David Goyer is one very busy man.

The writer/director — whose previous credits include the Blade movies, Batman Begins, and The Invisible — already had a list of upcoming projects that included directing Magneto and helping with Doug Liman‘s Jumper. Now, according to a report posted at Variety last week, he’s signed on to direct the film adaptation of Baltimore, of the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, an illustrated novel by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden.

Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, did conceptual artwork for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and worked with Goyer on Blade 2, while Golden, whose previous novels include “The Myth Hunters” and “Wildwood Road,” has multiple films in development. The duo will write the screenplay. The Baltimore synopsis, from the article:

Just-published by Bantam, the graphic novel tells the story of the awakening of supreme evil on Earth. Lord Henry Baltimore is bitten by a demonic vampire bat on a WWI battlefield. The plague destroys his family, and Baltimore creates a team to hunt and fight the Red King, the embodiment of all evil.

The Variety report goes on to note that optioning Baltimore fits Regency’s “new mandate to make films appealing to a young male demographic,” and lists the comic-book adaptation Virulents and an action thriller titled The Darkest Hour as other projects in development.

Source: Variety

This year the always-busy David S. Goyer gave us "The Invisible." Next year he’ll be offering a new rendition of H.G. Wells‘ "The Invisible Man."

Not not a remake, but more of a follow-up. According to Variety, the project is thought of as a sequel: "The story centers on a British nephew of the original Invisible Man. Once he discovers his uncle’s formula for achieving invisibility, he is recruited by British intelligence agency MI5 during WWII."

Universal wants Goyer to write and direct the new "Invisible Man" movie. He’ll also be doing that "Magneto" spinoff for Fox. No word yet on who’ll be cast in the "invisible" title role, but I vote for Christopher Walken. Why not?

Source: Variety

Peter Parker suffered a massive sophomore slide, but "Spider-Man 3" still dominated the box office around the globe spending a second weekend at number one with no other film coming anywhere near its stellar numbers.

Among the frame’s four new releases, the zombie thriller "28 Weeks Later" fared best with a decent bow in the runnerup spot while the Jane FondaLindsay Lohan pic "Georgia Rule" was mostly ignored and opened with disastrous results. Two other new comedies "Delta Farce" and "The Ex" barely registered a blip on the radar.

Sony was still crushing its competitors this weekend with "Spider-Man 3" which tumbled 60% to an estimated $60M in its second try in theaters. After ten days, the PG-13 hit has amassed a stunning $242.1M from North America and is still running ahead of its two predecessors. Ten-day cumes for 2002’s "Spider-Man" and 2004’s "Spider-Man 2" were $223M and $225M, respectively. However the new Venom installment is eroding faster as is often the case with the third part of a franchise. After the first three days, "Spider-Man 3" was an impressive 32% ahead of the first webslinger pic which opened on the exact same weekend in 2002. After seven days the lead was cut to 20% and now after ten days the gap has been reduced to 9%.

For the weekend, "Spider-Man 3" accounted for a stellar 64% of the box office for the top ten and grossed $17.1M on Friday (down 72% from its record-shattering opening day last week), $25M on Saturday (down 51% from last Saturday), and is projected to gross $18M on Sunday (down 55% from a week ago). The 60% second weekend drop is not uncommon for high-profile tentpole sequels with mammoth debuts. Some other sophomore drops include 53% for "X2: X-Men United," 54% for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," 63% for "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and 67% for "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Where is part 3 headed in the long run? It would make sense to look at other action films that kicked off the summer movie season on the first weekend of May. The shares of the total cume collected in the first ten days were 64% for last year’s "Mission: Impossible III," 69% for 2003’s "X2," and 71% for 2004’s "Van Helsing." Based on its trajectory and the competitive road ahead, "Spider-Man 3" could be headed for a finish of about $340-360M domestically. That would make it the lowest-grossing Spidey film in North America, however the overseas markets are a different story.

"Spider-Man 3" grossed an estimated $85.4M internationally this weekend to boost its overseas haul up to a mammoth $379.6M for a colossal global gross of $622M. Next weekend, the Sandman entry will surpass the international takes of $418M and $410M for the first two Spider-Man flicks to become the top performer of the franchise outside of North America. With the "Spider-Man" fan base already maxed out domestically, Sony made a strategic move to grow the brand around the world by hosting several star-studded international red carpet premieres and opening the film in most countries days ahead of the United States leading to a substantial increase in moviegoer excitement in all markets. "Spider-Man 3" still stands a very good chance of becoming the biggest grossing film of the trilogy on a global scale with the North American shortfall being overshadowed by gains overseas. With a reported production budget of $258M, the super hero film should surpass the $900M mark worldwide this summer.

Flesh-eating zombies took control of second place this weekend as the horror sequel "28 Weeks Later" opened with an estimated $10M representing a solid, but somewhat weaker-than-expected debut. The R-rated gorefest averaged a decent $4,342 from 2,303 playdates and delivered a gross almost equal to the $10.1M that "28 Days Later" achieved in its opening frame in June 2003. That sleeper hit bowed in a thousand fewer locations with 1,260 theaters and scored a more potent $7,986 average. Adjust for four years of ticket price increases and "Weeks" generated an opening weekend average half that of "Days." The new chapter earned very high praise from most critics, but being the fourteenth horror film of 2007 probably hurt its cause as many genre fans have overdosed on frightfests. If the estimate holds (Fox estimated a rather slim 26% Saturday-to-Sunday drop), "Weeks" will become the first non-Spidey film to reach double digits on opening weekend since "Fracture" from mid-April.

