In the battle of the single-word-titled thrillers, "Fracture" beat out "Vacancy" but neither could dislodge "Disturbia" from the number one spot this weeend. It was mostly a sluggish frame at the North American box office as the top ten slumped to its third worst level of 2007.

The courtroom thriller "Fracture" and the action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" both opened to respectable results while the horror pic "Vacancy" and the drama "In the Land of Women" generated little excitement.

Shia LaBeouf enjoyed his first back-to-back stint in the top spot with the suspense hit "Disturbia" which held up well in its sophomore frame grossing an estimated $13.5M. Off only 39%, the Paramount release of a DreamWorks production averaged a solid $4,464 from 3,015 sites. Teen-oriented thrillers typically fall by more than 50% on the second session. Produced for a mere $23M, "Disturbia" has grossed an impressive $40.7M in its first ten days and could be headed for a $65-70M finish.

Leading the weekend’s crop of new movies was the murder thriller "Fracture" as ticket buyers spent an estimated $11.2M watching Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling go at it. The R-rated film from New Line averaged a solid $4,574 per theater from 2,443 sites. Reviews were mostly good which helped since the film skewed to a mature adult audience.

Will Ferrell scored the third $100M blockbuster of his career, and second in nine months, with "Blades of Glory" which ranked third in its fourth weekend with an estimated $7.8M. Down 44%, the Paramount title is still the widest release in the marketplace with 3,459 locations and the cume has hit $101.1M. The comedy star’s other trips to the century club in a lead role were with 2003’s "Elf" ($173.4M) and last summer’s "Talladega Nights" ($148M).

Opening weaker than expected in the fourth slot was the horror entry "Vacancy" with only $7.6M, according to estimates. The R-rated pic about a couple stranded in a motel where videotaped killings take place averaged a mild $2,979 from 2,551 playdates. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star in the Sony release. Fright fatigue may have hurt "Vacancy"’s opening as the $19M-budgeted film was the fourth scary flick this month to be aimed at moviegoers. Young adults made up most of the audience as studio research showed that 66% of the crowd was under the age of 25 and 52% was female. "Disturbia"’s better-than-expected hold also made an impact.

Disney followed in fifth with the animated hit "Meet the Robinsons" which grossed an estimated $7.1M in its fourth frame, down 43%, for a total of $82.2M.

Shooting up the best average among all wide releases in the marketplace was the new British action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" which premiered to an estimated $5.8M from 825 theaters for a potent $7,075 per venue. The R-rated buddy cop flick from the creative team behind 2004’s cult hit "Shaun of the Dead" earned glowing reviews and tapped into a built-in audience of fans. "Fuzz" outgunned "Shaun" in all ways beating the latter’s September 2004 bow which delivered $3.3M from 607 theaters for a $5,487 average. Produced for $16M, "Hot Fuzz" has already grossed an impressive $48.5M overseas including $41M from the United Kingdom.

The Ice Cube comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" dropped two spots to seventh with an estimated $5.2M in its third weekend. Sony’s family pic fell 42% and raised its sum to $39.6M.

Close behind in eighth was the new chick flick "In the Land of Women" which opened poorly with an estimated $4.9M from 2,155 theaters. Averaging a weak $2,281 per location, the PG-13 film stars Adam Brody as a young man who meets a houseful of women when caring for his sick grandmother. "Women" was the fifth wide opener of the past two weeks to fail to reach a $3,000 average in its debut frame.

Rounding out the top ten were two films that that have been showing how differently starpower can affect the box office. The Halle BerryBruce Willis thriller "Perfect Stranger" collapsed in its second weekend and tumbled 63% to an estimated $4.1M. With only $18.1M locked up in ten days, Sony should find its way to roughly $25M followed by a quick trip to DVD. On the other hand, Buena Vista’s blockbuster comedy "Wild Hogs" starring Tim Allen and John Travolta remained in the top ten for the eighth consecutive weekend with an estimated $2.9M, off 39%, boosting the cume to $156.2M. It is the highest-grossing non-Spartan film of the year.

