It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Slusho, whatever that is! Cloverfield stomps its way onto DVD as not only the most exciting new release of the week, but the one most chock-full of special features. Charlie Wilson’s War, The Savages, and The Orphanage are also new — but be on the lookout as the year’s worst flick to date, One Missed Call, also shuffles onto shelves.


Cloverfield


Tomatometer:
76%

The best-kept secret of 2007 (look up viral marketing in the dictionary and see J.J. Abram’s grinning mug) turned out to be the rebirth of the kaiju — a Godzilla-esque creature wreaking havoc in Manhattan, as seen through the eyes of Handicam-wielding twenty-somethings. Online campaigns involving Slusho and the mysterious 1-11-08 teaser title made for a gonzo opening weekend take, but significant drop-off suggests that many of you were waiting for DVD.

Bonus Features:

Two alternate endings, deleted scenes, commentary by director Matt Reeves and tons of Easter Eggs make Cloverfield a must-own. Now, figure out where to buy it, since no less than four special store-specific editions will be available, ranging from a Steelbook case (FYE and Suncoast), exclusive ringtone (K-Mart and Sears), “T.J. Miller’s Video Diary” bonus DVD (Best Buy) and our recommendation, a “Rob’s Goin’ to Japan Party Mix” CD (Target).

 

Charlie Wilson’s War


Tomatometer: 83%

If modern, smarmy Tom Hanks doesn’t rub you the wrong way (why, oh why, couldn’t he have stopped at A League of Their Own??) and you’d like to see him charm the pants off of Julia Roberts’ conservative socialite, then perhaps there’s nothing stopping you from watching the true story of Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson and how he run the Soviets out of Afghanistan. But if you’re paying attention, you already know how that situation panned out.

Bonus Features:

There’s not much here, but a “Who Is Charlie Wilson?” featurette brings us up close and personal with not only Hanks, producer Aaron Sorkin, and director Mike Nichols (The Graduate), but also Wilson himself and his lover/benefactor, Joanne Herring.


The Savages



Tomatometer: 90%

After a nine-year absence, Tamara Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills) wins us over again. This time, her angsty protagonists are middle-aged siblings (Best Actress nominee Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose perfectly rancorous relationship is tested when they must deal with their increasingly senile, elderly father (Philip Bosco). One of last year’s critical darlings, The Savages deserves a wider audience for its bittersweet, acute observations — you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll see poop on the walls.

Bonus Features:

There’s not much to see here: extended scenes, interviews, and a “Behind the Scenes” photo gallery. But don’t let that deter you; give The Savages a try and you’ll likely end up touched. After all, who doesn’t love their parents?


The Orphanage


Tomatometer: 84%

Orphaned by the Oscars (it was Spain’s official entry but didn’t make the final cut) and at the box office, here your chance to adopt this overlooked flick! In the Guillermo del Toro-produced stab at familial horror, Laura (Belen Rueda) moves into the orphanage she grew up in, but finds the house already occupied by spirits who seemingly kidnap her son. Come for the thrills, stay for the surprisingly tender story.

Bonus Features:

The Orphanage largely takes place in one setting, so location, location, location was undoubtedly a vital adage on set. Two DVD features reveal the efforts taken to bring Laura’s nightmarish world to life: the first, “When Laura Grew Up,” shows the filmmakers at work building the orphanage set. The second takes us into “Tomas’ Secret Room,” where the haunting climax of the movie takes place.

 


Starting Out in the Evening



Tomatometer: 86%

I don’t know about you, but nothing gets our blood boiling like a good May-December pairing. Starting Out in the Evening boasts the match-up of sexagenarian Frank Langella and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) as an aging writer and grad student , respectively, who grow close in Andrew Wagner’s film about relational intimacy and alienation.

Bonus Features:

Director Wagner offers in-depth commentary in the disc’s only non-trailer offering.


