Movie remakes tend to get an automatic bad rap, but this time we’re putting some numbers behind it. Take the original’s Tomatometer rating, subtract by the remake’s number, and voila: the 24 worst movie remakes by Tomatometer!

It may not have been quite the box-office phenomenon that its predecessors were — and critics may have disliked it enough to keep it down at 20 percent on the Tomatometer — but that didn’t stop Rush Hour 3 from emerging as the top DVD rental of 2007.

The third Rush Hour racked up over $70 million in rental revenue, roughly half of what it took in at the box office, and besting another third installment, The Bourne Ultimatum. Count down the rest of last year’s DVD-rental top 25 below!

1. $71.2 Rush Hour 3 ($140.1M box office)
2. $69.7 The Bourne Ultimatum ($227.5 box office)
3. $66.4 The Kingdom ($47.5 box office)
4. $64.3 Superbad ($121.5 box office)
5. $57.2 Live Free or Die Hard ($134.5 box office)
6. $56.7 The Simpsons Movie ($183.1 box office)
7. $55.3 Night at the Museum ($250.86 box office)
8. $54.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($292 box office)
9. $51.8 Shrek the Third ($322.7 box office)
10. $51.2 The Heartbreak Kid ($36.8 box office)
11. $50.6 The Pursuit of Happyness ($163.57 box office)
12. $49.0 The Departed ($132.38 box office)
13. $47.5 Borat ($128.51 box office)
14. $47.5 Transformers ($319.3 box office)
15. $45.0 Blood Diamond ($57.38 box office)
16. $43.8 Spider-Man 3 ($336.5 box office)
17. $43.7 300 ($210.6 box office)
18. $43.0 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ($120 box office)
19. $42.9 Casino Royale ($167.45 box office)
20. $42.7 Disturbia ($80.21 box office)
21. $42.6 The Holiday ($63.22 box office)
22. $41.8 Knocked Up ($148.8 box office)
23. $40.8 Deja Vu ($64.04 box office)
24. $40.5 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($131.9 box office)
25. $40.5 The Good Shepherd ($59.95 box office)

Source: End of Boredom

In an age of fast-rising Hollywood production costs, the young actresses who strive to keep movie budgets down — specifically in the wardrobe department — deserve to be saluted.

To that end, noted film critic Mr. Skin has unveiled his Top 20 Nude Scenes of 2007. Calling the last twelve months “A surprisingly strong year for big-screen nudity…among this decade’s very breast,” the renowned nakedologist has compiled the following list:

1. Marisa TomeiBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead
2. Keeley Hazell – Cashback
3. Natalie Portman – Hotel Chevalier
4. Christina RicciBlack Snake Moan
5. Sienna MillerFactory Girl
6. Roselyn SanchezYellow
7. Malin AkermanThe Heartbreak Kid
8. Eva MendesWe Own the Night
9. Lena Headey300
10. Stormy Daniels and Nautica Thorne – Knocked Up
11. Alexa DavalosFeast of Love
12. Chelan SimmonsGood Luck Chuck
13. Wei TangLust, Caution
14. Ashley JuddBug
15. Olivia WildeAlpha Dog
16. Ana Claudia TalanconAlone With Her
17. Danielle HarrisHalloween
18. Heather MatarazzoHostel: Part II
19. Amber VallettaThe Last Time
20. Lucy LiuBlood Hunter

Adjust your Netflix queues accordingly.

Source: PR Newswire

The Three Stooges was supposed to be the
Farrelly
Brothers
‘ next movie after
The Heartbreak Kid
.
With brand new actors, they planned to write and direct four slapstick vignettes
in the vein of the old Stooges shorts. Sounds like a much better idea
than Stuck on You,
but the studio would rather have them direct another raucous comedy.

"It’s one of those things, it’s just been tricky," said
Peter Farrelly. "The studios all feel like women won’t go see it. I don’t agree.
Dumb and Dumber
wasn’t a chick flick but eventually women got in there."

Studios are also arguing foreign sales as an issue. "Also,
they don’t think it’s going to be big overseas because no one knows of it but
again, no one knew about Dumb and Dumber. It’s a hard one but we are
going to do it eventually."

