(Photo by DreamWorks Animation)
DreamWorks Animation’s first movie was Antz, released two months before A Bug’s Life, and thus this studio was born into incessant comparison to Pixar’s output, molded by it, becoming the snarky and sarcastic foil to its competitor’s earnestness.
DreamWorks Animation would forge most of its identity and formula on the back of one giant, smelly, green ogre: Shrek, which has generated sequels, tie-ins, theme park rides, and billions of dollars, while ensuring Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” never leaving the pop culture’s ironic curriculum.
The studio’s other franchises include Kung Fu Panda, which introduced a whole new world of visual flair and surprising emotional depth to the DreamWorks movie canon, and Madagascar, which pulled off the mega-rare feat of each movie being higher-rated on the Tomatometer than the last. At least the mainline movies. (Penguins of Madagascar 73% is lower than the 79% Madagascar 3 has, but that’s a spin-off.)
Their latest releases were Spirit Untamed and Boss Baby: Family Business, with The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish on the horizon. Now, we’re ranking all DreamWorks Animation movies by Tomatometer!
Ever since 1998 and into this Friday’s release of Kung Fu Panda 3, DreamWorks Animation has emerged as one of the dominant forces in animated storytelling worldwide, whose blend of state-of-the-art tech and raucous contemporary humor has carved their own identity in our current cartoon renaissance. Kung Fu Panda 3 inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, in which we explore the nearly two-decade history of DreamWorks Animation.
The critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men comes to DVD this week, accompanied by a litany of fellow Fresh films (Lake of Fire, Summer Palace, Dan in Real Life) as well as a gaggle of critical duds (Hitman, Bee Movie, August Rush, and more).
Joel and Ethan Coen add another celebrated film to their resume with this four-category Oscar-winning thriller about a bag of stolen cash, a man on the run, the killer on his tail, and the old lawman desperately trying to make sense of it all. While we’ll get no commentary track on this initial DVD release (just wait for the inevitable super-sized special editions), three features comprise the bonus menu, but the film itself is its own reward — just ask those Academy voters.
Jerry Seinfeld‘s bid for post-Seinfeld success came last year in the form of a honeybee: a neurotic, rather Jerry-esque bee named Barry Bee Benson, to be exact, who leaves corporatized hive life for the great big world of humans in New York City’s Central Park. When Barry discovers that humans have been stealing the hard-earned honey of his buzzing brethren, he takes the most American action there is — he sues the human race. With a supporting voice cast that includes Chris Rock, Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, and Matthew Broderick — and cameos by Sting, Ray Liotta, and Oprah Winfrey — Bee Movie is full of that familiar Seinfeld sardonic humor, although, as the critics say, it’s fairly forgettable.
Dan in Real Life
Steve Carell‘s trademark hangdog deadpan finds appropriate anchor in this romantic comedy from Peter Hedges (Pieces of April). Carell stars as Dan, the widowed father of three girls who writes an advice column for a living; when Dan meets his dream girl (Juliette Binoche) during a family get-together, he’s elated — until he learns she’s his brother’s new girlfriend. A soundtrack by Swedish singer-songwriter Sondre Lerch underscores Dan’s comic heartache, though some critics found the script to be occasionally too flat and contrived. A decently packed bonus menu with director commentary, deleted scenes, and outtakes round out the disc.
Freddie Highmore, Britain’s omnipresent kid actor, stars as a musically-gifted orphan on a quest to find his birth parents — and exposure any and every person he meets along the way to the magic of music. Sound schmaltzy enough for you? Well, throw in Robin Williams (channeling his doppelganger, U2 front man Bono) as a musical street pimp named Wizard, salvation in the form of a choir, and lines like “The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen,” and you’ve got one heckuva a saccharine smorgasbord.
