Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, girls in tan speedsuits! Mass hysteria has gripped the nation since the hyperventilating presence of a femme Ghostbusters swooped in with a trailer, becoming the most disliked in YouTube history. Would a Mannequin remake cause the same tribulation? Only time will tell.

For now, as the Ghostbusters franchise crosses the mainstream once again, we look at 24 more ’80s movie remakes, ranked worst to best by Tomatometer! (Only original properties included — no Annie or Conan — while movies like 2011’s The Thing, which explicitly extend the original plot, are excluded.)

With the Super Bowl taking males out of the picture, mothers and daughters squared off at the North American box office this weekend with the younger set earning a slim victory. The spooky thriller "The Messengers" opened at number one driven by teenage girls and young women while the Diane Keaton comedy "Because I Said So" bowed close behind in the runnerup position drawing upon older women.

The overall box office picture was bleak as the top ten slumped below the $70M mark for the second time in three weekends.

Sony scored its seventh consecutive victory over Super Bowl weekend with the haunted house spookfest "The Messengers," which grossed an estimated $14.5M in its debut frame. The PG-13 pic averaged a solid $5,736 from 2,528 locations but was weaker than the studio’s previous three hits that ruled this particular weekend. Last year, the horror pic "When a Stranger Calls" topped the charts with a $21.6M opening and $7,205 average, in 2005 "Boogeyman" led with a $19M bow and $6,232 average, and in 2004 "You Got Served" hit number one with $16.1M and a $8,341 average. "Messengers" did however post the best opening for a horror film since October’s "Saw III." A long string of terror flops were tossed into the marketplace in between with disappointing results.

Budgeted at only $16M, "The Messengers" skewed to a young female audience. According to studio research, 53% of the crowd was female and an equal percentage was under the age of 21. The studio is already planning for next year’s Super Bowl frame when it will release the horror remake "Prom Night," which will again cater to the same crowd. Teenage girls and young women historically have been the group least interested in football’s big championship game making them an attractive audience to target on this weekend. Creepy PG-13 films with strong female characters coupled with saavy marketing have led to many number one hits for Sony and its Screen Gems unit. But with the grosses getting smaller, movie fans could be telling Hollywood that it is dipping into this well too often.

Opening in second place with respectable results was "Because I Said So" with an estimated $13M from 2,526 theaters. Averaging $5,155 per location, the PG-13 film stars Diane Keaton as a meddlesome mother trying to find love for her unmarried daughter played by Mandy Moore. Men showed practically zero interest in the Universal release. Studio research showed that a whopping 82% of the audience was female. The film also played more to Keaton fans than to the Moore crowd as 55% of the turnout was 35 or older. 83% was Caucasian. Critics trashed "Because" and "Messengers" may have eaten into its potential with younger women.

Last weekend’s number one film "Epic Movie" dropped a sizable 56% in its second weekend and ranked third with an estimated $8.2M. With $29.4M in ten days, the spoof comedy looks on course to finish with $40-44M making it a bit smaller than Fox’s spoof from last February "Date Movie." That spin on romantic comedies grossed a somewhat stronger $33.8M in its first ten days, had a slightly lower 53% sophomore drop, and found its way to $48.5M.

Fox’s runaway smash "Night at the Museum" slipped only 29% and placed fourth with an estimated $6.8M pushing its tally to $225.4M. The durable Ben Stiller blockbuster became the first film to spend seven weekends in the top five since 2004’s "The Passion of the Christ."

Universal’s mob thriller "Smokin’ Aces" dropped 57% to an estimated $6.3M in its second weekend and put its cume at $25M after ten days. The step dancing hit "Stomp the Yard" followed with an estimated $4.2M, off 45%, for a total of $56M. The Oscar-nominated musical "Dreamgirls" saw the worst decline of its run dropping 40% to an estimated $4M. Cume stands at $92.8M.

Picturehouse added 259 theaters to the run of the fantasy pic "Pan’s Labyrinth" and stayed put at number eight with an estimated $3.7M. With six Academy Award nominations, the R-rated film upped its cume to $21.7M while its average of $3,383 was the third best in the top ten. Will Smith‘s tenth career $100M blockbuster "The Pursuit of Happyness" took in an estimated $3.1M, down 38%, for a $157.4M total to date.

