of $22.9M. Budgeted at under $30M, the Marc Forster-directed pic should find its way to $35-40M. The cross-continent drama Babel fell 48% in its second weekend of wide release and captured an estimated $2.9M putting the total at $12M for Paramount Vantage. After scorching results in limited release, the Brad PittCate Blanchett film is having a hard time competing on a nationwide scale.

The horror sequel Saw III followed with an estimated $2.8M, tumbling 60%, putting Lionsgate’s cume at $74.9M. Warner Bros. grossed an estimated $2.6M for The Departed which declined by 50% in its seventh mission giving Martin Scorsese‘s top-grossing film $113.9M to date.

Creeping into tenth place was the experimental film festival called After Dark’s Horror Fest – 8 Films to Die For with an estimated weekend gross of $2.5M. The distributor offered eight different low-budget fright flicks throughout the weekend in 488 locations averaging a solid $5,086. With so many titles, many fans were encouraged to buy more than one ticket throughout the frame. Freestyle Releasing handled distribution.

Debuting poorly outside of the top ten was the jailhouse comedy Let’s Go To Prison which locked up an estimated $2.1M in ticket sales from 1,495 locations for a dismal $1,410 average. According to its distributor Universal, the R-rated revenge comedy played mostly to young men with studio research showing that 67% of the audience was under the age of 25 and 59% was male.

Three high profile films premiered in limited release with varying results. MGM platformed The Weinstein Co. political drama Bobby in only two theaters and grossed an estimated $67,000 for a potent $33,500 average. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, the star-studded film about the day Robert Kennedy was assassinated boasts a cast featuring Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Demi Moore, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Ashton Kutcher, and Martin Sheen. The R-rated film expands nationwide on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

Also opening to strong results was Warner Independent’s film industry comedy For Your Consideration which debuted in 23 theaters with an estimated $394,000 for a solid $17,130 average. The Christopher Guest-directed film launched in a dozen cities and will widen to over 600 runs nationwide on Wednesday. The filmmaker’s last picture A Mighty Wind had wider distribution and opened to $2.1M from 133 theaters for a $15,881 average in April of 2003 on its way to a $17.8M overall take.

Arthouse moviegoers did not have an appetite for Fox Searchlight’s junk food industry pic Fast Food Nation which debuted in 321 theaters with an estimated $390,000 for a poor $1,215 average. Starring Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette, the R-rated film attracted mixed reviews from critics.

Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The magician pic The Prestige took in an estimated $2M in its fifth frame, down 58%, boosting the cume to $49.4M. Look for a final tally of around $54M for the Buena Vista hit.

A pair of star-driven flops that opened last week crumbled in their sophomore frames losing more than half of their audience. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s suspense thriller The Return grossed an estimated $1.7M, down 62%, for a measly total of $6.9M after ten days. Russell Crowe‘s stab at a romantic comedy, Fox’s A Good Year, fell 56% to an estimated $1.6M putting its total at $6.4M. An embarrassing final total of about $9M should result for each pic.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $129.7M which was down a hefty 23% from last year when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opened at number one with a jaw-dropping $102.3M; and down 7% from 2004 when National Treasure debuted in the top spot with $35.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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