20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved/Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Natalie Portman Movies Ranked

For most actors, a movie like Leon: The Professional would be the peak. For Natalie Portman, it was just the beginning.

She followed up her breakthrough debut as the lil’ assassin with three more Certified Fresh films: HeatBeautiful Girls, and Everyone Says I Love You. Science-fiction projects gave her first brushes with Rotten ratings (Mars Attacks!) but also global stardom (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), giving her the clout to work with the biggest name directors; people like Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited), Milos Forman (Goya’s Ghosts), Wong Kar-Wai (My Blueberry Nights), and Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), the last of which nabbed her the Best Actress Oscar.

Portman has also increasingly worked directly behind the camera in recent years, first with her own directed segment in New York, I Love You, and then the feature-length A Tale of Love and Darkness. That came after Portman was absent from the screen a few years following mildly compelling if safe turns in two Thor movies.  But she’ll be back in a revamped starring role with Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Taika Waititi and set for 2022. Before then, we’re celebrating her birthday by looking at all of Natalie Portman’s movies with Tomatometers, ranked!

#39

Planetarium (2016)
16%

#39
Adjusted Score: 16964%
Critics Consensus: The Summoning (Planetarium) looks out on a constellation of potentially brilliant ideas, but proves fatally unable to find its focus.
Synopsis: In 1930s France, two sisters who are thought to be able to communicate with ghosts meet a visionary producer while... [More]
Directed By: Rebecca Zlotowski

#38
Adjusted Score: 19101%
Critics Consensus: The Death and Life of John F. Donovan finds writer-director Xavier Dolan flailing at profundity with a technically assured drama that never makes sense of its own ideas.
Synopsis: A young actor reminisces about a dead American TV star and the correspondence they shared.... [More]
Directed By: Xavier Dolan

#37

Lucy in the Sky (2019)
21%

#37
Adjusted Score: 28339%
Critics Consensus: Natalie Portman gives it her all, but it isn't enough to overcome Lucy in the Sky's confused approach to its jumbled story.
Synopsis: After an awe-inspiring experience in outer space, an astronaut returns to Earth and starts to lose touch with reality in... [More]
Directed By: Noah Hawley

#36

Free Zone (2005)
26%

#36
Adjusted Score: 27191%
Critics Consensus: The symbolism in this cinematic metaphor on conflicts in the Middle East becomes so overbearing that it's hard to care about the characters or their plight.
Synopsis: Three women, an American (Natalie Portman), an Israeli (Hanna Laslo) and a Palestinian (Hiam Abbass), all become traveling companions in... [More]
Directed By: Amos Gitai

#35

Your Highness (2011)
27%

#35
Adjusted Score: 33927%
Critics Consensus: Big budgets and costumes in service of scatalogical jokes may seem funny on paper, but in execution this is a highly monotonous romp that registers only occasional laughs.
Synopsis: Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride) has always lived his life in the shadow of his brother, the heir apparent, Prince Fabious... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#34

Goya's Ghosts (2006)
30%

#34
Adjusted Score: 32163%
Critics Consensus: Ornate costumes and a talented cast can't make up for Ghosts' glacial pace and confused plot.
Synopsis: Brother Lorenzo (Javier Bardem), a member of the Spanish Inquisition, seeks to curry favor with the Inquisitor General by arresting... [More]
Directed By: Milos Forman

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 37342%
Critics Consensus: Poor script and messy plot undermines the decent cast.
Synopsis: After Tennessee teen Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) is left literally barefoot and pregnant in a Wal-Mart parking lot by her... [More]
Directed By: Matt Williams

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 40250%
Critics Consensus: Like many anthologies, New York, I Love You has problems of consistency, but it isn't without its moments.
Synopsis: On the eve of her wedding, a Hasidic woman (Natalie Portman) considers a romance with another man, in one of... [More]

#31
Adjusted Score: 43029%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium's title is much more fun that the film itself, as the colorful visuals and talented players can't make up for a bland story.
Synopsis: Magic flows freely through the walls and toys within the Wonder Emporium. But when Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman), the store's... [More]
Directed By: Zach Helm

#30
Adjusted Score: 39982%
Critics Consensus: Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow deliver fine performances in The Other Woman, but they're muted by Don Roos' clumsy direction and cluttered, melodramatic script.
Synopsis: A woman (Natalie Portman) tries to mend her relationship with her stepson and deal with her husband's jealous ex-wife (Lisa... [More]
Directed By: Don Roos

