This week, get Bourne (The Bourne Ultimatum) — or get Potter (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), or Efron (High School Musical 2), or opt for a different sort of winter treat (Silent Night, Deadly Night – Uncut and Uncensored, The December Boys).



The Bourne Ultimatum


Tomatometer: 93%

Director Paul Greengrass took to the rooftops of Tangier and the bustling throughways of London’s Waterloo Station to close out the Jason Bourne trilogy the best way he knew how: with dizzying, up-close-and-personal handheld camera work! But what Greengrass invariably saved on Steadicam operator costs, he poured as sheer energy into his exhilarating sequel about the titular amnesiac CIA muscle (People‘s Sexiest Man Alive himself, Matt Damon) still on the run from his former bosses and struggling to remember his past. At 93 percent on the Tomatometer, The Bourne Ultimatum is the best-reviewed film of the series. Pick up the release on its own for a bonus menu packed with deleted scenes, featurettes on the guerrilla-style filming of action sequences, fight choreography, and commentary; score the entire trilogy box set for four discs of Bourne goodness — including your own Jason Bourne passport!
 



Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Tomatometer: 77%

It’s pretty incredible that in five visions with four different directors the Harry Potter series hasn’t dipped out of Certified Fresh territory. Looks like someone cast a Tomatometerus protectus spell! The latest installment, David YatesOrder of the Phoenix, brings young wizard Harry new intrigue at Hogwarts: the menacingly perky teacher Dolores Umbridge, the lurking danger of He Who Shall Not Be Named, and the sweaty palms of young love. Special features take you behind-the-scenes on the Harry Potter set and allow you to edit a scene, but the coolest DVD offering may be the ability to download a digital copy to other devices.

More Delightful DVDs

Lost Season Three
Tomatometer: N/A

For viewers whose interest in Lost hasn’t already given way to seething, bitter frustration (Curse you, J.J. Abrams, and your addictively mysterious productions! What the heck is Slusho??) Season Three is a must-have. Watch all 23 episodes of Castaway-on-Others action — we’re not just talking Jack and Juliet here, wink wink — and revel in a bonus menu featuring deleted scenes, literary references, Easter eggs, cast a crew revelations about the Others, and all new, never before seen character flashbacks! Discover the secret of the Island! (And then email me your findings, please!)



High School Musical 2

Tomatometer: N/A

OMG! Like you, we were anxiously awaiting High School Musical 2 to see if Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) would finally kiss, already, but the DVD release of the most watched cable show in, like, ever, means we can do one better: learn the dances!



The December Boys

Tomatometer: 42%

The second DVD release of the week to feature Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in his pre-Equus adolescent innocence follows a group of Australian orphans coming of age in 1960s Australia.


Festivus for the rest of us!





Silent Night, Deadly Night — Uncut and Uncensored

Tomatometer: 33%

Because you can’t really get the Christmas spirit without seeing a psychopathic Santa slake his thirst for blood, take home the 1984 horror classic. Now Uncut and Uncensored!

Until next week, happy renting, everyone!

For the second straight weekend, a star-driven action drama aimed at adult
audiences opened at number one with $14M in ticket sales from roughly 2,700
theaters. This time it was
Jodie Foster‘s
The Brave One
which topped the charts bumping former champ
3:10 to Yuma
to
the runner-up spot.
Billy Bob
Thornton
‘s new comedy
Mr. Woodcock

opened respectably in third while the fantasy actioner
Dragon Wars
bowed to
weak results in fourth place.

Warner Bros. captured the top spot with the vigilante thriller
The Brave One
this
weekend averaging a solid $5,087 from 2,755 theaters. The Jodie Foster film’s
gross was enough to claim the number one spot, but was a far cry from the
numbers that the Oscar-winning actress has seen from recent films. The R-rated
pic’s bow was 43% weaker than her last film
Flightplan
‘s
$24.6M launch in September 2005 and down 53% from the $30.1M debut of
Panic Room
in
March 2002. All were adult-skewing thrillers anchored solo by Foster playing a
strong woman who takes care of problems on her own.
 



Two elements that may have dampened the grosses for Brave were lukewarm
reviews and a better-than-expected hold from
3:10 to Yuma

which is also playing to a mature adult crowd. Foster was aggressively promoting
the Neil Jordan-directed
film on every TV and print outlet over the past two weeks but that did little to
prevent the revenge pic from posting one of her worst openings in recent years.
In fact, over the last decade, her only wide release to debut weaker was 1999’s
Anna and
the King
with $5.2M.
 





The Brave One was the first number one hit of the year to be anchored by
a woman. It could be followed by another next weekend when
Milla Jovovich‘s
action sequel
Resident
Evil: Extinction
attacks.
 