The star-driven chick flick "Georgia Rule" was dead on arrival at the box office debuting to an estimated $5.9M from 2,523 theaters for a flimsy $2,330 average. The R-rated film stars Lindsay Lohan as a rebellious teen left with her no-nonsense grandmother (Jane Fonda) for the summer. Felicity Huffman plays the alcoholic middle mom in the family. "Georgia" played more to the Fonda crowd than to the Lohan audience. Studio research from Universal showed that a whopping 81% of the turnout was female, 79% was white, and 70% was over the age of 30.

"Georgia Rule" imploded at the box office since it repelled its two main consumer groups. Older women pay attention to reviews and critics were brutal in reviewing the dramedy. And younger teen girls who track Lohan obsessively couldn’t get in thanks to the harsh R rating. The opening was less than half the amount that the studio saw earlier this year when it targeted the same audience with the same number of theaters with the Diane KeatonMandy Moore pic "Becasue I Said So" which bowed to $13.1M over Super Bowl weekend. The Fonda flick was released over the Mother’s Day frame, but most daughters chose to give their moms the gift of not seeing "Georgia Rule."

Paramount’s hit teen thriller "Disturbia" enjoyed the best legs in the top ten dipping only 18% to an estimated $4.8M. Although in its fifth weekend, the Shia LaBeouf hit has the second largest theater count of any film and is playing in 3,106 locations that are still holding onto the durable thriller. Cume to date is $66.3M.

The military comedy "Delta Farce" bombed in its opening weekend grossing only $3.5M, according to estimates, landing in fifth place. The PG-13 pic averaged a dismal $1,813 from 1,931 locations for Lionsgate. Reviews were understandably pitiful.

New Line’s Anthony HopkinsRyan Gosling drama "Fracture" dipped only 22% to an estimated $2.9M in its fourth frame and upped its cume to $31M. The horror flick "The Invisible" dropped to seventh with an estimated $2.2M, down 33%, for a $15.5M total.

Sliding only 25% in its third round was the action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" with an estimated $1.7M for Focus putting the sum at $18.9M. Nicolas Cage followed with his sci-fi flop "Next" which took in an estimated $1.6M, down 45%, for a total of $14.6M. Rounding out the top ten with an estimated $1.6M as well was the Disney animated hit "Meet the Robinsons" which fell 39% for a sturdy $94.1M cume. The 3D comedy will enjoy its status as the year’s top-grossing toon for just one more week since "Shrek the Third," which opens on Friday, could march past it after only one weekend in theaters.

Debuting with miserable results outside of the top ten was the Zach BraffAmanda Peet comedy "The Ex" which opened to an estimated $1.3M from 1,009 locations for a pathetic $1,288 average. The PG-13 date flick was released by MGM and earned poor reviews. With "The Ex," Hollywood has now seen a disturbing twelve wide releases over the last eight weeks fail to open to at least $5M. Numerous movies with little to offer paying moviegoers are being slaughtered in an overcrowded marketplace.

Three star-driven vehicles dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Will Ferrell’s blockbuster comedy "Blades of Glory" grossed an estimated $1.4M in its seventh lap and boosted its cume to $113.8M. Off 41%, the $60M-plus DreamWorks/Paramount pic looks to skate to a $116-118M finish. Ice Cube’s comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" fell 46% to an estimated $950,000 giving Sony $47.4M to date. The family film looks to end with just under $50M putting it 40% behind its predecessor "Are We There Yet?" which pulled in $82.3M two years ago. Warner Bros. has collected a measly $5M in ten days for its Eric BanaDrew Barrymore poker pic "Lucky You" and will probably fold with an embarrassing $7M.

Arthouse darling "Waitress" starring Keri Russell expanded successfully in its second weekend serving up an estimated $636,000 from 65 sites for a solid $9,788 average. Fox Searchlight widened the acclaimed film from just four locations last weekend and pushed its cume to $788,000. A special Mother’s Day gift bag promotion across the country is expected to strengthen Sunday sales. This Friday, the comedy expands in its existing markets adding 57 theaters and on May 25 it will widen to 400-500 total theaters nationwide for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.1M which was up 16% from last year when "Mission: Impossible III" stayed at number one with $25M; and up a scant 3% from 2005 when "Monster-in-Law" debuted on top with just $23.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

In the most lopsided box office victory in history, the hugely anticipated super sequel "Spider-Man 3" swung into theaters and monopolized the marketplace breaking the all-time records for both opening day and opening weekend in the process.

Sony unleashed its summer behemoth worldwide and also shattered the record for the biggest global debut ever as it conquered the box office in over 100 countries. The summer movie season could not have asked for a better way to begin.