Tied for tenth place with an estimated $2.7M in ticket sales each were the Helen Mirren Oscar nominated pic "The Queen" and the Jennifer Garner dramedy "Catch and Release." The Miramax contender for Best Picture slipped 33% raising its cume to $45.5M while the Sony flick tumbled 65% in its second weekend thanks to its female audience shifting over to the frame’s two new releases. The ten-day total stands at a weak $12M.

The horror remake "The Hitcher" also saw sales nosedive and dropped out of the top ten. The Focus release slumped 68% to an estimated $1.2M giving the R-rated scarefest only $15.6M overall. A final gross of $17M seems likely.

MGM and The Weinstein Co. saw a solid start for its indie drama "Factory Girl," starring media darling Sienna Miller grossing an estimated $95,000 from only three theaters for a stellar $31,764 average per site. Bowing in just New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated film tells of the rise of Edie Sedgwick and her mentor Andy Warhol. Reviews were mostly negative.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $66.5M which was off 13% from last year when "When A Stranger Calls" opened at number one with $21.6M; and down 19% from 2005 when "Boogeyman" debuted on top with $19M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Proving that there’s always money in spoof comedies, Fox’s "Epic Movie" shot straight to number one over the weekend in its debut frame beating out three other new releases plus a handful of expanding Academy Award contenders. In fact, the immature laugher outgrossed all five Oscar nominees for best picture combined.

The crime drama "Smokin’ Aces" and the Jennifer Garner dramedy "Catch and Release" both enjoyed good results in their opening weekends, however the new horror flick "Blood and Chocolate" failed to even make the top ten. Most holdovers remained strong as the overall marketplace bounced back from last weekend’s dismal results.

Matching the numbers it posted a year ago with "Date Movie," Fox struck again with "Epic Movie" which topped the charts with an estimated $19.2M from 2,801 theaters. The PG-13 film lampooned several recent box office action hits and averaged a solid $6,855 per site. "Date Movie" skewered numerous romantic comedies and bowed to a similar $19.1M last February over the three-day portion of the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, whose writing credits include "Date Movie," "Spy Hard," and the entire "Scary Movie" series, wrote and directed "Epic." Teenagers made up a large portion of the audience and both genders were well-represented. Critics who did bother to review it trashed the film.


"Epic Movie": 0 percent Tomatometer, $19 million opening

Opening in second place with impressive results and similar per-theater success was Universal’s mob thriller "Smokin’ Aces" with an estimated $14.3M from 2,218 locations. Averaging a commendable $6,430 per site, the frame’s only new R-rated pic connected with young men as its primary audience. According to studio research, 59% of the audience was male and 57% was 25 or older. "Smokin’" stars Jeremy Piven, Andy Garcia, and Alicia Keys and cost less than $20M to produce which should make it a profitable venture when all worldwide rights are exploited. The film also opened at number one in Russia this weekend with $1.7M and has grossed an additional $5.3M from the United Kingdom after its third weekend.


Alicia Keys, in her big-screen debut

The unstoppable blockbuster comedy "Night at the Museum" enjoyed yet another small decline sliding only 21% in its sixth weekend to an estimated $9.5M. The Ben StillerRobin Williams smash has pumped its cume up to $216.7M and will soon join the top 50 domestic blockbusters of all-time.

Jennifer Garner generated respectable results for her latest film "Catch and Release" which was not given a very wide release, but still sold an estimated $8M in ticket stubs. Averaging a solid $4,932 from 1,622 playdates, the PG-13 film about a woman rebuilding her life after her husband’s death played heavily female. According to Sony’s research, an overwhelming 75% of the crowd consisted of women and 58% was 25 or older. "Catch" cost $25M to produce and opened smaller than her previous headlining efforts "13 Going on 30" ($21.1M in 2004) and "Elektra" ($12.8M in 2005). Reviews were mostly negative.


