All Christian Bale Movies Ranked

Welcome to Rotten Tomatoes, where we’ve got Bale by the barrel! There’s skinny Bale (The Machinist) and big Bale (American Hustle), edgy Bale (The Fighter) and business Bale (American Psycho). Not to mention two varieties of P.O.W. Bale (Empire of the Sun, Rescue Dawn)! We’ve got cowl Bale (The Dark Knight) if that’s your fever, along with cool Bale (Equilibrium) and magic Bale (The Prestige). Then there’s bard Bale (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) if you’re a person of letters, which we suggest pairing with a biblical Bale (Exodus: Gods and Kings). A Christian Bale, if you please.

Bale’s been nominated for an Oscar four times (winning in 2011 for The Fighter), with the latest in 2019 for Vice. Ford v Ferrari wasn’t nominated for any of its performances, though it did land one for Best Picture. And now he’s in talks to jump from the world of DC to Marvel for a role in Thor: Love and Thunder. Come what may in 2021: First, we’re ranking the best Christian Bale movies (and the worst) by Tomatometer!

#42
Adjusted Score: 31338%
Critics Consensus: The cinematography is gorgeous, but the movie plays it fast and loose with history and the novel it was adapted from. Mostly, the movie fails because the romance between the leads strains credulity and the story is largely uninvolving.
Synopsis: An epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 38865%
Critics Consensus: While sporadically stirring, and suitably epic in its ambitions, Exodus: Gods and Kings can't quite live up to its classic source material.
Synopsis: Egyptian Princes Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) are raised together as brothers. When Ramses becomes pharaoh, Moses is... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#40
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Although Judgment Day has in fact occurred, the future for which John Connor (Christian Bale) was prepared has been partly... [More]
Directed By: McG

#39

Newsies (1992)
39%

#39
Adjusted Score: 41683%
Critics Consensus: Extra! Extra! Read all about Newsies instead of suffering through its underwhelming musical interludes, although Christian Bale makes for a spirited hero.
Synopsis: In this musical, homeless New York City newsboy Jack "Cowboy" Kelly (Christian Bale) befriends two newcomers to his trade, brothers... [More]
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

#38

Equilibrium (2002)
41%

#38
Adjusted Score: 42450%
Critics Consensus: Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies.
Synopsis: In a futuristic world, a regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and... [More]
Directed By: Kurt Wimmer

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 42731%
Critics Consensus: Zhang Yimou's stylistic flair is in full bloom during The Flowers of War, but his colorful treatment of a historical genocide ultimately does a disservice to the horrifying events' inherent drama.
Synopsis: An American (Christian Bale) tries to protect a group of Chinese students and prostitutes from Japanese soldiers in 1937 Nanjing.... [More]
Directed By: Zhang Yimou

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In present-day London, 12-year-old Quinn watches as his mother wakes an enormous fire-breathing beast from its centuries-long slumber. Twenty years... [More]
Directed By: Rob Bowman

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 49154%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful, indulgently heady, and pretentious, The Portrait of a Lady paints Campion's directorial shortcomings in too bright a light.
Synopsis: Ms. Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) isn't afraid to challenge societal norms. Impressed by her free spirit, her kindhearted cousin writes... [More]
Directed By: Jane Campion

#34

Knight of Cups (2015)
47%

#34
Adjusted Score: 57170%
Critics Consensus: Knight of Cups finds Terrence Malick delving deeper into the painterly visual milieu he's explored in recent efforts, but even hardcore fans may struggle with the diminishing narrative returns.
Synopsis: A Los Angeles screenwriter (Christian Bale) indulges his wild side with a stripper (Teresa Palmer), a model (Freida Pinto) and... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#33

Harsh Times (2005)
48%

#33
Adjusted Score: 51718%
Critics Consensus: Despite a dedicated performance by Christian Bale, Harsh Times suffers from a heavy-handed and overly bleak plot.
Synopsis: Jim (Christian Bale) is a Gulf War veteran and he believes it is his sworn duty to protect Americans by... [More]
Directed By: David Ayer

#32

The Promise (2016)
51%

#32
Adjusted Score: 61638%
Critics Consensus: The Promise wastes an outstanding cast and powerful real-life story on a love triangle that frustratingly fails to engage.
Synopsis: Brilliant medical student Michael (Oscar Isaac) meets beautiful dance instructor Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) in late 1914. Their shared Armenian... [More]
Directed By: Terry George

#31
Adjusted Score: 35797%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1880s London, pornographic bookseller Verloc (Bob Hoskins) is a double agent for the Russian government, providing information to Chief... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Hampton

#30
Adjusted Score: 57812%
Critics Consensus: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle brings impressive special effects to bear on the darker side of its classic source material, but loses track of the story's heart along the way.
Synopsis: Human child Mowgli is raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh... [More]
Directed By: Andy Serkis

#29

Swing Kids (1993)

#29
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: American big-band jazz beats in the hearts of young German friends (Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley) confronted by... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 60820%
Critics Consensus: While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it's hard to turn away.
Synopsis: Steelworker Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works a dead-end job and holds tight to his sense of family, duty and loyalty.... [More]
Directed By: Scott Cooper

#27

Pocahontas (1995)
55%

#27
Adjusted Score: 58349%
Critics Consensus: Pocahontas means well, and has moments of startling beauty, but it's largely a bland, uninspired effort, with uneven plotting and an unfortunate lack of fun.
Synopsis: This is the Disney animated tale of the romance between a young American Indian woman named Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) and... [More]

#26

Velvet Goldmine (1998)
59%

#26
Adjusted Score: 59975%
Critics Consensus: Velvet Goldmine takes a visual and narrative approach befitting its larger-than-life subject, although it's still disappointingly less than the sum of its parts.
Synopsis: Glam rock star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Myers) plays a character on stage named Maxwell Demon who predicts his death... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#25

The New World (2005)
63%

#25
Adjusted Score: 69491%
Critics Consensus: Despite arresting visuals and strong lead performances, The New World suffers from an unfocused narrative that will challenge viewers' attention spans over its 2 1/2 hours.
Synopsis: Arriving with a British expedition in Virginia in 1607, Capt. John Smith (Colin Farrell) is captured by Native Americans. His... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#24