If, like some of us, you were an avid fan of the Nancy Drew mystery books — over 170 stories published under the pseudonym “Carolyn Keene” since 1930 — then you might have felt some apprehension when a feature-length film about the classic sleuthing teen was announced. Unfortunately for us purists, the reviews confirm those fears. Emma Roberts stars as the titular teen, whose prudish, Type-A manner clashes with the spoiled kids she encounters when she and her dad (Tate Donovan) move to Tinseltown. A Hollywood mystery surfaces, of course, but grown audiences will remain unspooked. I say, bring on the Choose Your Own Adventure movie instead!
The gimmick of casting this cat-and-mouse thriller is intriguing on its own; having starred as a young adulterer opposite Laurence Olivier in 1972’s Sleuth, Michael Caine now plays the older role opposite Jude Law in Kenneth Branagh‘s remake. Unfortunately, the script by Harold Pinter, adapting Anthony Shaffer’s play, fails to serve the two leads well, making for a tedious time — unless you enjoy watching two distinguished British actors out-act one another. Law, Caine, and Branagh make recompense in a jointly recorded commentary track in the special features.
With a title like Hitman, you know what you’re getting into with this video game adaptation from French director Xavier Gens (Frontier(es)). Timothy Olyphant stars as a bar coded professional killer named Number 47 dealing with his sinister bosses, a Russian politico, and a hot prostitute (Olga Kurylenko) on the run. Overwhelmingly derided by the critical set, who might alternately recommend the film to a PS2-obsessed pre-teen boy, Hitman at least serves one purpose: bringing you a closer look at future Bond girl Kurylenko half a year before Quantum of Solace hits theaters.
When Nirvana covered the Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire” in their Unplugged album session, they sang that the Biblical body of water was “where bad folks go when they die.” In his sprawling documentary on abortion, director Tony Kaye brings us a comprehensive look at the often violent, always vehement hot button debate that has raged for 25 years since Roe vs. Wade. Kaye, who filmed the doc over a period of 17 years, is the same director who earned Hollywood’s praise for directing the 1998 skinhead drama American History X (then disappeared from view following his bitter falling out with New Line and star Edward Norton). Be warned that Lake of Fire contains graphic images; a commentary with Kaye accompanies the DVD.
A young rural woman gets accepted to Peking University and encounters sexual awakening, politics, and discontent against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square protests in controversial director Lou Ye‘s epic drama. Actress Hao Lei gives a brazen performance as the film’s restless protagonist, who spends over two decades (the late 1980s to the 2000s) struggling to get over the lost love of her life. At over two and a half hours, Ye’s film could be split into two stories — one of the young woman and another of her adult years) — but his film captures the zeitgeist of an entire generation forever marked by Tiananmen-era experiences, at times recalling the verve of Godard and the French New Wave. Shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval, the sexually-explicit film was subsequently banned in China, its filmmakers censured from further filmmaking for a five year span.
So there you have your new releases for this week. In the words of the ancient Romans, “Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi?”
The clock hasn’t stopped ticking on the format, but HD DVD consumers can look forward to seeing new films on store shelves — for at least the next few months, anyway.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of Warner Bros.’ final HD DVD titles, a two-disc special edition of Twister, will be released May 27; meanwhile, Paramount “is expected to announce a full slate of HD DVD titles for the first quarter Thursday.”
Paramount was supposed to announce those releases at CES, but the news of Warner Bros. abandoning the format led the HD DVD Promotional Group to withdraw from the show and declare a “quiet period.” The Reporter article lists a number of expected titles, however, including Into the Wild, Things We Lost in the Fire, Bee Movie, The Kite Runner, American Gangster, and The Jack Ryan Collection, which bundles The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, and The Sum of All Fears.
Still, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before the last few drops of HD DVD’s market share go swirling down the drain — according to the Reporter, people have pretty much quit buying ’em:
Net HD DVD sales, according to Nielsen, constituted only 15% of hi-def disc sales last week. And the top HD DVD seller, “The Kingdom,” sold just 10% as many copies as the top Blu-ray Disc release, “3:10 to Yuma.”