#29

Jane Got a Gun (2016)
43%

#29
Adjusted Score: 46453%
Critics Consensus: Jane Got a Gun flounders between campy Western and hard-hitting revisionist take on the genre, leaving Natalie Portman's committed performance stranded in the dust.
Synopsis: Panic strikes Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) when her outlaw husband John returns to their farm with bullet wounds. Expecting the... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 48636%
Critics Consensus: Though it features some extravagant and entertaining moments, The Other Boleyn Girl feels more like a soap opera than historical drama.
Synopsis: King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) lacks an heir. Seeing this as an opportunity for personal gain, the Duke of Norfolk... [More]
Directed By: Justin Chadwick

#27

Song to Song (2017)
44%

#27
Adjusted Score: 52287%
Critics Consensus: As visually sumptuous as it is narratively spartan, Terrence Malick's Song to Song echoes elements of the writer-director's recent work -- for better and for worse.
Synopsis: Set against the Austin, Texas, music scene, two entangled couples -- struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling),... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#26

Knight of Cups (2015)
47%

#26
Adjusted Score: 57171%
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

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 49918%
Critics Consensus: Though well filmed, My Blueberry Nights is a mixed bag of dedicated performers working with thin material.
Synopsis: After her boyfriend of five years breaks up with her, Elizabeth (Norah Jones) consoles herself by consuming creamy confections at... [More]
Directed By: Kar Wai Wong

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 54453%
Critics Consensus: It benefits from the presence of Natalie Portman and director Ivan Reitman's steady hand, but No Strings Attached doesn't have the courage or conviction to follow through on its ribald premise.
Synopsis: Lifelong friends Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) take their relationship to the next level by having sex. Afraid... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#23
Adjusted Score: 62039%
Critics Consensus: Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy -- albeit visually dazzling -- start.
Synopsis: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#22

Hesher (2010)
55%

#22
Adjusted Score: 57360%
Critics Consensus: It has a dark sense of humor and a refreshing lack of sentimentality, but like its title character, Hesher isn't really interested in going anywhere.
Synopsis: An anarchist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shakes things up after moving -- uninvited -- into the garage of a troubled youth (Devin... [More]
Directed By: Spencer Susser

#21

Mars Attacks! (1996)
55%

#21
Adjusted Score: 60085%
Critics Consensus: Tim Burton's alien invasion spoof faithfully recreates the wooden characters and schlocky story of cheesy '50s sci-fi and Ed Wood movies -- perhaps a little too faithfully for audiences.
Synopsis: A fleet of Martian spacecraft surrounds the world's major cities and all of humanity waits to see if the extraterrestrial... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#20

Vox Lux (2018)
62%

#20
Adjusted Score: 76191%
Critics Consensus: Intriguing albeit flawed, Vox Lux probes the allures and pitfalls of modern celebrity with intelligence, visual style, and an assured Natalie Portman performance.
Synopsis: Celeste is a 13-year-old music prodigy who survives a horrific school shooting in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1999. Her talent... [More]
Directed By: Brady Corbet

#19

Brothers (2009)
64%

#19
Adjusted Score: 69225%
Critics Consensus: It plays more like a traditional melodrama than the Susanne Bier film that inspired it, but Jim Sheridan's Brothers benefits from rock-solid performances by its three leads.
Synopsis: Siblings Sam (Tobey Maguire) and Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal) are as far apart as brothers can be; while Sam serves... [More]
Directed By: Jim Sheridan

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 67576%
Critics Consensus: The strong chemistry between Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman as a mother and daughter trying to make a fresh start in L.A. helps to elevate Anywhere But Here above its occasional forays into melodrama.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the Mona Simpson novel, single mother Adele August (Susan Sarandon) is bad with money, and even... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Wang

#17
Adjusted Score: 73555%
Critics Consensus: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action, although they're once again undercut by ponderous plot points and underdeveloped characters.
Synopsis: Set ten years after the events of "The Phantom Menace," the Republic continues to be mired in strife and chaos.... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 77761%
Critics Consensus: It may not be the finest film to come from the Marvel Universe, but Thor: The Dark World still offers plenty of the humor and high-stakes action that fans have come to expect.
Synopsis: In ancient times, the gods of Asgard fought and won a war against an evil race known as the Dark... [More]
Directed By: Alan Taylor

#15

Closer (2004)
68%

#15
Adjusted Score: 74764%
Critics Consensus: Closer's talented cast and Mike Nichols' typically assured direction help smooth a bumpy journey from stage to screen.
Synopsis: Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper who has moved to London, meets Dan (Jude Law) on the street. While looking... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#14

Cold Mountain (2003)
70%

#14
Adjusted Score: 78110%
Critics Consensus: The well-crafted Cold Mountain has an epic sweep and captures the horror and brutal hardship of war.
Synopsis: In this classic story of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, a wounded Confederate... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