Hannah Takes the Stairs



Tomatometer: 67%

Is the movie movement known as mumblecore (a certain brand of D.I.Y. flicks with ultra-low budgets and nonprofessional actor) all it’s cracked up to be? Take the first step in making your call with the latest notable mumblecore effort, a wry, intimate story about a flaky girl and her crush on two goofy co-workers.

Bonus Features:

Those mumblecore kids are majorly hands-on with the filmmaking process and their subsequent DVD releases. Hannah continues the trend with a commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and a short film by director Joe Swanberg, Thanks for the ADD! And speaking of which, check out Swanberg’s MySpace page for even more short films, including the trailer to his next feature, Nights and Weekends.

 


One Missed Call



Tomatometer: 0%

At last, the worst-reviewed movie of 2008 has arrived on DVD! (Okay, it’s only the worst so far, but we’re betting it can go the distance.) It takes something special to go 64 reviews without a single fresh rating, but this remake of Takashi Miike’s J-horror pic — in which people like Shannyn Sossamon get phone calls portending their imminent deaths — manages the feat. Even Uwe Boll’s Dungeon Siege: In the Name of the King notched a five percent Tomatometer. Bravo, One Missed Call. Bravo.

Bonus Features:

Here’s the kicker: there are no bonus features. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Can you blame Warner Bros. or their no-name filmmakers (not to mention Sossaman and co-star Ed Burns, who both seemed listless while promoting the flick at Comic-Con) for washing their hands of the career-killing box office bomb?

Fun fact: One Missed Call‘s Australian title is Don’t Pick Up the Cell Phone! (Note exclamation point.) Rent accordingly.

 

Laura Linney - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.comA class act, Laura Linney‘s enviable list of big screen credits includes early roles as Jim Carrey‘s scary wife in The Truman Show and Clint Eastwood‘s daughter in Absolute Power, through to her own Oscar-nominated turns in intelligent dramas like You Can Count On Me and Kinsey.

Hailing from a theatrical background (her father is playwright Romulus Linney) and Juillard-trained, Linney, 43, can effortlessly switch between indie (The Squid and the Whale, Jindabyne) and mainstream (Primal Fear, Love, Actually) fare.

Her latest role – which has just garnered her third Oscar nod – sees her as a neurotic, wannabe playwright suddenly forced, along with her older brother (Philip Seymour Hoffman), to care for their ailing, estranged father in the blackly comic The Savages. RT sat down with Linney to learn more.

I’m sure you’ve thought about the issue of aging parents before but did making this film give you a different perspective on that issue?

Laura Linney: It certainly did make me think about it, there’s no question about that. And it prompted me to ask questions of the people I will be responsible for — solely responsible for. It’s that dreaded topic which is inevitable and knowing that I would be a mess when these people go, I said, “the biggest gift you can give me is to help me figure out what to do during that period of time. If we can talk about this while we’re all still healthy and have a sense of humour about it, then when I am grieving, I’ll still be able to function and know that I’m doing the right thing.”

So I guess in a way making a movie like this is really a step on that process because you’re putting this stuff out there…

LL: Yeah, it’s somewhat haunting, but I got some things in order. It will be a huge turning point in my life, as it will be for everybody, but I will always remember all of us laughing about it, which is a great thing. We had a real laugh trying to figure all this out!

The Savages

In the film there’s a great dynamic between your character and your brother, which reminded me of another interesting sibling relationship from an earlier movie of yours, You Can Count On Me. Do you consciously compare roles when you see these connections?

LL: No, you don’t. I think people are curious because there have been two brother-sister movies and it’s not a relationship that is typically explored but I didn’t compare them at all. The situations are so different, the characters are so different. It’s the same thing as if I play a wife or a lawyer; I don’t compare them to each other. I couldn’t think of another time you and Philip Seymour Hoffman have worked together —

LL: It was our first time.

– and you’re both so prolific and in-demand. Was it something you’d both always wanted to do?