Five new films push their way into nationwide release on Friday hoping to challenge two-time champ The Rock making for what should be a free-for-all at the North American box office with many different studios having a realistic shot at claiming the number one spot. Among the top contenders are Sony’s crime thriller We Own the Night, the Lionsgate comedy Why Did I Get Married?, and the George Clooney vehicle Michael Clayton which expands nationally after its scorching debut in limited release. Adding to the mix are the costume drama Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the baseball tale The Final Season. The box office race should be a tight one with as many as four films likely to reach the low double digit millions.

Oscar nominated actors Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix face off as brothers on different sides of the law in the new action thriller We Own the Night. The R-rated pic co-stars Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes and will target an adult audience with a slightly male skew. The former Marky Mark proved his box office pull last spring as the only major star in Shooter which bowed to $14.5M and a $5,176 average by targeting the same audience. Things will be more difficult this time because of the intense competition for mature audiences especially from Michael Clayton. But Night‘s biggest advantage over Michael is that it has two commercial stars instead of just one. The combo should lead to a slim edge at the cash registers.

Despite its awkward title, Night has been pushing itself as an action-packed thriller with faces people love to watch. Reviews have been mixed and with such a crowded field, it will be hard to stand out as a must-see option. Starpower should be the main factor here and showdowns between two solid actors are usually popular with ticket buyers. Opening in over 2,000 theaters, We Own the Night could debut to about $12M.


Phoenix and Wahlberg in We Own the Night

Taking on those boys with some machismo of his own, George Clooney heads into wide release with his legal drama Michael Clayton which Warner Bros. has drummed up plenty of awards buzz for. The R-rated pic bowed to a sizzling $47,994 average last weekend from its platform bow in the Clooney-friendly towns of New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. This weekend, the thriller will face the real test when it enters every major market across the 50 states. Thanks to his political outspokenness, the Academy Award winning actor has become a polarizing figure. He could easily win an election to become mayor of Hollywood, but in other parts of the country people would gladly pay theaters to not play his movies.

Clayton will test his drawing power since the film has no other box office anchors in it. Co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and Sydney Pollack are well-respected, but they don’t sell tickets. There is plenty of direct competition which is why the film got a head start a week early. Buzz from its red hot platform bow has spread helping to build interest. The crowd will consist of the same people that opened Syriana to $11.7M, The Black Dahlia to $10M, and Zodiac to $13.4M. Night will take away some males and Elizabeth will steal some females so a huge gross will be hard to find. But over the long-term the film could have legs. Expanding into 2,511 locations, Michael Clayton stands as the widest of the new offerings and may capture around $11M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.


Clooney as Clayton

Tyler Perry‘s latest relationship comedy Why Did I Get Married? finds trouble brewing when four married couples come together for an annual winter getaway. The writer/director’s films have always tapped into his loyal fan base with African American women at the core. His 2005 smash Diary of a Mad Black Woman surprised the industry with its first-place debut with $21.9M and a $14,771 average and was followed a year later by Madea’s Family Reunion which grew bigger with a $30M launch. Perry’s last pic Daddy’s Little Girls, also a February release, saw more modest numbers with a $11.2M opening as the filmmaker did not star in the pic.

Married does not have the promotional value of Black History Month or the help of Presidents Day which Girls had early this year. However, Perry’s new film will not face any direct competitors for its target audience. Girls had to face the second weekend of Eddie Murphy‘s hit comedy Norbit which offered some audience overlap. Plus Married boasts more starpower with Perry back on screen and an added boost will come from Janet Jackson who is always a strong draw at the box office with the target audience every time she makes a rare appearance in a movie. The PG-13 film from Lionsgate is unlike anything else in the marketplace right now and with few buzzworthy films aimed at black moviegoers in recent months, it should successfully connect. Debuting in 2,011 theaters, Why Did I Get Married? might open with roughly $12M this weekend.


Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?
Another female-driven film, but taking place centuries ago and across the pond, is the historical drama Elizabeth: The Golden Age which finds Cate Blanchett reprising the role of the British Queen which made her a star nine years ago. The PG-13 pic also finds Geoffrey Rush returning and adds Clive Owen to the mix telling the story of the later years of the monarch’s 16th century reign when threats from Spain and a possible love affair at home led to new challenges. Though at the core a costume drama like its predecessor, Universal’s marketing has played up the action and adventure elements in hopes of attracting men looking for warfare and battle scenes. That may backfire when word gets out that there is actually very little action on screen.