#13
Adjusted Score: 74456%
Critics Consensus: A Tale of Love and Darkness suggests greater things for debuting writer-director Natalie Portman -- even if its reach slightly exceeds her creative grasp.
Synopsis: Influenced by his mother's (Natalie Portman) stories and poetry readings, young Amos Oz (Amir Tessler) grows up in 1940s Jerusalem... [More]
Directed By: Natalie Portman

#12

The Professional (1994)
74%

#12
Adjusted Score: 77147%
Critics Consensus: Pivoting on the unusual relationship between seasoned hitman and his 12-year-old apprentice -- a breakout turn by young Natalie Portman -- Luc Besson's Léon is a stylish and oddly affecting thriller.
Synopsis: Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is only 12 years old, but is already familiar with the dark side of life: her abusive... [More]
Directed By: Luc Besson

#11

V for Vendetta (2006)
73%

#11
Adjusted Score: 84195%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and thought-provoking, V For Vendetta's political pronouncements may rile some, but its story and impressive set pieces will nevertheless entertain.
Synopsis: Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V... [More]
Directed By: James McTeigue

#10

Thor (2011)
77%

#10
Adjusted Score: 87536%
Critics Consensus: A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment.
Synopsis: As the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of the Norse gods, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will soon inherit the throne... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 79150%
Critics Consensus: A likable, infectious musical, Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You is sometimes uneven but always toe-tapping and fun.
Synopsis: The daughter of wealthy Manhattanites Joe (Woody Allen) and Steffi (Goldie Hawn), D.J. (Natasha Lyonne) has to contend with her... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#8

Beautiful Girls (1996)
79%

#8
Adjusted Score: 81436%
Critics Consensus: A warm, thoughtful dramedy about male insecurity, Beautiful Girls is buoyed by an excellent cast - particularly Natalie Portman in a stunning early role.
Synopsis: An all-star cast sparks this captivating comedy about a group of old friends whose 10-year high school reunion creates some... [More]
Directed By: Ted Demme

#7
Adjusted Score: 91492%
Critics Consensus: With Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas brings his second Star Wars trilogy to a suitably thrilling and often poignant -- if still a bit uneven -- conclusion.
Synopsis: It has been three years since the Clone Wars began. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Knight Anakin... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#6

Black Swan (2010)
85%

#6
Adjusted Score: 96516%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly intense, passionate, and wildly melodramatic, Black Swan glides on Darren Aronofsky's bold direction -- and a bravura performance from Natalie Portman.
Synopsis: Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company's... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#5

Garden State (2004)
86%

#5
Adjusted Score: 92937%
Critics Consensus: Delivering a quirky spin on familiar twentysomething tropes -- with a cannily-placed soundtrack -- Garden State has enough charm to mark a winning debut for first-time director Zach Braff.
Synopsis: After many years away, television bit part actor Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns to his small home town in New... [More]
Directed By: Zach Braff

#4

Heat (1995)
87%

#4
Adjusted Score: 92680%
Critics Consensus: Though Al Pacino and Robert De Niro share but a handful of screen minutes together, Heat is an engrossing crime drama that draws compelling performances from its stars -- and confirms Michael Mann's mastery of the genre.
Synopsis: Master criminal Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is trying to control the rogue actions of one of his men, while... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#3

Paris, je t'aime (2006)
86%

#3
Adjusted Score: 89359%
Critics Consensus: Paris Je T'aime is uneven, but there are more than enough delightful moments in this omnibus tribute to the City of Lights to tip the scale in its favor.
Synopsis: A collection has 18 vignettes set in Paris. In "Bastille," a man (Sergio Castellitto) considers leaving his wife (Miranda Richardson)... [More]

#2

Jackie (2016)
87%

#2
Adjusted Score: 109812%
Critics Consensus: Jackie offers an alluring peek into a beloved American public figure's private world -- and an enthralling starring performance from Natalie Portman in the bargain.
Synopsis: After her husband's assassination, Jackie Kennedy's (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course... [More]
Directed By: Pablo Larraín

#1

Annihilation (2018)
88%

#1
Adjusted Score: 108010%
Critics Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Synopsis: Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Directed By: Alex Garland

Into the Wild, Sean Penn’s lyrical adventure about a young idealist on a cross-country trek, leads new DVDs this week. A controversial child artist (My Kid Could Paint That) and Halle Berry’s latest drama (Things We Lost in the Fire) round out the fresh releases, but it just goes downhill from there (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium).


