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!

20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (1999) 52%

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?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) 35%

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…

Final Destination 2 (2003) 48%

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.

Distant Horizon

(Photo by Distant Horizon)

Flashpoint (2007) 40%

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.

Death Sentence (2007) 20%

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.

The Ridiculous 6 (2015) 0%

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.

New Line Cinema

(Photo by New Line Cinema)

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) 53%

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.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) 53%

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.

Scream 3 (2000) 41%

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.”

Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007) 51%

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.

Burlesque (2010) 37%

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.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) 45%

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?

20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) 37%

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 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.

Hannibal (2001) 40%

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.

Gamer (2009) 30%

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?”

Columbia Pictures

(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

White Chicks (2004) 15%

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.

Doom (2005) 18%

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.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (2008) 49%

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.

Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment

(Photo by Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) 47%

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.

Hot Rod (2007) 39%

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.

The Boondock Saints (1999) 28%

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.

Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) 25%

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 Interview (2014) 51%

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.

Speed Racer (2008) 41%

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.

20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) 35%

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.

Reign of Fire (2002) 42%

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.

Jurassic Park III (2001) 49%

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.

Universal Pictures

(Photo by Universal Pictures)

The Mummy (2017) 16%

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.

Any Given Sunday (1999) 52%

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 Perfect Storm (2000) 47%

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.

The new Planet of the Apes trilogy closes with this week’s War, giving us one more excuse to do another gallery of 24 great apes from the movies. Go bananas!

No awards season would be complete without the Golden Raspberry Awards (AKA The Razzies), awarded each year to the very worst movies to hit Hollywood. This year’s winners will be announced on Oscar weekend; could multiple-nominee The Love Guru take home top honors? See the full list of nominees below.

This year, a few standout films and filmmakers nabbed multiple nominations, making for really good odds come February 21, when the Golden Raspberry winners will be announced. Leading the pack is Disaster Movie (2 percent on the Tomatometer), which managed to earn six nominations; The Hottie & the Nottie (5 percent), up for honors in five categories; and Uwe Boll’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which also earned the Teutonic Terror a Worst Career Achievement Razzie.

The complete list of nominees:

Worst Picture Nominations

Disaster Movie & Meet the Spartans (double nominee from the same writer-directors)

The Happening

The Hottie & The Nottie

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

The Love Guru

Worst Actor Nominations

Larry the Cable Guy, Witless Protection

Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave

Mike Myers, The Love Guru

Al Pacino, 88 Minutes & Righteous Kill

Mark Wahlberg, The Happening & Max Payne

Worst Actress Nominations

Jessica Alba, The Eye & The Love Guru

The cast of The Women (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Meg Ryan)

Cameron Diaz, What Happens in Vegas

Paris Hilton, The Hottie & The Nottie

Kate Hudson, Fool’s Gold & My Best Friend’s Girl

Worst Supporting Actor Nominations

Uwe Boll (as himself), Uwe Boll’s Postal

Pierce Brosnan, Mamma Mia!

Ben Kingsley, The Love Guru & War, Inc. & The Wackness

Burt Reynolds, Deal & In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Verne Troyer, The Love Guru & Uwe Boll’s Postal

Worst Supporting Actress Nominations

Carmen Electra, Disaster Movie & Meet the Spartans

Paris Hilton, Repo! The Genetic Opera

Kim Kardashian, Disaster Movie

Jenny McCarthy, Witless Protection

Leelee Sobieski, 88 Minutes & In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Worst Screen Couple Nominations

Uwe Boll and any Actor, Camera, or Screenplay

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, What Happens in Vegas

Paris Hilton and either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore, The Hottie and the Nottie

Larry the Cable Guy and Jenny McCarthy, Witless Protection

Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave

Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel Nominations

The Day the Earth Blowed Up Real Good

Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Speed Racer

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Worst Director Nominations

Uwe Boll, 1968: Tunnel Rats, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and Uwe Boll’s Postal

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans

Tom Putnam, The Hottie & the Nottie

Marco Schnabel, The Love Guru

M. Night Shyamalan, The Happening

Worst Screenplay Nominations

Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans

The Happening

The Hottie and the Nottie

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

The Love Guru

Worst Career Achievement

Uwe Boll

Get the pop rocks and Coke ready — Speed Racer is out this week! We’ll tell you what new releases to skip over, when Death Proof and Planet Terror are headed to Blu-ray, and what new retro flicks you should catch on DVD this week. (Diane Lane as a punk rocker? A must-see.) Plus, read about the free DVD some critics are calling propaganda…

1. Speed Racer – 36%

If you’re a regular reader here at RT, you may have noticed my fondness for the live-action adaptation Speed Racer — a textbook “love it or hate it” movie from the Wachowski brothers that split critics and audiences alike this summer. Well, the time has come, friends. That’s right…Speed Racer is on Blu-ray!

Warner Bros. is releasing the fizzy-pop CG extravaganza on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and we couldn’t be more excited. (It would be an understatement to recommend you watch it in high definition.) The best part about snagging Speed Racer on DVD or Blu-ray: repeat viewings, so that your eyeballs and your senses can soak in every bit of digital wonder without being completely overwhelmed.

Emile Hirsch stars as Speed, the hotshot titular racer who takes on the corrupt world of professional racing with his family (John Goodman, Susan Sarandon), his girlfriend (Christina Ricci), and his car (the Mach 5) by his side. Only a pair of extra features appear on the release: a set tour by young cast member Paulie Litt (sans monkey) and a faux documentary about the stars and technology within Speed Racer‘s fictional racing circuit. But we’ve got a sneak peek behind the scenes featuring producer Joel Silver and a look at Speed Racer’s journey from computer-to-screen. Watch it below!

For internet-fast access, download Speed Racer directly from iTunes and Amazon Unbox, or watch it On Demand beginning September 30.

Next: What Not To Watch This Week…

2. What Not To Watch This Week

We’re going to go ahead and get this week’s DVD duds out of the way, in one fell swoop. That’s what they get for falling so low on the Tomatometer!

The Love Guru — 14%

Mike Myers has been in a career funk lately, and his turn as a caftan-wearing self-help guru didn’t help him escape his unfunny malaise. With featurettes on a mechanical elephant, the cast’s hockey training, outtakes, bloopers and five minutes of Jim Gaffigan and Steven Colbert extending their commentator schtick, this bonus menu might actually give you more laughs than the movie itself. Opt for the single-disc DVD, if you must; all it lacks is a digital copy of the film (available on a 2-disc Special Edition and Blu-ray) and we’re guessing one viewing will be more than enough.

Made of Honor — 12%

If fourteen percent on the Tomatometer is too fresh for you, check out Made of Honor, which scored 12 percent when it debuted last May. Four words: McDreamy in a kilt.

88 Minutes — 6%

Before helping Al Pacino and Robert De Niro along the path to ruin in last weekend’s theatrical release, Righteous Kill, director Jon Avnet gave Pacino the worst-reviewed movie of his career last April. 88 Minutes is that movie. Pacino himself shares the secrets of his craft on one of the disc’s featurettes; listen carefully and hear the soft splash of shark-jumping in progress.