"Catch and Release": At 22 percent, it’s better than "Elektra"

Sony’s "Stomp the Yard," 2007’s top-grossing new release, slipped only 37% and took fifth with an estimated $7.8M. Total stands at an impressive $50.7M.

A quartet of Oscar-nominated films followed. Paramount’s musical "Dreamgirls," which led all films with eight Academy Award nominations, expanded from 2,214 to 2,785 sites and grossed an estimated $6.6M. That represented a slim 17% drop in sales from last weekend but a steeper 34% fall in the per-theater average which was $2,376. Cume to date is $86.7M. Despite not earning a best picture nomination, "Dreamgirls" is still holding up well and posting relatively low declines.


"And You, And You, And You…You’re Gonna Snub Me"

Also showing durability was Will Smith‘s "The Pursuit of Happyness" which earned the box office star an Academy nod for best actor. The Sony blockbuster dipped only 21% to an estimated $5M pushing its sum to $152.9M. "Pursuit" did not have any expansion, but instead lost 378 theaters and still witnessed a decline similar to that of "Dreamgirls" which scored many more Oscar nominations and added hundreds of playdates to its run.

The fantasy tale "Pan’s Labyrinth" widened from 609 to 823 sites and grossed an estimated $4.5M equaling its gross from last weekend. Nominated in six different categories, the Mexican film saw its per-theater average dip 26% from last weekend to a still-solid $5,474. Total is $16.3M for the Picturehouse release.

"The Queen" saw a healthy bump in sales and ranked ninth for the weekend with an estimated $4M, up 18%, for a $41.2M sum to date. Miramax added 244 additional venues and saw its average inch up 2% to $2,186.

Rounding out the top ten was a film that has approximately zero chance of earning any Academy Award nominations a year from now. The horror film "The Hitcher" tumbled 54% in its second weekend to an estimated $3.6M giving Focus only $13.4M to date. A $16-18M final seems likely.

Opening poorly outside of the top ten was yet another horror film, the werewolf thriller "Blood and Chocolate," which bowed to only $2.1M according to estimates. The PG-13 film attacked 1,200 theaters and averaged a weak $1,753 per venue for MGM.

With last Tuesday’s Academy Award nominations putting several films into the media spotlight, distributors took the opportunity to expand their contenders and saw increased weekend grosses, even though averages were mostly not very impressive. Best picture candidate "The Departed," which was near the end of its theatrical run after opening in early October, went back into national release and grossed an estimated $3M. Averaging $2,096 per site in 1,453 locations, the Martin Scorsese crime saga upped its cume to $124.9M. Its best picture rival "Babel" widened to 1,090 playdates and grossed an estimated $2.6M for a $2,368 average. Sales were up 25% from last weekend while the average inched up 2% with the total reaching $27.2M.

Clint Eastwood‘s "Letters From Iwo Jima," which has been holding back much of its release in anticipation of Oscar nods, added 55 theaters to its run and surged 26% to an estimated $1.7M. The Warner Bros. release averaged a decent but not spectacular $4,120 from 415 locations. The average increased a healthy 9% from last weekend and the subtitled film has collected $4.9M to date as "Letters" remained the lowest-grossing best picture nominee by far. But much potential could still be ahead of it.

Among films with high profile acting nominations, Fox Searchlight’s "Notes on a Scandal" more than tripled its run to 640 theaters and grossed an estimated $2.5M as the weekend take doubled. The Judi DenchCate Blanchett pic averaged $3,978 per playdate and has taken in $9M thus far. The distributor’s Forest Whitaker drama "The Last King of Scotland" remained mostly steady with its theater count and saw its gross inch up 3% to an estimated $1.7M for a $7.7M total. Sony Classics more than quadrupled the run of Penelope Cruz‘s "Volver" and took in an estimated $1.2M from 689 sites. The average was diluted down to just $1,671 as the total climbed to $8.9M.