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
As the CEO of Dreamworks animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg is a very important man. Katzenberg joined Disney in 1984 under the wing of new CEO Michael Eisner and began a career that saw him change the company’s fortunes with films like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. Ironically, considering Dreamworks’ position as a pioneer of computer-generated animation, it was during Katzenberg’s tenure at Disney that he shook on the deal that would begin Pixar’s long-standing relationship with the House of Mouse.
Co-founding Dreamworks SKG in 1994 with Steven Spielberg and David Geffin, Katzenberg brought to screen films like Antz, Chicken Run and Shrek. Bee Movie, not surprisingly a tale of a bee voiced by Jerry Seinfeld, is the studio’s latest, and RT caught up with Katzenberg to learn more.
I assume you say no to a lot of projects, so what’s was it about Bee Movie that made you say yes?
Jeffrey Katzenberg: Jerry Seinfeld first and foremost. I was a by-appointment Seinfeld Thursday night fan so I know he is one of the most creative, brilliant, exciting and innovative comedy talents in my lifetime and he had a funny idea.
Can you compare working with CGI to the stop-motion animation you’ve done with Aardman?
JK: Well they are very different. We’ve made three films with the Aardman team and I have nothing but the highest admiration for those guys, I love what they do. It’s beautiful stop motion animation and a different working process from the likes of Bee Movie.
Did you see The Simpsons Movie?
JK: Yes and I liked it a lot. It’s brilliant 2D animation and not only a funny television show but also the movie is funny.
Is there still a place for 2D animation? What does the future hold?
JK: I love all different forms of animation; we’ve made many 2D movies. And I think the stories that we’re telling are the most interesting in CG. What I expect to be the next really important revolution is going to be 3D. I am very excited about it.
And Dreamworks are presumably at the forefront of that…
JK: We will actually make the first CG animated movie in 3D. It’s called Monsters Vs. Aliens and it’s coming out in Easter 2009.
How long does that process take?
JK: Four years out of my life.
One of the unique things about Dreamworks is the variety of films you put out. How do you juggle all that together?
JK: It’s the team behind me, great artists and studio of 1400 people!
Working around animators must be like working in a teenager’s bedroom every day!
JK: Well we have a beautiful 15-acre site which is like a college campus, but for me to drive through that studio everyday is an honour. I honestly feel like I’m going into heaven. Each movie is very different and always original and you have to have that enthusiasm and energy and treat each new project like it’s your first.Each thing that you do is pioneering in that way.
The nominations for the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning. Did your favorite films, stars, and songs make the cut?
The nominees were read at the Beverly Hilton by a surreal panel consisting of Dane Cook, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Reynolds, and Quentin Tarantino. The film nominations follow below, with Tomatometers in parentheses:
American Gangster (79 percent)
Atonement (85 percent)
Eastern Promises (88 percent)
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton (90 percent)
No Country for Old Men (95 percent)
There Will Be Blood (100 percent)
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (34 percent)
Julie Christie, Away From Her (95 percent)
Jodie Foster, The Brave One (45 percent)
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart (77 percent)
Keira Knightley, Atonement
Actor, Musical or Comedy:
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl (78 percent)
Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages (89 percent)
John C. Reilly, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (75 percent)
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
John Travolta, Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)
Ridley Scott, American Gangster
Joe Wright, Atonement
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Romania (96 percent)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, France and U.S.
The Kite Runner, U.S. (65 percent)
Lust, Caution, Taiwan (64 percent)
Persepolis, France (100 percent)
Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild (82 percent)
Clint Eastwood, Grace Is Gone (70 percent)
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner
Dario Marianelli, Atonement
Howard Shore, Eastern Promises
Original Song: Despedida from Love in the Time of Cholera (28 percent)
Grace Is Gone from Grace Is Gone
Guaranteed from Into the Wild
That’s How You Know from Enchanted
Walk Hard from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
This weekend For the first time this decade, a new release seems set to take over the number one spot during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the North American box office. Studios are cramming a six-pack of new titles into multiplexes nationwide hoping the recent famine in the marketplace will be replaced by a feast. The films lack major stars, but they do however have clearly-defined audiences which will hopefully allow them to survive and expand the overall pie.