Metroland (1997)
64%

#24
Adjusted Score: 65093%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In late-1970s suburban London, Chris (Christian Bale) and Marion (Emily Watson) have settled into a comfortable yet all-too-predictable middle-class existence.... [More]
Directed By: Philip Saville

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 65487%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bobby (Christian Bale) is a mentally handicapped young man with an affinity for animals. He runs away from home after... [More]
Directed By: Jeremy Thomas

#22

Vice (2018)
65%

#22
Adjusted Score: 87583%
Critics Consensus: Vice takes scattershot aim at its targets, but writer-director Adam McKay hits some satisfying bullseyes -- and Christian Bale's transformation is a sight to behold.
Synopsis: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas picks Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton Co., to be his Republican running mate... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#21
Adjusted Score: 70062%
Critics Consensus: Faultless production and shining performances display the Bard's talent propitiously.
Synopsis: This version of the renowned comedic play finds the world of humans intersecting with the realm of magic. The lovely... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#20

Shaft (2000)
67%

#20
Adjusted Score: 70184%
Critics Consensus: With a charismatic lead, this new Shaft knows how to push the right buttons.
Synopsis: Crooked cops on the take -- small-time drug lords -- sleazy informers and sadistic rich kids ready to kill ---... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#19

Public Enemies (2009)
68%

#19
Adjusted Score: 78789%
Critics Consensus: Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.
Synopsis: Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger's (Johnny Depp) charm and audacity endear him to much of America's downtrodden public, but he's... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#18

Laurel Canyon (2002)
69%

#18
Adjusted Score: 71400%
Critics Consensus: Though the movie itself is flawed, McDormand is fantastic as Jane.
Synopsis: Sam (Christian Bale) and his fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), move to Los Angeles for the summer to stay at the... [More]
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko

#17

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#17
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#16

Hostiles (2017)
71%

#16
Adjusted Score: 83456%
Critics Consensus: Hostiles benefits from stunning visuals and a solid central performance from Christian Bale, both of which help elevate its uneven story.
Synopsis: In 1892, legendary Army Capt. Joseph Blocker reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back... [More]
Directed By: Scott Cooper

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 79377%
Critics Consensus: One of Steven Spielberg's most ambitious efforts of the 1980s, Empire of the Sun remains an underrated gem in the director's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Jamie Graham (Christian Bale), a privileged English boy, is living in Shanghai when the Japanese invade and force all foreigners... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#14

The Prestige (2006)
76%

#14
Adjusted Score: 83673%
Critics Consensus: Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is a dazzling period piece that never stops challenging the audience.
Synopsis: An illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman), against each... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#13

I'm Not There (2007)
77%

#13
Adjusted Score: 83263%
Critics Consensus: I'm Not There's unique editing, visuals, and multiple talented actors portraying Bob Dylan make for a deliciously unconventional experience. Each segment brings a new and fresh take on Dylan's life.
Synopsis: Several actors portray legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan at different stages in his personal life and career. In 1959 a guitar-strumming... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Factory worker Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) suffers from insomnia so severe that his condition has taken its toll on his... [More]
Directed By: Brad Anderson

#11

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#11
Adjusted Score: 95916%
Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.
Synopsis: A young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels to the Far East, where he's trained in the martial arts by Henri... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#10
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 92524%
Critics Consensus: Exquisitely illustrated by master animator Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle will delight children with its fantastical story and touch the hearts and minds of older viewers as well.
Synopsis: Sophie (Emily Mortimer) has an uneventful life at her late father's hat shop, but all that changes when she befriends... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#8

The Big Short (2015)
89%

#8
Adjusted Score: 101793%
Critics Consensus: The Big Short approaches a serious, complicated subject with an impressive attention to detail -- and manages to deliver a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains in the bargain.
Synopsis: In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting.... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#7

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 97718%
Critics Consensus: This remake of a classic Western improves on the original, thanks to fiery performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as well as sharp direction from James Mangold.
Synopsis: Outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) terrorizes 1800s Arizona, especially the Southern Railroad, until he is finally captured. Wade must be... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#6

Rescue Dawn (2006)
90%

#6
Adjusted Score: 94180%
Critics Consensus: Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and taken captive... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#5

The Fighter (2010)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99782%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#4

Little Women (1994)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 94167%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong's take on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it's told.
Synopsis: In this 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic, the March sisters confront growing pains, financial shortages, family tragedies and... [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong

#3

American Hustle (2013)
92%

#3
Adjusted Score: 103253%
Critics Consensus: Riotously funny and impeccably cast, American Hustle compensates for its flaws with unbridled energy and some of David O. Russell's most irrepressibly vibrant direction.
Synopsis: Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) dabbles in forgery and loan-sharking, but when he falls for fellow grifter Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams),... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#2

Ford v Ferrari (2019)
92%

#2
Adjusted Score: 114307%
Critics Consensus: Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts.
Synopsis: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#1

The Dark Knight (2008)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 107468%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Synopsis: With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

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100 Best War Movies of All Time

From peacetime to frontlines, from coming home to left behind: Rotten Tomatoes presents the 100 best-reviewed war movies of all time, ranked by Adjusted Tomatometer with at least 20 reviews each.

#100

Che: Part Two (2008)
79%

#100
Adjusted Score: 80412%
Critics Consensus: The second part of Soderbergh's biopic is a dark, hypnotic and sometimes frustrating portrait of a warrior in decline, with a terrific central performance from Del Toro.
Synopsis: Seven years after his triumph in Cuba, Che (Benicio Del Toro) winds up in Bolivia, where he tries to ignite... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#99
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During World War II, British soldier Jack Celliers (David Bowie) is captured by Japanese forces and held in a prison... [More]
Directed By: Nagisa Ôshima

#98

Black Hawk Down (2001)
76%

#98
Adjusted Score: 82806%
Critics Consensus: Though it's light on character development and cultural empathy, Black Hawk Down is a visceral, pulse-pounding portrait of war, elevated by Ridley Scott's superb technical skill.
Synopsis: The film takes place in 1993 when the U.S. sent special forces into Somalia to destabilize the government and bring... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#97

The Tin Drum (1979)
84%

#97
Adjusted Score: 85673%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Oskar Matzerath (David Bennent) is a very unusual boy. Refusing to leave the womb until promised a tin drum by... [More]
Directed By: Volker Schlöndorff

