The movie business is difficult; that shouldn’t surprise anyone. A lot of thought and care and preparation — not to mention money — goes into the filmmaking process, and sometimes the end result just doesn’t quite turn out the way its creators intended. But even when a film production goes sideways, for whatever reason, there’s often a glimmer of something incredible hidden beneath the botched line deliveries, mediocre special effects, and general ineptitude on display. Sometimes, there are great scenes to be found in truly Rotten movies.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled an initial list of 30 examples in which an inspiring exchange, an ingeniously staged action sequence, or a hilarious performance helped shine a light on otherwise mediocre productions. We’re talking about genuinely outstanding moments — not ones we find ironically amusing — that might feel right at home in more expertly crafted films. There are, of course, countless more we could have included, but we’ll save those for the next installment of this series. And, if there are any that you think belong here, let us know in the comments!
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
DARTH MAUL vs. QUI-GON AND OBI-WAN
The long-awaited Star Wars prequel introduced us to such inexplicable horrors as Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and mind-numbing Galactic Senate debates, but the film did offer an awesome glimpse of what it could have been. The final battle pitting Darth Maul against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most dynamic lightsaber duels we’ve ever gotten, thanks in part to the martial arts talent of Ray Park as the Zabrak Sith Lord. Not only is the fight kinetic and inventive, who can forget the iconic moment when that second crimson beam emerges from Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber?
The Transformers franchise is largely a jumbled mess of CGI, explosions, stilted dialogue, and perfunctory storytelling. That said, Michael Bay knows his way around visual spectacle, and while Dark of the Moon features its fair share of incomprehensible robot mayhem, there is one practical stunt (read: they did it for real) in the film that is genuinely thrilling. Bay enlisted the aid of experienced wingsuit flyers to jump off the Sears Tower and soar between Chicago’s skyscrapers as chaos unfolds all around them. It’s impressive, it’s majestic, and it’s just cool as hell. If only the rest of the movie could match this three-minute sequence…
OPENING HIGHWAY PILEUP
None of the Final Destination movies is particularly well-reviewed (Final Destination 5 is the only Fresh one at 62%), and for the most part, they all feel like a series of morbid Rube Goldberg-esque vignettes strung together by the thinnest of plots. A few of those gory scenarios, however, are surprisingly inventive, and none of them tops the opening to Final Destination 2, which sets its wheels in motion with an immaculately staged, over-the-top highway pileup that is equal parts ridiculous, harrowing, and literally explosive. Nothing else in the film even comes close.
(Photo by Distant Horizon)
DONNIE YEN vs. COLLIN CHOU
You may know Donnie Yen from Ip Man or Rogue One, and you may know Collin Chou as Seraph from the Matrix sequels, but chances are you haven’t seen this Hong Kong action thriller by Wilson Yip (who also directed the Ip Man movies). The story is a predictably rote potboiler about a loose-cannon cop who takes on a crime syndicate, but the climactic battle between Yen’s Detective Ma and Chou’s gangster Tony is savage and visceral, with bone-crushing stunt work and Yen adding MMA techniques to his more traditional martial arts style.
PARKING GARAGE SINGLE TAKE
Since directing and co-writing the first Saw, James Wan has introduced the world to the Conjuring universe, brought us the best-reviewed Fast and Furious movie, and earned the right to bring DC’s Aquaman to the big screen. Before all of that, though, he did direct this fairly absurd action thriller about a grieving father (Kevin Bacon) out for revenge against the gang who murdered his son. It’s a violent film with a ridiculous plot, but it does feature one sequence that demonstrates Wan’s potential for greater things. A two minute-long single take follows Bacon’s character as he attempts to lose his pursuers in a multi-level parking garage, with seamless camerawork that weaves up and down the ramps and alongside the outside of the garage to capture perfectly timed appearances by different characters. It’s impressive, and it far outshines everything else in the movie.
ABNER DOUBLEDAY INVENTS BASEBALL
Adam Sandler began his stint on Netflix with a bang, garnering a rare 0% with this joyless — and casually racist — spoof of The Magnificent Seven. There is one gloriously effective moment of inspired comedy, though. In a scene that riffs on the invention of baseball, John Turturro cameos as Abner Doubleday, who invites the titular sextet and a dozen others to play a new game with him, only to make up all of the sport’s rules and terminology on the spot just to ensure he wins. It may be the only joke in the movie that lands, but it lands superbly.
(Photo by New Line Cinema)
AUSTIN GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
By the time the third installment of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers series hit theaters, the world had just about had its fill of “Yeah, baby!”s and shagadelic double entendres, but the cameo-filled opening scene of Goldmember is pure magic. The film begins with an action-packed Hollywood adaptation of Austin Powers’ life story, starring Tom Cruise as the titular spy, Gwyneth Paltrow as Bond girl stand-in Dixie Normous, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil, and Danny DeVito as Mini Me. To top it all off, as the scene ends, the cameras pull back to reveal the man at the helm is none other than Steven Spielberg. Genius.