Into the Wild

Tomatometer: 83%

For those of us who’ve ever thought about just picking up and leaving the world behind, there is the real-life story about 24-year-old Christopher McCandless, who in 1990 donated his life savings to charity and set off on a cross-country odyssey to find himself. If you’ve read Jon Krakauer’s best-selling non-fiction book of the same name, then you know how it all turned out for McCandless, but here director Sean Penn crafts an epic, time-jumping adventure set against some of the most stunning landscapes in America. Emile Hirsch captures the hero’s restless spirit well as he tumbles in and out of the lives of strangers (including Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, and Hal Holbrook in an Oscar-nominated performance); Eddie Vedder provides original songs, including the Golden Globe-winning “Guaranteed.”

My Kid Could Paint That

Tomatometer: 93%

Art is always subjective, but especially so when it’s abstract — so how difficult is it to evaluate the random splatterings of a 4-year-old Picasso? Such is the debate within this acclaimed (and controversial) documentary by Amir Bar Lev, who gains intimate access with child prodigy Marla Olmstead and her family as Marla’s first works are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Were Marla’s celebrated paintings true pieces of art? Did she even paint them herself? A commentary track and featurette appear in the bonus menu, but the highlight may be a 35-minute documentary on the notorious falling out between the Olmsteads and filmmaker Lev following the release of the film itself.


Things We Lost In The Fire


Tomatometer: 65%

When her husband is killed, a woman (Halle Berry) invites his drug-addled best friend (Benicio del Toro) to stay with her family in this English-language debut from Danish director Suzanne Bier. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker, trained in the experimental school of the Dogme95 clan, injects a European sensibility into her story of loss; don’t let shaky camera and jump-cuts dissuade you from taking in a pair of brave performances by the two leads.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium


Tomatometer: 35%

Despite the star power of its two leads, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, about a 243-year-old toy shop owner (Dustin Hoffman) passing the reins over to his doubtful assistant (Natalie Portman), failed to charm most critics. While perhaps a visually whimsical treat suitable for children, adults unfortunate enough to sit through director Zach Helm‘s flight of fancy might find themselves longing for other, better toy story fare. A spattering of behind-the-scenes featurettes and a paper airplane tutorial DVD-ROM round out the release.

Until next week, happy renting!

A triumvirate of films opens this weekend, but all will bow to the power of the mighty Will Ferrell and his latest outrageous comedy, Semi-Pro.

Will Ferrell storms the box office this weekend with his latest sports comedy, Semi-Pro. This time the funnyman takes on the world of professional basketball, following in the footsteps of 2007’s figure skating pic Blades of Glory and 2006’s racing flick Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. There is no question this kind of film is directly in Ferrell’s wheelhouse so he should slam another one out of the park – sorry, let me try that again… so this weekend should be a slam dunk for him.

Almost exactly a year ago, Blades of Glory opened with $33M on its way to a $118.5M final gross. In August of 2006, Talladega Nights opened with $47M on its way to $148M. The major differences between those two films and Semi-Pro is that the previous two were rated PG-13 while Semi-Pro has landed an R rating, and that people may be tiring of seeing Ferrell doing the same shtick over and over again. The rating will keep some of the young folks who dig Ferrell’s irreverent comedy, away from theaters. The shtick may keep some viewers away, but the fans will come out in droves and it shouldn’t hurt the overall grosses too much, as the film is the only major player in town. Opening on over 3,000 screens, Semi-Pro could gross $35M this weekend.


Will Ferrell as Jackie Moon in Semi-Pro.

Two other smaller films, both headlined by women, also open this weekend. First is The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. The film finds the two playing sisters, both trying to win the heart of the King of England. While both are critical darlings (and have a countless number of male fans), neither one is considered a big box office draw. Johansson’s biggest opening weekend (for a live action film) was 1998’s The Horse Whisperer, which opened to $13.6M. Portman of course starred in three episodes of the Star Wars saga, but if you exclude those films, her highest opening weekend was $25.6M for V for Vendetta back in March of 2006. That sounds reasonably impressive until you realize her next highest opening weekend for a film in which she had a leading role was last winter with Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium which opened with $9.6M.

The Other Boleyn Girl will likely cater to an audience of older women, although the joint star power of Johansson and Portman could bring in a somewhat younger crowd, as will Eric Bana who plays the aforementioned King. However the film opens on only about 1,000 screens and will likely get lost in the shuffle. While the film isn’t a romantic comedy and in fact has a twisted and scandalous storyline, there are no less than three romantic comedies still in the marketplace all of which cater to the same demographic. Look for The Other Boleyn Girl to open with around $5M.


The Boleyn girl and the other Boleyn girl.