#96
#96
Adjusted Score: 83118%
Critics Consensus: A well-crafted and visually arresting drama with a touch of whimsy.
Synopsis: Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is told that her fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) has been killed in World War I. She refuses to... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

#95

American Sniper (2014)
72%

#95
Adjusted Score: 84402%
Critics Consensus: Powered by Clint Eastwood's sure-handed direction and a gripping central performance from Bradley Cooper, American Sniper delivers a tense, vivid tribute to its real-life subject.
Synopsis: U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) takes his sole mission -- protect his comrades -- to heart and becomes... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#94

Kelly's Heroes (1970)
78%

#94
Adjusted Score: 79773%
Critics Consensus: Kelly's Heroes subverts its World War II setting with pointed satirical commentary on modern military efforts, offering an entertaining hybrid of heist caper and battlefield action.
Synopsis: In the midst of World War II, an array of colorful American soldiers gets inside information from a drunk German... [More]
Directed By: Brian G. Hutton

#93

Braveheart (1995)
79%

#93
Adjusted Score: 83524%
Critics Consensus: Distractingly violent and historically dodgy, Mel Gibson's Braveheart justifies its epic length by delivering enough sweeping action, drama, and romance to match its ambition.
Synopsis: Tells the story of the legendary thirteenth century Scottish hero named William Wallace (Mel Gibson). Wallace rallies the Scottish against... [More]
Directed By: Mel Gibson

#92

War Horse (2011)

#92
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his beloved horse, Joey, live on a farm in the British countryside. At the outbreak of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#91

Coming Home (1978)
85%

#91
Adjusted Score: 87131%
Critics Consensus: Coming Home's stellar cast elevates the love triangle in the center of its story - and adds a necessary human component to its none-too-subtle political message.
Synopsis: The wife of a Marine serving in Vietnam, Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda) decides to volunteer at a local veterans hospital... [More]
Directed By: Hal Ashby

#90
#90
Adjusted Score: 85725%
Critics Consensus: The Thin Red Line is a daringly philosophical World War II film with an enormous cast of eager stars.
Synopsis: In 1942, Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) is a U.S. Army absconder living peacefully with the locals of a small South... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#89

Lone Survivor (2013)
75%

#89
Adjusted Score: 83703%
Critics Consensus: A true account of military courage and survival, Lone Survivor wields enough visceral power to mitigate its heavy-handed jingoism.
Synopsis: In 2005 Afghanistan, Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew "Axe"... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#88

Private Benjamin (1980)
82%

#88
Adjusted Score: 84635%
Critics Consensus: Private Benjamin proves a potent showcase for its Oscar-nominated star, with Hawn making the most of a story that rests almost completely on her daffily irresistible charm.
Synopsis: A Jewish-American princess, Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn), is devastated when her husband (Albert Brooks) drops dead on their wedding night.... [More]
Directed By: Howard Zieff

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 84626%
Critics Consensus: Benigni's earnest charm, when not overstepping its bounds into the unnecessarily treacly, offers the possibility of hope in the face of unflinching horror.
Synopsis: A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with... [More]
Directed By: Roberto Benigni

#86

Fury (2014)
76%

#86
Adjusted Score: 87221%
Critics Consensus: Overall, Fury is a well-acted, suitably raw depiction of the horrors of war that offers visceral battle scenes but doesn't quite live up to its larger ambitions.
Synopsis: In April 1945, the Allies are making their final push in the European theater. A battle-hardened Army sergeant named Don... [More]
Directed By: David Ayer

He’s been Batman, Bateman, and battled Terminators — and this weekend, Christian Bale battles Oscar Isaac for the love of Charlotte Le Bon in The Promise, a romantic drama set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide. In honor of Bale’s latest cinematic excursion, we decided to take this opportunity to pause for a fond look back at some of the brighter critical highlights from an acclaimed career that’s still collecting them at an impressive pace. It’s time for Total Recall!


Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!

Inspired by The Green Inferno, this week’s 24 Frames treks deep into some of the most dangerous and deadly jungle settings ever captured on film.


Good news, blockbuster fans: this week in home entertainment features a crowd-pleasing toe-tapper (Hairspray), the return of John McClane (Live Free or Die Hard), another harrowing star turn by Christian Bale (Rescue Dawn), and plenty more (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, Ghosts of Cite Soleil, Chappelle’s Show Collection). Just watch out for that one early holiday dud (The Santa Clause 3: Escape Clause) — unless 14 percent Tomatometers are your cup of eggnog.



Hairspray


Tomatometer: 93%

The movie musical is officially back, as evinced by this year’s Hairspray — a big screen version of a Broadway remake of the John Waters cult film, of all things. Newcomer Nikki Blonsky shines as the chubby yet effervescent teenager who teaches all of 1960s Baltimore about acceptance, equality, the mashed potato and the pony. If only impossibly teased hair and a megawatt smile were all it took to land a heartthrob like Zac Efron! Pick up the two-disc DVD release for an added behind-the-scenes documentary that charts the film’s journey from film to stage to film, song sing-along tracks, dance routine tutorials, and more. Then, go rent Waters’ original Hairspray to see what a real man (Divine) looks like in drag. (Take that, Travolta-in-a-fat-suit!)

 



Live Free or Die Hard


Tomatometer: 80%

Bruce Willis has long had difficulty dying (not so his career – zing!) when it comes to this franchise, and the twelve years since Die Hard With a Vengeance have not taught him any better to let loose his mortal coil at the hands of evil thieves, terrorists, and the like. Enter Live Free or Die Hard, a John McClane joint for the 21st century, featuring the most terrifying of 21st century foes: Internet hackers! In line with this progressive techno-thinking, the 20th Century Fox release includes a digital copy of the film that you can download onto your computer or portable DVD player, or whatever other newfangled gadgets the kids are using these days. (Bonus for grown-ups: an unrated version of the film in addition to the theatrical PG-13 cut. Yippee-ki-yay!)

 



Rescue Dawn


Tomatometer: 90%

In 1997, Werner Herzog documented the real-life prisoner of war experience of a German-born American pilot named Dieter Dengler in his acclaimed Little Dieter Needs to Fly; ten years later, Herzog reviss the inherently dramatic tale as a feature film starring Christian Bale. The result is not only another critically lauded film, but the director’s most commercial and accessible work to date. Watch it for a harrowing Vietnam War survival tale — and so you can finally drop some Herzog knowledge on even the snootiest of cinephiles at this year’s holiday party! 