Next: A Blu-ray Bonanza! Mark Your Calendars for…

3. A Blu-ray Bonanza! Mark Your Calendars for…

Geez, it seems like everything’s making its way to Blu-ray these days. (Except for, sadly, Ghostbusters. Sorry, Venkmanites.) Here’s a sampling of the recently announced titles coming to Blu that we’re most looking forward to this winter:

On November 18, watch the train wreck that is Southland Tales unfold in high definition. Richard Kelly’s sophomore effort still has the dubious honor of making less sense than his cult debut, Donnie Darko, although we loved Justin Timberlake’s impromptu mid-film music video. In addition to the two features released with its initial DVD (a making-of and an animated short), Southland Tales on Blu-ray will feature one nifty new extra: a commentary with Kelly.

On December 2, pick up the Blu-ray release of many people’s favorite movie of all time: The Shawshank Redemption. The release comes with a collectible booklet but most, if not all, extra features have previously been released.

And just in time for Christmas, get a double dose of grindhouse fun when Planet Terror and Death Proof hit Blu-ray (December 16). Unfortunately, just like last week’s twin releases of Kill Bill Vol. 1. And 2, they’ll be released separately. (Give us The Whole Bloody Affair already, Quentin!!)

Next: New on DVD: Pushing Daisies

4. New on DVD: Pushing Daisies – The Complete First Season

ABC’s quirky, morbid fairy tale is up for a whopping twelve Emmys and its second season begins in less than two weeks. So it’s time to pick up the first season of Pushing Daisies on DVD and get ready for October 1!

Pushing Daisies earned a devoted following with its abbreviated first season, cut from 22 episodes to just nine by the Writers’ Strike, but fans should love this set. Lee Pace stars as Ned, a pie-maker who inhabits a vivid, hyper-realistic alternate reality in which he discovers the power to bring dead things to life. (But only once. After that, things get messy.) Like a Tim Burton flick set in Stars Hollow, Pushing Daisies is a rare, eccentric and sweet show that you just don’t seem to see anymore on network television…

Forty-odd minutes of extras accompany the three-disc set, including select episode commentaries with Pace and writer-creator Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls). Pick up Pushing Daisies — The Complete First Season for MSRP $29.98/Blu-ray $39.98.

Next: The Dude abides, 10 years later…

5. New on DVD: Kabluey

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary this week, check out Kabluey on DVD. Scott Prendergast, who first came to attention with a short called The Delicious, wrote, starred in, and directed this tale of an outsider named Salman (Prendergast) who moves in with his sister-in-law (Lisa Kudrow) and his two terrifying nephews while his brother is stationed in Iraq. When the inept Salman gets a job shilling for a corporation in a giant blue suit, it becomes both the bane of his existence and the glue that will hold his family together.

There are tons of sweet and sad laughs in Kabluey, especially when Prendergast is inside the suit. Look for even more in twenty additional minutes of deleted scenes. Christine Taylor, Chris Parnell, Teri Garr, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan co-star. Kabluey has been called “inventive,” “invigorating,” “twisted and surreal,” and “oddly endearing;” not bad for a feature film debut!

Next: Star Trek Alternate Realities Collective

6. New on DVD: Star Trek Alternate Realities Collective
Divx HD

Paramount’s Collective series are a nice way to revisit the central themes and characters of the entire Star Trek universe without buying every single season on DVD; this week they’re releasing the coolest one so far: “A collection featuring bizarre and strange episodes…see your favorite characters behaving contrary to type, in familiar but odd circumstances.”

The five-disc set combines episodes from Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, all of which feature alternate reality/parallel universe storylines. That means you’ll get the bearded Spock of “Mirror, Mirror,” the evil Kira from “Crossover,” and more of the most beloved and mind-bending episodes in franchise history. Each episode is accompanied by its own special feature. The set is available for MSRP $42.99.

Next: Criterion Presents a Max Ophuls Trifecta

7. New on DVD: Criterion Presents a Max Ophuls Trifecta

A trio of Criterion releases elevates this week’s DVD slate for the discerning viewer. Three films by Max Ophuls have received the classy Criterion treatment (read: tons of extras, amazing remasterings): La Ronde, Le Plaisir, and The Earrings of Madame de… and not a one falls below 100 percent on the Tomatometer. Ophuls’ late-career trio of films told scandalous tales of sex and romance and also earned two Oscar nominations (Le Plaisir for Art Direction, La Ronde for Best Screenplay).

Get all three at the Criterion store at the discounted price of $31.96, or head to Amazon to nab them for just $27.99.

Next: Rock Out with Punk Grrrl…Diane Lane??

8. New on DVD: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

Two years before starring in The Outsiders, and many years before becoming Mrs. Josh Brolin, Diane Lane rocked her little heart out in this pre-riot grrrl power flick as a young girl named Corinne “Third Degree” Burns who starts an all-girl punk band. Unfortunately, the film played so poorly upon its initial release that it never got past the art-house circuit, but thrived in late-night viewings on cable TV. It wasn’t even available on VHS, let alone DVD. Until now!

Rhino Records is releasing Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains this week, which means any self-respecting cult cinema aficionado should put it at the top of their must-watch list. Besides starring the then-16-year-old Lane, it was directed by record mogul and Up in Smoke director Lou Adler and written by Oscar-winning writer Nancy Dowd (who reportedly had her name removed from the credits); co-starred Laura Dern and Christine Lahti; featured Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols and Paul Simonon of The Clash; and also starred a young Ray Winstone as Billy, the leather-clad lead singer of a punk band called The Looters.

All new commentary tracks by Lou Adler, Diane Lane, and Laura Dern and an extensive production gallery make this release really crackle; also look for a newly released soundtrack, courtesy of Rhino.

Next: It’s John Hughes, Home Skillet

9. New on DVD: High School Flashback Collection (The Breakfast Club/Sixteen Candles/Weird Science)

They’re three of the most iconic ’80s teen comedies; now The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science can be yours in one new set, boxed cleverly in an aluminum “locker.” But wait, you say! Why would I buy these admittedly classic movies now, when they’ve been released a zillion times before on DVD?

Two words: Diablo Cody. The Juno scribe is riding her Oscar win as far as the zeitgeist will carry her, and that includes popping up on all of the latest hipster commentary tracks — first Spaced, and now the High School Flashback Collection. Cody and Clueless director Amy Heckerling contribute new commentaries to each of these totally awesome movies, which have been repackaged as time capsules of major cultural importance, kind of like an episode of “I Love the ’80s.”

Also look for new extras featuring assorted trivia and most of the cast of The Breakfast Club and Weird Science (with the glaring absence of Molly Ringwald and John Hughes himself).

Next: A Propaganda DVD in the Mail?

10. Obsession: Radical Islam DVD Mailed to Millions

In the week’s most bizarre piece of news, a DVD is headed to millions of homes in America that has stirred the ire of journalists and activists: Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, a one-hour documentary arguing against the “threat of radical Islam” in America. Critics of the move call it “right wing propaganda” and claim that its backers, a group called the Clarion Fund, are working in support of John McCain’s Republican bid for Presidency this fall.