The first Elizabeth opened in limited release in November 1998 and rolled through awards season that winter eventually reaching an impressive $30M while never playing in more than 600 theaters. It also bagged seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Now the studio is hoping that a built-in audience will want to take another trip to the past. Though the first was an acclaimed picture, no real demand ever surfaced for a sequel. So it will be tough for Golden Age at the box office especially with all the competition. Female-led dramas often struggle in the marketplace since it is often too hard for adult women to drag men with them to the multiplex for these stories. New films from Clooney and Wahlberg offer more cross-gender appeal. Ordering her troops into 2,000 theaters on Friday, Elizabeth: The Golden Age might take home about $8M over the three-day period.


Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush in Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Likely to strike out at the box office this weekend is the high school baseball pic The Final Season which stars Sean Astin, Larry Miller, and Powers Boothe. The PG-rated film offers no starpower and has generated very little excitement for itself in the marketplace. Most sports fans interested in the national pastime will tune into the playoffs on their television sets this weekend. A quick trip to DVD is assured for this one which has no guarantee to clinch a spot in the top ten. Opening in about 1,000 theaters, a weekend take of just $2M could be in the works.


The Final Season

Among holdovers, The Game Plan surprised the industry two weeks in a row by taking the number one spot. Given its strong legs and continued lack of competition for the family audience and younger teens, a third round on top is not totally out of the question. Should all the newbies eat into each other and all fail to reach the $12M mark, the Disney kidpic by default may stay put. A 25% decline would give The Game Plan a third weekend tally of $12.5M pushing the 17-day total to a solid $58M.

Paramount and DreamWorks were caught by surprise by the lack of strength for the opening of the Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid. With nothing to keep it afloat, a 45% decline might be in order especially since adults will be distracted by a wide assortment of other options. That would give the Farrelly brothers a sophomore session of about $7.5M and a cume of only $25.5M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Sony used the Friday the 13th before Halloween to launch the sequel to one of the most successful horror films in history and captured the number one spot. The Grudge 2 bowed on top with $20.8M accounting for more than half of its $39.1M final. Eventual Oscar champ The Departed slipped to second with $19M easing only 29% for Warner Bros. The Robin Williams political comedy Man of the Year debuted in third with $12.3M before finishing with a disappointing $37.3M for Universal. Rounding out the top five were the Sony toon Open Season with $11.1M and New Line’s fright franchise flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning with $7.5M for a steep 60% plunge. Opening with weak results in sixth was the action pic The Marine with $7.1M on its way to $18.8M for Fox. The religious-themed drama One Night with the King bowed to $4.1M with a good $4,518 average and finished with $13.4M for 8X.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Ben Stiller‘s new comedy


The Heartbreak Kid
stumbled in its opening frame and
forced the overall box office to plunge to the worst October weekend in eight
years. Incumbent family comedy
The Game Plan
posted a strong sophomore hold and
retained its position as North America’s most popular film. But two other new
releases did nothing to energize the multiplexes as the top ten films together
grossed what just the top three pictures did a year ago on this same weekend.
The calendar may say October but the dismal box office grosses make it seem like
September never ended.

Surprising industry watchers once again, Disney’s
The Game Plan
held onto the
number one spot for a second time grossing an estimated $16.3M for a slim 29%

decline. That gave
The Rock‘s first entry into the world of kid’s movies a solid
$42.8M in only ten days allowing the PG-rated comedy to already surpass the
total
grosses of his last two films

Gridiron Gang
($38.4M) and
Doom
($28M). All three pics were number one openers. Last weekend, many expected
Game Plan to
debut in second place behind
The Kingdom
while this weekend
Heartbreak was
widely seen as debuting on top. In both cases the quarterback daddy flick
swiped the top spot and with little family competition in the weeks ahead, a
trip to the $100M club could be in the works.

 


Disney is still benefiting from the fall season’s shocking lack of product for
families. For the third consecutive weekend, seven of the top ten films carried
R ratings
giving parents few other options for their children. The studio has virtually no
foes to deal with until
Jerry Seinfeld‘s animated pic
Bee Movie hits theaters on

November 2. Game Plan‘s second weekend drop was even smaller than the 40%
decline that the studio’s
Vin Diesel family film
The Pacifier experienced in
March 2005 on its way to a stunning $113.1M tally. The Game Plan now looks
certain to surpass the $90.5M of 2002’s The
Scorpion King
to become The
Rock’s highest grossing film in a lead role.