The final new release this weekend is the long awaited Penelope starring Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon and James McAvoy. The movie tells the tale of a woman who is forced to hide a family curse which will only be lifted if she can find true love. The film has aspects of science-fiction and fantasy which makes it a little different than the other romantic comedies out right now, but even with Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon’s name attached, the film will most likely get buried. Opening on around 1,200 screens, look for Penelope to gross around $4M this weekend.


Christina Ricci as Penelope.

Last weekend’s champ Vantage Point will likely lose business to the Ferrell juggernaut, but should still have a reasonable hold this weekend. Look for the ensemble political thriller to fall around 40% to around $14M.

LAST YEAR: Disney jumped all over the box office with the smash Wild Hogs, which grossed $39.7M making it the largest opening in March history for a live-action film (until the following weekend when 300 shattered the mark). The critically acclaimed Zodiac debuted in second place with $13.4M. Two-time champ Ghost Rider grossed $11.6M, while a second Disney film, Bridge to Terabithia made $8.9M. Jim Carrey‘s crossover into horror, The Number 23, crashed 56% and collected $6.5M in its second weekend.

Paramount reigned supreme at the North American box office as its animated
adventure tale Beowulf seized the number one spot in its opening weekend while
the studio’s other toon
Bee
Movie
finished in second place in its third frame.
But the overall marketplace remained troubled posting ticket sales that were
more like October numbers than like the typically robust figures seen in
November. In fact, the top ten films combined for just over $92M making it the
worst showing in nine years for the weekend before Thanksgiving.



The 3D computer-animated actioner Beowulf collected an estimated $28.1M over the
Friday-to-Sunday period becoming the top choice of movie fans this weekend.
Attacking 3,153 theaters, the PG-13 film averaged a strong $8,912 per location
for Paramount which scored its seventh number one hit of 2007. The
Robert Zemeckis-directed
picture used motion capture technology to tell the story of a Viking warrior who
saves a kingdom from demonic beasts. Ray Winstone
and
Angelina Jolie contributed their voices and
likenesses. Reviews were generally favorable.



Beowulf was the widest opener ever for a 3D film with over 700 of the venues
offering the adventure in the high-tech format. The Real D format accounted for
638 of the locations (20% of the total) and roughly $8M (28%) of the weekend
gross. Several dozen Imax sites also played the 3D version while traditional
theaters played the 2D one. According to studio research the audience was 60%
male and was split evenly between those over and under the age of 25.


Warner Bros. co-financed the $150M project and opened Beowulf in several
international territories day-and-date with the domestic bow. The ancient epic
grossed an estimated $17M overseas from 2,500 screens in 13 markets for a global
opening of $45.1M. It enjoyed solid second-place debuts in the United Kingdom
and Germany and rang up number one bows in many Asian markets like Hong Kong,
South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. Beowulf invades France, Russia, Spain, and
Mexico later this week and attacks Australia, Brazil, and Japan on the following
weekend.



Paramount also claimed the silver medal with another toon, the
Jerry Seinfeld
hit Bee
Movie
, which dropped 44% to an estimated $14.3M in its third outing.
After 17 days of release, the PG-rated kidpic has amassed $93.9M from just under
4,000 theaters and could be headed for $130-140M by the end of its domestic run.


The one-two punch of Beowulf and Bee marked the first time in three years that
animated films occupied the top two positions at the box office. The last
occurrence was over the November 12-14, 2004 frame when
The Incredibles
remained
number one with a mighty $50.3M in its sophomore session and Zemeckis’
The Polar
Express
opened in second with $23.3M. Only two other times this year has one
studio claimed the top two films. Warner Bros. ruled the March 23-25 weekend
with TMNT and
300 while a few weeks later Paramount reigned with
Disturbia and
Blades of Glory.


Despite the studio’s killer B’s leading the box office, the overall marketplace
was in bad shape which does not bode well for the end of what has been a record
year. The top ten films have now failed to break the $100M mark over
back-to-back weekends during the normally busy month of November. This has not
occurred during this month since 2000. Also, the weekend before Thanksgiving is
routinely used by Hollywood studios to launch some of their biggest holiday
season blockbusters. Beowulf generated the worst opening for a number one film
over this high-profile frame in nine years. Clearly the box office is lacking
strength right now and moviegoers are losing excitement over the current menu of
films that studios have served up. To make things worse, the next two weekends
lack any film expected to see explosive sales.



American Gangster

shot up another $13.2M in ticket stubs, according to
estimates, and raised its 17-day cume to $101M. Off 45%, the
Denzel
Washington
Russell
Crowe
hit became the 21st film of 2007 to break the century
mark and the fifth for Universal which leads all studios. Warner Bros, Fox,
Buena Vista, and Sony have all claimed three such blockbusters each this year
with Paramount close to joining them when Bee Movie crosses the barrier later
this week. Gangster should head towards $130-140M domestically.