Disney leads the way with the fantasy extravaganza Enchanted for young girls while Fox counters with the much more violent action offering Hitman aimed at young men. MGM goes for a scare with the horror film The Mist, Sony targets African American moviegoers with This Christmas, and August Rush from Warner Bros. will try to tap into family audiences. Meanwhile, Miramax goes after older adults and upscale crowds with its acclaimed thriller No Country For Old Men which widens into national release after two weeks of sold out shows in limited play.
Once upon a time, Disney regularly opened a new family film at number one over Thanksgiving weekend. After a long absence, the Mouse House is now poised to take its rightful place on the turkey throne with its fairy tale adventure pic Enchanted which finds an animated princess thrust upon the real world where people do not live happily ever after. The PG-rated film will appeal to the millions of young girls and mothers who have become devotees of Disney’s lucrative army of princesses. Getting in boys may be a bit tough, but the female following should be more than enough to propel this massive release into the top spot at the holiday box office.
Not since 1999’s Toy Story 2 has Disney, or any other studio for that matter, opened a new film at number one over this holiday frame. Holdovers have consistently ruled since 2000, mostly big guns that debuted on the weekend before the holiday to get an early jump on the cash. But from 1994 through 1999, Disney enjoyed an unprecedented streak ruling the Thanksgiving box office every year with an iron fist. Now that magic is back, thanks in part to a surprisingly weak line-up of November titles coming from Hollywood’s magic factories. With the widest release by far of any new film, no holdovers to stand in its way, and a holiday frame that welcomes family entertainment, Enchanted looks to become the queen bee. Opening in an ultrawide 3,632 theaters, the fantasy film may charm its way to about $30M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $43M during the extended Wednesday-to-Sunday span.
A 25% drop might be in the works for American Gangster which may tap into patient adults that have heard the buzz, but just haven’t made a trip to the theaters yet. Universal could take in about $9.5M over three days and raise its sum to $116M. Christmas films routinely see their three-day grosses climb over the turkey frame when compared to the previous weekend thanks to the cheery holiday mood of ticket buyers. That could come as good news to Warner Bros. which might see its Vince Vaughn offering Fred Claus edge up by 10% to around $13M. Cume would hit $54M.
LAST YEAR Despite five new films opening in wide release over the turkey frame, moviegoers continued to spend their money on the same films as the top two spots remained unchanged. Sophomores Happy Feet and Casino Royale led the session with $37M and $30.8M, respectively, over three days. The penguin toon dipped only 11% while the rejuvenated Bond flick dropped by just 25% giving the pair a towering combined gross of $193M after ten days. Denzel Washington won the bronze with his new sci-fi actioner Deja Vu which bowed to $20.6M while the Christmas comedy Deck the Halls followed in fourth with a debut of $12M. Final grosses reached $64M and $35.1M. Borat rounded out the top five with $10.3M in its fourth weekend. Other new releases stumbled. MGM’s political drama Bobby expanded nationally and took in only $4.9M on its way to a weak $11.2M. Warner Bros. debuted its sci-fi drama The Fountain to the tune of $3.8M and New Line saw just $3.2M for its Jack Black pet project Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The pics ended their runs quickly with a measly $10.1M and $8.3M, respectively.
author: Gitesh Pandya www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
One animated film will bump another from the number one spot at the North American box office. But the new warrior Beowulf is no B movie but an A-list production from an Oscar-winning director offering action audiences something new. Also opening this weekend but likely to see more modest grosses are the family pic Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera. Without a compelling selection of great films, the marketplace should once again fall well below year-ago levels.
Paramount looks to capture the box office crown without the help of DreamWorks this time with Beowulf, a computer-animated action adventure based on the ancient epic poem. The PG-13 film comes from Robert Zemeckis who expands upon the motion capture technology he used in 2004’s The Polar Express. This time around his film is aimed at somewhat older moviegoers as young children will be too frightened by the violence, gore, and yes, nudity. Beowulf aims to pry 14-year-old boys away from their videogame systems and into the multiplexes with a new type of action film that is presented in 3D in selected theaters. Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie lend their voices and digital likenesses.