 



The weekend’s big disappointment came from the Ben Stiller-Farrelly brothers
collaboration

The Heartbreak Kid
which debuted in second place with an
estimated $14M from 3,229 theaters. Averaging a mediocre $4,345 per site, the
R-rated film marked the first reteaming of the actor with the filmmakers since
the
1998 sleeper smash

There’s Something About Mary
which grossed a stunning $176.5M
that year. Heartbreak was universally expected to open at number one
and was thought to have the potential to capture at least $20M in opening
weekend business for DreamWorks and Paramount. The budget was more than $60M,

according to the studios.

 



For Stiller, Heartbreak‘s opening was half the size of the bows of his other
recent comedies like
Night at the Museum
($30.4M),
Starsky and Hutch
($28.1M), and Along Came Polly ($27.7M). Those were PG or PG-13 films but the
comedian was still expected to draw a large crowd this weekend. However
for the Farrelly brothers, the performance was better than the $12.4M of their
last pic
Fever
Pitch
in 2005 and the $9.4M of 2003’s
Stuck
on You
. Reviews were

mostly negative which is par for the course with these types of comedies.

 



The Heartbreak Kid put Stiller’s box office power to the test and the results
were discouraging. Most of the comedian’s hits feature other big stars to help
bring in
a paying audience. This time Stiller was the only major name and audiences did
not bite. In fact the launch was very similar to that of rival R-rated romantic
comedy
Good Luck Chuck which debuted to $13.7M and a better $5,227 average just two
weeks ago. That film offered some star wattage from both genders with
Dane Cook and
Jessica Alba.


Universal’s Middle East drama
The Kingdom

dropped 46% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M and placed third. The
Jamie Foxx pic has taken in
$31.4M in ten days and should find its way to $50-55M. Sony’s action-horror
sequel
Resident Evil: Extinction
fell 47% to an estimated $4.3M and pushed its

17-day cume to $43.5M.
 




 

Failing to find an audience on opening weekend was the fantasy adventure film
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
which bowed to an estimated $3.7M from a
very wide 3,141 theaters for a dismal $1,186 average. The PG-rated pic from the
new venture between Fox and Walden Media targeted young boys but got
nowhere at the box office. Seeker‘s debut was even worse than the $5M launch of
Dragon Wars from just two weeks ago which went after the same audience.
But thanks to a sluggish marketplace, Seeker‘s weak opening still landed the
film in the top five even though its nearly $40M budget will take much time to
recoup.


The Lionsgate comedy
Good Luck Chuck  grossed an estimated $3.5M, off 44%, for a
$29.1M sum. The dance drama
Feel the Noise
delivered a seventh place
debut with an estimated $3.4M from just 1,015 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,350
per site, the PG-13 film played to urban teens and came from the new
Sony/BMG film division.
 



A trio of R-rated films rounded out the top ten. The long-lasting Western
3:10 to Yuma
once again enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten sliding only 28%
to
an estimated $3M in its fifth frame for a solid cume of $48.6M for Lionsgate.
The Warner Bros. vigilante thriller
The Brave One
dropped 39% to an estimated

$2.3M giving
Jodie Foster
and her gun $34.3M to date.
Mr. Woodcock
claimed the
ten spot for New Line with an estimated $2M, down 31%, and a new total of
$22.3M.
 


The weekend’s most notable fireworks came in limited release as the increasingly
crowded arthouse scene saw some red hot numbers from awards hopefuls.

George Clooney
led the way with his legal thriller



Michael Clayton
which bowed
in only 15 theaters but grossed an estimated $704,000 for an astounding
$46,933 average. Powered by strong reviews and starpower from the Oscar-winning
actor, the R-rated film is hoping to keep the momentum going when it
expands nationally on Friday into more than 2,400 theaters.


A pair of acclaimed filmmakers enjoyed encouraging sophomore expansions with
their latest efforts and delivered the next best averages.
Wes Anderson‘s comedy
The Darjeeling
Limited
widened from two New York houses to 19 locations in seven
markets and grossed an estimated $553,000 for a powerful $29,099
average. Fox Searchlight will continue to open in more cities over the next two
weekends before going nationwide into more than 800 playdates at the end of the

month. Ang Lee‘s NC-17 romantic thriller
Lust, Caution also held up very well as
it entered new cities. The Focus release went from a solo Manhattan house to
17 venues and collected an estimated $369,000 for a potent $21,696 average.
Totals stand at $$477,000 for Lust and $781,000 for Darjeeling.