In Europe, the
Ridley Scott-helmed crime saga began generating heat with number
one openings in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Portugal, and
Switzerland for an international weekend haul of $14M from 1,471 theaters in 14
markets. In the U.K., Gangster went head to head against the debut of Beowulf
and beat it by 13%.



Vince Vaughn
‘s Christmas comedy
Fred Claus

fared well in its second weekend
losing only 35% of its business and grossed an estimated $12M for fourth place.
The Warner Bros. title has collected $35.8M in ten days and with the lucrative
Thanksgiving holiday session around the corner, could go on to bank $70-80M from
North America.



Fox attracted mediocre numbers for its new kidpic Mr. Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium
which opened in fifth with an estimated $10M from 3,164 sites. The G-rated tale
starring
Dustin Hoffman and
Natalie Portman averaged a mild $3,168 per theater.
Reviews were mostly negative and competing family films from a busy bee and
Santa’s brother provided ample competition for the target audience.



For the third straight weekend, the Steve Carell dramedy
Dan in Real Life

enjoyed the smallest drop in the top ten as the Buena Vista release continued to
benefit from solid word-of-mouth. The romantic comedy dipped only 25% to an
estimated $4.5M in its fourth frame and pushed its total up to $37.1M. A $50M
final could result.


The latest offering from the
Coen brothers
No Country for
Old Men
expanded into
wider release and posted sensational numbers allowing it to enter the top ten at
number seven while still only playing in 148 theaters. The R-rated thriller
starring Tommy Lee Jones,
Javier Bardem, and
Josh Brolin grossed an estimated
$3.1M for a scorching $20,932 average lifting the total to $4.9M from limited
play. Strong reviews, good word-of-mouth, and a loyal fan following for the
filmmaking duo helped to keep Country going strong. On Wednesday, Miramax will
go nationwide by widening the pic to about 800 locations giving upscale adult
audiences something meaty for the turkey frame. Paramount Vantage co-financed
the pic.



Tumbling 57% in its sophomore frame, the political snoozer
Lions for Lambs

fell to eighth with an estimated $2.9M giving the MGM release a wimpy $11.6M in
ten days. Produced for $35M, the
Tom CruiseRobert RedfordMeryl
Streep
vehicle
should end its run with about half its budget in domestic grosses. Poor reviews
and off-putting subject matter negated the starpower that the film tried to rely
on for commercial success. Redford will have the honor of directing Cruise’s
lowest-grossing movie since
Legend
which took in a mere $15.5M in 1986.
Factoring in inflation over the superstar’s quarter-century career, Lions For
Lambs
will end up selling the second fewest number of tickets for Tom Cruise
beating only 1983’s Losin’ It which found most of its audience on VHS tapes and
late-night cable television airings.


The horror sequel
Saw IV
fell 53% to an estimated $2.3M in its fourth weekend
and lifted its cume to $61.8M. Look for a $66M final gross putting it ahead of
Saw‘s $55.2M from 2004, but behind the $87M of
Saw II and the $80.2M of last
year’s Saw III.
Together the four torture flicks will reach $288M in combined domestic grosses
with another installment in the works.



It’s a rare weekend when Javier Bardem stars in two films that reach the top
ten, but the acclaimed actor also saw his romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera debut in the ten spot with an estimated $1.9M. Panned by critics, the
R-rated pic averaged a poor $2,201 from 852 locations for New Line. Thanks to
Cholera, the box office has now seen wide releases bow to averages of less than
$2,500 during nine of the last ten frames.



Despite mixed reviews from critics, the
Nicole Kidman
Jennifer Jason Leigh drama
Margot at the Wedding
opened to muscular numbers in its platform bow in
Manhattan with an estimated $83,000 from two locations for a sizzling $41,465
average. Paramount Vantage will expand the R-rated dysfunctional family drama
into 35 theaters in the top dozen markets across North America.



Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Disney’s hit family comedy

The Game Plan

was the top-grossing picture during the September-October corridor
and fell 51% to an estimated $1.2M. With a robust $87.4M to date, the sports
flick should finish with just over $90M matching The Rock’s biggest film in a
leading role – $90.5M for 2002’s The Scorpion King. Summit’s fright flick
P2
tumbled 62% in its sophomore session to an estimated $800,000. With a weak $3.6M
in ten days, the suspense title should conclude its run with only $5M.