THE FIGHT FOR THE KEY
The first Pirates of the Caribbean film was a pleasant surprise, able to silence most of those who thought it silly to build a movie around an amusement park attraction. Every film since then has been a gradual step down, and it all began with the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, an overstuffed bombardment of spectacle with little but Johnny Depp’s performance to hold it all together. That said, the extended swordfight for the key to the titular chest is the high point of the film, making use of some fine stuntwork and clever setpieces to deliver a top-notch action scene.
“I WAS UP FOR PRINCESS LEIA.”
The Scream formula was getting creaky by the time they shifted the setting to Hollywood for the most meta entry in the series (the cast of a Stab film, based on the real events of Scream, start getting plucked off by a real-life ghostface). The laughs were still there, thanks mostly to a killer performance by Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie, the actress playing Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers; the scares, not so much. But kudos to Wes Craven and whoever else convinced Carrie Fisher to make a cameo as the disgruntled, and loyal-to-a-point, studio archivist Bianca. When approached by Jolie and Weathers on the hunt for details on a former starlet, Bianca stops them before they even get a chance to ask if she’s you know who. “I was up for Princess Leia,” Fisher explains. “I was this close. So who gets it? The one who sleeps with George Lucas.”
(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
“LA MER” ON THE BEACH
It’s hard to deny that Mr. Bean is something of a cultural icon, and it’s essentially defined the career of Rowan Atkinson. While the early-’90s series was hugely popular, the character’s big screen outings didn’t quite measure up. 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday found the endearing man-child stumbling his way through France, and it largely consisted of watered-down slapstick and his trademark buffoonery. But it was also intended to be an unofficial send-off for the character, and the film’s final moments absolutely shine in that respect. As Bean makes his way across a picturesque beach, everyone around him joins him in an uplifting rendition of “La Mer,” and it’s equal parts triumphant and bittersweet. Love him or hate him, his goodbye was perfect.
If you thought Cher singing “Fernando” to a man named Fernando in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was as good, cheesy, and Cher-y as it gets at the movies, you clearly didn’t stick around for the second half of 2010’s Christina Aguilera vehicle Burlesque. The movie, which is Rotten at 36%, overflows with small pleasures for those in the just right mood (read: at least three Chardonnays into your evening), among them Kristen Bell as the vampy, villainous dancer Nikki. But when club owner Tess (Cher), fretful for the future of her business, belts out the Dianne Warren-penned survival anthem, “You Haven’t Seen the Last Of Me,” singing it to no one in particular, but somehow touching anyone who hears it, well… all hail the queen.
Poor man’s Scream, rich man’s Urban Legend, I know What You Did Last Summer was one of the defining slashers of the mid-to-late ’90s – even if it was one of the most generic and uninspired, sitting at 35%. Most remember it for its laughably hysterical moments (“What are you waiting fooooor!?”) and that weird Anne Heche business, but even the most discerning of genre fans give credit to director Jim Gillespie for the sequence in which the guy with the hook chases Sarah Michelle Geller’s Helen Shivers all over town. It’s genuinely scary (beware the mannequin jump scare), giggle-inducing (did she really just drop the keys), and a tiny bit moving in the end. Why the hell did she turn around?
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
LOGAN AND VICTOR THROUGH THE WARS
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Fox’s first attempt at a solo story based on one of their beloved Marvel properties, and other than hiring Liev Schreiber to star opposite Hugh Jackman, the film has precious few things going for it. (Seriously, who thought letting will.i.am speak — and shutting Ryan Reynolds up — was a good idea?) At least we got a pretty great opening credits sequence out of it: after revealing the origin of Logan’s (Jackman) relationship to Victor Creed (Schreiber), the film depicts the half-brothers fighting alongside each other in the US Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War, illustrating Victor’s violent descent in the process. That’s the movie we all wished we could have seen.
GARY OLDMAN WAXES NOSTALGIC ABOUT DISFIGUREMENT
Neither director Jonathan Demme nor star Jodie Foster returned for this 10-years-later sequel, but most assumed it was in capable hands, with Ridley Scott taking the helm, David Mamet penning the script, and Julianne Moore taking Foster’s place as Clarice Starling. The end result wasn’t expected to live up to its predecessor, but few foresaw the smug, unsatisfying tale of gore we ultimately got. However, in an initially uncredited role, an unrecognizable Gary Oldman plays disfigured Lecter victim Mason Verger, whose macabre retelling of his encounter with Lecter is chilling, gruesome, and a testament to Oldman’s ability to captivate an audience, even with a slab of play-doh stuck to his face.
“I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN”
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor made names for themselves with the Crank series, so it was evident from the start they weren’t exactly interested in high art. Right after Crank: High Voltage, in fact, they came back with this futuristic thriller starring Gerard Butler that plays more like a CGI-blasted update on The Running Man, but with far fewer genuine thrills. Rotten at 28%, the movie is kind of a slog to get through, but when Butler’s Kable infiltrates the mansion of evil game developer Castle (Michael C. Hall), something almost magical happens. Castle reveals himself to Kable via a choreographed dance routine set to Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” complete with a troupe of mind-controlled brawlers. As Kable fends off his attackers and Castle continues lip-syncing in the background, you can’t help but wonder, “Why couldn’t the rest of the movie have been this interesting?”