Following a tidal wave of hype, "Spider-Man 3" exploded on the scene and grossed an eye-popping $148M during its opening weekend in North America, according to estimates, breaking the previous record of $135.6M set last summer by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest." The super hero flick opened in 4,252 theaters (also a record) and averaged a staggering $34,807 for Sony. The smash hit also set a new Imax record with $4.8M from those large-format engagements beating 300’s old mark set two months ago by 33%. Imax presentations, despite their higher ticket prices, were reportedly sold out from coast to coast.

Overseas, "Spider-Man 3" began its global assault on Tuesday May 1 in several key nations in Asia and Europe and has since grossed a mammoth $227M from 105 international territories putting its worldwide cume at a gargantuan $375M in a mere six days. In less than one week around the world, "SM3" has already reached nearly half of the total global gross of "Spider-Man 2" which hauled in $784M in 2004.

Domestically, the new webslinger adventure kicked things off on Friday with a record $59.3M in its first day beating the former record "Chest" set with $55.8M. Both figures included shows beginning at midnight on Thursday night. "Spidey" dropped 14% on Saturday to $51M and the studio estimated that Sunday sales will fall by only 26% to $37.7M. Final figures will be released on Monday after Sunday sales are tabulated. According to Sony research, the opening weekend audience skewed towards young men as expected. Males made up 54% of the crowd while 63% were under the age of 25.

"Spider-Man 3" reunited director Sam Raimi with his key actors Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. Joining the cast were Topher Grace, Thomas Haden Church, and Bryce Dallas Howard. Critics had mixed feelings with many calling it the worst of the series. Part "3" scored a 62% Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com compared to 90% for the first "Spidey" flick and 93% for the second installment. Moviegoers, however, did not care as they showed up anyway in unprecedented numbers proving that "SM3" was indeed a critic-proof blockbuster. The film’s long-term success will rely more on word-of-mouth from fans, rather than a thumbs up or down from reviewers. Users of Yahoo! Movies have given it a mild B grade from over 17,000 votes which could mean that fans are not exactly ecstatic.

"Spider-Man 3" carries a reported production cost of $258M, although many industry watchers believe it to be much higher. Despite its sky high budget, the PG-13 film has enjoyed such a strong start that it has a good chance of surging past the $822M worldwide gross of the first "Spider-Man" and could even approach the $1 billion mark. Buzz from fans will of course be a major factor in helping the Venom pic spread.

Competition, or a lack of it, was a key contributor to the record opening. There were absolutely no other films that energized audiences as every wide release failed to reach an average of even $2,000. That allowed the newest "Spider-Man" pic to account for a jaw-dropping 80% of the entire box office pie and dominate the marketplace with ease. Led almost exclusively by Peter Parker and friends, the top ten powered its way to an incredible $174M — its highest level since the "Pirates" sequel bowed last summer. It was an astonishing reversal from the previous weekend when the box office slumped to a seven-month low.

With nothing else worthy to program, multiplexes had no problem opening up screens. Sony did not report its official screen count but industry insiders note that it was over 10,000. By comparison, screen counts for previous blockbuster openers were 9,400 for "Star Wars Episode III," 8,500 for "Dead Man’s Chest," and 7,500 for the first "Spider-Man" which opened five years ago this same weekend and also broke the all-time opening weekend record. The extra screens for the new film allowed Sony to absorb all demand right away and leave almost nothing on the table.

Next weekend, "Spider-Man 3" will have little to worry about as nothing huge is opening, but the week after that is when "Shrek the Third" launches, followed seven days later by "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" over the lucrative Memorial Day holiday frame. Peter Parker will grasp tightly onto his records for now since Captain Jack Sparrow would like nothing more than to swipe them once again.

A few moviegoers did in fact choose to see other films this weekend in auditoriums which offered plenty of space. Three-time chart-topper "Disturbia" was bumped to the number two spot, but held up well considering the new competition. The Paramount thriller dropped by only 37% to an estimated $5.7M and boosted its 24-day cume to $59.9M, or about what Spidey did in its first day. New Line’s courthouse thriller "Fracture" followed with an estimated $3.4M in its third weekend, down 50%, and lifted its sum to $26.5M.

The teen horror flick "The Invisible" ranked fourth and tumbled 60% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $3.1M. Buena Vista has scared up $12.3M in ten days and looks headed for a $16-18M finish. Nicolas Cage suffered the worst drop in the top ten as his latest action film "Next" crashed 61% and took in an estimated $2.8M this weekend. With a poor ten-day tally of $11.8M, Paramount will sputter to a horrendous $14-16M for the pricey star vehicle.

The much-delayed poker drama "Lucky You" had the unlucky fortune of opening against "Spider-Man 3" and suffered an embarrassing debut as it failed to average even $1,000. The Curtis Hanson-directed pic bowed to an estimated $2.5M from 2,525 locations for a dismal $996 average. The Warner Bros. release starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore met with bad marks from critics and total apathy from ticket buyers.

3D toon "Meet the Robinsons" fell 49% to seventh with an estimated $2.5M in its sixth frame for an impressive cume of $91.8M. Also in its sixth weekend, fellow spring hit "Blades of Glory" collected an estimated $2.3M, down 55%, giving Paramount $111.6M to date.