The marketing has been terrific on the part of the studio. The core audience of young males is excited and ready to buy tickets and the film might even pull in part of the literary crowd curious to see how this classic tale is adapted to the big screen. The marketplace needs something like this now with hits like American Gangster skewing more adult and kidpics like Bee Movie not offering enough violence. If last December’s Eragon could open to $23.2M, then surely Beowulf can target the same crowd and go higher. Launching in over 2,800 theaters, Beowulf could conquer the box office this weekend with about $32M.
LAST YEAR: In a major pre-holiday showdown, the penguin toon Happy Feet edged out the new James Bond film Casino Royale for the number one spot with a strong opening of $41.5M. The Warner Bros. family hit went on to collect $198M domestically and a stellar $384M worldwide. Sony’s relaunched spy series still posted a muscular debut grossing $40.8M over the weekend on its way to $167M domestically and a sensational $595M globally making the Daniel Craig-starrer the top-grossing 007 flick ever. After two weeks on top, Fox’s Borat slipped to third with $14.6M. Rounding out the top five were Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 with $8.3M and the Sony release Stranger Than Fiction with $6.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Three new releases failed to steal attention away from last weekend’s top two
films which continued to rule the North American box office swapping chart
positions in the process. Jerry Seinfeld’s animated hit
Movie enjoyed the better hold and jumped into first place while the
Crowe crime drama
suffered a moderate decline and claimed the runnerup position. Ticket buyers
have spent nearly $153M on the duo over the past ten days. Among newcomers, the
Vaughn generated respectable results while
suffered his worst opening in twenty-one years with the political drama
Lions for Lambs
which finshed a weak fourth for the frame. The overall marketplace struggled
once again as for the first time in five years, a November top ten failed to
break the $100M mark.
Paramount and DreamWorks missed out on a top spot debut last weekend with their
new toon Bee
Movie, but this time they managed to grab the number one slot. The
PG-rated film slipped 32% and collected an estimated $26M boosting the ten-day
tally to a robust $72.2M. Though a good hold, especially with the opening of
rival family flick Fred Claus, the decline was somewhat larger than the
drops of other recent animated kidpics that bowed on the first weekend of
November. Last year,
Flushed Away dipped by only 12%, 2005’s
slid just 21%, and 2004’s
dropped 29%. The Veterans Day holiday was observed on a Friday last year giving
a large number of school children a day off which helped deliver the sensational
hold of Flushed. This year, the holiday will be observed on Monday when
Bee is still expected to score solid results. Look for the insect pic to reach
the neighborhood of $120M domestically with international prospects also looking
Dropping an understandable 44% to second place was former champ
with an estimated $24.3M in its sophomore frame. After only ten days, Universal
has shot up a remarkable $80.7M and has already surpassed the total grosses of
most of Washington’s previous films. Gangster currently ranks as the
pic ever behind
The Pelican Brief
Tide ($91.4M), and
drama also stands as the fourth highest grossing film in Russell
Crowe‘s career after
Beautiful Mind ($170.7M), and
Master and Commander ($93.9M). At its current pace, American Gangster
should find its way to $130-140M from North America making it the studio’s third
biggest hit of 2007 after
The Bourne Ultimatum
and Knocked Up.
End-of-year awards attention could send it higher though.
Opening in third place was the Christmas comedy
which took in an estimated $19.2M from an ultrawide release in 3,603 locations.
Averaging a mediocre $5,336 per site, the PG-rated flick about Santa’s older
Vince Vaughn and
and played to a family audience. The Warner Bros. release is one of only two
films this year to launch in more than 3,500 theaters and fail to gross at least
$30M on opening weekend. The other was the animated penguin pic
Surf’s Up which
debuted to $17.6M in June. Instead, Fred performed in line with last
November’s yuletide laugher The
Santa Clause 3
which bowed to $19.5M on its way to a $84.5M final.
suffered one of the worst opening weekends of his career with the poor turnout
for his political drama
Lions for Lambs
which stumbled into fourth place with an estimated $6.7M. The R-rated pic
Robert Redford and
Lions averaged a feeble $3,029 from 2,215 theaters and was panned by most
critics. Despite the starpower, bad reviews and the subject matter which dealt
with war in the Middle East helped to repel paying customers.