Four films fell out of the top ten this weekend. The year’s biggest smash "300" dropped 49% to an estimated $2.3M in its seventh adventure and lifted its staggering domestic total to $204.7M. Budgeted at only $60M, the stylish war epic should end its North American run with an amazing $207-210M. That would amount to nearly three times its opening weekend gross which is rare these days for effects-driven action films that debut with monster bows. "300"’s legs have been strong overseas too where it has tallied $216.8M for a mammoth global gross of $421M and counting.

Other R-rated films suffered horrendous drops as they tumbled out of the top ten. Losing two-thirds of its audience was Fox’s adventure "Pathfinder" which grossed an estimated $1.7M in its second weekend. The Viking pic has collected a puny $8M in ten days and looks headed for a wimpy $10M finish. Maybe casting some Spartans would have helped.

Hilary Swank’s horrorfest "The Reaping" grossed an estimated $1.6M, down 65%, boosting the mild cume to $22.7M. The $53M double feature "Grindhouse" crashed 68% in its third try and took in an estimated $1.4M putting its 17-day take at $22.7M as well. Both films should end up in the $25M vicinity.

Miramax expanded its Richard Gere drama "The Hoax" from 413 to 1,069 theaters but saw weekend sales slip 11% to an estimated $1.3M. The average was diluted down to a poor $1,216 as the cume inched up to only $5.1M.

In limited release, Paramount Vantage widened its Molly Shannon pic "Year of the Dog" from seven to 33 sites and grossed an estimated $139,000 for a $4,200 average. Cume sits at $280,000 with more cities being added this Friday. Fox Searchlight’s "The Namesake" collected an estimated $765,000 from 327 locations in its seventh weekend averaging $2,339 for a cume of $9.8M to date.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $70.1M which was down an unsettling 26% from last year when "Silent Hill" opened at number one with $20.2M; and off 10% from 2005 when "The Interpreter" debuted on top with $22.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Paramount replaced itself at the top of the North American box office chart as its new teen thriller "Disturbia" opened ahead of expectations in first place bumping the studio’s two-week champ "Blades of Glory" into the runnerup spot.

The weekend’s other new suspense thriller "Perfect Stranger" starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis disappointed and landed in fourth place. Four other new films debuted in wide release but generated little interest from moviegoers. Overall, the marketplace suffered the usual late spring slowdown as for the first time since February, the top ten failed to sell $100M worth of tickets.

Rising star Shia LaBeouf scored a big victory over the weekend with the thriller "Disturbia" which shot straight to number one debuting with an estimated $23M. The PG-13 pic was given the widest release of the frame’s six new entries playing in 2,925 theaters and generated a strong $7,872 average. A modern day version of Alfred Hitchcock’s "Rear Window," Disturbia played to a young female audience as studio research showed that 57% of the crowd was female and 75% was under 35.

Just before the film’s opening day, the studio announced that LaBeouf had been cast opposite Harrison Ford in its next "Indiana Jones" film. The news may have helped to generate more excitement for Disturbia which was the only major choice for teenage girls this weekend. The safe rating and fairly good reviews may also have contributed. The $20M production looks to become a profitable vehicle.

After its two-week run at the top, Will Ferrell’s comedy hit "Blades of Glory" slipped to second place dropping a moderate 38% to an estimated $14.1M. The 17-day cume stands at a potent $90.2M. Like "Disturbia," "Blades" was produced by DreamWorks and distributed by its new parent Paramount.

Slipping only 28% was Disney’s animated comedy "Meet the Robinsons" with an estimated $12.1M which lifted the total to $72M. With no new films for young kids this weekend, "Robinsons" enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten.

Halle Berry and Bruce Willis failed to turn their starpower into box office bucks as their new suspense thriller "Perfect Stranger" debuted weaker than expected in fourth place with an estimated $11.5M. The critically-panned Sony release averaged a mediocre $4,322 from 2,661 theaters. With its R rating, "Perfect Stranger" played to an adult audience with a female skew. Studio research showed that women made up 54% of the audience and a very high 70% were 25 or older. The opening was weaker than the bows of other films headlined by Berry like "Catwoman" ($16.7M) and "Gothika" ($19.3M).