The action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" tumbled 58% in its third weekend to an estimated $2.1M. Focus has grossed $16.1M thus far. Rounding out the top ten was Sony’s "Are We Done Yet?" which dropped 51% to an estimated $1.7M leading to a total of $46.1M.

A pair of well-reviewed arthouse films aimed at adult women debuted to solid results in limited release as alternatives to the Spidey action. Fox Searchlight opened its Sundance acquisition "Waitress" to an estimated $91,000 from only four theaters in New York and Los Angeles averaging a potent $22,868 per location. The Keri Russell starrer directed by the late Adrienne Shelly will expand to 21 cities on Friday for a total of 62 theaters. Cume since the Wednesday launch is $111,000. The Alzheimer’s drama "Away From Her" from actress-turned-director Sarah Polley bowed to an estimated $56,000 from four locations for a sturdy $14,000 average for Lionsgate.

A pair of underachievers fell out of the top ten this weekend. Sony’s motel terrorfest "Vacancy" dropped a steep 65% to an estimated $1.5M upping its cume to only $16.4M. The Lionsgate action pic "The Condemned" crumbled even further collapsing 72% in its second weekend to an estimated $1.1M for a weak ten-day sum of $6M. Final grosses should end up with disappointing totals of $19M and $7M, respectively.

The top ten films soared to an estimated $174.1M which was up an astounding 85% from last year when "Mission: Impossible III" opened at number one with $47.7M; and up a staggering 129% from 2005 when "Kingdom of Heaven" debuted on top with just $19.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Will the friendly neighborhood webslinger reclaim the holy grail of the movie biz – the opening weekend box office record?

After attacking most major markets around the world throughout this week, Sony’s global assault hits North America on Friday with "Spider-Man 3," the much-anticipated super hero sequel which ushers in a new summer movie season with a bang. And it could indeed be a record bang.

Director Sam Raimi returns with his illustrious cast including Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the new mega-budgeted tentpole film following up on a pair of Spidey films that together grossed an eye-popping $1.6 billion worldwide earlier this decade. In the new PG-13 adventure, Peter Parker tries to take his relationship with his galpal Mary Jane to the next level just as three new villains enter the scene looking for some love and affection of their own from Spider-Man. James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and everyone’s favorite lady in the water Bryce Dallas Howard co-star. The new saga features the super foes Sandman, Venom, and the New Goblin.

With an official production cost of $258M (and some speculate that it is actually higher), Spider-Man 3 stands as the most expensive movie yet to hit theaters. But despite the enormous pricetag, and not to mention the extravagant marketing tab, the super sequel stands a chance of approaching $1 billion in global box office this summer with tons more cash coming from video, television, and merchandising. So the eye-popping budget almost seems justified.

Sony staked its claim to the first weekend of May over a year ago and competing studios took the warning by making sure they did not program anything worthy against it, or even on the weeks before and after its opening. That puts "Spider-Man 3" in the enviable position of having the entire marketplace all to itself for a full two weeks before the next summer sensation, "Shrek the Third," hits the marketplace. Spidey should easily have over $250M in the bank before the ogre pic opens giving the super hero a mammoth headstart in the annual race for the summer crown.

The lack of competition will be key this weekend in "Spider-Man 3"’s attempt to break the all-time opening weekend record set last summer by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" which exploded to $135.6M over a regular Friday-to-Sunday period. As big as that bow was, there was still a potent $60M spent on the rest of the top five films that weekend. This frame, look for the films in the two through five slots to collect only a third of that amount. The advantage the Venom flick has over the last "Pirates" is that the current marketplace is so dead that multiplexes will be handing over every possible screen. Whereas a July film might only get three or four screens at a venue, a tentpole release in early May can spread like black alien goo to a fifth, sixth, or seventh screen at the same multiplex since there’s absolutely nothing else of value to waste auditoriums on. This increases the grossing potential significantly.

Running time will not be an issue as "Spider-Man 3" actually runs about 10 minutes shorter than "Dead Man’s Chest." Thanks to the weak marketplace (last weekend was the worst frame in seven months), Sony has booked a record 4,253 locations for its bow this weekend breaking the previous high of 4,163 theaters for the launch of 2004’s "Shrek 2." The studio is not reporting its total print count, but based on other megablockbusters of its type, it can be safely estimated that over 8,000 total screens will offer up this new super hero flick. Possibly over 9,000. By comparison, the second "Pirates" hit set sail in 4,133 theaters with over 8,500 prints while "Star Wars Episode III" took off with over 9,400 prints in North America in mid-May 2005.

The marketing campaign has been running on overdrive with numerous red carpet premieres around the world over the last two weeks. The push seems to be helping as "Spider-Man 3" has surpassed the opening day marks of its two older brothers in every market. The event film grossed a stunning $29.2M on its first day in 16 territories on Tuesday breaking the all-time opening day record in ten of them including France, Italy, Hong Kong, Egypt, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The tally was more than the first-day grosses in the same countries of the first two "Spidey" films combined. By Sunday the juggernaut will be playing in a stunning 107 markets across the globe. North American audiences may follow suit and push "3" ahead of the then-record $114.8M opening of the first Peter Parker pic from five years ago this very weekend. That same size audience turning out this weekend at today’s ticket prices would unload about $130M domestically.