(Photo by Columbia Pictures)
TERRY CREWS LOVES VANESSA CARLTON
Despite the cult popularity of In Living Color during the early 1990s, the various members of the Wayans family have struggled to achieve the same kind of success on the big screen. Much of their output has been defined by spoof movies and sub-subpar comedies like White Chicks, built from interesting enough ideas for a sketch or two, but a bit too flimsy for an entire movie. In this case, though, the presence of Terry Crews does help liven things up, and he is at his absolute best when he gleefully lights up as Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” comes on the radio and he begins to lip-sync with it. It’s a small chunk of comedy gold in the middle of a stale, moldy, powdered-sugar donut.
THE “FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER” SEQUENCE
Back when he was still going by “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson paid his dues in stinkers like 2005’s Doom, which did little to inspire confidence in video game adaptations on the big screen. At a measly 19% on the Tomatometer, Doom is an incoherent mess of a sci-fi action flick and an unfortunate stain on the resumes of all involved. But there is one instance of blatant fan service that, well, actually kind of works. The camera takes on the first-person viewpoint of Karl Urban’s character, Reaper, for several minutes as he tears through the research facility, blasting mutated baddies along the way. It’s a carefully planned and choreographed sequence that’s not only true to the game, but incredibly ballsy to attempt, and they managed to pull it off with pizazz.
THE 15-MINUTE FINAL BATTLE
After he brought a fresh new take on martial arts films with 2003’s Ong Bak, Tony Jaa co-directed and starred in its “sequel,” Ong Bak 2, which was neither set in the same time period as the first nor really related to it in any way outside of its title. Ong Bak 2 left much of its predecessor’s playfulness by the wayside in exchange for an overly serious and familiar tale of revenge that exposed Jaa’s shortcomings behind the camera. With that in mind, it’s still worth fast-forwarding to the final battle of the film, a glorious display of Jaa’s martial arts prowess that sees him utilizing multiple fighting styles and weapons techniques to take down an entire village of assassins over 15 brutal minutes of non-stop action. It’s visceral and awe-inspiring, and it highlights not only Jaa’s immense skill but also the dedication of his stunt team, who no doubt took a massive beating during the shoot.
(Photo by Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment)
This is not Luc Besson’s first space rodeo, but working with a $200 million budget, he evidently felt compelled to throw every wacky idea he ever had at the screen. The end result is a visually exquisite but narratively slipshod adventure, but it features another standout opening scene that hints at the film’s true potential. Set to the music of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” it chronicles the history of technological advancement that eventually leads to the film’s intergalactic setting, and it reflects a refreshingly hopeful, wholesome future of peace and cooperation that’s both touching and clever. And then the rest of the movie happens.
ROD’S QUIET PLACE
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have amassed a huge following, thanks to their work as The Lonely Island, and fans of their brand of humor are often quick to come to the defense of this cult comedy (we get it; some of you love it). Unfortunately, critics didn’t quite feel the same way, calling Hot Rod a loosely threaded collection of hit-or-miss sketches that fails to live up to its stars’ potential. The biggest “hit” of the lot, though, is clearly the scene when Rod (Samberg) escapes to his “quiet place” in the woods to blow off some steam and ends up tumbling down a hill for nearly a full minute. It begins as a spoofy Footloose homage before it suddenly turns into one of the greatest — and probably the longest — pratfalls ever filmed, and it’s pretty glorious.
“THERE WAS A FIREFIGHT!”
Perhaps the only good thing about The Boondock Saints is the opportunity to see Willem Dafoe at full tilt (though, to be fair, when is that ever not a good thing?). Much of the film is dedicated to macho posturing and childish fantasy wish-fulfillment — not a surprise considering its notoriously toxic writer-director — but there is a brief moment that lingers long after the credits roll. As Dafoe’s FBI agent Smecker arrives on the scene of a shootout, he begins to visualize what took place, passionately conducting a chorus that only exists in his mind and proclaiming, “There was a firefight!” The whole scene falls somewhere between unhinged and insane, and Dafoe’s exclamation is the cherry on top.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
A RHINO GIVES BIRTH
Before he really began to demonstrate his range in movies like The Truman Show during the 1990s, Jim Carrey had to wade his way through a number of films that almost solely relied on his gift for physical comedy. His outlandish antics weren’t for everyone, though, particularly when you’d seen them before, and so the Ace Ventura sequel, When Nature Calls, settled at a measly 33% on the Tomatometer. While the movie feels like a somewhat stitched-together series of vignettes, the scene when Ace becomes trapped in a mechanical rhino, strips naked, and escapes through a tiny hole in the rear is… Well, as Simon Pegg put it, “It is one of the single most genius pieces of comedic writing that will never be given its due because it’s part of a ridiculous, vaguely racist, silly comedy.”
