Here at RT we’re glass-half full kinds of people, so instead of dwelling on the abysmally-reviewed home video offerings of the week – Billy Bob Thornton’s Mr. Woodcock and Dane Cook’s Good Luck Chuck — we’re thrilled to point out that there are delights to be had on DVD shelves, if you’ll only look (Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest, Criterion’s The Naked Prey)!
It’s possible that Billy Bob Thornton will one day get past his irritable Bad Santa persona and graduate (or return) to roles with depth, challenge, and variety, but Mr. Woodcock will not be the catalyst for such a change. Thornton, an Academy Award-winner for writing, directing, and starring in a far better film about a mentally handicapped man a dozen years ago, now plays a terrifying…gym teacher. When Seann William Scott finds out his dear mother (Susan Sarandon, Oscar-winner) is dating the man who terrorized his adolescent years, he comes home to match wits, and slapstick wrestling movies, with Mr. Woodcock. You can do better, video hounds!
They say January is a dumping ground for bad movies; this week, the saying is true for DVD titles. Our first single digit-Tomatometer DVD release of the year, Good Luck Chuck – a raunchy, unfunny romantic comedy starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba — earned the scorn of an overwhelming majority of critics. On DVD, expect unrated laughs and a strange, interactive feature of Matrix-style sex positions.
Leave it to Family Guy to save the day! The infamous Star Wars episode, retelling the entire space saga with Peter Griffin and Co., has arrived to poke geeky fun, Quahog-style, at Jedis, lightsabers, and storm troopers. Great extras include Seth MacFarlane interviewing George Lucas himself, an episode commentary, and a table reading Easter egg for you to uncover. Bonus points for knowing the working title of Episode VI.
Film enthusiasts also have something to look for this week: a new Criterion release! Cornel Wilde’s 1966 film The Naked Prey, in a newly restored high definition transfer, offers much more than just the movie itself — the story, based on real events, follows a 19th century colonist on safari forced to flee for his life as African tribesmen hunt him. But as with every Criterion release, this title’s packed with goodies — audio commentary, the original soundtrack cues created by the director and an ethnomusicologist, and a recounted version of the 1913 event that inspired the story, read by Paul Giamatti.
Abandoning conventional narrative, Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul has crafted a meditative story about how his own parents met and fell in love. Slow and mesmerizing, Syndromes and a Century was commissioned to honor the work of Mozart — a nice, alternative date movie for the discerning, Dane Cook-averse viewer.
‘Til next week, happy renting!
For the second straight weekend, a star-driven action drama aimed at adult
audiences opened at number one with $14M in ticket sales from roughly 2,700
theaters. This time it was
The Brave One
which topped the charts bumping former champ
3:10 to Yuma to
the runner-up spot.
Thornton‘s new comedy
opened respectably in third while the fantasy actioner
Dragon Wars bowed to
weak results in fourth place.
Warner Bros. captured the top spot with the vigilante thriller
The Brave One this
weekend averaging a solid $5,087 from 2,755 theaters. The Jodie Foster film’s
gross was enough to claim the number one spot, but was a far cry from the
numbers that the Oscar-winning actress has seen from recent films. The R-rated
pic’s bow was 43% weaker than her last film
$24.6M launch in September 2005 and down 53% from the $30.1M debut of
Panic Room in
March 2002. All were adult-skewing thrillers anchored solo by Foster playing a
strong woman who takes care of problems on her own.
Two elements that may have dampened the grosses for Brave were lukewarm
reviews and a better-than-expected hold from
3:10 to Yuma
which is also playing to a mature adult crowd. Foster was aggressively promoting
the Neil Jordan-directed
film on every TV and print outlet over the past two weeks but that did little to
prevent the revenge pic from posting one of her worst openings in recent years.
In fact, over the last decade, her only wide release to debut weaker was 1999’s
the King with $5.2M.
Dipping only 27% was
The Bourne Ultimatum which grossed an estimated $4.2M
pushing the massive cume to $216.2M. Only one 2007 release has performed better
in its seventh weekend — Wild Hogs with $4.7M in April. Overseas, the Universal
hit collected an estimated $20.8M from 4,333 theaters in 46 territories and
enjoyed number one debuts in France, South Korea, Belgium, Norway and the
Netherlands. That lifted the international total to $125M and the global tally
to $341M making it the biggest Bourne ever. Look for the $400M barrier to fall
later this fall.
The sports comedy Balls of Fury drooped down to eighth place with an estimated
$3.3M, off 41%, for a $28.9M total after 19 days for Focus. New Line’s action
sequel Rush Hour 3 held up well again sliding 32% to an estimated $3.3M for a cume of $133.2M to date. The family comedy
Mr Bean’s Holiday eased only 22% to
an estimated $2.7M for a $28.5M sum for Universal.