Audiences kept lining up for
Russell Crowe
and Christian
Bale
in the Western 3:10 to Yuma which enjoyed a strong hold in its
second weekend dropping only 35% to an estimated $9.2M. That gave Lionsgate a
solid $28.5M after ten days with $50M possible by the end of the run which will
make it one of the distributor’s top-grossing non-Saw
films.





Opening with a decent showing in third place was the
Billy Bob ThorntonSeann
William Scott
comedy
Mr. Woodcock

with an estimated $9.1M. Averaging $4,079 from
2,231 theaters, the PG-13 pic performed slightly better than Thornton’s last
comedy
School for Scoundrels
which bowed to $8.6M despite playing in 773 more
theaters last September. Critics were understandably harsh.





The fantasy adventure film Dragon Wars debuted with weak results in fourth with
an estimated $5.4M from 2,269 sites for a poor $2,371 average. The PG-13 film
from Freestyle Releasing attracted poor reviews. Teen sensation Superbad spent its fifth straight weekend in the Top Five
grossing an estimated $5.2M and boosted Sony’s cume to $111.3M. MGM’s horror
redo Halloween fell 47% to an estimated $5M in its third scare and lifted its
sum to $51.3M.
 


Dipping only 27% was
The Bourne Ultimatum
which grossed an estimated $4.2M
pushing the massive cume to $216.2M. Only one 2007 release has performed better
in its seventh weekend — Wild Hogs with $4.7M in April. Overseas, the Universal
hit collected an estimated $20.8M from 4,333 theaters in 46 territories and
enjoyed number one debuts in France, South Korea, Belgium, Norway and the
Netherlands. That lifted the international total to $125M and the global tally
to $341M making it the biggest Bourne ever. Look for the $400M barrier to fall
later this fall.
 



The sports comedy Balls of Fury drooped down to eighth place with an estimated
$3.3M, off 41%, for a $28.9M total after 19 days for Focus. New Line’s action
sequel Rush Hour 3 held up well again sliding 32% to an estimated $3.3M for a cume of $133.2M to date. The family comedy
Mr Bean’s Holiday eased only 22% to
an estimated $2.7M for a $28.5M sum for Universal.
 



There was plenty of activity in the arthouses as Oscar season got underway with
strong limited launches from a handful of early contenders. Director
David
Cronenberg
‘s crime thriller
Eastern Promises
generated the best average with its
estimated $553,000 bow from 15 theaters for a muscular $36,867 per site. The
R-rated tale won the top audience prize at the Toronto International Film
Festival on Saturday boosting its industry profile and will expand on Friday to
more than 1,300 locations nationwide. This weekend’s results were almost
identical to the platform bow of Cronenberg’s last film
A History of Violence

which opened in mid-September two years ago in 14 theaters to a $515,992 frame
and $36,857 average before expanding wide the following weekend with $8.1M from
1,340 venues and a $6,047 average. Coincidentally, Jodie Foster was number one
at that time with Flightplan.



Sony’s musical extravaganza
Across the Universe
was red hot also with a debut of
an estimated $685,000 from 23 venues for a potent $29,783 average. Studio data
showed that the Julie Taymor-directed pic skewed towards young women as the
audience breakdown was 62% female and 57% under 25. Universe also widens on
Friday and will be in roughly 400 playdates.



The Tommy Lee Jones military mystery
In the Valley of Elah opened to solid
results with an estimated $150,000 from nine locations for a $16,667 average.
Warner Independent reported that the audience was more male and older. Directed
by Paul Haggis,
Elah will expand to 250-300 runs next weekend. The
distributor’s
Daniel Radcliffe drama
December Boys did not fare as well and
grossed an estimated $18,000 from four theaters for a mild $4,500 average in New
York and Los Angeles. Pic will widen to 10 theaters on Friday and will have a
tough road ahead given the avalanche of limited-release options on the horizon.



Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. New Line’s stylish
action thriller Shoot
‘Em Up
tumbled 55% in its second weekend to an estimated
$2.6M giving the Clive Owen pic only $10.3M after ten days. A $15M final seems
likely. The Nanny Diaries grossed an estimated $2.2M, off 31%, for a cume of
$24M. The MGM release should finish up with just under $30M. Paramount’s
expensive flop Stardust took in an estimated $1.4M, down 25%, for a domestic
tally of only $36.4M. With a reported production cost of $65M, the adventure
film looks to end its run with a disappointing $40M.




The top ten films grossed an estimated $61.3M which was up 9% from last year
when Gridiron Gang debuted in first place with $14.4M; but down 8% from 2005
when Just Like Heaven opened in the top spot with $16.4M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru

This week at the movies, we’ve got vigilantes (The Brave One, starring
Jodie Foster), gym teachers (Mr. Woodcock, starring
Billy Bob Thornton and
Susan Sarandon), war correspondents (The Hunting Party, starring
Richard Gere and
Terrence Howard), and
flying menaces (Dragon Wars, starring
Jason
Behr
). What do the critics have to say?