Spidey hangs comfortably knowing a big opening weekend is ahead.

Although the new tale has little competition on its second weekend, its spider legs may not be as strong as those of the previous webslinger films. The first two were very big crowdpleasers with many calling the second installment the better film. Expectations are sky high for the new one. Yes, the threequel is a fun thrill ride worthy of kicking off the summer popcorn season and boasts impressive action sequences and effects. But its weak script and cram-a-ton-of-stories-into-one-film feel will not make many fans think of it as the best "Spidey" yet. It becomes so much of a super hero soap opera by its midpoint that it won’t have the same word-of-mouth as the previous ones. While that will have no effect on the opening weekend gross, it could eat into repeat business down the road. Last summer’s "X-Men: The Last Stand" opened powerfully to $122.9M over the four-day Memorial Day frame but tumbled down to $16.1M by its third weekend.

When franchises hit the third installment, pressure mounts to offer something new to the table so casual fans don’t lose interest. What "Spider-Man 3" has going for it is the buzz that has circulated (naturally or artificially – you decide) about how this could be the final "Spider-Man" film for Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst together. That succeeds in giving the film a sense of urgency in that fans feel that this might be the last party for the beloved trio. Add in the magazine covers, talk show appearances, and globe-trotting premieres and Spider-Man has truly conquered pop culture this week which will make movie fans not want to be the only goofballs on Monday who didn’t see the can’t-miss blockbuster.

Advance ticketing has been running at a record pace. Movietickets.com has reported that sales are ahead of "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point in the advance sales cycle and three times better when compared to "Spider-Man 2." Add in Thursday night midnight shows, and the higher-priced Imax venues where tickets run as much as $15 in New York City, and the grossing potential climbs even higher.

"Spider-Man 3" stands an excellent chance of setting a new industry record for the biggest opening in history. The marketing assault has been amazing, audience anticipation is sky high, competition is zero, and every screen out there is dumping its spring trash in favor of the Sandman flick. Towering over its foes, "Spider-Man 3" might swing into the friendly neighborhood of $140M over the Friday-to-Sunday span this weekend.

Who would dare go head-to-head against Spider-Man this weekend? The Hulk of course! Eric Bana joins forces with Drew Barrymore in the poker drama "Lucky You" which Warner Bros. is quietly dropping into the marketplace. Offered as a counter-programming option for adult women, the much-delayed film from director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "8 Mile") tells of a hardcore card shark who juggles rocky relationships with his need to win a tournament. The PG-13 film could not have asked for a more unlucky frame. Although countering super hero films with chick flicks can be a good move ("My Best Friend’s Wedding" vs. "Batman & Robin," "The Devil Wears Prada" vs. "Superman Returns"), this time this film just doesn’t have the goods. Buzz is low, reviews are bad, and Drew just isn’t the draw she used to be. Plus "Spider-Man 3" boasts plenty of female appeal so the choice will be simple for most women. Not likely to find full houses in its 2,525 theaters, "Lucky You" looks to settle for a distant second place showing with about $7M this weekend.


"I’m not sure this hand is strong enough to go against Spider-Man."

Elsewhere in the land of single-digit millions, "Disturbia" will end its three-week reign atop the charts. The Paramount thriller has been enjoying good legs with second and third weekend declines of 42% and 31%, respectively. This time the fall should be harder since "Spidey" will appeal to the exact same audience. A 45% drop would give "Disturbia" about $5M for the session and a solid 24-day cume of $59M.

The supernatural thriller "The Invisible" probably burned through much of its audience on opening weekend so a 50% drop to around $4M could result. That would give Buena Vista $13M after ten days. Fellow sophomore "Next" starring Nicolas Cage should collapse as well as moviegoers showed no interest last weekend. A 50% decline should lead to a $3.5M frame and a dismal ten-day total of only $13M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Awaiting the arrival of their webslinging hero, North American audiences avoided the multiplexes and held onto their money rejecting the slate of new releases that Hollywood dumped into theaters. That allowed the hit suspense pic "Disturbia" to retain its number one position for the third consecutive weekend despite the fact that the overall box office tumbled to its worst showing of 2007.

For the third straight weekend, moviegoers made the teen thriller "Disturbia" the top choice spending an estimated $9.1M on the Paramount release. After 17 days, the PG-13 sleeper hit has raked in a impressive $52.2M and could be headed for a $70M final. Produced by DreamWorks for only $23M, "Disturbia" is the first film to stay on top for back-to-back-to-back frames since Ben Stiller’s holiday season smash "Night at the Museum." Also, Paramount got to enjoy five straight weeks at number one with the Shia LaBeouf hit which followed on the heels of the two-week reign of "Blades of Glory." The last studio to accomplish this feat was Buena Vista in 2004 when "The Incredibles" claimed the top spot for two weeks followed by a three-week reign for "National Treasure."

The best opening among the new releases came from the new supernatural thriller "The Invisible" which landed in second with an estimated $7.6M from 2,019 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,767 per location, the PG-13 chiller about a teen whose spirit must solve his own murder was the fifth scary movie of the month to hit cinemas. "Invisible" had the least starpower of the four new releases, but used its creepy premise to connect with teens and young adults.