 




Also expanding and still generating good averages in their third frames were
Sean Penn‘s
Into the Wild
and
Brad Pitt‘s

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
. Paramount Vantage widened
Wild from 33 to 135 houses and
grossed an estimated $1.3M for an impressive $9,593 average. Warner
Bros. made a leap from five to 61 locations with Jesse and made off with an
estimated $408,000 for a respectable $6,689 average. Cumes are $2.5M and
$746,000 respectively and each film will continue to add more cities and
theaters in the weeks ahead.
 



Not faring well in its national expansion was the drama The
Jane Austen Book Club
which grossed an estimated $1.5M from 1,232 sites for a weak $1,247
average. Last weekend, the Sony Classics release averaged $4,700 from only 41
venues. Total sits at $2M.



Three films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. The Focus mob thriller
Eastern Promises

dipped 33% to an estimated $2M giving the
David Cronenberg

David
Cronenberg
pic

$14.3M overall. A decent $20M final seems likely which would put it about
one-third below the $31.5M of the director’s last film
A History of Violence

which
also starred
Viggo Mortensen
.

Sony’s Beatles-themed musical feature
Across the
Universe
continued to have
great legs easing a mere 8% in its fourth outing to an estimated $1.9M. With $8M

in the bank from limited release, the Julie Taymor-directed pic goes wide on
Friday into more than 700 sites. Universe joins the music-themed films

Hairspray
and
Once
as movies with some of the best legs at the box office over the last
several months. But it was a sad tune for Universal’s teen comedy
Sydney White

which tumbled 49% to an estimated $1.3M for a weak total of just $10.2M. Look
for a poor $13M finish.
 


The top ten films grossed a disappointing estimate of $61.9M which was down a
substantial 37% from last year when
The
Departed
debuted in first place with $26.9M; and off 23% from 2005 when


Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
opened in the top spot with
$16M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got honeymooners (The
Heartbreak Kid
, starring
Ben Stiller
and
Michelle Monaghan
), teenage heroes (The
Seeker
, starring

Alexander Ludwig
), bookworms in love (The
Jane Austen Book Club
, starring
Maria Bello
and Emily
Blunt
), and fledgling rappers (Feel
the Noise
, starring

Zulay Henao
). What do the critics have to say?

For Rhode Islanders, the work of
Bobby and
Peter Farrelly has long been a source
of regional pride; their best work (There’s Something About Mary,
Dumb
and Dumber
) deftly combined taboo-busting, gross-out yucks with an
undeniable sweetness. So it breaks the heart of this Ocean State native to
report that their latest,
The Heartbreak Kid
, isn’t generating all that
much warmth with the critics. Based upon
Elaine May‘s 1972 semi-classic, Kid
stars Ben Stiller as a recently-married guy who quickly learns his new bride has
much more baggage than he bargained for; on his honeymoon, he meets Miranda
(Michelle Monhagan), who just might be the right gal for him. The pundits say
that while the film does contain a smattering of raunchy laughs, they seemed
shoehorned into the film, undercutting character development and any kind of
message. At 48 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kid isn’t alright. It’s
certainly a cut below the original (at 89 percent).




The Village People recruits its seventh member.


If a compelling, magical fantasy world is something you’re actively seeking,
critics say you may want to avoid
The Seeker
. Based upon the Newberry
Award-winning book series, The Seeker is the story of a 14-year-old who
discovers he’s the last in a long line of noble fighters dedicated to battling
an evil force called the Dark. (Uh, so was Thomas Edison, like, the greatest of
those warriors? Just asking.) Critics say The Seeker is several notches
below the
Harry Potter
films in terms of emotional resonance and
filmmaking quality, and underutilizes the talents of
Ian McShane and
Frances
Conroy
. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, The Seeker may not be what
you’re looking for.




They seek him here, they seek him there, his clothes are loud but
never square.


If your sensibilities run toward action flicks, you are likely prejudiced
against light comedies about smart people and their relationship troubles. In
the case of
The Jane Austen Book Club
, the critics say you might want to
swallow your pride. The film tells the story of a group of six women whose book
club assignment is for each to read one of Austen’s novels; they soon find
events in their lives eerily paralleling the texts they’re reading. The critics
say that what could have been a bland exercise in chick-flick-dom is elevated by
an outstanding cast that includes Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, and
Kathy Baker;
each of the principals plays her part with intelligence and warmth. If you’re so
inclined, The Jane Austen Book Club‘s 72 percent Tomatometer should offer
ample persuasion to check this film out.