Sony’s $30M vampire thriller

30 Days of Night

has grossed $39.1M to date and looks headed for a finish of just north of $40M.
New Line’s
John Cusack
flop
Martian
Child
crashed 75% to an estimated $465,000 for a $7.2M sum. Don’t expect
the cume to get much higher than $8M.



The top ten films grossed an estimated $92.4M which was down a troubling 29%
from last year when Happy Feet opened in first place with $41.5M; and down a
disturbing 45% from 2005 when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire debuted in the
top spot with $102.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got epic poems come to life (Beowulf,
starring Ray Winstone and
Angelina Jolie), a magical toy shop (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium
, starring
Dustin Hoffman and
Natalie Portman), and romance in the
midst of infectious disease (Love in the Time of Cholera, starring
Javier Bardem). What do the critics have to say?

First, the bad news: critics say
Beowulf
will inspire English teachers
and literary scholars to tear out their hair. The good news? The scribes also
say it’s a flick that fans of bombastic action and phantasmagoria will want give
their right arms for. If you didn’t read the epic poem in school, get thee to a
library; suffice to say the story involves a dude named Beowulf (Ray Winstone)
tangling with mead hall-crashing beast Grendel (Crispin Glover) and
his vengeful, seductive mom (Angelina Jolie, much more attractive than her fictional
progeny would indicate). The pundits say Beowulf‘s amazing visuals are
the biggest draw here, as director
Robert Zemeckis uses dazzling CGI to bring
the classic tale to vivid life. (They also note it’s not for the kiddies,
despite its PG-13 rating.) At 79 percent, Beowulf is Certified Fresh, and
it’s well above Zemeckis’ previous animation/live-action hybrid,
The Polar
Express
(57 percent). (And
check out
our Total Recall feature on Beowulf and animation.)



Grendel waiting until somebody invents Jergens.

Everyone can use a dose of magic and whimsy from time to time, right? But
frippery requires a light touch, something critics say
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium
lacks. Emporium stars
Dustin Hoffman in the title role as
the proprietor of a magic toy store, a place where baubles can come to life,
fueled by imagination;
Natalie Portman plays his protégé. The pundits say the
big problem with Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is that it ODs on
zaniness in an effort to make up for a bland storyline. At 24 percent on the
Tomatometer, business isn’t all that brisk at this Emporium.




“Does Mr. Magorium sell cornballers?”

Nobel Prize-winner
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
is widely acknowledged to be one of the world’s great men of letters.
Javier Bardem, hot from his performance in
No
Country for Old Men
, stars in the adaptation of one of Marquez’ most
celebrated works,
Love in the Time of Cholera
. Unfortunately, critics say
it’s more like Love in the Time of Narcolepsy. Bardem stars as a man who
is so enraptured by a woman he waits 50 years for her, despite her shifting
affections. The pundits say Love misses the spirit and passion of
Marquez’ magical realist tale by miles, with fine actors in miscast roles and a
too-literal approach, bogging down material that has a sense of sweep and
romanticism on the page. At 17 percent on the Tomatometer, Cholera is
under critical quarantine.



Chaplin, post-‘stache.

Also opening this week in limited release: the documentary
I for India
,
the story of an expat corresponding to his family, is at 100 percent;
What
Would Jesus Buy?
, a doc that explores the commercialization of Christmas, is
at 94 percent; Gregg Araki‘s
Smiley Face, a stoner comedy starring
Anna
Faris
, is at 67 percent;
Redacted
,
Brian De Palma‘s mixed-media look at the horrors of the Iraq war, is at 52 percent (read
our interview with De Palma
here); the Icelandic import
Eleven Men Out
,
about a soccer star who comes out of the closet, is at 50 percent;
Noah Baumbach‘s
Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman in a tale of
familial strife, is at 47 percent (check out our take from Toronto
here); and
Southland
Tales
, a wildly ambitious sci-fi/political satire starring
Dwayne "The
Rock" Johnson
and
Seann
William Scott
, is at 42 percent (see our interview
with director Richard Kelly
here).



"Boy, these Dean Martin celebrity roasts are hilarious!"

Recent Angelina Jolie Movies:
————————————-
77% — A Mighty Heart (2007)
55% — The Good Shepard (2006)
59% — Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)
16% — Alexander (2004)
34% — Shark Tale (2004)

Recent Natalie Portman Movies:
—————————————
84% — Paris, Je T’Aime (2007)
29% — Goya’s Ghosts (2007)
24% — Free Zone (2006)
72% — V for Vendetta (2006)
80% — Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

One animated film will bump another from the number one spot at the North American box office. But the new warrior Beowulf is no B movie but an A-list production from an Oscar-winning director offering action audiences something new. Also opening this weekend but likely to see more modest grosses are the family pic Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera. Without a compelling selection of great films, the marketplace should once again fall well below year-ago levels.