Indeed, the distribution pattern of the reported 28 million DVDs seems to emphasize the swing states, and have been delivered in select newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and North Carolina. Newspaper publishers such as the Raleigh News & Observer have come under fire for accepting such a controversial paid advertisement, a decision not helped by one paper’s ad exec comparison of the DVD insert to product samples for cereal or toothpaste.

Read more here.

To revisit past RT on DVD columns, peruse our archives here!

The summer movie season of 2008 ended last weekend, and boy, was it a good one. Led by box office smashes like Iron Man, Wall-E, and The Dark Knight, Hollywood raked in the dough week after week — and, surprisingly, scored major Freshness on the Tomatometer in the process. Rotten Tomatoes takes a look at the Summer in Review to revisit the critical and commercial hits and misses of the summer.

Inside find out which movies fared the best and the worst with critics, which films made box office magic and which earned less than enchanting returns, and how each of the major studios measured up over the course of the season. Also, see which films Rotten Tomatoes’ own editors picked as their favorites of the summer! Chime in below with your thoughts on Hollywood’s summer of ’08.

The Top 10 Tomatometers of the Summer

more info…


Tomatometer: 73%

Summer comic book movies are usually based on established heroes — as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and Batman can attest — but Universal wanted something out of the ordinary. Their first step? Hire upstart Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch), who infused the film, about a new inductee into a super-powered ring of assassins, with his signature visual flair. Combined with a script loosely adapted from the comic of the same name, uber geek elements like “bullet bending,” physics-defying set pieces, and Angelina Jolie as a sultry killer, Wanted turned out to be one of the more unabashedly entertaining — and simultaneously critically approved — popcorn flicks of the summer.

more info…

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Tomatometer: 77%

Say what you will about the long-awaited return of Indiana Jones, but even almost two decades after his last crusade, critics decided that the fedora still fit. Director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas seemed to revisit a lot of familiar ground in the fourth big-screen franchise outing, but their 1950s Area 51-esque plotline — and the sheer coolness of seeing Harrison Ford reprise his trademark role — provided enough thrills to delight longtime fans. Could Indy’s newly introduced son (Shia La Beouf) don the fedora in further sequels? $780 million in worldwide returns point to “yes.”

more info…

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Tomatometer: 80%

Woody Allen’s latest effort opened quietly in limited release before expanding into theaters nationwide, allowing the ebullient enthusiasm of critics to spread. Considering the mixed results of Allen’s work of late (going from the Oscar-nominated Match Point to the uneven Melinda & Melinda, to the disappointing Scoop, to the middling Cassandra’s Dream), critics discovered that watching the Spanish-set Vicky Cristina Barcelona was like unearthing a gem. At 80 percent, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Allen’s best reviewed film since 1997’s Everyone Says I Love You (83 percent).

more info…

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Tomatometer: 80%

Critics (and parents) often groan inwardly when they sit down to watch a family film, but Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery proved a surprisingly good watch for all ages. Credit for much of the film’s success goes to Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin, but we can also thank director Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park) and scribe Ann Peacock (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) for infusing the kid mystery with wholesome smarts.

more info…

Tropic Thunder

Tomatometer: 83%

Ben Stiller’s Vietnam-set Hollywood satire brought up the rear of this summer’s line up, opening mid-August as (arguably) the last event movie of the season. And it surely did pay off. Audiences loved Tropic Thunder; critics made it Certified Fresh. Even protests over its controversial “Simple Jack” and blackface plot devices couldn’t get this war comedy down. Tropic Thunder also notably became the best-reviewed summer film to open since The Dark Knight debuted a month prior, and the first film to topple The Bat’s stronghold on the box office.

more info…

Kung Fu Panda

Tomatometer: 88%

Let it not be said that Pixar has a stronghold on doing animation well; DreamWorks SKG proved otherwise with Kung Fu Panda, starring Jack Black as a rotund bear destined for martial arts greatness. Prior to release, DreamWorks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg hinted at the possibility of five or six Kung Fu Panda films, a la Shrek; one 88 percent Tomatometer and $577 million later, we’d say a Kung Fu Panda franchise looks very likely, indeed.

more info…

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Tomatometer: 88%

While previous summers saw sequelized blockbusters rake in the dough but fall far below Fresh on the Tomatometer (see last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), this summer boasted sequels aplenty that were also critically loved. Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army was one such movie, not only returning its beloved cigar-chomping hero to the screen, but improving on the first film in the process (Hellboy, 80 percent).

more info…

Iron Man

Tomatometer: 93%

While the summer of 2008 will be remembered for the domination of The Dark Knight, let’s not forget another comic book superhero that made his mark on critics and audiences: Iron Man. The Marvel character sprang to life in May, thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s witty star turn and Jon Favreau’s glossy direction. Just one point and about 40 reviews shy of The Dark Knight, Iron Man could even potentially catch up and surpass Batman on the Tomatometer…

more info…

The Dark Knight

Tomatometer: 94%

When Christopher Nolan rescued the oft-silly Batman franchise from campy irrelevance in 2005, critics took note: Batman Begins introduced a gloomier dark knight and went Certified Fresh at 85 percent on the Tomatometer. This summer’s eagerly anticipated The Dark Knight followed suit, and then some; it scored an impressive 94 percent on the Tomatometer and dominated the summer box office for weeks, breaking records — and expectations — left and right. Not bad for a comic book movie!

more info…


Tomatometer: 97%

In grand Pixar tradition, Wall-E not only charmed the pants off of critics and audiences alike, it blasted its way to the top of the Tomatometer to become the best-reviewed film of the year so far. (Recent Pixar movies Ratatouille and The Incredibles also opened to critical acclaim and went on to become the best-reviewed wide releases of their respective years.) The tale of a lonely little robot is well positioned to win this year’s Golden Tomato Award…and if the Academy follows suit, Pixar might just have a few more of those gold statuettes to put on their mantle.

Next: The 10 Worst Tomatometers of the Summer

The 10 Worst Tomatometers of the Summer

more info…

Meet Dave

Tomatometer: 20%

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Critics and audiences alike have been mourning the apparent passing of classic Eddie Murphy for several years now, citing the likes of The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Norbit as examples of the dismal turns his career has taken. Unfortunately, Meet Dave isn’t the movie that’s going to change that trend. Settling in at 20 percent on the Tomatometer, it sadly doesn’t qualify as the lowest-rated film in Murphy’s career, but most assert that the clever premise (devised by a Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumnus, Bill Corbett) gets bogged down by stale writing and sitcom-level humor. Meet Dave has its handful of moments, but they just weren’t enough to propel the movie out of our worst-reviewed list.

more info…

Clone Wars

Tomatometer: 20%

Intended to be an introduction to the TV series of the same name that will debut later this year, The Clone Wars might just have been the least anticipated “Star Wars film” ever released. After disappointing many a fan with the prequel trilogy, George Lucas came right back with this animated feature and failed to rally anyone but his most faithful of followers. To be fair, the movie does suffer from the fact that it was originally supposed to air as the first three episodes of the TV show, and as far as animation goes, The Clone Wars looks great for television but subpar for the big screen. Many critics seem to agree that it will do much better when it transitions to its half-hour episodes, but for now, the feature film debut sits at 20 percent on the Tomatometer, making it #7 in our list.