 




Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse


Tomatometer: 100%


Much more than your average making-of feature, Hearts of Darkness — on DVD for the first time this week — gets up close and personal with director Francis Ford Coppola during the production of his 1979 Vietnam epic, Apocalypse Now. While Coppola was shooting the modern classic, about men going mad in the midst of war, his wife Eleanor took notes and shot on-set footage of the cast and crew; her documentation of how the overstuffed project, skyrocketing budgets, and production delays threatened the film and the sanity of Coppola himself became this award-winning 1991 documentary. Co-directors Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper (who would go on to direct 2003’s Mayor of the Sunset Strip and last year’s Factory Girl) contributed extensive interviews, and the film went on to earn praise at Cannes. The DVD includes a new commentary track by Coppola as well as an hour-long accompaniment on his new film, Youth Without Youth.  

 


A Bounty of Seasonal Offerings

Angel-A
Tomatometer: 44%

Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element) takes his penchant for action down a notch in this light charmer about a down-on-his-luck con man saved from suicide by a chain-smoking statuesque blonde. Although critics were split, this Paris-set Wings of Desire-meets-It’s a Wonderful Life is worth a view, if only for the breathtaking experience of seeing the City of Lights shot in beautiful monochrome.

Manufactured Landscapes
Tomatometer: 83%


Director Jennifer Baichwal filmed acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky as he traversed Asia shooting various industrial landscapes; her award-winning documentary captures not only the striking imprint of global progress on the earth, but provokes thought by using beautiful images composed, ironically, of industrial wastelands.



Ghosts of Cite Soleil

Tomatometer: 80%

A few months before the 2004 military coup that deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, filmmaker Asger Leth (son of Danish director Jorgen Leth) embedded himself and a small crew deep within the slums of Cite Soleil, filming the complicated relationship between two fatefully charismatic gang leader brothers. The result — a powerful and terrifying glimpse into lives dictated by violence, guided by American gangsta rap — is an incredibly intimate and surprisingly humanizing portrait of brotherhood, poverty, and the quagmire that is modern Haiti.



Chappelle’s Show Series Collection

Tomatometer: 80%

Combining Season One, Season Two, and the “Lost Episodes” of Dave Chappelle‘s masterfully amusing sketch comedy show, this six-disc box set is an arguable necessity for Chappelle enthusiasts. But while the Comedy Central release offers up all 28 episodes, audio commentaries, bloopers, unaired sketches, stand-up, and even two new True Hollywood Stories by Charlie Murphy, one wonders if any true Chappelle fan should put more profits in the pockets of a network that effectively cancelled all possibility of Chappelle’s return to the show by running the unfinished third season to begin with.


Enjoy The Thanksgiving Turkey





The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Tomatometer: 14%

Escape from this Clause.” “Ho Ho Hum.” The reviews write themselves, but just for added measure, here’s what else is in store should you pick up this new release: Jack Frost played with nuance by Martin Short as if the love child of Liberace and Liza Minnelli, Tim Allen phoning in his third performance as a reluctant Santa, and a plot shamefully derivative of such holiday classics as It’s a Wonderful Life and even The Nightmare Before Christmas.  

Happy renting to us, every one!

Werner Herzog - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.comAt age 65, prolific filmmaker Werner Herzog shows no signs of taking things a bit easier. Notorious for his gruelling filmmaking style, he’s famously willing to put himself through everything he demands of his actors. This led to a series of outrageous on-set experiences with eccentric star Klaus Kinski, which Herzog documented in My Best Fiend, following their often murderous relationship over the years. Herzog is the only filmmaker who has shot features on every continent. His classics include Aguirre: Wrath of God, Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde and Grizzly Man, and he also finds time to act in the films of Harmony Korine. In addition to his film career, he walked on foot from Munich to Paris in 1974, was shot during an interview by journalist Mark Kermode in 2005, and rescued Joaquin Phoenix from a terrible car crash the following year. Now with Rescue Dawn, he returns to the subject of his 1997 documentary Little Dieter Wants to Fly

When you finished the doc Little Dieter Wants to Fly, what did you think still needed to be said in a constructed narrative?

Werner Herzog: For Dieter and me it was always clear that this was unfinished business. Too many things that are really fascinating – such as what happened in the prison camp – are hardly touched in the documentary. The films complement each other very well. There was also a consensus between Dieter and me that the feature film comes first, but since technically we did it later, interestingly, the film that was not done yet influenced the first film. But in its heart the feature film has always been the first one.

Why did you wait almost 10 years to make the feature?

WH: Well, it was possible to make the feature film only when the money was available. Otherwise I would have done the feature as the first one. But the feature film in that case would have been unfinished business, because we would have seen nothing of Dieter’s childhood, nor do we see anything about his life later on, nor do we see the real man. And of course his story was fantastic before he made it to the United States and Southeast Asia, and equally afterwards. He had four more plane crashes that he survived, and children and wives and just totally wild stuff. [Dengler died at age 62 in February 2001 of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC.]

How was Christian Bale suited to the role?

WH: The simple answer: He’s the best of his generation. And I worked with the best of their generation: Steve Zahn, Christian Bale and Jeremy Davies. So I was blessed with the best of the best. With Steve Zahn, nobody expected anything from him like that because he’s mostly been the funny sidekick in Eddie Murphy movies. But I knew that Steve has something very, very special about him.

Did you cast Bale partly because of his reputation with things like extreme weight loss?

WH: Yes, but we had to be careful. Christian always said, “For God’s sake, let’s not make a great fuss about this.” Because he didn’t want to end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for starving himself. Of course in The Machinist he lost much more. And what we did was significant and visible for an audience, so that by the end of the film he has quite visibly lost some weight. And that’s fine. And we shouldn’t make a big fuss about it. It only showed the amount of dedication and professionality of everyone involved. And that’s the key to it.

But then Bale’s dedication extended to eating maggots…

WH: That’s not really incredible. I’ve seen people in other country eat maggots, and they’re very rich in protein. So there’s nothing really wrong about it. In our own cultural context we’re not accustomed to eating maggots, but Christian Bale always knew I would essentially offer to do things I asked from the actors. For example, when we were in the rapids, I spent all day with them in the water. I offered to eat a couple of spoonfuls of maggots, but in this case Christian said, “Oh for God’s sake, just turn on the camera and let me get on with it.”