Paramount looks to capture the box office crown without the help of DreamWorks this time with Beowulf, a computer-animated action adventure based on the ancient epic poem. The PG-13 film comes from Robert Zemeckis who expands upon the motion capture technology he used in 2004’s The Polar Express. This time around his film is aimed at somewhat older moviegoers as young children will be too frightened by the violence, gore, and yes, nudity. Beowulf aims to pry 14-year-old boys away from their videogame systems and into the multiplexes with a new type of action film that is presented in 3D in selected theaters. Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie lend their voices and digital likenesses.

The marketing has been terrific on the part of the studio. The core audience of young males is excited and ready to buy tickets and the film might even pull in part of the literary crowd curious to see how this classic tale is adapted to the big screen. The marketplace needs something like this now with hits like American Gangster skewing more adult and kidpics like Bee Movie not offering enough violence. If last December’s Eragon could open to $23.2M, then surely Beowulf can target the same crowd and go higher. Launching in over 2,800 theaters, Beowulf could conquer the box office this weekend with about $32M.


The digitally-altered likeness of Ray Winstone in Beowulf

Dustin Hoffman stars as the eccentric owner of a magical toy store in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, a new entry for family audiences from Fox. The G-rated film co-stars Natalie Portman and Jason Bateman. With Bee Movie and Fred Claus already out there doing solid business, and likely to collect a combined $30M this weekend, competition for Emporium will be intense. Bad reviews will make parents hesitate, but if kids respond to the TV commercials, then they will find a way to force their parents to take them. Opening wide in around 3,200 locations, Mr. Magorium could bow to about $11M this weekend and try to remain a relevant choice over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday session.


Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

To counter his current role as a brutal killer in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem stars in the romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera. The R-rated tale from New Line is getting a moderately wide release and will play to an older adult audience with a female skew. The Oscar buzz Bardem has been receiving for Country could rub off on Cholera helping its case. And Latino audiences are being counted on to show up as are fans of Oprah who has endorsed the book that the film is based on. But overall, the Columbia-set film has not generated enough excitement to deliver a solid debut. Plus poor reviews will turn away much of the target audience. A slot on the lower end of the top ten could await. Opening in about 800 theaters, Love in the Time of Cholera might gross around $3M over the weekend.


Love in the Time of Cholera

Bee Movie should fall from its spot at the top of the box office and slide by about 30% since there is not too much new competition for young kids. A weekend tally of $18M could result giving Paramount $97M to date. Universal’s American Gangster should drop by 40% to about $14.5M giving the crime saga a total of $102M. The holiday comedy Fred Claus could dip by 35% in its second weekend. That would leave the Warner Bros. release with a weekend take of $12M and a ten-day cume of $35.5M.

LAST YEAR: In a major pre-holiday showdown, the penguin toon Happy Feet edged out the new James Bond film Casino Royale for the number one spot with a strong opening of $41.5M. The Warner Bros. family hit went on to collect $198M domestically and a stellar $384M worldwide. Sony’s relaunched spy series still posted a muscular debut grossing $40.8M over the weekend on its way to $167M domestically and a sensational $595M globally making the Daniel Craig-starrer the top-grossing 007 flick ever. After two weeks on top, Fox’s Borat slipped to third with $14.6M. Rounding out the top five were Disney’s The Santa Clause 3 with $8.3M and the Sony release Stranger Than Fiction with $6.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

She’s been wowing critics (and attracting a fanboy army) with her work in front of the camera for half of her life. Now, what Natalie Portman really wants to do is direct.

As Variety reports, she’s set to do just that, via her newly minted Handsomecharlie Films imprint, which has just signed a two-year production deal with Participant Productions. From the article:

Banner’s first project is “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” on which Portman plans to make her feature helming debut. Story is based on the bestselling memoir of Amos Oz, with Naomi Foner (“Running on Empty“) in negotiations to adapt the screenplay.

Handsomecharlie’s mission statement, according to the report, is to “develop socially relevant films,” which fits right in with Participant’s focus on, in Variety’s words, “such forward-thinking projects as Syriana, Good Night, and Good Luck, and An Inconvenient Truth.” Portman is quoted as saying:

“We all have the same desire to make meaningful and artistically fulfilling films and are committed to the idea of stories leading to greater empathy and action for world issues.”

In addition to her work behind the scenes, Portman will surface repeatedly on theater screens in the near future — the next few months will see her appearing in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, The Other Boleyn Girl, and My Blueberry Nights.

Source: Variety

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