LL: I was just thrilled when it was a possibility. I think we both wanted to work with each other, we’re both from a similar background, we have a similar philosophy about work and how to go about it, and so we were really well matched. And he’s a really good guy. I have enormous admiration for how he conducts his life and the decisions that he makes and how he conducts himself. He rocks, as far as I’m concerned. [laughs] He just rocks, that Phil Hoffman!

That should be the line on the poster!

LL: The whole review! “He Rocks!”

The Savages

You’ve had a great roster of male co-stars — I’m thinking of Sean Penn in Mystic River, Liam Neeson in Kinsey, Gabriel Byrne in Jindabyne and many others. How do you feel these match-ups bring out the best in each of you?

LL: Well you always hope to work with someone better than you because they will push you in a way that nobody else can and you have to keep up. It’s like people who play tennis always say they prefer to play with someone who’s a better player.

I’ve worked with some fantastic people, and worked with several people multiple times: Liam twice, Richard Gere twice, Paul Giamatti twice, Gabriel three times. What that gives you is a foundation of trust and fun so that when you go back and do another job together, you can start where you left off. And the potential to go a little deeper and a little further is there.

There’s a lot of awards buzz around The Savages, particularly around the actors because they are such great roles. What’s your take on all that? Is it enjoyable or a distraction?

LL: You know, it’s very nice that people would even think that. That’s not bad, that must mean that the movie must not be bad! [laughs] Whether it happens or not, who knows? I’ve been fortunate enough to go through it and you certainly don’t forget that period of time; it’s fun and hilarious and overwhelming. You have to be careful about where you sort-of place it in your priority. You shouldn’t devalue it but at the same time you shouldn’t take it too seriously. But it’s a kick; it just is!

The Savages

Presumably the best thing about it is that it allows you to keep working and do a better quality of work.

LL: Well you hope. But it depends, you know, for some people it will change their lives completely and propel them into a whole other stage of their career and for other people it will stop it dead in its tracks. So it’s not always a guarantee for future success. You don’t know how that will sit with someone.

And I still feel that the best way to go is to go and be nominated and not win. I think that’s pretty good!

Is that when you practice your “I’m-so-happy-for-the-winner” smile?

LL: Oh no, that’s relief, actually! [laughs] I can’t imagine if you actually had to go up there and make a speech, I’d be scared to death!

If there’s one Hollywood awards ceremony that you’d think would be able to go off without a hitch this year, it’d be the Writers Guild Awards — but you’d be wrong.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the WGA “pooped its own party” Thursday when the western branch unilaterally canceled its awards banquet, “blindsiding” WGA East. West and East traded brief statements in the wake of the announcement, with WGAW saying “There will be no Writers Guild of America, West show until the strike is over,” and the WGAE responding with “We are exploring our options, and we will let you know when we have made a decision.”

Ah, creative types — they can never agree on anything. Anything, that is, except for nominations — the WGA at least got its stuff together long enough to come up with the following list of 2008 Writers Guild Award nominees. The list follows below, with Tomatometer percentages in parentheses:

Original screenplay
Juno, written by Diablo Cody (93 percent)
Michael Clayton, written by Tony Gilroy (90 percent)
The Savages, written by Tamara Jenkins (91 percent)
Knocked Up, written by Judd Apatow (90 percent)
Lars and the Real Girl, written by Nancy Oliver (79 percent)

Adapted screenplay
No Country for Old Men, screenplay by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy (95 percent)
There Will Be Blood, screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the novel Oil by Upton Sinclair (89 percent)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, screenplay by Ronald Harwood, based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby (93 percent)
Into the Wild, screenplay by Sean Penn, Based on the book by Jon Krakauer (82 percent)
Zodiac, screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Based on the book by Robert Graysmith (89 percent)

Documentary screenplay
The Camden 28, written by Anthony Giacchino (88 percent)
Nanking, screenplay by Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman & Elisabeth Bentley, story by Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman (96 percent)
No End in Sight, written by Charles Ferguson (94 percent)
The Rape of Europa, written by Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham and Bonni Cohen (76 percent)
Sicko, written by Michael Moore (93 percent)
Taxi to the Dark Side, written by Alex Gibney (100 percent)

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

If there’s one thing the American Film Institute loves, it’s a list — and with the end of 2007 rapidly approaching, you know what that means: It’s time to run down the AFI’s favorite films and TV shows of the last year.