Ice Cube had a decent second weekend for his comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" which fell by 36% to an estimated $9.2M. That gave the Sony release a cume of $33M after 12 days. Its predecessor enjoyed a much slimmer 12% dip to $16.3M in its second weekend on its way to $82.3M. "Done" might find its way to the vicinity of $55M.

Fox’s Viking actioner "Pathfinder" limped into sixth place with a weak $4.8M opening, according to estimates. The R-rated film averaged a mild $2,791 from 1,720 locations.

The rest of the top ten was filled with four films separated by only $400,000. Buena Vista’s motorcycle comedy "Wild Hogs" grossed an estimated $4.6M, down only 30%, for a stellar cume of $152.2M. Hilary Swank’s horror flick "The Reaping" tumbled 55% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.6M giving Warner Bros. $19.8M in 11 days.

The mighty "300" broke through the double century mark over the weekend both domestically and internationally. In North America, the Warner Bros. smash dropped 48% to an estimated $4.3M boosting the total to $200.8M. Overseas, "300" collected an estimated $14.8M this weekend to lift the international haul to $204.1M giving the Spartan epic a global tally of $405M and counting. The stylish war film is now the highest grossing March release ever having surpassed the old record holder "Ice Age: The Meltdown" which grossed $195.3M last spring.

Rounding out the top ten was the Quentin TarantinoRobert Rodriguez flop "Grindhouse" which plunged 63% in its sophomore session to an estimated $4.2M. Budgeted at $53M, the double feature has taken in just $19.7M in its first ten days and looks headed for a weak $25-27M finish for The Weinstein Co.

In addition to the three new wide releases that debuted in the top ten, another three opened outside of it with weaker results. The car racing pic "Redline" bowed to an estimated $4M from 1,607 sites for a slow $2,492 average per theater. The first title from rookie distributor Chicago Pictures stars Eddie Griffin and targeted young males.

First Look opened the animated film "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" to the tune of $3.1M, according to estimates, giving the R-rated film an average of just $3,521 from 877 locations. Lionsgate made no impact with its Ray Liotta actioner "Slow Burn" which bowed to an estimated $805,000 from 1,163 playdates for a puny average of $692 per theater.

Three films fell out of the top ten this weekend. Mark Wahlberg’s sniper pic "Shooter" dropped 47% to an estimated $3.1M putting its total at $42.1M. The $60M Paramount release should end its run with $47-49M. Fox’s family film "Firehouse Dog" held up well in its second weekend, despite collecting low overall grosses. The PG-rated drama dipped 28% to an estimated $2.8M for a cume of $9.9M after 12 days. Warner Bros. took in an estimated $2.1M for the animated actioner "TMNT," off 56%, for a total of $50.7M. Look for a $53-55M final.

Platforming to solid results was the Molly Shannon comedy "Year of the Dog" which bowed in seven New York and Los Angeles sites and grossed an estimated $112,000. The Paramount Vantage release averaged $16,049 and will open in nine additional cities this Friday boosting its theater count to more than 30.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $92.5M which was down 14% from last year when Scary Movie 4 opened at number one with $40.2M; but up 29% from 2005 when The Amityville Horror debuted on top with $23.5M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This weekend Hollywood just doesn’t know its limits. Six new releases will jam into an already crowded marketplace on Friday trying to connect with spring moviegoers.

That makes for a whopping 20 new films over a four-week ultracompetitive period. This weekend’s ticket buyers will not have enough time or money to see them all, especially in a relatively weak playing period like mid-April. Friday the 13th may indeed be a terrifying day for the accountants behind some of these freshman flicks.