Rescue Dawn

Was it just one take?

WH: That was one of only two misunderstandings. One was when we were a few hundred yards apart and we had to yell over a large distance and something got lost, and for a moment we were angry with each other, but it was over in two minutes flat. And then that moment when he ate the maggots, I had told him, “You are the one who will stop the scene.” But while he ate – he probably didn’t hear it correctly – he kept eating, eating, eating, and he got kind of angry because I never said cut. So finally when the four minutes of film had run out, and everybody stopped, he said he didn’t hear cut from me. And that was the second moment where there was a kind of misunderstanding, but these things pass by so quickly. It’s just a little error. But, for example, in solidarity I lost half the amount of weight he lost. It would be counterproductive to lose the same amount because he would gain it back fairly quickly. The real challenge – because we shot the film backwards – was to develop the character backwards. To find the dynamic and the flow was quite difficult.

Why do that?

WH: Well it was a practical consideration. It takes you five or six months to lose weight but you gain it back in two or four weeks. We could have done it the other way around, but then we would have needed five or six months of shooting, and we only had 44 days. And while you are working, he would have to keep starving, starving, starving, until at the end he was very thin. So for practical reasons we had to do it backwards. Christian has been such a disciplined man. Jeremy Davies in a way overdid it. He’s quite thin, but he arrived in Thailand with quite a few very large suitcases, and it turned out they were filled with bottled water, Evian in plastic bottles. And in Thailand, right next to the hotel in the supermarket you could have bought the same ones. But he brought all his water along – he was totally wild. He ate very, very little and mostly only drank water, and that was that.

Can Christian play any character? Do you think he could even play Kinski in a biopic?

WH: No, that would be ridiculous! He couldn’t do it – no, because Kinski was kind of unique and you can’t even imitate him! Not anything. It would be wrong for him to do, for example, Kinski. Or it would be wrong for him to do Mohammad Ali. In a way I had to stop Christian from going into too much of an imitation of the real Dieter Dengler. The real Dieter Dengler had a very thick German accent, and Christian and I were quite clear: we had to dismiss that. We did not try to imitate that – just a slight hint of an accent. Christian kept saying to me, “You as a crowd won’t even hear it!” It’s so subtle. I think he could do pretty much anything, but he shouldn’t do everything. In essence, yes, but you do not imitate idiosyncrasies and actions in the same way as, for example, when you make a film about Mohammad Ali, you have to be a rapper, like Ali, and you have to dance in the ring, and you have to be like him. And Richard Nixon – you have to look pretty much alike, and you have to speak like him and move like him.

Some families of prisoners felt their relatives weren’t depicted accurately.

WH: It’s a complex question because, sure, I do understand that the family of [Davies’ character] Eugene DeBruin saw him differently, 40 years back before he went to Laos or even to Thailand, from where he flew. Apparently, and I would not have any doubts, he was a very kind family man. However, how Dieter Dengler describes him very precisely, over and over, after more than two years in medieval flip-flops, with diarrhoea, cross-handcuffed with others, there was a fair amount of delusion in him that he would be released in a week from now. Dieter told me quite often there were conflicts among the prisoners. He passes by this fleetingly in the documentary but, right after that, he said, “Well, it was much more serious. Sometimes we hated each other so bad that we would have strangled each other if we had a hand free, if we were not cross-handcuffed.” And it’s absolutely understandable that after two years cross-handcuffed and everyone has diarrhoea in the humidity and sweating and so on, there were very decisive and antagonistic moments. But I wanted to follow the story of Dieter Dengler. With him the film begins and ends, and it’s his story. It’s a basic problem about storytelling. Yes, if I had known every single one of the prisoners intimately, and had gotten each of their stories, I probably would have ended up with five different variations of the story. So for me it was always clear that I’d do Dieter Dengler’s perspective. And yet Gene DeBruin’s family is unhappy about it and angered and has started an internet campaign. And OK, that’s alright. They see him differently than I see him. But I think they have not gotten any of the details that I have gotten from Dieter Dengler. And these things happen. Yes, someone may be unhappy with how one character is portrayed. You run into that, and it’s fine. And it’s absolutely legitimate that they raise their voices and explain that they see it differently.

What do you think it was about Dieter that made him such a survivor?

WH: That’s a complicated arrangement in his inner make-up. I think he had all the qualities I like in Americans – that is, this kind of frontier spirit, optimism and loyalty, and joy of physically tackling things. Loyalty in a very intensive way – he was one of the very few prisoners of war who did not sign the propaganda declaration denouncing the United States. He kept saying, “America gave me wings. I came to America not just to earn a lot of money, but I came with a big dream. And there it was possible. And I would not denounce this country.” And of course it was in the very early days of the Vietnam War when you didn’t have napalm bombing or Mai Lai or things that make it so hard to understand what was going on. He was a very unique man, with great street wisdom, great survival instincts and also the gift of leadership.

He’s almost like a mythical hero.

WH: At the same time, I’m sure audiences sense that there’s an authentic story behind it. It’s not invented. Everything is detailed in a way that’s how it happened. Of course I modified a few things, but only to give an essence of it. For example, Dieter Dengler was actually kidnapped by his buddies and smuggled back to the aircraft carrier after he was rescued. As far as I remember he was hoisted out through a window and then they ran to the helicopter. And I found it much more Dieter-like to have him hidden under a cake, so to speak. Actually the cake is gone by then, but the tablecloth is somehow covering the table as they wheel him out. So yes, modification, but it gives more the essence of what Dieter would do.

Rescue Dawn

What do you think this film says about the Vietnam War?

WH: It’s not a Vietnam film. It’s a survival film in the jungles, it’s a film about friendship. The war doesn’t factor in the movie, nor in Dieter’s life. The war was over for him 40 minutes into it – 40 minutes into his first mission he was shot down. And back in 1965 the Vietnam War was just starting to settle in. There was an escalation and de-escalation. It hadn’t found its magnitude and its significance yet. I never saw it as a war movie or as a Vietnam movie, so it doesn’t settle in with any other Vietnam War movies. And besides, it was Laos, which wasn’t quite part of the whole campaign.

The jungle is extremely authentic.