Nicolas Cage suffered his worst action opening since becoming a hero in the genre with his latest offering "Next" which stumbled into third place with a weak $7.2M debut, according to estimates. The Paramount release, which was expected to top the charts this weekend, averaged a feeble $2,642 from 2,725 theaters. Cage scored a hit earlier this year with the comic book actioner "Ghost Rider" which has taken in nearly $116M to date, but he couldn’t get action fans to make a return trip to the multiplexes with "Next" which was equally panned by critics. The film about a Las Vegas magician who can see two minutes into the future opened in several international markets as well this weekend and hit the top spot in France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. In all markets, "Next" is trying to grab whatever business it can before "Spider-Man 3" makes its global launch this coming week.

The webslinger sequel is poised to shatter records around the world thanks to both intense anticipation and weak competition. The mega-budgeted franchise film will have the domestic marketplace virtually to itself next weekend since there is zero excitement for any other film. Sony has even planned out Spider-Man Week in New York City which kicks off on Monday with the special black carpet premiere in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival with director Sam Raimi and the stars attending. Just like with the first Peter Parker flick from a half-decade ago, "Spider-Man 3" is not only kicking off the summer movie season, but it is arriving in a marketplace on life support in desperate need of a hero. The first "Spider-Man" opened to a then-record $114.8M and accounted for a whopping 77% of all ticket sales in the top ten. The new installment is swinging into an even weaker competitive environment and on more screens which could lead to a more dominant launch.

The Anthony HopkinsRyan Gosling thriller "Fracture" dropped a reasonable 36% in its second weekend to an estimated $7.1M. With $21.3M collected in ten days, the New Line release looks to find its way to $35-40M domestically.

"Blades of Glory," the year’s second biggest comedy after "Wild Hogs," slipped 32% to fifth place and grossed an estimated $5.2M for Paramount. With a budget of just over $60M, the Will Ferrell hit has taken in $108.1M and should skate to a $120M finish. Disney’s animated film "Meet the Robinsons" held up well thanks to no new kids competition and dipped 31% to an estimated $4.8M pushing the cume to $88.4M. The year’s top-grossing toon looks to end its run a bit north of the $100M mark.

Focus widened the run of its British action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" by expanding from 825 to 1,272 sites and grossed an estimated $4.8M this weekend for a decent $3,758 average on the sophomore frame. That represented a slim 18% dip in the gross but a steeper 47% drop in the average with the cume rising to $12.5M. The $16M production could conclude its North American run with $21-23M adding to its $49M tally from overseas.

The horror flick "Vacancy" suffered the worst fall in the top ten dropping 45% from its poor debut to an estimated $4.2M. Sony’s $19M thriller starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale has taken in just $13.9M to date and looks to limp to around $20M overall.

Wrestling fans ignored the new "Stone Cold" Steve Austin action pic "The Condemned" which debuted in ninth with a wimpy $4M, according to estimates. The R-rated film about ten death row inmates in a contest for survival was dead on arrival averaging a pathetic $1,732 from 2,310 sites for Lionsgate. Rounding out the top ten was Ice Cube’s family comedy "Are We Done Yet?" with an estimated $3.4M, off 34%, for a $43.8M sum. Sony should reach about $50M.

Jamie Kennedy’s new comedy "Kickin’ It Old Skool" flopped in its first weekend as the Yari Film Group release bowed to an estimated $2.8M from 1,816 locations for a miserable $1,542 average. It was a far cry from the actor’s 2003 spring comedy "Malibu’s Most Wanted" which debuted to $12.6M on its way to a solid $34.4M. Kickin’ was the ninth wide release this year to fail to reach the top ten on opening weekend.

Three films fell out of the top ten this weekend. Sony’s underperforming thriller "Perfect Stranger" dropped 46% to an estimated $2.2M putting the cume for the Halle BerryBruce Willis suspense pic at $21.6M. A disappointing $25M final seems likely for the star-driven bomb. The Warner Bros. chick flick "In the Land of Women" has grossed over $8M in its first ten days which is far from impressive. Look for a $12-14M finish for the Adam Brody clunker.

Buena Vista’s runaway smash comedy "Wild Hogs" finally left the top ten after eight long weeks. Starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy, the PG-13 pic took in an estimated $1.9M, off 33%, boosting the total to $158.8M. A final tally of $163-165M seems likely.

The top ten films slumped to an estimated $57.4M which was down 33% from last year when "RV" opened at number one with $16.4M; and down 26% from 2005 when "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" debuted on top with $21.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

For the fourth consecutive weekend, four or more new wide releases will cram into multiplexes trying to get at their piece of a dwindling box office pie.

Nicolas Cage targets his second trip to the top spot this year with the action film "Next," rival actioner "The Condemned" counters with Stone Cold Steve Austin in the lead, horror fans get yet another creepy tale with "The Invisible," and Jamie Kennedy goes for some laughs with "Kickin’ It Old Skool."