"Okay, so you take a left after Northanger Abbey, and a right at Mansfield Park…"



Critics weren’t allowed to come on and
Feel the Noise
, perhaps because
it’s either too wild, wild, wild for them to understand, or it isn’t all that
good. Either way, this tale of an aspiring rapper who finds love and redemption
in the Puerto Rican Reggaeton scene was not screened before hitting theaters.
You know the drill: Guess that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:
Lake of Fire
,
Tony Kaye‘s
expressionist, evenhanded documentary about the abortion debate, is at 100
percent; Desert Bayou, a doc about the plight of African-American
Hurricane Katrina refugees in Utah, is at 100 percent;
My Kid Could Paint
That
, a portrait of an artist who’s a very young girl (and may not be solely
responsible for her highly-valued canvases), is at 100 percent;
For the Bible
Tells Me So
, a doc that explores the Good Book’s teachings on homosexuality,
is at 89 percent;
Kurt Cobain: About a Son
, an impressionistic look at
the life of the Nirvana frontman, is at 82 percent;
Michael Clayton
,
starring George Clooney as a corporate whistleblower, is at 81 percent (check
out our review from the Toronto Film Fest
here);
Finishing the Game, a
mockumentary about an attempt to complete
Bruce Lee‘s
Game of Death
after
his untimely demise, is at 50 percent; and
The Good Night
, starring
Gwyneth Paltrow in the tale of a romance that takes place in a man’s dreams, is
at 46 percent.




Trivia question: which of these men has been around the world, from London
to the Bay?

Recent Ben Stiller Movies:
——————————–
44% — Night at the Museum (2006)
52% —
Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny
(2006)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
69% —
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

(2004)

Following a six-week streak of R-rated films topping the charts, The Rock‘s family comedy The Game Plan led the box office last weekend. Now, adult fare comes back to claim the crown with the new Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid which is aiming for an easy number one debut. Also opening nationally are the fantasy adventure The Seeker: The Dark is Rising and the music-filled drama Feel the Noise. With the Columbus Day holiday falling on Monday, some students will have extra time off making for a solid start for the month of October.

Almost a decade after There’s Something About Mary became a sleeper smash, directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly reunite with Stiller for another raunchy relationship comedy with The Heartbreak Kid. A remake of the 1972 film written by Neil Simon, the Paramount release stands as another number one hit inherited from the DreamWorks factory. The pic tells the story of a man who marries too early and then falls for another woman during his honeymoon. In the past year, the R-rated envelope-pushing comedies Borat, Knocked Up, and Superbad grossed nearly $400M in combined domestic box office proving that there is gold to be mined in this genre when films are made well and deliver the laughs that audiences want.

Plus star-driven comedies with major Hollywood faces routinely lure moviegoers away from the home and into the multiplexes. Heartbreak will probably not reach the $30.7M opening weekend figure of Knocked Up which had more buzz plus opened in June when most college students were out of school. But reviews so far have been quite good for this type of film so adults will certainly give it a try. And with so many dark and serious films about outlaws, vigilantes, and terrorists out there, audiences definitely want something light and funny right now. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, The Heartbreak Kid may debut with about $27M this weekend.


Ben Stiller and Malin Aklerman in The Heartbreak Kid

The time-travel adventure film The Seeker: The Dark is Rising heads into very wide release (possibly too wide) this weekend aiming for young boys in fantasy mode. Rated PG, the Fox release is based on the popular series of novels and will try to tap into a built-in audience of readers. Of course this is no Harry Potter and currently The Rock is doing a good job bringing in business from the lads so it will be an uphill battle at the box office. Overall buzz does not seem too strong so a huge crowd is not expected. Also there is no real starpower so the film will have to rely on special effects and fans of the literary property. Attacking 3,141 venues, The Seeker may generate around $9M over the weekend.


The Seeker

A Harlem rapper discovers Reggaeton music in Puerto Rico in the urban drama Feel the Noise from producer Jennifer Lopez. Sony is using her name prominently in the marketing which makes sense since there is not much starpower on screen. Latino and African-American youth are being targeted by the PG-13 film which should play mostly to a teen audience. The pic has a clear shot at this crowd since Seeker and The Game Plan skew younger and The Heartbreak Kid and The Kingdom will play older. The studio is trying to tap into the same audience that came out in surprisingly potent numbers for its past films like You Got Served and Stomp the Yard. Noise will open in half as many theaters and the buzz is a bit softer so the numbers will undoubtedly be smaller. Still an impressive average is likely. Stepping into 1,000 locations, Feel the Noise might bow to around $5M.