Call it "Catwoman" vs. "Hudson Hawk." Sony unleashes its latest star-driven thriller "Perfect Stranger" which finds Halle Berry playing an investigative reporter following an ad mogul (Bruce Willis) who may have killed her friend. The R-rated pic boasts the most star wattage of any new film this weekend and that will mean something at the cash registers. The actor combo is unique, appealing, and diverse enough to bring in two different audiences which is always good for business. Poor reviews probably won’t mean too much to the box office. Sony’s marketing push has been commendable and with Spartans, Ninja Turtles, and figure skaters ruling the charts over the last five weeks, many moviegoers will be ready to shift over to this type of film. "Perfect Stranger" invades 2,661 theaters and stands a chance of hitting number one with around $15M.


"At least ‘Hudson Hawk’ didn’t make RT’s ‘Worst of the Worst’ list."

Paramount counters with its own thriller this Friday the 13th with "Disturbia." With a more teen-friendly PG-13 rating, the pic tells the tale of a young man under house arrest who suspects that his neighbor is a serial killer. Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, and David Morse make up the cast so clearly the film is not being sold on its starpower. "Perfect Stranger" will provide some healthy competition as those looking for a scare, and are 17 or older, will find Berry and Willis worth paying money for. But young teens that have already skated with Will Ferrell may look here for their weekly escape to the movies. Entering about 2,500 theaters, "Disturbia" could scare up around $10M over the weekend.


Yet another Shia LaBeouf movie.

Rookie distributor Chicago Releasing drives into theaters with its maiden film "Redline," an action drama about bored rich kids who drag race for fun. The PG-13 film is being aimed at teenage boys and young men with action-packed commercials and trailers full of hot cars and hotter babes. Eddie Griffin is the only major star in this vehicle so only those who really crave another "Fast and the Furious" flick will make it out. But in a weekend when most new films have been slapped with an R, this one could carve out a small audience of teens. Racing into about 2,000 theaters, "Redline" might finish with roughly $7M this weekend.


No word yet how many expensive cars Eddie Griffin wrecks in "Redline."

With all the films thrown into theaters this year, nobody has offered up a handy dandy Viking flick. That changes this weekend with the action-adventure "Pathfinder," an R-rated pic that looks at a young man’s battle against Norse invaders in North America centuries ago. Following the runaway success of "300," it’s no surprise that Fox is marketing "Pathfinder" as a historical war epic based on a graphic novel. But this new film has nothing on Leonidas and pals. The Viking subject matter is not interesting, the marketing push has been weak, and lead actor Karl Urban is no commercial draw. Attacking 1,720 theaters, "Pathfinder" might find only $5M on opening weekend.


Just one of many decapitations in "Pathfinder."

Lionsgate goes after an adult audience with its new crime drama "Slow Burn" which stars Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, and Taye Diggs. The R-rated film about a district attorney whose colleague gets tied up in a murder case will go out in a moderate wide release with only a mild marketing push behind it. The starpower is not strong enough to attract a sizable crowd and there is little buzz among movie fans. Opening in 1,163 locations, "Slow Burn" could die a quick death at the multiplexes with a $4M bow.


"Slow Burn": Expected to experience a quick death.

In a world overstuffed with animated films, First Look Pictures turns the tables and aims at adults with the R-rated toon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters." Based on the animated series on Cartoon Network, the pic is trying to follow in the footsteps of "Borat" by taking a TV property with a cult following and making a long-titled feature film that pushes the envelope. Even the term ‘Movie Film’ seems taken from the Kazakh journalist. "Aqua Teen" scored some extra publicity with its marketing debacle in Boston several weeks ago, however that will not give the film more mainstream appeal. Only the die hard "Aqua" fans are likely to come out here. Competition is stiff this weekend and with the fewest theaters of the six pack of new flicks, this one could get left behind. Landing in over 800 locations, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" may collect approximately $4M over three days.


"Only 23 more installments of $59.95 to go!"

After back to back wins atop the box office charts, "Blades of Glory" will face a fierce challenge this weekend from the new releases. Few have the starpower that the Will Ferrell comedy packs and last weekend’s strong hold suggests that crowds are being pleased. A 35% fall would give "Blades" $14M for the weekend and $89M in 17 days.