The industry often looks at a film’s box office boost on the weekend after Academy Award nominations are announced to determine how much gold an Oscar nod is worth. But what is often overlooked is the additional marketing and distribution expense that is invested by a distributor to create new marketing materials, buy more advertising, and ship extra prints out across the country. Expanding these films in a crowded marketplace is not cheap, but studios do believe that there are long-term benefits to be gained by the added attention like extra momentum in overseas and video markets, plus possibly some added votes from Academy members. In addition, it is difficult to separate the sales that are due directly to the Oscar attention from those that would have occured anyway even if no nominations came through.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Paramount’s high school drama "Freedom Writers" dipped 33% to an estimated $3.5M in its fourth session. The Hilary Swank pic has grossed a respectable $31.3M to date and should finish with about $36-38M. The MGM family release "Arthur and the Invisibles" dropped 46% to an estimated $1.7M for a $11.5M cume. A disappointing $14M final seems likely.

Universal’s futuristic drama "Children of Men" scored three Oscar nominations, but it meant little to its ticket sales. The R-rated drama fell 46% to an estimated $2M lifting the sum to $30.7M. The Alfonso Cuaron-directed film should conclude with around $35M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $82.4M which was down 12% from last year when "Big Momma’s House 2" opened at number one with $27.7M; and down 16% from 2005 when "Hide and Seek" debuted on top with $22M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The first month of 2007 wraps up with four eclectic releases, featuring hitmen ("Smokin’ Aces", starring Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, and a million other hip thespians), sad people ("Catch and Release", starring Jennifer Garner and a hatless Kevin Smith), werewolves ("Blood and Chocolate" with Agnes Bruckner), and the almighty Crispin Glover ("Epic Movie"). What do the critics have to say?

In "Smokin’ Aces," Jeremy Piven plays a soon-to-be government snitch, leading a cavalcade of seedy characters who’ve been sent in to kill, or save him. Or maybe just settle with killing each other. This overstuffed movie features a huge list of cool people doing cool action scenes, but fails to give anybody any semblence of identity. It’s one vapid, bloody sequence after another, though critics are distressed over how long the movie takes to set up the convulted plot and action. At 28 percent Tomatometer, "Aces" may be smokin’, but it’s not on fire.


"All we need now is the girl and a pizza place."

Kevin Smith is certainly full of surprises. First the rumor he’ll do a scary flick, and now his apperance in "Catch and Release", a gooey romantic dramadey starring Jennifer Garner as a woman coping with a close death. Kevin Smith is the goofy yet lovable lug, the comic relief in a movie where everyone plays some kind of stock character. It’s a shallow, contrived treatment of a serious subject and with 24 percent on the Tomatometer, "Catch and Release" isn’t reeling in the critcs.


Worst. Survivor. Ever.

We’re going to have you work overtime for this week’s Guess That Tomatometer game. "Epic Movie," which somehow confuses Paris Hilton and "Borat" as part of the genre, is the latest of those spoof movies and the latest movie to not be critic screened.


"I neither deny nor confirm that the snozberries taste like snozberries."

Whenever I hear "Blood and Chocolate", it makes me think Elvis Costello, not babes and werewolves. Maybe the title’s signifcance is explained somewhere in the movie, but it’s hard to tell right now since "Blood and Chocolate" also isn’t being screened for critics. Guess those Tomatometers.


This movie bites.

Speaking of guessing Tomatometers, congratulations to mizzoucritic for coming closest last week to guessing the Tomatometer of "The Hitcher."

Also opening this week in limited release: "Seraphim Falls", a violent Western starring Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan, at 54 percent.

Box office sales slumped this weekend as the top ten dipped to its worst level in four months with the college dance pic "Stomp the Yard" holding onto the top spot by a thin margin. Moviegoers ignored "The Hitcher," the frame’s only new wide release, which posted an underwhelming fourth-place debut. A handful of Oscar contenders expanded into wider release and saw encouraging results hoping to collect steady sales from serious film lovers in the weeks ahead. Overall, the marketplace was quiet as the gross for the number one film and the cume for the top ten were both the lowest since mid-September.


"Stomp the Yard" spent another weekend at the top.