Feel the Noise

Opening in just 15 theaters in a handful of cities is the George Clooney legal thriller Michael Clayton from Warner Bros. In the R-rated pic, the Oscar-winning actor plays a hotshot attorney who is called in to manage a crisis when his firm’s top litigator suffers a breakdown while defending a top client. Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and Sydney Pollack co-star. Reviews have been strong and the studio hopes that buzz from a few select markets will spread when Clayton expands nationally next weekend. But a crowded marketplace for serious adult dramas will make things tough.


George Clooney in Michael Clayton

The Rock‘s kidpic The Game Plan delivered a powerful debut last weekend and with little competition from new releases, plus the Columbus Day holiday, a solid hold should result. Seeker will distract a few young boys, but overall it shouldn’t be that much of a threat. A decline of 30% could occur giving the Disney hit around $16M for the session boosting the ten-day cume to an impressive $42M.

The Middle East drama The Kingdom has been ranking number one during the week since kids are busy with school and less able to see Game Plan. Universal should see a 45% drop to about $9.5M which would put the Jamie Foxx actioner at $32M after ten days. Look for Resident Evil: Extinction to slide 50% to roughly $4M leaving Sony with $43M to date.

LAST YEAR: October kicked off with a bang with the top spot debut of Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed with $26.9M. Warner Bros. went on to gross $132.4M domestically and $288M worldwide plus scored four Oscars including the coveted Best Picture statue. Opening in second place with $18.5M was Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning which was the first of three horror sequels that month. New Line found its way to $39.5M. Sony’s toon hit Open Season dropped to third with $15.6M in its sophomore frame. The Lionsgate comedy Employee of the Month bowed in fourth with $11.4M on its way to $28.4M. The Guardian rounded out the top five with $9.6M in its second weekend.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

After toning down the crude and turning up the cute (even
giving Jimmy
Fallon
a chance in
Fever Pitch
!) for
the last six years, the Farrelly brothers return to R-rated raunch territory
with The
Heartbreak Kid
,
opening this Friday. It’s a remake of the 1972
Neil Simon
film of the same name and this week we’ll journey through the New York
playwright’s presence throughout cinematic history.

Unlike most playwrights, financial success greeted
Simon on his
first play, a Tony nomination for the second, and from them on his reputation as
one of contemporary America’s finest writers — capable of light comedy,
absurdist humor, and drama, often within one pen stroke — was cemented. Like
Woody Allen,
Reggie Jackson,
The Ramones, and
most other artists indelibly associated with New York, the height of Simon’s
powers and fame existed within the 1970s.  This was the decade of the American
New Wave, celebrating the urban landscape in all of its profane glory.  Pauline
Kael
and Andrew Sarris
were turning film criticism into an art. The New York auteur became an accepted,
well-recognized beast. And Broadway plays were being adapted into film with
surprising regularity (and not just those funny musical ones).

Four of Simon’s plays had been adapted to the screen by the
time he contributed his first original screenplay,
The Out of
Towners
(60 percent), starring
Jack Lemmon
and Sandy Dennis
Afterwards, original works and adapted screenplays started coming out of the
Simon woodwork at a steady clip. You know of (and probably have already seen)
The Odd Couples,
Biloxi Blues (76
percent), and
The Goodbye Girl
(75 percent). Here’s some of the lesser-known cinematic
works of Neil Simon.

Imagine some of the most iconic detectives — Charlie Chan,
Nick and Nora Charles, Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, and Miss Marple — as
re-envisioned by an immature writer.  A really smart, immature writer. In 1976’s
Murder by Death
(73 percent), written for the screen by Simon, an ensemble of detectives
are invited out to the countryside for a night of food, entertainment, and, of
course, murder. Simon sublimely spoofs the murder mystery with Murder by Death,
and stuffs in more penis, poop, and tongue-in-cheek jokes you’d though possible
coming from the mouths of such a reputable cast.  Highlights include
Peter
Sellers
as Sydney Wang, the Chan rip-off who spouts lame profundities in
broken English, and
Alec Guinness
as the blind butler who definitely maybe commits a few murders.