WH: It’s very physical. I’ve never seen anyone filming the jungle like I’ve done it. I do have quite some experience in jungles with other films, but in this case I wanted to make it more physical than all the others before. It’s partly about what sort of spot in the jungle you are selecting. Sometimes we’d drive around and we’d all of a sudden see a solid wall of vines and underbrush, and you literally cannot imagine that a human being can penetrate into that wall. And we’d stop and say, “Let’s go through that one!” With the cameraman right after them. The cameraman was very, very physical – a former ice hockey player for Sparta Prague – a very physical man. And of course you can’t do SteadyCam, because it’s a very delicately balanced instrument, and if you bounce against a liana or twig the whole system comes apart. Sometimes we use a helicopter or crane. But when they escape, of course the camera is with them quite a bit, and we see that this is serious business. And audiences can distinguish that this is not a picnic. Or a digital jungle.

The film is shot in rich colours, rather than the grainy, washed out style of current action films.

WH: It had to have the real quality of celluloid. We shot on a very large celluloid frame – they call it Super 35, where you use quite a large amount of the celluloid, more than regular shooting. So the technical quality is much higher than in regular 35mm shooting. And authenticity does not come through the pretext of grainy image or digital video. It comes from somewhere else.

How did you cast the prison guards in the film?

WH: Most of them are people from hill tribes that you would find in Laos and Burma. Most of the guards were stunt men. You see the little one, Crazy Horse, who does the flips so well, I said, “You have to do it in the movie!” Otherwise they were just the people from the villages there, very well-selected and carefully cast. I liked them all, including the dog! That was very precisely organised, and I don’t know how many times I shot that – I shot until the dog walked into the shot on his hind legs. Those are the joys of daily work!

Rescue Dawn

This has been described as your first American film.

WH: Well it’s not the first; Grizzly Man is pretty much also American. But you see, both Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn are not films within the cultural definition of the film industry – it’s not Hollywood. Hollywood would never have gone for, for example, that casting. They wouldn’t have allowed me to have Steve Zahn. The producers were absolutely the contrary of Hollywood: the main producer had made most of his money in the trucking business, and is running nightclubs now, and the other producer who put most of the finances into it is a basketball star who never had any experience with filmmaking. Which in a way was a blessing because I could do absolutely the film I wanted to do. On the other hand, it was awful every single day because they didn’t know how to handle the shooting of a film. In particular there was always financial trouble; they never had the finances in place when it was needed most badly. So one day over 30 Thai crew quit because they were not paid in time, and the transportation department didn’t get any money for buying gasoline. So as a filmmaker I had to make something out of a disaster. In the morning at 6: no transportation department, and I still kept shooting that day. And I finished the film two days under schedule.

The German film industry is enjoying a renaissance. Will you go back to make a film there?

WH: I’m married in America, so I’ll probably stay. But of course I made my last film in Antarctica, the film before in Alaska, the film before in Guyana in South America. So I’ve made very few films in Germany, and it’s not necessary that I have to go back to my country. In a way, Rescue Dawn is a very Bavarian film – the spirit of Dieter Dengler, even though he’s the quintessential American immigrant, he’s very much from the culture he comes from. And I’ve never left my culture. For example, [Wolfgang] Petersen and [Roland] Emmerich always wanted to make Hollywood films, and they got their dream. They make very successful Hollywood films, which I have never done. I’ve left my country, but I’ve not left my culture. In the same way, you shouldn’t be worried why George Lucas is going to the outer galaxy to make a movie. He’s still making a film within his culture; he’s making an American film. I go to Thailand or the Peruvian jungle, the Amazon, and I still make Bavarian films. Fitzcarraldo is a Bavarian film, and so in a way is Rescue Dawn.

Moviegoers across North America embraced The Simpsons Movie which beat out all industry expectations for an explosive number one opening this weekend grossing more than the next four biggest hits combined. The Fox release collected an estimated $71.9M in its first weekend in theaters and averaged a spectacular $18,320 per site from 3,922 locations. The PG-13 comedy enjoyed the third largest debut ever for an animated film trailing only Shrek the Third and Shrek 2 which bowed to $121.6M and $108M, respectively.

The Simpsons Movie delivered the fifth biggest July opening weekend ever after the megasequels Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($135.6M in 2006), Spider-Man 2 ($88.2M in 2004), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($77.1M in 2007), and Austin Powers in Goldmember ($76.6M in 2002). It also ranks fifth among the biggest non-sequel opening weekends in history following Spider-Man ($114.8M in 2002), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($90.3M in 2001), The Passion of the Christ ($83.8M in 2004), and The Da Vinci Code ($77.1M in 2006). The magic number five is also where The Simpsons Movie stands in Fox’s company history behind the debuts of the last two installments in both the Star Wars and X-Men franchises.

After building up an enormous fan base over the last 18 years, The Simpsons Movie was finally ready to capitalize on the popularity of the television series by jumping to the big screen and the audience certainly followed. Fox reported that the audience for the $75M production was solid in all four quadrants. Strong reviews from critics also helped the cause and probably encouraged many fans who have given up on watching the weekly series to return for the theatrical fun. The studio’s marketing department also deserves a gold medal for its unorthodox campaign which really commanded the attention of the public. From the contest between different towns named Springfield to host the premiere to the conversion of a dozen 7-11 stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the studio was able to generate massive amounts of excitement with creative new ideas.

Dropping a notch from its top spot debut, Adam Sandler and Kevin James cuddled up in second place with the comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry which fell 44% to an estimated $19.1M. The Sony release has laughed up a solid $71.6M in its first ten days and should find its way to the neighborhood of $125M. Chuck is performing much like Sandler’s 2002 summer comedy Mr. Deeds which bowed in late June to $37.2M, tallied $73.6M in ten days, and finished with $126.3M.

Another former number one followed. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix dropped 48% to an estimated $17.1M in its third weekend and boosted its 19-day cume to $241.8M. Phoenix posted the smallest third-weekend gross of any Potter film to date, however a final domestic cume close to the $290M of the last installment Goblet of Fire still seems possible.

The hot musical Hairspray posted a decent hold in its second weekend dropping 43% to an estimated $15.6M for New Line. The ensemble pic featuring John Travolta and Queen Latifah watched its total soar to $59.3M after only ten days which already makes it the studio’s top grossing film in two years. The PG-rated entry looks to pass the $103.3M of last winter’s Dreamgirls and may reach about $110M.