Sony’s low-budget hit "Stomp the Yard" spent another weekend at the top of the charts grossing an estimated $13.3M dropping only 39% in its sophomore frame. The PG-13 hit showed a healthy hold since most films catering to teen and young adult audiences fall by 45% or more on the second weekend. After ten days, the $14M-budgeted pic has grossed a stellar $41.6M and is on its way to reaching $65-70M. "Stomp" averaged a solid $6,485 from 2,051 theaters in its second step.

Close behind in second place was the Fox juggernaut "Night at the Museum" which took in an estimated $13M, off only 24%, boosting the cume to $205.8M. On Saturday, the PG-rated Ben Stiller film became the sixth 2006 release to join the double century club. "Museum" now ranks fifth among last year’s releases and is likely to surpass the $217.5M of "The Da Vinci Code" to end off as the fourth biggest blockbuster released in 2006. With no major family films getting in its way in the coming weeks, "Museum" could find its way to nearly $240M from North America alone and over $450M worldwide.


"Dreamgirls" saw a rise in its popularity after Gloden Globes wins.

Thanks to a trio of Golden Globes and 307 additional theaters, the hit musical "Dreamgirls" saw its Friday-to-Sunday gross inch up 4% to an estimated $8.7M Averaging a respectable $3,935 from 2,214 sites in its fourth full weekend of national play, the Paramount/DreamWorks pic upped its cume to $78.1M and is easily on its way to joining the $100M club. The studio continues to spend lavishly on advertising and is eagerly anticipating Tuesday’s announcement of the Academy Award nominations. "Dreamgirls" is widely considered a shoo-in for a nomination for Best Picture, along with "The Departed" and "Babel."

Showing that horror fans may be getting sick of Hollywood’s endless line of fright film remakes, "The Hitcher" opened to disappointing results in fourth place with only $8.2M, according to estimates. The redo of the 1986 Rutger Hauer flick averaged only $2,904 from a very wide 2,835 theaters for Focus and its Rogue Pictures genre unit. The R-rated film was expected to perform better given that it was the only new choice for teens and young adults and the fact that it was given the widest bow in company history for its distributor. The strong hold for "Stomp the Yard" and the solid expansion of "Pan’s Labyrinth" which is pulling in fantasy and horror fans, may have contributed to the soft bow.


"The Hitcher" is not exactly catching fire at the B.O.

"The Hitcher" is the latest in a string of disappointments for Focus following "Catch a Fire" and "The Return." Since last winter’s Oscar-winning film "Brokeback Mountain" lassoed $83M, the distributor has seen most of its films underperform. The company saw an average domestic gross of just $13.4M from its eight wide releases in 2006 with "Jet Li’s Fearless" being its top grosser with $24.6M.

Will Smith’s "The Pursuit of Happyness" clocked its sixth weekend in the top five and grossed an estimated $6.7M, off only 25%, for a $146.5M cume. Sony should finish in the vicinity of $160M. Paramount’s Hilary Swank drama "Freedom Writers" followed with an estimated $5.6M, down just 24%, giving the pic $26.9M in 17 days. Look for the film to end in the $35-40M range.

Guillermo del Toro‘s fantasy thriller "Pan’s Labyrinth" jumped into the top ten thanks to its national expansion and claimed the number seven spot with an estimated $4.7M. The Picturehouse release enjoyed the best average among all wide releases taking in $7,759 per theater from 609 locations. Cume is $10.2M for the Spanish-language film. The futuristic drama "Children of Men" from director Alfonso Cuaron followed falling 42% to an estimated $3.7M for Universal pushing the cume to $27.5M.


Helen Mirren in "The Queen."

Also collecting an estimated $3.7M in ticket sales over the weekend was Miramax’s "The Queen" which expanded from 344 to 1,586 theaters following its two Golden Globe wins for lead actress and screenplay. Averaging a mild $2,333 per site, the acclaimed drama hit the top ten for only the second time in its long 17-week run and posted its best weekend gross to date. It had always played in fewer than 800 theaters until now and the distributor hopes that the Globe wins, plus the expected Oscar nominations on Tuesday, will allow the Helen Mirren film to appeal to a wider audience going forward. Total stands at $35.9M and counting. Rounding out the top ten was MGM’s "Arthur and the Invisibles" with an estimated $3.1M, down 28%, for a $9.3M cume. A final gross of around $15M seems likely.