THE EMINEM INTERVIEW
Eminem is no stranger to controversy, and his most recent album reignited a familiar one about his use of homophobic slurs in his lyrics. Say what you will about his word choice, but the man is essentially besties with Elton John, and he even skewered himself on the issue in what is certainly the best scene in the 2014 comedy The Interview. As James Franco’s talk show host Dave Skylark interviews Em on his show, the contentious rapper casually reveals that he’s gay, and that he’s surprised no one has figured it out yet, considering the “breadcrumb trail” he’s left behind in all his lyrics. It’s a rather surprisingly effective moment that only works because of all the controversy he’s attracted, and his deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery is pitch perfect, making him the funniest man in the room.
After the success of the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis had carte blanche to work on whatever they wanted, and they chose to take on this long-in-development feature adaptation of the classic animated series. Despite their impressive technical wizardry and the candy-colored dreamscape they brought to life, the film bombed both critically and commercially. Even if you don’t love the movie as a whole, it’s hard to deny the power of the climactic race, an unexpectedly heartfelt finale bursting with top-notch special effects that not only boasts kinetic thrills but also provides closure on a key plot point. The film has gone on to inspire a cult following, and this ending is a big part of it.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
THE WET BANDITS GET BRICKED
The law of diminishing returns is very real, but when it comes to movies, it’s difficult to argue with a moviegoing public that saw something it liked and simply wanted more of the same. Enter Home Alone 2, which essentially repurposes the story from its predecessor but changes its setting from Chicago to New York. The silly shenanigans here are so familiar that it all essentially feels like a lazy rehash of the same movie. That said, the scene where little Kevin (Macaulay Caulkin) displays Hawkeye-level brick-throwing accuracy just gets funnier with every painful crunch, if only because Daniel Stern’s googly-eyed desperation and concussed mumbling reaches vaudevillian heights.
QUINN AND CREEDY DO STAR WARS
Nowadays, a fantasy action film headlined by Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale might be met with fierce anticipation, but that’s exactly what we got in 2002’s Reign of Fire, and it was far less than the sum of its parts. Despite an intriguing, if somewhat goofy, take on post-apocalyptic humanity and some fairly successfully realized CGI dragons, the film bombed with critics and audiences alike. But in one scene, Bale’s Quinn and Gerard Butler’s Creedy reenact the climactic battle from The Empire Strikes Back for a crowd of awestruck children, playing it as an oral tradition, a campfire tale told from generation to generation. It’s an inspired nod to the power of Star Wars and a wink to the audience that hits its mark much more effectively than much of the rest of the film.
THE MISSING PHONE
By the time the third Jurassic Park movie came along, it was already clear the franchise was starting to run out of ideas (gymnastics battle, anyone?), and putting dinos onscreen was deemed sufficient. At least JP3 had a pretty formidable new breed in the Spinosaurus, and one scene in particular hints at how much better the film would have been with a bit more ingenuity. After Paul Kirby’s (William H. Macy) satellite phone goes missing earlier in the movie, his newly reunited son Eric reveals it was the sound of that phone that alerted them to their location. Cue the ominous ringing of the phone… and the Spinosaurus that swallowed it.
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
MEET MR. HYDE
Last year’s reboot of Universal’s classic monster movie franchise performed so dreadfully that the studio’s plans for its own “Dark Universe” were almost immediately eighty-sixed. That was, in itself, a pretty incredible feat, considering they had the talents of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to work with, but at the very least, the latter provided arguably the one standout moment of the movie. Crowe brought a complex intensity to the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sophisticated in one breath and savage the next, and it left many of us asking if we couldn’t at least see a bit more of him, regardless of what happened to the Dark Universe.
Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday could have been so much more than it was, and at over two and a half hours, it was already a lot. Its overlong run time isn’t the only issue the film has, though; it also reiterates timeworn sports movie cliches and attempts to cast a critical eye on pro football even as Stone fetishizes it. All that aside, when you’ve got Al Pacino at your disposal, the smartest thing you can do is set him loose on some meaty lines, and that’s exactly what happens when Pacino delivers a pregame pep talk late in the film. It’s a powerful moment that really cements what Stone saw when he cast Pacino in the role of a head coach. Who wouldn’t follow that man?
THE BIG WAVE
It’s always a little tricky to turn real-life tragedy into a blockbuster production, but Wolfgang Petersen gathered a top-notch cast and gave it a go anyway. The Perfect Storm provided a pre-Pirates opportunity for Petersen to practice his nautical storytelling skills, but he proved he was more interested in the spectacle of it all. At the very least, he delivered an epic climax that ramped up the drama and pitted George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, William Fichtner, and the rest of the Andrea Gail crew against a monster wave they couldn’t hope to survive. It’s an amazing image, and the fact that it isn’t an exaggeration of what the open sea may hold makes it that much more terrifying.