Catherine Zeta-Jones headlined the new romantic dramedy No Reservations and found moderate success with an estimated opening of $11.8M. The Warner Bros. release debuted in 2,425 locations as an alternative choice for adult women and averaged a good $4,849. Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin co-star in the story of a chef whose life changes after her sister’s death leaves the woman to care for her niece. Reviews were mixed.

The action smash Transformers placed sixth in its fourth weekend with an estimated $11.5M. Down 44%, the Paramount/DreamWorks co-production boosted its cume to $284.6M putting it at number 31 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after The Matrix Reloaded which grossed $281.5M in 2003. Transformers is now the third biggest hit ever for Paramount after Titanic ($600.8M) and Forrest Gump ($329.7M) and also the third largest in DreamWorks history trailing the last two Shrek installments.

In their fifth weekends, Disney’s Ratatouille and Fox’s Live Free or Die Hard held up well grossing estimates of $7.2M and $5.4M, respectively. The Pixar toon dipped 34% and has banked $179.7M to date while the Bruce Willis sequel slipped only 25% pushing the cume to $125.1M. The new John McClane adventure is the actor’s highest grossing live-action film since 1999’s The Sixth Sense.

Two new flops rounded out the top ten. Sony’s Lindsay Lohan horror flick I Know Who Killed Me bowed to an estimated $3.4M from 1,320 theaters for a weak $2,576 average. The R-rated torture pic was never tracking well and its star’s recent arrests put the nail in the coffin for the film’s release. MGM opened the golf comedy Who’s Your Caddy? with an estimated $2.9M averaging only $2,846 from 1,019 sites.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The Warner Bros. romantic comedy License to Wed tumbled 64% to an estimated $1.3M lifting its cume to $41.7M. A mediocre $44M final should result for the Robin Williams pic. Rival comedy Knocked Up has been one of the year’s top comedy performers and fell 48% to an estimated $1.2M giving Universal a superb $145.1M to date. The low-cost $30M production should finish its domestic run with just under $150M.

Horror hit 1408 dropped 54% to an estimated $1.2M giving MGM $70M thus far. As the year’s second biggest fright flick after Disturbia, the John Cusack film should reach about $73M.

The Steve Carell epic comedy Evan Almighty grossed an estimated $1.1M, down 57%, pushing the tally to $96.3M. Produced for $175M, the PG-rated pic will have to work hard with second-run business in order to crack the $100M mark for Universal. It will also have to soar internationally and on video if it wants reach break-even.

A handful of films expanded into wider release this weekend. MGM’s military drama Rescue Dawn grossed an estimated $1.7M from 500 locations for a $3,304 average and $3M cume. The sci-fi thriller Sunshine grossed an estimated $1.3M for Fox Searchlight resulting in a $2,750 average and a total of $1.6M. The Don Cheadle film Talk To Me averaged $6,986 from 115 playdates for a weekend estimate of $803,000. Total sits at $1.9M for Focus.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $165.7M which was up a potent 52% from last year when Miami Vice opened at number one with $25.7M; and up 58% from 2005 when Wedding Crashers rose to the top spot for the first time with $20M in its third frame.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the moves, we’ve got America’s favorite family in their long-awaited big-screen debut (The Simpsons Movie); a tale of two chefs (No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart); a rumble in the jungle (Rescue Dawn, starring Christian Bale), a kidnapping mystery (I Know Who Killed Me, starring Lindsay Lohan); and wacky golf gags (Who’s Your Caddy? Starring Lil Wayne and Big Boi). What do the critics have to say?

The wait is finally over: The Simpsons have migrated from the confines of television to the silver (or is that yellow?) screen. The result? Well, maybe not the “best…. movie… ever,” but pundits say it’s still pretty exxxxx-cellent. Homer, responsible for an eco-disaster, piles Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie into the car and leaves Springfield for Alaska (you were expecting Capital City?). Ah, but who cares about the plot? The critics say The Simpsons Movie is essentially an extra-long episode of the show, but one that contains plenty of the S-M-R-T jokes, killer slapstick, and poignancy that fans have come to expect. At 84 percent on the Tomatometer, The Simpsons Movie is Certified Fresh. Release the hounds.


Mmmmm, Flaming Homer!


No Reservations joins a list of movies (Eat Drink Man Woman, Like Water for Chocolate, Sideways) about the intersection between the taste buds and the heartstrings; unfortunately, the pundits say this one is bland, under-nourishing, and a bunch of other food metaphors. Catherine Zeta-Jones stares as Kate, a master chef who is at first threatened, then inspired, by the presence of rising culinary star Nick (Aaron Eckhart) in the kitchen of an upscale New York restaurant. Critics say No Reservations is appealingly presented, but its combination of predictability and melancholy make it hard to swallow. At 38 percent on the Tomatometer, critics have some Reservations about this one.


“I told you not to do a Zorro sequel!”


When it comes to making movies about the struggle between man and nature, German director Werner Herzog is one of the greats, with such masterpieces as Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, and Grizzly Man to his credit. Add Rescue Dawn to that list. Rescue Dawn stars Christian Bale as Dieter Dengler, a Navy pilot who, after crash-landing in the jungles of Laos, must escape imprisonment and navigate the treacherous depths of the jungle. Critics say Dawn is the closest that Herzog has made to an inspiring popcorn flick, albeit one that challenges viewers’ expectations and doesn’t shortchange the horror or despair of the situation. At 89 percent on the Tomatometer, this is one emotional Rescue. (Check out RT’s take here.)


Crowd surfing on two broken legs is not recommended.


Two of this week’s wide releases contain mysteries unlikely to be solved before they hit theaters. The makers of I Know Who Killed Me aren’t letting critics in on their little secret. Nor will we learn the identity of your caddy, as Who’s Your Caddy? was also withheld from scribes. Killed features troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan as a college student who escapes abduction and torture. Caddy stars Big Boi and Lil Wayne in a film that features the most golf course antics this side of Dorf. Kids, tee up and Guess those Tomatometers!


“No seriously, I really would like to know who will be caddying for you.”