The box office had a very international flavor this weekend as seven of the top twelve films were directed by filmmakers born outside of the United States.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal’s kidnapping thriller "Alpha Dog" tumbled 55% in its second frame and took in an estimated $2.9M. With only $11.7M in the bank, the ensemble pic should sputter to a disappointing $15-17M final tally. Also crumbling in its sophomore frame was the horror film "Primeval" which crashed 70% and grossed $1.8M, according to estimates. Buena Vista has scared up just $9.5M in ten days and looks to conclude its run quickly with a poor $11M.

Paramount’s kidpic "Charlotte’s Web" has fared better over the holiday season and grossed an estimated $2.3M this weekend, down 40%. The family film has accumulated a solid $76.7M to date and should end its run with around $80M. Web bowed in mid-December with half the opening weekend gross of competing new release "Eragon," but has now outgrossed the dragon adventure which currently stands at $72.4M.


"Babel" took home a Golden Globe for Best Picture in Drama.

A trio of Golden Globe winners expanded their runs and climbed up the charts. Paramount Vantage’s "Babel," which took home the Best Picture — Drama trophy, re-expanded from 173 to 889 theaters and took in an estimated $2.3M for a $23.9M total to date. Fox Searchlight boosted its cume for "The Last King of Scotland" by 50% in one short weekend. The Forest Whitaker pic widened to 495 locations, from just four from last weekend, and collected an estimated $1.8M raising the total from $3.7M to $5.5M. Warner Bros. went from 35 to 360 locations for Clint Eastwood’s "Letters From Iwo Jima" which grossed an estimated $1.5M pushing the tally to $2.6M. Though not eligible for the Academy Award in the foreign language department, the Japanese-lingo pic is still considered a contender in the other Oscar categories.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $70.7M which was off a disturbing 19% from last year when "Underworld: Evolution" opened at number one with $26.9M; and down 10% from 2005 when "Are We There Yet?" debuted on top with $18.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week lighting up your local theaters, we have a little girl lost somewhere between reality and fantasy ("Pan’s Labyrinth," starring Ivana Baquero), the royal lady herself ("The Queen," starring Helen Mirren), a charming and murderous dictator ("The Last King of Scotland," with Forest Whitaker), and a hitchhiker with a sinister destination in mind ("The Hitcher," starring Sean Bean and Sophia Bush). What are the critics saying?

"Pan’s Labyrinth" is "Alice in Wonderland" for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable. Told through the eyes of a little girl whose imaginary world is inhabited by nightmarish creatures, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is a visually imaginative and timeless, allegorical take on the fears we all face. At 97 percent, this is one "Labyrinth" to lose yourself in.


It is a little-known fact that the stink bomb originated in Franco-era Spain.

Full of wit, humor, and pathos, Stephen Frears‘s "The Queen" is a moving portrait of the British royals during the period after Princess Diana’s death features not one but two remarkable performances, that of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen as the newly-ordained Prime Minister Tony Blair. They embody their characters and lay bare the motivations behind these prominent people, giving viewers a glimpse into the inner workings of the British monarchy. With 98 percent on the Tomatometer, critics are hailing "long live ‘The Queen.’"


Her Majesty ponders over the message of today’s Family Circus.

For people who didn’t know anything about "The Last King of Scotland" beforehand, the movie could’ve been about anything (Royalty? Death? The country where The Jesus and Mary Chain come from?) Now, thanks to unremitting awards buzz and Forest Whitaker‘s esteemed performance, everybody knows it’s actually a blunt and brutal political thriller. Whitaker recently picked up the Golden Globe for his role as real-life megalomaniac dictator Idi Amin. At 90 percent on the Tomatometer, critics are also exclaiming "long live the ‘King.’" We can picture imaginative theater owners doing a double feature with this and "The Queen" for the weekend.


Mulder and Scully find themselves yet again among the throes of the paranormal.