more info…

The Happening

Tomatometer: 19%

We were already becoming a little skeptical of M. Night Shyamalan after The Village underperformed and Lady in the Water downright flopped, but even as audiences grew disillusioned about the suspense director, few could have expected the depths to which he would fall with his latest, The Happening. The trailers were intriguing, especially considering this was Shyamalan’s first R-rated feature, but the overall premise of the film was kept secret fairly effectively, and with a couple of hits under Shyamalan’s belt, the hope was that this would be a return to form. Unfortunately, while it offered some of his trademark chills, Happening mostly fell flat, due to a poorly crafted script, some wooden acting, and what some ultimately deemed to be a silly premise. If this downward trend continues, Shyamalan may earn himself the title of “one-trick pony.”

more info…


Tomatometer: 16%

Asian horror remakes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood these days, but that doesn’t stop enterprising directors and studios from consistently making them happen. Mirrors, originally a Korean film, is the latest of the appropriated imports, but with a respectable cast (Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, Paula Patton) and an experienced horror director (Alexandre Aja — High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) at the helm, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a halfway decent frightfest. Unfortunately, the movie was dull, with few scares and an overly convoluted plot, thus earning it a 16 percent on the Tomatometer and a #6 spot on our Worst Reviewed list.

more info…

The Love Guru

Tomatometer: 14%

After doing mostly voice work as Shrek and appearing in a few film cameos, Mike Myers came back in The Love Guru with his first starring vehicle since The Cat in the Hat in ’03. Unfortunately, critics weren’t feeling the Love in his latest feature, complaining that the character didn’t work, that the writing was lazy, and that the jokes were juvenile and, even worse, simply not funny. All things considered, The Love Guru still performed better overall than the aforementioned Cat in the Hat, earning a 14 percent Tomatometer score to Cat‘s 12 percent, but it was enough to place it as the fifth worst-reviewed film of the summer.

more info…


Tomatometer: 14%

Last summer’s Superbad was such a breakout hit, MGM decided to remake it for this summer season…only by “remake” we mean cop a poor imitation of that flick and just about every other college-set comedy ever made. Teen idol Drake Bell (of Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh fame), whose attempt at crossing over into “mature” roles began with this year’s inane Superhero Movie, dug himself even deeper into Rotten territory in College, which opened last week, the dumping ground of the summer season. Gross-out humor in the vein of Porky’s failed to impress critics, who found the teen buddy comedy to be overly vulgar, homophobic, and sexist — all of which might have been more acceptable if it were only funny.

more info…

Made of Honor

Tomatometer: 12%

After achieving big-screen success with 2007’s widely acclaimed Enchanted, Patrick Dempsey tried again to bank on his “McDreamy” persona in Made of Honor. Unfortunately, the movie felt just a little too familiar (My Best Friend’s Wedding, anyone?) to most of its viewers, and with nothing particularly unique or interesting to set it apart from its recycled plot, stale humor, and romantic comedy clichés, Made of Honor found its way to our worst-reviewed list for the summer. Scoring a dismal 12 percent on the Tomatometer and prompting such criticisms as “cookie-cutter” and “stew of mediocrity,” the movie is notable for, if nothing else, being the final film appearance of the late Sydney Pollack.

more info…

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Tomatometer: 11%

Seven years after its first sequel was released, the Mummy franchise returned this year with its third installment. While neither of the first two movies could be considered critical darlings themselves, Dragon Emperor brought the series to a new low, earning a paltry 11 percent on the Tomatometer, compared to 54 percent and 47 percent for its predecessors. Many cited the formulaic, poorly written script and the heavy use of CGI as reasons why Dragon Emperor ultimately fell flat. It’s difficult to go wrong when you’ve got Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, dragons, and abominable snowmen, but Tomb of the Dragon Emperor somehow managed to secure one of the lowest Tomatometers of any movie this summer.

more info…

Babylon A.D.

Tomatometer: 4%

You know you’re in for a bumpy ride when a director publicly denounces his own film, as Babylon A.D. helmer Mathieu Kassovitz did a week before its release. Once the world took a gander at the sci-fi actioner, it seemed to agree wholeheartedly. With unintentionally cheesy dialogue, poorly staged set pieces, and a silly, muddled plot, the Vin Diesel vehicle played exactly as many people expected — which might be good enough for Diesel fans, but certainly not for critics. Just how bad is Babylon A.D.? Were it not for two lone positive reviews — U.K. critics James Christopher of The Times and Xan Brooks of The Guardian — the flick would be looking at double zeroes on the Tomatometer.

more info…

Disaster Movie

Tomatometer: 0%

Speaking of zero percent Tomatometers…we’ve got Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, quite possibly the most reviled cinematic duo since Hitler and Riefenstahl. (Though Triumph of the Will would probably be Certified Fresh given enough reviews.) Friedberg’s and Seltzer’s long-standing assault on spoof comedy (and cinema, in general) appears to be hitting its stride with Disaster Movie, a film so hastily thrown together that it spoofs trailers, which currently holds a zero percent Tomatometer. This year has been rife with the goose eggs (Witless Protection, Deal, Strange Wilderness, One Missed Call), but this Tomatometer is especially important for Friedberg and Seltzer: after getting single-digit percentages on their previous movies, they’ve finally hit the coveted rock-bottom. Enjoy, guys, you’ve earned it.

Next: The Best and Worst Box Office Earners of the Summer

The Best and Worst Box Office Earners of the Summer

While capturing both critical and commercial success seems to be as difficult an achievement as capturing lightning in a bottle (moreso for a summer blockbuster), the summer of 2008 saw an unusually high number of well-reviewed hit movies. Christopher Nolan’s grown-up superhero movie The Dark Knight struck that rare confluence of art and commerce, driving Bat-fans the world over into a ticket-buying Bat-frenzy, but it also earned raves and Oscar-buzz, and could end up one of the best-reviewed films of the year. Furthermore, The Dark Knight was in good company with its fellow top money-makers, as only two Top Ten films — the femme-driven event flick, Sex and the City: The Movie and Will Smith’s Hancock — earned a rotten Tomatometer rating.

Top 10 Box Office Earners (Gross)

1. The Dark Knight $493,671,047
2. Iron Man $317,570,520

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the

Crystal Skull

4. Hancock $226,547,044
5. Wall-E $216,798,080
6. Kung Fu Panda $212,958,340
7. Sex and the City $152,440,062

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

9. The Incredible Hulk $134,426,930
10. Wanted $133,822,865

Bottom 10 Box Office Earners (Gross)

*Films released prior to the week of August 29, 2008

1. The Rocker $4,664,559
2. Fly Me to the Moon $4,733,063
3. The Longshots $5,149,624
4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona $9,783,911
5. Meet Dave $11,662,184
6. Swing Vote $15,555,204
7. Death Race $16,849,530
8. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl $17,408,308
9. The House Bunny $19,551,243
10. The X-Files: I Want to Believe $20,750,074

Next: Which Studio Came Out on Top?

Which Studio Came Out on Top?