Variety published the list yesterday, as well as the date and location of the AFI Awards. If you’re going to be at the Four Seasons on January 11…well, you probably won’t be able to just stop on by, but at least you can say you were in the neighborhood when the following honors were being handed down:

FILM
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (88 percent)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)
Into the Wild (82 percent)
Juno (94 percent)
Knocked Up (90 percent)
Michael Clayton (90 percent)
No Country for Old Men (95 percent)
Ratatouille (97 percent)
The Savages (89 percent)
There Will Be Blood (95 percent)

TV
Dexter
Everybody Hates Chris
Friday Night Lights
Longford
Mad Men
Pushing Daisies
The Sopranos
Tell Me You Love Me
30 Rock
Ugly Betty

Source: Variety

The London Critics Circle has announced the nominees for its year-end awards, with Anton Corbijn‘s Control and Joe Wright‘s Atonement leading the pack at eight nominations apiece.

A full list of the nominees follows below, with Tomatometers in parentheses. Let the nitpicking begin!

FILM OF THE YEAR
No Country for Old Men (95 percent)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (75 percent)
There Will Be Blood (94 percent)
Zodiac (89 percent)
The Bourne Ultimatum (93 percent)

ATTENBOROUGH AWARD FOR BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR
Once (98 percent)
Control (89 percent)
Atonement (85 percent)
Eastern Promises (88 percent)
This Is England (93 percent)

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR

Florian Henckel von DonnersmarckThe Lives of Others (93 percent)
Paul Thomas AndersonThere Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan CoenNo Country for Old Men
David FincherZodiac
Cristian Mungui4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (96 percent)

BRITISH DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
Anton Corbijn — Control
Paul GreengrassThe Bourne Ultimatum
Shane MeadowsThis Is England
Joe Wright — Atonement
Danny BoyleSunshine (75 percent)

ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Ulrich MuheThe Lives of Others
Casey AffleckThe Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
George ClooneyMichael Clayton (90 percent)
Tommy Lee JonesIn the Valley of Elah (69 percent)
Daniel Day-LewisThere Will Be Blood

ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Laura LinneyThe Savages (89 percent)
Marion CotillardLa Vie en rose (74 percent)
Maggie GyllenhaalSherrybaby (72 percent)
Angelina JolieA Mighty Heart (77 percent)
Anamaria Marinca4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

BRITISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR
Sam RileyControl
James McAvoyAtonement
Christian Bale3:10 to Yuma (87 percent)
Jim BroadbentAnd When Did You Last See Your Father (81 percent)
Jonny Lee MillerThe Flying Scotsman (51 percent)

BRITISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
Samantha MortonControl
Julie ChristieAway From Her (95 percent)
Keira KnightleyAtonement
Helena Bonham CarterSweeney Todd (92 percent)
Sienna MillerInterview (57 percent)

BRITISH ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Tom WilkinsonMichael Clayton
Toby JonesThe Painted Veil (75 percent)
Alfred MolinaThe Hoax (86 percent)
Tobey Kebell — Control
Albert FinneyBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead (87 percent)

BRITISH ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Saoirse RonanAtonement
Imelda StauntonHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (77 percent)
Tilda SwintonMichael Clayton
Kelly MacdonaldNo Country for Old Men
Vanessa RedgraveAtonement

SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck — The Lives of Others
Joel and Ethan Coen — No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson — There Will Be Blood
Ronald HarwoodThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)
Christopher HamptonAtonement

BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH — ACTING
Saoirse Ronan — Atonement
Sam Riley — Control
Thomas TurgooseThis Is England
Benedict CumberbatchAmazing Grace (71 percent)
Dakota Blue RichardsThe Golden Compass

BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH — FILMMAKING
John Carney, writer and director — Once
Sarah Gavron, director — Brick Lane (68 percent)
Anton Corbijn, director — Control
Matt Greenhalgh, writer — Control
Stevan Riley, writer, director, producer — Blue Blood

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days
The Lives of Others
Letters From Iwo Jima (91 percent)
Tell No One (93 percent)

Source: Variety

The nominations for the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning. Did your favorite films, stars, and songs make the cut?