Magnolia in which Cruise had a supporting role, Lions attracted
the smallest debut for the actor since Ridley Scott’s
opened with just $4.3M in 1986. It also ended the star’s streak of thirteen consecutive number one openings over fifteen years and is guaranteed to stop his industry-leading streak of seven straight years of having $100M+ grossers. The Redford project marked the first film for United Artists which is now run by Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner. Parent company MGM took distribution duties in North America with Fox handling the release in the rest of the world where the film also launched this weekend to mixed results.
The woman-in-peril thriller
P2 debuted poorly in
eighth with an estimated $2.2M from 2,131 locations for a pitiful $1,032
average. The R-rated film about a workaholic stalked by a killer in a parking
garage on Christmas Eve is the first release from Summit Entertainment which was
testing its distribution operation ahead of its real slate of films which will
hit theaters in 2008.
Vampires and martians rounded out the top ten. The horror flick
30 Days of Night
grossed an estimated $2.1M, down 44%, and placed ninth. Cume is $37.4M for Sony.
Child fell a troubling 48% in its second weekend to an estimated
$1.8M. The New Line release has collected only $6M in ten days and should end up
with a weak $9-10M.
Three modestly-budgeted films were bumped out of the top ten this weekend.
Michael Clayton dipped 40% to an estimated $1.7M bringing its cume
to a decent $35.6M. The $22M film should find its way to about $40M for Warner
Bros., but has the chance to go higher if it scores some major award
Miramax generated a sizzling debut for
No Country for
Old Men, the newest film from the Coen Brothers. The R-rated entry
grossed an estimated $1.2M while playing in only 28 theaters for a sensational
average of $42,929 per site. Co-produced by Paramount Vantage, it will expand to
more markets on Friday.
Tyler Perry’s latest hit
Did I Get Married? grossed an estimated $1.6M, off 38%, and boosted
its total to an impressive $53.3M. The profitable $15M Lionsgate title looks to
end with roughly $57M. It’s been a tougher road for Miramax’s crime drama Gone
Baby Gone which took in an estimated $1.5M, down 33%, giving
directorial debut only $17.1M to date. Produced for $19M, the
Freeman drama should end its run with about $22M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $95.6M which was down 10% from last
year when Borat
remained in first place with $28.3M; and down 11% from 2005 when Chicken
Little stayed in the top spot with $31.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandaya,
The nominations for the 80th Academy Awards won’t be announced until January 22, but the names of the films being submitted for consideration are starting to trickle in.
Variety reports that in the animated feature film category, the Academy will have 12 movies to consider — and whittle down to three nominees. From the article:
Submitted features are: “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters,” “Bee Movie,” “Beowulf,” “Meet the Robinsons,” “Persepolis,” “Ratatouille,” “Shrek the Third,” “The Simpsons Movie,” “Surf’s Up,” “Tekkonkinkreet” and “TMNT.”
Yes, you read that right. Alvin and the Chipmunks. Think the voters will have problems narrowing down this list?
Vince Vaughn and Tom Cruise go head to head at the North American box office this weekend with their latest releases. The dodgeball champ goes for holiday laughs with Fred Claus while the top gun offers up a serious political tale in Lions For Lambs. For those looking for a scare, the horror flick P2 also attacks the multiplexes. Add in last weekend’s holdover titles and the marketplace should deliver three $20M+ grossers for the first time since mid-July.
Taming down their comedy for a family audience, the Wedding Crashers team of Vince Vaughn and director David Dobkin offer up Christmas cheer with the holiday comedy Fred Claus. The PG-rated pic features the comic actor playing the brother of Santa (Paul Giamatti). Rachel Weisz and Kathy Bates both scored a ‘with’ credit while Kevin Spacey‘s agents landed the coveted ‘and’ credit for their client. Family audiences will make up the bulk of the business but Warner Bros. is hoping to draw teens and young adults with Vaughn’s humor.