Also opening this week in limited release: Punk’s Not Dead, a zippy doc about punk rock from the beginning to its place in Hot Topic, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; No End in Sight, which chronicles the missteps in the Iraq war, is at 95 percent (check out RT’s interview with director Charles Ferguson here); The Devil Came on Horseback, a harrowing look at genocide in Darfur, is at 94 percent; The Camden 28, a doc about resistance to the Vietnam War, is at 92 percent; Moliere, a biopic of the great satirist, is at 87 percent; This is England, a skinhead coming-of-age story, is at 87 percent; The Sugar Curtain, a doc about an elegiac trip to Cuba, is at 86 percent; and Arctic Tale, a nature film featuring polar bears and walruses, is at 53 percent.


“I love it when you call me Big Papa.”

Recent Catherine Zeta-Jones Movies:
———————————————
26% — The Legend of Zorro (2005)
55% — Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
61% — The Terminal (2004)
71% — Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
46% — Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

Recent Werner Herzog Movies:
————————————–
66% — The Wild Blue Yonder: A Science Fiction Fantasy (2006)
94% — The White Diamond (2005)
94% — Wheel of Time (2005)
93% — Grizzly Man (2005)
53% — Invincible (2002)

Bart, Lisa, and the whole gang from Springfield will charge into multiplexes across North America and much of the world this weekend in the highly anticipated animated comedy The Simpsons Movie which looks to easily conquer the box office. But competing studios do have other menu items in store for moviegoers. Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in the romantic comedy No Reservations, Lindsay Lohan headlines the grisly thriller I Know Who Killed Me, and hip hop star Big Boi tries out the world of golf comedy in Who’s Your Caddy?

Fox is aiming for hardcore followers and casual fans alike with its long-in-the-works comedy The Simpsons Movie which hits screens at midnight on Thursday night. The PG-13 film has a substantial built-in audience and should play out like a semi-sequel. To some extent it will be one of the more unpredictable openings of the summer since there is no track record of Simpsons fans leaving their TVs and paying money at the box office, however the fan base is sizable and will definitely come out upfront. Reviews have been good too so those who tuned out a decade ago and miss the Bobo years should return to try out what the feature-length entree is like.

The studio gets major points for executing what is certainly one of the best marketing campaigns of the year. From turning a dozen 7-11s into Kwik-E-Marts to the SimpsonizeMe web promotion, The Simpsons Movie has been generating substantial interest and has jumped from the entertainment pages to the front pages becoming a major pop culture event. That should lead to a powerful opening weekend, even if large drops follow. The marketplace will get crowded this weekend, however Simpsons will tower over its foes with ease. In fact its nearest competitors should only be in the teen millions so Krusty and company will get the attention of most folks. Busting into 3,922 theaters, The Simpsons Movie could open in the neighborhood of $54M.


The Simpsons Movie


The German film Mostly Martha gets transformed into a star-driven Hollywood vehicle in the comedy No Reservations featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin. The PG-rated film features the T-Mobile lady playing a control freak chef who must care for her niece when her sister is killed. Warner Bros. offered sneak previews last weekend to help get some buzz going since the marketplace is getting so crowded now. No Reservations should skew more female making the hotter-than-expected Hairspray a formidable competitor. Starpower is not too high here which will make for another challenge at the box office. Serving up love and laughs in 2,425 locations, No Reservations could gross roughly $9M over the weekend.


No Reservations


What seemed like a good idea a year ago – Lindsay Lohan headlining a thriller – now looks to become an unfortunate casualty of the summer box office race. I Know Who Killed Me, an R-rated scarefest from Sony, hits theaters on Friday riding a wave of bad publicity surrounding its star. Is all publicity, good publicity? Will Lohan’s arrests and substance abuse problems help sell more tickets? Moviegoers will decide that, but Killed enters the marketplace without a lot of fanfare. Hollywood has run the horror genre into the ground this year with an overabundance of product and this one’s harsh rating will make it much tougher to get Lohan’s fan base in. The film looked promising a month ago when scenes of the mean girl doing a stripper routine were released online. But most of the intrigue has evaporated and the pic now stands as yet another scary movie that ticket buyers don’t need. Debuting in about 1,200 locations, I Know Who Killed Me may collect around $4M.


I Know Who Killed Me


MGM releases the golf comedy Who’s Your Caddy? which stars hip hop players Big Boi and Lil Wayne. The PG-13 pic tells of a rap mogul who invades and turns upside-down an elite country club. Opening in only 1,019 theaters with a low-volume marketing push, Caddy is not looking to lead the pack at all but comes as a small offering for teens on summer vacation too bored to see anything else. Given the high amount of competition and the low amount of starpower, the grosses should be small. Who’s Your Caddy? might take in about $2M this weekend.


Who’s Your Caddy?


As if the weekend wasn’t crowded enough, a handful of films that have posted impressive results in limited release test the waters in many more theaters. MGM widens the acclaimed military drama Rescue Dawn from 57 to more than 500 runs, Fox Searchlight expands its sci-fi thriller Sunshine from ten to over 400 locations, and Focus jumps from 36 to 115 playdates with its well-reviewed Don Cheadle starrer Talk To Me. All three should find themselves in the Top 20.


Rescue Dawn


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix took a beating last weekend when the final wizard book hit the shelves. The drop could stabilize this weekend despite the arrival of Apu and friends. A 45% decline would give the Hogwarts clan about $18M and a 19-day cume of $242M.

Adam Sandler comedies typically drop by 45-50% on the second weekend depending on how well received they are. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is not exactly a fan favorite so sales could get sliced in half and fall to about $17M. That would still give the Universal comedy about $70M after ten days.

New Line enjoyed a better than expected bow for the musical Hairspray which gave the studio its best opening in two years. However its Friday-to-Saturday drop of 15% last weekend indicates that it might be a front-loaded title. Look for a 50% fall to around $14M giving the John Travolta vehicle a ten-day tally of $59M.

LAST YEAR: Universal’s summer action entry Miami Vice opened atop the charts with $25.7M on its way to $63.5M domestically and $164M worldwide. After three weeks at number one, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest slipped to second with $20.6M. Fox’s teen comedy John Tucker Must Die enjoyed a solid opening in third with $14.3M leading to a $41M final. The animated film Monster House followed with $11.7M in its sophomore frame. Rounding out the top five was rival toon The Ant Bully with a $8.4M opening on its way to a disappointing $28.1M for Warner Bros. Introducing herself to the world in limited release was Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine which went on to become a critical and commercial hit grabbing $59.9M at the box office plus four Oscar nominations.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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