If you’re looking for a good time on DVD this week, you’re in luck — as long as you navigate the minefields of the rotten (Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Rod) and the even worse (Lindsay Lohan‘s career-murdering I Know Who Killed Me) to pick up a genuine charmer (Waitress), a solid familial tale (The Namesake), a mind-boggling anime import (Paprika), or our personal pick, the return of Futurama (Bender’s Big Score)!
Small town waitress Jenna (Keri Russell) desperately wants out of her abusive marriage and her dead-end life, passing the time baking delicious and whimsically-named pies while dreaming of leaving town. When she finds out she’s pregnant, everything changes, thanks to a secret romance with the local OB-GYN (Nathan Fillion), a chance at winning a $25,000 at a pie bake-off, and the newfound joys of motherhood. Bolstered by a warmly quirky supporting cast, this southern charmer comes to DVD as a bittersweet coda to the life of writer-director and co-star Adrienne Shelly, who was tragically killed last year. Months after her death Shelly’s film was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and picked up for distribution, and opened to critical acclaim the following spring.
Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair) returns to form with this solid adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, about the culture clash between two generations of an Indian immigrant family. Comic actor Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) goes dramatic as American-born son Gogol, who struggles to balance his dueling identities and his relationships with two different women; Indian cinema stars Irfan Khan and Tabu play the beleaguered traditionalist parents, who find that their children have grown up very differently than they had imagined.
When a mind-invading device goes missing, doctors enlist Paprika, an electronic persona, to navigate the hallucinogenic dream world and find the culprit. Director Satoshi Kon employs eye-popping visuals and a surrealist touch to invoke the experience of sub-conscious reverie in his artful (if nonsensical) adaptation of the 1993 science fiction novel of the same name. Four featurettes on the disc give insight into the production of the film, but this one is worth it for the film alone.
Good news, Futurama fans! In this first of four new films, evil aliens send misanthropic robot Bender back in time to help them take over Earth, sparking a chain of events that could change the course of history; more importantly, series fans get the return of characters like Zapp Brannigan, Nibbler, Robot Santa, Al Gore as himself, and Kwanzaabot, voiced by the inestimable Coolio. Cast and crew commentary, featurettes, a full 20 minutes of Hypnotoad and more await you in the bonus menu. And remember, the return of the Best. Animated. Series. Ever. hinges on the sales of this and the next three Futurama DVDs, so if you really care about the fate of Planet Express and its dysfunctional delivery crew, snap up this release! (And check out our chat with director Dwayne Carey-Hill and producer Claudia Katz!)
This slow-simmering noir follows a slick-talking salesman (Guy Pearce) whose ominous visit to a roadside fortune teller (J.K. Simmons) portends success — and death — on the horizon. Critics were split on whether first time director Mark Fergus (screenwriter of Children of Men and the forthcoming Iron Man) effectively builds tension in his story or deflates it, but the cast in this indie thriller is certainly notable. Besides, it’s supporting actor William Fichtner‘s birthday today, if that’s enough of a reason to give this flick a chance.
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
The irrepressible Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) returns to theaters a full decade after his first big-screen endeavor (Bean), and despite improving upon that 36 percent Tomatometer effort, he’s still got the scribes befuddled. This time the silent funnyman finds himself on a prize vacation to Cannes, France, recording his travels en route to the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. If you’ve seen any of the classic television show, you already know what you’re in store for; if not, be happy knowing there will be no more additional Bean movies to suffer through.
Saturday Night Live enjoyed an energy boost when the Lonely Island comedy trio of Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Andy Samberg signed on (what fan could live now without SNL‘s brilliant Digital Shorts?), but their first feature film — about an aspiring stuntman named Rod — failed to capture the hearts of the critical mass. We say, what up scribes? Hot Rod‘s got a killer 1980s hair metal soundtrack, a punch-dancing sequence, and enough silly laughs to make us want to drop a Hamilton on some crazy delicious cupcakes.
Canadian horror, eh. A half-blood werewolf boy is the key to ending an age-old curse in one small town, but a band of bloodlusting lycans aim to keep the curse alive. Howlingly bad? You be the judge (or trust us, and listen to the critics on this one).
We know, we know. Who would have thought that a stereotype-reinforcing, live action version of a children’s toy line aimed at pre-teen mallrats could be anything but stellar fare?
Ouch. Lindsay Lohan‘s latest couldn’t even beat the irredeemable Bratz movie’s Tomatometer (some might say it single-handedly killed her career). Comparisons to movies like Boxing Helena and unnecessarily gory torture porn flicks don’t help, either. Sadly, we know as well as TriStar Pictures that the extended stripper sequence will boost DVD sales exponentially…
Take aim, home theater enthusiasts. May your DVD-hunting arrows fly true.
Two new films were met with enthusiasm from North American moviegoers who
powered each film past the openings of their respective predecessors. Fans of
action and horror lined up for the threequel
Evil: Extinction which bowed at number one while those in search of a
laugh spent their dollars on the romantic comedy
Good Luck Chuck.