1. Paramount
Average Tomatometer: 71%
Box office: $966 million

Summer’s winner! Paramount is the only major studio to achieve more than one
$200 million hit leading to the highest box office total, and it did so with
the highest Tomatometer average (four of its five movies hit Certified Fresh
status). The critics’ influence may be diminished during opening weekend, but
here we see good
reviews are indicating what summer movies will have positive
word-of-mouth and staying power.




Iron Man



Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull



Kung Fu Panda



Tropic Thunder



The Love Guru



2. Disney
Average Tomatometer: 67%
Box office: $376 million

Disney has the least amount of movies, with two of them vastly underperforming
(Swing Vote was a blip and Prince Caspian‘s gross is only half of The Lion,
The Witch, and the Wardrobe
‘s). The silver lining: Wall-E is this year’s
best-reviewed movie and has a strong chance of remaining so if Pixar’s past
performance record is any indication.







The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian



Swing Vote



3. Warner Bros.
Average Tomatometer: 56%
Box office: $1.02 billion

The fact that Warner Bros. put out the summer’s most notorious bomb (Speed
is easily offset by the enormous success of The Dark Knight. It’s
become second-highest grossing movie off all time (and Certified Fresh to
boot!), pushing WB over the $1 billion mark for the summer.




The Dark Knight



Sex and the City



Get Smart



Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (New Line)



Speed Racer



The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants 2



Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (Picturehouse)



Star Wars: The Clone Wars



4. Universal
Average Tomatometer: 53%
Box office: $655 million

Wanted gave Universal a surprise critical and commercial hit and Mamma Mia!
has quietly become the highest grossing musical ever. Surprisingly, it was the
superheroes that let the studio down, with both The Incredible Hulk and
Hellboy falling shy of recovering their reported costs.







The Incredible Hulk



Mamma Mia!



The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor



Hellboy II: The Golden Army



The Strangers



Death Race



Hamlet 2



5. Sony
Average Tomatometer: 40%
Box office: $581 million

Sony was in classic Hollywood mode this summer, relying on the stars like Will
Smith, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell to draw crowds in. Behind the scenes, Judd Apatow proved
reliable once more, producing the studio’s sole fresh movie.







You Don’t Mess With the Zohan



Step Brothers



Pineapple Express



Made of Honor



The House Bunny



6. Fox
Average Tomatometer: 26%
Box office: $250 million

It was a brutal summer for Fox, which lacked a single fresh movie or $100
million success. If Paramount is keeping its audience around with fresh movies,
Fox proves the vice versa: resoundingly rotten ones can repel audiences.




What Happens in Vegas



The Happening



Space Chimps






The X-Files: I Want to Believe



Babylon A.D.



Meet Dave



The Rocker



Next: RT’s Editors Pick Their Favorite Films of the Summer

RT Editors’ Favorite Films of the Summer

Here in the RT office we all had our favorite films this summer. And we didn’t always agree with the Tomatometer. But hey, that’s what favorite means — rhyme or reason aside, these movies spoke to us. Below, our editors share their picks!

Join in below and let us know what you think were the best and worst films of the summer season.

The Dark Knight, picked by Editor in Chief Matt Atchity

My pick for best movie of the summer? I’m going to have to go with The Dark Knight. It’s not perfect; Bale’s Bat-voice is a bit much after a while, and it runs perilously close to overstaying its welcome, but those (very minor) complaints aside, it’s a fantastic film. As with Batman Begins, this film is as much a psychological crime drama as it is a comic book movie, and continues to take a sort of realistic look at the idea of a costumed vigilante. And if Batman Begins showed us a plausible scenario that could result in the creation of the Batman, then The Dark Knight shows us how the world would respond; the citizens of Gotham both embrace and condemn him. But if the Batman represents the extreme avatar of order amidst chaos, then it’s inevitable that someone will rise to Batman’s challenge. Which brings me of course to the Joker. Heath Ledger‘s Joker is simply the best comic book villain ever to menace the screen. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Ledger’s Joker is going to stick with us as an iconic villain, along the lines of Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, and Norman Bates. It’s truly a tragedy that Ledger isn’t with us anymore, if for no other reason than that he’ll never experience the acclaim he so richly deserves.

Iron Man, picked by RT Australia Editor Joanna Cohen

I first loved Robert Downey Jr. in Less than Zero as a spoiled new romantic with deep, glassy eyes and a pastel blazer. Since 1987 I have remained devoted through every dive of his cardiac-like celebrity Tomatometer graph. Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr. and vice versa. The flawed genius, the troubled vulnerability…I adored every misogynistic, world-dominating, politically incorrect moment. He shone. And someone should give Gwyneth an award for best acting of a pencil skirt.

Gonzo, picked by Editor Sara Schieron

Telling you it inspired my summer reading list will make Alex Gibney‘s Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson sound a lot less hot than it is. A doc about Hunter S. Thompson, the miserable genius, self-titled “Dr.” and inventor of Gonzo Journalism, Gonzo paints a crystal portrait of an era and a man that in some light looks golden and in others looks leaden. Thompson and his stories teeter between snark and melancholy, fascinating always, by page or by screen.

Mongol, picked by
Community Manager Ryan Fujitani

This summer brought us several wildly entertaining blockbusters, but the one movie that got me hitting up Wikipedia and updating my “countries to visit” list was Mongol, a moderately successful indie biopic chronicling the life and times of Genghis Khan. It may have had something to do with my fascination for ancient cultures and fallen empires, but Mongol grabbed me from the start and wrapped me up in its epic story until the credits rolled. While the movie isn’t without its problems (questionable editing choices, a somewhat abrupt ending), the cinematography was appropriately gorgeous, the action was visceral and cathartic, and Mr. Khan himself was fascinating to watch. Oh, and it inspired me to grow a beard and move every three months.

Pineapple Express, picked by Editor Alex Vo

The Dark Knight‘s better-crafted, and WALL-E got me a little teary, but I haven’t had as much plain ol’ movie fun all year than watching Pineapple Express the first two times. (Yeah, here’s that rare movie that’s beckoned me back to the theater multiple times.) The movie’s alternately breezy and intense, while director David Gordon Green‘s loving care towards fringe characters makes Pineapple Express feel earthy and organic, a rarity for so-called stoner flicks.

Wall-E, picked by Senior Editor Tim Ryan

Is WALL-E more poignant than City Lights? Is it a more potent allegory than Metropolis? Is it as powerful a reflection on what it is to be a cognizant being than 2001? Time will tell if Pixar’s latest marvel is mentioned alongside those classics in the cinematic canon, but let the debate begin here. Achingly romantic, darkly funny, and blessed with some of the most remarkable visuals ever committed to celluloid, WALL-E is one for the ages — and great summer fun to boot.