"Meet the Robinsons" and "Are We Done Yet?" have no new competition for the family audience so respectable holds are likely here as well. A 35% drop would give the Disney toon about $11M for a 17-day tally of $70M while a 40% decline for the Ice Cube sequel would give Sony around $9M for the sophomore frame and $33M after 12 days.

LAST YEAR Easter weekend saw the arrival of "Scary Movie 4" which commanded a powerful opening grossing $40.2M in its debut. It was the second largest opening in the spoof comedy series and went on to capture $90.7M for The Weinstein Co. The animated blockbuster "Ice Age: The Meltdown" dropped to second place with a still-potent $20M in its third frame followed by the sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $9.9M. Disney saw a disappointing debut in fourth with the animated film "The Wild" which took in just $9.7M on its way to $37.4M. "Take the Lead" rounded out the top five with $6.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Is Robert Rodriguez the coolest dude in Hollywood? Yep, and we have biker-jacket-wearing, sunglasses-during-nighttime picture to prove it. But this isn’t just about "Grindhouse;" in fact, we’ve been working overtime to update our photo galleries, retrofitting "Blades of Glory," "Pathfinder," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," and "Stardust" with brand new pics.

"Blades of Glory" will kick things off next week, teaming rising rookie Jon Heder with comedy veteran Will Ferrell as two rejected ice skaters who put their differences aside to enter the World Championships as a pairs team. Bad sweaters and amusingly awkward poses ensue. But, wait, what’s this? Jenna Fischer as possible love interest?


Click for more Sno-Cones and "Blades of Glory" pictures.

Awww. If I didn’t have this article to finish, I could easily imagine two or three scenes of this will-they-won’t-they sexual tension that ultimately goes nowhere. "Blades of Glory" skates into theaters March 30.

A week afterwards, America will finally get to revel in the depraved and immoral glory that is "Grindhouse." The pictures we added aren’t anything as wild as a fat guy eating a baby, but would you settle for Quentin Tarantino pouring a drink into a glass boot?


Click on QT’s formidable forehead for more "Grindhouse" pics.

"Grindhouse" presents two feature length flicks (from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez), some fake trailers (Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, and Edgar Wright), and all the babes, car chases, and all-around mayhem that those guys imply. "Grindhouse" makes its way into theaters April 6.

And then a week after that is "Pathfinder," one of those ripping mythological yarns that Hollywood loves so much. This time, it’s the Vikings and Native Americans squaring off (sounds like a heavy metal music video):


Check out more "Pathfinder" pics by clicking image.

Karl Urban stars as the warrior left behind by his Viking clan as a child in the North American wilderness. After being raised by the natives, he’s destined to stop the Vikings when they return for more pillaging. If you saw "300" and are still craving more swordplay and crazy saturated colors, "Pathfinder" might be your kind of movie. It’ll find its way into theaters on April 13.

May will finish off the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, and we’re commemorating by adding no less than 36 new pictures of "Pirates of Caribbean: At World’s End." Not much Orlando Bloom, but there’s no shortage of Chow Yun-Fat with his colorful crowd, Johnny Depp making faces, and Keira Knightley being cute in hats:


Arr! Click the image for more piratey "Caribbean" fun.

This end-all, be-all high seas adventure revolves around Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) sailing past map’s edge, confronting the cunning Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), and rescuing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). May 25 marks the spot for "At World’s End."

And, finally, we have "Stardust," an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman graphic novel of the same name. This is the first major photo update for the movie, and you can see most of the main stars: Robert DeNiro, Claire Danes, and Ricky Gervais striking a nice Terry Gilliam pose:


Click image for more "Stardust" pics.

"Stardust" tells the fantastical tale of a young man who travels far beyond his village walls and into a world where he competes with four brothers (and three ghosts) for the affection of one enchanting damsel. Our cohorts across the pond had the chance to get an early peek, and the reaction was quite good. "Stardust" settles into theaters on June 22.