Both opened with averages of more than $5,000 each and helped to fill the entire
Top Five with R-rated fare as the overall marketplace bounced back after recent
Gamers still love to go to the movies. That’s what Sony learned with its
estimated $24M opening weekend for
Evil: Extinction, the third and supposedly final chapter of the popular
movie franchise starring
If the estimate holds, it will give the latest chapter the best debut of the
series. 2002’s original premiered with $17.7M while its 2004 sequel
Evil: Apocalypse bowed to $23M. Final grosses reached $39.5M and $50.7M,
respectively. In a world where third parts rarely enjoy the biggest opening in a
series (The Bourne Ultimatum is the only other of this year’s seven threequels
to do so), Extinction‘s performance is noteworthy in that it generated
its strong gross from 456 fewer theaters than Apocalyspe had three years
Billy Bob Thornton comedy
dropped 43% in its second weekend to an estimated $5M putting the ten-day total
at $15.7M. A $25-28M final seems likely. Fellow comedy
Superbad grossed an
estimated $3.1M, off 39%, giving Sony $116.2M to date. The studio also crossed
the $1 billion mark in domestic tickets sales for the sixth year in a row.
Universal’s assassin smash
The Bourne Ultimatum
dipped only 32% to an estimated $2.8M pushing the domestic haul to $220.2M.
Universal can now claim the only two summer films to spend eight weeks in the
top ten as the Matt Damon smash joined studio stablemate
Rounding out the top ten was the fantasy adventure
Dragon Wars with an
estimated $2.5M, down 50%, for a ten-day cume of only $8.6M.
Warner Bros. got off to a solid start with its Old West tale
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford which made
off with an estimated $144,000 from 15 theaters for a $9,600 average. Ten of the
locations were in Austin with most double-screening the nearly-three-hour outlaw
tale. The Brad Pitt–Casey
Affleck starrer earned generally good notices from reviewers and will widen
A weekend estimate of $1.7M greeted the comedies
Balls of Fury
from Focus and
Mr. Bean’s Holiday from Universal. The ping pong pic fell 47% for a cume
of $31.3M while the
Eurotrip eased 36% and has gathered $30.8M to date. A final domestic tally of
$35M should result for each.
Author: Gitesh Pandya,
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
The Brave One
which topped the charts bumping former champ
3:10 to Yuma to
the runner-up spot.
Thornton‘s new comedy
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
$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
the King with $5.2M.
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
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
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
After struggling at the box office over the last few years, Russell Crowe scored his first number one film in more than seven years with the critically-acclaimed Western 3:10 to Yuma which bumped fellow Hollywood remake Halloween out of the top spot. The weekend’s other new releases, the action film Shoot ‘Em Up and the comedy The Brothers Solomon, both failed to make much of a dent into the typically-slow early September marketplace. The top ten slumped to its lowest point since late April while aside from Yuma, no wide release managed a per-theater average of more than $3,000.
Lionsgate scored its first top spot debut of the year with 3:10 to Yuma which shot up an estimated $14.1M in its opening frame from 2,652 theaters. Averaging a solid $5,317 per venue, the R-rated drama stars Crowe as a captured outlaw and Christian Bale as the man set to accompany him to the train that will take him to prison. Not since his career-making turn in 2000’s Oscar-winning picture Gladiator has Russell Crowe inhabited the number one spot at the box office. Last year’s dramedy flop A Good Year bowed to an embarrassing $3.7M on its way to a puny $7.5M while 2005’s well-reviewed Cinderella Man debuted below expectations with $18.3M leading to a $61.6M domestic total. Critics were very supportive of Yuma giving much praise to the two lead actors as well as to director James Mangold (Walk the Line).
After a record Labor Day weekend launch, the horror entry Halloween plunged 62% and dropped a notch to second place with an estimated $10M in ticket sales. The Rob Zombie-directed film pushed its ten-day cume up to a rosy $44.2M which already makes it the top-grossing R-rated fright flick of the year. Halloween seems on track to finish with roughly $60M for MGM.
Sony’s teen hit Superbad became the 20th film of 2007 to cross the $100M mark over the weekend. The raunchy sex romp collected an estimated $8M, dropping only 36%, and pushed its total gross to a stellar $103.7M. A final gross in the neighborhood of $125M seems likely for the inexpensive $18M production.
Rival comedy Balls of Fury lost half of its opening weekend audience and placed fourth for the frame with an estimated $5.7M pushing the 12-day tally to a respectable $24.3M. The Focus release should end up with $35-38M.
Matt Damon‘s third blockbuster in less than a year, The Bourne Ultimatum, followed in fifth with an estimated $5.5M, off 47%, lifting the cume to $210.1M from North America. The assassin pic joins Shia LaBeouf‘s Disturbia as the only 2007 films to spend six weeks in the Top Five. Worldwide, Ultimatum climbed past $300M making it the top-grossing film in the Bourne series globally with many international markets still to come.