The nominees were read at the Beverly Hilton by a surreal panel consisting of Dane Cook, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Reynolds, and Quentin Tarantino. The film nominations follow below, with Tomatometers in parentheses:

Picture, Drama:

American Gangster (79 percent)
Atonement (85 percent)
Eastern Promises (88 percent)
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton (90 percent)
No Country for Old Men (95 percent)
There Will Be Blood (100 percent)

Actress, Drama:
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (34 percent)
Julie Christie, Away From Her (95 percent)
Jodie Foster, The Brave One (45 percent)
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart (77 percent)
Keira Knightley, Atonement

Actor, Drama:
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy, Atonement
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington, American Gangster

Picture, Musical or Comedy:
Across the Universe (52 percent)
Charlie Wilson’s War (92 percent)
Hairspray (92 percent)
Juno (92 percent)
Sweeney Todd (92 percent)

Actress, Musical or Comedy:

Amy Adams, Enchanted (94 percent)
Nikki Blonsky, Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose (74 percent)
Ellen Page, Juno

Actor, Musical or Comedy:

Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl (78 percent)
Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages (89 percent)
John C. Reilly, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There (80 percent)
Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson’s War
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (93 percent)
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Supporting Actor:
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (75 percent)
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
John Travolta, Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Director:
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)
Ridley Scott, American Gangster
Joe Wright, Atonement

Screenplay:
Diablo Cody, Juno
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Wilson’s War

Foreign Language:
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Romania (96 percent)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, France and U.S.
The Kite Runner, U.S. (65 percent)
Lust, Caution, Taiwan (64 percent)
Persepolis, France (100 percent)

Animated Film:
Bee Movie (52 percent)
Ratatouille (97 percent)
The Simpsons Movie (88 percent)

Original Score:
Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild (82 percent)
Clint Eastwood, Grace Is Gone (70 percent)
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner
Dario Marianelli, Atonement
Howard Shore, Eastern Promises

Original Song: Despedida from Love in the Time of Cholera (28 percent)
Grace Is Gone from Grace Is Gone
Guaranteed from Into the Wild
That’s How You Know from Enchanted

Walk Hard from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Source: Associated Press
Source: Golden Globes

Looking for lists of critics’ favorite films from 2007? Today is your lucky day!

Not to be outdone by last week’s unveiling of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures awards, a number of critics’ associations have announced their honors, including the New York Film Critics Online, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Let’s take a look, shall we? The awards follow, with Tomatometer ratings following film titles in parentheses:

New York Film Critics Online:
PictureThere Will Be Blood (100 percent) / The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)
ActorDaniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
ActressJulie Christie (Away From Her, 95 percent)
DirectorPT Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Supporting ActorJavier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) (95 percent)
Supporting ActressCate Blanchett (I’m Not There, 79 percent)
Breakthrough PerformerEllen Page (Juno, 92 percent)
Debut DirectorSarah Polley (Away From Her)
Ensemble CastBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead (88 percent)
ScreenplayThe Darjeeling Limited, 66 percent (Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola)
DocumentarySicko (93 percent)
Foreign LanguageThe Lives of Others (93 percent) / Persepolis (100 percent)
AnimatedPersepolis
CinematographyThere Will Be Blood (Robert Elswit)
Film MusicThere Will Be Blood (Jonny Greenwood)