Kind of on the fence on whether or not you want to see Edward Zwick‘s "Blood Diamond"? Well here’s a new selling point: The very first trailer for "Live Free or Die Hard" is (allegedly) going to be attached to (several? most? all?) prints of the dramatic thriller…

From JoBlo: "Despite their best efforts to keep it on the down low, we are able to confirm that Fox will release the teaser trailer for LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD to select theaters this weekend. The trailer would run before prints of BLOOD DIAMOND – but not all prints. The trailer, of a still undetermined length, will only run before 35mm prints of DIAMOND with Fox swapping out PATHFINDER for digital prints."

Click here for more.

Marcus Nispel‘s "Pathfinder" was just bumped back from September 8th to January 12th, the move most likely prompted by the waves of muffled giggles that greeted the flick’s theatrical trailer.

The epic adventure film comes from the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" director (not Tobe Hooper), and it stars Karl Urban and Clancy Brown. Honestly I was kind of looking forward to the movie, but then again I liked "The 13th Warrior," so don’t go by me.

In related news, IGN FilmForce recently had a sit-in with Nispel and Brown, and here’s an excerpt of their coverage: "Nispel explained how, as an Eastern European, he was taught growing up that Vikings had reached America long before Christopher Columbus did. He wanted to portray Viking culture differently and more accurately than other films have, emphasizing how terrifying they were.

Brown, a veteran of many genre films, revealed that he plays Gunnar, an old Viking chieftain whose best battles are behind him. The actor had to learn Icelandic for the role, and also recounted how the film’s star, Karl Urban, managed to get him to reluctantly perform some stunts for a fight scene."

See you in January, vikings.

The year is (approximately) 1,000, and a bunch of Vikings and Native Americans are about to do some serious battle. The gritty-looking "Pathfinder" adventure flick comes courtesy of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" director Marcus Nispel, and you can check out the trailer right here.

"A thousand years in the past, a young Viking boy is accidentally left behind during a skirmish between the Vikings and Native Americans. The Native Americans raise the boy as their own, but when their village is wiped out from a Viking raid, the adopted Viking becomes his people’s savior in battling the Norsemen."

"Pathfinder," starring Karl Urban, Clancy Brown, Nathaniel Arcand, and Moon Bloodgood, opens September 8th.

Our WonderCon Wrap-Up continues, with a look at a few of the lesser-known flicks presented last weekend: "Brick," "Night Watch," and "Pathfinder."

Saturday’s panels began sadly, with the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a no-show to present his indie-teen-film noir, "Brick." The trailer screened anyway — intriguing, mysterious — but was no different than the trailer we’ve already seen. Happily, one additional scene played (the opening few moments of the film) which introduces the main character, Brendan (Gordon-Levitt) as he mournfully surveys the body of his ex-girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin), then flashes back two days prior to her terrified, cryptic phone call to him in suburban Southern California.

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to see more of "Brick," as this Sundance 2005 favorite will be released March 24. Click here to see the "Brick" trailer and judge for yourself.

Next, a presentation of "Night Watch," the first of Russian good vs. evil trilogy set in modern day Moscow, kicked off the day with a treat: we would get to see the entire movie! That it was almost completely in super fast-forward hardly mattered; the dark, gritty urban epic wowed the crowd with eerie visuals and a few super cool real-time action moments. "Night Watch" opens in limited release in a few days, on February 17. Check out the "Night Watch" trailer, here — or watch the entire film in fast forward, here!

Director Marcus Nispel (2003’s "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") came out to talk about his new project, "Pathfinder." Not many people know much about "Pathfinder" yet, but Nispel’s enthusiasm if not his resume comes across as a compelling reason to watch for it. Starring Karl Urban, Russell Means and Clancy Brown, "Pathfinder" tells the story of a Viking boy left behind in North America by his marauding people, who grows up among the native Indians and leads them in battle when the Vikings return to pillage again. There’s action, there’s romance, and there’s loincloths.