Reviews have been sour, but these types of holiday films are sold more on the comedy and the marketing. The studio is giving Claus a big jolly push and there are no major live-action options for parents to take their kids to. Bee Movie‘s second weekend will provide most of the competition, but usually two high-profile star-driven family pics can co-exist at this time of year. Debuting ultrawide in more than 3,400 theaters, Fred Claus may laugh up about $28M this weekend.
In a smart move, Lions has downplayed its political storyline involving the Middle East as most others that have gone down that path have crashed and burned at the box office this fall. Audiences have told Hollywood on numerous occasions that they are not interested in paying top dollar for that kind of entertainment. Instead, the film is being positioned as a dramatic thriller with great acting performances almost the same way Cruise’s A Few Good Men was marketed 15 years ago. Lions will skew older than most other releases in the marketplace and will face intense competition for adults from American Gangster. Plus bad reviews will have a big impact too since the target audience plays close attention to the opinions of critics. This could very well be Tom Cruise’s lowest-grossing film in ages. Landing in 2,200 locations, Lions For Lambs might debut with around $10M.
LAST YEAR: Moviegoers kept annoying friends with their best Kazakh impressions as Borat tripled its theatercount and remained at number one for the second week with $28.3M for Fox. Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 and Paramount’s Flushed Away enjoyed sensational holds and stayed put in their spots as well with $16.9M and $16.6M, respectively. Will Ferrell‘s Stranger Than Fiction bowed in fourth with $13.4M on its way to $40.1M for Sony. Lionsgate rounded out the top five with Saw III with $7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
The North American box office exploded thanks to the scorching debuts of the
Crowe crime drama
Seinfeld‘s animated comedy
Bee Movie which
combined for over $85M in ticket sales. Following weeks of sluggish business
where the marketplace failed to match 2006 levels, this weekend’s box office
enjoyed a healthy bounce over last year and kicked off the holiday movie season
with a bang.
Washington and Crowe both scored new career highs with the estimated $46.3M
opening weekend for the crime saga
which dominated the multiplexes. Universal opened the R-rated tale in 3,054
theaters and generated a scorching $15,175 average per location. Directed by
Gangster tells the true story of a drug kingpin who built up a heroin empire in
Harlem in the early 1970s. The opening easily beat out the former all-time
biggest debuts for the Oscar-winning actors: Washington’s
Inside Man with
$29M and Crowe’s Gladiator with $34.8M.
American Gangster enjoyed the second highest launch of the year for an
R-rated film trailing only 300‘s
$70.9M. Much of the success came from strong sales from young males and the
urban audience which saw it as a
today’s generation. The same audience also helped to power
hip hop drama 8 Mile
to a surprising number one opening of $51.2M in November of 2002. Brian Grazer
produced both Mile and Gangster. Reviews were mostly favorable and
early Academy Award buzz could help the film in the weeks ahead. Despite the
long running time of nearly two hours and forty minutes, moviegoers lined up and
found their showtimes.
Paramount and DreamWorks settled for a second place debut for their latest
animated film Bee
Movie which grossed an estimated $39.1M in its opening weekend. The
PG-rated toon averaged a sturdy $9,954 from 3,928 locations and performed just a
bit below the levels of recent November animated titles. Last year, the penguin
pic Happy Feet
bowed to $41.5M while the previous year’s
launched with $40M. The two went on to gross $198M and $135.4M, respectively,
from the North American market. Co-written by and starring Jerry Seinfeld, Bee
Movie enjoyed virtually no competition in the current marketplace for family
audiences. Critics were not too kind, but ticket buyers showed interest on the
opening weekend. For 2007, the toon posted the fourth biggest debut for an
animated film after
Shrek the Third
Simpsons Movie ($74M) and
Suffering the largest sophomore drop in franchise history,
Saw IV tumbled 65%
from its top spot bow and grossed an estimated $11M. The Lionsgate title has
still banked an impressive $51.1M in ten days and should finish with nearly
Dan in Real Life
fared much better in its second weekend dropping a slim 31% to an estimated
$8.1M. With $23M in ten days, the romantic comedy might find its way to around
$50M despite playing in less than 2,000 theaters.