Speed Racer, picked by Senior Editor Jen Yamato

This particular pick is bound to stir some controversy (bring it on, haters!), but so be it: Speed Racer was my favorite summer flick of 2008. Inventive, innovative, intriguing, spectacular — the Wachowski brothers’ live-action, anime-based adventure is everything I hoped it would be, and more. It’s a “kid flick” I’d have enjoyed as much as a tyke as I do today, a film that transcends the medium as we’ve known it, bursting through traditional boundaries of moviemaking to create an entirely absorbing, eye-popping, immersive alternate reality. It is the movie equivalent of mixing Coca Cola and Pop Rocks. Or like BeDazzling your cerebral cortex. Which would be awesome, were it only possible…

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A week before The Joker unleashes chaos, moviegoers passed the time by driving the comic book sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army to a number one debut while also showing up in solid numbers for the 3D adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth. On the other hand, Eddie Murphy‘s new comedy Meet Dave was totally ignored and suffered a dismal debut becoming the summer’s biggest flop. Holdover pictures in the top ten performed well with each dropping by less than 50%.

One superhero with an attitude problem replaced another in the top spot as Universal’s actioner Hellboy II debuted ahead of the pack with an estimated $35.9M in its first weekend of release. Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), the PG-13 film opened 55% better than the $23.2M bow of its 2004 predecessor which Sony released. It went on to gross a mediocre $59M but grew its audience on DVD and cable. Golden Army averaged a sturdy $11,200 from 3,204 theaters. Budgeted at $85M, the new Hellboy took advantage of a built-in audience of fans and the starpower that its director has generated after winning three Oscars for Labyrinth. Reviews were very favorable and the studio is keeping the door open for a sequel, even though del Toro will spend the next three years in New Zealand making back-to-back Hobbit films.

Close behind in second place was Will Smith‘s latest blockbuster Hancock which dropped 47% to an estimated $33M to boost its cume to a robust $165M after twelve and a half days. That’s an exact match to the total that 2005’s sci-fi action offering from Independence Day weekend War of the Worlds took in after its second session. The Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise collaboration suffered a bigger drop of 53% and a smaller sophomore take of $30.5M, but did not have the extra revenue from night-before-opening previews like Hancock.

It was a strong hold for Smith especially with the solid debuts of two new action films. Hancock also gave the superstar actor his fifth consecutive $150M+ blockbuster further cementing his status as the most bankable star in Hollywood. The road ahead could be a rough one though given Friday’s eagerly-awaited launch of the competing superhero juggernaut The Dark Knight, but a final domestic tally in the neighborhood of $250M could result. Overseas, the badass crimefighter soared to $180.2M in sales catapulting the worldwide cume to an eye-popping $345M in less than two weeks. The $150M production could fly to $500-600M globally.

Opening well in third place was the 3D adventure tale Journey to the Center of the Earth starring Brendan Fraser with an estimated $20.6M. The New Line/Warner Bros. film launched in 2,811 theaters and averaged a solid $7,321 per site. However, the grosses from 3D and traditional 2D theaters were like night and day. A whopping 70% of the total venues did not have equipment to offer the film in 3D and those theaters averaged only about $2,000 each. But the 854 sites that did screen the PG-rated film in 3D averaged close to $20,000 per playdate and accounted for more than 80% of the weekend business. Most of those charged higher ticket prices too which helped to boost the grosses. Reviews were generally good for the $60M-budgeted project. Journey also had a limited international premiere grossing $4.2M from five markets led by $2.1M in the United Kingdom and $1.5M in Brazil.

Disney and Pixar followed in fourth with WALL•E which grossed an estimated $18.5M in its third frame dropping 43%. The decline was bigger than Ratatouille‘s 38% dip during its third session a year ago this same weekend. The robot pic opened $16M better than the rodent comedy, but now their third weekend tallies are nearly identical as WALL•E‘s legs have not been as sturdy. Still, look for this latest animation gem to roll its way to roughly $220M domestically.

Angelina Jolie had an eventful weekend welcoming in two new babies and also having twin films in the top ten. Her action thriller Wanted placed fifth with an estimated $11.6M, down 42%, boosting Universal’s cume to $112M. The actress also voiced Tigress in Kung Fu Panda further down on the chart. Jolie has now upped her counts for both children and $100M career blockbusters to six each.

Get Smart came in sixth with an estimated $7.1M, down only 36%, and reached $111.5M after 24 days for Warner Bros.

Stealing the ‘Flop of the Summer’ title from Speed Racer, Eddie Murphy stumbled into seventh place with a disastrous opening for his new comedy Meet Dave which grossed just $5.3M, according to estimates. The PG-rated film landed in 3,011 theaters and averaged a puny $1,760. It was the third worst opening in box office history for a film released in more than 3,000 theaters and certainly the poorest for a pricey star vehicle. The only films to open worse were last year’s The Seeker: The Dark is Rising ($3.7M from 3,141 sites) and 2006’s Hoot ($3.4M from 3,018 playdates).

Carrying a budget of roughly $60M, buzz was always bad for Meet Dave and the concept of Murphy playing a human-looking spaceship operated by a mini crew inside of him, with a captain also played by the funnyman, did not fly with audiences. Competition also played a part as every film that ranked higher also offered action, comedy, or both. Dave‘s opening was a far cry from the solid $34.2M debut that Murphy’s comedy Norbit scored last year and joins the Oscar-nominated comedian’s hall of box office shame along with The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Holy Man, and Best Defense.

Kung Fu Panda dropped 41% to eighth place with an estimated $4.3M sending the martial arts toon across the $200M mark with a total to date of $202M. The Paramount/DreamWorks pic is running 8% behind the pace of Disney/Pixar’s Cars from 2006 and will probably finish with roughly $215M. The Abigail Breslin pic Kit Kittredge: An American Girl held up well in its second weekend of wide release slipping just 29% to an estimated $2.4M. Though it enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten, it still has only collected $11M to date and seems headed for a $18-20M finish.

Rounding out the top ten was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with an estimated $2.3M in its eighth weekend, down 40%, raising the overall tally to $310.5M. The Harrison Ford adventure sequel is now within striking distance of fellow Paramount release Iron Man‘s $313.4M and could become the new top grosser of 2008. Warner Bros. fully intends to make it a three-picture race with The Dark Knight which could very well reach the same stratosphere by month’s end.

Three films fell from the top ten this weekend. Universal’s The Incredible Hulk took in an estimated $2.2M, off 55%, for a $129.8M sum. That puts the new green guy a scant 1% ahead of Ang Lee’s Hulk at the same point in its 2003 run. Factor in higher ticket prices and the new Hulk has actually attracted fewer fans than the old one did, and cost a bit more. Budgeted at $150M, The Incredible Hulk should end up with about $135M edging out the $132.2M gross of Hulk, but will sell 13% fewer tickets. Overseas, the Edward Norton pic smashed the $100M mark boosting the international cume to $101.3M and the global tally to $231M.

The much more profitable Sex and the City banked an estimated $1.7M, down only 28%, and raised its total to a stellar $148.2M. A final domestic haul of $155M seems likely for the New Line film distributed by Warner Bros. The overseas performance for the $60M production has been sensational with $220.5M taken in to date accounting for 60% of the global haul of $369M. Astounding industry observers, Sex has become the fourth biggest global blockbuster of 2008 after the Paramount triumvirate of Indiana Jones, Iron Man, and Kung Fu Panda.