Nispel’s got a background in painting and graphic novels, and it shows; in the trailer as well as a set of impressive storyboards he showed at WonderCon, there is a visual richness to the composition of his scenes; whether he can pull it together from scene to scene will remain to be seen.

What was most interesting was Nispel’s discussion of the sensitive nature of his film. Set around the year 900 A.D., his fictional telling of a Viking-Native American confrontation seems to have been lent historical weight with recent scientific revelations that the Viking peoples did reach areas of the Americas at a time when they very well could have encountered native peoples. Also adding some degree of credibility to his production is Native American actor Russell Means, whom Nispel says provided a supporting role onscreen as well as offscreen; Means is not only an actor, but a well-known face of Native American activism and often acted as a consultant on the project.

And lest I forget, Nispel treated the audience to another special "clip" — a behind-the-scenes look at Nispel on set, directing, living out of a suitcase, and, yes, dropping trou to get a vitamin B shot in the backside. For this alone I will remember the name Nispel.

At long last, here’s my report on the filmmaker panels, "exclusive" clips, and the geek couture show that is WonderCon!

I’ll admit this first: I’m not geek enough to go to WonderCon for all three days; instead, I hit up the crowded Moscone Center West on Saturday, which of course is the best, most action-packed day of the entire convention. I quickly perused the swarming aisles of the exhibitor hall — comic book collectors in search of a rare issue, fans filling their sketch books with favorite artists, gawkers oohing over cos-players dressed as Blade, Wolverine, anime girls, and even the Alien from "Alien" — before beating a hasty retreat upstairs to grab a seat for the day’s line-up of movie panels.

Check back soon for installments of my day at WonderCon, which included presentations and panels for the big pics ("Superman Returns," "Mission: Impossible III"), the family flicks ("Ice Age 2: The Meltdown," "Cars"), high potential thrillers ("Night Watch," "Pathfinder") and scary chillers ("The Omen," "The Hills Have Eyes," "Silent Hill").

Lest you get antsy, here’s a selection of the fantastic costumes seen by some (but contrary to popular opinion, not all) of the attendees at WonderCon:

Storm Troopers (of course)

Storm Trooper Elvis (Unfortunately he’d left the building before I could snap a pic)

Every other character from Star Wars, ever

Blade

Wolverine (with real adamantium claws)

The Alien (from "Alien")

Buddy Christ

And also:

Serenity’s Browncoats
Inuyasha
Lara Croft
Resident Evil goons
Nightcrawler
Some guy in a leather dog suit
Full body furries
Cat girl (with a real freaky cat face)

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend and in the mood for, say, a Q & A with Superman Returns director Bryan Singer or exclusive footage of Mission: Impossible III from the hands of J.J. Abrams himself, you need to stop by the 20th annual WonderCon.In addition to the legions of comic book fans that converge each year to meet their favorite artists and pore over bins of comics looking for a mint condition Amazing Fantasy #15, WonderCon attendees are increasingly coming to the Moscone Center for movie sneak peeks and previews. From Q & A sessions with filmmakers to the staple preview show, Trailer Park 2006, there’s plenty of movie events here to whet your appetite for the big flicks of 2006. Check out the highlights below.

Superman Returns presentation by Bryan Singer (Q & A and exclusive footage, plus the program promises a "surprise")

Mission: Impossible III presentation by J.J. Abrams (Q & A and exclusive footage)

Brick presentation with star Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Q & A with Kevin Smith

The Hills Have Eyes presentation with Wes Craven and stars Aaron Stanford and Vinessa Shaw

Night Watch sneak peek

Pixar 20th anniversary and Cars preview

Silent Hill presentation by star Deborah Kara Unger

The Omen footage presented by director John Moore

Pathfinder presentation by director Marcus Nispel

2006 Sci-fi/Horror Movie Preview, including Room 6 and The Thirst

Advance screening of Running Scared (Q & A afterwards with Paul Walker and Wayne Kramer)

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