Like good parents, horror flicks are always reminding us what not to do (never skinny dip at night, never go upstairs, and, for the love of Pete, never assume it’s your friend that’s playing the practical joke). "The Hitcher" is no different. It stars Sean Bean as a rather surly hitchhiker who terrorizes some hapless teenagers, driving home the movie’s central moral: never pick up strangers. "The Hitcher" is this week’s single new wide release. And, guess what — it’s not being screened for critics. You know the drill: guess that Tomatometer.


"One does not simply hitchhike into Mordor."

Also opening this week in limited release: "Alone With Her," a teenage stalker drama, is at 56 percent; "The Italian," the drama of a boy trying to find his mother, is at 93 percent; "The GoodTimesKid," a comedy reportedly recorded on stolen film, is at 60 percent; and "Mafioso," an obscure 1962 flick playing again in America 45 years later, is at 91 percent.


"Alone With Her": Colin Hanks as society’s most non-threatening stalker ever.

Recent Horror Remakes:
———————————-
48% — The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
18% — Black Christmas (2006)
10% — When A Stranger Calls (2006)
27% — The Omen (2006)
13% — The Wicker Man (2006)

Guillermo Del Toro-Directed Movies:
———————————-
79% — Hellboy (2004)
44% — Blade II (2006)
91% — The Devil’s Backbone (2006)
54% — Mimic (2006)
84% — Cronos (2006)

After a busy MLK frame which concluded with the Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood lets the dust settle this weekend as only one new film enters wide release – the horror remake "The Hitcher."

Other distributors will take this opportunity to widen their awards contenders into more theaters taking advantage of the frame in between when the Globes were awarded and when Academy Award nominations are announced. Ticket sales could be a bit sluggish which will be good news for holdovers.

Focus unleashes its widest release in company history with the horror film "The Hitcher" from its Rogue genre unit which finds a young couple tormented by a most unfriendly hitchhiker. The R-rated film will target the fright crowd and play mostly to teens and young adults looking for a winter scare. No horror film has hit box office gold since the pre-Halloween release of "Saw III." Moviegoers are usually in the mood for happy subject matter around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but now the time is right for this audience to make its way back. Many fright flicks have scored solid openings in the January-February corridor as fans of the genre get back into the mood for blood and violence. However, Sunday sales could be impacted by the NFL conference championships which will take millions of males out of the picture for the whole day.

"The Hitcher" comes from producer Michael Bay and the folks who redid "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Now the 1986 Rutger Hauer predecessor was a popular film, but did not become a massive cult hit so interest in the new "Hitcher" may be more subdued. The marketing and distribution push has been heavy and Focus will greatly benefit from being the only new face at the marquees. Those films expanding into new markets are more for older adults and won’t be much of a threat. How many college kids would rather see a World War II drama in Japanese? "The Hitcher" should thrive and pick up lots of passengers during its journey up the box office charts. Opening wide in 2,831 theaters, the horror flick could collect about $15M over the weekend.


Only bad things can happen when you pick up Sean Bean on the side of the road.

With Oscar nominations right around the corner, a handful of distributors will expand their hopefuls into more markets in an effort to capitalize on Academy Award nods, if they come. Picturehouse’s sci-fi thriller "Pan’s Labyrinth" averaged $13,464 over four days last weekend from 194 sites and will more than double its run into 500 theaters on Friday. Guillermo del Toro‘s acclaimed Spanish-language fantasy could scare up around $3M this weekend.


"Pan’s Labyrinth," opening in not-quite-wide release.

Fox Searchlight has grossed a modest $3.7M for its Idi Amin drama "The Last King of Scotland" but hopes audiences will be more energized the second time around as it re-expands the pic into 400 locations. Forest Whitaker‘s Best Actor win at the Globes (and almost every other awards gala) has generated some heat for the film which many moviegoers passed up the first time around. The kudos could help "Scotland" take in around $2M this weekend.


Forest Whitaker exulting in his Golden Globe win.