New Line’s action sequel Rush Hour 3 followed in seventh with an estimated $5.3M, down 37%, boosting the cume to $129.3M. Fellow funny franchise flick Mr Bean’s Holiday dropped 43% to an estimated $3.4M giving Universal a domestic total of $25.1M. The global gross has now risen to a stunning $215M.
A pair of female-skewing pics rounded out the top ten. The Nanny Diaries grossed an estimated $3.3M in its third weekend, off 35%, giving MGM $21M to date. Leggy musical smash Hairspray dipped only 28% which was good enough to allow the John Travolta hit to climb back into the top ten with an estimated $2M. Cume stands at $114.9M for New Line.
Opening terribly in wide release outside of the top ten was the R-rated comedy The Brothers Solomon which bowed to an estimated $525,000 from 700 theaters for a dismal $750 average. The $10M production failed to even make the Top 20.
A pair of films enjoyed encouraging and almost identical launches in arthouses over the weekend. The lunar mission documentary In the Shadow of the Moon bowed to an estimated $41,200 from four sites for a solid $10,300 average. The ThinkFilm release was “presented” by Ron Howard and will add more theaters within New York and Los Angeles and expand to Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. on Friday. MGM’s Richard Gere war drama The Hunting Party debuted in four venues as well and grossed an estimated $40,000 for a strong average of $10,000 per theater.
Two competing late-August action titles were tossed out of the top ten. Fox’s Kevin Bacon revenge pic Death Sentence tumbled 62% to an estimated $1.6M in its sophomore frame for a ten-day sum of only $7.9M. Look for a $10M final. The Jet Li–Jason Statham actioner War has done somewhat better and took in an estimated $1.4M in its third session. Crashing 68%, the Lionsgate release has taken in $20.5M thus far and should conclude with around $23M.
Among summer megahits still climbing the list of all-time domestic blockbusters, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix rose to $288.2M after its ninth weekend while Transformers inched up to $311.4M after its tenth attack. The July releases now sit at 31 and 21, respectively, on the all-time list.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $62.7M which was up a healthy 28% from last year when The Covenant debuted in first place with $8.9M; but down 11% from 2005 when The Exorcism of Emily Rose opened in the top spot with $30.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
A record summer box office ended on a high note
with a record Labor Day weekend led by
Rob Zombie‘s new take on the horror
classic Halloween which scored the biggest opening ever for this holiday frame.
The R-rated creepfest grossed an estimated $31M over the four-day
Friday-to-Monday period for MGM and The Weinstein Co. from an ultrawide 3,472
theaters for a powerful $8,932 average. That was enough to slash through the
previous holiday best of $20.1M from 2005’s
Transporter 2 by a stunning 54%.
Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the pic scored $26.5M and a $7,622 average.
The gross for the Michael Myers fright pic surged ahead of industry expectations
and ranked as the best horror opening since
Saw III‘s three-day tally of $33.6M
from last Halloween.
Marking the end of summer and a time when students begin going back to school,
Labor Day weekend is typically the weakest of all the holiday weekends during
the year. But the overall summer movie season was anything but. The domestic box
office generated over $4 billion led by seven blockbusters that crossed the
$200M mark with four sailing past the $300M milestone. Both were new industry
For the fourth consecutive weekend the threequels
The Bourne Ultimatum and
Hour 3 were back-to-back on the charts. The
Matt Damon assassin smash took in an
estimated $13.2M for a total of $202.6M while the
Jackie Chan–Chris Tucker
action-comedy dropped to an estimated $10.4M for a $122.2M sum. Bourne crossed
the $200M mark on Labor Day.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $112.7M over four days (a new Labor Day
weekend record) which was up 26% from last year when
Invincible remained in
first place with $15.4M in its second session; and up 23% from 2005 when
Transporter 2 opened in the top spot with a then-record $20.1M.
Booze and babes were still in high demand as
the teen sex comedy
Superbad ruled the North American box office for the second straight
weekend despite the arrival of a handful of new releases. Most of the debuting
films were met with disappointing sales since ticket buyers spent their time and
money catching up on popular holdover titles which commanded the top three
The supercool kids of
Superbad remained the leaders of the pack with an estimated weekend
gross of $18M, falling 46% from last weekend. After ten days, the Sony smash has
taken in an impressive $68.6M and could be on its way to $120M or more. That
would give the raunchy hit a domestic gross nearly seven times its production
cost of $18M. Superbad is the first summer film to spend back-to-back
weekends at number one since
the Caribbean: At World’s End which bowed over Memorial Day weekend in
May. Sony has now claimed the number one film nine times in 2007, more than any
New Line’s action-comedy sequel
Rush Hour 3 fell 43%
to an estimated $12.3M in its third mission. The
Tucker threequel has collected $109M in 17 days and is on track to finish
MGM landed in sixth place with a disappointing opening for the comedy
The Nanny Diaries
which grossed an estimated $7.8M. Playing in 2,629 theaters, the PG-13 pic based
on the popular novel averaged just $2,971 per site.