There was plenty of activity in the arthouses as Oscar season got underway with
strong limited launches from a handful of early contenders. Director
Cronenberg‘s crime thriller
Eastern Promises generated the best average with its
estimated $553,000 bow from 15 theaters for a muscular $36,867 per site. The
R-rated tale won the top audience prize at the Toronto International Film
Festival on Saturday boosting its industry profile and will expand on Friday to
more than 1,300 locations nationwide. This weekend’s results were almost
identical to the platform bow of Cronenberg’s last film
A History of Violence
which opened in mid-September two years ago in 14 theaters to a $515,992 frame
and $36,857 average before expanding wide the following weekend with $8.1M from
1,340 venues and a $6,047 average. Coincidentally, Jodie Foster was number one
at that time with Flightplan.
Sony’s musical extravaganza
Across the Universe was red hot also with a debut of
an estimated $685,000 from 23 venues for a potent $29,783 average. Studio data
showed that the Julie Taymor-directed pic skewed towards young women as the
audience breakdown was 62% female and 57% under 25. Universe also widens on
Friday and will be in roughly 400 playdates.
The Tommy Lee Jones military mystery
In the Valley of Elah opened to solid
results with an estimated $150,000 from nine locations for a $16,667 average.
Warner Independent reported that the audience was more male and older. Directed
by Paul Haggis,
Elah will expand to 250-300 runs next weekend. The
Daniel Radcliffe drama
December Boys did not fare as well and
grossed an estimated $18,000 from four theaters for a mild $4,500 average in New
York and Los Angeles. Pic will widen to 10 theaters on Friday and will have a
tough road ahead given the avalanche of limited-release options on the horizon.
Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. New Line’s stylish
action thriller Shoot
‘Em Up tumbled 55% in its second weekend to an estimated
$2.6M giving the Clive Owen pic only $10.3M after ten days. A $15M final seems
likely. The Nanny Diaries grossed an estimated $2.2M, off 31%, for a cume of
$24M. The MGM release should finish up with just under $30M. Paramount’s
expensive flop Stardust took in an estimated $1.4M, down 25%, for a domestic
tally of only $36.4M. With a reported production cost of $65M, the adventure
film looks to end its run with a disappointing $40M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $61.3M which was up 9% from last year
when Gridiron Gang debuted in first place with $14.4M; but down 8% from 2005
when Just Like Heaven opened in the top spot with $16.4M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru
Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster returns to the big screen this weekend in the vigilante thriller The Brave One which has its sights set on an easy top spot debut. The frame’s only other wide openers, the comedy Mr. Woodcock and the fantasy adventure Dragon Wars, bring with them less buzz and look to make less of a dent into the North American box office.
Gunning for her third number one hit in as many years, Foster takes a darker role starring as a woman who takes the law into her own hands after her fiancé is brutally beaten and killed in the Warner Bros. drama The Brave One. The R-rated film from director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) co-stars Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, and Mary Steenburgen and should play to an adult audience. Cross-gender appeal is strong here so this will not play out like a chick flick or a woman-in-peril film. Foster is one of very few women in Hollywood bankable enough to open pictures consistently year after year and she tends to pick projects with commercial viability in the first place. Gone are the Nell days.
The Brave One should play to the same crowd that came out for two other September thrillers led by fortysomething white women – Foster’s own Flightplan from 2005 and Julianne Moore‘s The Forgotten from a year earlier. Flightplan took off with $24.6M and a $7,193 average while Forgotten bowed to $21M and a $6,773 average. Brave carries a harsher R rating but that should not affect the grosses too much since most of the interest will come from those over 16 anyway. A more narrow release in 2,755 theaters will have an impact though. Marketing has been top notch and Foster has been making so many promotional appearances that you’d think her name were Hillary. Despite a bad title, The Brave One should still score a strong opening weekend in the number one spot and could gross about $22M over three days.
Halloween‘s freefall means it will be out of theaters by the time trick-or-treating begins. A 55% drop would lead to a $4M frame and a 17-day tally of $50M. Superbad should continue its strong run with a 40% dip to $3M which would boost Sony’s total to $109M.
LAST YEAR: The Rock‘s football drama Gridiron Gang from Sony led a batch of new films with a debut of $14.4M which was good enough to clinch first place. Opening in second and playing to a more mature adult audience was The Black Dahlia with $10M for Universal. Final grosses reached $38.4M and $22.5M. Bowing poorly in third was the baseball toon Everyone’s Hero with $6.1M for Fox on its way to just $14.5M. Sony’s teen thriller The Covenant dropped from first to fourth with $4.8M while Paramount’s The Last Kiss opened quietly in fifth with $4.6M leading to a $11.6M final.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got vigilantes (The Brave One, starring
Jodie Foster), gym teachers (Mr. Woodcock, starring
Billy Bob Thornton and
Susan Sarandon), war correspondents (The Hunting Party, starring
Richard Gere and
Terrence Howard), and
flying menaces (Dragon Wars, starring
Behr). What do the critics have to say?