Clint Eastwood took home the Globe for the best foreign language film on Monday for his war tale "Letters From Iwo Jima." While the film is not eligible for the same statue at the Oscars, it could pop up in a number of other categories given the Academy’s undying love for the Hollywood icon. Last weekend, the Japanese language pic averaged $12,856 from only 35 theaters and on Friday Warner Bros. will up the theater count to 300. Still a tough sell, "Letters" could shoot up a gross of just over $1M.


Golden Globe winner for best foreign language film "Letters From Iwo Jima."

Last weekend, "Stomp the Yard" kicked down the doors and surged into the number one spot attracting a bigger audience than anyone expected. Teen films typically drop hard on the second weekend and "The Hitcher" should take away a bit of the young adult crowd too so a decent fall should be expected. The Friday-to-Sunday gross for "Stomp" could decline by 45% to about $12M giving Sony a solid $40M in ten days.

"Night at the Museum" will face no new competition for its target audience of families. Fox will join the quarter-century club over the weekend and may slip 30% to about $12M for a cume to date of $204M.

LAST YEAR: Sony scored the first of a long string of number ones for the year with the vampire sequel "Underworld: Evolution" which bowed to a potent $26.9M. The Kate Beckinsale actioner faded fast but still walked away with $62.3M. The animated comedy "Hoodwinked" expanded and slipped just 16% ranking second with $10.4M. Disney’s basketball drama "Glory Road" placed third with $8.8M and was followed closely by Paramount’s "Last Holiday" with $8.7M. Focus added screens to "Brokeback Mountain" and inched up into fifth place with $7.4M. Smaller openings were seen by the dramas "End of the Spear" and "The New World" with $4.3M and $4M, respectively. Final tallies reached only $11.7M and $12.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

It’s remake heaven. Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller has his sights on adding "The Birds" to his slate — which already includes "The Hitcher," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Amityville Horror" and "Friday the 13th." And "King Kong" remake veteran Naomi Watts is his first pick for the Tippi Hedren role.

"No actor or actress is going to commit to anything without a script," said Fuller. "We’ve sat down with her and conceptually I think we all want to make the same movie, but until we have a script and a director, I think it’s a little premature. But, we’ll all talking and she’s who we’d like to have as the lead."

There’s no deadline for making art, but Fuller hopes to have a solid enough draft soon to get Watts to commit. "In the next two weeks, or the next week or so I think they’ll announce it because they’re starting to talk about a new writer to come on and write that. It definitely feels like it’s moving."

Platinum Dunes producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller have been hitting every movie site on the net in an effort to get the word out on "The Hitcher." But all everyone seems to be asking about is that "Friday the 13th" remake. Is it still going forward?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, but not anytime real soon. Now that a rights issue between Paramount and New Line has been cleared up, the producers aim to get cracking on that screenplay. "Sometime late next year" is what we’re being promised, and it seems like director Jonathan Liebesman may still be the #1 candidate for the job.

Nobody’s precisely sure on how much of it will be a remake and how much of it will be like any old sequel out there, but the producers seem insistent on avoiding the Mrs. Voorhees material, which is kind of a problem if you’re making a remake of the original "Friday the 13th," but hey, the thing could turn out great. It’s not like "Friday the 13th" is "Gone with the Wind."

Check out all the "F13" remake coverage at JoBlo’s, Fangoria, and Bloody-Disgusting.com.

Time for a new "Wonder Woman" rumor, fellas! Everyone gather ’round! Fresh-faced hottie Sophia Bush is rumored to be "in the running" for the title role in Joss Whedon‘s (eventually) upcoming adaptation of the very sexy DC Comics character.

Moviehole.net reports a bit beyond what IESB.net was able to discover: That while spending some time on her press junket for "The Hitcher," Ms. Bush was asked about her involvement on "Wonder Woman," to which she basically answered "Maybe." Which isn’t a "no."

Back when Mr. Whedon landed the "WW" gig, he stated that he wanted a fresh newcomer for the career-making super-role, and it seems like Sophia Bush has those qualifications covered. Aside from next weekend’s "The Hitcher," Ms. Bush has appeared in "John Tucker Must Die," "Stay Alive," and "Supercross" — which means she’s more than due for a good movie, and soon.

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