The summer’s other fashion-related comedy You Don’t Mess With the Zohan fell 46% to an estimated $1.1M giving the Adam Sandler vehicle $96.9M so far. The Sony release should inch its way to the $100M mark making it the comedian’s lowest gross for a broad comedy since 2000’s Little Nicky.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $140.9M which was down 17% from last year when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opened in the top spot with $77.1M; and off 5% from 2006 when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest spent a second weekend at number one with $62.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

Two big doses of comedy from a pair of Hollywood’s funniest men will hit the multiplexes across North America on Friday in a fierce battle for the number one spot. For family audiences there is the animated extravaganza Kung Fu Panda starring Jack Black while Adam Sandler counters with his latest laughfest aimed at young men, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. The new choices will offer some variety to a marketplace dominated by the female-skewing event pic Sex and the City and the old-school adventure tale Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With so many worthy choices, and four movies likely to top $20M, it looks to be a sizzling session at the box office as the top five films alone have the strength to beat the entire Top 20 from a year ago.

Jack Black leaps into theaters anchoring Kung Fu Panda playing a Chinese panda bear who trains to become a martial arts expert in order to save his village. The PG-rated toon features voices from a wide array of actors including Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane, and Jackie Chan. The marketplace is certainly ready for a major family film right now. Since March’s Horton Hears a Who, there really hasn’t been anything major to excite this lucrative audience segment. Last month saw two high profile PG-rated pics, but the dark and violent The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has attracted half of the crowd of its predecessor while Speed Racer was an all-out disaster. With summer vacations getting closer and closer, children of all ages are pumped for something fun and exciting to go and see.

In the DreamWorks stable, Kung Fu Panda should post one of the largest openings for a non-sequel animated entry. It even has the potential to set a new high. Currently, 2004’s Shark Tale and 2005’s Madagascar are tops with $47.6M and $47.2M, respectively. At today’s ticket prices those would be in the low $50M range. Panda has similar features like having a popular comedian in the lead. Dramatic actors add little to the box office strength of an animated film with their voices, even big A listers. But when comedians are at the center and are allowed to improvise and add their own sense of humor, moviegoers cheer. Panda also has the type of comedy that will be loved by adults as well as by kids. Good marks from critics won’t hurt either.

The marketing has been solid. The concept is familiar with a young talking animal going after his dreams while the Asian setting adds something new. Big business should be had with kids of single-digit age since recent family offerings have been too risqué for parents to buy tickets for. Plus direct competition is close to zero making for a perfect time to strike. Attacking over 3,600 theaters, Kung Fu Panda may eat up around $52M this weekend.

Jack Black as the voice of Po in Kung Fu Panda

For zany humor from characters that are more human ticket buyers have another choice this weekend as Adam Sandler returns with his latest escapade in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. The PG-13 film reunites the comedy superstar for the fourth time with director Dennis Dugan after Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, and last summer’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Zohan finds the former SNL star playing the title character, a first-rate commando in Israel’s armed forces who escapes to New York to pursue his true passion of hairstyling. Sandler hopes this will do for him what Coming to America did for Eddie Murphy two decades ago this very month.

No comedian has been more consistent at the box office this decade than Sandler who has scored $100M+ grossers over the last six consecutive years. Aside from Will Smith, no other Hollywood star can claim such a streak. Plus not since the Harold and Kumar sequel has there been a comedy aimed at young males. And after all the media attention that Carrie Bradshaw and pals have gotten in the past week, guys may be ready for some testosterone-fueled fun.

However, Sandler fans are not known to be all that into Israeli soldiers or hairdressers so subject matter could be a problem. Last July’s Chuck and Larry bowed at number one with $34.2M, but it was also the funnyman’s lowest opener for a broad comedy since 2000’s Little Nicky. Maybe the combination of a ridiculously long title and a not-so-macho storyline could prevent Sandler from reaching his usual $40M debut mark again this weekend. In addition, the comedian is straying from his natural voice for the first time since Nicky which doesn’t bode well either. Fans like it best when Adam plays Adam, just a regular American dude getting himself into comical situations. Infiltrating over 3,300 theaters, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan could debut with around $35M.

Sandler is The Zohan

Panda and Zohan kick off an unusually light June release schedule which will see fewer wide releases than normal. In fact across all four of the month’s weekends only two competitors enter wide release each session for a total of eight major players. Looking at the last several years there have always been 10 to 12 wide releases over the same time period. Studios are hoping that each film this June will have some extra breathing room to find its audience and not get stomped on a week later by a barrage of four pictures cramming into multiplexes at the same time.

In limited release, Picturehouse will platform its Oscar-nominated historical epic Mongol in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The subtitled story of the rise of Genghis Khan features a cast assembled from across Asia and is directed by the acclaimed Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov. Though it lost out to The Counterfeiters in the foreign language race this year, it still is being aggressively marketed to arthouse moviegoers and fans of world cinema. Mongol expands to major markets on June 20.

Sergei Bodrov’s Mongol

Last weekend, the 179 years of life experience of ParkerCattrallDavisNixon pulled an upset victory over the 190 years of FordSpielbergLucas as it was truly no country for old men. But the boys will try to beat out the girls this time around for the title of top holdover in what will certainly be a much closer race.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will face some competition for young men from Zohan while families will be tempted away by Paramount’s own Panda. But adult men will still be focused on the Communist-fighting whip man so a 45% drop could result leaving a $24M frame. That would propel the cume to a stunning $254M after 18 days.

Sex and the City shocked the industry with its stellar $56.8M bow last weekend. Also impressive were the sturdy grosses of $5.5M a piece on Monday and Tuesday this week. But the sizable 34% Friday-to-Saturday tumble showed how much demand was absorbed on that first day which was essentially an after-work girls-night-out for fans. Word-of-mouth has been good, but so much of the target audience has already been reached so a big drop is likely even though the new releases are not direct competitors. Panda however will take many thirtysomething and fortysomething mothers out of the picture. A 60% fall could occur giving the New Line-Warner Bros. flick roughly $23M – still a full-figured number. That would give Sex a fabulous $100M in just ten days.

Universal’s The Strangers was a surprise hit last weekend posting the best horror movie opening of 2008. But a fast fade is likely so sales could slump by 55% to about $9.5M. That would give the Rogue production a solid $37M in ten days. Iron Man is steadily closing in on that triple-century mark. The super hero smash should dip by 35% to around $9M boosting the cume to $290M.

LAST YEAR: The summer of threequels moved forward with Ocean’s Thirteen which bowed at number one with $36.1M for Warner Bros. on its way to $117.2M domestically and $311M worldwide. That put the bad boys behind the $363M of Twelve and the $444M of Eleven. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End dropped to second after two weeks on top with $21.1M breaking the quarter-billion mark in just over 17 days. Universal’s Knocked Up, the first of two pregnancy comedy hits in 2007 to sail past $140M, followed with $19.6M in its sophomore frame. Sony’s animated penguin film Surf’s Up debuted in fourth with a respectable $17.6M leading to a $58.9M final. Rival toon Shrek the Third sat in fifth with $15.3M. The horror sequel Hostel Part II struggled in its opening weekend taking in $8.2M or less than half the bow of its predecessor a year earlier. Lionsgate reached $17.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

This week's UK Box Office Top Eight

It was grizzled masculinity versus shopping-obsessed, emotionally-open womanhood at the box office this week — yep; Indy Jones battled Carrie Bradshaw, with the archeologist ousting the Monolo Blahnik-clad Manhattan socialite from the top spot only two weeks into its run.