Neglected and landing in seventh place was the new
Child which opened with an estimated $3.7M. Playing in 2,020
locations, the PG-rated story of a man that adopts a boy who says he’s from Mars
averaged a pitiful $1,807 for New Line. Child was the seventh wide release in
the past six weeks to debut with an average of less than $2,000.
Three adult-skewing fall pics followed.
Michael Clayton collected an estimated $2.9M, down 41%, for a sum of
$33.2M for Warner Bros. Lionsgate’s
Did I Get Married? got hit hard by Denzel’s arrival tumbling 52 to
an estimated $2.7M. Cume is $51.2M. The Miramax mystery Gone
Baby Gone captured an estimated $2.4M, off 37%, for a $14.9M total.
Warner Independent saw a solid platform bow for its documentary
which saw an estimated $24,000 in ticket sales from only three theaters.
Averaging $8,000 per venue, the Don Cheadle-narrated film will expand on Friday
to more cities.
Three October titles fell sharply and left the top ten this weekend. Disney’s
latest re-release of
Nightmare Before Christmas saw its post-Halloween sales slump 55% to
an estimated $1.5M for a cume of $12.8M. A $15M final seems likely. The
We Own the Night
fell 59% to an estimated $1.4M. The Sony release has taken in $27.7M and could
make it to $30M. The spoof comedy
grossed an estimated $1.5M, down 56%, and has collected a disappointing $11.9M
for Fox. Look for a $13M final.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $124.1M which was up 14% from last
year when Borat debuted
in first place with $26.5M; and up 8% from 2005 when Chicken Little
opened in the top spot with $40M.
Author: Gitesh Pandaya,
This week at the movies, we’ve got crime lords (American Gangster,
Denzel Washington and
Russell Crowe), busy bees (Bee Movie,
starring Jerry Seinfeld), and kids from another planet (The Martian Child,
starring John Cusack). What do the critics have to say?
It’s a crime flick starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe that’s directed
by Ridley Scott. How could this possibly go wrong? According to critics, it
American Gangster tells the story of a low-level criminal
(Washington) who moves up the ladder when his boss dies; Crowe plays an
outcast cop on his trail. Pundits say Gangster is a remarkable entry into
the crime genre, with excellent performances, a compelling sense of moral
ambiguity, and an outstanding eye for 1970s period detail. At 80 percent on the Tomatometer, American Gangster is Certified Fresh. (Check out
this week’s Total Recall, where we examine some notable organized crime films from the
Jerry Seinfeld lends his distinctive brand of observational humor to
Bee Movie, a CGI feature about our
pollen-producing pals and their interactions with people. Seinfeld stars as the voice of a recent bee graduate
looking for a purpose in life. Leaving the hive for the first time, he comes
into contact with a human (Renée Zellweger) and becomes concerned over
humanity’s rampant consumption of honey. Critics say Bee Movie is
elevated by Seinfeld’s witty humor, but otherwise, this is an amiable but
forgettable affair. At 57 percent on the Tomatometer, this is no killer Bee.
(Check out RT’s interview with Seinfeld
Also opening this week in limited release:
re-release of the 1981 French action classic, is at 100 percent;
Joe Strummer: The Future is
Unwritten, a documentary about the late, great singer of the Clash, is at
94 percent on the Tomatometer (check out our interview with director Julien
here); Sharkwater,a documentary that explains the importance of are sharp-toothed friends in the
global ecosystem, is at 75 percent;
Fat Girls, an indie comedy about a
pair of high school outcasts, is at 60 percent; and
Darfur Now, a doc
about efforts to end the genocide in Sundan, is at 45 percent.