In Taxi Driver,
Robert DeNiro played a cabbie that went on a killing
spree to "protect" a teenage hooker played by Jodie Foster. Now, with
The Brave One, it’s Foster’s turn to take the law into her own hands. She plays
a talk radio host whose significant other is killed in a random attack,
triggering an impulse to arm herself and "avenge" her husband’s killing.
Terrence Howard plays a detective who’s on the trail of this vigilante. Critics
say The Brave One‘s an-eye-for-an-eye message is problematic, but the
material is slightly elevated by
Neil Jordan‘s direction and strong performances from Foster
and Howard. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, Brave may not be one to watch.
(Check out our review from the Toronto Film Festival
Also opening this week in limited release:
The Great World of Sound, a
drama about a pair of traveling music producers, is at 82 percent;
a documentary about Paris’s famed Pere-Lachaise cemetery, is at 80 percent;
Eastern Promises, starring
Viggo Mortensen as a member
of London’s underworld, is at 79 percent (check out our interview with Cronenberg and Mortensen
King of California, starring
Evan Rachel Wood as a father and daughter on a quest for gold, is at
75 percent; Paul Haggis‘
In the Valley of Elah, starring
Tommy Lee Jones
and Charlize Theron, about a war vet’s search for his missing son who recently
returned from Iraq, is at 63 percent;
Ira & Abby, a rom-com about a
whirlwind courtship that takes a dark turn, is at 50 percent;
Julie Taymor‘s ambitions musical that chronicles the 1960s through
the music of the Beatles, is at 45 percent (check out our Beatles movie feature
December Boys, a story of orphaned teenagers in Australia starring
Daniel Radcliffe, is at 43 percent; and
Silk, a period romance starring
Keira Knightley and Michael Pitt, is at zero percent.
It’s been through two years of development (and at least two directors), but the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis‘ short story collection The Informers is still a go — and according to The Hollywood Reporter, it could wind up with one delightfully strange cast.
The Informers, published in 1994, consists of a series of linked stories detailing events in the lives of a group of interconnected characters; according to The Hollywood Reporter, the film version will adapt seven of these stories, which focus on “a movie executive, his wife, his mistress, a rock star, a vampire and a kidnapper.” In negotiations to join the cast? None other than Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, and Brandon Routh.
We know what you’re thinking, and no, Billy Bob will not be playing the vampire — that honor goes to Routh. Thornton will play the executive, while Basinger will play his wife. Oh, and here’s an interesting tidbit: Ashley Olsen will play “a sexually promiscuous girl.”
The project was first announced in May of 2005, when it was reported that Nick Jarecki would be directing; according to the Reporter, Gregor Jordan will now fill that role, but the producers have apparently elected to keep Ellis and Jarecki’s original screenplay. The article gives no target release for the film, but notes that principal photography is scheduled to begin in October.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
The film concerns devastatingly shy guy Lars (Ryan Gosling) who lives in a small town and can’t seem to find a place. He’s got some kindly pressure to ask a local girl out but instead “finds a mate” online. When she comes in a crate courtesy of USPS, the town is encouraged that the best thing they can do is play along. So just like It’s a Wonderful Life, the whole town rolls up its sleeves and pretends the blow up doll in the wheelchair is in fact a missionary named Bianca with nurses’ training.
Director Craig Gillespie, previously a TV commercial director, comes to Lars fresh off the set of the upcoming Mr. Woodcock. And screenwriter Nancy Oliver looks to carry over her smart, off-kilter wit that served her well when she was writing for Six Feet Under.
It’s purely ironic that indies about small town American are precisely the ones that don’t hit the theaters in small town America. A test screener review over at AICN describes Lars and the Real Girl as a film that doesn’t make jokes at the sake of provincial living — though it probably make a little light of it from time to time. I mean, it is about a blow-up doll delusion after all.
Check out the Real Girl trailer here!
Variety reports that "Saturday Night Live" funnylady Amy Poehler has snagged the last meaty role in "Mr. Woodcock." Ms. Poehler joins an ensemble that includes Seann William Scott, Susan Sarandon, and Billy Bob Thornton. The comedy is about an author who heads back to his home town to prevent his mother from marrying a hated old gym teacher. Newcomer Craig Gillespie will be directing the screenplay by first-timers Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert; former "Simpsons" scribes Josh Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia also contributed a draft or two.