Mostly garbage titles were programmed into this weekend’s menu since any studio with a decent film would not risk getting crushed on the second weekend by the webslinger sequel. Including these newest films, the first four months of 2007 boasts 64 wide releases hitting the marketplace, up slightly from last year’s 60 but up sharply from the 42 over the same period in 2005. With a mass quantity of weak April films, look for the North American box office to plunge to its lowest point of the year this weekend during what is essentially the calm before Sandman’s storm hits next Thursday night at midnight.

Following his Marvel Comics hit "Ghost Rider," Nicolas Cage once again plays the action hero card with the sci-fi thriller "Next." The PG-13 film finds the Oscar winner playing a man with the ability to see into the future who is called in to foil a terrorist plot before it happens. Directed by Lee Tamahori ("Die Another Day," "Along Came A Spider"), "Next" has the advantage of having the most screens and the most starpower of any new release this weekend. Plus with current films rotting away quickly (9 of the 16 holdovers in the Top 20 last weekend plunged by more than 55%), competition will not be too fierce. Paramount has been giving "Next" a decent amount of marketing, that is for a film being dumped into the final weekend of a month starting with the letter A. In almost any other time of year this would get clobbered, but given the current alternatives it will make for the only reasonable choice for many moviegoers. Hence, a number one opening by default and quite possibly the weakest one of the year. Crashing into over 2,500 theaters, "Next" could reach the top with around $13M.


Cage and Biel required an escort when exiting the "Next" premiere.

"The Condemned" offers a reality show idea not likely to be on any network’s fall schedule. In the weekend’s sole R-rated film, death row inmates duke it out to the death in order to avoid being executed, all while television cameras capture every brutal moment. World Wrestling Entertainment head Vince McMahon produces behind the scenes while former superstar grappler Steve Austin stars in front of the camera. Other WWE stars who headlined recent feature films include Kane in last May’s "See No Evil" ($4.6M debut) and John Cena in last fall’s "The Marine" ($7.1M bow). Both films averaged less than $4,000 on their opening weekends. Young men will make up the only audience segment for the new Lionsgate title and "Next" will provide some direct action competition. Still some hardcore wrestling fans will turn up to theaters since a movie ticket will be cheaper than ordering a pay-per-view event. But overall, prospects seem bleak. "The Condemned" will attack 2,310 theaters and may end up with $6M.


Steve Austin and some unfortunate soul in "The Condemned."

As if moviegoers don’t have enough scary films to choose from, Buena Vista offers up one more with the supernatural thriller "The Invisible." The PG-13 film follows a high school student whose spirit wanders after a brutal accident. Fright flicks have been flopping left and right recently and there is no reason to believe that this one will turn things around. The marketing volume has been stuck on low as this remake of a Swedish pic is more of a spring cleaning film tossed into the marketplace hoping to be forgotten soon. With no starpower, there will be almost nothing driving in traffic. "The Invisible" will appear in over 2,000 theaters this Friday, but might only collect roughly $5M.


One of them is "The Invisible."

Jamie Kennedy headlines the new comedy "Kickin’ It Old Skool" playing a 1980s breakdancer that falls into a coma and awakens two decades later to a much different world. Yari Film Group is targeting teenagers with this PG-13 pic which essentially offers the same laughs as the comedian’s 2003 film "Malibu’s Most Wanted." That modest hit bowed in late April to $12.6M from 2,503 theaters on its way to a $34.4M domestic final. "Skool" does not have a big studio marketing push behind it but it may grab the attention of some young dudes killing time before Peter Parker busts into theaters. DVD is where most people will find this one. Breaking into 1,600 theaters, "Kickin’ It Old Skool" could find itself with around $5M over three days.


Jamie Kennedy and Webster kick it "Old Skool."

Among holdovers, two-time champ "Disturbia" will find it difficult to hold onto its crown given the arrival of Nicolas Cage. But Paramount won’t care as it should still claim the number one film for the fifth consecutive weekend. A 40% decline would give the Shia LaBeouf pic about $8M for the frame and a healthy $51M after 17 days. The Anthony HopkinsRyan Gosling thriller "Fracture" has been well-received and competition is not too fierce so a 40% drop could be in order as well. That would leave New Line with $6.5M and a ten-day tally of $21M.

LAST YEAR: Three new flicks topped the charts led by the family comedy "RV" starring Robin Williams which opened at number one with $16.4M. The Sony hit enjoyed stellar legs and went on to collect $71.3M. Universal followed in second with the 9/11 thriller "United 93" which debuted in half as many theaters with $11.5M. The critically acclaimed pic went on to gross $31.5M. Buena Vista’s gymnastics film "Stick It" bowed in third with $10.8M on its way to $26.9M. Rounding out the top five were "Silent Hill" with $9.3M and "Scary Movie 4" with $7.8M. Also opening was the spelling drama "Akeelah and the Bee" with a weak $6M leading to a $18.8M final for Lionsgate and its promotional partner Starbucks.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got clairvoyants ("Next," with Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore), cons ("The Condemned," starring Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones), teen spirits ("The Invisible," starring Justin Chatwin), and breakdancers ("Kickin’ It Old Skool," starring Jamie Kennedy and Bobby Lee). Are the critics feeling it this week?