Los Angeles Film Critics Association:
PictureThere Will Be Blood
Director — Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Actor — Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
ActressMarion Cotillard, La Vie en rose (74 percent)
Supporting ActorVlad Ivanov, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (96 percent)
Supporting ActressAmy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone, (93 percent) and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
ScreenplayTamara Jenkins, The Savages (90 percent)
Foreign Languange Film4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
DocumentaryNo End in Sight (95 percent)
AnimationRatatouille (97 percent) and Persepolis (tie)
MusicGlen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Once (98 percent)
CinematographyJanusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Boston Society of Film Critics:
PictureNo Country for Old Men
ActorFrank Langella (Starting Out in the Evening, 80 percent)
Actress — Marion Cotillard (La Vie en rose)
Director — Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Supporting Actor — Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Supporting Actress — Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Ensemble CastBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead
ScreenplayBrad Bird (Ratatouille)
DocumentaryCrazy Love (78 percent)
Foreign LanguageThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Cinematography — Janusz Kaminski (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association:
PictureNo Country for Old Men
DirectorJoel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)
ActorGeorge Clooney (Michael Clayton, 90 percent)
Actress — Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Supporting Actor — Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Supporting Actress — Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
ScreenplayAaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson’s War, adaptation, 88 percent); Diablo Cody (Juno, original)
DocumentarySicko
Foreign FilmThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly
AnimatedRatatouille

Source: ComingSoon (New York)
Source: Variety (Los Angeles)
Source: Variety (Boston)
Source: Variety (Washington, D.C.)

The post-Thanksgiving doldrums hit the moviegoing audience as, much like
2006, the top three films remained the same from last weekend and fourth place
was taken by a new film. Enchanted
held on to first place, while
Awake
opened dismally
in fourth.

Disney scored back-to-back number one weekends with the animated/live-action
hybrid Enchanted
which dropped just over 50% from last weekend’s opening and took in an
estimated $17M. Last year’s post-Thanksgiving champ,
Happy Feet
dropped
53% in its third weekend, while Enchanted was in its second weekend. Its
total now stands at $70M. Look for Princess Giselle and company to play strong
through the holidays, eventually ending up in the $140-150M range.



Second and third place were identical to last week as the surprising
This Christmas
dropped a reasonable 53% to an estimated $8.4M bringing its cume to $36.9M. Look
for a final gross in the area of $60M, making the Sony release highly
profitable. In third place was the CGI-fest Beowulf which wrangled $7.8M this
weekend, according to estimates. Its total now stands at $68.6M.



Waking up sleeping moviegoers in fourth place was the thriller
Awake
starring
Hayden
Christensen
and
Jessica Alba.
The MGM/Weinstin release scared up an estimated $6M this weekend, for a per
screen average of just over $3,000. With poor reviews, expect a quick trip
through the theatrical window and a DVD release early next year.



Landing in fifth place was the videogame-turned-film Hitman
which shot up $5.8M this weekend, according to estimates, bringing its cume
after two weekends to $30M. Look for a final gross in the $45-50M range. Sixth
and seventh places were identical to last weekend as Warner Bros. stablemates
Fred Claus

and August Rush
each dropped less than 50% from last weekend. Santa’s annoying brother took in
$5.5M, according to estimates, bringing its cume to $59.7M, while the musical
drama brought in an estimated $5.1M, bringing its total to $20.3M.



Oscar hopeful
No Country for
Old Men
zoomed up to eighth place this weekend, with the lowest
drop in the top 10. The
Coen Brothers
crime thriller took in an estimated $4.5M, bringing its total to a solid $23M,
while still playing in less than 1,000 theaters. Watch the grosses grow as we
start heading into awards season. Ninth place was snatched up by a busy bee as
Jerry Seinfeld‘s
animated alter ego Bee
Movie
buzzed audiences with another $4.4M this weekend, according to
estimates. Its 62% drop from last weekend was the biggest in the top 10 and its
cume now stands at $117.6M. And rounding out the top 10 was another award
hopeful

American Gangster
,
which took in an estimated $4.2M in its fifth weekend, bringing its total to
$121.7M.