In Taxi Driver,
Robert DeNiro played a cabbie that went on a killing
spree to "protect" a teenage hooker played by Jodie Foster. Now, with
The Brave One, it’s Foster’s turn to take the law into her own hands. She plays
a talk radio host whose significant other is killed in a random attack,
triggering an impulse to arm herself and "avenge" her husband’s killing.
Terrence Howard plays a detective who’s on the trail of this vigilante. Critics
say The Brave One‘s an-eye-for-an-eye message is problematic, but the
material is slightly elevated by
Neil Jordan‘s direction and strong performances from Foster
and Howard. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, Brave may not be one to watch.
(Check out our review from the Toronto Film Festival

here
.)




"Hi, can you guys tell me where the frozen banana stand is?"


Some couldn’t climb a rope, others got pelted with dodge balls: It’s safe to say
a lot of us have negative associations with gym class, the most Darwinian of
middle school educational pursuits.
Mr. Woodcock
taps into that feeling,
but not quite successfully, say the pundits. The movie stars
Seann William Scott
as a self-help author who’s never quite gotten over the ritual abuse he suffered
at the hands of his P.E. teacher, the sadistic Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob
Thornton); the trauma continues when he learns his mom (Susan Sarandon) is
dating his old nemesis. Critics say Woodcock lacks the energy to make the
most of its intriguing premise, and underutilizes a talented cast. At 18 percent
on the Tomatometer, Mr. Woodcock isn’t in very good shape.




"Remember when I gave your son an atomic wedgie in the locker
room?"


The Hunting Party
tells the story of two veteran war correspondents
(Richard Gere and Terrence Howard) on the trail of a Bosnian war criminal — and
the story that could make their careers. The Hunting Party isn’t the
first movie to attempt to mine bleak humor from the Bosnian conflict (the
Oscar-winning No Man’s Land also found some grim laughs in the midst of
that bitter war). But critics say director
Richard Shepard‘s follow-up to
The
Matador
is awkward at a tonal level, shifting from dark satire to serious
discussions of international politics to create an uneven film, despite the best
efforts of its game leads. At 46 percent, this Party isn’t quite as
swinging as it should be. (Check out our interview with Shepard

here
.)



Don’t hold your breath for this one.


Far be it from us to question the collective taste of the good folks in South
Korea. It’s just that Dragon Wars, which made out like gangbusters at the
Korean box office, wasn’t screened for critics in the U.S. of A. Dragon
Wars
tells the story of a TV reporter (Jason Behr) who discovers that
earthquakes around Los Angeles are not the work of plate tectonics but a dragon
possessed with the spirit of a 500-year-old warrior. No, it’s not a documentary.
Yes, you should attempt to Guess the Tomatometer.

Also opening this week in limited release:
The Great World of Sound,
a
drama about a pair of traveling music producers, is at 82 percent;
Forever
,
a documentary about Paris’s famed Pere-Lachaise cemetery, is at 80 percent;
David
Cronenberg
‘s
Eastern Promises
, starring
Viggo Mortensen as a member
of London’s underworld, is at 79 percent (check out our interview with Cronenberg and Mortensen
here);
King of California, starring
Michael
Douglas
and
Evan Rachel Wood as a father and daughter on a quest for gold, is at
75 percent; Paul Haggis
In the Valley of Elah, starring
Tommy Lee Jones
and Charlize Theron, about a war vet’s search for his missing son who recently
returned from Iraq, is at 63 percent;
Ira & Abby
, a rom-com about a
whirlwind courtship that takes a dark turn, is at 50 percent;
Across the
Universe
,
Julie Taymor‘s ambitions musical that chronicles the 1960s through
the music of the Beatles, is at 45 percent (check out our Beatles movie feature
here);
December Boys, a story of orphaned teenagers in Australia starring
Daniel Radcliffe, is at 43 percent; and
Silk, a period romance starring
Keira Knightley and Michael Pitt, is at zero percent.




"Who are we?" "The Wildcats!" "Who are we gonna beat?" "The
Wildcats!"


Recent Jodie Foster Movies:
————————————
87% — Inside Man (2006)
38% — Flightplan (2005)
77% — A Very Long Engagement (2004)
76% — Panic Room (2002)
51% — Anna and the King (1999)

Recent Billy Bob Thornton Movies:
——————————————-
59% — The Astronaut Farmer (2007)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
45% — The Ice Harvest (2005)
46% — Bad News Bears (2005)
79% — Chrystal (2004)

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