Another year, another slickly-produced Philip K. Dick adaptation. In "Next," Nicolas Cage stars as a Cassandra-like magician who can see terrible things happening two minutes in the future. (Sorta like "Memento," but the other way around. Or something.) The movie also features Julianne Moore as an FBI agent on his trail attempting to thwart a terrorist plot, and Jessica Biel as the love interest. The critics say the biggest problem with "Next" is that it fails to provide a consistent framework for Cage’s character’s remarkable powers. In addition, it lacks the nuance of source writer Dick’s text and features mediocre performances. At 33 percent on the Tomatometer, you may not want this one to be "Next" on you’re viewing schedule.


"Can you throw on a little ‘Ninth Symphony?’"

In the wrestling ring, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin made for a compelling antihero. In "The Condemned," his first starring vehicle? Not so much, but don’t entirely blame the noted purveyor of the stone cold stunner. Austin stars as a death-row inmate sent to a remote island, where he and nine other prisoners must duke it out on live television for the ultimate prize: freedom. Critics say this retread of "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Running Man" is undone by its shopworn premise and its message, which is that vicarious, voyeuristic violence is bad (as the film itself traffics in vicarious, voyeuristic violence). At 12 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s been "Condemned," all right.


Slap fight!

Critics have been kept in the dark with regard to David S. Goyer’s latest, "The Invisible." This tale of a teenager trapped between the living and the dead wasn’t screened for the scribes. In addition, the pundits haven’t been allowed to bust a move with "Kickin’ It Old Skool," the Rip Van Winkle-inspired tale of a breakdancer (Jamie Kennedy) who gets his poppin’ and lockin’ crew together after a 20-year repose. Take a temporary break from listening to Run DMC and guess those Tomatometers.


You’re the best, Jamie Kennedy!

Also opening this week in limited release: "Triad Election," Johnny To’s star-studded Hong Kong gangster flick, is at 88 percent on the Tomatometer; "Diggers," a slice-of-life tale of clam diggers in Maine starring Paul Rudd and Lauren Ambrose, is at 86 percent; "The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez," a doc about the first soldier killed in Iraq, is at 83 percent; the French thriller "Poison Friends" is at 82 percent; "Snow Cake," a drama about the aftermath of a fatal accident starring Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss, is at 68 percent; "Zoo," an impressionistic doc about bestiality, is at 53 percent; and the Raymond Carver adaptation "Jindabyne," starring Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne, is at 56 percent.


"Heard any good clam jokes?"

Films Not Screened for Critics in 2007 (Best To Worst Tomatometer Score):
———————————————-
28% — Ghost Rider
24% — The Abandoned
21% — The Hitcher
20% — Dead Silence
16% — Primeval
14% — The Messengers
13% — The Hills Have Eyes 2
11% — Slow Burn
10% — Blood and Chocolate
3% — Epic Movie
0% — Redline

Recent Philip K. Dick Adaptations:
————————————–
66% — A Scanner Darkly (2006)
28% — Paycheck (2003)
92% — Minority Report (2002)
15% — Impostor (2001)
29% — Screamers (1995)

He’s written some of the most popular movies of the past few years, but writer/director David S. Goyer isn’t slowing down. His remake "The Invisible" hits screens soon, he’s got a cool-sounding project called "Super Max" on the horizon, and he’s planning to remake a well-regarded David Cronenberg flick called "Scanners."

Yep, "Scanners," the movie in which Michael Ironside makes human heads explode just by thinking about it (and concentrating real hard). Mr. Goyer is taking the smart route with this remake, being careful to praise Mr. Cronenberg’s very influential work while mentioning how he’d like to ‘modernize’ the story.

"I’m a huge Cronenberg fan, and ‘Scanners’ was definitely one of my favorite films as a kid," Goyer said. "What we’re trying to do is take all the best elements of that. … He obviously made it on a shoestring budget, so this time hopefully we can expand upon what he did," is what Goyer had to say, among other things.

Darren Lynn Bousman looks to be on board as the new "Scanners" director. Production on the remake is supposed to get rolling in early 2008.

Source: Sci-Fi Wire

A while back we heard that the Harvey Dent character would be appearing in "The Dark Knight" (he’ll be played by Aaron Eckhart) but that his villainous alter ego (Two-Face) would be saved for the NEXT sequel. Looks like we might have some confirmation on that…

Well, nothing concrete, but "Batman Begins" screenwriter David Goyer recently dropped a few hints like "Two-Face? Hmm, don’t think so…," which of course leads to all sorts of fan-frantic speculation. Regarding the possibility of there being two villains in the sequel, Mr. Goyer makes a good point: "Some people raised their eyebrows when they heard there were going to be two villains in the first film … but I think that one worked out just fine." (I’d call that an understatement … and there were definitely more than two villains in "Batman Begins.")

Furthermore, it looks like Goyer (who’s got his own movie, "The Invisible," coming real soon) will be receiving only a "story by" credit when "The Dark Knight" takes to the screen again. Official screenwriting duties now belong to the director Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan — who recently collaborated on "The Prestige," and rather well if you ask me.

Source: Sci-Fi.com

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