When
Truman Capote
enjoyed that mid-decade renaissance with two movies (Capote,
Infamous) and
publication of his long-lost first novel, Summer Crossing, it was surprising Murder by Death didn’t surge in
popularity. Capote makes a late game appearance in the film as a cranky,
eccentric millionaire ("Say your ******* pronouns!" Capote yells to the
syntax-challenged Wang) who has a lengthy meta spiel about the lameness of
murder mysteries.

Sometimes you write a piece that’s too good to throw away,
but way too short to turn into a play.  What do you do then?  If you’re Neil
Simon, you cobble them all together, centering the vignettes around a single
location.  1978’s
California Suite

(50 percent) is the middle of this loose trilogy, including
Plaza Suite (40
percent) and London
Suite

Four completely
unrelated groups converge on a Beverly Hills hotel, among them Walter Matthau
as a man who, after a night of poor, drunken judgment, must hide the unconscious
girl in his bed from his wife (Elaine May). Matthau brilliantly juggles
slapstick and simpering pathos — another notch for someone who’s never given a
lousy performance.

From Alvy Singer to John McClane, the “New Yorkers trapped in
Southern California” trope has been a limitless wellspring for comedy.  Simon once
famously proclaimed there’s only 72 interesting people in Los Angeles (as
opposed to the six million in New York) and the City of Angels in California
Suite
clearly comes from an East Coast perspective. Simon explicitly explores
this with the Alan
Alda
Jane
Fonda
storyline. Alda plays a reformed New Yorker who now sports a tan and a
polyester wardrobe, while Fonda plays his verbosely cranky ex-wife on a forced
visit to LA. Simon is transfixed on the possibility that a New Yorker can
somehow turn into a West Coast creep. In one scene Alda and Fonda will be
arguing about this subject, and in the next they’re randomly coolin’ on some
beach.  California!

There’s only a few blemishes on
Steve Martin‘s
formidable portfolio of 1980s comedies.  And they’re not necessarily bad, just
relatively unknown.  One of them is 1984’s
The Lonely Guy

(50 percent), based on a book called The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life
and adapted by Neil Simon. Martin stars as Larry Hubbard, a aspiring novelist
who becomes a Lonely Guy (yes, it’s an oft-used term in the movie) after getting
dumped. He befriends
Charles Grodin,
another Lonely Guy, and they embark on a life possibly spent alone, together. 
They buy ferns, dogs, go out to dinners, and throw parties with cardboard
cut-outs of celebrities. Martin is reliably funny, but Grodin steals the show
with warm performance keeps the movie grounded, and a perfect contrast to
Martin’s manic movements. It makes Grodin current self-exile from movies all the
more painful.

The Lonely Guy‘s surreal tone and sappy romantic
story takes a very long time before they gel, but there’s more than a handful of
comedic nuggets to keep this movie compelling. In true New York fashion, random
bits of Martin and Grodin talking about nothing in particular are interspersed
throughout.  The highlight comes in a lengthy discussion about hair and how
bums, who don’t even need hair, seem so capable of keeping it together.  It’s
the best

Seinfeld
segment never put on TV.

Having entered his 80th year this past July, it’s understandable why Simon has slowed down in recent years. His last film was a TV adaptation of The Goodbye Girl with Richard Dreyfuss, and his last play was in 2003. But New York artists are known for their longevity. With the New York auteur making a comeback, who’s next?

Watchmen has begun filming but Malin Akerman is still on the press rounds for The Heartbreak Kid. She provided a preview of her role as The Silk Spectre before she joins the rest of the cast on the set.

“This is a really cool role,” Akerman said. “She’s sort of the psychology of the film because she’s the only woman in the Watchmen aside from the previous Watchmen. She is a femme fatale. She is a kick ass fighter.”

The film should be action packed, but Akerman will get to inject the conflicts with some heart. “I think she sort of carries the emotion of the film because she is the only woman amongst all of these men. They’re going through sort of not being the Watchmen anymore and dealing with that as well as trying to figure out who is trying to kill them off.”

Unlike director Zack Snyder‘s previous 300, most of Watchmen will be practical location shooting. “There’s not that much green screen because it’s very real. We’re not superheroes or anything like that. We just fight. We fight crime. There’s only one scene on Mars that I think will be a green screen. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to trying new things.”

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