Debuting outside the top 10 were a couple of more award hopefuls in
The Savages
and

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
. The Savages, starring
Philip
Seymour Hoffman
and
Laura Linney,
took in $153,000 from only 4 theaters for a per screen average of $38,250.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,
which tells the story of a man whose only
method of communication is blinking his left eyelid, took in $75,300 from 3
theaters for a per screen average of $25,100.


The top 10 grossed $69M this weekend, which was down 10% from 2006 when
Happy Feet
remained at number one with $17.5M, and down 6.5% from 2005 when


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
also remained on top, with $19.8M.

Only one new film ventures into wide release. Studios typically avoid opening worthwhile pics during the weekend after the Thanksgiving frame since moviegoing subsides and holiday shopping becomes a bigger national priority. Overall ticket sales tumble by 40-50% from the previous frame and holdovers usually lead the way. That means Disney’s princess tale Enchanted should continue to reign supreme at the North American box office, but those looking for a scare will have the new thriller Awake to see. After a robust turkey frame, look for the marketplace to settle down as movie fans nibble on leftovers.

What happens when Darth Vader marries the Invisible Woman? You get a horror film set in a hospital, of course. Awake stars Hayden Christensen as a man who undergoes surgery while remaining conscious and Jessica Alba plays the troubled wife. The R-rated psychological thriller from MGM and The Weinstein Co. will target young adults with a semi-intriguing premise and a dash of starpower.

Outside of the Star Wars prequels, young Anakin has no pull with ticket buyers but Alba has shown box office strength over the years and can often be a draw even when not suited up in Fantastic Four gear. As with so many of her previous films, trailers feature quick shots of her semi-nude body which should titillate male moviegoers. But overall excitement is not too high and the audience could be limited here with the eventual DVD release reaching the bulk of the film’s fans. Opening in about 2,000 theaters, Awake may gross around $6M this weekend.


Hayden Christensen, Terence Howard and Jessica Alba in Awake

A pair of film festival favorites with Oscar hopes will open in platform release this weekend. Fox Searchlight offers the estranged sibling comedy The Savages starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The R-rated film played earlier this year at Sundance, Telluride, and Toronto. Debuting in the same two Manhattan theaters is Miramax’s French drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly about a magazine editor who after suffering a stroke, can only communicate with one eyelid. The PG-13 film scored the Best Director trophy at Cannes.


Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in The Savages

With only one new offering in wide play, look for the box office chart to look awfully familiar. Nine of the top ten titles will probably be the same as last week’s. Disney’s family hit Enchanted is set to retain its crown and stay the leader. A 50% drop could result, especially since Friday is not a day off this time around. That would give the fairy tale flick about $17M for the weekend and a solid 12-day cume of $70M.

Following its surprisingly strong premiere, the family reunion film This Christmas should fall sharply on the sophomore session. A 55% decline would leave Sony with $8M and an impressive total of $36M after a dozen days.

Young males targeted by Beowulf and Hitman will be distracted somewhat by another one-word-titled film making its debut. With Alba in that cast, it could lead to steep drops of 55% each. That would put Paramount’s 3D adventure toon at around $7.5M for the weekend for a sum of $68M. Hitman would slide down to $6M for Fox and a total of $30M.

LAST YEAR: For the third straight weekend, the penguin-Bond connection ruled the box office with ease. The animated blockbuster Happy Feet remained the number one film once again with $17.5M for Warner Bros. while Sony’s 007 pic Casino Royale took the silver with $15.1M. In the first 17 days of play, moviegoers spent an astounding $237M on the dynamic duo. Denzel Washington‘s action thriller Deja Vu stayed put in third place with $10.9M in its sophomore frame. Debuting in fourth was the religious drama The Nativity Story with $7.8M on its way to a $37.6M final for New Line. Rounding out the top five was Fox’s Christmas comedy Deck the Halls with $6.7M. Also debuting but to modest numbers were Fox’s horror pic Turistas with $3.6M and MGM’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj with $2.3M. Final grosses reached $7M and $4.3M, respectively.

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