The year’s top-grossing non-rat toon
The Simpsons Movie
dropped 36% to an estimated $4.4M in its fifth frame boosting the cume to
$173.4M for Fox. Paramount’s fantasy adventure
Stardust grossed an
estimated $4M, off only 30%, for a total of $26.5M.
Moviegoers kept going back for more musical fun as New Line’s
Hairspray dipped a
mere 23% in its sixth session to an estimated $3.5M and raised its overall cume
to $107.5M. Rounding out the top ten was the sci-fi flop
The Invasion which
tumbled 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $3.1M. The Warner Bros.
release has taken in just $11.5M in ten days and should end with a miserable
Three national releases dumped into the late-August abyss debuted outside of the
top ten with weak results. Yari Film Group’s well-reviewed boxing drama
the Champ starring
Josh Hartnett opened with an estimated $1.8M from 1,605 theaters for a poor
$1,152 average. Universal’s Latino crime drama
bowed to an estimated $1.4M from 512 sites for a mild $2,805 average. The most
miserable results came from the
film September Dawn
which grossed an estimated $600,000 from 850 playdates for an embarrassing $706
per-theater average for Slowhand Releasing.
In limited release, the
got off to a moderate start collecting an estimated $24,000 from only four
venues for an average of $6,000 on its opening weekend for The Weinstein Co.
Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grossed an estimated $2.5M,
down 34%, lifting the domestic haul to $283.3M. Despite the midweek launch in
July, the fifth wizard pic should end up with a final take nearly identical to
the $290M taken in by the last installment
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which had a Friday opening in
November which has been the most common type of launch for the franchise.
Buena Vista’s family film
Underdog fell 42% to
an estimated $2.2M and put its sum at $36.6M. A $42-44M final seems likely.
latest comedy blockbuster
Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry grossed an estimated $2.1M, down 42%,
and gave Universal a total of $114.3M to date. The comedian has now generated
$100M blockbusters over six consecutive years trailing only Tom Cruise whose
streak is currently at seven straight years. Look for Chuck to end its
run with roughly $120M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $85.5M which was up 12% from last year
when Invincible opened in first place with $17M; and up 10% from 2005 when
40-Year-Old Virgin remained in the top spot with $16.3M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya,
Action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham face off this weekend in the new crime thriller War which leads a flood of new releases pouring into North American multiplexes trying to catch the final dollars of the summer movie season. The R-rated Lionsgate release finds the two playing an assassin and a federal agent, respectively, and will aim for young male audiences. Both actors have solid followings and the combination allows War to offer a two-for-one deal that will make the ticket price well worth it for many fans.
Li’s last films Fearless and Unleashed each bowed to just under $11M with averages of a little less than $6,000. Statham’s Crank opened over Labor Day weekend last year with $10.5M and an average of $4,158 over three days while during the same holiday frame in 2005 his action sequel Transporter 2 debuted to $16.5M with a $5,008 average over three days. Lionsgate has had a strong marketing push on War and should connect with male action fans. Last weekend’s top three films Superbad, Rush Hour 3, and The Bourne Ultimatum will all provide some direct competition, but a solid bow is likely. Opening in 2,271 theaters, War could premiere with about $14M this weekend.
Rush Hour 3 will race past the $100M mark this weekend and could slide by 50% to around $10.5M. That would give New Line $107M after 17 days. Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum should have a better hold and drop by 40% to roughly $12M putting the Universal smash at $185M overall with its eye on the double-century mark by Labor Day.
LAST YEAR: Buena Vista topped the charts with its football saga Invincible which bowed at number one with $17M on its way to a solid $57.8M. Will Ferrell‘s comedy Talladega Nights placed second with $8.1M while Little Miss Sunshine expanded and jumped up to third place with $7.4M. Warner Bros. opened its comedy Beerfest in fourth with $7M leading to a $19.2M final. World Trade Center rounded out the top five with $6.5M in its third frame. Two smaller films debuting far below were Universal’s Idlewild with $5.7M and New Line’s How to Eat Fried Worms with $4M. Final tallies reached $12.6M and $13M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the multiplex, you’ll have your
choice between babysitters (The
Nanny Diaries, starring
Bean’s Holiday, starring
the Champ, starring
L. Jackson), Mormons (September
and rogues (War,
starring Jet Li
Statham). What are the critics saying?
The Nanny Diaries features a stellar cast that includes Scarlett
Johansson, Laura Linney, and
Paul Giamatti, and it’s directed by
and Shari Springer Berman, the team behind the wonderfully unconventional
Splendor. So why, critics ask, is Diaries so mediocre? Perhaps it’s
because the tone shifts between dark satire and lighter comedy. Johansson stars
as a woman who takes a job tending to the child of an affluent-but-cold New York
City couple. Pundits say the biggest problem with the film is not the
performers, who do what they can with the material. It’s that their characters
are one-dimensional, and the satire lacks the edge to really make it work. At 24
percent on the Tomatometer, this Diary isn’t held dear.