Without wishing to stereotype (but we will anyway), women — many with their bedraggled boyfriends — flocked to theatres nationwide see the cinematic continuation of the hit TV show Sex and the City, earning studio Entertainment Film Distributors almost £9 million in its first three days of release.

Critics weren’t entirely sure about the film – many found the movie overlong and thought it added little new material to the ground covered in the long-running HBO series — yet most conceded that the show’s army of fans (approximately 95% of the female population) would still lap it up.

Sex and the City‘s success will have bought Paramount’s Indy IV down to earth with a bump, after the movie’s spectacular opening numbers last week. The film still did very respectable business — raking in over £5 million — but this was still down over 50% from last week. Dare we say it; maybe word of mouth about the film — which has been fairly negative — has gotten around and is beginning to affect the box office performance.

Meanwhile, the other films released last Friday didn’t have a hope of competing against these money-making titans; duff niche comedies Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins predictably tanked in a wave of non-publicity.

The summer movie season gets a big shot in the arm as the highly anticipated launch of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull kicks off the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend a day early with its Thursday bow. The rest of Hollywood steered clear of opening anything against the SpielbergLucasFord reunion so a towering total is expected over its five-day debut period. Paramount unleashed the PG-13 adventure sequel in a mammoth 4,260 theaters making it the third widest opening in history after only Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which bowed in 4,362 and 4,285 locations last summer, respectively.

The new tale arrives 19 years after the previous installment Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That film debuted to a then-stunning $37M from 2,327 theaters over the same four-day holiday on its way to a powerful $197.2M making it the second biggest grosser of 1989 trailing the $251.2M of Batman. The Caped Crusader and the Joker will give Indy a run for his money during this summer’s box office race as well. At today’s ticket prices, Crusade‘s tally would stand at roughly $330M.

Crystal Skull puts Steven Spielberg back in the director’s chair, George Lucas back to his writing and executive producing chores, and Harrison Ford back into the starring role. Shia Labeouf and Cate Blanchett join the cast to help diversify the film’s appeal and help it stay relevant to younger folks who have never seen an Indiana Jones flick on the big screen before. In fact Shia was in diapers when Dr. Jones went on his last adventure. The story fast forwards from the past films by two decades to 1957 and finds the whip-cracking adventurer trying to solve the mystery behind ancient skulls that wield a mysterious power and must be returned to their rightful place in South America.

Dr. Jones and the crew are back.

There are numerous box office records that Crystal Skull will try to break in the coming days. The largest Memorial Day holiday opening was generated a year ago by At World’s End with $139.8M over the Friday-to-Monday span. That sequel also enjoyed the biggest worldwide launch with a gargantuan $404M in six days globally. The best five-day start for any film was the $172.8M hauled in by Star Wars Episode III in May 2005. That would amount to roughly $190M at today’s prices.

Reviews for Crystal Skull have generally been positive. For a much-awaited sequel with tons of hype, they are more than good enough to drive in foot traffic. And if all the publicity wasn’t enough, the extra jolt of buzz from its star-studded world premiere at Cannes only made the spotlight brighter.

Competition that Spielberg and gang will face this weekend will be weaker than anyone would have guessed just a couple of weeks ago. With both Speed Racer and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian performing below expectations, the field is basically clear for Skull to not just rule, but to dominate with an iron fist. Plus no other film opens in wide release this weekend. The rest of the top five combined looks to gross roughly $80M over four days which would be the worst showing for this holiday weekend since 1999. Normally there is much more depth in the marketplace at this time.

With the Thursday opening, Paramount is letting hardcore fans see the film a bit early allowing for more seats over the weekend to open up for the rest of the public. Sure it dilutes down the weekend figure, but the strategy is more about making as much money as possible and not about setting records. Lucas launched his Star Wars prequels with mid-week May bows as well and is too old to care about commercial milestones anymore. Skull‘s Thursday may not break the opening day record currently held by Spider-Man 3‘s $59.8M. Since Indy skews older more of the audience will wait for the weekend to see it. Typically films heavy on digital effects draw the biggest crowds on opening day like Spider-Man, Pirates, Star Wars, and Harry Potter films. Indiana Jones is old-school Hollywood that is more driven by stunts like the James Bond and Jason Bourne pictures. A Thursday debut in the neighborhood of $40M could result. The official four-day weekend might reach the vicinity of $125M giving Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull around $165M across the five-day opening weekend span.

Indiana Jones finds himself in familiar territory.

For the last five consecutive years, the number two film over the Memorial Day holiday frame managed to gross over $40M over four days. That streak might come to an end if Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian doesn’t post a strong hold this weekend. PG-rated family films typically witness small declines on this session, however Caspian may play more like a sequel and nostalgic parents could be more in the mood to take the gang to see Dr. Jones despite the PG-13 rating. The first Narnia, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, fell by 51% when it faced the launch of King Kong in December 2005. For Prince Caspian, its four-day holiday tally this weekend could fall by 30% from its three-day debut and hit about $38M. That would boost the 11-day total for the fantasy flick to $107M.

Iron Man has been nothing short of an overachiever for Paramount this month. A third-place finish is guaranteed and even though the studio is launching a new Indy saga, its effects-driven super hero film will remain a popular entry with those who have heard great buzz plus with others who will line up for repeat viewing. The Robert Downey Jr. vehicle might drop by 25% to roughly $24M and lift its domestic haul to $256M as it becomes the 45th film to join the quarter-billion club.

Fox has had great legs for its star-driven comedy What Happens in Vegas which will be a formidable choice for young women not interested in a geezer archaeologist, kids in fantasyland, or a metallic comic book dude. As the Sex and the City crowd waits a week for SJP and her gal pals to hit the multiplexes, a date with Cameron and Ashton could be in order over the holiday weekend. Look for the Friday-to-Monday take dip 15% from last weekend’s three-day figure to about $12M. That would put boost the winnings to $57M.

Poor Speed Racer has been neglected by moviegoers in every country. Nobody has interest in paying top dollar for this colorful concoction. A 35% fall to around $5M could result giving Warner Bros. a dull $38M to date.

LAST YEAR: Johnny Depp and mates conquered the Memorial Day holiday box office with a record haul of $139.8M over four days for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and $153M including Thursday grosses from showtimes that began at 8pm. Worldwide the adventure sequel shattered another record with a stunning $404M in global sales in the first six days accounting for 42% of its eventual $961M tally. In North America, the Disney smash sailed to $309.4M which narrowly edged out the first Pirates and fell $114M below the total of the middle installment. Dropping to second was Paramount’s Shrek the Third with a massive $67M sophomore take, however sales tumbled by 56% thanks to bad word-of-mouth. The month’s other mega threequel Spider-Man 3 ranked third with $18.1M and vaulted past the triple-century mark. Moviegoers spent a jaw-dropping $225M on seeing the trio of threequels over the holiday frame. Rounding out the top five with $4M each were the horror flick Bug and the indie comedy Waitress with the latter posting a much stronger average.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

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